Kirchgessner, a 2002 School of Communications grad, was known in
his Elon days as a hard-working member of the WSOE Radio staff and
an ROTC student. He would sometimes be seen at class in a military
uniform, and he would rise early in the day to attend physical training
sessions at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro before attending courses
It comes as
no surprise that Johnny K, who was commissioned as a U.S. Army lieutenant
on graduation day 2002, wound up in Iraq during Gulf War II.
was deployed with a task force of 800 soldiers in the recent war
with Iraq. He left for Kuwait on Valentine's Day, arriving at what
is known as Camp Champion, where he worked as a logistics and supply
officer. He entered Iraq about a month later with troops from the
82nd Airborne division.
occurred to me that bombs would be dropping near me and that bullets
would be flying by," he said. "It didn't become real until
I went over there." He had prepared for war on and off in ROTC
training during his years at Elon, which included intense sessions
during the summer months.
graduation, he spent six months at Ft. Bliss, Texas, where he trained
to be an Air Defense Platoon Leader. He had been stationed at Ft.
Bragg since December 2002 when his group was assigned to deployment
in the war, Kirchgessner's job was to see to it that his men had
enough ammunition, food and water and he also had to coordinate
the transportation to get their jobs done - a job called "battle
tracking," which he likens to "air traffic control for
soldiers on the ground." He
also worked with the casualty evacuation team and the enemy-prisoner-of-war
He and his
troops ate MREs (meals ready to eat - pre-packaged food), and often
went 48 hours without sleep.
night, we took sniper fire," he said. "I'm very proud
of all the guys I worked with. I have a deeper appreciation for
what I have here - running water and electricity and the ability
After the main
combat phase of the war, Kirchgessner's unit headed toward Baghdad,
checking cities along the way. They were seeking supporters of Saddam
Hussein and searching for weapons. They encountered a chemical facility
at which they found evidence of a nerve agent.
The unit returned
to the United States May 8.
a crazy experience that I hope to never repeat," he said. "If
it needs to be done, I would never turn my back. I'm a firm believer
that everyone should be in some sort of service to their country."
If you would
like to contact Kirchgessner, his e-mail address is LTKirchgessner@aol.com.