Thursday, April 1, 2010

Kyle Burks, 1st Engineers, Operation Iraqi Freedom

The following interview was conducted by Christy Meggitt, a student participating in the Fremont (Ohio) Ross High Scho0l Veterans Project 2009. Student research and/or interviews with veterans may be found in the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center's Local History Collections.

Interview with Sergeant Kyle Burks, 1st Engineers, 111th Sapper Company. Burks saw service in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Kyle Burks was born to Susan Burks on November 16, 1982, in Fremont Ohio. He attended Clyde High School and played football throughout his high school years. After high school Kyle was planning on playing football in college, but a torn A.C.L. and meniscus made him have a change of plans. He then got a job at Whirlpool, where he worked until 2005 when he enlisted in the United States Army. On September 23, 2006 he was deployed to Mosul, Iraq,where he was a part of the 111th Sapper Company. His job was route clearance. His team found over 250 road side bombs and was in over 100 fire fights during its time in Iraq. Kyle served in Iraq until December 15, 2007.

And here is Kyle Burks' story of Operation Iraqi Freedom:

What was your job and rank in the war?
“My job was the gunner on the main truck. So I talked to the other trucks and would let them know what was going on. I would fire when I needed to and look for “IEDs” at all times. My rank was E-5 Sergeant.”

When and where were you deployed during the war?
“I was deployed on September 23, 2006 to Mosul, Iraq.”

What kinds of weapons did you use?
"I shot the M-16, the 240 Bravo, and the 50 cal almost every day.”

What was a typical day like while you were deployed?
"I would wake up and eat, then I would go to the gym for about an hour, come back take a hour nap, then go on mission for 5 hours come back, eat, rest for about 2 hours then go on another 3-4 hour mission. Then do it all over again.”

Why did you enlist and what made you choose this branch?
"I wanted a change in my life, and I chose the Army because my grandpa was in the Army at one time.”

How do you feel the war is going right now?
“I think it’s a lot better over there now, and that we need to pull out. I think it’s time that they get a chance to run their country themselves. I don’t agree with the reasons we went there. It’s funny because the government says that we were not there for oil. But, when I was over in Iraq, the main reason I did route clearance was to clear the road of bombs for oil trucks to go to Turkey. I truly believe we were there for oil in the long run. I know we are not using their oil right now, but someday I think we will be.”

Personal Stories of Kyle Burks

I asked Kyle to share a few personal stories with me that happened while he was deployed in Iraq. Below are two stories that he told me during my interview with him.

1. “I remember it was some time in November of 2006. I had only been in Iraq for 2 months and as my team and I were driving down the street, I saw a blue car at the intersection. I didn’t think a lot about it. The first truck drove by, then the second truck started to go by, and that’s when the blue car floored it. I took a shot at the blue car but missed and that’s when the blue car blew up on the truck in front of me. It was a suicide car bomb. Luckily, the car bomb only knocked everyone out in the truck no one was killed. Within seconds of that happening we were fired at. The fire fight lasted about 10 minutes then help got there, so we were able to check everyone out.”

2. “I believe the time that sucked the most wasn’t going out on the road but during the months of June – August. It was awful because we could only shower once a week after being on missions for 8 hours a day, with no air conditioning in the trucks, during the hottest months of the year. We could only shower once a week, and it was only during the times of 2000-2300 hours on Sundays. If you were on a mission during those hours, you had to wait until the next week to shower. It was awful; I always felt so dirty. Also, during the week, we could only use one 20 oz bottle of water per day. This was the worst time. I think it was even worse than being on the road looking for “IEDs”.”

Kyle also shared with me the story of how he earned the very honorable Purple Heart award. “I got my Purple Heart because a 300 pound “IED” went off under my truck. It threw me around the truck and almost knocked me out; I had no idea what was going on. I began throwing up in the back of the truck and to this day still get headaches from that incident. I was hit by at least 4 “IEDs,” but this one was the only one that really rocked me.”

I asked Kyle if he had earned any more awards, and this was his answer, “I also have a Valor Award, a soldier receives this when he/she shows extreme courage and bravery. We were in a 3 hour fire fight, and I almost got hit by a sniper round. The bullets hit the top of the truck right beside where I was standing, but I stayed on my gun and kept shooting.”