VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - 21 year-old Freddie Hudson is a member of the Air Force reserves. In January, his unit was deployed.
Because he's a sophomore at Valdosta State University, he could have stayed. He chose to go anyway.
"I wanted the experience. I wanted the actual first hand experience of what's going on over there and see if for myself," Hudson says.
It was a decision that didn't sit well with family and friends.
"I kind of told my mom it was deployment. I didn't tell her that I volunteered to go with the unit. I told her I already had orders and it was set in stone. That way my friends, family and associates wouldn't talk me out of it."
But once on the ground at Balad Air Base in Iraq, it was a decision he was glad he made.
"I can really see myself using the things that I learned in the enlisted corp as an officer," Hudson says.
He was assigned to work with ground communication systems and spent his off time volunteering in the hospital on base.
He says he was surprised to see that things weren't as bad as they seemed on TV. "I was nervous about having encounters with the locals. But a lot of the locals were very tolerant that we were there because we provided them with medical assistance with their children."
He's now safely back home and happy to have given a semester to serve.
Hudson says the trip has encouraged him to pursue a military career.
He hopes to return to Iraq again once he graduates and joins the Air Force.