2LT James Rhoden

Major: History (Brigham Young University, 2009)

Training station: Fort Lee, Virginia

First duty station: Fort Richardson, Alaska

Current station: Bagram, Afghanistan 



Sitting in a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle (MRAP), wearing body armor, a combat helmet, and eye protection, I receive the go-ahead from the battalion for the mission to begin. I immediately get on the radio and inform all convoy elements that it's time to move out. As our vehicle rolls toward the gate, everyone in my vehicle shakes hands with each other (it's our tradition before embarking on any mission). Soon a voice comes on the radio asking call sign* 6 (me) to start us off with the good word for the day. I begin my prayer asking for protection while we travel down our route. I ask that the gunners and drivers will remain alert, and that we will not have any maintenance issues en route to our destination. As I conclude the prayer, I hear a chorus of Amens as each vehicle acknowledges receiving the transmission. 

This is a combat logistical convoy; and for me, this is a typical day at the office!

As the platoon leader for a convoy security platoon, I serve primarily as the convoy commander whenever our platoon is tasked with pushing supplies on convoys to different bases throughout eastern Afghanistan. My responsibilities include ensuring that all Soldiers and equipment get from point A to B and back to A. I am involved in the operation from the moment we receive the mission, throughout the duration of the mission, and until we arrive back to our home base and the vehicles are topped off with fuel and washed clean. 

For the past month, I've been privileged to work with some of the finest soldiers and noncommissioned officers (NCOs) in the Army. Together we have provided equipment and supplies throughout this remote and war-torn country. I cannot claim any credit for the excellent work our soldiers perform. I can plan the best mission possible; however, if it weren't for their ability to execute flawlessly, we wouldn't have the success we've experienced. 

Sometimes while conducting convoy operations, I catch a glimpse of what I'm actually doing. I remember the times I played 'Army' back home when I was younger with my siblings. Or perhaps, I recall the hours and hours spent in ROTC and BOLC training perfecting the Operations Order and conducting vehicle maintenance. Mostly, however, I'm so engrossed in the task at hand that I fail to grasp what I'm actually doing. I have been charged with the responsibility of leading America's sons and daughters in combat operations in a theater of war. Of all the professional responsibilities one might possess in life, surely this must be one of the greatest. 

While I have only been a platoon leader for a month, and have another six months of deployment, I am profoundly grateful for the opportunities I've been given and the soldiers I have a responsibility to protect and provide for. Surely this is an awesome responsibility and privilege!

*not revealed for reasons of operational security