Vicksburg soldier cites friendliness among Iraqis|[7/27/06]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 27, 2006

While many Iraqis appear in the news as hostile to Americans, the day-to-day reality is very different, said Vicksburg native David Chase – on duty for six months there today.

&#8220While we are on patrol, we meet a lot of the Iraqi poor. A lot of the time, we stop and give them food and toys,” he said.

Chase said nearly all the Iraqis he has met have been friendly to Americans and appreciate the help they are getting to restore their country.

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Chase is a first lieutenant in the 316th Field Artillery Battalion based in Fort Hood, Texas. He is a graduate of Warren Central High School and received his bachelor’s degree in finance from Mississippi State University. While at MSU, Chase participated in Army ROTC and received his commission as a second lieutenant upon graduation. He is the son of Amos Chase Sr., an employee at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, and Jackie Chase, a teacher’s aide at Beechwood Elementary School.

As a platoon leader, Chase, 24, leads a 20-soldier unit that works in route clearing, reconnaissance and patrol in hostile territory where U.S. military forces have been assigned since March 2003. More than 2,500 have been killed, but Chase said he has not been forced into any battles or confrontations with insurgents.

&#8220That’s a blessing, too,” he said in a telephone interview he was on rest and recuperation in Qatar.

When not on patrol, soldiers have access to many forms of recreation such as table tennis, basketball and other sports. Also, the living conditions are comfortable. Chase said he and others among the American forces also have Internet access.

&#8220I send (and receive) e-mail” nearly every day, he said, adding he sends and receives messages from family and college friends.

In turn, in addition to messages, Chase said he receives packages containing snacks, other food items and other thing that he can share with Iraqis, especially the children.

Communication is often through interpreters.

&#8220Every patrol should have one,” Chase said, noting that few Iraqis speak English.

While he has been in Iraq, Chase said he was promoted to first lieutenant.

&#8220I got promoted on June 22,” he said. The ceremony &#8220was at noon and I was sweating profusely. But other than the heat, this has been pretty cool.”

When Chase returns to the United States in October, he will rejoin his home unit at Fort Hood. Because he has a total of four years to serve on active duty, he will have a little more than two years left in the Army.