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Guardsman Gordon returns home from Bahrain PDF Print E-mail
Monday, November 12, 2012 12:23 PM

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DELPHOS — Things often change for soldiers with little notice. National Guardsman Jim Gordon, 49, was given orders he would be going with a brigade to Afghanistan with 1st Charlie Co. 37th Special Troops Battalion out of Springfield last October. He ended up in Bahrain.

“We went to Camp Shelby in Mississippi and the mission was cut by almost 67 percent or 900 troops,” Gordon explained. “Myself and 17 soldiers were then assigned to Task Force Buckeye and sent to Kuwait and then Bahrain. There were four separate missions for 500 troops with the main focus on entry control. We had four guard towers and were a quick-reaction force.”

Bahrain is a small island country situated near the western shores of the Persian Gulf. It is an archipelago of 33 islands, the largest being Bahrain Island, at 34 miles long by 11 miles wide. Saudi Arabia lies to the west and is connected to Bahrain by the King Fahd Causeway. Iran lies 120 miles to the north of Bahrain, across the Gulf. The peninsula of Qatar is to the southeast across the Gulf of Bahrain.

Gordon’s job was in administration near the Royal Bahrain Air Force Base and his troops were there for protection.

“They like the U.S. They were happy we were there. They were very polite. We got along with them great,” he said. “We helped protect them. Bahrain is an island about 40 miles long and 15 miles wide.”

Bahrian is also near the Strait of Hormuz, the only sea passage from the Persian Gulf to the open ocean and one of the world’s most strategically-important choke points.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz if the U.S. and E.U. impose sanctions against Iran.

Life in Bahrain was not easy. It made Gordon and his men thankful for the simple things in the U.S.

“Drinking water was questionable and there was no grass or trees,” he expounded. “The days are hot and the nights are cold. There was very little rain.”

The troops did have more recreation time than their counterparts in Afghanistan and other more volatile places.

“We could go to dinner and get afternoon passes,” he said. “We were more fortunate than others.”

The Delphos native also enjoyed some sightseeing, visiting museums and mosques and the Tree of Life, which turned out to be a little disappointing.

“The Tree of Life doesn’t live up to it’s name,” he said. “It was a little rough looking.”

Part of Gordon’s job was make soldiers realize many of their fellow soldiers are not so lucky.

With 29 years of service to his country under his belt, Gordon returned home and quickly left again to attend Sergeant Majors Academy, the final leadership course for enlisted soldiers. Once completed, Gordon will attain the rank.

Gordon began is military career to help pay for college. After thee years in the Army, he was ready to hang up his uniform and hit the books. Then he talked to an in-service recruiter who told him more college benefits were available. After six years with an additional year for schooling, Gordon stayed on to reach 10 years.

“Once you hit 10 years, you might as well do 20. I’m at 29 and I’m playing it by ear. I’ll stay in as long as they’ll have me,” he said. “I’ve had three knee surgeries and I’m not a young man anymore. They don’t let you stay if you make the physical requirements. I want to stay as long as I enjoy it and am actively producing. I don’t want a desk job. So I’m playing it by ear.”

Gordon’s wife of 22 years, Ellen (Odenweller), is pleased to have her husband back. During the year he was gone, she ran the couple’s business, JP Drainage Solutions, and kept up with household maintenance and repairs. She did have help from Gordon’s brothers, Nick and Joe.
“We both have certain ways we do things so I did things my way while he was gone,” she said. “The hardest part was during the winter. I missed him a lot more then. It’s dark when you get up and dark when you go to bed. It got a little lonely. The family support meetings help and there is are excellent family readiness groups.”
Nonetheless, Ellen will be happy to spend the upcoming holidays with her soldier.


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