Marine deployments to Iraq lead Baker to law career

The Memphis Daily News/The Memphis News

Dec. 12, 2013

At the end of his first semester of college, Josh Baker of Martin Tate Morrow & Marston PC traded in the bright orange of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville for the desert khaki of the United States Marine Corps.

The semester of school was a promise to his parents back home in Murfreesboro, Tenn., where Baker grew up.

“They wanted to make sure that that’s (joining the Marines) what I wanted to do,” he said. “Out of respect for them, I said, ‘OK, I’ll go do a semester of college and see if it’s something I still want to do.’”

But serving his country was a dream, and he enlisted in December 2003. It was a dream that would find him deployed to Fallujah, Iraq, immediately following his six months of training. He served there for a year in an artillery battery, seeing the siege of that key city in Operation Phantom Fury, as well as the city’s elections.

“The Marines had made a push that April into Fallujah and then pulled back. … We were there in November for a large buildup; we were a part of that group that essentially took the city,” he said. “It was extremely busy and a very violent deployment – really a very contentious time in the war.”

Upon his return, he took up a far lighter backpack full of textbooks and returned to school, only to be called up again as a reservist in 2008 and sent to the rural town of Rutbah, Iraq. That deployment, he said, was like “night and day.”

“It was much more about interaction and support of the Iraqi people. We focused a lot on infrastructure, on relations with the local government, so it was a real contrast with the 2004 deployment in Fallujah.”

He finished up school at UT in 2009 with degrees in political science and business administration, and worked for U.S. Sen. Bob Corker in Washington. While in Iraq, Baker had witnessed two extremes – total lawlessness at one end and the effects of martial law at the other – and would be pulled toward the legal field as a career because of it . . . (read more)