Greene County Soldier Lends Helping Hand in Iraq

NOVEMBER 7, 2005 - Posted at 8:14 a.m. CST

PARAGOULD, AR - A Greene County man is back from volunteering to help re-build Iraq's infrastructure.  Sergeant First Class Tony Wyatt served with the 1088th Army Engineer Battallion Essential Services Team for a year to help rebuild and reinstall the basic services that a government is supposed to provide.

The 45-year-old Wyatt has served with the Arkansas National Guard for almost 21 years.  After he told his superior officers he was willing to go to Iraq and offer whatever assistance he could, he was attached to the Louisiana National Guard, and, in October of 2004, sent to the Middle East.

In Baghdad, he worked with Iraqi government officials and Iraqi contractors to re-build government services that had been lost in the battles that toppled Saddam Hussein and the chaos that followed.

Wyatt and his team did not actually do the normal re-building work, though.  After finding out from government officials what services needed to be fixed, they would take bids from Iraqi contractors interested in doing the work.  Wyatt said the work with the contractors had to be kept secret because their lives would be in danger.  As he put it, "they would shoot the workers."

But the work got done and Wyatt says he was glad to have had the chance to help the people of Iraq get their lives somewhat back to normal.  He said that being able to do things such as provide clean drinking water to a city north of Baghdad with a population of 70,000 made him proud of what he was doing.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)