By Shannon Johnson
Jerry Losing, a Baker native, enlisted in the National Guard in 1981 after graduating from Baker High School in 1980. Sargent Losing is one of the many veterans in our community that we are able to thank, honor, and regard this coming Veteran’s Day, Monday, November 11th.
Sargent Losing, husband of Jill Whiteman and father of Chandler and Spencer Losing, served for almost three decades. The beginning of his service was spent locally, filling in for employees at Pine Hills Juvenile Facility in Miles City, Montana during a time when they were understaffed due to a wage discrepancy. He also traveled to the Western side of the state to fight fire in between Helena and Townsend.
Sargent Losing had an 18-month deployment, with 12 of those months spent in Iraq. “It was probably hard on the family too, because I had two young kids at home. They had to grow up fast. They were still in grade school,” he recalled. “Christmas day we rolled in there and I was like ‘Wow, my kids are at home eating and these kids are standing out in the rain wanting something to eat.’”
“It made me appreciate America when I got over there. It was pretty bleak. It was pretty sad to see,” Sargent Losing said as he explained the living conditions in Kirkuk, Iraq. During his deployment he saw undrinkable water, inadequate healthcare, and unsafe electrical. “A lot of times it was just simply wires run over a pole or something. Basically, all they had was lights in their house. They had a control panel there and they just started sticking wires in it and running it to their houses.”
“People all seemed to be happy there, for the most part. People would tell you that they didn’t want to fight, all they wanted to do was have an education, a job, and peace. They didn’t want any of the other stuff that went with it,” noted Sargent Losing. “You just had a certain amount of people that are just ornery and just wanted to fight.”
“Most of our stuff there was humanitarian. We did a lot there to help out the local people,” Sargent Losing explained, recalling a school that they had rebuilt. “They would know who we were.” While in Kirkuk, they would hand out clothes, coloring books, candy, and other things to the children.
“The kids would know who you were. We threw out a lot of candy. And of course you’d see the ones standing in the back that were scared to come so you always made sure you took care of those kids,” he added. “You don’t realize how many things it upsets when you go to war. I mean, all of the people that don’t want anything to do with it are effected, including the children. Everybody’s effected because it effects your country.”
The harsh times of war had many areas of Iraq fairly unsettled and unstable. Along with the poor living conditions, Sargent Losing also recalled some of the barbaric things he had witnessed while in Kirkuk. “They don’t care,” he paused. “They do care, but they can’t care because there are other things that are more important at the time.”
“Our country may not be perfect, but it is the best,” Sargent Losing affirmed. “After I could see what all took place, and to think how many times our country has helped other countries.”