When Derrick Anene enlisted in the Army, he did not expect to be deployed to Iraq two weeks after returning from basic training.”There is chaos. Unpredictable, spontaneous, nerve-racking waves of chaos, not knowing if your life will be included in the following day,” said Anene, Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran and sophomore political science major.
Anene, then 18, reported to his National Guard unit base in Fort Worth where he was told, “Say your goodbyes. You have two weeks.”
He served in the 56th Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division, and was among the 3,000 Texas citizen soldiers deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
While in Iraq, Anene received a combat action badge when the vehicle following his was hit by an improvised explosive device.
He described his duty in Iraq as a “wildcard mission.” Anene was one of 10 soldiers in his platoon; a typical platoon has 40.
Anene was one of four soldiers hand-picked by the colonel to be part of his personal security detachment, Anene said. Whenever the colonel left the base, Anene and the other soldiers guarded him by forming a diamond formation around him.
Anene said he was unaware of the choices and options available when joining the military. There is more danger and risk depending on which branch a person is in, Anene said.
“It’s unlikely that I happened to choose to be a scout and later discover that these men are the first in and first out with a combat life expectancy of 7 to 9 seconds,” Anene said.
It took time for Anene to adjust to the lifestyle of an American civillian, especially as a TCU student.
“I came back from Iraq and was easily irritated and angry because I was so accustomed to being tense and numb to fear and anxiety,” Anene said.
Anene’s roommate, Nathan Dickerson, who served with him in Iraq, said no one would ever accuse Anene of showing anger because he is a friendly guy who is constantly smiling.
Anene said serving in Iraq did not change his motivation, passion and determination in life.
“No attitude consisting of mediocrity and lackadaisical behavior will suffice in my life, carpe diem,” Anene said.
Anene said his his plans after TCU include goinig to law school and becoming an officer in the Judge Advocate General program.
Anene is an officer-in-training at TCU and will graduate as a second lieutenant.
“Joining the military was the worst and best decision in my life,” Anene said. “During my training and missions in Iraq, it was the worst decision. Now that I am able to look back, I recognize that it was the best decision of my life because I appreciate and respect things much more. I know that I can withstand anything.