Aug 24, 2007
Caldwell, now a reservist, went to Iraq to help train the Iraqi Army and also worked with the National Police Force. His job turned out to be much more than that of an instructor.
According to Caldwell, during an August 2006 combat patrol along the Euphrates River his group was struck by an improvised explosive device (IED). The team had just finished removing some boats from the river, checked a renovation project, and was headed back to the main road when the fourth vehicle in his convoy was hit by the IED. Thrown in the air and flipped, the 13-ton armored Humvee came to land on its roof. The blast left a crater five feet wide and four feet deep. The attack left one Marine dead, two soldiers injured, and one Iraqi interpreter injured.
Caldwell, according to his Bronze Star citation, "showed personal courage by securing the area first, directed the evacuation of casualties, and remained on-site to ensure cleanup and investigation of the hostile location."
Caldwell is understandably proud of his military awards, which also includes the Combat Action Badge, but more meaningful to him are the changes he brought about while there. "It really means something to you when the people you worked with tell you they want you to stay." He returned with a Koran and prayer beads, gifts from his Iraqi comrades.
While he came away with a better understanding of the people, the country, the region, and its religion, Caldwell said he believes the people he worked with "learned more about American society and American thinking. I think they came away with an understanding of how much work is required" for their country to become a stable democracy.
Back at Los Alamos, Caldwell is working in the Condensed Matter and Thermal Physics group, continuing his materials research using nuclear magnetic resonance.
Contact: Kevin N. Roark, firstname.lastname@example.org, (505) 665-9202