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Why I Serve: Northern Sailor Adjusting to Cuban Heat

By Kathleen T. Rhem
American Forces Press Service

NAVAL STATION GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba, April 7, 2005 – Navy Seaman Andrew Ellenberger grew up in Onaway, Mich. -- in the northern reaches of the United States. To him, the spring daytime highs in the mid-80s here are "extremely hot."

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Navy Seaman Andrew Ellenberger stands in front of an electrified fence that separates him from a fighting position and the crystal waters of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The 23-year-old sailor is adjusting to the Cuban heat and said he feels like hes making a real contribution to the war on terror during his deployment here. Photo by Kathleen T. Rhem

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

"When I was in college, I lived just below the International Bridge to Canada," he said. "It hits 85 degrees maybe three times a year there, so this summer is going to be pretty hard on me. But I'll deal with it."

The 23-year-old Navy master-at-arms deployed here from Naval Weapons Station Charleston, S.C., in March. He's assigned to the Joint Detention Group of Joint Task Force Guantanamo.

He left behind his wife and toddler daughter, Evelyn Grace. Another baby, a son the couple already has decided to name Brian, is due soon.

Ellenberger said they're naming the baby after his great-grandfather, who died in 1988. "He's the only great-grandfather I ever knew," Ellenberger said. "He was in World War I, and we used to play checkers when I was a little kid."

He said his wife is happy he's been deployed to Guantanamo Bay because he'd volunteered to deploy to Iraq. Still, he said, he appreciates the chance to contribute to the war on terror wherever he might be.

"If I was over there, I'd be sending them here," he said. "Now I'm here, so I'm dealing with them here.

"I hear a lot of things 'on the block,'" Ellenberger said, noting that everything he hears from detainees gets documented and reviewed for intelligence value. "So I'm hoping that by me being here I'm saving lives over there," he added, "because I have a lot of friends that are over there."

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Related Sites:
Joint Task Force Guantanamo
Naval Station Guantanamo Bay
Why I Serve

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