Herald JournalHerald Journal, July 26, 2004

Soldier returns to Iraq after visit home

By Lynda Jensen

A brief stay at home for Army Specialist Josh Berg included hugs from his family and grilled steak – before he packed his duffel bags and returned to his tour of duty in Iraq last week.

Josh’s family lives in Waverly and includes his wife, Honey Berg, and three children Merciedies, 6, BeckyJo 2, and Shelby 1.

He’s hoping to be home by Christmas.

What does he miss the most?

Long hot showers and “not being covered in sand.” In short, the little things, he said.

The separation of family is probably the worst part for all of them.

“Merciedies and BeckyJo came up with big hugs and kisses,” he said, describing his return. However the youngest, Shelby, wouldn’t go near Josh until he took off his uniform.

Honey is holding down the fort and trying to keep the children in line, which is not an easy task alone.

It’s tough being the disciplinarian and dealing with children who are missing their father at the same time, Honey said.

Their only connection to each other is by email and a computer web camera, which allows Josh to see his children about once per week.

Of course, there is regular mail, which the Bergs use less often.

Both sides of the Berg family are from South Dakota, and they moved into Summerfields a little over a year ago.

Berg was given about one month of notice last year, and then left in December to serve as a military policeman for the Charlie battery in the 2nd 147th field artillery unit based in Redfield, SD. Redfield is south of Aberdeen. He is in the Army National Guard.

In Iraq, he is based near the town of Basrah, located in the south central part of the country.

The soldiers generally receive two hot meals a day, including a breakfast with eggs, bacon, French toast and cereal, he said.

A typical day for him depends on the mission, such as destroying old artillery rounds, although the soldiers don’t go into the cities, he said.

Surprisingly, the criminal element is his worst concern, he said. The crime gets worse further north in Iraq. At times, military trucks have been hijacked.

Improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which can be left along the side of the road or other places, are also in the back of his mind, but not necessarily an excessive concern, he said.

He sees a lot of car-vehicle accidents and gunshot wounds, but not of fellow soldiers – mainly Iraqis shooting at each other, he said.

The people there are definitely different, Berg noted. “They don’t have respect for life,” he said.

For insects, Iraq features a wide variety of flies, including normal-sized horse flies that Minnesotans are used to, up to giant-sized creatures called “camel spiders,” which can jump six feet and are as big as a dinner plate, he said.

The climate there is hot and dry, with temperatures that reach the 120s. He remembers once it hit 138 degrees Fahrenheit, he said. There is almost no humidity.

He was supposed to be out of the National Guard in February, but the Army has frozen the status of all soldiers. He has been in the Guard for more than eight years.

Cookies wanted

Packages of goodies would be very welcome, along with correspondence, Berg commented. Since his family uses email, he doesn’t receive much regular mail. Some goodies, such as chocolate and other items don’t work as well as others since it melts.

Cookies, Rice Krispies bars, and gum are very appreciated for those who wish to send such packages to him. His address is:

SPC Joshua Berg

C Btry 2/147 FA

Camp Navistar

APO AE 09317

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