Retired NCO to perform a new kind of service
June 11, 2007
Bryan Staples served for 30 years in the U.S. Army, retiring as a noncommissioned officer in 2003. He later went to work investigating job-related fatal accidents for the State of Nevada, and moved to the Virginia City Highlands.
He is the owner of Sergeant-Major’s Silver Dollar Saloon, which quickly became the “in” place for area service members to visit when they came to Virginia City. He is also heavily involved in the Comstock Civil War Re-enactors.
Now Staples is embarking on a new adventure: he’s heading to Qatar to help ensure worker safety in the building of a new U.S. base in that Middle Eastern country.
Why are you going to Qatar?
The U.S. is building a permanent base there and the construction safety is very important. I was offered the job as safety manager on the project. I will make sure this is built safely.
Also, the money’s good.
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But also, I spent 12 years in the Middle East, in Egypt, Israel, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. For me, this is just another deployment.
So you think of it as an extension of your military service?
It is to me. If I didn’t think that way, I wouldn’t go. There’s no way I’d leave this mountain otherwise.
How do you plan to stay safe over there?
Experience. I understand the Middle East and what’s safe and not safe. I won’t be armed this time, but that doesn’t bother me. Do the right thing and stay in the right area and you should be OK.
You definitely have to park your American arrogance.
You think we all have ‘American arrogance?’
Of course we do.
Do you speak the language?
Some. I just picked up another set of tapes to renew my ability to speak because I have not had to speak it in a long time.
Reading it is tougher because they read right to left, not left to right.
Do you speak Arabic or any other Middle East languages?
Arabic, but they’re similar. It’s like Spanish; Mexicans speak it one way, Salvadorans speak it another.
What’s ironic is Hebrew and Arabic are similar.
At one time I spoke Arabic, Hebrew, German, Spanish, Korean and English. Of course, I’m originally from Texas so my English ain’t that good.
Do you have kids? What do they think about your going to Qatar?
I have two boys in South Carolina. Sean, 22, goes to college there, and Kyle, 19, goes to college in Florida.
It’s normal for them. When they were 3 or 4, I went to El Salvador, then Panama. When they were a little older, I went to the first Gulf War. They understood that’s what Dad did for a living.
What does your wife, Brenda, think?
Bye, Bye, see you when you get home. She’s a staff sergeant in the Air National Guard, so this is routine. This is standard.
If she hadn’t hurt her leg, she would be in Iraq right now.
How long do you expect to be there?
Two years, but every 90 days I get two weeks off.
When do you leave?
They want me in country one week from last Thursday, but they have to process my passport. As soon as the passport is processed, I’m gone.
What will you miss most, besides your family?
Virginia City and the people in Virginia City. I love this place. I love the state, but I love VC. This is the most unique place I’ve been and I’ve been around the world four times.
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