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Tipton continues to serve his countryPosted Friday, November 26, 2010, at 2:23 PM
Earlier in the week, I wrote a feature story about Jasonville native Joe Tipton, who was away from home during the recent Thanksgiving Day holiday because he is working with the Department of Defense in an eastern Afghanistan war zone.
After the story ran in the newspaper, I received a nice e-mail from Joe who more fully explained what he's doing in the far away war land.
Joe, the son of late Elden and Ines Tipton and a 1968 graduate of Shakamak High School, has been serving his country for more than 25 years.
Joe is retired, but is still actively helping U.S. military troops in Afghanistan.
On his current mission he's working as an agriculture analyst on a joint military-civilian mission to help stabilize the rural communities in Afghanistan, which rely heavily on agriculture for a living.
On Monday, he was asked to participate in an impromptu hospital bedside presentations of Purple Heart medals to two injured U.S. Army soldiers as an American civilian.
The soldiers -- PV2 Kristopher Jowes and PVT Udit Batta -- are going to be fine, but they did suffer combat wounds.
Tipton talked about how much of an honor it was for him to represent the people of our great country in the Purple Heart presentation to the two young soldiers ages 19 and 24.
"It was a real honor and privilege for me to be in the presence of heroes," he stated.
Thursday's Thanksgiving Day holiday for Tipton was his second year in a row working in Afghanistan for the U.S. Army as one of thousands of civilian contractors, not only from the United States and all the coalition countries, but foreign nationals from many dozens of countries around the world.
"Thanksgiving in a war zone such as Afghanistan and Iraq is a celebration that everyone relates to. For the combatants and those of us who have to go 'outside the wire', it is welcome because it means you've survived to enjoy another Turkey Day, with all the trimmings and football games that are carried on the Armed Forces Network satellite transmissions," Joe explained. "The American Thanksgiving Day and Christmas holidays are special here and the dining facilities pull out all the stops with special decorations. They prepare turkey and dressing with sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie almost as good as grandma's."
The Greene County native says good food helps keep morale positive, along with access to recreational facilities, frequent mail deliveries and care packages from home.
Tipton said his current mission for the government is a throwback to his Hoosier upbringing.
"Unlike last year's tour in the south when I was on a force protection mission, this year I am going back to my Hoosier roots as an agriculture analyst on a joint military-civilian mission to help stabilize the rural communities in this country which rely so much on agriculture for a living. The good news is that with a little water you can grow just about anything in Afghanistan. The bad news is that the irrigation systems are old-fashioned and have suffered from over 30-odd years of war zone conditions."
Tipton also pointed out that poppy plants, which are the source of the illegal drugs opium and heroin, don't need much water to grow.
"Afghanistan produces over 85 percent of the world's consumption of those illegal drugs. So, one of our big challenges here is to foster the cultivation of alternative cash crops," he stressed.
To Tipton, his desire to be in a pubic service career was fostered by his parents.
His late father was a former U.S. Navy commander and veteran of World War II and the Korean War, a two-term Indiana State Senator, a Greene County Commissioner and a long-time Shakamak school teacher.
Tipton formerly worked for the Department of Justice for two decades before retiring.
Currently, he is serving in Afghanistan mainly because he still is physically able to do so and he wants to contribute something directly to what he called the "real war on terrorism."
It's that desire to make a difference that drives Tipton, who lives in Fairfax, Va., to do what he does.
"Before he died last January, my dad said he was proud that I was doing this, and coming from a survivor of the Great Depression and a real member of the Greatest Generation, I knew that whatever sacrifices I might experience over here would pale in comparison with what he and those of his day suffered for our freedom and our place in the world," Joe concluded.
I salute Joe for his efforts to keep this great county free and safe.
Nick is assistant editor for the Greene County Daily World. He can be reached by telephone at 847-4487 or 1-800-947-4487; by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages...
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