Racine, Wisconsin, US
United States Marine Corps
LCPL, Wisconsin National Guard
Waterford, US, 08/15/2009
Kevin Rodrick wanted to join the Marines from the time he was in high school. A skin condition ruled him out and he spent years traveling and working maintenance jobs in schools.
Five years ago, he persuaded the Marines to agree that his skin was fine and he went to boot camp.
“They called him Colonel, because he was so much older than the others, and he could still outdo all the 18-year-olds. He enjoyed that,” said his girlfriend, Chrisandra Linden. “He was in good shape. Not an ounce of fat on him.”
Corporal Rodrick was stationed in Quantico, Va., then deployed to Iraq for about six months last year. When he would talk to family back in Wisconsin, he wouldn’t say much about what he did, except that he’d once fired a couple of warning shots and that he guarded prisoners.
He returned to Waterford just before Thanksgiving 2008. He became romantically involved with Linden and moved in with her and her 8-year-old daughter, Kyera, in Racine.
Rodrick was frustrated that he couldn’t find work. Money wasn’t a problem, but each morning he woke up and tried to make a plan for the day. And without work, that was sometimes difficult, Linden said. Civilian life lacked the structure he enjoyed in the military, she said.
Rodrick made plans to attend UW-Milwaukee but had second thoughts because he didn’t like large groups of people. He kept to himself
Lt. Col. Brad Anderson commands Wisconsin National Guard security units that patrol outside the security perimeter at Camp Bucca, in southern Iraq about 500 meters from the Kuwait border. Soldiers in large armored vehicles have been rocked twice by homemade bombs hidden in the road, with no serious injuries. But the anticipation of a possible attack wears on his units. Duty in Iraq is stressful even for those who are unlikely to encounter combat.
Many other Wisconsin guard members have more mundane duties guarding detainees. The boredom and the regular contact with detainees who are hostile makes their duty stressful, prompting the chaplain to spend much time counseling them, Anderson said.
Camp Bucca’s deputy commander, Lt. Col. Leah Moore, said the added emphasis of the latest training is to encourage soldiers to look for signs of emotional trouble in their comrades.
“It’s what to look for, what to say, don’t be afraid to address this. It’s not just how you feel, but how you can help your buddy out,” said Moore, whose unit is based in Portage. “We’re not just trying to sweep something under the rug, but to do something today because tomorrow may be too late.”