UWG Alumni Soldier: From class to the Iraqi Desert

Sgt. Nathan Ploeg is a UWG Alumni who graduated in the Fall of 2018 with a Mass Communication degree and is currently on a nine month deployment to Iraq using his degree as a Combat Camera soldier.  

Ploeg was just a regular college freshmen, going to classes, heading home, learning the day to day of college life, until one day he was stopped by an Army recruiter and asked, “Hey, you want to join the army?” Little did he know that that decision would be the start of a crazy journey.  

Ploeg joined the United States Army Reserve in February of 2014, and attended basic training at Fort Jackson, SC. From there he went to Advanced Individual Training at Fort Meade, MD, where he learned the Army’s specialized way of taking pictures and video. In 2016 Ploeg returned to UWG to finish his degree in Communications and graduated in the Fall of 2018.  

In the summer of 2018 Ploeg was told to prepare for his impending deployment to the Iraqi dessert, where he would serve his country for nine months as a Combat Camera Soldier.   

“I was pretty excited,” said Ploeg, “This is something that we have all been trained for but I was also pretty nervous because it was my first deployment. I have had friends that went before me, so I kind of knew what to expect but every deployment is different.” 

Though Ploeg does have a lot of his training in camera work from the Army, he agrees that his communications degree does make certain areas easier during his deployment.   

“Communications is so broad that it has helped me in many ways during my time here,” Ploeg said. “A few examples would be technical writing, public speaking to sell myself to others to say ‘this is why I need to be here’ and as my Commander says, we are dominating the information environment.” 

Ploeg serves as a Combat Camera Soldier, which, for this deployment, means that he is going out on missions where he uses photo and video to document other nation’s training, advising and assisting the Iraqi security forces.  

“Our imagery helps not only to show the U.S. and coalition nations the work we are doing to show a self sustaining and independent Iraqi military, but show the Iraqi people that its military will be able to protect them from ISIS and any other terrorist organization,” said Ploeg.  

Ploeg is enjoying the rest of his deployment, however when asked what is the biggest take away from UWG into his deployment, he said that it is the ability to network and make connections, because it’s important to know and understand what is going on in theater, or an area of operation, in order to be ahead of the story and be where the action is happening.  

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