For a while, during my 2003 deployment in Baghdad, Iraq I was with a group of Army engineers based out of Puerto Rico. We were staying on the third floor of the former governor’s palace, which had been taken over by the U.S. military. There were about 15 of us—civil engineers, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers. Our mission was to bring back up the municipal services like water, sewer, power. I was assessing the power plants that were damaged in Iraq and figuring out what we were going to need to do to put them back on line and bring them back up to running status. In the National Guard and the Reserves, we have a lot of civilian careers outside of the military, and one of the Puerto Rican engineers happened to be a four-star chef.
Jerry Morrison was my next-door roommate. We were both new medics straight out of Advanced Individual Training (AIT) from Fort Sam, Houston, TX. We arrived and were assigned to a provisional medical company, and we then transferred to HHT 2/11th ACR. We were given barracks rooms that adjoined each other with a bathroom that we shared. He was a young kid from Chicago with Jamaican heritage, and I was a young kid from Tampa, FL.