Marine resumes classes after serving in Iraq

Photo By Megan Harrel
Cpl. Mike Bricket ,right, works on an airplane at Mookdy Aviation with a classmate. The Marine recently resumed classes at the local school after serving in Iraq.

  By Megan R. Harrell
  This week Moody Aviation welcomed home a soldier of its own. Cpl. Mike Bicket resumed classes at the local school Monday after completing a seven-month tour of duty in Iraq.
  The 22-year-old was one of the 180 men with the 24th Marine, Lima Company out of Gray, Tenn., mobilized shortly after Christmas last year.
  Bicket enlisted in the Marine Corps in his hometown of Zion, Ill., after he graduated from high school because he wanted to be involved in something other than college activities. His decision came well before the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 and before the U.S. had committed its troops overseas.
  "It gave me something else to do besides school, an on the side type of thing," Bicket said. "I did not have a clue anything was going to happen."
  After the terrorist attacks Bicket anxiously awaited his deployment to the Middle East. For two years the aviation maintenance specialist anticipated the call to duty, and when it came he was ready to answer.
  "We were pretty excited," Bicket said. "We do the one weekend a month thing, so we were always kind of hoping for this to happen. A lot of us are single, with not a whole lot of family, so it was something that we were all wanting to do."
  Lima Company arrived in Kuwait before traveling to its station at the military base in Al Asad, Iraq. When Bicket stepped onto Kuwaiti sand he stood on foreign ground for the first time in his life. He recalls the culture shock of seeing goat herders living in mud huts as he traveled from Kuwait to the base in Iraq.
  After arriving at the base in Al Asad, Bicket's primary missions were perimeter security and supply convoys. The convoys moved food and supplies from one military base to others across Iraq.
  Bicket also had the opportunity to work with Iraqi soldiers at the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps. The local Marines helped the Iraqis guard ammunition and supply points.
  Although Bicket was most assuredly in harm's way while carrying out his duties in Iraq he never really felt insecure about his safety. He stated that he always felt equipped to handle the situations that he faced.
  "I never really felt scared," Bicket said. "I always felt like we were in control. On our convoys I never felt like it was a suicide mission or anything, and when things did go wrong we were definitely ready to handle them."
  Part of Bicket's sense of security could be related to his length of duty in Iraq. He recognized the fact that Marines have a bit of an advantage over other branches of military because they only serve seven-month tours. He went on to state that the men in his company stayed pretty upbeat throughout their time in Iraq.
  "By the time seven months comes around you start to get a little complacent. It was not too long to be over there at all," Bicket said. "Seven months of my time is really short in the grand scheme of things."
  When he left Iraq Bicket took a great deal with him from the experience. He built lasting friendships with the men he lived and served with and learned the value of being flexible in life.
  He had to learn to adjust to unstable and unpredictable living conditions.
  "We learned how to make do with our surroundings. The power would be in and out a lot so you had to just make do with what you had," Bicket said. "I think flexibility would be the biggest thing that I have learned."
  Bicket's homecoming had lessons of its own. He arrived on U.S. soil with the rest of the Marines of Lima Company at 4 a.m. The first to greet them was a large group of Vietnam veterans and their wives. The young Marine was touched by the act of support.
  "They did not get a welcome at all coming back so that was a neat thing to see," Bicket said.
  Now that Bicket has returned to school at Moody Aviation he counts his sacrifices as minimal. As a maintenance specialist student he has lost some work experience, but he will be able to graduate with the rest of his class in May. Cpl. Bicket will receive a bachelor's degree in missionary aviation technology.
  After graduation Bicket will pursue a future as a missionary aviation mechanic. He stated that his experiences in Iraq have not taken him from the path to achieving the goals he had before he left.
  "I had my chance to get out of this, but I definitely still want to be here and still want to do missions," Bicket said. "I am not really living for this world. I have decided instead of serving myself to serve God."