INTERVIEW: Staff Sgt. Jason Deckman

Jason Deckman

Staff Sgt. Jason Deckman, 38, was interviewed on May 26, 2011, in Austin, Texas. A 16-year Army veteran, Deckman is a combat engineer who has deployed five times—to Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, and Iraq twice. He has served with the 3rd Infantry Division, 1st Armored Division, 1st Cavalry Division, 54th Engineer Battalion in Bamberg, Germany, and 420th Engineer Brigade. In early 2007, he transferred to the Army Reserves and is currently assigned to the 980th Engineer Battalion at Camp Mabry in Austin. Later this year, he will deploy to Afghanistan. He lives in Killeen, Texas. Photo credit: Susannah Breslin.

When we were in Iraq doing convoys, you have to do a lot of planning before you go outside the wire. The more planning you do, the more successful you are. Once we rolled up to the wire, we would load our weapons and make our final checks, and we would call up our stats, and they would open the gate, and we would go out the gate, through the little serpentine, and we’d be outside the wire, we’d be out on the highway.

Every time we went out that serpentine, where you’re going from inside that protective area to you’re outside the wire, in that little transition, there was very few times that I didn’t have that little quick catch in my chest, where your heart kind of skips a beat, and you think to yourself, OK, here we go. It’s that little adrenaline rush.

There was very few missions that I would roll up to the gate and didn’t have that catch, because it was telling myself, OK, now you’re in combat, and now there is someone trying to kill you. READ MORE »


INTERVIEW: Spc. Benjamin Hart Viges

Benjamin Viges

Benjamin Hart Viges was interviewed on October 15, 2010, in Austin, Texas. The previous day, he had crashed his bike, so his face was bruised and battered. Viges served with the 82nd Airborne Division, 1-325 HHC Battalion Mortars. He deployed to Iraq in 2003. Photo credit: Susannah Breslin.

I was born in Phoenix, Arizona, but I moved at an early age to West Texas. My parents were divorced. My mother wanted to finish off her education, so we moved in with her parents, NeNe and PaPa in San Angelo.

As a young kid, Texas had this mythical status to it that I just adored. It was bigger than everything else. Not just in size. The cowboys were tougher. That’s where the Dallas Cowboys played. We had three cousins that were Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.

So it was a bit of an institution in our house, growing up. READ MORE »


LETTER: Sgt. Carlos Reynaldo Farias

Carlos Farias

Sgt. Carlos Farias served in Charlie Company, 1st Platoon, 1-508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. He was deployed to Afghanistan from January 2007 to April 2008. “I wrote [this] days after the event,” he wrote in an email. “The day was hell. … I documented it to help me get over the situation, a venting process if you will. It did help some but even at that for weeks I could not sleep fearing that either one of the members of my team or myself would die in the coming missions.” Photo credit: Spc. Tyler Harrell.


Well it was the morning of the 6th, D day to be in fact, June 6th 2007 and we were south of Musa Qala and the Kajaki dam. Wake up was at 0120 and that was shitty on my part cuz I couldn’t fucking sleep all night and only got a couple of good hours during the day. So damn hot that you couldn’t really sleep well and if you did you woke up dehydrated as hell. READ MORE »


INTERVIEW: Sgt. George Zubaty

George Zubaty

George Zubaty served with Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2002 and Iraq in 2003. He was interviewed in Louisville, Kentucky, on June 6, 2010. Photo credit: Susannah Breslin.


I grew up in Warsaw, Kentucky. It’s a town of 1,200 people. It’s the biggest city in the county. The county’s got maybe 6,000, 7,000 people now.

Warsaw is, I guess you would say, a typical river town along the Ohio River Valley. It’s a beautiful place to live, but, of course, there was quite a bit of poverty.

Especially growing up, I wasn’t unfamiliar with people who didn’t have running water or indoor plumbing. It was within my frame of reference to see people living in almost third world poverty when I was younger, much younger. But it’s beautiful. You put anything in the ground, it will grow.  READ MORE »


INTERVIEW: Staff Sgt. Fred Minnick

Fred 2

Fred Minnick is the author of Camera Boy: An Army Journalist’s War in Iraq. He was interviewed in Louisville, Kentucky, on June 5, 2010. Photo credit: Susannah Breslin.


I grew up in Oklahoma, moved to Wisconsin after college, and then deployed with the Wisconsin unit. I was 46-Quebec, which is an Army photojournalist.

On Valentine’s Day 2003, I received a phone call that we had been alerted for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Basically, what that meant was, we were going to be deployed in some capacity for the war.

For me, personally, I was young, I was like, “OK, let’s do it.” I mean, sure, there was fear. I mean, who didn’t have fear, right?