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The Citadel Oral History Program

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Gregory Crocker, Interview by Kerry Taylor, 9 December, 2008
Gregory Crocker, Interview by Kerry Taylor, 9 December, 2008 Gregory Crocker was born in Smithfield, Virginia. In this interview, Crocker talks about his family’s tradition of military service, its influence on his decision to attend The Citadel in 2004, and an unanticipated tour of duty in Afghanistan. During his first year, Crocker enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve, believing that the experience would make him a better officer. In August 2006, the Army notified Crocker that he would be ordered to Afghanistan in 2007. He chronicles his surprise at the news, his preparation, and duties during his time there. Some of his duties were routine, some unsavory. The more mundane work of patrolling and training is punctuated by a horrific cleanup following a suicide bombing at a school in Baghlan, Afghanistan. Crocker also reflects on the peculiarity of a visit home midway during his deployment when, in a 24-hour period, he went “from being in a combat zone to walking in Wal-Mart back in Virginia.” After a wearying trip, Crocker returned to the U.S. on May 13, 2008. He comments on the Army’s well-meaning if irksome effort to help soldiers readjust to life at home. “ . . . You just go to all these briefings, basically that says, don't hit your wife, don't commit suicide, don't drink and drive. But by the time you get out of them, you really just want to kill somebody. They're that monotonous. I mean, they try to do that, but you really just, all you want to do is just get home.” Asked if his return to student life at The Citadel was difficult, he says, “most people here are more receptive, just 'cause they know I was a veteran. So they really don't give me any crap.” Crocker admits that his combat experiences in Afghanistan caused him to reconsider his initial decision to attend The Citadel in search of a commission. After his experiences, he has decided to remain an enlisted soldier.