An Iowa National Guard officer who’s been leading over 600 soldiers on a mission in Iraq for the past 16 months says it’s an "eye-opener" to think of how long he and his unit have been there.
Lieutenant Colonel Ben Corell of Strawberry Point recently spoke with Iowa reporters by phone from his base in Iraq, about 150 miles west of Baghdad.
"Time has a different aspect here," Corell said. "…You take one day at a time."
For more than a year, Corell’s been working 15-hours-a-day as he guides his troops through their mission, which is providing security to convoys moving through the al-Anbar province in Iraq.
"Once you hop on that wheel and take over the mission, you have so much to do every day that time just has a different connotation to it," Corell said.
Corell’s unit has gone on over 500 missions, escorting trucks that carried about a third of the fuel coalition forces in Iraq have used in the past year and a half. Corell’s batallion of Iowa Guard soldiers has racked up over four million miles in Iraq.
"It’s been a long haul for us here," Corell said.
Corell estimates he and his soldiers will be back in Iowa sometime in late July or early August.