Ebenezer Middle School’s annual Veterans Day salute filled the school’s gym to capacity Tuesday afternoon.
First Sgt. Edward Kincade, a retired military intelligence specialist, greeted the crowd in Polish, one of two languages he learned while in the Army.
A veteran of Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom, Kincade also served in Europe during the end of the Cold War, just before and during the destruction of the Berlin Wall.
“Ms. Kincade does not remember,” he said of Brigitte Kincade, an EMS visual arts teacher and his daughter, “but on today’s date in 1989, because of a war that happened long before any of us were born, there was city that was divided. Berlin was 100 miles behind the Iron Curtain. As a Polish linguist, I was stationed in Berlin. She doesn’t remember it, but on this day, she was on my back, standing in front of the Berlin Wall, with East German soldiers above us, looking down at us.”
Kincade was in Berlin when the Wall came down, but once it met its demise, the Army didn’t need his Polish language ability. So he went to the Defense Language Institute in Monterery, Calif. —“not a bad place to be,” he said — for two years learning Arabic. Arabic is one of the most difficult languages to learn, Kincade said, behind only English.
Kincade worked with Egyptian, Saudi Arabian, United Arab Emirates and Kuwaiti soldiers during his trips to the Middle East, and even worked in trips to Egypt to see the pyramids and the Sphinx. While assigned to U.S. Central Command, he worked under Gen. Tommy Franks, who directed the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
“He was a great man to work for,” Kincade said.
While in Kuwait, he was invited into a Kuwaiti’s home, which was a great honor. While there, he saw a portrait of President George H.W. Bush and asked why that picture was hanging in the house.
His host replied that “without George Bush, I would not have my home today,” Kincade said. “Once again, because of war, there was peace.”
Kincade acknowledged he spent a great deal of time away from home because of his service, pointing to a picture of his daughter in her younger days, with a helmet crowning her head as he came from another deployment.
“I would like to say that was a great honor just to serve my country and that is why I did this to begin with, but that would be lying,” he said. “That was part of it, yes. But I volunteered to see the world and meet people and to experience cultures and live not just here in the United States. I got that opportunity. One thing I did learn more than anything else is we do have the greatest country in the world and without a heart beat’s notice, I would join and serve again.”