HJ/EDEnterprise Dispatch, Dec. 26, 2005

Soldier Mark Crist back for short time

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

National Guardsman Mark Crist of Dassel returned home Dec. 6 from his deployment in Iraq, but will return to work in Fort Dix, New Jersey after the New Year.

Crist was a part of A Company 1-194th Armor stationed out of Wadena. He was deployed to Kuwait Dec. 23, 2004 after training in Fort Dix, New Jersey for two months.

He was stationed on a base 60 miles north of Baghdad, “out in the middle of nowhere,” as Crist described it.

Kuwait was “your typical desert with sand and camels, but in Iraq, the sand was hard with no camels that I saw,” Crist said.

Luckily, he was in a quiet area he said unlike another base 30 miles away that got hit almost weekly, he said.

He worked seven months in the operation center before becoming Platoon Sergeant for his tank company.

He main job was base security and area security, similar to military police. He also provided security for logistical convoys that imported supplies to the base such as food, fuel and water.

A 12-hour work day is typical for the soldiers but they did have some time to play. They had a dodgeball tournament in the courtyard of the base, he said.

One of the things he missed the most, that often gets taken for granted, is indoor plumbing, Crist said.

Also, there isn’t much choices that have to be made. For example, what one will wear for the day or what food they will eat. “All the choices were already made for you,” he said.

He has spent four years in active duty but has been in the National Guard for 21 years. He will be leaving after the new year for Fort Dix to train soldiers deploying for Iraq.

Crist said they are “accomplishing things and they are getting better,” he said. “The Iraqi military have begun to take up things we’ve been doing.” For example, the police have begun to take more of a role defending their country, he said.

As for when the troops will be coming home, that is undetermined. “I have confidence that troops will be withdrawn as soon as possible without jeopardizing what has been already accomplished,” Crist said.

Crist and his battalion were welcomed home by families and friends awaiting their arrival at every mile marker from Randall to Wadena and were all gathered at the Wadena Deer Creek High School.

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