OKEECHOBEE — Veteran Mordie Story was born in the old annex building that used to be over near the sheriff’s department and he was raised in Okeechobee. He joined the Army right out of high school and went to basic training in Fort Dix, New Jersey. He was trained to be a driver and was sent to Panama for a year. “This was during the invasion of Panama, when they got Manuel Noriega out,” he explained.
Panama is a lot different than Florida, he said. They have a six-month rainy season, and there are a lot of mountains there. He was a runner, and he ran all the time when he wasn’t working, he said. It was a way to stay physically fit. They had barracks at Fort Clayton, and they stayed there when they weren’t out on a mission. Jungle training was done there, and it was their job to take the new arrivals out on trucks for their training, he said. “They would go do their jumps and explosives. They would blow stuff up, and we would help them.”
His next duty station was Fort Stewart, Ga., and he was there for about two years before he was sent to Iraq. His unit was one of the first over there, he said. When he went to Iraq, he was an ammunitions and explosives hauler. He hauled the big bullets for tanks like we have in our park downtown, he said. In Iraq, they had cots, and they slept beside the truck. There was no home base in Iraq. They spent all their time driving across the desert.
“A lot of people don’t know, there are places in the desert that it snows at night,” he said. “And then there were places it got up to 135 degrees in the shade. They also have thunderstorms all the time, almost like hurricanes. They have bad lightning storms over there. Sand storms would blow up real quick too. It rained about every other day for four or five hours, but it was still dry. The storms would come up out of nowhere.” The war was still going on when he came home. They had a layover in Germany and then he came home.
When he got home, he went around visiting all his friends and family. He was never sure why he joined. He just always wanted to do it, he said.
Mr. Story works for Okeechobee High School as a custodian.