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U.S. Navy Joseph Rath
Navy Tech Volunteers for Duty in Iraq

By Naval Support Activity Mechanicsburg Public Affairs

CAMP VICTORY, Iraq, Jan. 10, 2007 — Joseph Rath is currently on a six-month assignment with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region Division Central District at Camp Victory. Rath, who serves as the resident office engineer technician, oversees a wide array of projects at Camp Victory.

Volunteering to deploy to Iraq as a Department of Navy civilian in November 2006, Rath wanted to contribute his part to the historic undertaking of rebuilding a country.

For Rath, an engineering technician at the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Mid-Atlantic Public Works Department at Naval Support Activity Mechanicsburg, Pa., curiosity was also a motivating factor in his decision, and his request received the full support of his chain of command.

"I wanted to see for myself what was going on here and help with the effort in any way I could," Rath said.

His current boss, a U.S. Navy commander, was there last year and encouraged Rath to apply.

"He said the hours would be long, Id meet some terrific people, and the rewards would be many. He was right," Rath added.

He applied for the position through the Army's job site under "Operation Iraqi Freedom - Serving our friends in Iraq and Afghanistan (SOFIA)," which is a reimbursable detail.

Rath has been in Iraq almost two months and has worked with many nationalities and organizations comprising many
diverse cultures and backgrounds. According to Rath, he has discovered that pride in one's country and freedom is a universal language.

"It’s clear to me that people have basically the same needs worldwide, a desire for meaningful work, providing a decent standard of living for their families, respect, dignity, living life to the fullest, and enjoying laughter," he said. "My Iraqi counterparts come to work motivated with those goals. I admire their courage and conviction to make Baghdad a better place for their children and grandchildren. They each voice pride in their country and believe we’re making a difference."

In addition to learning new and more efficient processes in construction, contracting, and material accountability, Rath is discovering other inner qualities and traits, like patience and persistence, which help get things accomplished.

After a four-year tour in the U.S. Navy, Rath went to work for the Army at Fort George G. Meade, Md., in 1987 as an electrician. He started at NAVFAC in 1989. He primarily plans and performs electrical projects for various shops on the 800-acre Mechanicsburg base, which includes roughly 8 million square feet of warehousing and administrative space.

"I’m glad I came," Rath said. "Of my 23 years in government service, this is definitely one of the more interesting and challenging assignments I’ve ever had. I’m confident our efforts are making the world a safer place to live."

Last Updated:
01/10/2007, Eastern Daylight Time
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