Marine returns from Iraq  

By Jennifer Lassiter
star staff

  GRAY -- Sgt. William "Bill" Cuddy, 29 , a Washington County native, after serving several months in Iraq returned home three weeks ago to mourn his mother's death. Cuddy will continue to serve in active duty at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Gray.
  Cuddy, from Meadowview, Va., said he still returned home with guilt feelings for leaving his fellow marines of Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment.
  "Lima Company was a totally different base than our H&S Unit out of St. Louis, Mo., although they are the same battalion, being a Motor T (transport) company they always pull us back to the Motor T section."
  Cuddy was a duty driver along with three others in the transport unit. Cuddy drove to all observation posts and would change guards. He would also do minor repairs and take care of troop needs.
  According to Cuddy, when his regiment first arrived in Iraq, there were many rocket attacks on their base, but after April the attacks seem to cool off. Being on foreign soil for the first time in awhile, Cuddy described the experience as an eye-opener. "I couldn't believe this was the real thing and not training and that there were people actually shooting at us."
  Cuddy doesn't pay much attention to the news and the politics behind the war. He said while in Iraq his focus was on the mission and getting back to his wife and kids. He worries about the guys that are still over there and sends them packages and writes e-mails when he can. Officers and troops have access to the Internet during their breaks. According to Cuddy, there was sometimes a 45 minute to an hour wait to log on.
  Through tough conditions such as 120 degree weather and living in tents, life at base wasn't bad, according to Cuddy. Cuddy lived on a hard base, or, in other words, in a fixed position. The worst part was trouble with the power supply, he said, and generators that broke down occasionally, though they did have air conditioners and dependable shower buildings.
  Cuddy described the feeling of being in the desert as extremely hot and dusty. To understand what it's like over there, he said, "Hold a blow dryer on high in front of your face and have someone throw sand on you."
  Because they lived close to the Iraqi people, they often contracted work out to them such as construction, the making of sand bags, and other odds and ends. Elderly Iraqi people would talk to translators quite often, he said.
   "We take a lot of our freedom for granted here, and they just don't have that opportunity over there. I felt mainly sorry for the children and how they grow up, being a father myself." Cuddy is a father of two, a five and six-year-old who were "tickled" to see him return, he said.
  Cuddy served four years of active duty as a Marine and came back in January to the reserve side. He had a five-year span of time when he was not affiliated with the Marines and said he regrets every minute of that time.
  "It wasn't fair that I had been through training and I was sitting at home knowing other guys were over there doing something for me; I felt like I should be there too."
   Cuddy plans to make a career out of the Marines by staying in the reserves since his kids are in school here. There is a chance that he will return to Iraq however.
  Cuddy will be staying at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Gray. The rest of his regiment has tentative plans to return home sometime before Christmas.