Soldier makes it home for Christmas
Appeal Staff Writer
Spc. Robert Neidert’s home is a long way from the ranch-style house he grew up in near the Carson River. These days the infantryman bunks on a cot with his Battle Boars platoon at the former pool house of Uday and Qusay Hussein on the Tigris River in Arab Jabour, Iraq.
“They’ve shelled us and we’ve shelled them, so it’s no big secret where we are at,” Neidert, 24, said with a chuckle Thursday from his parents’ Carson City home.
“We’re supposed to be leaving Iraq in August, but that’s just rumor – speculation.”
This is his second tour in Iraq in the three years he’s been enlisted in the Army. He arrived home on leave on Christmas night.
The eldest of Edward and Marcelle’s children, Neidert was the first out of the three boys to enlist in the military.
Not too long after, Andrew joined the Marine Corps and is now stationed at Camp Pendelton in Southern California. On Dec. 9 Jeremiah left for Navy training. Their sister Elizabeth is considering an Army career.
Neidert’s second tour of Iraq is a little different than his first. The living conditions are more primitive, and every day, in 120-degree heat, his platoon in Company A, 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, goes on patrols. As a 3rd Infantry Division Bradley gunner, Neidert has seen his share of combat. Though he has no physical marks, he admits his soul has been changed.
“We have not suffered no deaths in my platoon,” he said. “A few of my friends have been mutilated.” Later he showed pictures on his laptop of two friends before each lost a leg to the war.
“I’ve lost a lot of friends in the battalion and in the company, friends from Fort Stewart,” he said. “There are some things I’ll never forget. Iraq’s definitely scarred me for life. I haven’t even told my family some of the stuff from my first deployment just because it’s too hard to explain.”
But he easily talks about the jokes he and his combat buddies share. Or the time they kidnapped a teddy bear, sent by a girlfriend to one of the guys, and held it for a ransom of movies. In a slideshow on his laptop, peppered among the photos of bodies and destruction, are pictures of him and his friend smiling and holding cans of Beck’s near beer.
Being home is great, he said, but it’s also a “culture shock,” that will end Jan. 12 when he will return to combat.
“I’m used to hearing mortars going off, friendly and foe. Every day I go to sleep to that stuff. It’s music to my ears. Plus I can’t sleep on the bed now, it’s too comfortable,” he said.
• Contact reporter F.T. Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1213.