ISP Troopers return from service in Iraq

Beth Rumsey, Staff Writer

“I am proud to have done my tour,” said Corporal Robert Garcia, Indiana State Police trooper from the Versailles Post. Garcia was activated in February 2008 and served a tour of duty in Iraq as a sergeant in the 38th Military Police Company as part of the Indiana National Guard. Stationed in Baghdad, Garcia was part of a police transition team training the Iraqi National Police in western policing methods as well as patrolling the city.

“We had to start from scratch,” said Garcia of the training of the Iraqi National Police. Through an interpreter, a few had to be taught how to read and write. Also basic law enforcement techniques were taught such as how to write a report, interrogating suspects, and most importantly how to build trust and respect within the community.

According to Garcia, a position with the Iraqi National Police was highly coveted, and pays about $100 a month. The police stations are surrounded by 12 foot concrete walls that provide protection from bombs. His group of 45 men visited approximately nine towns during the tour mentoring and training. “We were just trying to help,” he said.

Garcia’s responsibilities included patrolling Baghdad. “It was hours and hours of boredom,” he said. Garcia and his team would ride in armored vehicles very slowly through the streets, keeping watch for trouble.

Adjusting to life in Baghdad was difficult at first. According to Garcia, there is no clean running water and no sewage system. Often the heat would reach as high as 135°, made more unbearable while wearing 45 pounds of equipment. Dust storms, according to Garcia, were a lot like a thick fog with sand in it. “The dust and sand got into everything,” said Garcia.

The hardest part perhaps was being away from his wife Kelly and children Alex and Cady. “I wrote my kids letters every day,” said Garcia. “It was hard on the kids while I was gone,” he said. To relieve boredom, Garcia would work out at the gym or read.

Perhaps his favorite job to do was working in the technical operations center running the radios and GPS systems. Although the hours were long, Garcia was able to work in the air conditioning.

The company experienced the loss of two soldiers during the tour of duty. According to Garcia, their deaths were the result of a roadside bombing.

Garcia, who has been with the ISP since 1995, has returned to his duties as district duty officer at the Versailles Post.

Also returning from a tour in Iraq is Trooper Rickey Love. Serving as a staff sergeant with Troop 1152 Cav Rista, Army Reserve, Love’s unit was responsible for convoy security and public safety as part of the Quick Reactionary Force.

According to Love, “We didn’t fail a mission and all my section returned home safely.” Love resides in Greensburg with wife Carey and sons Casey and Carter.

Master Trooper Glenn Potts returned from an extended tour of duty in February. There he served as a lieutenant as Director of Emergency Services, responsible for the military police, fire, EMS and security at the base. He will continue serving as a detective with the Versailles District Criminal Investigation Division. Potts resides in Rising Sun with wife Judy and has two sons and three grandchildren.

As part of their duties, the 38th MP Company worked to train members of the Iraqi National Police in western police methods. Pictured above, a group of police officers wait for roll call before going out on patrol.