BROOKINGS SOLDIER CAPTURES SCENES FROM IRAQ

April 20, 2004 11:00 pm
Don Nuss IV stands on top of a Humvee. ().
Don Nuss IV stands on top of a Humvee. ().

Don Nuss IV is home in Brookings on leave from his post as a U.S. Army private stationed in Abu Ghraib, Iraq, about 45 minutes outside Fallujah.

Nuss, who celebrated his 20th birthday with family and friends April 15, has spent the last couple months as a Humvee gunner in an area where anti-American sentiment is common and roadside bombs are rampant.

In that time, ammunition isn't all Nuss has shot. Using his digital Panasonic Lumix camera, Nuss has captured more than suspicious Iraqis – he's captured the world around him.

He said "soldiers at work" are his favorite photo subjects.

Nuss is a soldier who loves his work, both for the adrenaline rush and the bonds he's built with other soldiers.

"It's great. It's very addictive," Nuss said. "I wouldn't do anything else at the time."

It was hard for Nuss to leave Iraq April 7 as attacks against U.S. forces increased dramatically.

"Right before I left, everything started picking back up," Nuss said.

"(When) the action starts coming in, it's hard to leave your buddies," Nuss said. "You've fought next to them, you're buddies."

Nuss' father and stepmother didn't know he was coming home until the day he left.

When attacks grew more frequent, they were in a panic, Vicki Nuss said.

"It's been scary," Don Nuss III said. "I know a lot of guys were scheduled for leave and it got cancelled. I didn't believe he'd actually be here until I picked him up from the airport."

Still, Nuss' father is proud of the work his son does.

"He's doing a job he's qualified for," he said. "Don sort of has another family. He has a family in the Army, so I respect that. I'm proud of him."

Nuss is the second youngest soldier in his company of 126.

"He's growing up in a hurry, that's for sure," Vicki said.

He returns to Iraq April 24.