Alan Douglas Dobert
Alan Dobert, son of Douglas and Connie Alexander Dobert, was born at Suffolk County, New York. He was married (1) to Karla Jo Saar, daughter of Ronald Bruce Saar and of Dorothy Ann Davidson (divorced 1994); and was married (2) to Serikit Marie "Kitty" Hoffner, daughter of Wayne Henry Hoffner and of Siriporn "Siri" Potisupon (divorced July 2007).
When Alan was a junior in high school, he joined the U.S. Army Reserves through the delayed entry program with a military police specialty. He completed basic training at Fort McClellan, Anniston, Alabama, that summer and graduated from high school and the U.S. Army Military Police Academy the next year. (Co. E, 10th Military Police Battalion)
In 1992 he was promoted from Specialist to Sergant. He changed his military specialty to engineering and was a staff sergeant and public affairs officer in the 339th engineering battalion detachment at Muscatine, Iowa. In that position, he received many commendations for a newsletter he published for his unit called "Detachment Doodlings." In 1997, he transferred back to the military police battalion and later to a Corps Support command unit headquartered in Des Moines. Through the Reserves, he fulfilled annual training requirements overseas in countries in Central America, Germany, the Philippines and Egypt. In January 2003 he was assigned to active duty for one year, one month and 11 days and was deployed to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom where he earned a bronze star. After fulfilling 20 years in the Army Reserves, he retired.
|After high school, Alan worked as a correctional officer at the Iowa State Penitentiary for four and one-half years, then accepted a position as a patrolman with the Muscatine Police Department. He graduated from the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy in 1990. In March 1998, he was assigned to the Muscatine PD's K9 unit with Kira (right). They attended K9 training at the Von Liche Kennels in Denver, Indiana, for a five-week period. Alan and Kira retired from MPD in May 2005.|
Alan was one of three Muscatine Police oficers to receive a lifesaving award for saiving a woman from jumping from the Muscatine bridge into tthe Mississippi River in October 2004.
Keeping with the finest tradition': Trio of Muscatine police officers will be honored tonight for rescue on Norbert F. Beckey Bridge
(March 17, 2005)
By Stephen Byrd of the Muscatine Journal
MUSCATINE, Iowa - Three Muscatine police officers will receive commendations at tonight's Muscatine City Council meeting for rescuing a Muscatine woman off the Norbert F. Beckey Bridge in October 2004.
Police Capt. Mike Scott, Sgt. Kevin Sink and officer Alan Dobert were praised by Police Chief Gary Coderoni for "keeping with the finest tradition of the Muscatine police service to ?protect and to serve' others."
The unidentified 41-year-old woman climbed onto a steel bridge girder around 11:15 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 31, 2004, according to emergency dispatch records.
Dobert was the first police officer to arrive at the scene.
"She was already over the side," he said Wednesday afternoon. "The first thing she told me was to go away n get out of here."
Knowing that he didn't have much time if the woman decided to jump, Dobert quickly started talking to her, hoping to get her mind off of suicide.
"I got her to talk about things that were not related to the bridge," he said. "The idea was to get her thinking about her family and children."
One of the things that helped Dobert concentrate was knowing that help was coming fast.
"If I stopped talking, even for a moment, she got real upset," he said.
Sgt. Kevin Sink arrived at the bridge shortly after Dobert and was the second police officer at the scene.
"I saw that Alan had set up a rapport with her, so I had him keep talking and I called the fire department for rappelling gear to hook Alan up as a safety measure," he said. "She and Alan were only 6 feet apart."
Sink also called for Capt. Mike Scott, but right after he arrived, the woman disappeared under the bridge and the three men lost contact with her.
"To be honest, I didn't know how it was going to go," Scott said. "That was the first time in twenty years that someone actually climbed under the bridge,
"That was something new and it created a whole new set of problems."
The only way the three officers could figure out how to rescue the woman was to climb under the bridge as well. Although it was the middle of the day, the sun was already beginning to settle lower in the sky and the temperature was dropping.
Scott and Sink hooked themselves up with the rappelling gear and climbed down.
"We started to talk to her again," Scott said. "Our hope was that the cold would make her want to help herself."
As Sink and Scott inched closer, they carried a spare harness to put on the woman if they had to move quickly.
Muscatine firefighters held the ropes while a Muscatine County Search & Rescue boat floated underneath on the Mississippi River. Sheriff deputies from the Muscatine County Sheriff Office and the Rock County, Ill. sheriff's department blocked traffic at both ends of the bridge.
Meanwhile, dozens of curious onlookers gathered at the riverfront and nearby streets to watch.
All through the crisis, Sink and Scott stayed calm and never thought about a worst-case scenario.
"Actually, I felt comfortable under the bridge," Scott said. "We had the rescue boat underneath and we were much more concerned about her than us."
Sink, who's also rappelled before, wasn't frightened either, although he noted the height he was at.
"It was actually kind of cool being there," he said. "But you have a job to do, so you don't really have time to think about it."
At 1:22 p.m., Scott and Sink finally convinced the woman to come with them. They got her into the spare harness and firefighters hauled all three back up to the bridge deck.
Neither the woman or the officers were injured during the ordeal. The woman was later transported to Unity Hospital for observation.
"I think the cold affected her decision more than rational thinking," Scott said. "She just wanted to get out of there."
Sink said that he was hoping and working for the best, but still wasn't sure how things were going to turn out.
"Neither of us had an idea of what we'd find under that bridge or what she'd do," he said. "At the time, I would have bet a paycheck that she'd jump."
Scott thanked area public safety agencies for their help and singled out Dobert for praise after his initial contact with the woman.
"The most dangerous time for any suicide situation is immediately after a person makes the decision to do it," he said. "Al kept her talking and her mind distracted,
"Ultimately, he ended up saving her life."
After Iraq, local police officer embraces family, job
(March 12, 2004, Muscatine Journal)
By Mindy Moore
MUSCATINE, Iowa - Home again after 14 months of action-packed military duty, Alan Dobert is ready to settle back into the routine of serve and protect as a Muscatine police canine officer - minus the threat of missile attacks.
For 20 years, Dobert, 37, has served the U.S. Army Reserves in three different units - most recently with the the Des Moines-based U.S. Army Reserve 3rd Corps Support Command, which supplies transportation and support services.
When his unit was called up in January 2003, "They told us we were going to go to Germany, but I knew I'd end up in Iraq," Dobert said.
Dobert's reserve unit stayed in Germany long enough to join up with its active duty counterpart and get some training in preparation for a stint in Kuwait.
"The training was weapons qualifications, nuclear biological chemical (NBC) warfare training and getting our desert uniforms together."
Dobert said his unit was geared up to go.
"We were excited," he said. "It was mainly the willingness to do your job - to do what you've been trained to do."
Dobert left Germany with his command on March 1 and headed to Kuwait for what would become a three-month exercise in dodging scud missiles.
"They were attacking us. They knew we were the command center, that we had all the high officials and the decision makers where we were. But our patriot missiles got all that came near us."
Missile attacks were just part of the discomfort Dobert experienced in Kuwait.
"We were out in the desert where the Kuwaitis would ordinarily go camping," he described. "Deep sand. Strong blowing winds. Very dry. Never rained. Very hot. Seriously uncomfortable."
Dobert said he and the other troops lived and worked in large, nomadic tents.
"During every scud attack, we had to put on our protective masks and actually run outside to bunkers that were built for protection," he said.
"Thinking back, I probably had more of a fear of one of the missiles hitting us than I was worried about NBC attacks."
Dobert likened his unit's task to a trucking firm. "We scheduled all the deliveries for hundreds of trucking companies with hundreds of trucks each, so it was just a huge effort to deliver everything."
Dobert's job necessitated going into Kuwait City occasionally to purchase supplies.
"I got to see the people. For the most part, I think they were very happy that we were there. I honestly think they also believed that getting Saddam out of power would help their economy and life in the Middle East in general. There were a lot of signs that read, 'God Bless the American Troops,' things like that."
On May 17, Dobert's unit was sent to Iraq, near the Tigris River, somewhat improving the living conditions.
"I want to say green but it wasn't green," Dobert remembered. "There were things to block the winds and the blowing sand. It was more comfortable than Kuwait."
Perhaps the highlight of Dobert's Iraqi experience, and maybe his life, came on his 37th birthday, Oct. 16.
"There just happened to be birthday cake in the chow hall for soldiers whose birthday it was that week," Dobert explained. "They had never done that before and I never saw it again.
"But while we were at the chow hall that night, there was a big rocket attack, very close, and it caused mass chaos. It was amazing to watch. All these soldiers freaking out ? running out of the protection of the building and where they were going to go, who knows? It was just amazing. The MP's (military police) finally came in and made everyone stay where they were."
Dobert says that was the worst attack he experienced because it was the closest to him.
In many ways that attack was as frightening as the frequent attacks made on the unit, sometimes three to four times a week, by radical extremists long after the war was over, he said.
"They would attack during the night," he said. "You'd hear it and then just roll back over and go to sleep or maybe listen to them. They were threatening, but there was nothing you could do. As time went on, they got even more daring and would attack during both the day and night."
After nine months in Iraq, Dobert developed a knee infection and was sent to Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington D.C., where he stayed for a month. On Dec. 22, he was sent to Fort Riley, Kan., where he remained until his return home on Feb. 26.
Dobert said he believes the United States won't pull out of Iraq any time soon.
"I personally think we'll have an American base in Iraq just like in Germany or Korea and have a presence there for a long time to come."
At the same time, Dobert said it's unfortunate that American soldiers are still dying from attacks by radicals.
"There's always going to be somebody who doesn't want us there," he said.
"But I think over time, you're going to gain more support from the locals, and as things get better, they're going to see it's not so bad.
"It's just going to take time."