Iraq vet in ROTC: 'I have been to where these skills are being used'

Iraq vet in ROTC: 'I have been to where these skills are being used'

This is one in a series of stories about Eugene/Springfield and the Afghanistan and Iraq wars produced by students in Dan Morrison's NewsLab class at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communications. Morrison embedded with Marines in Helmand province in August 2010.

EUGENE, Ore. - Jeffrey Kincaid enlisted in the Army Reserve when he was 19 years old during the fall of his sophomore year at the University of Oregon.

Soon after joining, he reported to Fort Jackson, S.C., for Basic Training. Then he was deployed in Iraq.

Kincaid became a part of the 96th Sustainment Brigade, which was initially based in Camp Taji, then later moved to Joint Base Balad in Iraq.

Kincaid returned home safely to Eugene Oregon in June 2010.

"There are a few things I miss from Iraq," he said. "I had a pretty tight group of people when I was over there. I miss them, I think about them sometimes."

He wanted to continue his education - and he wanted assurance that he would not be deployed again before the completion of his Bachelor’s Degree in Economics - so he joined the ROTC at Oregon.
Cadet Kincaid sees similarities and differences regarding environment in Iraq and ROTC.

"The big difference between being in ROTC and being deployed, like in Iraq, here it's a little bit more relaxed. There's room for error. There's room to make mistakes. Everything's a learning experience,"  But in Iraq, there isn't room to make mistakes because it's serious over there. That's real life. You can still learn from everything - but it costs a lot more over there."

He said the training exercises in ROTC are surprisingly intense considering the much more lax environment compared to a warzone.

The training is still - I call it intense, just like basic training," he said. "The only difference is we didn't have people breathing down our necks and screaming at us."

The cadets demonstrate a series of different individual movement techniques, which include: high crawl, low crawl and grenade tosses.

Kincaid joined the ROTC, in part, as a sort of safe-haven from deployment until the completion of his collegiate experience, but he is discovering that the ROTC has the ability to develop him into a strong leader.

He views this new and challenging experience as a way to help other cadets prepare for their service upon completion of ROTC.

"I have seen how these things are applied, I have been to where these skills are being used," Kincaid said. "I like being able to help other people get to the same level."