Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Army thread....A time to leave...a time to come home.

Russell joined the United States Army in March 1993. As PVT Russell Zaugg he completed Basic Combat Training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina in July 1993. Then as PV1 he attended MSE Resident School at Fort Gordon, Georgia in July 1993. Russell also earned the Distinguished Graduate Diploma for meritorious completion of MSE Network Switching Systems Operator from July - October 1993.
While at Fort Gordon, Georgia Russell also earned a certificate of Signal Corps (Regimental) Affiliation.

Fast forward several years. In August 1999 Russell attended PLDC (Primary Leadership Development Course for Reserve Components) at Camp W.G. Williams, Utah. SPC Zaugg successfully completed the course and here we are at graduation. Russell is holding Donovan and Candace is holding Christopher.

Fast forward a few years later - we live in Eagar, Arizona. In June 2002 Russell was attached to the 1404 Transportation Unit in Show Low, AZ. For about 1-1 1/2 weeks he was gone helping with the Rodeo-Chediski fire. The largest wildfire to ever burn in the state of Arizona. His job at the Tactical Operations Center was to help everyone keep track of all people, numbers/places the soldiers were going to. The soldiers job was to guard property from looters.

"From the State of Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs - by the direction of the Governor - Russell received The Arizona Meritorious Service Medal. He earned this for meritorious service while assigned as Tactical Operations Center S2/S3 with Task Force Rodeo from 20 June 2002 to 28 June 2002. SPC Zaugg displayed great attention to detail and leadership skills during Task Force Rodeo that involved over 100 missions with over 250 soldiers during his tour. The outstanding performance and selfless service displayed by SPC Zaugg reflects great credit upon himself, the State of Arizona and the Arizona Army National Guard."

I found a free world map online I could print off to keep track of all the places/dates Russell was while going/staying/coming. He started out in Show Low, Arizona from 22 January - 27 January 2003. From 27 January - 10 April 2003 he was stationed at Ft. Bliss, Texas. Russell stopped in Newfoundland, Ireland and Cypress on his way to Kuwait - arriving there on 12 April 2003. Service in Iraq was from 21 April 2003 - 6 April 2004. On the way home only stop was made in Rota, Spain. Arrival at Ft. Bliss, TX was on 7 March 2004.

22 January 2003. L-R is Donovan, Russell, Candace holding Michael and Nephi and Christopher.
The school district where Russell worked LOVED him. They sent care packages and letters so he would know how much he was missed.
22 January 2003. Russell with Hal Pypor.
22 January 2003. Russell was getting ready to leave so I had the boys in a picture with their dad.
Russell sent me this water bottle labels from Iraq. Very interesting!
This picture should actually be down farther. This was taken on 2 March 2003 on the balcony of whatever motel we were staying at while visiting Russell at Ft. Bliss. L-R is Christopher, Donovan, Russell holding Michael and Candace holding Nephi.

Sgt. Cox with his daughters Ashley and Bettsy at the Show Low Armory. They are good family friends of ours.
26 January 2003. We are at the Show Low Armory saying goodbye again. The soldiers have all the duffel bags stashed on the wall behind us - getting ready to leave for Ft. Bliss the following morning. L-R is Russell holding Michael, Christopher, Candace holding Nephi and Donovan.

Bus time. We took buses going to and from the field.

1 March 2003. Our first visit to Ft. Bliss, Texas. We left Eagar, Arizona on 30 April during an almost whiteout snowstorm. We pressed on however and eventually the snow stopped. We stayed the night in Socorro, New Mexico as I didn't know how long it would take us to reach Ft. Bliss. We are here waiting for dad to finish for the day. We waited a long time and were getting bored. Donovan and Christopher are fighting and Michael is crying because he is tired.
Pretend the family picture is here from above.
A picture of the boys for Russell. L-R Nephi, Michael, Christopher and Donovan.

On 30 March 2003 some members of our ward kindly watched Donovan, Christopher and Michael so Nephi and I could visit Russell. We thought this would be the last time we would come down. Nephi came only because he was a nursing baby. At the Ft. Bliss Barracks.
At the motel we stayed at. Nephi all ready to go.
Russell getting all ready to go back to the barracks.
We took the boys here for a fun thing to do. They didn't like the inside so much as the outside. Pictures are below.
5 April 2003. Russell called a day or two before and said come down - this WOULD be the last time we would see him before he left the country. The boys are driving a car at the Bassett Center.
Nephi swinging at the park.
5 April 2003. We bought each of the boys an Army shirt at the commissary. L-R is Donovan, Michael, Russell, Nephi and Christopher.
Russell watching Michael climb walls.
Back at the Ft. Bliss Museum and Study Center - Michael stands in front of a tank.
Christopher and Donovan in front of the tank.
Russell and the boys. Yes...we really did need two strollers. Michael wasn't 2 yet and his short legs would get tired. Nephi was only a few months old and didn't walk.
Still at the museum. The boys thought these rockets were so cool.
The morning of 7 April 2003. We were getting ready to drive away and Russell was in his new desert BDU's. The sun was just coming up. Oh how I cried on that drive home.
6 April 2003. The El Paso Zoo isn't well situated for being found. We almost gave up. It took almost 2 hours of driving around AND asking for directions. We took the boys here for the afternoon on the 6th.
Getting ready to leave the barracks for the airplane.
Getting briefed.
Russell preparing to board. We were so lucky. One of the people in charge of these soldiers is a very good family friend. Steve Stettler. He took these pictures of Russell and sent them to me. It meant a lot.
Boarding the plane.
The plane is taking off.
Russell's address. Thanks Steve for taking a picture!

Driving in Iraq.
A PLS. This is what Russell drove.
Burning poop. Except the army has a different phrase for it.
The Euphrates River.
A couple of Iraqi tanks on the side of the road.

Changing a tire on a PLS. Man those wheels are HUGE!
A missile or rocket on the side of the road in Iraq. There were lots of these scattered around.
Ordinance (bombs) disposal.
Hightower, Balzano and someone else playing cards.
A burned up truck on the side of the Iraqi highway.
The Euphrates River.
The barracks in Tikrit.
One of Saddam's palaces on the Euphrates.
The front of the barracks in Tikrit. It was the Iraqi Air Force barracks. Obviously it wasn't in use when we got to it.
Russell driving a PLS.
Water is one of the goods Russell delivered.

The Tigress River with a pontoon bridge so the Army could cross.
Balad, Iraq. Where we stayed. (Not me - Russell)
Baghdad, Iraq.
This is one of my favorite pictures that Russell took. There were some pretty sunsets.
Loading a PLS truck.
A convoy.
If it was windy - this would be typical of a drive in Iraq.
Russell with his gear at the barracks in Tikrit.
The Tigress River again and a better look at the pontoon bridge.
Baldanado, Lopez and Hensley. Eating where we can.
A container fell of a truck.
People standing on the roadside.
Part of a broken tank.
Russell was gone for our anniversary. So...I sent him a care package so he could celebrate in his own way. Here he is with the spoils! Note...the picture on the left. It's us from Ft. Bliss!
Swords in Baghdad. Russell thought they were from something Saddam had built called "Victory Swords." They have since been taken down.
Somebody's house.
A closer look at the pontoon bridge.
Russell bought this carpet for me. It was too big to bring home though so I asked him to take a picture. The colors are so vivid!
Operation Snuggly - Christmas 2003. We made Russell this quilt for Christmas. It was cold in Iraq. I traced each of the boys' hands and a friend sewed their names by their hands.

Christmas day in Balad.
The mud. Sometimes the mud was up to 1 1/2 feet deep.
Baldanado and ? with equipment and the mud.
Mud, mud and more mud.

Posters we had at our house welcoming Russell home. The night before he came home - our yard and car were "TPed" with yellow ribbons, balloons and streamers!

The middle school students found a good use for styrofoam cups and a chain link fence.
The VFW waiting in Springerville, Arizona for the buses to arrive. 15 April 2004.
Here they come!
The band played on. Russell's students being led by the sub for Russell while he was deployed.

At the VFW in Springerville, Arizona.
Russell actually saw the boys before I did. Some friends watched the boys for the day for me. I spent all day in Show Low at the Armory and the busses stopped in our town before reaching the armory. Too bad Russell couldn't have just stayed in Eagar!
L-R Christopher, Michael, Russell, Nephi and Donovan. 15 April 2004.

The busses going down Main Street in Eagar, Arizona.
Some more students welcoming Russell back. All the letters were attached to little people cut out.
There were so many people wanting to wish our soldiers a happy homecoming.
They lined the streets from Springerville to Eagar. In front of the post office in Eagar, AZ.
Our soldiers had quite the entourage. All the police and fire trucks were in on the action.
The busses finally arrive at the Armory in Show Low, Arizona.
The soldiers exited the busses and turned in their rifles before lining up.
Russell waiting his turn. He is right in the middle. Again we were lucky to have someone we knew in the right place at the right time. I don't remember the name - but he was a journalist for one of the newspapers. He gave me copies of these pictures.
Standing at attention before being allowed to join families.
Finally! We are reunited after 15 months.
15 April 2004. The first time we are all together. The boys and Russell aren't quite sure what to think of each other. Nephi looks ready to sleep.
Russell's first Sunday back to church. Here we are as a family. All these posters are from Russell's students and students at all the schools in our school district. They truly loved their soldier teacher.

In May 2004 there was a kindergarten program at Round Valley Primary School. At the beginning there was a special flag ceremony and presentation for Russell. Here Donovan is helping with the flag.

Andrea Rhoton presenting Russell with this flag. All the kindergartners and teachers made it for Russell with their thumbprints. Russell was really touched. He still has this poster.

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