A soldier's view

Posted: Monday, July 09, 2007

Editor's note: Periodically the Clarion will print biographies and notes from soldiers stationed in northern Kuwait with the 3rd Battalion, Alaska Army National Guard. Staff Sgt. Mac Metcalfe, public affairs noncommissioned officer with the battalion, conducts the interviews.

  Raymond Mixsooke

Raymond Mixsooke

Home town: Kenai


Raymond Mixsooke

I am originally from Unalakleet, a village of 800 or 900 people near Nome. If you went there you would see rolling hills, tundra and a lot of houses clumped in a small area. It's a fishing village with a post office, three churches, one school — kindergarten through 12th grade — three little airports and two stores. It's on the ocean. I grew up playing outside and fishing.

When I was 14 I decided to leave and go to Mount Edgecumbe High School, a boarding school near Sitka. It is one of the more successful high schools in the state, and almost all the students go on to college. My dad, Reuben Mixsooke, attended Mount Edgecumbe and I was looking at his old yearbook and thought "this looks interesting." I guess I've always been into doing things that are different and going to different places. For my family, that's different. I am sort of the oddball.

While I was at Mount Edgecumbe I joined the Alaska Army National Guard. The Guard was another way to keep myself out of trouble. As I look back on it, I was following my dad's foot steps. He went in the Army after he graduated and served in Vietnam.

I am full Inupiaq Eskimo, but I didn't learn my language because I didn't like the way they taught it in grade school. As I grow older, my history and language have become more important to me.

I moved to Kenai to attend the Alaska Christian College. After one year I earned a certificate in Biblical studies. Then I attended Kenai Peninsula College.

My involvement in religion started in middle school when I attended the Unalakleet Bible Camp. In Edgecumbe I joined Young Life, another ministry and had a blast there. That brought me friends and helped me with my foundation in Christ, just like a foundation in anything, something that's strong.

Things have gone well in Kuwait for me. I am an administration assistant and I've been filling in at a noncommissioned officer level working on pay issues, promotions and family hardship cases.

I also write a lot of memos and I find myself trying to remember the grammar I learned in high school. I had really good English teachers and I appreciate that now.

As for Iraq, I don't know if it was really necessary. The way I decided to look at our deployment was that we came here to relieve our battle buddies, the guys who had already been here for a year.

I haven't discussed the Iraq issue with my family but they support me. They've supported all the decisions I've made in life. So it wasn't too hard to leave.

I have been living in dormitories and temporary homes since I've been in high school. The military is just another temporary lifestyle.

At some point I am going to have to break down and find more of a permanent place to live. I have a girlfriend and we are talking about getting married, so after this deployment, we're going to look into buying a home in the Kenai area.

Being separated has been all right. We have our little conflicts like any other couple. We talk everyday on phone or Internet. I guess it's the whole absence makes the heart grow fonder. She has been taking the deployment as good as she can.

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