SERGEANT DUNCAN DOMEY, 32, was deployed to Afghanistan with the 10th Mountain Division shortly after 9/11 as U.S. forces went on the hunt for Osama bin Laden. He sent this email to Deborah March 2, 2004.
Grew up: Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Dutch mother, American father. Came to the USA when I was 18
From: Currently Londonderry, but moved there in Sept. Before that 3 years at Ft Drum NY in the 10th Mountain Div (active duty).
Family: My father piloted B-52’s and Vulcan’s in the USAF, leading him to Europe. He was out of the service when he met my mother over there. My parents still live in Holland, where my dad runs his own luxury car export business, and my mother maintains the family affairs.
Old: 32, 5 April (close!)
Why Guard? I joined the Guard in June of 2003 after leaving active duty. I was using my GI bill money I had earned to get a masters degree, but I really like the Army. There were certain aspects of active duty I did not like (which would fill volumes to explain).
After 9/11: On 9/11 I was standing next to my HMMV, and my squad was ready to go into the field for a training exercise. Someone came running out saying a plane had hit the world trade center. We all rushed in, and watched the TV, in time to see the second plane hit. Our training exercise was canceled, and we went on our highest alerts. We turned our barracks into a fortress and started packing to go down to NYC. There was no call for our help in NYC, but within days we started packing. By the end of September we were in Uzbekistan guarding K2 airfield while the Special Forces did their now infamous housecleaning in Afghanistan. We were later moved to Baghram, to secure that airfield, and finally had our big battle in operation Anaconda. As part of a mortar platoon, and first to employ the 120 mm mortar dismounted in combat, we were one of the most effective assets there at 10.000 ft. After that hell, we returned back to the US in April 0f 2002. My old unit, and the guys from my squad are now back in Afghanistan for a second rotation. When I found out they were going I tried to extend my contract, but was refused. So now I get an all expenses paid trip to Iraq with the National Guard instead. I feel like I am on a grand tour of the Muslim part of the world. When not in the guard, I was working on a graduate degree from Texas A&M (online) in Advanced International Affairs.
Sports: Target/Tactical Shooting, hiking, skiing
Read/Think: Military history, the Economist, fantasy/sci-fi
Dreams: No idea, I never remember any
Discretionary items: Ipod, laptop, digital camera, letter writing material, essential soldiering items the Army does not provide (think sewing kit etc)
Music: 5489 songs on my Ipod – Rock/pop, jazz, movie soundtracks, ambient, trance, celtic, etc Mood dependent listening
Representing NH: Having no real roots in any state, I have chosen NH as my home. I love the state for its Yankee attitude, conservative politics and freedom. There is no state I would rather fight for – live free or die!
Mountain Co: I found out about 3/172 Mtn Co when I met the commander in Mountain Warfare school in January of 2003. They represent the real legacy of the mountain units that were created during WWII. I joined 10th Mountain with the expectation of climbing mountains. We certainly did so in Afghanistan, but had little regular mountain training. Cco does this all the time. It is also a tight group of like minded individuals, who love what they do, and look forward to our monthly get togethers.
Friends: I was fairly new to Cco, but already felt at home after a few drills. Many of the troops that were added to our unit for this deployment have integrated well. There are certain cultural differences between the infantry and their new colleagues, but they will be worked out over time.
Religion: Christian non-denominational. My faith is very important to me, and guides my thinking.
Informing family: I withheld the information from my mother until I could tell her in person. Otherwise, I simply told everyone by phone that I was activated (this being my second stint).
Bus to NJ: The only worry I had was what NJ would be like. It turned out to be a non starter. Like most experienced soldiers, you learn to take things one day at a time. Worrying about things that are out of your reach and out of your control just leads to unneeded stress.
News: Like so often in the military, the soldiers are the last to know about what is going on in the world. We catch a little news in the chow hall during lunch and dinner, and read Army Times. But I certainly am not as well informed as when I am at home.
Food: Standard Army fair. It could always be worse. Again, I have learned to ignore the food. I go, I fill my stomach, I come back several hours later for more.
Status: Only child, one cat (my roommate is taking care of her), I know almost no one in the community (family and friends excluded).