AP grad describes tense moments in military deployments
AVON PARK - U.S. Army Sgt. Albert Moses told Avon Park High School students Thursday to pay attention in school because it’s hard once you get in the “real word.” The 22-year-old Avon Park native was speaking from experience, having graduated just a few years earlier, in 2009, from the home of the Red Devils. Speaking Thursday afternoon from his father’s house in Avon Park, Moses said, “I was telling some of my teachers ‘I wish I would have paid attention a little bit more in high school.’” He told students, “The real world is hard once you get out there so you should try to pay attention in school and do what is best and go to college.“If you can’t, then the military is not a bad thing.” Moses signed up for the U.S. Army six months before his high school graduation. His four-year enlistment will end in June, but he has already reenlisted for another six years. “I am trying to make a career out of it,” he said. Moses stopped back for a three-day stay in Highlands County to visit his mother and father and one of his brothers. His other brother lives in Jacksonville. As a cable installer/maintainer in the Army, Moses installs communication, telephone, Internet and other communication lines on military bases. Moses’ first overseas deployment took him to South Korea, where he was stationed for two years about 15 miles from the North Korean border. The toughest part about being in the Asian country was trying to figure out what was happening politically in North Korea, Moses said. He left South Korea about two days before North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il died on Dec. 17, 2011. “There was a little bit of conflict about us so we had to stop a lot of our exercises because they thought we were coming up to North Korea,” Moses said. “Along with them trying to blow up one of our [South Korean] islands and blowing up a [South Korean] ship, it got kind of hectic sometimes.” After South Korea, he was deployed to Afghanistan from June 2012 until March 2013. Initially it was pretty safe at the Kandahar Airfield where was he was working, so he was mostly concerned about his living conditions, Moses said. He didn’t know if he was going to be living in a tent or a “hard building.” At first Moses lived in modular housing, but later he moved into a two-story concrete building. He ate well at the base’s DFAC (dining facility) and the base also had a Pizza Hut and a Burger King. “I heard about rocket attacks, but I didn’t really know how they worked there,” Moses said. He remained on alert and carried his M-16 rifle while working with local Afghans, Moses said. He was “pretty much on edge,” but was prepared with his training prior to deployment, which included battle drills. Did you have any close calls? “A couple of rocket attacks; we had one actually blow up our Pizza Hut that was on the base,” he said. Also, an enemy vehicle with a bomb was headed toward a gate at the base, Moses said. Before it reached the gate, the vehicle exploded when it struck a U.S. Army vehicle. About seven people were wounded in the incident. “It was about 200 yards away from me and everybody could feel that,” Moses said. “We could feel that most definitely.” Moses was heading back Friday to Fort Gordon in Augusta, Ga., where his wife and son are living. Then he will be going to Fort Carson, near Colorado Springs, where he has orders to work with an aviation brigade.