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SMYRNA (WATE) - A Morristown sergeant with the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment who can read, write and speak fluent Arabic was very valuable during the latest deployment to Iraq.
Sgt. Todd Rowe hugged his wife and five children for the first time in seven months Monday in Smyrna.
6 News first met Sgt. Rowe while he was training at Camp Shelby in January.
Known by fellow soldiers as "the secret weapon," he admits his skills were put to the test in Iraq.
"It was very challenging. I speak modern, standard Arabic and the Iraqi dialect is something I had to pick up on. I dealt with seven interpreters and I was the point of contact for all interpreters. I was also able to go out on missions as an interpreter," Rowe said.
He also says he's also come home with a greater appreciation for what we have in the United States.
"Once they learned that I speak Arabic, they see that as being very respectful of their culture, and they would approach me everywhere, every venue, and talk to me," Sgt. Rowe said.
Despite all their training, the sergeant says nothing could have prepared the soldiers for what they experienced in Iraq.
"Not to say anything bad about Camp Shelby, although, I think every soldier here could. The truth of the matter is the best training was on the job training," Rowe said.
"When we got there, when we really saw what we were up against and what we were dealing with, the soldiers had never seen anything like it. Not even the soldiers that had been deployed before," he added.
Sgt. Rowe's abilities as a linguist also served as protection on the streets of Baghdad.
"There were credible threats out there every day and yet, I never saw anybody that didn't step up and do their job on a daily basis. It was overwhelming. I have renewed my faith in the human spirit. I have renewed my faith in the United States because I know how blessed we are to live here now after seeing how these people live. It's a good experience I don't hope to repeat anytime soon," Rowe said.
He served in the Marine Corps before joining the Army National Guard.
Sgt. Rowe studied at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California and spent 19 months there learning an intense Arabic curriculum.