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Fri, Feb. 28

Captain Dow continues family tradition

PRESCOTT – With a thirst for adventure and a drive to fight for his country, Cameron Dow, a 1996 graduate of Prescott High School (PHS), became a third generation warrior in his family.

His father fought in the Vietnam War and his grandfather served in World War II, and Dow said he wanted to have the same experience.

“I wanted to seek out adventure and explore,” he said.

Dow just returned from Iraq and now lives in Iowa with his wife. He was visiting his family in Prescott this past weekend and took some time to talk about his experiences in the Army.

After graduating from PHS, Dow went to the University of Arizona (U of A) and graduated in 2001 with a degree in biology. He participated in ROTC, and said he “was commissioned as a second lieutenant (in the Army), and then I began my four-year obligation.”

He first went to Georgia for more than a year and attended various schools, including ranger school.

“Rangers are the elite of the infantry,” he said. “Less than one percent of those in the Army are Rangers.”

During that training, which he said is “more intense and thorough training” than most soldiers experience, he went through survival, combat, land navigation and tactical training.

As an officer, Dow said he was “in charge of leading soldiers for three years.”

After Georgia, Dow went to Germany for a month before the Army deployed him to Kosovo (which he called “a war zone”) on a peace-keeping mission.

“I loved it,” he said, “because we were there to establish a safe and secure environment for the Serbians and Albanians who were fighting over ethnic wars.”

Then he went back to Germany for six months, and “the whole time we were there, we were going through training that prepared us for war fighting.”

In February of 2004, the Army deployed Dow to Iraq. He said the idea of fighting in Iraq “was like the black cloud hanging over your head. It was the great unknown.”

Dow had heard “some pretty wild stories” from friends who had fought in Iraq, and he had some friends who died while fighting there.

“I knew we were going into a pretty dangerous area,” he said, adding that he went to Kuwait for the first few weeks “to prepare our equipment and go through more training.”

He said Kuwait was “a total lunar landscape in the middle of the desert. Every once in a while you would see some nomads or camels walking by.”

After the training was over, Dow said they “traveled in mile-long columns of vehicles from Kuwait to our base in Iraq,” which he said was “an old Iraqi Army base” in Baqubah, just northeast of Baghdad.

“We didn’t stop and we got ambushed quite a few times,” he said, but when they reached their base, “we made that our home.”

During the first four months there, Dow said they had no plumbing, electricity or water.

“We would try to get the locals in and help us, but nobody wants to be seen helping Americans,” he said.

During his 14-month duty in Iraq, Dow said he became a captain. He was leader of a reconnaissance platoon for nine months, where its mission was to “kill or capture high-priority targets.”

In addition, he served in the quick reaction force, where “we were the infantry’s 911 emergency service.”

While in Iraq, Dow said he was also an Iraqi army adviser because “I had developed a lot of unconventional relationships with the Iraqi people. My job as the adviser was to recruit, train and give uniforms to the Iraqi Army.”

Dow said that by working with the Iraqi Army and the people, “we made an incredible amount of progress.”

On July 1, Dow said he “got separated from active duty” after spending three months in Germany “learning how to deal with civilian life again.”

Dow returned to the U.S. and now lives in Iowa with his wife and is studying to be a veterinarian.

Contact the reporter at rbump@prescottaz.com

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