Flag-flying on Al-Faw Palace (1)

Aaron Dicks served 15 months in Iraq

Photo courtesy of: Aaron Dicks

First Helo Ride on Blackhawk

Dicks enjoying his first ride in a Blackhawk helicopter

Photo courtesy of: Aaron Dicks

Golf Practice on Al-Faw Palace

Dicks says that even his golf skills were helpful in his deployment

Photo courtesy of: Aaron Dicks

Featured Stories

The business side of war

CoB alumnus Aaron Dicks shares tales from his time in Iraq

January 11, 2011, was Aaron Dicks’ 26th birthday. It was also the day that the former accounting major left for Iraq. 

Dicks, BBA '08, is an auditor with the Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General (DoD OIG). He works within the Audit Component’s Defense Payment and Accounting Operations Directorate, where the mission is to provide “independent, relevant, and timely oversight of the Department of Defense that supports the war fighter; promotes accountability, integrity, and efficiency; advises the Secretary of Defense and Congress; and informs the public.”

“In not-so-professional terms, we make sure the DoD is getting what it pays for and that money isn’t being spent inappropriately,” said Dicks.

The DoD OIG office where Dicks works is nestled safely in Columbus, a few hours from his childhood home and also a short drive from his beloved alma mater. But being nestled safely in Columbus wasn’t part of Aaron’s prerogative. Within six months of beginning work at the DoD OIG, one of Dicks’ co-workers volunteered to go to Iraq to conduct audits.  

“When I found out we could do work overseas within the war zones and directly help the war fighter, I knew I was going over,” said Dicks. “In my mind, it wasn’t a matter of if I was going, it was a matter of when.”  

After a probationary period, Dicks was sent to Camp Liberty in Baghdad. He was excited to do his work in the middle of everything he had been reading about for so long. 

“Auditing in a war zone and auditing military construction were not areas I remember Dr. Gist going through in class, but I applied the auditing principles he taught where I could,” said Dicks jokingly. Other helpful courses he cited were in management information systems and business communications. “Even my experiences in my golf class came in handy at Al-Faw Palace in Camp Victory.”

After several months in Iraq, Dicks put in a request for an extension to his deployment with a transfer to Afghanistan. He was approved and transferred to Bagram Airfield, north of Kabul, the night of July 4, 2011.

During the 60-hour weeks, Dicks acted as a typical auditor would. He wrote work papers, teleconferenced with specialists with the DoD OIG in Washington, D.C., conducted site visits with co-workers, and interviewed personnel of the audit client.

But that was where the normalcy ended. “We all had to pitch in far beyond what most auditors are required to do in all sorts of ways in order for our office to function,” said Dicks. “Outside of work, I was the handyman/builder/fixer of all sorts of stuff, comic relief, one of the guys who helped continue and support Rock Band Night.”

He was also lucky enough to spend a small amount of time with his brother, who serves as a Pavehawk helicopter pilot for the U.S. Air Force.

After approximately 15 months Dicks returned to the U.S. on April 2, 2012. He says that being back is “different.” It is the little things that are hard to adjust to. “Being gone for so long, I forgot some of those life lessons that you only learn by going through them, like getting locked out of my apartment,” Dicks said.

“[But] it has also made me appreciate a lot of things in my life more. Family, friends, food, feeling safe, and a much stronger and better appreciation for what our armed forces sacrifice and do in order for us to enjoy our freedoms and live like we do.”