Official Nebraska Goverment Website Nebraska State Historical Society

  The Nebraska National Guard               
  Nebraska's Citizen Soldiers in the Twenty-First Century   

Text of Audio Interviews

 A Rodriguez A: We finally got to Speicher and it was funny because as soon as we got to the gate it stopped raining. I'm soaking wet, I'm really uncomfortable. I felt kind of safe now so I kind of let my shoulders down and there's this guy at the gate and he says, "Welcome home, welcome home," and it kind of hit me. Okay, we're going to be here for a while.

A Rodriguez B: I had to share a small container with two other soldiers. There were three of us. It was actually, I want to say, maybe ten by twenty, maybe not even that. At first we had no hot water so we were taking showers in really cold water. It's not very comfortable, it makes for a quick shower. Once we got there though thank God that we're a maintenance company. We had people that could work on that stuff and got the hot water going pretty fast.
     The chow hall, they never ran out of chicken, I didn't see one chicken in Iraq but they always seemed to have chicken at the chow hall. I can't complain about the food, we did have to eat MREs for a while. The MREs kind of got old and it actually led me to eat some Iraqi food, and it was on Saddam's birthday. We were on this detail, watching these Iraqis tearing down this building and cleaning it. They were eating some chicken with pita bread and some vegetables and they invited me over and so I said, why not. I tasted some of their food, I thought it was a good deal. Needless to say, the next day I was really sick. I should have just stuck to the MREs.

A Rodriguez C: I knew one of the soldiers we lost. When we received the word it hit pretty hard. I kind of buried it. I didn't show too many emotions at first, but I can tell you when I went to bed that night I buried my face in the pillow and then the kind of, the fear kind of set in. It was just, I didn't want to go back on the road at all. It was a mixture of, I had just gone on leave. I had just seen my family again and to come back and have something like that happen, it was really scary. After that I would show my feelings a lot more, you know, when I had a friend go out on the road or when I went out on the road because the reality had just happened; you know it's real. I'd have to say prior to that I wasn't so much showing my feelings towards another soldier. After that I was more of a hug giver. I'd give you a hug so I think it really kind of changed me in that way. It really angered me. You tend to kind of want to take your anger out towards somebody or focus it on something and I did have some anger issues towards the Iraqis and it took me a while to kind of get over that. To realize, "look it's not them, it's insurgency. It's something else," and then you start thinking what did we just lose our soldiers to? What are we doing here? Why? But then it boils down to: we're soldiers, we joined the guard, we know what the consequences could be, we're serving our country. You're proud and it's part of the package.

  M Rodriguez A: Well, when he first joined he told him, I'm going to be a soldier. And my son kind of understood, and the little one was too young. But when he was deployed, he told him he was going to be gone for a while and that he needed to go help the people in Iraq. And my son was, I think he was still young to get the big picture, but once my husband was over there I remember he came home one day from school and he was telling me that somebody at school had told him that soldiers in Iraq die, so he was afraid about it. He said, "Is my daddy going to die?" And I explained to him and I said, well there's different jobs that people do in the Army. Some people are out there actually fighting, other people are just helping them by working, by fixing their weapons, or doing different things. I told him, there's nurses, there's doctors, there's all kinds of things. I said, your dad is not one of the people that are fighting, he's helping by fixing weapons so you don't have to worry about that he's safe right now. But he would see it on the news too, and he would ask me if that was where daddy was and I'd be like, no, it's kind of far away from where he is. Things can happen, but he's safe right now. So that's how we kind of dealt with that.

 M Rodriguez B: It's like we were just getting used to not worrying as much and then that happened and it's like your back to, like, the first day. You worry about it and you worry about the way he was feeling because he was very down and he was scared again, as he was at first, of being there because he said, you never know. You know every time I go on a mission it's a risk you take.

 M Rodriguez C: I think we got to a point where we didn't agree with what was going on over there, but we understood why he was over there and how he was helping with what he was doing, so we tried to support that. I didn't feel bitter about it and at the end you kind of feel like we're fighting for a lost cause, but now we talk about it and we definitely support what the troops go and do, but it doesn't necessarily mean that we support the decisions that are being made for them.


 Brewer A: There were a number of buildings that were burning, fires were almost impossible to put out because there was no water pressure in the town anywhere. So you had a smoke-filled environment that you were traveling in and you would have a lot of spots where it would be dry and then there would be water maybe four to six feet deep and then it would be dry again. So you were going from land to water, land to water, which made it very difficult for boats to traverse most of the areas there where there were people that were trapped. The temperatures would range in the day between ninety and a hundred and five, at night rarely did it get below about eighty degrees so it made it challenging to even sleep at night and you constantly had the combination of the stench from the water from the decaying animals, you had the smell of the burning buildings kind of all mixed into this constant haze that hovered over the city.

 Brewer B: I don't think there was a single situation where we had ill-dealings or situations between civilians and the military personnel. They were grateful we were there. They sometimes were disappointed we had to tell them that they could not bring their dog with them or cat or something, because they're close, they're animals, and that's kind of all they had, but we had no facilities to care for the animals so it was just something out of the realm of possibility for us. That was the only thing we saw that was maybe somewhat negative toward the military. There was one gentleman who refused to go, we probably spent an hour trying to talk him into going. He finally refused so we drove off and left him there. There was a Kansas City news reporter that had ridden with us that day, she wrote an article that night, it was in the Kansas City paper the next day and this man's son happened to live in Kansas City, saw it, had not heard from his father, didn't know the situation, so he got a hold of me said, "Listen I'm his son, I've got Power of Attorney, I want you to go visit (indecipherable). So we drove back there to remove him and he came out with his bags and said he was ready to go he said, "Well I stayed one night alone and that's all I want to stay?" so we didn't have to physically move him. It was just ironic that had that sequence of events happened we would have never came back and he probably would have perished. So sometimes having the press on board isn't all bad.


 Lempke A: I do remember first somebody saying, "Well it's a clear day," and I said, "Boy, that's really odd, how in the world can an aircraft fly into a building in New York on a clear day, that's really strange." It didn't cross my mind that it could have been an airliner. I thought well, it was some sort of a private airplane that was lost or disoriented or something like that. Then, as I was driving back to the office getting ready to head downtown, more and more started coming in about the potential for a terror attack and something like that. Well, when I came into the office, everyone was perched around my TV watching the events. The thing I'll always remember was, my mind was on other things, not that, and so I was getting ready to go on and do my thing and I was in a little bit of a hurry. And I kind of got caught up in a few things here, as I was trying to get out the door, and then that second one hit. And then that convinced me that maybe something was going on. And so I hung around a bit and then it wasn't too long after that when the building came down. So it was at that moment then I said, "Well, I need to stay here."

 Lempke B: We decided we obviously need to update security around here so I remember us calling the department of roads and going out and finding every jersey barrier that we could because that's what we use to ring the buildings here until we had fences in. I remember there were discussions about whether or not we wanted to do something at the capitol or not, decided no, they really didn't want, expect to change the way they did business. I was a little bit concerned about that at the time because I felt that if other states were doing protective measures for their capitols that we would be considered a weak point and this is where terrorists would turn if they were indeed wide-spread throughout the U.S. One thing I remember in particular was our security guys coming in and saying two things. One is you should take the stars off the state car so they can't tell you're a general riding around and number two they wanted to provide security service for me at home. And I thought about that. My first thought, well that's ridiculous. But then my second thought was well, gee-whiz you know, this nation really has no clue where these terrorists are or what they have planned next and that was really an unnerving feeling.

 Lempke C: The next important thing that I'll always remember is was starting the airport duty where we put guards in the airports. This was about a week and a half later, I get a call from the Governors chief of staff and he says the President wants to put Guardsmen at all the airports and so we need to organize to do that. Well, then I found out we had ten airports in Nebraska we were going to have to protect, which was one of the highest in the nation. So then, we go down for a meeting with the governor. Then we learned that in providing airport security there was actually two elements of it. One of it that is the responsibility of the airport, but the other part that's actually the responsibility of the airline. So we'd have to work with both those parts. So we talked about this for a while and then next thing you know we have a press conference scheduled out at the airport and of course I was the main speaker at that press conference. Afterwards, sitting back and thinking, my gosh I came in at 6:30 in the morning not knowing a thing about airport security and next thing you know, middle of the day I'm giving a press conference on it. And so that's how things were. Suddenly things that you would never have thought about were suddenly very important.


 Schuurmans A: The screening process that they had to hire interpreters wasn't all that great. A lot of them were ex-patriots. Folks that left Afghanistan, went to Pakistan or wherever and then came back after the Taliban fell and were looking for work. They had learned English to a level. First part is just dealing with the terp. Maintaining a normal conversation as you work through an interpreter with someone that doesn't speak any English. The second piece is trying to actually use language that they understand. An example is, as were out there working with these infantry soldiers trying to set up a night observation post, developing interlocking fields of fire. Well, to us that makes a lot of sense, but you're telling your Afghan counterpart through the interpreter to do that. And you have to watch a lot of body language because you can tell when that Afghan leader was told through the terp that we were looking at interlocking fields of fire, you could tell he thought we were absolutely nuts. Could not figure out what the heck we were talking about and finally he came back to us and the question was, "Why do you want to set our fields on fire?" So to try to talk in language that the interpreter could actually translate for you was challenging because the military, we have our own lingo.

 Schuurmans B: The problem we've got, especially in Afghanistan, it is so remote and isolated and the infrastructure is so minimal, that if we pull out and leave a vacuum or if we had never engaged Afghanistan in the first place, that would have continued to be a training ground for terrorists. A sanctuary, a haven, for every terrorist organization in the world. You look at Afghans history, for centuries and centuries that country has been conquered, but no ones ever held it. The ability for any sort of group to come and go, to set up camp and do whatever there was just unlimited. Until we were able to do what we did. And now that we're there, it's even more critical that in the heart of Asia we don't have another failed state. That they are successful, that they develop their own form of democracy and show that part of the world, that hey, you know, it does work with a Muslim based culture and it can work. There is no quick solution. We're not going to fix this in a year or two. And the frustrating piece is to see all the progress that was made be unraveled and disappear because we chose not to stay there for the long haul.

 Schuurmans C: One instance where our successes saved lives was in a small village called Nic Naw (spelling?). They had a fairly large group of children that wanted a school and we used commanders emergency relief funding, that I had access to, and actually got a school built for them. But in the process we provide them the donations coming from home, the notebooks, pencils, volleyballs, hats, whatever. We would do our humanitarian assistance drops there fairly often and one day we had a convoy driving right past Nick Naw. The kids ran out and stopped us because up ahead in the road they knew there was an IED buried there. So how do you measure success? To me that's a success.


 Searcy A: I think I had a positive impact on a bunch of different levels. I'd say obviously not only in country, in the locals that we may have affected or in the terrorists that we detained or destroyed or security. We helped with the brigade obviously. So obviously it's a lasting effect in Iraq and it was obviously at our level; I can't speak for other units. But also I think it's the soldiers that were involved, I think it's their families. They know and can touch and feel and explain and have the first-hand experience of everything that they went through of sacrifices, being U.S., a soldier, freedom itself, seeing it grow and spawn inside of a country. A lot of the media doesn't report that. That is happening and a war that is successful and all the integral values that go with that. That they can now spread to their communities and hopefully with all the other soldiers that come back it will be the same way. It'll only make our country better and stronger.

Text and Description of Video


Text of Land Mine Disposal Video
Fire in the hole!
Fire in the hole!
Light it up Dave".
(Voices are followed by the sound of six large explosions).

Description of video
Giant clouds of dust generated by the explosions and shaped like mushrooms rise into the air, perhaps hundreds of feet.




Text of Bosnian Weapons Harvest Video
(Voices can not be translated. They speak in Bosniac).

Description of video
Civilians are turning in weapons to American soldiers in exchange for money. The next scene is an outline map of Bosnia on the ground, with weapons images disappearing one a time. Final scene has a child then an adult playing and happy within the outline of Bosnia.





Text of car bomb cleanup video
(truck & wind noise)
(Voices indecipherable)

Description of video
Video camera pans over highway and sand desert showing American soldiers examining car bomb shrapnel thrown hundreds of feet by the force of the blast..





Text of soldiers videotaping dust storm during car bomb investigations
Hey Munoz, videotape that.
It's a running.
It's a running?
Whooo  hoooo
Oh Man
Car is about ready to get engulfed-oh man (chuckles)
It's like a tornado man
Did you tape that? Yeah-it just engulfed a soccer field.
Get over these houses too..."
(Speech is followed by wind noises as the dust storm engulfs the soldiers).




Text of soldiers discussing ordnance disposal.
(Some voices are indecipherable).
"That's a tank round. That's a sabot round right there.
Main gun over there and a sabot.
Yup, a sabot.
Sabot right there.
Got two rockets. . . ."

Description of video
A shallow pit maybe 15 to 20 feet long is lined with various types of explosive devices, mines and shells as soldiers discuss what they are viewing.




Text of driver conversation as Jenny Beck-Bos aids the wounded.
(truck noises)
(Australian accent) "As you can see we came under fire out along Bismark, not sure where, but you can see (gunshots begin and last throughout rest of video) there's a wounded American soldier on the ground there. There's billowing black smoke out across that you can see out there-it looks like this truck with the container on the back, it's a green truck, it's been hit to the point where I don't think it's going anywhere and pretty much we're scared (censored). . . ."

Description of video
Large semi-trailer trucks are stopped 3 deep across a highway. Jenny aids a wounded soldier out of the line of fire. She then re-enters her cab and drives her wounded passengers away from the battle.















  Maj. Gen. Roger Lempke

Individuals Stories

  Cpt. Robert Ford

  Maj. Martin Neal

  Cpt. Cindy Mefford

  Lt. Col. Tom Brewer

  Spc. Andrew Rodriguez

  Msgt. Martin Coleman

  Spc. Jenny (Beck) Bos

  Ssgt. John Ayers

  Sgt. Sion Odom

  Col. Thomas Schuurmans

  Chaplain Brian Kane

  Maj. Jim Oliver

  Col. George Skuodas

Homeland Missions




NSHS Home  |  Search  |  Index  |  Top
Last updated 4 December 2008  

For questions or comments on the website itself, email
Nebraska State Historical Society - P.O. Box 82554, 1500 R Street, Lincoln, NE 68501
Nebraska State Government Homepage
 |  Website Policies  |  © 2009 All Rights Reserved