Rob is the noncommissioned officer in charge of USACE’s Baghdad Area Office, which manages 167 projects valued at more than $500 million.
“We’re building schools, repairing sewer lift stations, installing new water and sewer lines, paving roads, constructing courthouses, renovating hospitals, and putting in new electric distribution networks. I just visited one of the new 28 primary healthcare centers we’re building in Baghdad. That one facility will serve a neighborhood of 38,000 and is capable of providing medical care to 150 patients daily. We’ve turned over most of those facilities to the Ministry of Health and will complete the last one by September,” he continued.
“We’re involved in helping local residents, trying to give them a foothold, a foundation to stand on as they strive to provide a brighter future for their children and grandchildren. It’s a great mission and although I’m just completing my first month of a six-month deployment, I’ve already submitted paperwork to extend for a full year. I can think of no better unit to be assigned.”
Rob says one of the factors that allows him to concentrate on his work and not worry about his family is how their community has stepped in from time to time to help out. Rob and his wife April reside in Chattanooga, Okla., a town of 500 people.
“We have lots of animals at our home. One day our horse got loose and April couldn’t find him. She called our pastor who recruited some volunteers and the horse was soon located and returned. That’s the kind of neighbors we have. I don’t plan to leave the military anytime soon, but when I retire, Chattanooga will be our permanent home.”
Howard admits he wasn’t very excited when he learned his son would be working in Iraq.
“Probably like any parent, I was concerned. But I’ve been able to spend more time with him here in Baghdad than I have in years and that’s a blessing. I’m very proud of Rob and his military career. He’s doing a tremendous job.”