From the Frontlines: Staff Sgt. George William Keen Jr.

CAMP ARIFIJIAN, Kuwait - Staff Sgt. George William Keen Jr.

CAMP ARIFIJIAN, Kuwait - Staff Sgt. George William Keen Jr.

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Focused on the mission, Staff Sgt. George William Keen Jr., 509th Logistics Readiness Squadron NCO in charge of the vehicle operations control center, took on some of the most dangerous roads in the world during his most recent deployment.

In September 2009, Sergeant Keen returned from Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, completing his second tour conducting convoy operations throughout Iraq.

"My primary job on the convoy team was as the lead vehicle commander," Sergeant Keen said. "I had the responsibility of navigating our routes, and making sure the convoy was not going to be driving through any areas of danger."

Sergeant Keen and his team were responsible for moving supplies and equipment to and from multiple bases in Iraq.

"I like to compare it to a worm on a hook," Sergeant Keen said. "My driver and I led the first vehicle in a line of 40 to 70 vehicles. We had the task of looking for improvised explosive devices, potential attacks and any other dangers we could spot."

He said it was a huge task to take on, but it was one that he greatly enjoyed.

Compared to his duties at Whiteman, Sergeant Keen's area of responsibility while deployed, were a radical departure.

"As far as being the lead vehicle commander for my team, it was unlike anything I have ever done before," Sergeant Keen said. "During my first deployment I was a gunner in the back of a five-ton cargo truck with little-to-no-armor. However, I wasn't concerned about where we were going, just that we got there."

For the duration of Sergeant Keen's most recent deployment, he was entrusted with knowing the routes through a foreign country.

"Unfortunately, there were many other things that my driver and I were required to know," Sergeant Keen said. "Things like where attacks generally took place, areas for potential IED placement, checkpoints, and the different local authorities. If I did not do my job, then people could have died."

Additionally, Sergeant Keen had to navigate around other convoys.

"Driving in Iraq is not like it is in the U.S., where if you are going east bound, you stay in the east-bound lane," Sergeant Keen said. "In Iraq, you drive on whatever side of the road will serve you best."

Sergeant Keen said the best part of his deployment, besides the rush of cruising through the most dangerous roads in the world, was the sense of family that developed amongst his team.

"You are with the same 12 to 14 people throughout your entire deployment, and you have no choice but to really get to know someone on a three-to-18 hour convoy," he said.

Nonetheless, Sergeant Keen said while deployed, he missed his family.

"My wife and I had a baby boy in September 2008 and I deployed in January 2009," he said. "When I left, my son was four-months-old, and when I returned home he was 12 months old. I had to experience my son growing up through phone calls or a web cam. It was hard to do. Fortunately, I made it home for his first birthday."

Sergeant Keen said he is very thankful for the continuous love and support of his family.

"I am blessed with a wonderful family, and I couldn't ask for more," Sergeant Keen said.