Area company's service in Iraq recalled
Missouri Army National Guard Sgt. 1st Class Mike Selsor spent most of his career at Camp Clark in Nevada until his regional unit, Company A, was deployed in early 2005 for Operation Iraqi Freedom III, during which it encountered a situation more foreign and forbidding than anything the company's 117 soldiers had known.
With Veterans Day coming up Sunday, Sgt. Selsor noted many of them subsequently "saddled up" with other units to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Part of the 311th Brigade Support Battalion, Company A was based at Camp Adder alongside Tallil Air Base southwest of the city of Nasiriyah in south central Iraq, where much of the soldiers' contact with natives was with the nomadic desert-dwelling Bedouins.
"The Bedouins were pretty poor and appreciative of us being there," Selsor said at his Camp Clark desk, preparing to release a convoy. "The living conditions were harsh. It was always hot. One day in August or September, the thermometer pegged out at 135 degrees.
"We had no deaths and a couple of injuries, none from contact with the enemy. I think we were right in going to fight terrorism there instead of here. We didn't risk our civilians there. The soldiers and Marines were all volunteers."
Selsor is a Carthage resident who graduated from Nevada High School in 1980 and earned a bachelor's degree in education at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin before joining the Guard 32 years ago. He was a member of NHS' Air Force Reserve Officers' Training Corps.
During its deployment, Company A provided water, rations and fuel to forward operating bases and other operations, said Selsor, then a staff sergeant. "A truck was machine-gunned when it wouldn't stop at the gate," he said.
"Later, three mortar rounds landed in the perimeter. Outside terrorists came from Syria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan to fight us. We had trained at Fort Riley, Kan., and were in Kuwait for a month before we went into Iraq. My only other time out of the country was in Central America."
Selsor's son Matthew is a senior at Carthage High School.
Many area Guardsman and former Guardsmen have the Iraqi deployment in common, like the security officers at Camp Clark's front gate Friday.
Retired Sgts. Jerry Willis, of Sheldon, and Duffer Bowyer, of El Dorado Springs, were there, and Bowyer returned to Iraq for 15 months in 2008-'09 and spent four months in Afghanistan in 2011, he said. They now work for the Missouri Adjutant General's Office.