Lt. Col. Kenneth M. Earls, a Gainesville native who has served in the U.S. Army for 20 years, is currently stationed at Victory Base Camp in Baghdad, Iraq. Recently, he took a few moments to answer some questions posed by The Times' features reporter Ashley Bates via e-mail. These are his answers, in his own words.
Question: How has your view of veterans changed? Do you still think of them as older men or do you think of men who served with you personally?
Answer: My view of veterans today hasn't changed at all as it relates to veterans on the whole.
Naturally, I think of the men who have served with me over these last 20 years of my career versus older retired Vietnam vets.
Q: Where are you serving and what is day-to-day life like?
A: Because I have only been deployed for just over 90 days and we (the Army) are beginning to reduce our numbers as a result of the reduction in force, as briefed by Gen. Petraeus back in September, I have been reassigned from MNF-I (Multi National Force Iraq) in the IZ (International Zone) to MNC-I (Multi National Corps Iraq) at Victory Base Camp in Baghdad.
Day-to-day life is actually rather Army typical (with exception of having to duck and take cover from incoming mortar rounds, missiles etc. here on the base camp) where we rise early morning to perform PT (Physical Training) at 0500 for an hour or so.
Then it's back to your tent or trailer (in my case tent since I just transitioned here from the IZ). From here we shower, clothe ourselves and head to work or breakfast depending on your work schedule. Work varies anywhere from 12-16 hours per day with a lunch break; again this depends primarily on what has to be done in a given day.
Q: What is your military background?
A: I was commissioned in June of 1986 at Albany State, but did not actually enter active duty until September 1987 due to the availability of slots and numbers allowed to enter during a given month back then.
Upon entering active duty, I was initially a Mechanized Infantry Officer stationed in Kirch Goens, Germany, who served in Desert Shield/Desert Storm as the A Company 5/5 Cavalry, Executive Officer. After serving for 5 months and 20 days during that deployment, I elected to branch transfer into the Logistics field as a Transportation Officer. I made this decision based on what I had seen of the Transportation units during the war.
Since that time, I have served in various positions from Division all the way up to Theater level in numerous logistics positions and I have had an absolute wonderful time throughout my 20 years of service.
Q: How long has it been since you've been home to Gainesville?
A: I was in Gainesville last with my parents at their home two days prior to my departure 28 July 07.
Q: Where you are stationed is there anything special planned for Veterans Day?
A: I'm sure festivities of some sort will occur here but what they are specifically at this point I currently cannot tell you unfortunately.
Q: Tell us about your personal life.
A: I am especially proud of my 15-year-old daughter, Bria Earls, who entered high school this year in McDonough, Ga., Henry County High and has continued her academic excellence by attaining once again all A's and B's on her latest report card. She wants to be a choreographer one day and is well on her way to becoming whatever she decides to be in excellence. She's my shining star and always will be forever.