Supporting the troops: Judge Roach recounts his experience
Original Article Oct 14, 2011 by Elizabeth Knighten / Frisco Enterprise
On Tuesday night, Judge John Roach Jr. brought the Republican Women of North Collin County to their feet with a standing ovation, after he described his experience traveling to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Roach’s speech was part of the Republican Women of North Collin County’s monthly meetings.
The meeting was held at the Gentle Creek Golf Club in Prosper.
Terri Green president of the Republican Women of North Collin County said the meeting was held in Prosper because the organization wanted to reach out to voters.
“The reason we traveled to Prosper is, I believe that when clubs, such as ours, reach out to interact with other areas in northern Collin County that do not have federated Republican clubs, we create a unity among voters, both men and women, that helps all of us when we go to the polls,” Green said. “Voters who are provided information, face- to-face contact with candidates, dates, times, places of voting locations and the pros and cons of issues prior to going to the polls, are more informed and educated voters, who become a positive part of the political process.”
During the meeting Green introduced several candidates who are running for office, including Scott Turner as well addressing the Lena Smith, wife of Prosper Mayor Ray Smith.
Roach, the district judge for the 296th, and a former Marine, said he was is part of a “wonderful organization” called the Steak Team Mission, which was founded by Harvey Gough of Goff’s Hamburgers.
“Harvey Gough, he is the grumpiest guy you would ever meet in your life, he’s kind of ‘The Soup Nazi’ of hamburgers,” Roach said. “This guy has a heart of gold, believe it or not … so he started this organization called the Steak Team Mission and their goal is to serve steaks to the troops all around the world.”
Roach said the organization travels to some of the “nastiest, dirtiest places” in the world, with the mission of serving a home-cooked meal to the troops because “they don’t get home cooked meals like we do here.”
“His deal is to bring a home-cooked meal to the troops all over the world,” Roach said. “What we do is we cook filet mignon, bacon wrapped jalapenos with chicken in it, we do cornbread when we can find the stove out there — sometimes it’s kind of hard to do cornbread — and we tried to bring ice cream a couple of times, [but] that doesn’t really go so well.”
The organization, Roach said has trekked to places like Africa, Germany, Honduras, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and even locations close to home like Fort Sam Houston.
Roach said he was asked to travel Baghdad with the organization.
“I immediately started thinking to myself ‘how in the world is my wife going to let me go to Iraq? How do you sell that exactly?” Roach said. “I headed off to Iraq, we ended up serving … the U.S Army in Iraq and we ended up at Camp Victory in Baghdad.”
There’s sand everywhere and these troops are in head to toe combat gear, head to toe flight jackets, helmets all the time, we had to wear helmets and flight jackets when we got on the plane to fly into Baghdad but I was wearing shorts and a bright yellow t-shirt.
Roach said during his trip, he visited Saddam Hussein’s palace that was bombed in 2003.
“We actually got to be right on the campus where Saddam Hussein was … we saw his main palace,” Roach said. “You hear about the gaudy parts of the palaces … with all the crystals and the gold and all that stuff — all a fake. The crystals were made of plastic, they were plastic crystals, all the gold, you could walk up anything gold and flick it — it was just spray paint on metal.”
Roach said a part of the palace that gave the illusion of wood carvings was actually plaster.
“It’s all a facade,” Roach said. “He had a swimming pool that had never been filled with water; he would take people in there to get rid of them and you could see it still.”
During his stay in Iraq for 11 days, Roach also traveled to the city of Mosul.
“It was absolutely amazing to go and cook the steaks for those guys. They came in, they had a big celebration … they hadn’t been together since they got there, for eight months,” Roach said. “They had a hanger that they let us cook the steaks in, some of the guys had a band and so they played the music and they were so thankful that we were there.”
Roach said the Cavalry he visited was so thankful for the work he and the organization were doing, they gave them the prestigious gold spurs.
“If you serve during war time you get gold spurs …they were so appreciative of what we do and everything that we’re doing to support the troops down there they gave us gold spurs,” Roach said.
Roach said he so appreciative of his gold spurs they are hanging on a wall in his office.
The organization also traveled to Afghanistan for 10 days to serve the Marines at Camp Deli.
“We got to go really, really far out …these guys hadn’t seen a civilian in a very, very long time,” Roach said. “We’re at Camp Deli …you’re supposed to have one hot meal a day in the military, they made it on a hot plate.”
Roach said at one time he thought the mentality of the generation that served in World War II no longer exists.
“I thought after World War II — the Greatest Generation, that we wouldn’t find them anymore, that those people don’t exist,” Roach said. “I was wrong, we still are a great country with generations just as good as that generation; they’re doing it every day.”
After recounting the audience with an experience he encountered after his helicopter landed in Afghanistan, Roach said he realized that the adrenaline he felt in a 15 minute walk is what soldiers feel everyday while serving overseas.
“Every step made, may be their last, their hearts pounding through their chest, day in and day out, all the time for us,” Roach said. “We’re either going to be the people on Facebook partying and forgetting what’s going on half way around the world, or are we going to stand up and think everyday … at least pray everyday, if nothing else … that we have young men and women protecting us around the world so that we can have the freedoms that we do.”