New York Mills Fire Fighters
Proudly Serving Our Country:

Fire Fighter Craig Phelps

New York Mills Volunteer Fire Fighter Craig Phelps was stationed overseas in Kuwait and Iraq.  Phelps was serving overseas with US Naval Reserves from March 13, 2006 to September 28, 2006.  Phelps was assigned to Customs Battalion QUEBEC, CHARLIE Company stationed out of Kuwait Naval Base on the coast of the Arabian Sea.

Phelps says – “Our job was to assist the US Army and US Marine Corps process their equipment and personal gear through customs when they were returning home or in some cases, going to other countries.  This included everything from their helicopters or tanks down to their carry on luggage.  We had to thoroughly inspect their equipment after they prepared it to send it home.  We had to make sure it was completely clean, due to the fact that they don't want any foreign diseases or insects, etc. to make it back into the United States.  We also had to make sure there was no live ammunition in the equipment, and then everything had to be sealed and put into a staging area and watched until it was ready to be shipped home.  Then when it was ready to be shipped, we had to see it through until it was loaded on the ship for home.  What was interesting about this was we were able to operate several different pieces of equipment.  The unpleasant task of our job was that we also had to inspect our own troops personal baggage to make sure they weren’t carrying anything illegal home.  Fortunately most of our guys cooperated with us, because they just wanted to get home.

This by far wasn't a glamorous or exciting job.  But what was exciting about it was that about 90% of the time, we worked independently throughout Kuwait and in Balad, Iraq.  In Balad, we worked completely on the base and were only there for about two weeks.  The rest of the time we were in Kuwait and worked on several bases throughout country.  When we went to these bases, we always traveled by ourselves, usually with no less than three in a vehicle.  We only carried 9mm handguns when we traveled on the streets and roads of Kuwait, often learning our way around as we went along.  We drove SUV's, not military vehicles, because they didn't want us to stick out.  At times we had threatening moments, but for the most part, it was okay.”