CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq — About a month after his son deployed to Afghanistan with the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, Sgt. Karl R. Pollock of Rindge shipped out to Iraq.
Pollock, 47, serves in the Keene-based 220th Transportation Company, an Army Reserve unit that arrived in northern Iraq in July. The unit’s mission is hauling supplies and military vehicles throughout the northern part of the country.
Pollock calls his deployment “nothing compared to what my son’s doing” in Afghanistan.
A Navy veteran who served 13 years as an independent duty corpsman, or medic, on submarines and flew on combat air ambulances, Pollock has been with the 220th since joining the Army Reserve more than a year ago.
When his son decided to join the Army in 2008, Pollock talked to the recruiter about becoming a reservist.
“I wanted to see if I could finish (the 20 years needed for retirement) and the Army Reserve was the one that would take me,” he said.
Since leaving the Navy, Pollock worked as an ambulance driver in Manchester, had been on the ski patrol at Crotched Mountain, and most recently worked for a Rindge-based construction company.
His wife, Kim Pollock, and two grown daughters were supportive of his decision to enlist, Pollock said. He also has three grandchildren.
“My wife’s not overjoyed about both of us being deployed at the same time, but she understands,” he said.
Since they’ve been away from home, Pollock and his son have stayed in touch by e-mail.
“That’s one of the hard parts,” he said. “He gets to call his mother and sisters, but where we don’t have cell phones here or there, we can’t really call each other.”
While this is his first deployment with the Army, Pollock previously served tours in the Mediterranean Sea and the Pacific Ocean.
He sees many similarities in the experiences.
“The interaction is the same,” he said. “You have different people coming from all over the place to work together.”
And while his previous deployments were on the water, they have some things in common with his deployment in the desert, he said.
“On land, it’s the same thing,” he said. “You’re restricted to a certain area.
“It’s not like you can leave base to go into town. You don’t get to see your family.”
As a squad leader in the unit’s 2nd Platoon, he is responsible for leading about 10 lower-ranking soldiers. The job allows him to train younger and less-experienced soldiers to be leaders, he said.
“No matter the time of day, they’re knocking on your door asking, ‘What time is this or that?’ ” he said, laughing. “My job is to disseminate the information at the lowest level and also work with the two team leaders under me to help train them to be squad leaders.”
On convoy missions with the 220th, he typically drives a tractor-trailer, also called a 915, and goes out two to three times a week, he said.
Being busy with missions helps pass the time, he said.
Driving along the highways in Iraq on missions, Pollock has seen signs of growth in the country.
“Now that we’re going on more day missions you get to see the countryside,” he said. “I’ve noticed that people are starting to put their lives back together.
“It seems like I’m seeing more rebuilding and better cars on the roads.”