The soldiers of the Kentucky National Guard’s Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry have been working seven days a week since their arrival in Baghdad providing convoy security and working with the U.S. Army’s 1st Cavalry Division in the War on Terror.

“It is totally different from what I expected,” Cpl. Jeremy Garland of Bravo Company, 1st of the 149th, said of Iraq. “I expected it to be open desert, but it is tropical. Right now its spring here and there are a lot of beautiful things to see.”

Garland said the soldiers are up by 6 a.m., have breakfast and if the unit has a mission that day, they have the mission briefing. For security reasons, the soldiers could not discuss the exact nature of their missions except to define them as escort missions.

The soldiers said they have had limited time to interact with the local citizens. However, in their free time, they have done a bit of sightseeing and been to a few of the local Iraqi shops.

“There are four major languages spoken in Iraq,” Spc. Robert Wood said. “We have learned a little bit of the languages and we have interpreters assigned to us.”

Pvt. 1st Class Jonah Gambrel said the Iraqis are cooperative and despite what the major media outlets may say with killed and wounded soldiers from ambushes and improvised explosive devices, seem glad to have the Americans there

Wood is using his free time to continue with his college education. When he is not on duty, he can be found working on his correspondence courses.

Gambrel said when he gets his downtime, he can either be found in the gym or he tries to catch up on his sleep to get ready for the next mission.

The soldiers do receive passes to Qatar, which may last up to four days. As part of the deployment, all of the Mountain Warriors will receive 15 days leave to come back home. The rotation for the leave began in January.

Besides the leave, the soldiers receive regular care packages from home courtesy of the members of the Family Readiness Group

“Bravo Company is upbeat and motivated,” First Sergeant Terry Roar said. “The soldiers hear the negative news, but when they have a mission, they just push the negative aside and concentrate on what they have to do.”

More than 500 officers and soldiers from the Mountain Warriors Battalion from units based in London, Somerset, Barbourville, Williamsburg and Revena have been deployed to Iraq. The battalion’s fourth company, Delta, which is based in Middlesboro, served in Iraq in 2005-06.

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