The Prospector (Helena, Mont.) 1916-2015, November 02, 2007, Image 1
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Inside this \Crime Beat- Page 4 Volume 91 ■ Sports Coverage- Page 8 Edition 2 issue . . . . ■ Heartbreak Hotel- Page 12 November 2,2007 T h e r e a l i t y o f w a r Carroll student tells what it is like in Iraq By Jenna Kesler Intern Writer W hen ^peaking to ChrisRop for the first time, it’s hard to imagine that this young, friendly Carroll student has already experienced the Iraq war first hand. But Chris is just one of many former and current Carroll students who have been affected by the war. Like many returning Iraq vets, Rojo said the war, and the role of U.S. troops, is much more complex than it is commonly portrayed. “My mission was to sustain and support. It was reconstruction and humanitarian work, not just to fight.” Rojo, 23, a native of Sheridan, Wyoming, considered applying to Carroll in 2002, when he was a senior in high school. But that same year he enlisted in the Na tional Guard, and his college career was put on hold. In 2004 he was deployed to Iraq, where he served with the 1st Battalion 163rd Infan try Regiment in the north central part of the country. His first couple weeks were spent getting familiar with the area, receiving touring areas of operations, practicing, and getting acclimated to a different culture and language. He was then thrust into duty as a line medic - a crucial support position, given the scarcity of doctors. “We checked vital signs,” he said, “and gathered basic in formation about the condition of the patient, then made our own assessment and set up an appropri ate treatment plan with the over sight of our medical officers.” Along with providing medi // We had to communicate to the Iraqis that we were there to help them/' —Chris Rojo / / Chris Rojo incises and drains an abscess on a young Iraqi’s foot. He came across the boy during one of his many public relations visits to outlying villages. photo co u r t e s y of chris rojo cal aid to his troops, Rojo said he treated many Iraqis, including insurgents. There were so many Iraqis seeking treatment, he said, that it became a security risk, so medical teams were sent out to diagnose patients. The ailments he helped treat were across the board. “My job ranged from just checking blood pressures to assist ing in mass casualty situations,” he said. Many of the wounded or sick Iraqis would not have received treatment, said Rojo, if it had not been for the American soldiers. Many more Iraqis wanted help, he said, but were afraid of being tar gets of the insurgency if they were seen with Americans. “We had to communicate to the Iraqis that we were there to help them,” he said. Along with the humanitarian work he did, Rojo’s duties ranged from supporting infantry, to securi ty, escorting convoys, and working PHOTO COURTESY OF CHRIS ROJO Rojo, lower left, with part of his platoon on the vote for ratification of the Iraqi constitution in October of 2005. in civil affairs. “There was boredom,” he said, “and it was scary, and there were laughs. And you got close to your regiment because there was little privacy.” He also got closer to his wife, Nancianne. Though they only started their relationship two days before he shipped out, the forced separation, he said, helped them get through a lot of the petty is sues that couples have to deal with. They were able to speak on the telephone about 30 minutes a week, enough, he said, for them to learn to communicate effectively. In the fall of 2006, Chris and Nancianne Rojo came to Carroll together, and, on September 21, 2007, Isaac Rojo was bom. Chris Rojo’s experience in Iraq helped him mature, he says, and gave him a deeper respect for life. Now there is noth ing more he wants, he says, than to be here in Montana, to climb mountains, and to be with his family. Read more Carroll voices on the war In Iraq Turn to page 14