Operation Enduring Freedom: Mississippi Heat

By Mark Geary, Reporter

CAMP SHELBY, Mississippi – Iowa soldiers face unexpected threats every day while training at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. Yet, heat is the one enemy they can never seem to avoid. Scorching temperatures taunt the troops as they prepare to deploy to Afghanistan.

"When it's a 90 degree day, it feels like it's 110," Specialist Scott Laube of the 1-133rd A. Company and from Dubuque said.

Staff Sergeant Brian Barr of the A. Company 1-133rd Infantry and from Centralia said, "The weather in Mississippi is hot and it's humid. I would much rather be out on the river in Iowa right now."

Back in Iowa, people complain when the temperature climbs above 80. 90 degrees actually feels cool in Mississippi this time of year. But, the humidity still creates problems.

"It makes Iowa humidity seem like nothing. The heat index is over one-hundred degrees almost every single day," Captain Jason Merchant of the 1-133rd A. Company and from Dysart said.

Every soldier wears a small backpack filled with water. A tube wraps around to the front so soldiers can take a drink. Camp Shelby has large water tanks all over the facility. Military leaders encourage troops to stay hydrated and sip H2O throughout the day.

"You're pretty much sweating from the time you wake up in the morning until the time you lay your head down on your pillow at night," Merchant said.

Some fight their fiery foe with a positive attitude and a little liquid ammunition.

"The harder things are for us down here, the easier things are going to be for us when we get overseas," Barr said.

Other soldiers wait for the sun's rival to rise to the challenge. Moonlight exercise has become popular.

"You just have to do what you have to do. It's something you get adjusted to," Specialist Matthew Hermsen of the HHC 334 BSB and from Dubuque said.
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