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Why I Serve: Reservist Ready for More Iraq Duty After R&R

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

RHEIN-MAIN AIR BASE, Germany, March 15, 2005 – Following a two-week rest-and-recuperation leave spent catching up with family, his girlfriend and the latest movies and eating his fill of chicken teriyaki, Army Spc. James Newton is headed back to Iraq to continue his deployment.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Spc. James Newton said he joined the military so he wouldnt be sidelined during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Photo by Donna Miles

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

"I'm ready to go back and finish it up," said the 19-year-old Pulaski, Va., native, who joined the Army Reserve's 463rd Engineer Battalion fresh out of high school.

Newton said he enlisted with no illusions that reserve service would keep him out of harm's way. His unit deployed to Camp Anaconda at Balad Air Base, Iraq, last October and is expected to be home before Christmas.

"I wanted to show my country that I cared," he said here today while awaiting a flight to Baghdad. "I didn't want to just sit back and watch things happen. I wanted to be a part of them."

At Camp Anaconda, Newton has proven himself a jack-of-all-trades. He's building mini-warehouses, working on plumbing and helping upgrade the infrastructure for his fellow troops.

But he also carries out what's become an increasingly universal mission in Iraq: conducting mobile patrols to help maintain security.

Newton said he believes in the cause in Iraq and is proud to be a part of it. No time of his deployment felt more gratifying than Iraq's election day, he said. "Helping make that happen felt pretty good," he said.

He called his two-week R&R "a real morale boost" and said he has no regrets about returning to Iraq to finish up his tour. "That's why I signed up," he said. "I'm ready to go."

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