Region 8 Man Says Soldier Conditions Harsh

May 19, 2004 -- Posted at 3:43 p.m. CDT

WALNUT RIDGE -- In the military, you may get to travel around the world at times, but that doesn't mean it's a vacation. One Region 8 man whose son is serving in Iraq and he says the conditions that his son and other Region 8 soldiers are serving in, are less than stellar...

Kenneth Clark is serving in the Northeast corner of Baghdad. He's a communication specialist, part of the headquarters company of the Arkansas-based 39th Infantry Brigade. The 39th consists of several soldiers from Region 8.

His father, Lloyd Clark, is a geography teacher at the Walnut Ridge Middle School and says the conditions over seas are brutal.
"He told me that the temperature there had reached 107 and it's not even warm there yet," said Clark.
But it's not just the heat that's wearing on the soldiers, some serving may not be getting enough to meals ready to solder-speak, that's an MRE.
"Sometimes they don't have hot food, often don't have hot food. For a period of time, one of the battalions was down to one MRE a day for several days and a very limited amount of bottled water," said Clark.
The younger Clark is a sophomore at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and uses the money he earns to pay for school, but his father says that even that hasn't been going well.
Clark said, "My son's been over now for four pay periods and they're still paying him as if he were in the United States. What they are supposed to be doing is paying him what is called imminent danger pay, as well as hardship pay."
Clark says as a parent, he's worried about his only son, but he can relate to the hardships; he's a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel who served in the Vietnam War.
"It makes it very tough on them when they have to serve and wear all that heavy gear in those extreme heat and dangerous conditions and then they don't get their chow like they are supposed to, it makes it tough to do your job," said Clark.
And it's a tough job to do....Kenneth Clark's story is just one of many almost unbelievable stories of Region 8 soldiers serving in Iraq that the K8 newsroom has learned about.
The families of some of these men and women also tell of cases of national guard troops working up to 36 hours without sleep at times...leading to a diminished sense of alertness in a hostile territory where the enemy is often unknown and always lurking.