Korean War Legacy Project

Danny Dorzok


Danny Dorzok was born December 8, 1985, in Stuttgart, Germany. His mother was a German citizen, and his father was serving in the United States Army and was stationed there. He returned to the United States in time to start the fifth grade and completed his schooling stateside. He enlisted in the United States Navy prior to his high school graduation and was ready to answer his call to duty, one that was impressed upon him as the tragedy of 9/11 unfolded. He attended boot camp in the Great Lakes area and was then sent to Point Loma, CA, for schooling and training as an Aviation Structural Mechanic. He was assigned duty aboard the USS Nimitz and served three deployments during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. His last deployment brought about changes in his orders, and he was stationed on land in southern Iraq at Camp Bucca as a prison guard for those who were captured and being held as prisoner of war. This was quite different than his previous assignments. The experience afforded him the opportunity to engage with Iraqi nationals serving alongside those at his post, creating memories he cherishes and credits with opening his mind and allowing him to participate as a global citizen. He discovered a mutual respect and admiration for those he met along the way which helped him feel as if he made a difference.

Video Clips

Life Aboard the USS Nimitz

Danny Dorzok describes the living conditions aboard the USS Nimitz. He shares what his living space was like as well as his daily routine. He discusses how each day was the same and how it became a cycle that repeated itself which required everyone to do their part and be dependable.

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Being Deployed Aboard the USS Nimitz

Danny Dorzok gives an account of his first two deployments while stationed aboard the USS Nimitz. His first deployment was to the Gulf to assist in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom where the crew offered air support to the ground troops. Upon returning to San Diego, the sailors were given scheduled down time so that the ship could undergo maintenance and the crew could enjoy some liberty. Both ship and sailor were preparing for deployment number two, which was an unnamed diplomatic mission somewhere close to India.

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Deployment to Camp Bucca

Danny Dorzok shares he received a different set of orders for his third deployment. He recalls being stationed at Camp Bucca in southern Iraq as a prison guard. He recounts how after having received new extensive training, he was assigned with the NPDB 5 to guard prisoners of war. He describes some of the interactions he had with Iraqi correctional officers as well as the prisoners, two very different impressions of Iraq.

Tags: Living conditions,POW

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Video Transcript

[Beginning of Transcribed Material]


D:        Danny Michael Dorzok.  DANNY MICHAEL DORZOK.

I:          What is the ethnic background of this last name, Dorzok:
D:        Um hm.  Prussian or German.

I:          German?
D:        Um hm.

I:          So, you are a descendant of German.

D:        Yes.

I:          Is your father, emigrated from Germany, no?

D:        No.  My father was an American born citizen.
I:          Um hm.

D:        My mother was a German citizen.



I:          I see.    Um hm.  So, what is your birthday?
D:        December 8, 1985.

I:          December 8.

D:        Nineteen eighty-five.

I:          Eighty-five.   And where were you born?
D:        I was born in Germany, Stuttgart area.

I:          Oh.

D:        I can’t remember the exact location.  But Stuttgart.



I:          So, do you have both citizenships?
D:        I did, I believe, until age 18.

I:          Oh.  And now you’re an American citizen.

D:        Yes.

I:          Yes.

D:        Um hm.

I:          Tell me about your family background when you were growing up, your father, mother, and your siblings.

D:        Um, well I have a half brother and a half sister.  My mother was a German citizen.

I:          Uh huh.

D:        My father and her got married



when he was Active Duty in the Army.

I:          Ah.

D:        And from that point forward,

I:          So, your father was US Army?
D:        Yes.

I:          In Germany.

D:        He was US Army.

I:          Yes.

D:        Stationed in Germany.

I:          Stationed in Germany.

D:        Um hm.

I:          Tell me about the schools that you went through.

D:        Which ones, what do you mean?

I:          Like elementary school to high school.


D:        Well, I went to school in Germany till about age 10. And then from there, I moved to the United States after my mother had died.  And from that point forward, I moved on and started fifth grade.  And from there on, I graduated high school.

I:          It is weird to have young veterans like you because I’ve been doing interviews with the Korean War veterans who were born



in the year of the Great Depression, 1929.  So, it’s good to have young veterans.  And after high school graduation, what did you do?

D:        Right after high school, I was already enlisted in the Navy at the time.

I:          You mean in high school?
D:        Um hm, yeah.  I was recruited in high school.

I:          Um hm.

D:        Right after high school, I believe it was like two weeks later,



I was already in boot camp.

I:          Where?

D:        Great Lakes, Illinois.

I:          Tell me about this boot camp area, Great Lakes, Illinois.  How is it?
D:        Well, we really didn’t get to explore a whole lot outside of, you know, the compound or the area that we were stationed at for Basic Training.



So, we were pretty much confined to that location.  We weren’t really allowed to leave.  But that’s a, you know,

I:          Okay.  And tell me why you chose to belong to the Navy.

D:        Well, originally my plan was to become a Naval Special Warfare, Navy Seal.

I:          Oh.


And from that point forward, I was going to make a career out of my military service there in the US Navy.

I:          So, from the beginning, you wanted to be a real professional

D:        Right.

I:          Military personnel, right?
D:        Right.
I:          Yeah.

D:        Well, I was still in high school when the Twin Towers got hit. I remember watching it on tv.  At first, I didn’t really pay that close attention to what was going on.  I just saw a plane crashing into



a building.  Until I got home, and I turned on the tv, and I saw what happened.  And of course, everybody was kind of in a panic.  They really didn’t know what was going on, who did it, what they purpose was.  But then, you know, later down the road, we come to find out that what we believed at the time was, you know, a terrorist act.

I:          Does that motivate you to



join the military?
D:        Yeah, at the time it did.

I:          Um.  Really patriotic.

D:        Yeah.

I:          At the time.  How long was the basic military training in Great Lakes?
D:        I honestly don’t even remember.

I:          Hm?
D:        I don’t remember exactly how long it was.  It’s kind of just a blur.

I:          How was it?  Was it hard?
D:        Uh, it was, for me, it was relatively easy.

I:          Why:
D:        I was a runner



in high school on the Varsity

I:          I see.

D:        Cross Country team.  So, and then, you know, with, you know, the discipline that my dad has taught me at a young age has really helped.  So, boot camp was kind of just another thing to do, just to get done, you know.  And it really wasn’t all that difficult.

I:          So, you were physically fit already and ready and




D:        Um hm.

I:          So from there, where did you go?
D:        From there, I was stationed in Point Loma which is in San Diego, California.

I:          Point

D:        Point Loma.
I:          Loma?  Could you spell it?

D:        LOMA I think is what it is.

I:          San Diego?
D:        San Diego, yeah.  It’s just north of San Diego.  I went there to do what’s called my A School, and that is



basically training for what you enlisted for.  Your basically, other branches call it your MOS, your job.  And I went there to complete A School.

I:          What did you do there?
D:        I was actually in the Aviation Structural Mechanic.

I:          Aviation

D:        Structural Mechanic.

I:          Tell me about it.  What is it?
D:        It involves repairing



air foils, composite material, carbon fiber material, a lot of, basically anything that has to do with the structure of the aircraft.  That was kind of what we had to do, or that was our job.  And that also included tire maintenance.  It also included hydraulic maintenance, hydraulic actuating units, things like that.

I:          That seems to be apart from your original goal to



be a Navy Seal.

D:        Right.

I:          Huh?
D:        Right.
I:          Why did you choose that?
D:        Well, the timing just really didn’t line up.  The Navy really wanted me to complete my Aid School.  And even during boot camp, took, we, I wasn’t really allowed to deviate too much from the training.  It was, and occasionally my recruit division commander would let me go and actually



work with the, well in Great Lakes, they basically had like a, almost like a program that allows you to train early on to be prepared to go to what they call Bud’s Training.

I:          Um hm.

D:        Or it’s like Hell Week, to prepare you

I:          Yeah.

D:        Physically and mentally.  And at the time when I was in boot camp, they really didn’t, like I said, they really didn’t allow that too much.



So again, the timing didn’t line up.  And they just kept moving me from duty station to duty station.

I:          Is it hard to be trained as an Aviation Structural Mechanic?  How long did it take for you to be qualified?

D:        I think from what I remember, the school was 12 weeks.  But that is just the very basic, That’s like the tip of the iceberg.

I:          Uh huh.

D:        There’s a lot more involved once you actually get out to the fleet.



There’s a lot more hands-on training that goes on, a lot of manual reading from what I remember.

I:          Um hm.

D:        So, um hm.

I:          And then from there, where did you go?
D:        From, after A School, I was transferred to NAS North Island which is Naval Air Station North Island which is almost directly across from San Diego.

I:          Um.

D:        You can see it from downtown.



And from there, I was assigned to, I believe it was a helicopter unit at the time for more training.  And after that, I was assigned to the USS Nimitz.

I:          USS what?
D:        Nimitz.

I:          Nimitz.

D:        Yeah.

I:          MI, NIMITZ.

D:        Correct.

I:          That’s an aircraft carrier.
D:        Um hm.

I:          So, did you do the same thing, Aviation Structural Mechanic there?
D:        Um hm.
I:          Tell me about USS Nimitz.



What kind of aircraft is that, and how many people, what are the capacity of it, when was it built?
D:        Well, um, I don’t remember when it was built.  But I can tell you that there’s about 1, 200 people when we are not deployed which just basically manned the different departments within the ship.  So, Aviation being one of them. There’s also, you know, laundry, security, and different ones like that.  Once



we deploy, we take on squadrons usually from North Island, and they don’t usually show up until we are out at sea a ways cause they will fly their aircraft onto the carrier.  And then once they are on the carrier, then we get them situated and get their departments up and running.  And from there, we deploy wherever we’re needed.

I:          Um hm.

D:        Anywhere in the world.

I:          So, now you’ve



become a sailor.

D:        Yes.
I:          And what was your rank?
D:        I started out as an E1.

I:          E1.

D:        Yeah, which is the lowest on the totem pole.  I did end up receiving a promotion just before I left boot camp.

I:          Um hm.

D:        So, I excelled academically and in my basic training.  So, I received E2 right out of boot camp.  And then shortly after that, I



was an E3.  And then about a year and a half into my training and being deployed, I was a Third-Class Petty Officer.

I:          Third Class

D:        Petty Officer.

I:          What does that mean in terms of, I’m not familiar with Navy ranks.  So, could you convert to Army, like a Corporal?

D:        It would be a,



I think it’s a Corporal.
I:          Okay.  How much do they pay?

D:        Uh, well once you

I:          When you become Third Petty Officer

D:        Um hm.

I:          How much do they pay you?
D:        I honestly don’t even recall.  It wasn’t a whole lot.

I:          Approximately.

D:        Um I don’t know. I don’t remember.

I have it in my file.

I:          Uh huh.

D:        Like a pay stub.



I:          Rough.

D:        Maybe $800, $900 a month from what I remember.  Or not, like $1,300 a month I think.

I:          About $1,000.

D:        Yeah.

I:          Yeah, about $1,000.

D:        Yeah, a little more than that maybe.

I:          But you didn’t need that money in, you know, while you were in the Navy, right?

D:        No, not really.  You know, it’s kind of nice once you’re out on, out at sea.  There’s only



1,068’ you can go one way.

I:          Right.
D:        And about 300’ or 400’ across in each direction.  So um, so you pretty much save your money.

I:          Right.
D:        Um, it’s kind of nice.

I:          And they feed you, and they’re, you know, so,

D:        Yeah.

I:          Tell me about the life inside of the Nimitz.  Uh, where did you sleep, and how many in one quarter and so on.  What kind of bad (INAUDIBLE)



D:        Uh, well, we were on the starboard side aft.  So, the right back end of the ship. I was down about two, or one deck below the hanger bay.  And we were in what was called a berthing.  And that’s where we all sleep.  And there’s three bunks, three high three bunks, three high.  And you get maybe 6’



x 3’ sleeping space.

I:          That’s it.

D:        That’s it.  And you get, your bunk opens up, and you can store things inside your bunk.  And you get a small locker that you can store things in.  Showers, it was a communal shower, not communal shower, um.  We had three stalls.  And then you just take turns as the shift comes



on or, you know, as you leave duty for the day.  Then you take a shower and go to sleep and do it all over again the next day.

I:          Um hm.

D:        We had daily, they called it cleaning station, daily cleaning stations.  Everybody dreaded that.  Everybody absolutely hated it.

I:          Why?

D:        It was just tedious and just, you know, mindless thing to do.  You know, I



understand it has to be done.  But you know, they make it like an hour long.  And it doesn’t always take an hour and then you sit there.  And you always have to watch out for your chief walking through or a higher rank Petty Officer, you know.

If you’re caught sleeping, you get in trouble. If you’re caught sitting around, you get in trouble.

I:          Hey, it’s the military.  So, they have to have it, yeah.
D:        Yeah.  So, we always joked and, you know, pushing dust bunnies around.  So

I:          So, are we still talking about 2005?



D:        Uh,

I:          When you were in Nimitz, when was it?
D:        Um, the first, roughly the first 2 ½ years I was on the Nimitz.

I:          Oh.

D:        Two and a half to three years.

I:          Um hm.

D:        Yeah.  Um, yeah.
I:          So, where did you go?  And what did you do there?  I mean, did you have an actual operation there?  Were there, I mean, any engagements with other countries



actually?  Tell me about it.  What was the main mission?  And what did you do?

D:        The first mission was we were deployed over to the Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom.  Our main job was to provide air support for ground troops in various locations, wherever they may need us.  The planes would go to those destinations and take care of the enemy.



So, our job was to mainly keep the aircraft running.  If there was down time, we would do the maintenance on the aircraft and get them up as soon as we could back into full operation.  So, that was the first deployment.

We were deployed for, from what I recall, at least nine months.
I:          Nine months.
D:        Um hm, yeah.
I:          And were there any dangerous moments or, no nothing, right?  No enemy aircraft ever near



to your rockets or missiles?

D:        No, not as far as we were concerned.  We had an entire fleet in that area.  So um, anybody who would even try to consider doing something to harm, you know, anybody on that aircraft carrier, I mean, we’d take care of them

I:          Um hm.

D:        Fairly quickly.  So um, we did actually do a couple of



they call them war games.  And we would do exercises with India, us, I think China at one point.  I don’t really recall.  Yeah.

I:          Tell me about what kind of problems do they have in terms of aircraft structure.

I mean, once they got out of Saudi and coming back,

D:        Um hm.



I:          What kind of problems do you find in the structure of the aircraft?  I mean, these must be F16?

D:        F18s.

I:          F18s, right?

D:        Um hm.

I:          And what kind of problems do they have?
D:        Um, usually it’s just routine maintenance, you know.  Like there’s a scheduled down time for aircraft.  For every so many flight hours, there have to be so many maintenance hours.  So, a lot of it was maintenance.  But we really haven’t had any major



problems with the aircraft.  I mean, they didn’t really come back shot up or anything from what we could remember.  A lot of it was just maintenance and keeping them flying.

I:          So, no US aircraft has ever been hit by Iraqi missiles or anything?
D:        Not that I remember from our deployment.

I:          Um hm.

D:        Um, but I, you know, certainly can find, you know,



I don’t know about others.

I:          So, you stayed through in the Nimitz on that operation.
D:        Um hm.
I:          And after that, where did you go?
D:        We came back to San Diego.
I:          Uh huh.

D:        And then we had like a scheduled down time, um, where the entire aircraft carrier gets either updates or gets a paint job.  So that way were down, I wanna say maybe six months



or something like that.  And then after we did all the maintenance, the routine maintenance, we were operational ready again.  And then we were deployed a second time.

I:          To where?
D:        I don’t remember, um, because they really didn’t tell us. I know we were over in like Russia, Malaysia, India and those kinds of areas.  And I wanna say from what I recall that was more of



a joint, almost like a diplomatic mission because at the time, we were trying to see if the Indian Navy would join in, I forget his name, some Admiral who wanted to

I:          Got it.  So, it’s almost

D:        His vision.

I:          Yeah.

D:        His vision was to have a bigger Navy and joint Navy, joint.  So our main task was to go over there and talk to India.



I:          And when you came back to San Diego, you didn’t have to stay inside of the Nimitz, right?
D:        No, I did.

I:          You had to?
D:        Um hm.  Yes.

I:          All of the sailors?
D:        All the time.  You had a certain, you know, it’s a normal work week Monday through Friday unless, you know, you had to pull an extra duty.  But there was a scheduled time when you stood certain watches.  There was a scheduled time when you



worked.  And usually, your weekends were free.  So, we did rotate on weekends.  But

I:          You go out.
D:        Yeah.  And you can, you know, you can do whatever you want on the weekend or after your duty is over.

I:          You could stay outside, right?

D:        Oh yeah, we, yeah.  We weren’t confined to the Nimitz.  We, you know, we were allowed to leave, go into town, go into San Diego, um, walk around

I:          Did you have to come back for sleep?

D:        Yeah.  But there’s no, from what I remember, there was really no curfew.

I:          Um.



D:        Just as long as you come back.

I:          Um.
D:        Long as you come back for your duty the next day, when you come back for your job, you know.

I:          So, um, and after that second operation around Russia, Malasia, India, where did you, what was third?

D:        The third one actually was in the southern part of Iraq.

Down in Camp Bucca.

I:          Camp



D:        Bucca, BUCCA.

I:          It’s in southern Iraq?
D:        Yes.

I:          And were you in the land or just

D:        I was stationed on land.

I:          Okay.  Tell me about that.  When was it actually?
D:        That was the last tour around 2008.

I:          Um hm.  So, you finally got out of Nimitz, and then you



dispatched to the

D:        Almost.  What I did in between that time before I went to Camp Bucca, I had my maintenance officer for our department, he wanted me to go to Search and Rescue Swimmers School.  They needed a person to man the search and rescue operation.  And he called me in his office personally.  And at first when he did that, I wasn’t sure what he wanted.



It was kind of a scary moment because you don’t know what you’re being called in there for, you know.  He was very casual with me, and he said you know, why did I call, you want to know what I called you in here.  And I told him no sir, I have no idea why you called me, you know.  And he says well, we need a rescue swimmer.  So, he said are you willing to do it?  And I was very up front with him, and I said well, I haven’t really been working out or



training the last three months.  So, from my normal physical fitness versus where I was at was not where I wanted to be.  But I ended up, I did say yes.  So, they changed my orders.  And I went to the 32nd Street Base which was just across from North Island.  And from there, I went through the Search and Rescue Swimmers School.  Didn’t make it through.  There was a couple exercises that I just couldn’t do.  I just ran out of



breath, um.

I:          That’s tough.

D:        It’s not an easy thing to do.  But

I:          You must be a good swimmer now.

D:        Oh yeah, I’m a good swimmer.

I:          Oh.

D:        So then after that, I didn’t go back.  But I needed orders either back to the Nimitz or somewhere else.  So, they cut me orders to Fort Dix, New Jersey.  So, then I was leaving that,



I left San Diego.  I went to Virginia.  And then from there, we went to New Jersey, and that’s where I trained with the Army as a, well, they called it NPDB5.

I:          NP

D:        NPDB5.

I:          Um hm.

D:        It stands for Naval Provisional Detainee Battalion.

I:          Uh huh. Naval

D:        Um hm.




I:          Provisional.

D:        Detainee.

I:          Detainee.

D:        Battalion, yeah.  So basically, I was training to be a Prison Guard for anybody that was captured by the Army.  At the time when we first invaded Iraq, we set up this camp for prisoners that were caught during war time.  And they were processed



according to, you know, their laws and United States laws.  So, and they would serve their prison sentence.  And what I did is I trained in New Jersey with the Army to become basically a detainee prison guard.

I:          What kind of training?
D:        Uh, medical training.  We did a lot of IVs, like intravenous lines.

I:          Oh.

D:        I was trained as a Combat Lifesaver.



So, you know, we were trained all the way up to dealing with like missing limbs, um, like severe trauma, things like that.

I:          Why did you need that?  I mean, as a prison guard, why do you need that?

D:        Well, it was to render aid to anybody that was injured.  I mean, we were under constant, you know, threat of potentially getting hit by a mortar or, you know, we don’t know.  Some detainees



actually did try to escape.  So, you don’t really know what you could be up against.  And if something happens, uh, you need to be prepared for the situation.  So uh, so that training was pretty in-depth after that.  I trained

I:          What else?  Medical and what else?

D:        Medical.  Then we learned how to drive Humvees.  We learned how to



follow in a convoy.  And how to engage um, the enemy.  And what was interesting is they actually had the Department of Defense civilians who would dress up as Iraqis or the Taliban, and we would drive through these makeshift towns, and they would try and mess with you.  And they’d try to, you know, to kind of give you an idea of what it would be like, you know, really over there.

I:          Um hm.

D:        Um, so we did convoy training.



We did weapons training with the M203s, M16s.  We did riot training like learning how to take somebody down to the ground, um.  Trying to think of what else.

I:          What other kind of motions in your mind?

D:        Um, I would say once we actually lifted off with the Black Hawk helicopter,


that’s where things got real.  Like I thought wow.  First, I thought what am I doing?

I:          Um.
D:        You know, this is, what crazy idea is this, you know.

I:          Yeah.

D:        And I, you know, for as far as your eye could see from the horizon, there was a few trees, a few shrubs. It was all sand.  I remember an oil well burning in the distance.

I:          Uh huh.

D:        Black, you know, big black cloud.

I:          It’s just like scenes from the tv news, right?



D:        Yeah.  It was, you know, very, I guess you could say very similar to what the Gulf War was like, not as many oil wells burning.  But oil, you know, oil rigs.  But definitely a weird feeling.

I:          Were you heightened or afraid?
D:        Um, not particularly, um. I mean, you kind of train your mind to accept where you’re at.



I mean, there was always a constant feeling of, you know, your life being in danger.  But not immediately, you know.  But it was always in the back of your mind that, you know, you could get shot down in a helicopter.

I:          Um hm.

D:        We may not make it into Camp Bucca.  But we had pretty good, you know, we were armed pretty well. Even the helicopters were armed pretty well.  So




I:          So, tell me about the prison there in Camp Bucca.  How big was it?  And how many inmates there and so on?

D:        Um, well we had a chief assigned to the compound.  There was, I wanna say, 13 or 14 compounds.  And within each compound, there were, they called them MDHUs,



Modular Detainee Housing Units.

I:          Um hm.

D:        They were basically two shipping containers welded together like you’d see on a ship.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And they’d weld those together, and they put toilets in there, and they had mattresses in there.  So, but it’s modified so they can’t really get out.
I:          Um hm.

D:        Um, you’re with several guard mates.  And you’re also with a couple of Iraqi Correctional Officers.  So, that was kind of



an interesting thing, working with the Iraqis, you know.  To some extent, you always think that, you know, are they working for the Taliban, you know?  Are they really there to, you know, to help make a difference. But they were really good.  A lot of the guys, we built a lot of good relationships with the Iraqis that we were there.

I:          Um hm.

D:        Got along really good.  They learned a lot about our culture.  And they always asked me questions,



you know, like

I:          Like what?
D:        Uh, you know, um, gosh.  Well, from what I can remember, they really liked our shampoos, um. I know, I remember they’d always ask me, you know, they always wanted shampoo for their wives cause it’s good shampoo I guess, I don’t really know.  Um, so I would go to the Navy Exchange which is on our side of the camp.  Or



you know, it’s a secure separate, secure area where we stay.  And I would go there, and I would bring them back, you know, $50, $60 worth of you know, toiletries and goods.  And it was kind of funny because I would set these things out for them, and it’s like they almost fought over them like a bunch of two-year-olds, you know.  It was kind of funny.  But uh, you know, I almost got to the point where I had to like ration out certain ones to certain people.

I:          Right.



D:        But

I:          I think I saw that part in some movie, that they love this American or Western shampoo and toiletries, no?

D:        Yes.  They really, really like those things.  Um, but then what they would do for me, um, they would actually go to their market in town, like in the, I think it was in Unkasser or Mossul at the time.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And they would go to the



Iraqi market, and they would bring back things, gifts for us to have.

I:          Yes.

D:        So, we were trying to build relationships in that sense, um.  And I actually, there was one Iraqi correctional officer I remember.  His name was Samir.  And he was this skinny little guy.  And you know, a bunch of missing teeth, but nicest guy ever.  And he was just so interested in like our culture.  And



we got to the point where I was trying to learn more Arabic from him.

I:          Um.
D:        You know, I, we would roll the compound together.  And when we were in an area that you know, didn’t have a lot of detainees, we would get to talking, and we, I tried learning body parts, you know, like what’s your, the name for your ear?  What’s the name for your nose?  And he would do the same thing.  He would ask me in English what does, you know,

I:          So basic elementary kindergarten

D:        Right.



I:          Teaching, mutual teaching, right?  Yes.

D:        Yes.

I:          So, exchange of culture and language.

D:        Yeah.  There was definitely a language barrier.  But it was always nice when you had a, the interpreter would come by every once in a while, and that really helped you know, with the language barrier.  Like if they wanted to know something about us, I would tell them, you know, and vice versa.  We’d exchange information.



Just for my own personal safety, I never gave them exactly where I lived just because you know, you have to still keep some sense of safety for yourself and your family and you know, they’d always ask me, you know, they’d ask me where do you live, I said California, you know.  Never tell them details of where exactly in California you lived.  So, yeah.

I:          How many inmates were there?



D:        Uh, I wanna say maybe probably 200 per compound I wanna say.

I:          Um hm.  So, you have two different Iraqis.  One of them is a correctional officer working with you, more friendly, right?
D:        Right.



I:          And other is obviously the prisoner of war

D:        Um hm.

I:          Inmate.

D:        Um hm.

I:          Do you see a real difference between those two groups?

D:        Not really other than, you know, other than they want to harm you, um.

I:          Oh, still they were very

D:        Yeah.  They, the other thing, I mean they didn’t like us for sure, um.  And actually, they were kind of hateful toward the Iraqi Correctional Officers.



I:          Um hm.

D:        And certain interpreters actually were masked so the

I:          They cannot identify.

D:        They cannot identify that person because they would, you know, I’m sure they’d have connections with family and you know, and they wanted to make sure that their safety was maintained, and the safety of their family was maintained.

I:          What about the facility for the inmates?  You said that it’s a shipping, what is it, a container.
D:        Shipping container.

I:          It must be so hot there, right?



D:        No, everything was air conditioned.

I:          Oh, even for the inmates?
D:        Yeah, even for the inmates.

I:          Um hm.

D:        Um, that basically I believe fell under the Geneva Convention.

I:          Um hm.

D:        Where we, regardless if you’re a prisoner of war, you still need to be treated with humanity or, treated humanely,

I:          Yeah.

D:        Provide food, you know, the necessary basic human rights I guess, um.  So, but as far as like comfort goes, the only thing they really had were mattresses and two-piece yellow suits, you know.



And they were maybe like a nylon material, so they can’t really hide anything in those.  They’re very cheaply made.  And that was the idea.

I:          Right.

D:        So, if we needed to search them, which was also part of my job, if we needed to search for any paraphernalia,

I:          Um hm,

D:        We were able to easily find those things.

I:          What about your compound?  Your living quarters?  How was it?

D:        Um, we, well it was kind of like a trailer home.



So, it actually was a trailer home cut in half.  And then you have four guys per trailer home, or half trailer home.  You get a big locker where you could put your gear.  You get your own bed.  You can, you know, have blankets, pillows, and it’s air conditioned.  So, it’s kind of like a little home.  But you’re with four other, three other guys.  So,

I:          So, you didn’t feel any heat there.



D:        Uh, only when the generators went down.  All of the units had air conditioning systems.  But the generators had to go down for maintenance every, I think like every month.  They’d change out the oil and change out the air filters so that we would continue being comfortable.  But that down time can sometimes be as long as, you know, four or five, six hours.



I remember a couple times in the middle of the night waking up with no air conditioning and all of a sudden you’d sit there and you’re sweating in your bed, you know.  And that was never fun.  So, but the first day we actually, we were in tents, we were in air-conditioned tents.  And they were waiting for the last group of Army personnel to leave because the whole purpose of MPDB5, our battalion,



was to relieve some of the Army personnel so they could go back home to their family and, you know, get some break time.  So, we would take over, and that’s why they cross-trained us to be detainee prison guards.  So then once we moved out of the tents, we moved into those units.

I:          Um hm.

D:        It was kind of funny because you know, the Navy exchange where you get all your goods and your military uniforms



I:          Like a PX.

D:        Yeah, exactly.  The same thing, PX.  They would sell, you know, refrigerators, microwaves, things like that.  But it was kind of like a little underground market because we were there, I’m not kidding you, we were there for an hour, and all of a sudden these guys that are leaving, they go hey, do you want a frigerator?

I:          Who?

D:        Sure.  The Army guys that were leaving because you know, they were trying to get their stuff out.

I:          Garage sale.



D:        Garage sale, yeah, exactly.  So, it was like a moving garage sale.  And they would say hey, do you want a fridge? And you know, all four of us that were assigned to each house,

I:          They don’t provide a refrigerator to the trailer?
D:        No, you gotta buy that stuff yourself.

I:          Hey, that’s not fair.
D:        Well, but we, so they would come by, and they’d say hey, do you want a fridge?  Sure, and you know, we’d give them cash, you know, $25 per person or whatever. Now we had a fridge.



You know, 20 minutes later, you’d get a guy coming in, and hey, do you want a microwave?  Sure.  So, we’d pay him off, and we’d get the microwave.  And by the time we were done, settled in on the first day, we had a fridge, like a mini fridge, a microwave, and a hot water boiler for like Ramen Noodles, you know,

I:          You like Ramen?
D:        Well, it was kind of like the staple.

I:          Yeah.
D:        You know.
|I:         What about the food?  Did you like the food there?  What kind of food did you

D:        Um, it was American food.  So, you could get your ham.

I:          Good enough?



D:        Yeah.  You could, you know, and there’s different areas.  So, you could get like fried chicken, chicken strips, French fries if you wanted it, salad, sub sandwiches, things like that.  But what we would do

I:          Steak?
D:        No, no steak.

I:          Why not?
D:        I don’t know. But uh,

I:          So, you didn’t have any complaints?
D:        No.  And what we would do, well, the only complaint was we had to walk far to get to the



dining hall, you know.

I:          Huh.

D:        We’d walk probably three, four hundred yards to get to the dining hall.

I:          Hey, come on.

D:        Well, what we would do actually, we assigned like our buddies a certain day of the week where you’d go to the galley and you pick up bread.  You pick up meat.  And then we would stock it, stockpile it in our fridge because you know, you were working 16-hour days in, you know, 120-degree temperatures.  You worked



six days, and you get one day off.  And at the end of the day when you

I:          Sixteen hours a day?
D:        Sixteen-hour days, yeah.  And it might, sometimes it’s longer, depending on how long it takes for the next group of guys to come in and relieve you from your post.  Well, you know, you’d get back from your 16-hour shift, and you just want to take a shower and go to bed.

I:          You don’t wanna go.

D:        You don’t wanna go to the galley, you know.  It’s too far of a



walk.  And you’re exhausted.  So, the nice thing was you could open up the refrigerator, you know, grab some meat and some bread and make yourself some food and go to sleep.

I:          So, what did you learn about Iraq in your high school World History class? Do you remember?

D:        Not much.  I guess at the time, we really didn’t focus too much on that.  But we learned a lot more,



I mean at that time maybe we learned about the Gulf War.  But that was about it, um.  A lot of Colonial history, a lot of American history, um.  So I guess the War on Iraq at that time really wasn’t a focal point.

I:          Um hm.  Did you know about the religion in Iraq?



D:        Not at the time.
I:          Not at the time.  And what about Sadam Hussein?  What did you think of him?

D:        Well, I know he wasn’t a nice guy.  Killed a lot of people.

I:          Dictator.

D:        Yeah.  I mean I really wasn’t, you know, I really wasn’t aware, like I said, aware of a lot of things that were going on in the Middle East.

I:          While you were there, you were not aware of?
D:        Well, Sadam was captured I believe, let’s see,



I wanna say he was captured after I got out of the military.

I:          Um hm.

D:        So, yeah.  Because I got out in 2009.  So, it was after that.

I:          Yeah.
D:        Yeah.

I:          And, what do you think of the war with Iraq?  I mean we were told that Sadam Hussein has weapons of



mass destruction, right?
D:        Um hm.

I:          And CIA and National Intelligence agencies, they [provided some evidence.  We’re still looking for weapons of mass destruction there, right?
D:        Um hm.

I:          We still haven’t found them.

D:        Um hm.

I:          Were there any dangerous situations where you could be wounded by the inmates or enemy attacks there?  Is Camp Bucca, is it, was it kind of a safe area?

D:        Um,



relatively safe.  I would say your immediate threat would be the detainees themselves.  Some of them would try to get smart with you.  They would try to get physical with you.   I remember like the very second or third day that we were there when they were training us to run, to work inside the compound,



like, do you know the little Bic razors, the two, with the two blades?
I:          Um hm.

D:        Well, they would take those blades out of the razor, and then they would take a gum wrapper, stick the gum wrapper inside the blade so when you look at it, it looks just like a razor blade.  So, you had to pay close attention to each razor cause they were rationed out.  And then after they were done shaving, they would have to



bring them all back.

I:          Return, yeah.

D:        So, you had to be careful for, you know, paraphernalia for shanks, um. I remember one of the windows that were inside of the compound.  They had worked the metal loose on the bottom and had a piece of metal about this long which could have been used for, you know, injuring anybody who was working in there, you know, uh.  Could have been



turned into a shank, yeah.  I would say though, I have kind of an interesting story.  I was going around and checking on all of my, doing a head count, checking on all of the inmates.  And there was a little door that I could look through underneath.  And they’re not supposed to hang their clothing up.  It’s supposed to be down.  And they were really ingenious with the



little juice boxes that we’d give them

I:          Yeah.

D:        For drinks.  They would take the straws out of them and then tie them together.  They would flatten them out and tie them together, and they would make clothing lines out of them and hang their clothes over the window so we couldn’t see.

I:          Hm.

D:        So, we would have to tap on the window and tell them, you know, take down the, take it down so we could look inside.  But one of the inmates there took a bunch of straws and wove them together where he hung



the straws from the ceiling, and his Koran was suspended from the ceiling hanging in front of them with these straws.  So, as I looked in there, he was, you know, doing his prayer.  So, I didn’t bother him out of respect.  But I, and I didn’t want to take it down out of respect.  So, I waited till he was done and, you know.  I told all of my guard buddies, and they just, they all were laughing, you know.

I:          What is the routine of your job,



for example, take a day, and let us get a routine.  What time do you wake up?  What do you do?  And then what do you do with the inmates?  What is the major job description of yours?

D:        We would come in in the early morning.  Usually the sun was up by the time we get out there, by I want to say maybe around 7 A.M.  We would get onto these



five-ton trucks.  And there was, you know, five, ten of us, or 15 guys, and we would drive from there to different checkpoints before we would go into the actual secure side.  And the Army personnel would make sure we had our ID card.  They would check our ID card, check us for any kind of paraphernalia, you know.



Basically, what that was for was to make sure that we’re not helping out the enemy.  So, they would do like a search, nothing crazy, just a basic search.  But then after that, we would go to the first set of gates, and then we would go into the inner part of it.  And from that point forward, we would meet up with the crew that we were relieving, and they would pass on any kind of information from the night before, what happened or if there was an incident or anything like that.



And we’d talk to our chief and make sure he didn’t have anything.  If we got a new detainee, we would you know, be made aware of that.  And then our evening started where we would check into our guard shack, get our gear, and check in with the Iraqi correctional officers that were working at the time.  And then from there, you would do your roves throughout the compound.  But before you even did that, you did a head count.



You’d go around to each unit, MDHU, and you would do a head count.  And each detainee had their own wristband.  So, you had to make sure that the wristband matched up because they all had pictures.  So, you’d have to match up the picture.  And some of those guys wouldn’t want to wear their bands and they’re supposed to.  So, you know, little acts of defiance and, you know, you gotta pick your battles in that situation.  But so we’d do a



head count.  And after that, we would, you know, I want to say we’d fill out various pieces of paper to make sure that people were accounted for.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And then from that point, we would be actually assigned to different spots.  And we would rotate throughout the night.  So, one person would be up in the guard tower.  Another guy would be down in the main area where we would watch the detainees so they could get recreation.  So, they were able to go outside.



We’d watched that.  Other times, we’d go around, and we would rove.  And then another spot, you ‘d have people watching people when they were, you know, doing their personal hygiene things, you know, making sure that there wasn’t anything going on.  So, wherever you went, there was always somebody.

I:          So, it’s just, we can imagine just like a regular prison.

D:        Yeah, just like an American-run prison.

I:          Yeah.

D:        Yeah.

I:          Were



you able to build a relationship with Iraqi civilians there?  Were you able to contact them and to learn more about their life?

D:        Um, like

I:          Like you are invited to a family of correctional officers or something like that or going to go to Iraqi parties and holidays and so on?

D:        Yeah.  We, I was actually nominated by the



Iraqis that I was with, and they invited me to take part in a dinner.  And we, of course, ate that in the guard shack, inside the, like the unit that we were in where we take out breaks and get out of the heat.
I:          So, you’re not going actually to their home but inside of it, right?
D:        Not to their home home.

I:          Right.

D:        But

I:          Their residence,



I mean the residential quarters inside of the camp.

D:        Um, no not.  They were, I mean they were assigned to us during the day.

I:          Yeah.

D:        And, but we, you know, they usually ate separate from us.

I:          Right.
D:        But at, you know,

I:          Can they commute from their own home?  No.

D:        I think they were bussed in or, I’m not sure exactly.



They, I never really found that out.  But they had a really weird rotation where they would work like a week.  And then they’d be off for five weeks and then, you know.  And there was, every week we had a different group of Iraqi correctional officers.  But I would always look forward to the days when I got to spend time with Samir and all of the ones that I made good friends with.  But, and I think it was


those guys that allowed me to sit down and eat with them.  And we had a dinner with you know, lamb and curry and the traditional Middle Eastern

I:          Oh, I’m getting hungry.

D:        Very good.

I:          Yeah.

D:        And then I want to say that our command allowed one Iraqi to come into the quarters where we were at.  It’s



something that only the most trusted correctional officers are allowed to do.  And he was able to come with me to our galley and sit down.  And I had conversations with him, you know, and I asked him, I said what do you think of the United States being in your country?  And at that time he said well, he feels secure knowing that the Army is out



in his neighborhood because he, you know, they were protecting their family, and they’re keeping the Taliban out at the time. So, he was happy about that, that his family, knowing that his family is safe while he would work in the prison.  However, he also said that at the time, he wished that we were also out of the country because they



essentially wanted their country back.  And they wanted to run it themselves again.

I:          What do you think about yourself being in Iraq in another country.

D:        Um hm.

I:          We invaded it anyway, right?
D:        Um hm.

I:          That’s the fact.

D:        Um hm.

I:          What were you thinking?  Were you comfortable being there as an occupier?

D:        Well, I mean from what we were always told was, you know, win the hearts and the minds of the



people.  And you know, I guess I really didn’t have an opinion on it at the time.  But I knew that what my job was to make a difference.  And I feel like I’ve made a difference to some extent in that country for those people.

I:          How?

D:        Just building relationships and you know, a lot of them, they really got to experience what



we were like.  And I think they realized that we’re humans, too.

I:          Um hm.

D:        Like we’re well, not humans, but we’re human beings.  We’re the same, you know.

I:          When did you leave that compound, Camp Bucca?

D:        My deployment was actually cut short.  I had some health problems that were fairly life-threatening at the time from what they told me.  So, I had to leave



and be flown to Lunjtune, Germany, cause I was in Maryland.
I:          Yeah.

D:        For a year, yeah.  So, June or July of 2008.

I:          What do you think about the Iraqi culture?
D:        Um, it’s interesting.  To some extent, it’s almost like primitive lifestyle, very,



almost like only the basic essentials, um, you know. It’s not really super elaborate, basic home, basic necessities from what I can remember at least.

I:          Um hm.  Did you study any about the history of Iraq while you were serving there?



D:        No.  But we, the Army gave us a book, manual or a book

I:          Um hm.

D:        That we were supposed to read, kind of teach you some of the language and a little bit of the culture.

I:          Are you proud of your service as an Iraqi veteran?

D:        Um hm.

I:          Iraq War veteran?
D:        Yes.
I:          Um hm.

D:        Yeah.

I:          Is there any benefits that you’re getting from the VA as an Iraqi veteran?

D:        Um hm.

I:          What kind?



D:        Um, well most of my health care is taken care of, you know, annual screenings and annual checkups.  So, that’s all free.  So, it is a benefit. Another benefit is I was able to use my Montgomery GI Bill, a post-911 GI Bill to go to school.  So, that is another benefit that I received after my



military service.

I:          What did you do?  What school did you go to?

D:        I went to the University of Wisconsin Lacrosse.

I:          Wow.

D:        I studied Recreation Therapy. I currently have my Bachelors’ Degree in Recreational Therapy.  And I practice at the Veterans’ Home in (INAUDIBLE)

I:          That’s good.  So, what does Montgomery GI Bill pay you, the whole tuition?

D:        Um well, there was the Montgomery GI



Bill, and the post-911 GI Bill.

I:          Uh huh.

D:        And just before I discharged from Maryland, they said that they were switching over to the new GI Bill.  The Montgomery GI Bill just paid for your schooling.  But the post-911 GI Bill paid for your living expenses as well.  So, you were getting monthly stipends.

I:          Like what?  How much?

D:        I want to say it was around 11 or



12 hundred a month.  So, and you would only receive that when you were actually in school.  So, they would pay you during your

I:          Yeah.

D:        Time when you were in class.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And then off, when you weren’t in school, you would have to make ends meet.

I:          Okay.
D:        On your own.

I:          What do you think about media coverage of Iraq and the Iraq War, I mean, in general, and the Iraq that you know based on your personal experience?
D:        Um hm.



I:          Do you see any discrepancy there, and do you see any problems in media coverage or stereotypes of the Iraqis that the Americans have?

D:        I mean you know, you know, American news, it seems to, it gravitates more toward the negative in my opinion. It doesn’t really cover on the ground things that happened, like real life events when they happened.  And yeah, I think there is some discrepancy to that.

I:          Um hm.



Is there any Iraqi War Veterans Association?

D:        Yeah, there is the, yeah, Iraqi War Veterans, IV, it just started not too long ago

I:          When:

D:        I don’t even know.

I:          Did you join that?
D:        It’s the Iraqi War Vets of America.

I:          Um hm.  How many members, do you know?

D:        No idea.  I just stumbled across it not too long ago.  I thought about joining it just because it’s,



if you think of like the American Legion or

I:          Yeah.

D:        You know, the VFW, that generation has their own camaraderie

I:          Yeah.
D:        Their own group of individuals.

I:          Do you think you have a kind of sense of community among those Iraqi war veterans?

D:        Oh yeah.

I:          Do they want to be close to each other?
D:        Oh yeah.  There’s definitely, even getting out of the military, you know, just, if you need another guy who served,



I mean, there’s definitely that camaraderie, you know.  Like for example, I went with this group called Heroes Hunt for Veterans.  At the time, it was called Heroes Hunt for Wounded Warriors.  Now it’s Heroes Hunt for Veterans.  And they would allow you to go hunting with a guy.  But we were with two other guys.  And one guy was from the Army, and another guy was serving on a



police department who served.  And you know, we got along like right away, just cause we had that common bond of service and just very interesting, and I’m still friends with a lot of these guys today, even my friends from the USS Nimitz, I still keep in contact with them as well.

I:          What would you say to American young student who want to know about Iraq?



What would you suggest to do?

D:        Uh, ask a veteran.

I:          Ask a veteran, right?
D:        Ask people who were actually there.

I:          Yeah.

D:        Who actually served

I:          Yeah.

D:        And knew about the issues and the things that were going on at the time.  And you know, of course, read History books.  But don’t just ready one perspective, yon now.  Broaden your mind, broaden your understanding that, you know,



look beyond just American textbooks.  Look for other evidence.

I:          Do you think there will be any Iraqi veterans who might be interested in becoming a teacher, you know, going through Masters’ Degree if supported financially.

D:        Um hm.

I:          And become a World History teacher and teach about the Iraq that they fought for.

D:        Oh, absolutely.

I:          Do you think so?
D:        I think that’ s needed because you know, I think that we



limit ourselves as far as our reputation goes. I think we need to be, you know, world citizens.  And we need to understand different issues that are going on in the world.
I:          Yeah.
D:        And I think the best way to do that is having somebody with real life experience teach something like that.

I:          What if my foundation, World History Digital Education Foundation, initiated that project?
D:        Um hm.

I:          Veterans to teacher.

D:        Um hm.



I:          Do you think there will be some interest from the veterans?
D:        I think so.

I:          Okay.

D:        Yeah.

I:          Hm.

D:        Um hm.

I:          Danny, it’s great to have a long interview with you.

D:        Um hm.

I:          First of all, I wanna thank you for your support and help for the interviews of Korean War veterans in your Veterans’ home, one of the most beautiful Veterans’ home I’ve ever seen so far.

D:        Um hm.

I:          And I really appreciate your help.  And the way that you deal



and treat veterans, senior veterans, is very impressive.

D:        Thank you.

I:          And you know, the reason that I wanted to do an interview with you is because I think, in my opinion, our world history education needs to be changed.

D:        Um hm.

I:          You know?  We need to really attract the attention and interest from our students about current affairs and then going back to the history.

D:        Right.

I:          You know?



So that’s why I’m trying to do this.  And this is the first interview of my foundation with the Iraqi War veteran.  And you are the one.  And I hope that we can, it can be a small first step that we took today.

D:        Um hm.

I:          And I wonder if we can make it grow and do a series of interviews with other Iraqi War veterans

D:        Um hm.

I:          And somehow contribute to our understanding



among our young generations about Iraq and our history, contemporary history

D:        Um hm.

I:          Including the War.

D:        Right.
I:          So that we can build a real good relationship with this country.

D:        Yeah.

I:          Do you think we can do those?
D:        I think so.  I think by doing that, you can certainly branch off into other areas of, you know, other areas of expertise, whether it be Political Science or other specific



interests, you know.  I think that the more perspective you get from other people, I think the better off your Foundation will be and the better off that it will produce more global thinking citizens that are more aware of issues going on.

I:          Yes.

D:        Yeah.
I:          So, my recommendation for you is to join the Iraqi War



Veterans Association of America.

D:        Yes.

I:          And bring this idea to them.

D:        Okay.
I:          And we can go together, participate in annual reunions if there is anything like that.

D:        Sure.
I:          And we will talk about these ideas to them.

D:        Yeah, definitely.

I:          Would you do that?
D:        I’d be inclined to do that, yes.

I:          Yes, great.  Any other message you want to leave to this interview?

D:        I would just say be open minded.



Look beyond just what you see going on in front of you, you know.  Look beyond and be a global thinker and be aware of the issues that are going on in the world.

I:          Great.  This is all the artifacts related to Dan’s service as an Iraqi War veteran.  Please explain those.



D:        Well, um, this here is the time that we spent in Fort Dix, New Jersey.  This is also another picture here.

I:          So, where you were in

D:        In New Jersey, yeah.  This is the, we were training in the Army.

I:          Yeah.

D:        Um hm. Here’s another one of when we were out in the field.  This here is when we were in Kuwait.  This is the day that we were flying into Iraq.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And that day



I:          Where are you?
D:        I’m on the airfield.

I:          Where are you in the picture?
D:        I’m right here right in front.

I:          Oh.  You are the

D:        Yeah.
I:          Whoa.

D:        Yeah.  And that’s me here.

I:          This is you?

D:        Yeah.

I:          Okay.
D:        And then here, this is the, these two kind of go hand in hand.  This was when I was in Camp (INAUDIBLE).  The night before we got helicoptered in.

I:          Um hm.


D:        These are my different ribbons here I was awarded as I was serving overseas.

I:          Okay.
D:        This is when I was with Naval Security Forces.  That was in San Diego.

I:          Um hm.

D:        I was doing that for a while.  These two here are certificates for air framing.  This was my Aid School certificate of completion.

I:          Okay.

D:        This here



I:          What is it?  Combat Life Saver.

D:        Yeah.
I:          And then this is a citation?
D:        Yeah.  This citation was actually given to me by the Rear Admiral JT Blake who is the Commander of the carrier Striker 11 at the time.

I:          Um.

D:        That was for just my outstanding work ethic.  And I actually saved the Navy almost a half million dollars in replacement costs.

I:          Wow.
D:        Yeah.



That there is a Battle E document.  That’s for battle efficiency on the USS Nimitz.

I:          Um hm.

D:        And that’s actually for, essentially what that means is that we were a very good strike group, very good carrier.