Local soldier close to spot where Hussein captured
December 18, 2003
A Carson Valley soldier was yards away from the capture of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. He feels that the military has about completed its mission and longs for home, especially during the holiday season.
“There is so much that I can’t tell …” wrote Garrett Goodlander, 20, a communications specialist with the U.S. Army 4th ID. “I was sleeping about a thousand yards away from where Saddam was caught.
“I think that we have just about accomplished our mission here. It’s time to go home.”
Goodlander was last home in Carson Valley in October for the birth of his first child, daughter Ava, who was born Nov. 3. His wife Tarah, also 20, had moved back to the Valley from the U.S. Army base in Ft. Carson, Colo., after her husband was deployed to the War on Terrorism last May. They are both 2001 graduates of Douglas High School and are the children of Robert and Deborah Goodlander of Pine View Estates and Terry and Geri Hansen of Gardnerville Ranchos.
“I don’t think I am doing as bad as he is,” she said. “Garrett gets to e-mail frequently and I have been sending him pictures of Ava everyday. I’ve got family friends around who help a lot.”
“He doesn’t think (the capture of Hussein) would speed up them coming home. They said everybody was just crazy, happy and excited he was caught. It was really cool, and just a sense of accomplishment for them.”
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Goodlander waxed philosophical in his recent e-mail.
“I know have no other way to describe what I feel about this deployment, but its an experience,” he said. “This is not something that I consider myself a hero for. (But) I’ll tell you what, when somebody gives their seat up for you to go home as soon as possible without asking any questions, just because of the uniform you are wearing, it gives you a little bit more pride.”
“This has definitely been one of the hardest things that I have ever had to do.”
Goodlander said conditions in Iraq are less than perfect for the military.
“One of the things that I miss the most is the ability to walk a short distance to the bathroom, and sit on a toilet, and not have flies swarming around you,” he said. “This entire country smells like a combination of burning diesel, poo, and trash.”
Goodlander has seen tragedy.
“Last week I went to a memorial service for our chief that we came out here with,” he said. “It’s hard to watch people that you know get hurt and not have it affect your job performance.
“I have this attitude that I am invincible, and that it is not as people say it is. That attitude is slowly but surely fading with every death of a soldier. They are getting smarter.
“We are making a difference though and that is what we came over her to do. My friends over here are really what get me through. They are actually here with me, coping with their problems in different ways.
“Thank you for your prayers, they are still very much in need.”
– Regina Purcell can be reached at email@example.com or (775) 782-5121, ext. 211.