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Iraq vet enjoying his time home on leave

By Steve Huffman
Salisbury Post
Trenton Freeman said he enjoyed his time at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.
But he admits time may have blurred some of the more difficult experiences.
“Looking back, I probably remember it better than it was at the time,” he said of his experience at the service academy. “I remember having a great time up there.”
In the future, he might have similar sentiments about the war in Iraq.
Freeman, 23, graduated from East Rowan High School in 2002 and West Point in 2006. He’s a first lieutenant in the Army and recently returned from a deployment to Iraq that stretched a little more than a year.
Freeman is staying at the home of his parents ó David and Rose Freeman ó in Rockwell until mid-July when he returns to Fort Benning, Ga., for further training.
He said his brigade ó he’s a member of the Army’s 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division ó is scheduled to return to Iraq in November 2009.
“Of course, all that depends on what happens politically between now and then,” Freeman said. “I’m just planning on doing what they tell me to do.”
Cadets have a five-year commitment to the Army upon graduating from West Point, one of the most prestigious schools in the country. Freeman is two years into that five-year commitment and said he may make a career out of the military.
“It depends on the job opportunities in three years,” he said. “I’ll have to wait and see.”
In Iraq, Freeman led a platoon that helped keep roads clear in Karada Peninsula, mainly looking for bombs. It was a dangerous job, and Freeman’s father said he always reminded his son of one thing when they spoke.
“I just tell him to be careful,” David Freeman said.
When his unit detected unexploded bombs, bomb specialists assigned to the platoon used robots to trigger the bombs remotely, using C4 explosives.
But just as many times, “the bombs found us,” Freeman said. He estimated 12 to 15 bombs exploded on his platoon’s armored vehicles during the unit’s deployment. He doesn’t really like to talk about the injuries.
Freeman credits friends and, especially, his family with supporting him during his tour of Iraq.
“They were always sending supportive emails, pretty much constantly,” Freeman said of his parents and sister, Kori Freeman Miller, who lives in Granite Quarry.
Grandmother Lucille Patterson, who lives in Rockwell, kept him in her prayers.
In January, Trenton did what many would consider a noble thing while serving in Iraq. He traded leaves with a fellow soldier, so his comrade could return to the United States and see his son graduate from Air Force basic training.
“I just felt it was the right thing to do,” Freeman said of agreeing to take his leave later. “I knew it meant a lot to him to see his son graduate.”
Now enjoying his leave back in Rowan County, Freeman has been busy catching up with old friends.
He said he visits East Rowan on occasion where he speaks with Principal Kelly Sparger and Lt. Col. Rollins Collins, who heads the school’s JROTC program.
“They helped shape me to who I am,” Freeman said of those instructors at East Rowan.
Serving in Iraq is tedious, he said, but not all bad. Freeman and his comrades share an air-conditioned trailer and have hot meals either two or three times a day.
“It’s really all you can ask for in a war zone,” he said.
Contact Steve Huffman at 704-797-4222 or shuffman@ salisburypost.com.

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