Chief Warrant Officer Richard Mallick, a 1991 Blair graduate, has spent the last 10 months as an Aero Medical Evacuation Pilot with the 498th Medical Company in Iraq. In the heart of the battlefields, Mallick flies unarmed to transport sick and wounded soldiers to the nearest medical care centers, dodging bullets on the way. He is three months from completing his second tour of the war-torn country.
In e-mail correspondences beginning Sept. 11 with Silver Chips reporter Jody Pollock, Mallick writes about the lack of holiday spirit in Iraq, his homecoming and the toll of being on the front lines.
How and when did you first become involved with the Army?
I got involved with the Army about a year after graduation, when I realized that I did want to attend college. The job I was working for did not have much opportunity for advancement; so I started looking in other directions. The Army made promises of travel and opportunity and also college money!
Why are you in the army?
I am in the Army still today because of the job security and the feeling deep within me that is pride. I have come very far in the Army, from a private not making hardly anything to what I am now: a Warrant Officer Aviator doing well for my family.
Why are you in Iraq?
Iraq is a country that needed our help. The people here were oppressed and did not have the same freedoms that we as Americans have. The rule of Saddam needed to be stopped and has. Now, it is time to rebuild their country. I don't believe that we should be the World's Police, but as long as other countries don't take a stand for freedom, I am sure we will continue to step in. There are still several terrorist cells within Iraq that continuously try to stop the progress that has been made. Iraq is a very delicate situation that may take years to amend. I am here to provide helicopter evacuation for the sick and wounded, whether they are U.S., Coalition or Iraqi forces.
Is it hard being so far from your family, especially around the holidays?
That is an understatement! I get pretty involved with the family around the holidays and always go crazy with holiday decorations. More than anything, I miss the family get-togethers around the holidays. I love my family more than anything, but I try to push my emotions aside and remember why I am here.
How did you celebrate the holidays?
There was definitely a lack of Christmas spirit here. We did a lot to make it feel like Christmas. Decorations and gifts and stockings were handed out, but the fact that we were here just made it tough to get in the spirit of the holidays. Plus, there really is no time off so to speak. You are always on duty and prepared for anything to happen.
Are you looking forward to coming home in early March?
I am definitely looking forward to coming home. It is difficult to explain how I feel, but I have spent two weeks with my family in the past year, and I have a lot of time to make up for. I am truly excited to reunite and so looking forward to it. It is always an emotional event.
What are you planning to do as soon as you return?
Well, it is tough to really plan what I am doing when I return while still in Iraq. I will surely take a two week vacation with my family. I think I may get a cabin in the woods and just spend time with my family or maybe even go to Disney World…
How can Americans help support out troops?
I think the best way to show support is to keep soldiers in their thoughts and prayers. Also, try to lend a helping hand to those family members back home whenever possible.
When soldiers take leave (vacation) from here they are required to wear their uniform. Several of the soldiers going on leave had their meals paid for at Atlanta Airport by very supportive Americans in appreciation of their service. That didn't happen to me personally, but I consider it an awesome gesture.
Jody Pollock. Jody is a CAP senior (finally!) who is looking forward to another great year in Silver Chips. When she's not driving herself crazy with her impossibly busy schedule, she's singing with InToneNation and going to City at Peace practically every day of the week. Somehow … More »