A Woodward soldier who has spent 180 days in Iraq during the past year is ready to head back to that war-torn nation at any time.

Master Sgt. William Covalt, who specializes in engineering for the Air Force, has been home in Woodward for two weeks spending time with the family he doesn’t get to see very often. Covalt and his wife Melba are living at Beale Air Force Base just outside Marysville, Calif. where he is stationed.

“I was with the 557th Expeditionary Red Horse Squadron where I worked on the main entrance to Baghdad,” Covalt said. “The main entrance into the city is the airport, they check all flights and vehicles from this point and I also worked on facilities in the area to help maintain and rebuild areas of Iraq.”

Covalt was not directly engaged in fighting but did see the effects of war every day.

“We had mortars coming in around us everyday as the insurgents were trying to blow up what we were trying to build. After a couple of times you come to the realization that people are trying to kill you,” Covalt said.

As for the need for the war and the continuing political debate, Covalt said, “The people of Iraq you can tell want us to be there. Many times the insurgents kidnap a member of a person’s family and make them be a suicide bomber or they will kill their family, so our need is very strong to be in Iraq.

“I think the people over there are better off but it will just take time to time to rebuild. The Iraqi citizens are very welcoming but there is always still a high risk of danger.”

Asked about the major difference between the United States and Iraq Covalt said, “The biggest thing I have noticed is the lack of middle class there is in Iraq. There are either really rich people over there or really poor people over there, there is no medium in between like there is in this country.”

“They do have malls and places like that but the majority of the nation is very poor most everyone lives in stone cobbles unless you were a member of the ruling family,” Covalt added.

Covalt is very proud to serve his country but said it felt good to be home.

“ It felt amazing to be home. Over there we do not have many things we take for granted when we are in the states such as indoor plumbing or running water. Also, we are in military dress 24/7 so it has felt good to be able to wear just a T-shirt and jeans,” he said. “The sand storms over there are just awful and it is so hot..it has been nice to come back to some nice weather and the comforts of home.”

Covalt understands his mission and knows the thousands of troops in Iraq are still fighting for that nation’s freedom.

“The troops over there are still working hard and all of them love to receive letter from home and anything people send over. It really depends on the person on what is needed at the time but letters and calling cards letting them know that people still care is something that all of us love to receive,” Covalt said.

Covalt will to Beale Air Force base Tuesday morning but after that he is not sure where he will be sent.

“I could be going back to Iraq or due to the recent hurricane I could be used in Louisiana to help start the rebuilding effort,” he said. “The possibilities are high that I could be sent back to Iraq however. But I only have two more years until I retire so I am more than willing to help my fellow Americans in any way I can.”