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Monday, September 04, 2006

A Common Bond

CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq - From Monmouth County, N.J., to Baghdad, Iraq, pictured from left to right, are Ray Hewitson from Neptune City, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Woody from Tinton Falls, Lt. Col. Ivan Shidlovsky from Colts Neck and Rocco Colabella from Manalapan. All four work for Multi-National Division- Baghdad's 4th Infantry Division. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. David Hodge, 4th ID PAO)
ID: 29099
Photographer: Spc. David Hodge, 4th Inf. Div. PAO
363rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.

MND-B Soldiers, DA Civilians Find Common Bond During Their Year Long Deployment
Written by Staff Sgt. Kevin Lovel, 363rd MPAD
Posted on 09.01.2006 at 02:34pm

CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq – Two Soldiers from Multi-National Division – Baghdad’s 4th Infantry Division, along with two government contractors they work with, found out during casual conversation during the deployment that they all grew up in the same county: Monmouth County, N.J.

Lt. Col. Ivan Shidlovsky, assistant chief of staff, intelligence, 4th Inf. Div., who hails from Colts Neck, N.J; Sgt. 1st Class Michael Woody, infantryman and information operations non-commissioned officer, 4th ID, from Tinton Falls, N.J.; Ray Hewiston, a civilian employee who serves as a shift leader, persistent surveillance and dissemination, MPRI Company, from Neptune City, N.J.; and Rocco Colabella, a civilian employee who works as a field engineer, detached tactical exploitation system, Northrup Grumman, from Manalapan, N.J., all work together in the 4th Inf. Div. headquarters building here.

“I was reading the Asbury Park Press newspaper and Sgt. 1st Class Woody and Ray saw me reading it. We just started talking and found out we were all from the same area,” said Shidlovsky.

All agree that finding others who are from their own community back home has made the deployment experience more enjoyable than it might have been otherwise.

“There’s a special bond between all the people from New Jersey. We find ourselves all talking about the restaurants and the places we’ve visited there,” said Woody.

“It makes life easier here because you can connect with a whole group of people (from the same county),” said Hewiston, who recently retired from the Army as a sergeant major after serving 26 years in the infantry. “It’s very rare to find that in the military. I’ve never experienced anything like it. Our families send care packages and make sure they send enough to share with the guys from New Jersey,” he said.

“Coming from the same area gives us things to talk about to take our minds off what is going on here,” added Colabella.

Some credited their growing up in Monmouth County as a contributing factor in their decision to join the military.

“There is a strong patriotic sentiment there,” said Shidlovsky. “You can’t enjoy the freedoms unless you (are willing) to fight for them. I’m a first generation Russian- (American). My father fought in World War II for the U.S., and I felt it was my duty to support the country which gave my family freedoms that they wouldn’t otherwise have had in Russia.”

“There’s also a strong respect for the military (in Monmouth County) because there are a lot of government contracting companies located there,” added Woody.

All four said they plan on staying in touch with each other after the deployment.

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