Retired Maj. Jonah Krause initially joined the military for the college benefits, but earning a degree took longer than he expected.
"I never anticipated going to war," Krause said.
Krause will speak at the McPherson American Legion on Jan. 27. He is a McPherson native and the author of "Rogue 36: Brotherhood, Sacrifice & War," which chronicles his experiences on his first deployment to Iraq.
"I think that there are probably some recurring themes throughout the book — the sacrifices me and my soldiers experienced throughout that entire year," Krause said.
"Rogue 36: Brotherhood, Sacrifice & War" tells the tale of Krause's deployment in 2006.
"That's when the surge occurred, that's when the greatest amount of activity was going on," Krause said.
As a security force platoon leader, Krause's deployment meant he spent months away from his family. His son was six months old before Krause was able to come home and meet him, and he would deploy again a short time later.
"How do you love your own family and at the same time love doing something so far away," Krause said.
In Iraq, Krause experienced combat for the first time as his platoon worked to ensure the safety of fuel and other supplies while avoiding improvised explosive devices.
"Our mission, as a convoy security force, was to escort in critical assets," Krause said.
Being in charge of 50 soldiers, Krause found he learned a lot about leadership as he took orders and gave his own.
"Realizing the consequences in training was a big wake-up call for me," Krause said. "The decisions that I made throughout that deployment affected people's lives."
A decade after that first deployment, Krause said he still keeps in touch with the members of his platoon since their shared experience created a bond.
"Those form when you're in those types of environments," Krause said. "It's a unique and beautiful thing. I'm probably closer to some of those people than I am to my own family members."
Living in Iraq was much different for Krause than living in the United States.
"It's a miserable, cold dark place that lacks color, lacks life," Krause said. "You come back and everything is just so green and there are billboards and there's the hustle and bustle of life."
Krause also recalled being constantly vigilant, looking for the best places to run in case a mortar came his way.
"That said, there are some beautiful moments in Iraq," Krause said. "The sunsets can be amazingly beautiful."
Writing his book was a way to try to explain his experiences in Iraq to family and friends.
"The book is a lot about the shaping of the mindset and the mental struggles that the soldiers experienced," Krause said.
The leadership lessons learned and bonds formed with other soldiers were what Krause wanted to remember and put down in words.
"It's not all about action. It's not all about the kill scenes and the capture of terrorists," Krause said.
Documenting military experiences, especially before they are lost from memory, is meaningful to Krause.
"The intent wasn't therapy, but it kind of was," Krause said.
Krause said some soldiers who read his book give it to their families to help describe their experiences.
"It's a story to be told and it's important," Krause said.
Krause will speak on Jan. 27 at the American Legion, 401. N Main. Krause's speech will be preceded by a social hour beginning at 5 p.m. and an Italian dinner served at 6 p.m. Tickets for the dinner and lecture are $10 and are available at the Post Lounge, Jim LaDuke’s State Farm Office and from Post members. For more information, call 620-241-0343.
Contact Patricia Middleton by email at email@example.com or follow her stories on Twitter at @MacSentinel.