The Price For Danger - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

02/17/05 - Nacogdoches

The Price For Danger

by Donna McCollum

More Americans are taking jobs in Iraq. Soon Lt. Michael Kennedy, a jail supervisor, will be teaching Iraqi police.

The first question he always gets is why would anyone want to be a law enforcement trainer in one of the most dangerous spots in the world?

"The pay. They're paying instructors between $130,000-$150,000 for a year of service," answered Kennedy. That's about five times more than what Kennedy gets paid a year as a jail supervisor at the Nacogdoches County Jail.

The adventure and becoming a part of history are other reasons why more East Texans are choosing to work in Iraq.

Kennedy brings up a picture on his computer of his buddy who recommended him for the job. "That's Steve Challender. He used to work at Angelina County Sheriff's office and is now with the Texas Association of Counties. He's wearing a level 4 body armor there."

Kennedy has worn bullet proof vests before during his 8 years with the sheriff's department. He's been confronted with some dangerous moments, but nothing compared to what he could see in Iraq.

Kennedy watches the news reports. He knows about the rise in insurgency. "I saw a report where a 100 police officers were killed in one week over there."

Exactly why co-workers have mixed emotions about Kennedy's decision. Captain Wendi Channel is not only Kennedy's supervisor, but also a friend. With tears Channel said, "He's a friend to me, my husband and my kids. It's very difficult to have to go through this. And I'm not going to say goodbye to him. I'm going to tell him to call me when he gets there."

Jailer Willie Parker who is a motherly figure at the jail said, "I'm going to miss him. I really hate to see him go over there because he won't have anybody to look after him."

But the almost 30 year old bachelor looks at it this way. "I think it is selfish of any American who enjoys democracy and freedom everyday to not think that we should not help someone else. Regardless of your opinion of war, now that they're developing as a nation, I think it's our duty to assist them in that."

Friday Lt. Kennedy will be given a 'going away reception' by friends and coworkers. Next week he'll receive four days of briefing by the Justice Department before flying to Baghdad at the end of the month.

His plan is to return alive and well to Nacogdoches, with plenty of stories to share.

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