Helping make Baghdad a safer place

ROTC graduate keeps HQ vehicles in top shape
By Katie Kellogg('07)

JMU ROTC graduate Capt. Dan Hodermarsky ('03)

Capt. Dan Hodermarsky (’03) says the best part of serving in the Army in Iraq is watching his fellow soldiers “help make Baghdad neighborhoods a safer place.”

For Capt. Dan Hodermarsky (’03) the best part of serving in the Army in Iraq is watching his fellow soldiers help make Baghdad neighborhoods a safer place. “Young men between 18 and 24 years old are going out everyday without fail into harms way and getting their missions done. The soldiers never cease to amaze me.”

Lacrosse team memories

A Virginia Beach native, Hodermarsky is currently serving his second tour of duty in Iraq as the executive officer with the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1-23 Infantry, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. The public administration major was a member of the club lacrosse team at JMU and says that his times with the team were among some of his best memories of Madison.

“The Shenandoah Valley is great in the fall, and it was a lot of fun to play ball under the stadium lights during the first part of the school year,” he says.

JMU's ROTC program provided good preparation

The JMU ROTC veteran says being a part of the ROTC program at JMU proved to be extremely helpful in preparing him for his army career. “You realize what an outstanding program it is when you start working with officers from different commissioning sources,” he says. “Four years later, I still find myself using lessons that I learned during my time in ROTC at JMU.”

Important work and sacrifice

As headquarters executive for his company, Hodermarsky is responsible for all maintenance and supply operations in his company, and in battalion headquarters and the operations center. He is responsible for making sure every vehicle is working properly and that the staff and operations center have the support they need.

Hodermarsky says the hardest part about being in Iraq is losing his fellow soldiers to enemy fire or becoming seriously injured.

“Having good men like these make such sacrifices for their nation really forces you to put things into perspective when you’re over here,” he says.

Still, Hodermarsky recognizes the importance of the work that he and his fellow soldiers are accomplishing in Iraq. “Most Iraqis just want a peaceful home to raise their families and are very grateful for all our efforts.

Staying in touch with loved ones

Although it can be difficult to be so far away from loved ones, Hodermarsky says he is able to keep in touch with family and friends through e-mail and phone calls.

“I e-mail my family and close friends nearly every day and call home about once a week when I’m able to. This and the cards and packages from back home make the time away from each other much easier to take since I’m able to keep up with what’s going on in their day-to-day lives for the most part,” he says.

Future goal--attend a JMU Dukes football game

An avid Dukes fan, Hodermarsky says that when he returns from Iraq one of the things he hopes to do — in addition to catching up with family and friends — is attend a JMU Dukes football game.

“I've been deployed or out training for every Homecoming game since I graduated; so hopefully I'll have time to make it back for the next one,” he says.