The Sante Fe, N.M., public defender volunteered for a 9-month deployment with a special forces unit of the Colorado National Guard and is scheduled to ship out for Iraq in October.
Damian Horne turns 49 on Friday.
“I really wanted to support what I believe is an honorable job,” said Horne, a former Army Ranger and reserve Green Beret who has a 3-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son.
“I looked at the men and women who are serving, and I was so proud of them. I thought if they’ll take an old Rambo back, then I’d join up.”
Horne has been trying to get to Iraq for nearly two years. He joined the New Mexico National Guard in 2006, but New Mexico doesn’t have a special forces unit, so he attached himself to the Colorado unit and attended Air Assault School in February, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported.
“It’s billed as the 10 toughest days in the Army,” Horne said. “At least 40 percent of our class didn’t make it.”
But Horne made it through the program, even though the next oldest man in the class was at least 15 years younger.
Horne’s wife Sydney West, also a public defender, said he gave her no advance notice of his decision to re-enlist, and she wasn’t surprised that he opted for a combat job over anything else, including putting his legal background to use.
“I wouldn’t think he’d want to go over there to write wills,” she told the newspaper. “If he gets back alive, I’m going to kill him.”
As for those who might call him irresponsible for heading off to combat with two children at home, Horne said: “I can’t think of a better example to set for them.”