A group of North Carolina National Guard soldiers in the midst of a deployment to Iowa that began in June are finding ways to keep busy in their off hours. The 180 soldiers are repairing guard equipment from around the world at Camp Dodge in Johnston. Captain James Sasser of Four Oaks, North Carolina says they know it’s a better assignment than being in the Middle East, but he says it’s still tough being away. He says because they’re in the U.S. and have easier access to home, they tend to sometimes think of home more. He says when you’re overseas you tend to get a mental picture that you’re not going to be home for awhile and you tend to focus more. One soldier is anxiously awaiting the birth of a new baby, while another is missing his son’s final high school football season. But, Sergeant Howard Clark of Lorenberg says they’re making the most of their stay in Iowa. He says, “I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been real good, the people have been real nice.” He says they went to Boone and went on an innertube ride down the river. The soldiers work almost 12-hour days, but have evenings and weekends free. Sergeant John Smith of Kenston says they’ve taken advantage of nearby Saylorville Lake. He says one of the guys has a pontoon boat and they go out and catch catfish. He says they also have a weight room and play softball. 20-year-old Specialist Anne Marie Moxley of Elkin says she spends hours reading. She says she also enjoys heading out in a car with a friend to check out the Iowa countryside — as she’s never been outside the east coast before. She says she lives in the foothills of the mountain country in North Carolina and says Iowa is flat but nice and “very pretty country.” Moxley was one of several of the soldiers that visited the Iowa State Fair. She says she goes to the Dixie Classic fair every year at home and says the Iowa fair was similar, but bigger. She says she only went once, but would’ve gone back if she had a chance. While they’ve enjoyed their time in Iowa thus far, all the North Carolinians say they’re not looking forward to winter. They say they’re not looking forward to the cold and dread that part of it. Although some say they plan to take the innertubes they used earlier and use them to ride down a hill if it snows.
You are here: / / North Carolina soldiers make the most of stay in Iowa