Texas Radio Hosts Wrap Up “Iraq Deployment”
March 26, 2008
They’re the hosts of the Morning Show on Waco 100, a popular country music radio station in Waco, which is near Fort Hood. Because Troops with 4th Infantry Division and 3rd ACR can no longer listen to the radio station from where they’re deployed, the hosts of the Morning Show, Zack Owen and Jim Cody decided to “deploy” to Iraq and broadcast their program live from the media operations center at Camp Liberty from March 10th through March 21st.
Neither Cody or Owen have ever served in the military, but they wanted to do something to show their support and patriotism. They felt that by taking their radio show to Camp Liberty, they were able to serve their country and allow their fans, deployed from Fort Hood, the opportunity to hear their show once again.
“We’ve talked for years about wanting to come over here,” Cody said. “We knew by virtue of our job, broadcasting, we could come over and be a venue for Soldiers to get in a little piece of home. We said on the air a few times that if anyone knew how to get the ball rolling, we’d appreciate their help.”
Those comments on air apparently helped. Towards the end of November, Zack and Jim were attending a fundraiser in central Texas and were introduced to Delena Kanouse, who is the chief of community relations for III Corps. III Corps is the headquarters unit in charge at Fort Hood. With Kanouse’s help, they were able to begin the process and eventually “deploy.” They had three months to prepare for their trip. Kanouse assisted them in completing the required paperwork and got them scheduled to deploy with Troops from 4th Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team.
“We wanted to get the whole feel of the thing,” Owen said, “so we went through the whole (soldier readiness program) process and everything.”
Zack and Jim were more than happy to don ACU’s and obtain the standard pre-deployment shots. They boarded the same flight as the Soldiers from 1st BCT. Most generally, when members of the media visit deployed Troops, they stick to civilian attire and fly on commercial flights. Zack and Jim received the same warm send-off that the Troops get, as they boarded the flight which departed from Robert Gray Army Airfield at Fort Hood. According to Owen, they were treated as if they were a part of the 4th Infantry Division family. Army Major David Olsen, 1st BCT public affairs officer, kept them under his wing. in Kuwait and once they arrived in Iraq.
“Olson said there wasn’t much going on in Kuwait, but to two guys who have never done this before, it seemed a little scary to have guys with guns all around you on the bus you’re riding,” joked Owen.
“Honestly, I have full faith and confidence in the ability of these military men and women to keep me safe from harm,” added Cody. “I expected to see more of the bombed-out rubble, but you can really see the progress of the past five years. A lot has been rebuilt,” Cody said. “People are out shopping, kids are playing. It seems like business as usual out in the streets.”
Though both Zack and Jim enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience, they remained focused on their primary mission … telling the stories of the Soldiers there. During their time at Camp Liberty, they interviewed almost 200 servicemembers within Multinational Division Baghdad. Each one of those Soldiers had a story to tell and they were able to send their love, over the airwaves to their loved ones back home in Central Texas.
“I think there are lots of ways people can demonstrate their commitment to supporting what our Soldiers are doing,” said Army Brig. General Mike Milano, deputy commanding general in charge of support for the 4th Infantry Division, “but there is no more sincere way anyone else can do it than what these two gentlemen are doing.”
“They are communicating for us the hardships our Soldiers face daily - and what better way to do that than to come see for themselves?” Army Command Sgt. Major John Gioia said. “You can tell they truly care for, and support, our Soldiers, and what more can you truly ask for? I truly appreciate the smiles they have brought to the faces of our Soldiers and their families.”
By sometime this week, I’m sure that Zack and Jim will be back on the Morning Show broadcasting from Waco once again. I’m sure the trip to Camp Liberty was a memorable one, not only for them, but for the Soldiers whose lives they touched while they were “deployed.” It’s just too bad that others in the media, don’t follow the example set by Zack and Jim from Waco 100. Great Job, Zack and Jim!