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Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, December 30, 2004, Pages 1 & 12

Specialist Wes Zollman shares some of his experiences while serving in Afghanistan with residents of Mount Ayr Health Care Center during his Christmas leave. He headed back to duty overseas the day after Christmas after a two-week break back home.

Wes Zollman tells of Afghanistan eperiences
during visit on leave

Christmas at home was special for Wes ZOLLMAN this year.

Specialist ZOLLMAN, 20, a member of the Iowa Army National Guard, was home on leave from Afghanistan, where he has been stationed since May.

ZOLLMAN visited with school classes and at area nursing homes during his leave which lasted from December 11 through December 26 before heading back to his security duties halfway around the world.

A 2003 graduated of Mount Ayr Community high school, ZOLLMAN joined the Army National Guard in November 2001 while still in high school.

ZOLLMAN, who is the son of David and Carolyn ZOLLMAN of Mount Ayr, said he joined the Guard because he wanted to be able to help other people and was interested in the college money offered for his service in the Army.

"It has been good experience overall," ZOLLMAN said. "It has helped me grow and learn and recognize that there is a big world out there beyond Mount Ayr."

A member of Alpha Company in the 168th Infantry of the Iowa National Guard, headquartered in Corning, ZOLLMAN said he isn't sure when his unit will be transferred back from its Afghanistan duties.

"With all the rumors it's best to just wait until we hear for sure when the deployment will be over," he said.

He says he is still looking for just what he wants to do with his life, so this service has provided him some experiences to help him choose.

"The new full tuition benefits when I get back to go to college will be a big help," he said.

ZOLLMAN has been assigned to duties in the northeast part of Afghanistan. His unit provides security by manning guard towers and traveling to protect convoys, he noted.

A typical day includes several hours doing security duties. In his time off he works out, uses computers and generally keeps busy.

"They keep us pretty busy," he said. "They don't give us much time to get bored."

Getting used to the heat in the summer was a big adjustment, he said. It got up to 130 degrees in the summer.

"When you are wearing 30 pounds of body armor, that can get pretty hot pretty fast," he said. "I'm glad those temperatures didn't last the whole time."

After a while, he said he felt his body adjusted to the heat.

"You just have to be sure and keep up with your liquids to keep hydrated," he said.

This time of year it is about 80 degrees during the day and gets down to 45 or 50 at night.

"The temperatures are much more comfortable at this time of the year," he said.

ZOLLMAN noted that there are big strides being made in Afghanistan toward freedom and demorcracy.

"They were able to elect a president in October, and that was a really big deal to the people," ZOLLMAN said.

"They still have awhile before they will be self-sufficient, however, but I'm confident they will get there someday."

ZOLLMAN said they haven't had the insurgency problems with bombing and other destruction that has been going on in Iraq.

He noted that going to Afghanistan means stepping back in time in terms of the technology being used.

"Agriculture in Afghanistan is cows and plows," he said. "They have a ling way to go to mechanize many of the aspects of life there."

The soldiers work closely with the local Afghanistan citizens and have learned smoething about their customs and culture over the time they have spent there.

He noted that some of his friends had tasted camel -- "and no, it doesn't tast like chicken." He has had some goat [Page 12] cooked by local residents, but wasn't too impressed with its taste.

When his unit was deployed, they first spent time getting more training in Texas before heading overseas.

"They trained us in some of the new tactics we need to be able to do our job well," he said.

He hasn't been in a fire fight during his duty.

"Probably the most interesting thing that has happened was when we discovered a cache of rockets and watched them get destroy," he said. "That was pretty cool."

The time is 14 hours ahead of Mount Ayr in Afghanistan and it's a long journey to get back and forth.

He flew to Quatar from Afghanistan, on to Germany, on to Atlanta and then home.

"It takes most of a full day to make the trip," he noted.

It has taken some time to get used to not having his weapon with him as he walks around. Being home during hunting season, the shots he heard had him reacting quickly to try to figure out what was going on instead of knowing it just must be someone hunting.

ZOLLMAN still has some five years of duty with the National Guard ahead of him after spending a good deal of his first year on duty overseas.

"It's been an interesting eight months so far," he said.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, September of 2012

Mount Ayr Record-News
Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa
Thursday, September 2, 2010


Sgt. Wes ZOLLMAN, a Mount Ayr native living in Afton, is embarking on his third overseas deployment.

He left recently with his Iowa National Guard team to be a team leader in helping to train the Afghan army during a one-year deployment.

He has previously served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He said there is no secret to a successful tour of duty - just relying on training and each other.

"You have to stay on your toes, always be alert and stay positive," ZOLLMAN said.

ZOLLMAN is the son of David and Karrolyn ZOLLMAN of Mount Ayr. He and his wife, Lacey, have two children -- Carley, three, and Candace, one, who will be waiting for him at their Afton home.

Transcription by Sharon R. Becker, October of 2010

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