Soldier Stories: Spc. Brent Clancy

Posted: Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Station: Combat medic with the 3rd Battallion, 297th Infantry, Alaska Army National Guard stationed in Kuwait.

His story: Spc. Brent Clancy grew up in Ketchikan and moved to Juneau in August 2000 to take a job with the Juneau Fire Department.

"I joined the National Guard because I needed money to continue college. I first attended college in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. As to why I was in Coeur d'Alene, that's kind of a personal story. My father lived near there and I had never met him. My mom and dad had divorced when I was real young. So I talked to him on the phone and I decided to leave Ketchikan and go down.

"Meeting him for the first time was odd. Luckily a buddy was with me because he was able to see how much alike we were, the personalities were the same. He was 75 years old, and I was 18, just out of high school.

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We stayed with him for a couple of weeks while we looked for a place to stay and I was able to get acquainted with him. I am still in contact with him, but not as much as I would like.

"After my first year in college, I decided I didn't want to take out another student loan. With the wages I was making on my summer job in Ketchikan I knew I had to do something. So I looked at my options and went to see the National Guard recruiter, Russell Beal, and chose combat medic as my military specialty. That was in 1997. ...

"Once I settled into my new job as a firefighter and emergency medical technician (at the Juneau Fire Department) I knew it was what I wanted to do. As you're going to the scene of an accident your heart is pumping, you're excited. Usually you are the first one on the scene, when a patient is at their hour of need. Helping people is very rewarding. In a sense you become an adrenaline junky.

"After nine years in the Guard and five years at the fire department, I heard in December 2005 that my unit was going to be deployed. I was married by then, and my wife, Tammy, had just given birth to our second child, Winter. Our son, Keegan, is five. Going through deployment was very stressful. I wouldn't recommend it to anybody (laughing).

"What made it even more stressful was that I was due to be released from the Guard in March, 2006. Yeah, I am on stop loss (when soldiers from a mobilized unit are not allowed to leave regardless of their discharge date). There were so many times when we were told we were going to Iraq, then it was Afghanistan, then we were going to Djibouti. All these rumors and every time we somehow dodged the bullet, escaped the deployment. Once they told me I was stop loss I was like 'damn it.' I was so close to being out. No one wants to spend that much time away from their family. You've got to be crazy to want to spend that much time away from your family, with a newborn, and a wife at home with a five year old. It's tough. But once they told me then it became something I had to deal with. We knew it was coming and we tried to prepare for it the best we could. I think overall we've done a pretty good job preparing for it.

"Everything went wrong during the first three months we were deployed. My bathtub leaked, my oil tank leaked, my yard was falling apart and each time the guys from the Fire Department, my union, Local 4303, fixed the problem. Now I have guys coming over and snow-blowing the driveway every time it snows. It's put my mind at ease knowing that I have friends, co-workers like that.

"Over here, military medicine is different from civilian. Back home you are always doing you're ABCs; first the airway, then breathing, then circulation. Here they flip-flop it because they found that with all the IEDs and the gunshot wounds they want you to go straight to circulation. Stop the bleeding because you only have seconds to get the tourniquet on. It is the fine line between life and death. If you don't get the tourniquet on quick, the soldier is going to bleed out. He's not going to be breathing anyway.

"I like what I am doing in Kuwait. We run missions all over the place, and I feel like I am not only supporting the troops in Kuwait but also the overall mission, Operation Iraqi Freedom."

• Soldier Stories is a feature on the Neighbors page done in collaboration with Staff Sgt. Mac Metcalfe, Public Affairs NCO, 3rd Battalion, Alaska Army National Guard in Camp Shelby, Miss.

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