Valley Springs man Baghdad-bound

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By ERIN MAYES

Rick Muckey has two weeks to get his affairs in order before he's on his way to Iraq.

The Valley Springs resident will be in the Middle East for one year to join a team of 1,000 civilian advisers now training Iraqi police officers as part of a $50 million contract the U.S. government has with a company called DynCorp.

He is the second Calaveras County employee to take a leave of absence in the past month for this purpose: County Sheriff Dennis Downum left in January.

Muckey said his experience in the military, four years as a deputy sheriff and most recently as a district attorney investigator, qualifies him for the job in Iraq and he feels strongly that he should serve his country.

"I think it's something that's very important, because as soon as we can get these people trained, the sooner our own people can come back," the 35-year-old said.

He said his family and friends are concerned for his safety he'll live for a year in a Baghdad hotel, where many journalists are staying but because he is divorced, he doesn't have a wife or child "holding me down."

Muckey does have a girlfriend Jeanne Davenport but said, "She's been very supportive."

He has three sisters; Stacey Flathers of Fairfield, Jan Cromer of Nevada and Robyn Suderman of Oakhurst, all of whom are "definitely worried," he said.

"My sisters have said, 'we're going to have this feeling all over again from when you were in Egypt (during Desert Storm)."

But they also see why their brother wants to go.

"I'm excited for him," Flathers said. "He's always been an adventurer, you know, and always one of those guys who thinks he can go out and save the world."

11535082
The Union Democrat
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