February 8, 2005
Fort Stewart-- Many of the citizen soldiers here at Fort Stewart will end up on patrols in the heart of Baghdad going street-to-street, door-to-door, looking for weapons or insurgents. One of the instructors leading that urban operations training knows better than most what they'll face.
First Sgt. Tony Walker takes his teaching seriously, because the more these soldiers know about what they'll see in Iraq, the safer they'll be. "The training that they're getting is to save their life," said Walker.
It worked for Tony. "It was pretty intense," he recalls of his tour of over a year in Baghdad. He got back less that six months ago. "I lost friends and battle buddies," Walker says.
But he survived, and has made it his mission to help other soldiers do the same. "The better prepared and the better trained you are for it, then the better you'll be able to handle it once it comes down."
Tony asked to become an instructor, and was assigned to Fort Stewart, where he's passing on his personal experience to Georgia’s citizen soldiers who may soon patrol the same dangerous streets he walked, not long ago. "It grabs their attention right then because they know you've seen it, and you know what's going to happen because you've been on the ground. They're more focused and inclined to be tuned in to you."
Staff Sergeant Rodney Wilmore is one of those who's tuned in. He's been in the Guard for 13 years, but this is his first deployment. "If we start doing it now, once we get over there, we won't have to think about it. It'll be second nature."
He appreciates the importance of this training, and Tony Walker's dedication. "I want to be prepared, so I think this is very effective training."
That's just what Walker likes to hear, because he knows what war is really like. "You're scared, your adrenaline's pumping, and anybody who says they weren't scared is fibbing."
And he knows he can help save lives. "Cause if I can help better prepare them and get them back home to their families, that's what I'm here for," said Walker.
Ten men from Walker's squad were killed in Iraq.
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