Face of Defense: Texas Soldier Takes Pride in Making a Difference
By Staff Sgt. J.B. Jaso III, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
CAMP TAJI, Iraq, Feb. 20, 2008 Army Pvt. William Gentry was nervous and anxious to see what Iraq was like when he received his deployment notice. Until he deployed, the Austin, Texas, native had never been outside the United States.
Army Pvt. William Gentry, a native of Austin, Texas, stands watch during a patrol with Company B, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Multinational Division Baghdad. Photo by Sgt. Brad Willeford, USA
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
“My heart was beating so fast that I thought it was going to come out of my chest,” he said.
Gentry, an infantryman serving in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 25th Infantry Division’s Company B, 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, has been on more than 25 patrols, where he assisted in identifying and seizing enemy weapons caches.
His efforts, along with those of his fellow soldiers, are helping secure the area to provide the Iraqi government with the security environment it needs to provide essential services to the Iraqi people. Now that he has experience under his belt, Gentry said, he feels more at ease, which allows him to conduct his missions more thoroughly.
Sixty miles of walking per week takes it toll on the body, but despite his aching back and feet, Gentry said, he sees his pain as a necessity to life.
“The way I see it,” he said, “life without suffering is impossible; those who live running from pain live no life at all. This job may seem easy to some, but for most, it is a test to find out how strong of a person we really are.”
The quest to find his strength and the desire to travel, he said, motivated him to join the Army in October 2006.
Before joining the Army, Gentry had never been out of Texas. Now, he lives with U.S. and Iraqi soldiers on a joint security station, which provides Gentry and his unit the ability to rapidly respond to activities that occur in their area. Although he lives on a small compound, he said, he is thankful he can still communicate with those most important to him -- his mom and four siblings.
When he returns to Hawaii in about 13 months, Gentry said, he plans to go skydiving and explore more of the Hawaiian Island’s snorkeling opportunities. In the meantime, he said, he’ll learn all he can from the deployment and will strive to stay positive and continue to help make life better for Iraqis.
(Army Staff Sgt. J.B. Jaso III serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 25th Infantry Division’s 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team.)