From the VETERANS series:
Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom, U.S. Army, Military Technician
800th Military Police Brigade
Dates of Service: 1981-2012
[Anthony Wallace was interviewed by Nina Talbot in Flatbush, Brooklyn on September 30, 2010. Edited by Sophie Rand.]
I loved the army. I adapted easily to that form of life because I was regimented already.
-August 2013 Bronx, NY
“I signed out of Benjamin Franklin High School and was allowed same day enrollment into night High School at Julia Richman High School in East Harlem to help take care of my mother and child. I passed my GED and associated High School credits to obtain my High School Diploma. I was attending Fiorella H. LaGuardia Community College when I decided to enlist in the U.S. Army in 1981 at the age of 23.
“I was under the weight requirement for military service, so I prepared by building body mass and running on the top side of the Bruckner Expressway from East 138th Street entrance to the Hunts Point exit and backstreet neighborhoods of the South Bronx. I went to Fort Jackson, South Carolina for Basic Training. I transferred my obligation to the US Army Reserves September 1983. During peacetime missions the most memorable were Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Operation Gitmo, Haitian Relief, when President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was ousted in a 1991 military coup and his followers fled to the waters to escape to Florida. I registered all incoming Haitian to establish eligibility for Political Asylum or return home and Garmisch, Germany, the Hungarian/American Conference.I helped set up and mediate a conference between cultural leaders as part of Operation Alliance of the Joint Task Force.
“I have been deployed twice under Operation Iraqi Freedom. I deployed to Kuwait in 2003 and Iraq 2008. 1st deployment, Senior Food Operations Sergeant, I supervised gunned vehicle escort runs on local roads where we were at risk of attack by incoming shots, as well as locals trying to steal our supplies, mandatory no stop runs. I substituted and relieve my crew from their additional duties as a truck driver, Tower guard and Guard duty so they would be able to secure meal runs and other Military unit feeding time tables. 2nd deployment was Camp Bucca, Iraq. I was the Operations Sergeant responsible for ordering supplies, inventory and providing ice for corpses. During the second tour in Iraq, my unit and I closed Camp Bucca detention facility; Camp Bucca was named after 1SG & Fire Marshal Ronald Bucca of the 800th MP Brigade and FDNY. Fire Marshal Bucca made it all the way to the impact zone of the south tower on 9/11. I retired from military service in 2012 at the rank of Sergeant and also retired with 19 years as a GS 08, Staff Administrative Assistant/Military Technician, last employer was the 800th Military Police Brigade.
“I returned to homelessness because before leaving I released all my obligations, my apartment, car, assets and made provisions in the event I would return home in a wooden box. Back home in the Bronx, I noticed that the needs of women veterans were not being met so I co-founded Military Women in Power, Ltd., which counsels female veterans with PTSD at the Bronx VA.
Nina Talbot, Veterans series © 2012