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"After 9/11 just about everyone who wore a uniform wanted to do something, anything in order to have a part in what was going on." (Memoir, page 2)

   Dean Baratta
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Dean Baratta, Afghanistan [n.d.]
War: Afghan War, 2001-
Branch: Army
Unit: 1st Brigade, 8th Infantry Division; 213th Area Support Group, Pennsylvania Army National Guard
Service Location: Fort Dix, New Jersey; Mainz, Germany; Bagram, Afghanistan
Rank: Sergeant First Class
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Dean Baratta first joined the Army as an intelligence analyst in 1986, and was stationed in Germany at the tail end of the Cold War. After his initial four-year enlistment, he then spent four years out of the military, during which time he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science. Baratta joined the National Guard in 1995 when he realized that--much to his surprise--he missed the Army. After the attacks of September 11, 2001 he was determined to contribute, and volunteered to help guard airports. In June 2003 his unit from the Pennsylvania National Guard was deployed to Afghanistan, where they were responsible for base operations at Bagram Air Base. While in Afghanistan, Baratta endured the loss of a close friend, and experienced the frustrations of trying to ensure security at Bagram while simultaneously navigating local politics.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (8 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (118 min.)
  Photos
»Photo Album  (88 photos)
 Memoirs
»Memoir: "War is Heck" by Dean Baratta
 Memoir
» Memoir: "War is Heck"
[PDF: 10 MB / 190 p.]
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»Twenty Years of Service: Post 9/11 Veterans
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (8 items)
Describes the mission of the 1st Brigade, 8th Infantry Division in West Germany in the late 1980s, where they were prepared to counter a potential Soviet invasion. (01:06) Joining the Pennsylvania National Guard after four years out of the military; working for the National Guard Counterdrug Program conducting intelligence analysis for narcotics investigations. (01:03) Impact of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001; determination to do anything he could to assist with response efforts; served on detail providing security at Lehigh Valley International Airport. (03:02)
Responsibilities in Afghanistan as the senior enlisted intelligence person for task force providing security for Bagram Air Base; conditions encountered in Afghanistan, especially the large quantity of unexploded ordnance and landmines. (05:50) First impressions of Afghanistan; perceiving themselves as taking part in a major historical event; death of his friend Chris Geiger; reads a testimonial he wrote for Geiger. (10:33) Reflects on how Afghanistan was the “forgotten war” in 2003-2004 due to public’s attention on Iraq. (02:15)
Types of missions he went on in Afghanistan; having to negotiate local politics while investigating attacks on the base; experiencing rocket attacks; inadvertently walking through a minefield while they investigated a potential rocket launch site. (06:40) Experiencing mixed emotions upon leaving Afghanistan; difficulties in adjusting to civilian life again. (03:51) 
  
 

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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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