I'm With Her: Clinton Visits BMWED Member's Military Base in Iraq

Published: Sep 6 2016 12:17PM

I’m With Her

By Brother Jeff Joines 
BMWED/IBT Tennessee State Legislative Director
Member, Allied Fed Local Lodge 670

September 11th 2001 started out just like every other day on the railroad for me. At Radnor Yard in Nashville, Tenn., the work isn’t far away, it’s just outside the door. We had started putting ties in a switch when one of the track inspectors came by and said the World Trade Centers had been hit by two planes and were on fire. Terrorists had hit us where we lived and it changed my live forever.

There are many reasons why I support Hillary Clinton for President. Her support of Union workers and their families, healthcare, living wage, equal rights, and equal and fair pay are just a few -- but for me, there is one that means the most. This is my story why I’m With Her.

My first deployment came in the spring of 2003 to Iraq with the 168th Military Police (MP) Battalion.  Along with the 3rd BCT 82nd Airborne, we were stationed at FOB (Forward Operating Base) Falcon. The base was at the southernmost part of Baghdad; past us was the wild west! Falcon was located on Highway 8, which runs through the heart of Baghdad. It had the distinct title of being the World’s Most Dangerous Road. One of the reasons why it was so dangerous was the new weapon: IED.  No one had ever heard of an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) but when it became the weapon of choice for the enemy, it was a game changer for the MPs. The MPs have several missions, one of them being Convoy Security. We were on the road a lot, so when we didn’t have to be, we didn’t want to be!
About a few months after the war started, politicians from all over the country started flying into BIOP (Baghdad International Airport). The airport was in the safe zone, we called it the Green Zone. Day after day, a Senator from here or a Congressman from there would fly in and want to meet a soldier from his or her State, take a picture, fly back home and say, “I just came from Iraq and met with some soldiers." To get those Soldiers to the meeting was where we came in. No one was thrilled about going back out, not even the Soldiers that were going to meet the politician. Why? Highway 8, that’s why. It took five trucks and fifteen soldiers just to get one soldier to the airport, sixteen miles of badass road and IED’s. To us, this wasn’t mission critical. This was a photo op and that’s not worth getting Soldiers hurt. Getting the soldier there was just half the mission, getting him or her back was the other. Month-after-month, we would take soldiers to the airport to meet the next politician that had flown in. "Why won’t they come see us?" That was always on our minds.

Thanksgiving Day 2003 was a big day for us -- it meant good food and more threats. The days leading up to Thanksgiving, we were on high alert. The base had been mortared everyday leading up to Thanksgiving. The threat level was high that day, but we were all looking forward to eating a good meal and relaxing for just a minute. Just as I walked into the mess hall, there was a crowd gathered in the back of the room. Hillary Clinton was here! Never before had a politician come way out here to see us, not one! She didn’t have the press with her, no one was taking pictures for the news, it was just her. She wanted to see how we were, how we lived and if there was anything she could do to help us! I didn’t get to meet her or get a picture with her, but I was proud to be in the same room she was in. That may not sound like a big deal to you but it was to us -- she had come to us. She had put on a helmet same as me, put on a flack vest same as me, climbed in a truck same as me, and came down Highway 8 same as me. To all those who were there (even the ones that didn’t see eye-to-eye with her politics), they respected her for that. She put her life on the line to come see us, and for that I’m With Her.

For me, actions always speak louder than words. I was in Iraq for fifteen months, and the only one that came to see us was Hillary! She was only at our base for a short time, but it spoke volumes about her courage and character to everyone there. She will be there for you and your family the same as she was for me as our next President! That’s why I’m With Her and I hope you will be also.

Allied Federation Brother Jeff Joines pictured on the left