For Returning Airman, SOMC Bag Was Well-known

Jerrod Campbell and Gary Coovert

When it comes to meeting friends in far away places, Jerrod Campbell has it all “in the bag.”

In civilian life, Campbell is an exercise technician at the SOMC LIFE Center, but he also has another critical job: he’s a senior airman in the US Air Force Reserve, and recently returned from a 130-day tour in Iraq.

While working at the Ali Airbase about 150 miles south of Baghdad, Campbell discovered that the bag he used to carry his supplies to and from the shower house became a real discussion starter.

“I would carry my stuff to the shower in the Southern Ohio Medical Center tote bag the hospital gave us last year for Christmas,” he says. “People on the base would see that SOMC name and say ‘You’re from Portsmouth? I’m from Athens!’ or from Chillicothe, Waverly, everywhere. People all over the area who were also in Iraq recognized our SOMC name and knew where I was from!”

Amazingly, Campbell met several people on tour in Iraq who are from the region. While on the base, formerly known as Tallil, he spent most of his time escorting local contracting workers to their job sites, acting as a security measure.

Campbell returned home to his wife, Misty, and their daughter, who turned one year old while he was away. While Campbell was on his assignment, LIFE Center members and co-workers collected care packages for him to help cheer him up and remind him of home.

Unfortunately, his SOMC bag didn’t make it back from the Middle East. “I stuffed so much into it over there the zipper busted out,” he confesses. However, now that he’s back home, safe and back on the job, his director, Gary Coovert, has presented him with a new tote bag, along with a grateful and warm welcome back.

“We missed Jerrod while he was gone and we’re just glad he’s safely back,” Coovert says.

SOMC recently received the Patriotic Employer Award issued by the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserves for supporting employee participation in the National Guard and Reserve Force.