By Pfc. Bailey Anne Jester

1st Cavalry Division public affairs

BAGHDAD - Born and raised in St. Mary's County, Md., Cpl. Timothy Bennett described himself as a typical punk skateboarder with a mohawk.

He is now a hard-working, successful soldier in the U.S. Army.

After graduating from high school, Bennett earned an associate degree in film and video production from Full Sail University in Winter Park, Fla.

"I wish I had joined the Army right after I graduated high school," the 24 year-old Bennett said. "The Army is something I have always wanted to do. My father was in the Army, and that kind of sparked my interest, but I thought I would try college first."

Bennett enlisted in the Army as a cavalry scout in 2005. Shortly after raising his right hand, he shipped off to Fort Knox, Ky., for basic training.

"I wanted a job that would keep me active and busy," Bennett said.

Bennett plans on making the Army a career and is creating goals along the way. His goals include qualifying as a ranger and eventually climbing through the ranks to sergeant major.

After completing basic training at Fort Knox, he went to Fort Hood, where he is now assigned to the 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.

Not long after he arrived, the unit deployed to Baghdad in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from October 2006 to January 2008.

During his first deployment, Bennett took time to learn basic Arabic and now speaks it fluently. His knowledge of Arabic is useful when on patrols and talking to local nationals.

"I naturally just picked it up," Bennett said. "I listened to people talk while we were on patrol and picked up on the little things."

It is normal to see Bennett having conversations with the locals while on patrol, said his battle buddy, Spc. Nathan Huhn.

"It amuses (the local nationals) that an American is able to hold a conversation as well as he can," Huhn said.

"It helps earn the respect and trust of the local nationals when you show them you have put forth the effort to learn a little more about them, especially the language," Bennett said. "They are also more responsive to (soldiers) when they can see we are trying."

His knowledge of the language makes it easier for Bennett to continue his mission without having to stop and look for an interpreter.

"It definitely helps while out on patrol," Bennett said. "If there is no interpreter around, I can still talk to the people and do my job."

Bennett isn't the only one who benefits.

"Guys in the platoon use me," Bennett said, laughingly. "If they need help and the interpreter is busy, they ask me for help."

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