Soldier returns from war

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 13, 2005

After four months of active duty in Iraq, James Bailey IV returned home.

Unlike most military personnel who were stationed at military bases, Bailey, a self-proclaimed “behind the scenes guy,” lived in a small, guarded compound in Kurdistan, a city in the northern territory of Iraq.

“We didn’t wear uniforms, we just stayed low-key,” he said. “People didn’t really know who we were, or what we did.”

Email newsletter signup

“I was mostly responsible for maintaining communications,” said Bailey.

I provided communications support for an intelligence group to further help support the war. I can’t go into details, but I primarily made sure the communication lines stayed up and operating, did small computer maintenance, troubleshooting, and computer support – like a technical support guy.”

The son of James and Teresa Bailey, Bailey is a 1995 graduate of Selma High School. He is classified as an E-5 Staff Sergeant in the United States Air Force, where he is a member of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.

During Bailey’s nine-year military career, he has received several awards, including the Air Force Commendation Medal (1999), the Air Force Achievement Medal (2000), and during this tour, the Air Force Joint Service Achievement Medal.

“This Joint Service Medal was different,” said Bailey. “While deployed there (in Iraq), I worked with Army, Navy, and civil service personnel.”

Despite the sometimes chaotic environment, Bailey had both humbling and humorous experiences while serving in Iraq.

“The proudest moment I had there was on election day,” he said.

Bailey people had to dip their fingers in ink to signify that they had voted.

On election day, the Kurdish staff of his compound got up, cooked breakfast, cleaned up as usual, and then when to town to vote. When they came back, Bailey took a picture of them proudly displaying the evidence that they had voted: their ink

stained fingers.

“Our cook was around 67 years old, and this was the first time that she had voted in her life,” he said.

Bailey also recalled one of his most humorous moments.

“It’s funny,” he said with a laugh. “They are crazy about President Bush. Bush is like their savior.”

He said that the Kurdish guards for his compound, who spoke a little English, asked if he was “USA”. When he said yes, they smiled, said “Bush” and gave the thumbs up sign.

When Bailey said “Clinton” their reaction was neutral, but the guards then said “Monica Lewinsky”, and began smiling and giving the thumbs up sign again.

“I was very proud of him. I knew he would be the best he could be,” said his father. “Although he might not have been involved in hand-to-hand combat, he was in a dangerous environment and anything could have happened. But, I prayed the prayer of Faith, and God answered my prayers.”

Bailey will leave Selma on Sunday, April 17, headed for Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, were he is stationed. He is not sure if and/or when he will be re-deployed.

“They try to rotate us out at least every fifteen months,” said Bailey. “It will be at least a year and a half until I am sent out again, if I’m sent out again.”

When asked how long he intends to remain in the military, Bailey said, “that depends on how fast I advance. I can retire at 39, so I am going to take advantage of that.”