Vicksburg’s 412th Engineer Command back on home turf after duties in Iraq

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 3, 2009

1st Lt. Justin Green, an Army reservist with Vicksburg roots, returned from Iraq this week with high-level administrative experience, a craving for pizza and a plan to enhance the learning experiences of the seventh-grade history students he teaches at Jackson’s Siwell Middle School.

“Our first unit is on ancient Mesopotamia (which encompasses present-day Iraq). I’ve brought all kinds of trinkets and other stuff back to help illustrate it,” Green said after disembarking from the van that ferried him and one other reservist from Camp Shelby outside Hattiesburg to the 412th Engineer Command’s headquarters on Porters Chapel Road.

Green served in Iraq as part of a detachment of more than 70 other members of the Vicksburg-based 412th, including “about 10 or 11” from Warren County, according to Lt. Col. Karen Magruder, a spokesman for the unit. They supported the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Baghdad-based Gulf Region Division. As in the United States, the Corps’ mission in Iraq has been dominated by civil works, including rebuilding the infrastructure of the war-torn country by establishing the facilities necessary to provide basic services such as electricity, water, health services and education.

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“Our role is an essential part of what the United States is doing in Iraq, and it’s an essential part of the war on terrorism in general,” Green said. “When Iraqis see the 412th, they know that we’re coming to build sewage treatment plants and rebuild their electrical infrastructure.”  

Green, 25, acquired a comprehensive perspective on such efforts as commander of the Gulf Region Division’s Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, which Magruder said is in charge of supporting the Army members, Army reservists and civilians charged with engineering tasks as part of the division’s rebuilding effort.

The HHD “makes sure that the Army and Army Reserve troops have M-16s, that the M-16s have bullets, and that everyone of the civilians, Army and Army reservists have a bed and a hot shower at night,” Magruder said. “It is a massive undertaking.  The value of the equipment (Green) had authority over was astronomical.”

The job was also safer, Green said, than the one he performed during his previous tour of duty in Iraq. “I was driving a fuel truck the first time,” he said. “This was nicer.”

The graduate of Warren Central and Jackson State wore his high school class ring throughout his deployment, and he complemented his official schedule with academic work. Green, who resides in Byram, said he’s only “an internship away” from completing a master’s degree in education administration. 

He was able to talk to his father and mother, James and Linda Green, at least once a day during his tour, said James Green, a former Marine who served in Vietnam.

On the way back to his parents’ Oak Park home, Green said that he’s looking forward to ordering a pizza.

“I missed that over in Iraq,” he said. “We had to eat a lot of gyros and pita. Refusing food when it’s offered to you in Iraq is seen as a rejection of hospitality, so I had to act like I was full a lot.”


Contact Ben Bryant at