Cpt. Mike Pace has served his country in Iraq and he doesn't understand why major media outlets only tell one piece of the complicated puzzle.
"It was frustrating at times because we felt like only part of the story was being told," Pace told the BannerGraphic following a speaking engagement with the Greencastle Rotary at the Walden Inn Wednesday.
Pace served in Iraq for nearly one year. The Olmsted Falls, Ohio, native and current Crawfordsville resident was the featured speaker for Rotary Wednesday.
An army reservist, Pace learned he would be heading to Iraq via Western Union telegram. The telegram he received two years ago informed him he would be placed back into active duty and would be heading to Iraq.
"I didn't even know they were doing those anymore," Pace said.
During his stay in Iraq, Pace said he learned that the similarities between Americans and Iraqis outweigh the differences, but because of major cultural differences, things will change for the country.
"That country is never going to be the same," Pace said. "But they were really curious. Describing Crawfordsville to them was like, 'really? That's in America?'
"We have a lot more in common than differences."
Pace said while most Americans see the bloodshed on the television nearly every day, they don't get the opportunity to see how the U.S. military is working with Iraqis and helping people on a daily basis.
He described how the U.S. military spent time giving to Iraqis, specifically children.
"Things like that happen all the time," Pace said. "The stuff the media is telling you is only 20 percent of the truth. There are some great things going on."
In 1999, Pace went into inactive reserve.
He had graduated from West Point in 1991 and served his country as a Captain of artillery in the U.S. Army.
But after some time in the military, Pace thought he might want to shift gears. But the military kept calling.
"I figured out quickly that I enjoy blowing things up," Pace told the Rotary members.
In 1999, Pace went into inactive reserve. He and his family moved to Indiana in 2002, settling in Crawfordsville.
He told the Rotary members Wednesday that when Pace learned he was going to be deployed to Iraq, he had to explain to his 4-year-old daughter that he would be going away for a while to serve in the military, but she didn't believe him.
"'Daddy,'" she said, "'you can't be a soldier. You don't have any soldier's clothes.'"
But Pace dusted off an old military outfit and off he went.
He reported for duty on April 24, 2005 and left for Iraq in August.
He told the Rotary members Wednesday that when soldiers initially enlist, physicals are important. However, after being inactive, he said physicals aren't that big of a deal.
"When you get called back to the military, they just want to make sure you have a pulse," he said.
Pace said he arrived in Kuwait in August 2005 and stayed there for three weeks, not knowing where he was going to be deployed.
He then learned he was assigned to a three-man team to instruct a staff officer course to Iraqi special forces in Baghdad for three weeks. Pace said he taught basic mission planning.
He said his stay in Baghdad was quite comfortable.
"The living conditions were pretty good for us," he said.