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Proving his medal: Local soldier awarded Bronze Star for service in Iraq

Chris Aldred's favorite picture doesn't have a face in it. It's a truck mirror -- with Iraq shrinking in the dusty distance.

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Retired General DeWayne Patrick salutes Chris Aldred.

Mr. Aldred -- an environmental manager at Temple -- recently returned from a year-long tour of duty in Iraq and surrounding countries as part of the National Guard's 878th Engineering Battalion.

And he came home with a little hardware.

Mr. Aldred was awarded a Bronze Star medal for his contribution to the war in Iraq. The 1984 Thomson High School graduate returned to the states in early June.

"There wasn't a whole lot to do in a warzone once you are safe except work," he said. "All the things I did, it was just my duty."

Mr. Aldred's role in the war was part of a 500-man construction crew charged with rebuilding roads, bridges, buildings and anything else as needed.

He told his story to members of the Thomson Rotary Club last week, illustrating his tour of Iraq with a slideshow. It started with a picture of a bunch of soldiers cramped in a space at Hunter Air Force base in Savannah -- four hours before they were to head overseas.

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Iraqi children pose with soldiers from Mr. Aldred's battalion. "They see you and they come up to you,' he said. "They love having their picture taken."

"Even then, we had no idea where we were going, what we were going to do or who we'll be attached to," he said.

They eventually arrived in Kuwait on a sunny June day -- a weather trend that continued for months. Mr. Aldred didn't see a cloud until October. During the summer, the thermometer sometimes topped 135 degrees in the day and 95 degrees at night. Bottled water poured hotter than coffee, he said.



Web posted on Thursday, August 26, 2004


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