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Deputy was based near Saddam’s home

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff
Summit County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Eric Redd responds to a traffic crash Friday on Interstate 80 after returning from a six-month tour in Iraq. Photo by Scott Sine
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Having dodged mortar fire and detained suspected insurgents during a tour in Iraq, Eric Redd was back investigating burglaries last week in Summit County.

"[The suspect] climbed out of a window and we found him in a shed next door," said Redd, a Summit County Sheriff’s Office sergeant after a chase Friday in Henefer.

But as a member of the Utah Air National Guard, Redd returned July 6 after serving for six months with members of the 101st Airborne Division on a base outside of Tikrit, Iraq, the former home of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

"This was my first trip (to the Middle East)," the military police officer said, adding that he was activated last year and shipped off to Iraq in January. "War is organized chaos."

Admitting he joined the military 15 years ago to earn money for college, Redd said, "When I first started, the only way we were going to be activated was if World War III happened."

"I was a single parent so I guess the first thing I was concerned with were my two boys who lived with me," said Redd, who is a Southern Utah native.

But recently members of his guard unit have served in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.

"The military is operating at full capacity," Redd said. "I think Park City PD and the Sheriff’s Office have both had several people who have been activated."

Members of the guard are critical to base security and for policing soldiers, he said, comparing his base to a city of several square miles with a population of 15,000 people.

"We were mortared and rocketed on numerous occasions and we set up perimeters around the areas and did first aid on some American troops," Redd said. "At least every 30 minutes you would hear machine fire going off."

He recalled the detention of several Arabs on the base who were allegedly collecting intelligence for more attacks.

"We think they may have been forward observers or spotters for the rocket attacks," Redd said.

Still,

base investigations often involved offenses as routine as traffic citations or thefts committed by soldiers.

"Everything you would find in a typical city," Redd said. "We mainly dealt with Americans and American contractors."

However, soldiers were sometimes reluctant to sign tickets.

"It is hard when you have people who are going outside the wire in armored Humvees with machine guns who are risking their lives and they come back on base and they’re speeding and you pull them over," Redd said. "They’re a little more reluctant to be cheery about getting a ticket."

Meanwhile, though bases in the Islamic world ban liquor, soldiers often had alcohol confiscated by police.

"It’s contraband," Redd said. "You could lose pay, lose rank, be confined — for simple possession."

Pointing to a laptop computer and video camera on board his Sheriff’s Office cruiser, Redd said "over there, we didn’t have near the physical equipment that you see here."

Tapping civilians with experience in law enforcement to police soldiers has given the military an edge, he added.

"Law enforcement is generally characterized as a paramilitary organization," Redd said.

What protests?

Redd says he ignored cries from protesters last week as thousands of Utahns gathered in opposition to the Iraq war as President George W. Bush visited Salt Lake City.

"I’m grateful that the protests so far have been focused more on the administration and the war, instead of the troops," Redd said. "Going over to Iraq was a hard job and to come back home and feel appreciated, it feels good."

Before his tour in Iraq, Redd was called to active duty to serve on U.S. bases following terrorist attacks on Sept. 11.

"I would much rather fight the war on terror over there than at home," Redd said. "They attacked New York before we invaded Iraq and they attacked before we invaded Afghanistan they started the war."


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