Reservist saw God's presence in Iraq service
Letters from home keep soldiers' spirits up
By Jeff Kurowski
Compass Assistant Editor
To give religious education students at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Green Bay an inside look at the war in Iraq, Major Michael Seering showed slides of barracks, aircrafts, soldiers, barriers and maps.
To give insight about the importance of his faith in the midst of war, he showed a slide of an isolated tree in the desert.
"It was the only tree out there," he said. "This Joshua tree reminded me of my Christian faith. I found my strength in God. I was always looking for reminders of God's presence. There were plenty of times that I wanted to just cry. I didn't want to acknowledge that I was there. God kept picking me up by telling me, 'Don't worry, I'm here with you.'"
Seering, who served three years of active duty after joining the Army in 1982, has served as a reservist for the past 19 years. In Jan. of 2003, he was assigned to the 19th Corps Material Management Center in Minnesota through an involuntary transfer.
"I was given a two-day notice to pack, say goodbye to my wife and children, and to tell my employer that I was going," he said. "I was off to a unit where I didn't know anybody."
Following immunizations and basic instruction, the unit was assigned to Wiesbaden, Germany for training. Their next stop, as a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, was Kuwait, where the 19th Corps assisted combat soldiers in preparation for war.
"Our job was to operate base camps," said Seering, a member of St. John the Baptist Parish in Howard. "Kuwait is a very modern country, very rich in oil. We were located 15 to 20
miles from the Iraqi border. Protection is always on your mind. If you're going to leave camp, you always go with someone. You always have your weapon and your Kevlar helmet, which weighs about 12 pounds. By the end of the day, your neck is very sore."
In June of 2003, the unit thought they would be going home, said Seering. Instead, they were sent to Camp Anaconda, a large U.S. base near Balad, Iraq, where he again was reminded of God's presence.
"The tent where I slept was located near a mosque," he said. "I saw that as another sign that God was watching out for me. I kept looking for messages to ease my mind."
Seering met Iraqi citizens who worked at Camp Anaconda.
"They go through an extensive screening process and have escorts with them at all times," he said. "They work for $1 a day. Would you do anything for a $1 a day? Probably not, but they were very appreciative of that opportunity."
Soldiers from the unit also fixed up an Iraqi school.
"It was amazing to see how happy the kids are," said Seering "The boys and girls are like kids in this country. They just want to have fun."
The 19th CMMC unit returned to the U.S. on Feb. 4. Seering has 90 days to report to his reserve unit in Milwaukee.
"I'm still an Army reservist, but, after 22 years, I'm thinking that it is time to hang up my boots," he said.
He encourages people to continue to support the troops in Iraq.
"Continue writing letters and sending care packages," he said. "It's very uplifting for the soldiers. I wish I could have showed more slides with banners from schools. When I would see those and read what the kids wrote, I would get choked up. A lot of these kids (soldiers) don't have families. A lot of them join to change their lives, so it's important to show your support."
St. Elizabeth Seton middle and high school religious education students made crosses and prayer cards to send to troops in Iraq. First through fifth grade students collected school supplies for Iraqi children.
"It was interesting how he was so closely tied to his faith," said sophomore Michael Du Pont in response to Seering's presentation. "Even through the hard times, he stayed with his faith. I was impressed with how his belief in God kept him strong."