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CK native recalls Iraqi Freedom experience

Spc. Matthew Adams stands at Silverdale’s Waterfront Park. While deployed, he would dream about leaping from its dock. - Photo by Jesse Beals
Spc. Matthew Adams stands at Silverdale’s Waterfront Park. While deployed, he would dream about leaping from its dock.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

Army Spc. Matthew Adams arrived in Kuwait on Valentine’s Day. He spent his 21st birthday in a war zone.

Then after five months in “Operation Iraqi Freedom” the Central Kitsap native returned home Aug. 9. Family and friends celebrated Adams’s homecoming with a party Aug. 16 at his parents’ home.

He will return to Fort Hood, Texas in September.

“I don’t want people to think we went over there and annihilated people. We liberated a country from tyranny and evil,” he said.

He wasn’t prepared for people’s reactions about the war, especially people who oppose it, he said.

“It makes me feel good that country is better because we went over there,” he said.

Adams joined the Army in February 2000 while a junior at Central Kitsap High School. Unofficially he joined the military “for a girl” but Army life seems to agree with him.

“If you’re up to the lifestyle, it’s fun,” he said.

He serves as a radio operator with 31-Charlie Company and worked with medical teams tending to the Iraqi prisoners of war.

“I remember I asked one guy how he was doing and he touched his heart and shook his head and mumbled a few words in Arabic,” as if to thank him Adams said.

In the five months he was in Kuwait and Iraq, he estimated he saw 5,000 people seeking medical help. He arrived in Kuwait Feb. 14 and remembers the heat and the increasingly poor living conditions.

“Kuwait was all plush — toilets, good food and cool water,” he said.

On Feb. 27 he headed to Camp Virginia in the northern part of Kuwait. He recounts his journey with help from his journal, which he wrote in religiously.

On March 14 he got orders join the Third Infantry Division at Technical Assembly Hammer. March 21 “G-Day,” or Ground Day the Third Infantry headed out to Iraq. Their mission: to supply medical aid to the captured Iraqis.

March 23 he headed out to Tallil Air Base on a 28 hour convoy as part of a Forward Surgical Team. It was then thoughts of home swirled in the sands of sleep deprivation.

“I dreamt of jumping off the dock (at Silverdale Water Front Park). All that sand, it got to my head and my sanity,” he said.

They were the first American forces to arrive at the base, about four miles from Nasiriyah. It would later become Bush International Airport. They then moved to a small nameless town outside the base while it was secured.

In the small town Adams constructed a large flag pole from radio antennas and put up the American flag for the prisoners of war to see. He was later told to remove it because Americans had not conquered the land, they were liberating it.

Fire fights and casualties came in, but Adams said he wasn’t scared.

“I thought I was going to be, but it was too exciting to be scared,” he said.

On March 31 Adams went back to Tallil and it was from there he called his mom.

“She was happy to hear from me, but she was freaked out at the same time,” he said.

For the most part soldiers slept in their vehicles in full chemical gear. they could change their socks every few days “stuff was growing on them, it was nasty,” Adams recalled.

Adams went back to the air base, which had become a Combat Support Hospital. He now had time to relax, working six-hour shifts.

On April 24 he went to Forward Logistics Base Dogwood, about 18 kilometers south of Baghdad, and May 1 went on to Bilad, where he worked sick call at a Troop Medical Center for about two months.

Adams didn’t fire any rounds and said he tries not to think about the injured or dead that he saw.

Adams got his orders to go home on July 25. Four days later he would leave the Middle East for Frankfurt. He said the flight attendants decorated the plane in red white and blue.

Now that he’s home Adams has had to adjust to more than the political climate, he has to adjust to being able to make his own decisions.

For now he plans to stay in the Army and “see how much more fun I can have.”

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