In the deserts of Iraq, American soldiers bare the face of true bravery. The work they do, sometimes, represents a side of the Iraqi conflict that most never see. They are the faces standing behind you in line at the grocery store. They are the faces sitting next to you at the little league game. They are the faces that at first glance appear to blend in with the rest of the world. Although sometimes unknown, they are the true American heroes.
Luling native, Jarrod Friloux, is one such face and one such hero. Arriving home from Iraq in 2003, Friloux spent 13 months overseas after serving in Kuwait and Iraq. A specialist in the native language of Iran, Farsi, this soldier's role in the conflict represents the humanitarian efforts of the conflict nearly a world away.
Friloux saw a different world. One many donít see on the evening news. "People who are in opposition of the war in Iraq really dismiss the good efforts of the soldiers", said SSG Jarrod Friloux of the 415th Military Intelligence Battalion in Carville, La.
Friloux, a full time member of the Louisiana National Guard, witnessed American soldiers carrying out countless good acts for the Iraqi people. "We brought out doctors and dentists to see the citizens of Iraq that were living in very poor conditions. Some only living in mud huts," said Friloux. He went on to say, "Most of those people are farmers. They harvest dates and grow fruit. They would give us bags full. It was the only things they had to give. We were very thankful."
"We were very lucky. There were no fatalities during my mission. One young woman was injured, but I didn't even know her. She recuperated fully," said Friloux. On the subject of working with soldiers from other countries in the deserts of Iraq, Friloux said,"We were all there with a common goal: to help the Iraqi people."
Friloux spent most of his time overseas in Kuwait, camped out at Camp Ashraf. The remainder of his time was spent in Iraq at Balad Airbase about 30 miles NNE of Baghdad. The deserts are hot in the summer with temperatures reaching nearly 140 degrees. "But the winters are cold. It may be only 30 or 40 degrees but it feels much much colder because there is no humidity," said the American soldier.
Being so far from home and his two sons, Friloux got to call home after a month away. "The communications didn't get set until several months after we arrived in Kuwait. They finally set up email and had military phones we could use to call home. If you could stay up, you could get online at night and talk with loved ones over the internet," said Friloux.
In this day and age, war is a common theme known by almost every culture in every corner of the world. The evening news most often reflects the casualties of the Iraqi conflict. Refreshing is the site of an American soldier emerging from the ashes of the war-ravaged Iraq, as an American hero, telling a tale of humanity and charity.
|Jarrod Friloux (right) with Sgt. Tim Traylor at Balad Airbase in 2003.|