Local Soldiers in Iraq, Part II

These soldiers face daily dangers of roadside bombs along the war-torn highways of Iraq. Soldiers of Alpha Company of the 121st Infantry based in Valdosta drive along the roads of Iraq.

They escort supply convoys going between Kuwait and Army bases all over Iraq. They are always on the lookout for roadside bombs, also called IEDs, which insurgents hide on the road.

SPC Sean Martin from Cairo, GA, says, “You always have to be aware of your surrounds, you just never know where you might come up on IEDs or snipers."

Before the soldiers of Alpha Company had this road duty they patrolled their own area near Baghdad. But wherever soldiers are in Iraq they are in danger of running across IEDs.

SSGT Gerald Coleman of Camilla, GA, "What you look for are freshly dug places by the side of road; dead animals in road. They'll plant an IED inside the animals, get close and set it off."

The insurgents set out the IEDs because they can't win a straight fight, but soldiers say they have to get on with the job without dwelling on the risk.

SPC Michael Vermette from Tallahassee says, "You get used to it, you don't think about it. You hear about it while moving roads, but you can’t focus on it or it will drive crazy or you'll lose nerve."

When escorting convoys, if an IED goes off the soldiers can fire back, but then have to keep going out of the area.

Many soldiers prefer having a job where they can go after their attackers, but many soldiers say they get satisfaction fighting insurgents.

SGT Marvin Paige of Homerville, GA, says, "As a combat soldier, you want to apply your trade sooner or later. I'm not sure how my wife thinks, but that's what we do as infantry soldiers is be combat soldiers.”

The Humvees are pretty well protected with armor all round including the doors and windows. Of course, the insurgents are innovative too, setting off IEDs with radio waves and pressure plates and even radar, but the soldiers say they feel pretty safe in these Humvees.