Former Danversite, now Floridian, Capt. James Fossa will be returning to the states by the end of this year after two tours in the Middle East, and "it couldn't come fast enough," he said.
When Fossa returned to Iraq this past May, having previously been to Bahrain in 2004, he knew what to expect: hot, dusty, and dry climates. He missed his wife, April ("if you knew her, you'd know why," he said), his two sons, and his once-residence of Danvers.
While in Iraq, Fossa and his staff support the operational component of biometrics used throughout Iraq.
"Biometrics collected, on non US citizens," he explained, "are used for identification dominance, basically being able to pick out the bad guys from the local population. It is a very powerful tool. We can find them and apprehend them without firing a shot."
In accordance with the Security Agreement between the United States and Iraq, American troops will be out of the country by the end of this year, and the question on their minds is: can Iraq stay secure on their own?
"The Iraqis I've worked with and have been introduced to are interested in living their lives, raising children and making a living," he said. "The extremists, and we have them too, don't speak for the majority. However their actions captivate the media and affect the lives of thousands of innocent people."
Fossa said the Shi'a anger lingering from Sadam's Sunni dominated Baath party is still present among many. But while working with the police and Iraqis who have signed up for the police corps, he said they have made great strides, and have the tools for success.
"This is still a dangerous place, but as I was flying out of the International Zone (Green Zone) over the neighborhoods, looking out the open door of the H-60 helicopter, on the ground I could see people out and about, going to the market, kids playing soccer on their dirt fields, traffic jams, I even saw a brightly lighted Ferris wheel at a local fair, so I have hope."
After graduating from in 1979, and later from Salem State College in 1984, Fossa joined the U.S. Navy. His wife, April Wadleigh, is also a fellow DHS 1979 graduate.
And although Fossa now lives in Jacksonville, the thoughts of his hometown of Danvers remained on his mind while stationed overseas. "Danvers is always in my thoughts," he said. "Especially Danvers Square, it's a great place. We have a lot of family history on Maple Street and there ; I'll take a junior with mayo please!"
When Fossa returns to Jacksonville, he'll be back to civilian life, which for him means his position as a mathematics teacher at the Bolles School.
"I will share my experiences with them, and also tell them of a little piece of heaven just 20 miles north of Boston."