From Iraq to Hati to Afghanistan

David Eaton, grandson of Elaine Eubanks of Rockwall, graduated from high school in 2002 and immediately enlisted in the US Army. As he says, “I wanted the experiences the Army could give me as well as to help pay for my college.” Since then he certainly has picked up lots of experience as he has qualified as a parachutist, jumped out of an airplane twenty times, been assigned to the famous 82nd Airborne Division, spent two separate tours in Iraq, and was with the lead elements of the Division when it went into Haiti to assist in the relief of that country after the recent devastating earth quake.

David said during his last deployment to Iraq “he acted as a gun truck commander responsible for escorting convoys through the city of Baghdad.” As a result he got to see almost all parts of the city from the “Green Zone” where the government was headquartered to some of the less desirable parts where they were subject to ambush at any time. His assignment to Haiti, however, was very different.

On January 12 of this year the country of Haiti was hit with a catastrophic earthquake of magnitude 7.0 on the Richter scale. Three million people were directly affected by the event with 230,000 people killed, 300,000 injured, and more than 1,000,000 made homeless. 250,000 homes were destroyed along with about 30,000 commercial buildings. The 82nd Airborne arrived in-country two days after the earthquake and David arrived on January 19, seven days after the initial devastation occurred.

As he said, “My assignment was to act as the contracting officer for my Battalion. We had no formal training in contracting duties so we operated for the first month or so with battalion pay agents where we made and tracked local purchases ensuring they stayed within spending guidelines. I also monitored the contracts we awarded for trash, water, latrines, etc. Additionally I was involved with the hiring of local Haitians to do work needed. There were a lot of bureaucratic inefficiencies in the initial work being done until it finally got consolidated under USAID. Then things got better in spite of the UN.”

Sergeant Eaton left Haiti on May 4 and returned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where the 82nd Division is located. They are now preparing for an excursion into Afghanistan. Aren’t you glad we have men and women of Sergeant Eaton’s caliber who are willing to fight to protect our values and our way of life? Don’t you wish we had a few more of them in Washington???

Jerry Hogan is a retired US Army Lieutenant Colonel who volunteers to write this column. He can be reached at jerryhogan@sbcglobal.net or 214-394-4033.