Living in Iraq & Afghanistan


Sgt McComsey of Memphis, TN inside a Maxx Pro

Spc Hampton to Sgt McComsey: How old are you?

McComsey: 23

Hampton: When I was 23 I was just like you. Wait 10 more years you’ll be just like me; you’ll think ‘gym’? That’s bullsh_t.

McComsey: yeah?

Hampton: When I was 23 I lived at South Padre, I was on the beach ALL the time

McComsey: When I was 23 I lived in Afghanistan…when I was 21 I lived in Iraq.

When Sgt McComsey isn’t living in Iraq or Afghanistan he calls Memphis, Tennessee home. Less than a month ago, while home on leave, he proposed to his girlfriend; they’re now engaged to be married. McComsey went to college at Ole Miss; he joined the Mississippi National Guard through ROTC. He had the chance to go to Iraq and he took it. College would wait, for now. When he got back from Iraq he met his girlfriend and has been with her since. He’s now in Afghanistan. “Getting to both Iraq and Afghanistan was my goal. It’s exciting. Sometimes too exciting.”

His fiancé is a full-time student. They thought it would be easier for her to attend to her studies while he was away. This hasn’t turned out to be the case; it’s difficult to focus on homework and assignments when your fiancé is in Afghanistan.

McComsey, when I spoke with him, was in the gunner position in a Maxx Pro. A Maxx Pro is a heavily-fortified, 25,000 pound people mover. I was buckled in, he was ready to go. We were just waiting for the green light then the Maxx Pro we were in would fall in line and we’d roll off of FOB Bullard into Shah Joy. I started talking to him because he has a GoPro camera mounted to his helmet. When he’s up in the turret he rolls on what he’s seeing as a way to show people back home what he sees in Afghanistan.


While we were on patrol McComsey’s feet were just off to my left. His feet looked like they were slow-dancing. As he rotates the gun turret he shifts his feet. Rotate, scan, rotate, scan. Every time he rotates you can hear the whir of the turret motor.

His job, while he’s up in the turret, is to provide a set of eyes in all directions. As a member of the Mississippi National Guard he is here to provide security for the Minnesota National Guard’s ZADT.  Heavy responsibility for your average 23 year old. McComsey, unlike most, is going to have 2 years of in-theater combat experience under his belt by the time he’s 24. Far from average.

Makes me wonder, what was I doing when I was 24?