Saturday, February 6, 2010

Who Fought the War--And Is Back to Work


Spc. Brad Powers just after he landed at McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey.


Spc. Brad Powers has a new job--already. While many members of Task Force Diablo are taking a well-deserved rest, the restless Powers is beginning a new job and a new career simultaneously.

In Iraq, Powers was a wheeled-vehicle mechanic in Echo Company. We were in fourth squad of the motor platoon. At various times I was Powers team leader and squad leader. At Fort Sill, Powers was also in my remedial PT (Physical Training) group. The 27-year-old Lancaster resident is big, strong and went to enough parties before mobilizing that he was marginal on passing the two-mile run. No one was happy in the remedial PT group--the training was Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday from 7 to 830 pm--but Powers never complained in my hearing. And like all but one of my remedial group, Powers eventually passed the PT test.

All the time we were training in Fort Sill and Kuwait and working in Iraq, Powers was taking college courses. During 2009 he completed a full year of college credit, the final year of classes toward a bachelor of science degree that qualifies him to work in safety management. He finished his last class just before Christmas in Iraq and was a awarded a Bachelor of Science degree while he was in Kuwait on the way to America in early January.

In addition to working on his degree in the evenings while working in the motor pool at Tallil Ali Air Base, Powers was sent to Garry Owen, a small forward operating base near the Iran-Iraq border. He kept working on his degree without interruption there.

With the degree in hand, Powers applied for a job on line with a Peabody, Massachusetts-based, firm with operations across the country. A few days after he got home, the morning after a welcome home party, Powers got a call asking if he could be on a flight to Boston in four hours. He said sure. Then they told him it was a Southwest flight leaving from Baltimore-Washington International Airport, 88 miles away.

He made the flight and apparently aced the interview because he got the job. Monday morning he flies to Boston for a week of orientation training then he starts work with clients along the East Coast. Powers said his company likes to hire veterans.

With every possible excuse not to complete his degree and get a job, Powers completed 30 hours of college credit during a one-year deployment and returned to get a professional job in a new career field when he could still here the echo from "Welcome Home."

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