The "Happy Camel" Web site at www.happycamel.net is produced for Bravo Company 3rd Platoon of the 1140th Engineers by former Sikeston resident Sgt. Scott Poole.
"He lives in Springfield and has a degree in film and TV production," said Sgt. Poole's father, Dr. Anthony Poole of Sikeston. "He had just finished working ... on his first movie on the Sci-Fi Channel before he got activated."
Learning how to build a Web site was a part of Sgt. Poole's media productions degree studies in addition to him having a natural aptitude for it. "He's always been very talented with computers," Dr. Poole said.
The Web site was built "just to keep in close contact with family and friends back home so they can keep up with what we're doing through pictures," according to Sgt. Poole. "The idea came up from talk with the guys last April. And since I have a media productions degree, it all fit together nicely. It was originally intended to make it easier for family and friends back home to watch what we were doing over here and try and keep up through the photos. The Web site has expanded past that, with an intro page, announcements section, a prayer request page and so on."
Dr. Poole said that even though his son no longer lives in this area, he opted to remain a part of the 1140th: "That's where he joined originally - it was a way to earn extra money and a way to come home and visit when he trained," he explained.
Sgt. Poole said his unit, working directly with civilian-contracted captured enemy ammunitions teams, is sent to cache sites to rid them of dangerous explosives, making the streets and countrysides safer for both Iraqi citizens and coalition forces.
"We are the only CEA platoon in the battalion. There is another company, Alpha, stationed south of us, who deal in IED's (improvised explosive devices)," Sgt. Poole said. "Their main job is to sweep their sector for these roadside bombs and detonate them if found. We work in tandem with units like this - we try to deplete the insurgents on this ammunition before they can set the bombs."
While in his civilian life Sgt. Poole took a different path, as a military man he is following his father's footsteps not only in joining the National Guard but also in his choice of duty.
"He chose to go to the training to be a military medic," Dr. Poole said, although he actually started in the infantry and didn't switch to the medical corps until after being in the National Guard for almost 10 years and going to medical school.
"So far, my role as the medic has been very limited. We have seen some action, had some very close calls, but no one in this platoon has been injured due to enemy fire," Sgt. Poole said.
Sgt. Poole said it is nice having his dad's expertise available as a resource, however. "If I have a question about a soldier's condition, I can call him anytime and ask for his recommendation over the phone," he said. "Both my mom, who is a retired RN, and my father have been very helpful in that area."
Nevertheless, Sgt. Poole has no second thoughts about his civilian career choice. "I still want to get into the entertainment business if possible. I have always had a love for media productions. Anything in that field interests me, whether it be film, TV, Internet design or whatever," Sgt. Poole said. "The Web site design is good for now, we will see where that leads."
As for this particular site's title: "That all started with Sgt. Brian Cartwright," Sgt. Poole said. "He started writing on the dry-erase mission board little 'Happy Camel' quotes after some of the more 'colorful' missions we have been on. I can not go into full detail what occurred for obvious reasons, but I will say that we have seen it all! With over 20,000 miles driven in Iraq since March and still counting, you could assume we have 'been there, done that.'"
Unlike many in the National Guard who unexpectedly ended up serving in a full-blown war, Sgt. Poole stepped up to the challenge willingly, his father noted.
"His time was up last summer," Dr. Poole said. "He re-enlisted for three years because he knew they were going to be activated."
"There comes a time in any man's life when he must stand up for what he believes is right. And this global war on terror that we are fighting is just that," Sgt. Poole explained. "If I can make a stand here and now, ensuring my newly-born daughter will not grow up in fear of an enemy she cannot see or hear, just as the one we deal with over here, then that, too, is worth one man's life. People may ask me many years later, if it was worth it. And I will proudly look them in the eyes, remembering the men and women ... that I served alongside with and say 'yes' with full confidence."