Husband and wife Richard T. Curry and Christine Curry of Pickerington are U.S. Army veterans who served in Iraq and Kuwait during the War on Terror.

Richard Curry grew up in Cincinnati and attended Youngstown State University, New York University and the American Military University. He earned his master's degree in military history from AMU in December. He enlisted in 1975 and retired as a colonel.

Christine Curry grew up in Logan and Sciotoville, attended Shawnee State University and joined the Army National Guard in 1982. She retired as a sergeant first class.

Richard Curry's first tour to Iraq began in 2004 as commander of a unit in the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment.

"It was a complete armored cavalry regiment -- tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles and Strykers," he said.

It also had artillery units, he said.

"We were tasked originally to help out with the elections, and then we were told we were going to go into a major offensive," he said.

That offensive was at Tal Afar, launched in September 2005. Curry was to lead his unit and act as a forward-operating-base commander. Forward operating bases are used to support strategic goals and tactical objectives.

The offensive was launched, Curry said, "because what had been happening at the Syrian border was basically a mess." The plan was to "secure the border and secure Tal Afar, which is the small town near the border area and was being used as a major logistics-type base for the insurgents."

His unit "had a lot of activity in the area, meaning we had a lot of mortars against our base, a lot of rockets against our base. There were a lot of insurgents in the area."

When Tal Afar was secure, Curry received a visit from Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Multi-National Force-Iraq commander.

Curry said he thought the four-star general might share some "pearls of wisdom," but Casey instead said he was placing Curry in charge of a former airfield his unit had occupied.

"I want that airfield put back into operation," he recalled Casey telling him.

When Curry informed Casey that as a tank commander, he had no experience in running an airfield, Casey replied, "Well, now you're an airfield commander also. You call my staff. They'll help you get what you need to put it back in operation."

Before that job ended, Curry was commanding 5,000 military personnel, he said.

At first, when pilots radioed that they were ready to land, Curry said he answered, " 'Well, you see the airfield. ... Godspeed.' That's about all I could say to them because I had no idea what I was doing."

Later, an aviation team arrived to provide air-traffic control, he said.

Christine Curry's first tour was with a unit handling casualty operations and statistics.

The unit compiled detailed reports, including "an extensive description of the injuries" that was used when the U.S. Department of Defense notified the next of kin.

Compiling that information, she said, was "a job not just anybody could do."

"What was hard for most people was ... the description of each and every injury (and) killed in action," she said. "Very detailed. ... In our case, the more detailed the better because the family's going to want to know, even though it sounds gory."

Not all families wanted details, she said, "but those that do, they want to know everything."

"It was rough because ... you try to make sense of rollovers or IEDs, improvised explosive devices, that hit a convoy," Curry said. "There's no rhyme or reason how the injuries happen or anything like that. And you go to bed at night and think, 'Oh my God, that was my kid's age. He was my kid's age; she was my kid's age. ... The realization like, 'This is real. This isn't a book I'm reading. This is really happening."

Members of the unit were required to take counseling, she said, "whether we thought we needed it or not."

"We were good about not taking a lot of it personal, but it does play on you after a while," she said.

Members of her unit turned to exercise as an outlet, Curry said, "and they all were powerlifting by the time we left."

Six months into her tour, she received a new assignment -- scanning reports for trends, "how many snipers, how many IEDs, how many small-arms fire, how many rocket-propelled (grenades)."

That's when she noticed an alarming trend. Suicide bombers were luring U.S. troops into buildings with sniper fire. When Americans entered a building to silence the sniper, the insurgent would detonate the bomb "and take out a whole squad instead of one person. ... So I immediately went down and talked to my deputy chief of staff (saying), 'Hey, we've got a serious trend here.' "

Army intelligence officers didn't notice the trend, she said, because they weren't seeing casualty data. That happened, in part, she said, because of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 privacy laws.

Within 48 hours of her report, she said, the Army in the entire theater of operations modified its response to such sniper attacks.

"It was kind of like an afterthought by the time I got home that I actually probably saved lives there," she said.

At one point in Richard Curry's Army career, he served with his daughter.

Christine Curry served with her father and, later, Richard's daughter.

Then in their final tour, they served together.

"At the time, I was a brigade commander. She was working in the admin shop," Richard Curry said.

Prior to that tour, they were at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas, and began talking a lot, he said.

They both remembered Richard's reputation as a "cowboy."

"It was interesting at times," Christine Curry said.

Richard Curry said veterans learned to adapt to their environment in the military, and that's good advice for returning to civilian life.

"Respect what you accomplished," he said. "But that's not what you should be all about. ... Get involved in other things."

"Don't be afraid to seek counseling," Christine Curry said, "no matter how minute you think your problems are. ... Find a group where you have that commonality and talk about it ... with your fellow soldiers."

The couple are active in Whitehall Memorial VFW Post 8794, where Christine is commander and Richard is past commander.

Richard Curry's decorations include the Combat Action Badge, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal (two), Meritorious Service Medal (three oak leaf clusters), Army Commendation Medal (with silver oak leaf cluster), Army Achievement Medal (with two oak-leaf clusters) and Iraq Campaign Medal (with two combat campaign stars).

He is a retired director of security and emergency services at Defense Supply Center Columbus.

Christine Curry's decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal (with three oak leaf clusters), Army Achievement Medal (with two oak leaf clusters) and Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal.

She is a communication coordinator for Defense Finance and Accounting Services in Columbus.


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