ST. GEORGE – After spending a week with the Triple Deuce in Iraq, a local DJ shared his experiences with the troops and the honor it was to be among them.
Each weekday morning on KZHK-FM, 95.9 The Hawk, Disc Jockey Jon Smith plays classic rock and entertains listeners on the Jon Smith Show from 6 to 10 a.m. The show’s traditional locale, the Canyon Media Broadcasting studio, was replaced with the streets of Iraq Oct. 17-21. Smith was able to stay connected with his audience via satellite phone and Facebook updates (see previous story here).
When Smith arrived in Iraq he said he was amazed by the sheer scope of the operation the United States had undertaken in that nation.
“It’s impossible for me to convey the [experience] in words, impossible for me to convey in pictures, how big this operation is,” Smith said.
Smith was able to go on patrol with members of the Triple Deuce in Baghdad, and said they were proud of what had been accomplished in Iraq.
The United States had invaded, conquered, occupied and rebuilt Iraq. Now the country was given back as a self-determining, sovereign nation, and not as the puppet state of a foreign regime.
Smith said it was an honor to visit the Triple Deuce and associated members of the Utah National Guard.
“Our troops are doing a great job,” he said, “they all deserve our support.”
Smith was able to show support from home through a banner signed by 700 people, and an American flag sent to him by Congressman Jim Matheson.
“My congressman flew a flag over the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. and then gave it to me to deliver to the troops on the battlefield,” Smith said. “That’s a tremendous honor.”
For a man who tells jokes on the radio for a living, Smith said that being able to present the flag to the troops was a defining moment of his trip. The Triple Deuce flew the flag over one of the presidential palaces in Baghdad, and then put it on display in their unit’s headquarters.
While in Iraq, Smith and the members of the Triple Deuce heard the announcement that American forces would be out of Iraq by Dec. 31, 2011. He was able to witness the troops’ reactions firsthand.
Smith described them as excited, but said there was no major display of jubilation from what he saw. Instead, the news was met by a business-as-usual kind of attitude.
“They’re focusing on their jobs,” Smith said.
What lies ahead of the Triple Deuce now is what is called a “draw down.” It is a period of time in which the US will begin to send troops and materials home. The disposal of any unwanted or unneeded items, plus the potential turnover of any installations and equipment to the Iraqis, will also take place as the draw down continues.
As for whether or not the troops will actually return home before Dec. 31, no one seems to know.
“There’s no definitive information yet,” said Major Bruce Roberts, the public affairs officer for the Utah National Guard.
Roberts also said that moving all the troops and material out of Iraq was a “huge task.” The 450 members of the National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 222nd Field Artillery (the Triple Deuce) are just a part of the thousands of troops on the list to return home.
– The Jon Smith Show Facebook page
– The Utah National Guard
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