UK weekly edition, Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Captain dealt with rocket attacks and fast drivers in the Green Zone
Baghdad’s vital International Zone, also known as the Green Zone, relies on a law-and-order detachment made up largely of U.S. Air Force security forces for protection.
Capt. Joe Wildman, 32, of Fort Worth, Texas, served as the detachment’s operations officer and deputy director on a recent five-month deployment within the zone, home to more than 35,000 coalition forces and Iraqis.
Before returning from Iraq in February, he supervised numerous missions and directed the response to roughly 60 indirect-fire attacks, including a massive attack of 44 mortar rounds in less than two minutes on Thanksgiving Day.
Wildman, who currently works for 3rd Air Force at RAF Mildenhall, is set to receive the Bronze Star Medal for these duties on Friday.
Is there one mission that stands out for you?Every day in the IZ (International Zone) there was something different. We did have the rocket and mortar attacks, which obviously make things unique.
What was the most common call for your guys?We had quite a few vehicle accidents. One of the more difficult things was people not obeying normal traffic laws, which you don’t really associate with being in a combat zone. But when you got probably 20 to 30 general officers in the IZ and five ambassadors, you could not operate in that location with the same kind of rules of engagement in the red-zone proper. There were just too many "high-vis" folks roaming around that place.
So we were dealing with traffic enforcement in a combat zone. We had numerous accidents due to just people blowing through roundabouts and speeding.
Did your guys issue any tickets?We hadn’t gotten to the point of issuing tickets yet. We pulled them over and explained to them that going 80 miles per hour to get to the Pizza Hut at the [base exchange] is probably not the best option. We did have a couple of fatalities on the roads and some U.S. servicemembers injured due to people going too fast.
Did your duties force you to be inside the tactical operations center all the time?No. About once a day I’d spend a little time in the TOC for meetings. Besides from that, I was able to move around the IZ to make sure my guys were doing what they needed to do and were getting the support from the organizations we served.
How do you feel about getting the Bronze Star for your actions down there?I’m humbled. The folks I had working for me are really the ones who deserve the recognition. There was nothing I did all on my own.
Now let’s get to know you on a more personal level. What’s your favorite movie?I’d say James Bond movies. I couldn’t narrow it down to one specifically.
Favorite type of music?A little bit of everything. I like Blink 182 and Coldplay, but I was born and raised in Texas so I do like my country music as well.
And finally, are you really a "wild man" in real life?Just on Sundays. [laughing]