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Stone County Enterprise
Wiggins , Mississippi
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March 17, 2010     Stone County Enterprise
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March 17, 2010
 

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Page 2 Stone County Enterprise Wednesday, March 17, 2010 Retired tanker wouldn't change a thing Editor's Note: Each week the Stone County Enterprise will feature an area veteran. If you know of someone who has served our country either during war or peace time, deceased or living, please call 6Ol-928-48o2. By Jody O'Hara Staff Writer he was 6-years-old. "When I looked in the mirror, I knew the course of my life was set," said the retired tank commander. Born in Big Spring, Texas while his father was sta- tioned at Webb Air Force Base, Farmer moved around the country in the nomadic style often associ- ated with being a, "military brat," and joined the South Carolina National Guard in 1982. He went on active duty with the Army in 1984 and spent the next 21 years as an armored crewman, the Army's name for a tanker. Tony Farmer knew from a very young age what he wanted to do with his life. The son of a career Air Force man, Farmer received a set of fatigues as a Christmas present when Switch today! 1"866"/9'7"6933 "There are four individu- als on a tank crew, the driver, loader, gunner and commander," Farmer said. "You start at the bottom and work your way through each job until you become a commander." Farmer eventually became a platoon ser- geant, responsible for four tanks and their crews. Of his 21 years on active duty, Farmer spent 15 in Germany. Three separate times, he was called to arms in hos- tilities around the world. In 1991, he went to Iraq for Operation Desert Storm with the 197th Infantry Brigade. While his unit saw action, it was limited because of the way the Air Force and Navy quickly took com- mand of the airspace over the combat areas. Farmer called the short war the culmination of everything he'd trained for and said he, and others, had mixed emotions about how quickly the U.S. and its allies claimed victory. "You're all hyped up to go do what you're trained to do and you end up sitting in the desert playing end- less games of cards," he said. "While you don't want it to drag on forever, you'd like to see some action, but we left knowing we had accomplished our mission." Farmer and his comrades got a different taste of hos- tilities when they were sent to Bosnia in 1996 as part of the 268th Armor One Order, One Payment, Over 100 Newspapers Statewide. Mississippi Press Services 601-981 -3060 Save 30% to 40% or Energy Cost and Up t( a $1500 Tax Credit on 15 Seer Systems FREE ESTIMATES on New Installation,. and Change Outs LUXURY FOUR CAR GIVEAWAY 5 FREE ENTRIES Battalion... That go-round, U.S. forces weren't expected to fight, but rather to keep warring factions from fighting each other. "Our mission was to go in and create a zone of sepa- ration," he said. "It really was- n't even peace- keeping, but more a matter of peace- enforcing." It took a little different toll on the nerves than con- ventional warfare. "I think the hair stood up on my neck a little higher, acting as more of a police- man as opposed to a sol- dier," Farmer said. In August, 2003, Farmer found himself back in Iraq with the 1-37th Armor Battalion for Operation Iraqi Freedom. The second tour of duty in the same country gave Farmer and his brothers in arms pause to consider. "You couldn't help asking yourself, 'If we would have finished things the first time, would we be here now?'" he said. "At the same time, you had a good feeling of what you were going into. The second time around it was more Ret. Sgt. 1st Class Tony D. Farmer about winning hearts and minds." Farmer received orders while in Iraq to rotate back to the States for an assign- mentat Camp Shelby. He attempted to have the orders changed, requesting his Sergeant Major find a way to keep him with his men in Iraq. His superiors informed him nothing could be done because the stateside assignment was congres- sionally mandated. A tank moves through the desert during Operation Iraqi Freedom. FAUST HEATING and AiR CONDITIONING Licensed - insured - Bonded Sales- Service Installation Commercial & Residential We service all makes and models 228-831-2552 228-669-9411 for less than wbat you owe If you qualify wecan: Step wage garnishments i Remove bank levies, tax levies, property seizures Stop payment plans that get you nowhere I Settle state and business payroll tax problems )' Eliminate penalties, interest charges & tax liens American Tax Relief If you owe over $15,000 in back taxes, call now FREE consultation "That same Sergeant Major was later killed by an (improvised explosive device)," Farmer said. "That shows that an IED has no respect for who you are or what rank you may hold." Farmer suffered a rup- tured gall bladder, making his wish to remain in Iraq irrelevant. He was shipped to Germany for medical reha- bilitation before going to Camp Shelby. Once in Mississippi, Farmer became a training NCO for the 3rd Brigade of the 87th Infantry Division, operating a Virtual Combat Convoy Trainer, a device which put tankers in what he called a "Baghdad sce- nario," to ready them for combat. "I'd tell them if some- thing we covered helped them to survive combat, then it had been worth every penny the govern- ment had invested in it," he said. Farmer retired in Sept. 2005 and currently works as a database administra- tor for the Army National Guard Distributed Battle Simulation Program. He also serves as Post Commander for the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2706 in Wiggins. Farmer said if he had it all to do over again, he wouldn't change a thing. "A lot of people say, 'if I could live my life over, I'd change a lot of things,' but I think I'd probably make the same mistakes and do the same things I did this time around," he said. "I have loved the life I've led and I don't have any regrets." Not one to seek the spot- light, Farmer even gets uncomfortable when peo- ple thank him for his serv- ice to the country. "You don't have to thank me," he said. "I was glad to do it; it's the duty of every American to serve their country." 1-37 Armor Battalion On lO May 2003, 1-37 Armor Battalion left Ray Barracks in Friedberg, Germany and deployed to Iraq. Upon arrival in Baghdad in early June, 1st BN quickly established their Forward Operating Base (FOB) on Baghdad Island, a small peninsula on the Tigris River, and formerly a recreational resort and amusement park for the elite of Saddam Hussein's Regime. Over the course of the next 11 months, the soldiers of xst BN conducted thousands of area security patrols, and sev- eral hundred operations rang- ing in size from a few dozen men to an enormous Brigade level operation on Christmas Eve, 2o03 which involved over lOOO soldiers conducting a cordon and search operation of a large neighborhood in north central Baghdad. No Obligation Confidential 0000-355-908'7