Recently returned from Iraq, single father Jeff McFall and his son, Josh, support expanded outreach for counseling and other service, though they haven’t needed to take advantage of these services yet themselves.
Jeff, 43, and Josh, 21, both served in the 2668th Army National Guard Transportation Company, out of Sacramento, for a year, returning to the Peninsula in mid-December. Serving together required a waiver, but Jeff, who served in the Army in during the 1983 invasion of Grenada, wasn’t about to let his son serve without him.
“It was a no-brainer,” said Jeff, who raised his son as a single father from the age of 4. Both now live in Redwood City
Although both went through debriefing counseling that addresses issues such as not driving aggressively down the middle of the road as they’d been trained to do in Iraq, readjusting for them has mostly been a pleasant experience. “It has been nice not having to wear body armor or carry a weapon,” Josh said. Both also appreciate having running water again, they said.
Trained to provide support services by hauling cargo in trucks overland, the unit found itself instead escorting such convoys as armed gunmen with .50-caliber mounted machine guns because of a shortage of personnel.
At one point Josh’s squad was attacked with two improvised explosive devices, rupturing his platoon sergeant’s eardrum and filling his eye with glass. “It looked like the Fourth of July too close to the ground,” Josh said. After being evacuated to Germany for medical treatment the platoon sergeant was able to return, Josh said.
Jeff’s squad, made up mostly of more experienced soldiers, avoided any serious casualties.
Jeff said he worries that Americans don’t get to see much of the good work and progress being accomplished in Iraq, including the building of schools, roads and other infrastructure.
“I hope Iraq is going to be better off in the long run,” he said.