Author(s): KEVIN HOWE Date: March 4, 2004 Section: News
A Sand City police investigator has been awarded the Bronze Star Medal for her service in Iraq. Army Reserve Chief Warrant Officer 3 Mary Hostetler received the medal for "exceptionally meritorious achievement" as a bodyguard to high-level diplomatic officials from April to October last year.
She received her award along with other members of the 375th Military Police Detachment, Criminal Investigation Division, at a ceremony near the Army Reserve unit's home base in Columbus, Ohio.
"It seems like an interesting experience now," she said of her seven months in Iraq, "but when you're there you never knew what one day was going to bring.
"I don't regret the experience, but I probably wouldn't volunteer to go back over anytime soon."
The citation accompanying her award noted that she participated in more than 600 personal protection missions, mostly in Baghdad but including others that required travel to all of Iraq's major cities as well as many small villages, "often without the benefit of any other military support."
She was cited as a key planner and participant in a mission to Doha, Qatar, where President Bush met with Coalition Authority officials, and Amman, Jordan, where Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the World Economic Forum.
Her duties, the Army said, included detail leader, personal security officer, security driver and gunner on high-risk assignments, accompanying the director and four regional directors of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance and later those of the Coalition Provisional Authority.
"When serving in an environment like that," Hostetler said, "it really meant a lot to have people who cared back home write to you."
Fellow city employees were "very generous in their support," she said.
"E-mail made life a little easier; we thrived on hearing from family and friends, and we didn't have to rely on the mail system," she said. "It meant a lot to have people from home care when you're there. It gives you that strength to go forward."
Hostetler, 47, enlisted in the Army Reserve as a military police officer in 1976 and has served both active duty and reserve assignments continuously since. She joined the Seaside Police Department in 1988 and is now with Sand City.
She noted that another local man, Chief Warrant Officer John Spann, an active-duty Army Criminal Investigation Division agent serving in Monterey, was recently assigned to Iraq and is stationed at the airport in Baghdad.
She said she hopes people interested in getting in touch with troops in Iraq or sending them things they might need will e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kevin Howe can be reached at 646-4416.
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