By Spc. Stephanie Homan
BAGHDAD — “What were they called? BDUs? Yeah, I missed that entire era,” said Chief Warrant Officer George Grayhek, intelligence electronic warfare officer for 502nd Military Intelligence Battalion, 504th MI Brigade.
“My wife said I could have two years in the sandbox with the Soldiers and I want the two years,” he said, but he knew it would not be easy.
Grayhek, a Washington state native, first served in the Army from 1959 to 1979, then retired as a chief warrant officer. He returned to duty in 2006.
“I am (part of a) very special group of people that recognizes the Army is undermanned and I wanted to do more than send a package or a card,” said the 65-year-old maintenance Soldier. “I had to help. I am financially stable, my kids are doing great, and my grandkids are doing great. I have the time. I am one of the few people (at my age) who is fortunate enough to be able to be here and I should be here.”
Sgt. 1st Class Verlon Land, intelligence electronic warfare foreman with 502nd MI Bn., works with Grayhek on a daily basis and has a lot of respect and admiration for the chief’s reunion with the Army.
“Chief fought so hard to get to come to Iraq,” Land said. “He just wanted to serve one more time. He brings a little bit of the ‘old’ Army back to us.”
Grayhek said there is a lot of prejudice when you are over 60 years old and that people make it seem like you have one foot in a geriatric clinic.
“People really hold age against you,” he said.
In July 2005 the Army had more than 3,300 retired Soldiers who applied and said they would come back to the Army if they were needed, Grayhek said.
“Some people count each day until they can get out of the uniform. I count every day until I have to get out of the uniform,” he said. “We want to give the battlefield commander 100 percent strength if we can do it.”
Grayhek traveled to two other states outside his own to find someone who would endorse him for active duty. He believes the Army is to thank for a big majority of his success in life.
"I wasn’t sure I wanted to go to college (in 1959),” he said. “The Army is my Alma Mater. They trained me, invested in me, gave me a security clearance and a sense of purpose. I took all that (in 1979) when I got out and went to work. I had no trouble finding a job anywhere I (went).”
Land said that Grayhek goes out of his way to work with the Soldiers on missions. The Soldiers reinforce the reason he returned to duty.
“I like to go with the Soldiers rather than just telling them to go take care of it. That’s the fun of it,” Grayhek said.
He said he prefers to be out in the field with fellow Soldiers.
“I’ve always been a field Soldier, and I wanted to come to Iraq because I have never been here. It is fantastic to see these Soldiers and work with them. I have to be here. When I look at the machine I work on, and when I look at the Soldiers, it reinforces that.”
Photo - Chief Warrant Officer George Grayhek, Intelligence Electronic Warfare officer with the 502nd Military Intelligence Battalion, 504th MI Brigade, helps serve dinner to Soldiers at Camp Slayer during his tour in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Photo courtesy of 502nd MI Bn.