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Archive for Sunday, August 22, 2004

Baldwin soldier to return to Iraq

KU graduate to return to Camp Victory South after two weeks back home

August 22, 2004

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It's going to be hard for Linda Wiseman to drive her daughter Kasi to the airport Monday morning.

While it's always hard for a parent to see off a child, it's even more difficult when you know your daughter is returning to one of the most dangerous places in the world.

Spc. Kasi Wiseman, Baldwin, has been serving in Iraq since January. She is a terrain analyst with the 555th Engineering Company out of III Corps, Fort Hood, Texas. In Iraq, she is stationed at Camp Victory South in southern Baghdad.

Wiseman came home Aug. 7 for a two-week break. She's heading back to war Monday.

"It's going to be very hard to send her back," Linda Wiseman said. "It's scary for me knowing she's over there. I'm glued to the television; I listen and read everything I can."

Wiseman, a 2002 Kansas University graduate, joined the Army in January 2003 as a way to receive practical job training and pay off college debts. She received a degree in art history.

Wiseman was in basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., in March 2003, when the United States invaded Iraq.

"It was always in the back of my mind that going to Iraq was a possibility," she said.

After finishing basic training, Wiseman received additional training at the National Geospacial Intelligence School at Fort Belvoir, Va. She graduated at the top of her class and was awarded the Army Achievement Medal.

Wiseman was transferred to Fort Hood in September 2003. Her unit received deployment orders a month later.

"A lot of things go through your head," Wiseman said. "I understood the obligation when I joined the military, but I was worried about my family and how they would take the news."

Another mystery: when she will come back from Iraq or how long she will stay in the military.

Wiseman's father, Jack, had been in the National Guard. Her grandfather served in World War II, but she did not come from a military family.

"I was shocked when she first joined," Linda Wiseman said. "It was a big surprise. But after the initial shock, I was very proud of her."

Wiseman has three older sisters, Kelli Sousley, Olathe; Kathi Wiseman, Overland Park; and Krissi Griem, Lawrence.

Griem sends Wiseman homemade cookies. Even though they're a couple of weeks old by the time they get to her in Iraq, Wiseman said she was grateful for anything she received from home.

"Letters are the best thing I get over there," she said. "Nothing puts a smile on my face like a letter from home."

Wiseman said she had only been outside the military base in Iraq three or four times, but on one of those trips she saw Iraqis living in horrible conditions.

"We were driving along, and there was what looked like a city dump and there were people living in it," Wiseman said. "It's a complete dichotomy to American society. (Iraq) is one of the wealthiest nations in the world with the poorest people."

She said she thought the Americans were helping the Iraqis, even though it was difficult for her to see a direct impact because she spent most of her time on base.

But being back in Kansas, she said, has been nice.

"It's the simple things you miss, like seeing your family or being free to do whatever you want to do," she said. "In Iraq you just kind of bide your time until you can come home."

And she has received a lot of "thank-yous" from people who know she's in the military.

"I really like talking to people here, it makes me feel good about what I'm doing," Wiseman said. "I feel very proud."

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