MUQDADIYAH, Iraq – When a Soldier initially arrives at Forward Operating Base Normandy, one of the first faces the Soldier will see belongs to FOB Normandy’s assistant mayor.
Cpl. David J. McKinnley, assistant mayor in the 1-32nd Calvary Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, handles all health and welfare issues that can arise in the day-to-day running of a camp. This includes finding housing for incoming Soldiers and personnel.
“Everyone that comes through the FOB, I get to meet,” said McKinnley. “Whether they are staying one day or are a permanent Soldier.”
The assistant mayor, a position previously held by a first sergeant and then a sergeant first class, is a full time job for the corporal. Sometimes, in his determination to make sure things run smoothly for the Soldiers at Normandy, he puts in an 18 hour day.
“If I didn’t do my job, life would probably be miserable,” said McKinnley. “There would be no heat or AC in the living quarters, no showers.”
Long hours, work orders and interrupted sleep for emergencies like generator breakdowns keep McKinnley busy.
“It’s erratic sometimes, but I get enough sleep,” said McKinnley.
McKinnley’s responsibilities have also brought him into contact with Iraqi contractors. The FOB is currently preparing a large section of housing for incoming troops from nearby FOBs.
Iraqi contractors have been hired from the nearby villages to help set up the living quarters for Soldiers. The managing of these contractors falls into the hands of the mayor’s cell.
“We try to employ Iraqi locals as much as possible,” said McKinnley. “We also don’t have the personnel to do the work they do.”
McKinnley also works closely with Kellogg Brown and Root contractors.
“We call him the lieutenant governor,” said William McKlelan, a KBR carpenter. “He is very good with the KBR guys. He makes sure everything is clear, and he’s not afraid of getting his hands dirty.”
McKinnley, a former Army Reservist, joined the military after the events of Sept. 11, 2001. He was in college at the time and left for training in January.
“I still feel the same way (about Sept. 11, 2001),” said McKinnley. “That’s why I went active. I wasn’t getting deployed as a reservist.”
Shortly after McKinnley’s switch to active duty, he was deployed to Iraq where he was first the assistant mayor for FOB Caldwell. Despite the briefness of his military career and lack of rank, McKinnley fills the shoes of assistant mayor fully.
“I will admit this group (mayor cell) has been one of the best I’ve worked with,” said William Brightwell, the site supervisor for KBR at Normandy. “He (McKinnley) is very determined and professional.”
Determination is perhaps what will continue to make McKinnley such an effective assistant mayor for the Soldiers at Normandy.
“Being able to fix a Soldier’s problem is a big deal,” said McKinnley. “It keeps morale up. It doesn’t matter if it’s a lieutenant colonel or a private who just got in. You have to fix it.”