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Sense of Community: David and Trisha Katsfey Serve Their Country Together Part Two

David and Trisha Katsfey
Ann Keyes

When Army National Guard Staff Sergeants David and Trisha Katsfey were deployed to Iraq, they were surprised to learn that it gets cold there in the winter.  Though summer days are scorching, David says temperatures dropped to 35 degrees in the winter at times.

The couple was deployed separately the first time—that was before they met.  Trisha was in Balad, Iraq from January ’06 to January ’07 working in administration.  David was there from November ’06 to November ’07 as a mechanic—his unit replaced Trisha’s.  After they met and started dating in 2008, they were deployed together from June of ’09 to June 2010.  David worked in a special housing unit that housed the most dangerous criminals in Iraq...

"And I was actually in contact with them everyday, actual physical contact with them everyday.  That was a reality check, I mean, some of these guys were, I mean, had done some very heinous crimes.  And then, the soldiers who worked under me were very young troops, had never been exposed to anything like this before, you know, just out of high school and then they're over there handling and working with very dangerous people."

Trisha worked in administration at the same place—Camp Cropper, a prison camp near Baghdad.  It was a different experience from her first time in Iraq where she was able to spend time at the pool each day in a quiet, small town…

"Where we were at the detainee facility it was more reality that they're the worst people ever right there, you know, 50 feet from you, just being guarded."

She says, while she sat at a desk during both deployments, she felt she was making an impact as part of the bigger picture.  She says she is a true believer that every person serving in the Middle East is making a difference…

"I don't know what I've done, but I do believe that I played a part that kept it all going."

The work she did made sure soldiers under her got paid and that their healthcare paperwork got to the right people.

The hardest part about being deployed, for her, was being away from her family.  Her grandmother and a close friend both passed away during her 2nddeployment…

"If I hadn't have had him there I probably wouldn't have been able to emotionally handle it, but that's the hardest thing is not being able to be home for, you know,  special events that your family and friends are going through."

David’s father died when he was away the first time, and he was able to return home for the funeral.

Neither he nor Trisha has any regrets about enlisting.  David hopes what they’ve done so far in the Middle East has made an impact for the betterment of the region…

"I would hope that, you know, nothing's been done in vain and especially the service members that have lost their lives there, you know, won't be forgotten for what they've done.  It's tough and that's the realities of war, but I would hope the region is a lot better off."

One of the things about being in Iraq that changed Trisha was experiencing another culture and way of life…

"My first deployment I had a little interaction with some of the locals.  We had to do a detail where we'd just escort them around the base, and they'd do little jobs to get paid, you know, I think they got paid $11 a week, which was a lot for them, but seeing how they are and seeing this country that is completely nowhere near where we are over here is--makes you really appreciate everything that you have over here."

David says serving in Iraq made him not take anything for granted.  He never felt like he was in danger when he was deployed even though he had direct contact with criminals.  He says they made sure no one was ever alone with the prisoners…

"Every individual that I was there with, you know, I felt like they had my back and they knew I had theirs and felt very safe, trusted their training and felt very comfortable."

Now that they’re back in the United States, married and with a baby girl, Addison, they plan to stay in the National Guard—Trisha has more than 11 years in now and plant to stay in until at least 20.  David is at nine years next month and just reenlisted for another three years.  He loves what he does and hopes to make a career of it.

Still, with a new baby, the idea of another deployment is always in the back of Trisha’s mind…

"It would be hard, especially if I have to leave her, but, I mean, you sign the paper and you know that sometime that could happen and you just have to  make that decision."

Trisha says her unit—the 1138thMP Company out of Springfield and West Plains—isn’t slated to deploy anytime soon, but the Army could pull her or David individually at any time.

They both say they’re glad they’re married to another member of the National Guard…

"It's good because you can--they understand all that you're talking about when you've had a hard day at work and you can--I mean this is complicated enough to talk to your friends about but to be able to vent and them know exactly what you're talking about after a hard day at work or something is really good."

"Oh yeah, actually the understanding of all the acronyms, you know, you don't have to explain to everybody what you're talking about.  It feels good having a spouse that's in the military like Trisha was saying because you can come home and, you know, if you do need to vent about something you know they're on the same page, they know what you're talking about, and you know, also if I was to come home and say, 'hey, I'm getting deployed,'  she'd know what to expect whereas I would know what to expect if she told me the same thing."

They agree that their experience serving in Iraq has made them more patriotic. 

KSMU’s Sense of Community Series is on the web at ksmu.org.

For KSMU News, I’m Michele Skalicky.