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Bde transfers authority to 172nd Infantry Bde
– Dec. 26, 2008
- Center PAO
FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU, Iraq – The 4th Brigade Combat
Team, 3rd Infantry Division, transferred authority to the 172nd
Infantry Brigade Combat Team during a ceremony at Forward
Operating Base Kalsu Dec. 18. The 4th BCT will return to Fort
Stewart, Ga., after a 15-month deployment in the area of
southern Iraq approximately the size of Switzerland.
“I am proud and honored to hand-off our established Iraqi
partnership to a unit with such a strong reputation,” said Col.
Thomas James, commander of the 4th BCT. “Throughout our
interactions with your team during our transition, it is evident
that we are passing our investment to a group of professional,
patriotic and dedicated Soldiers that will take our established
partnership and accomplishments to a higher level.” James
transferred the reins of authority to Col. Jeffrey Sinclair,
commander of the 172nd Infantry Brigade, based in Grafenwoehr,
“We thank our brothers and sisters in the Vanguard Brigade who
have served with honor and forged partnerships that allow us to
succeed and continue the uninterrupted support to the citizens
of Iraq,” said Sinclair.
The 4th BCT transferred an area of responsibility very different
than the one they found when arriving in October 2007. At that
time, Coalition forces were fighting a counterinsurgency battle
aimed at stopping the flow of weapons and terrorists into
Baghdad. As al-Qaeda in Iraq and militia influence in the area
have diminished, efforts shifted to reconstruction and building
the capacity of local government to serve the basic needs of
citizens in the area.
James gave credit for his Soldiers’ success to the extraordinary
efforts of both the Iraqi Security Forces and local Sons of Iraq
programs. The 4th BCT Soldiers have increasingly worked with
their Iraqi Security Force counterparts in missions to keep
insurgents out and reduce the sectarian violence that once
plagued the area.
“Most of us in the Blackhawk Brigade left only a short time ago
when a stable and prosperous Iraq seemed like a long shot,” said
Sinclair. “Now, we return to a nation full of brave leaders and
Soldiers, new business opportunities and people who chose a path
of opportunity as new global participants.”
“To my new Iraqi friends who serve in government positions or
who live and work throughout the province, the Blackhawks are
humbled by your warm welcome, and we absolutely look forward to
serving with you on a sometimes bumpy road to a peaceful and
prosperous Iraq,” said Sinclair.
wish -- To walk again
by Carol Megathlin |
Friday, December 19, 2008 -
According to the now-playing movie "Australia," aboriginal custom
forbids the speaking of a person's name after his death. No reasons
were given, but I suspect U.S. Army Sgt. Ryan Shurtleff understands
the prohibition instinctively. And he wasn't about to explain it to
a lady in a Santa hat, crouched down in front of his wheel chair.
On Dec. 10, three planes landed at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah,
loaded with jubilant Fort Stewart soldiers returning from 14 months
in Iraq. I was there as a Red Cross volunteer to welcome them
back.Thousands of 3rd Infantry Division soldiers are coming home a
month early, just in time for Christmas. Sgt. Shurtleff beat his
buddies back by three months. On a stretcher.
That he was able to show up at Hunter to greet them was nothing
short of miraculous. It's difficult to do an impromptu interview, to
ask the sensitive question with 600 happy soldiers milling about the
terminal. So I knelt in front of Ryan's wheelchair, took a steadying
breath, and said, "What happened to you?"
"I got blown up," he said, the hint of a smile on his lips.
On Sept. 25, Ryan was driving an MRAP vehicle (Mine Resistant Ambush
Protected) to Forward Operating Base Inskandaria near Baghdad for
maintenance. En route, a roadside bomb exploded under the vehicle.
Ryan's wounds were severe. Thirty bones broken - skull cracked, jaw
fractured, spleen ruptured, brain concussed, skin and muscle
stripped, shrapnel everywhere. In the hollow of his throat lies a
vivid purple slash. "The trach," he said. Was anyone else wounded?
"Yes, ma'am, the gunner. He healed up and went back to Iraq to get
revenge." The gunner is Ryan's best friend.
"And," I hesitated. "Was anyone killed?" "Yes, my squad leader,"
Ryan said, shifting slightly in his chair. "Can you tell me his
name?" I asked. "I'm sorry, ma'am, I won't say his name."
His voice shook faintly as his eyes strayed up to my Santa hat. I
think I understand a little bit. An unspoken transaction occurred
inside the MRAP, forever binding the three men in a sacred covenant.
It is not to be discussed lightly, especially with those who cannot
As Ryan's medic wheeled him away to join his buddies, I stood
talking with his mother, Phyllis. She has been by his side every day
for the past three months. She recounted the call that came into her
Manchester, N.H., home that night in September. The fear and
confusion, the frantic call to her daughter three hours away, the
rush to Walter Reed. "Sometimes," the Army official had said,
"soldiers with wounds as severe as Ryan's survive."
At 23, Ryan is Phyllis's baby, the youngest of her children. "The
doctors can't believe how quickly he's healing," she said. Her voice
is soft, the exhaustion and worry still evident around her eyes. "He
woke up happy to be alive. They say those are the ones who make the
Before Ryan's medic took him to join his friends, I had asked him
one last question. "Will you ever walk again?" His grin reminded me
that joy is not dependent on our problems but on our attitude toward
them, and that this is indeed the season of miracles.
"Yes, ma'am," he said. "The docs are going to let me start walking
on Christmas Day."
Carol Megathlin is a Savannah writer.
© 2008 SavannahNOW and the Savannah
Col. Grigsby says the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat
Team is the Army’s best fighting brigade
BY MICK WALSH - firstname.lastname@example.org --
Col. Wayne Grigsby Jr. and Col. Pete Jones embrace during a change
of command ceremony Jan. 18.
Photo by Mike Haskey /
Jul. 29, 2008 - One
should expect a certain amount of hyperbole at events such as change
of command ceremonies. In their final addresses to their troops,
outgoing commanders feel an urgency to tell the soldiers that they
represent the best America has to offer, that they alone gave hope
to the forlorn and weary of Iraq and Afghanistan, and, as we heard
several times the past few weeks, that these brave young men and
women are serving in the Army’s best fighting brigade. Not simply
one of the best . . . but THE best. Though the Army doesn’t
acknowledge which of its 30-plus combat brigades is No. 1, that
doesn’t stop leaders like Col. Wayne Grigsby Jr. from releasing
their own unofficial standings. And make no mistake: the 3rd Heavy
Brigade Combat Team is alone at the top.
Sure, Grigsby was its boss over the past two years and sure it looks
good on his resume to have been in command of the Army’s top group
of grunts. In what was one of his shortest ever speeches July 18, on
the parade ground in front of the Infantry Center, just minutes
after turning over his command, Grigsby continued to cheerlead for
the 3,950 members of the brigade, which last month returned from a
15-month deployment to Iraq.
Reviewing the troops that day was 3rd Infantry Division commander
Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo. The division’s Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse
Andrews was on hand as well. So, too, was Col. Roger Cloutier, who
is the new commander of the division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team. All
had made the trip from Fort Stewart. All applauded when
Grigsby hung the No. 1 tag on his soldiers. Even the 3rd HBCT’s new
boss, Col. Pete Jones, didn’t hesitate calling the outfit “the
Army’s best brigade.”
Could it be that the 3rd really is the Army’s best?
Consider this: both Cucolo, who took command of the division on July
14, and Andrews, his top NCO, are 3rd Brigaders. Cucolo was its
commander from 1999 to 2001; Andrews was the brigade’s command
sergeant major during its 2005 deployment and would have been in
2007 if he hadn’t been hand-picked by then division commander Maj.
Gen. Rick Lynch to become his top non-commissioned officer.
“It is a great brigade,” said Andrews, who, in 2001, was Lt. Col.
J.R. Sanderson’s sergeant major with the 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor
Cucolo, who served as the Army’s chief of public affairs, was
promoted to brigadier general soon after leaving command of the 3rd
Brigade. So was Dan Allyn, now the chief of staff of the
Multi-National Corps — Iraq. Steve Salazer, who succeeded
Allyn in 2003 after the latter took the brigade into Baghdad during
the invasion, is also a brigadier general. After a year at the
National Training Center in California, Salazar became the deputy
commanding general of the Coalition Army Advisory Training Team in
Cloutier is also a former member of the 3rd Brigade, having been
part of Salazar’s team from 2003-05 before spending a year at the
U.S. Institute of Peace. He followed then Lt. Col. John Charlton as
honcho of the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, which, in 2005,
was moved to Fort Stewart.
Defense Robert M. Gates announced July 15, 2008 that the President
has made the following nomination:
Army Col. Thomas S. Vandal for promotion to the grade of brigadier
general. He is currently serving as deputy commander (maneuver), 3d
Infantry Division (mechanized), Fort Stewart, Ga.
Col. Pete Jones takes control of 3rd Brigade
Unit's new leader plans literally to hit
the ground running
BY MICK WALSH - email@example.com --
Major General Anthony Cucolo, right, passes the colors to incoming
commander, Colonel Peter L. Jones, as outgoing commander Colonel
Wayne W. Grigsby Jr., second from right, and Command Sgt. Major
James Pearson look on Friday morning.
Photo/Mike Haskey. 07/18/08
Jul. 19, 2008 - Soldiers from the 3rd Heavy
Brigade Combat Team will find out Monday morning that Col. Pete
Jones is every bit the stickler for physical training that his
predecessor was. "We'll lock down Kelley Hill and start running at
0630," said Jones, shortly after taking the reins of the brigade
from Col. Wayne W. Grigsby Jr. in a change of command ceremony
Friday outside Infantry Hall, attended by, among others, former 3rd
Brigade commander and the current 3rd Infantry Division leader, Maj.
Gen. Tony Cucolo.
Jones, a 1985 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, spent several
weeks this spring at Forward Operating Base Hammer after he learned
of his assignment to the brigade, getting to know Grigsby and his
staff. "You could see pride in the faces of the soldiers," he
said. "I consider it the best brigade in the entire Army." The son
of a retired Army general, Jones spent the past year as Chief of
Strategic Threats and the Joint Interagency Task Force with
Multinational Force-Iraq in Baghdad. "I was able to keep a close eye
on FOB Hammer," he said. "They did a great job closing off the
extremists." He called Grigsby, who became the unit's commander in
June 2006, "a warrior, a leader and a friend."
Cucolo, who succeeded Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch at the helm of the Fort
Stewart-based division, served as the 3rd Brigade's boss through the
summer of 2001. "I want to thank Colonel Grigsby for scheduling this
ceremony on today's date," he laughed. "Today's the day my household
goods are being sent to our home at Fort Stewart. Anyone who knows
about that knows I'd prefer to be here than there."
Cucolo began a streak of consecutive 3rd Brigade commanders who have
reached the rank of general.
Brig. Gen. Dan Allyn took the brigade to Iraq in 2003; Brig. Gen.
Steven Salazar was in charge during the unit's second deployment in
2005. Is there a star in Grigsby's future? "I'm happy being a
colonel," he said, deftly dodging the question.
The Maryland native is off to the Pentagon, where he'll be assigned
to the Joint Staff, and where they start work early.
"I'll be reporting for work at 0450 Monday at the Pentagon parking
From left, Colonel Peter L. Jones, Colonel Wayne W. Grigsby jr., and
Major General Anthony Cucolo inspect the troops during the change of
command ceremony Friday morning on Fort Benning's York Field.
Photo/Mike Haskey. 07/18/08
The brigade's six new battalion commanders -- Lt.
Col. Kenneth J. Harvey, Lt. Col. Robert P. Ashe, Lt. Col.
Christopher K. Kennedy, Lt. Col. Shaun E. Tooke, Lt. Col. Todd M.
Zollinger and Lt. Col. William L. Marks II -- led their new outfits
during the hourlong ceremony on York Field. Most of their
predecessors were also on hand. "The Army couldn't have done a
better job in providing the brigade with the battalion commanders I
served with in Iraq. They got it done."
"Get 'er done" has been Grigsby's mantra since taking over the
brigade from Salazar on the very same field as Friday's event.
"Pete's going to have a great team as well."
Colonel Wayne W. Grigsby jr. salutes Major General Anthony Cucolo
after Cucolo awarded Grigsby the Legion of Merit medal in a ceremony
prior to the change of command ceremony. Photo/Mike Haskey. 07/18/08
Grigsby's wife, Cynthia, who was presented the
Commander's Award for Public Service by Cucolo before the official
ceremony (her husband was awarded a Legion of Merit), was
accompanied by two of the couple's children, Stephanie and
Katherine, and grandson Aiden. Their eldest daughter, Itzy, is a
student at Kennesaw State University and a sergeant in the Army
Reserves. She's awaiting deployment to Afghanistan. Son Wayne III is
a rising senior at Columbus State and daughter Annette is a college
Jones is married to the former Stephanie Scott Fall of Virginia
Beach, Va. They have two sons -- Lincoln Edward, 9, and Christopher
The 3rd Brigade retuned for its 15-month deployment to to Iraq in
June. Though nothing is official, Lynch, then the division
commander, said earlier this month that elements of the division
could be headed back to Iraq in late 2009. It would mean the fourth
deployment for the 3rd, which has already spent more time in the war
than any other Army brigade.
Lynch praises dog faced soldiers
FORT STEWART, GA (WTOC) - Posted: June 3, 2008 -The man who commands
the Third Infantry Division returned home to the Coastal Empire with
more than 200 soldiers Monday. Major General Rick Lynch reflected on
his division's success in Iraq and the support they felt from being
back at home.
The man who commands the Third Infantry Division, Major General Rick
Lynch, returned home to the Coastal Empire.
"In the course of life, you get a choice between reading history and
making history, and by God, we made history over the past 15
months," he said to hundreds of family members and soldiers at Fort
Stewart Monday. Minutes earlier at Hunter Army Airfield, he talked
about the history Third Infantry made in Iraq.
"You can't go from tyranny to democracy overnight, you don't build
up an economy overnight, so it was a struggle. We started at the
bottom and worked our way up, 75 percent of my soldiers lived with
the population," said Lynch. "Then the turning point started, when
the people of Iraq saw that the enemy had been vanquished in that
area and the coalition was there to stay, they said, 'how can we
More than 200 soldiers also returned home Monday.
"We had 36,000 concerned citizens. We called them the Sons of Iraq
and they secured their area and that happened in September and
October and I saw a drastic drop in attacks and casualties. By the
time we left, there was a 90 percent reduction in civilian
casualties," he continued. "That's because the local people said,
'I'm tired of violence, I'm tired of attacks.'"
Lynch paused to remember 152 soldiers killed during the deployment
and honored the heroes who continued the cause.
"I've changed my definition of what a hero is," said Lynch. "We held
memorial services for each soldier killed and I attended 152
services. Someone who knew them would eulogize the soldier and
everyone would be crying including the division commander. After the
memorial services, we all donned the battle gear and went back out
to fight the insurgents. That's the definition of hero to me."
Third Infantry Division soldiers marching across Cottrell Field on
Fort Stewart.But he also praised those who maintained the home front
for 15 months with soldiers away.
"We love you all more than you'll ever know. God bless each and
every one of you. Rock of the Marne!" he said to a thunderous
Lynch praised those who maintained the home front for 15 months
with soldiers away.
Reported by: Dal Cannady,
|Fallen Soldiers Honored at Fort
By Alice Massimi
Photo By: Marc Casey
May 15, 2008 - There are now
more than four hundred trees planted at Warriors Walk at Fort
Stewart. Each tree represents a Third Infantry Division Soldier who
has lost their life in the Global War on Terrorism. Three On Your
Side Military Reporter Alice Massimi was there as ten more trees
were added today.
Sergeant Anthony Reosti considers it an honor. Since the
start of the year he's been at every Warriors Walk ceremony. “I sing
at these to dedicate the memory of each soldier and to honor my
country,” explains Reosti. A veteran of three deployments, Reosti
has known some of the more than four hundred soldiers from the Third
Infantry Division who have made the ultimate sacrifice. “I get
caught up emotional every time I hear about a father that's been
lost. I pray for their family and I hope that my family will never
have to go through this tragic time,” says Reosti. A wish every
military family has but one that doesn't always come true.
Felicia Kirkland's brother Specialist Charles Jankowski was
24-years old when he was killed by an IED in Iraq. One of the ten
trees planted Thursday is for him. “Just to be able to come back and
see it and even people who don't know him can stop and honor him and
know what he did for his country,” says Kirkland.
The widow of Specialist Jose Rubio is hoping no one will
forget the sacrifice made her husband and all of the other heroes.
“He was a very brave man, a loving husband, and a loving father and
he loved his country and he died for his country,” says his wife
Jennifer holding back tears.
Soldiers Honored Today:
Pvt. Tyler J. Smith, 22, of Bethel, Maine, died March 21 at
Forward Operating Base Falcon near Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered
when the base received indirect fire. He was assigned to the 3rd
Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team.
Four of the Soldiers to be honored died March 24 in Baghdad, Iraq,
from wounds suffered when their vehicle encountered an improvised
explosive on March 23. They were assigned to the 4th Battalion, 64th
Armor Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team. Their names are:
Pvt. George Delgado, 21, of Palmdale, Calif.
Staff Sgt. Christopher M. Hake, 26, of Enid, Okla.
Pfc. Andrew J. Habsieger, 22, of Festus, Mo.
Spc. Jose A. Rubio Hernandez, 24, of Mission, Texas.
Spc. Charles A. Jankowski, 24, of Panama City, Fla., died
March 28, in Arab Jabour, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an
improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle. He was
assigned to the 3rd Brigade Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat
Sgt. Jevon K. Jordan, 32, of Norfolk, Va., died March 29 at
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Landstuhl, Germany, from wounds
suffered Mar.23 in Abu Jassim, Iraq, when his vehicle encountered an
improvised explosive. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th
Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team.
Sgt. Dayne D. Dhanoolal, 26, of Brooklyn, died March 31 in
Baghdad, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device
detonated near his vehicle. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion,
69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, Fort Benning.
Staff Sgt. Jeffery L. Hartley, 25, of Hempstead, Texas, died
April 8 in Kharguliah, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle
encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the
1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat
Team, Fort Benning.
Spc.William E. Allmon, 25, of Ardmore, Okla., died April 12
in Baghdad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an
improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion,
64th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team.
Dedicates Trees to Five Fallen Comrades
Bomb adds Five Trees to Warriors Walk
A soldier returns to his place after removing the cover from granite
marker honoring a fallen soldier,
part of Thursday tree dedication. Joe Parker Jr. / Coastal Courier
April 18, 2008 - The five soldiers
honored in Thursday's tree dedication ceremony at Fort Stewart were
all killed in a single incident in Iraq on March 10.All were members
of Delta Company, First Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, Second
Brigade, Third Infantry Division and died of wounds suffered when a
suicide bomber detonated a bomb near them.
Staff Sgt. Ernesto G. Cimarrusti, 25, of
Douglas, Ariz. Cimarrusti, with Co. D, 1st Battalion, 64th Armor
Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, was a
tanker. He joined the Army in March 2001 and arrived at Fort Stewart
in August 2001.
Staff Sgt. David D. Julian, 31, of Evanston, Wyo. Julian,
with Co. D, 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat
Team, 3rd Infantry Division, was a tanker. He joined the Army in May
1998 and arrived at Fort Stewart in August 2005.
Cpl. Robert T. McDavid III, 29, of Starkville, Miss. McDavid,
with Co. D, 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat
Team, 3rd Infantry Division, was a tanker. He joined the Army in
January 2006 and arrived at Fort Stewart in June 2006.
Cpl. Scott A. McIntosh, 26, of Houston, Texas. McIntosh, with
Co. D, 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team,
3rd Infantry Division, joined the Army in March 2003 and arrived at
Fort Stewart in July 2003.
Sgt. 1st. Class Shawn M. Suzch, 32, of Hilltown, Pa. Suzch,
with Co. D, 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat
Team, 3rd Infantry Division, was a tank commander. He joined the
Army in August 1994 and arrived at Fort Stewart in June 2002.
The addition of a memorial tree for each of these fallen Soldiers
will bring the total number of trees on Warriors Walk to 398. These
Eastern Red Bud trees planted on Warriors Walk serve as a living
monument to the great men and women of the U.S. Army, the National
Guard, and the 3rd Infantry Division Soldiers who were immortalized
by their sacrifices. Thursday's ceremony honored these soldiers:
Widow Iliana Cimarrusti and daughter Vivianayn attach
flower to tree memorializing their husband and father
during Thursday's dedication on Warriors Walk.
Joe Parker Jr. / Coastal Courier
Iliana Cimarrusti, 26, right, places a rose at the root
of a tree at Fort Stewart on Thursday that is dedicated
to her husband, Staff Sgt. Ernesto Cimarrusti, who was
killed in Iraq with four other soldiers in his unit
during a foot patrol. Their daughter, Vivianaiy, 6,
Hunter McRae/Savannah Morning News
Col. Todd Buchs, Fort Stewart garrison
commander, briefly eulogized each tanker. Cimarrusti, a tank
commander, loved the Army and his job in armor, but dreamed of
becoming a helicopter pilot.
SSG and Mrs. Cimarrusti made their home in Glennville with their
daughter Vivianayn, 6, and the sergeant is buried in the veterans'
cemetery there. Ms. Cimarrusti said local people "have been just
wonderful to me, everyone is so good," and she appreciates the small
town environment. She felt a special kinship with her husband
because they had both joined the Army together.
Tiffany McDavid, 29, and her mother Ginger Thornhill,
57, left, weep for Tiffany's husband, Cpl. Robert
McDavid III, as a tree is dedicated to him at Fort
Stewart on Thursday. McDavid was killed in Iraq with
four other soldiers in his unit during a foot patrol.
Hunter McRae/Savannah Morning News
McDavid loved tanks and had played with toy tanks as
a small child. He loved the outdoors and Nascar racing.
McIntosh was a Texan with five years of service and spent much of
his free time on church work. He had just re-enlisted for seven
Suzch was a man who set and achieved goals, such as joining the Army
and marrying his wife. He had recently returned to Iraq from leave,
determined to lead his soldiers to a successful and safe homecoming.
Julian, a veteran of deployments to Macedonia, Korea and three tours
in Iraq, had a daughter born in December.
Buchs said, "So long as we have soldiers who make the ultimate
sacrifice in this righteous fight, we will have a place for their
trees here at Warrior's Walk. Young and old, soldier and civilian
alike will walk these paths. They will pause and read their names
and reflect on the sacrifice they made for freedom."
Gilbert Wins MacArthur Leadership Award
By Spc. Ben Hutto
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd InfantryDivision
Capt. Brian Gilbert, from Boise,
Idaho, commander of Company D, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry
Regiment, speaks with a local leader following a security meeting in
Tameem, Iraq, March 2. Gilbert will receive the Gen. Douglas
MacArthur Leadership award in the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon on
BASE HAMMER, Iraq – April 6, 2008 - Capt. Brian Gilbert, the
commander of Company D, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, will
receive the Gen. Douglas MacArthur Leadership award in the Hall of
Heroes at the Pentagon on May 13. The award is given annually to the
top company-grade officers who demonstrate the ideals of duty, honor
and service to country. Gilbert, a native of Boise, Idaho, is one of
14 active duty officers who will receive the award.
“I was extremely surprised when I found out I would be receiving the
award,” Gilbert said. “I didn’t think I had a chance. It is very
humbling to be one of the recipients.” As surprised as Gilbert is to
receive the award, his subordinates are not.
“I think he is very deserving of the award,” said 1st Lt. Daniel
Bell, executive officer of Company D. “He is a great commander. He
never loses his cool and is very knowledgeable. He is one of the
most technically and tactically proficient officers I’ve ever been
Bell, from San Antonio, Texas, credits Gilbert with many of the
lessons he has learned during his current deployment. “He has always
been available when I have had questions,” Bell said. “When he went
home on leave, I had to try and fill his shoes; ‘try’ being the key
word. I never realized how hard he worked until I had to do it. I
have the utmost respect for him.” First Sgt. James Woody, from
Portsmouth, Va., has worked side by side with Gilbert since he took
over Company D in September.
“When I found out
I was coming to Company D, I was excited,” he said. “Everyone I
talked to told me how lucky I was to have him as a commander and
they were right. We talk about everything and line up our plans. He
is great about giving all his leaders the task and purpose, and
letting them make their decisions.” Woody described how Gilbert
directed his company on March 26 in Jisr Diyala, when they were
ambushed during a combat patrol.
“He was on the ground with his troops within 15 minutes of them
being ambushed,” Woody said. “He was directing five different
elements at one time. To listen to it over the radio was amazing. It
says something to your troops when their commander is there with
them on the ground.” For six hours, Gilbert and his men fought
criminals through the streets of Jisr Diyala. At the end of the
engagement, 11 enemy fighters were dead and 24 were detained. Three
of Gilbert’s men sustained minor injuries and returned to duty. “In
my opinion, if you have troops in contact, your place as a commander
is out there with them,” Gilbert said. “That is really the only way
you can assess what is going on.”
Bell chuckled when he heard Gilbert’s explanation. “Capt. Gilbert is
born for this fight,” he said. Woody said what makes his commander
stand out is his ability to listen. “He is very low-key person, but
he has the ability to listen and take in information,” he said. “He
has been very successful with the local leaders here. He says what
he means and means what he says. He never makes promises he can’t
keep ... He is just as effective dealing with local leaders as he is
in a kinetic operation.”
Bell said all the Company D Soldiers like and respect Gilbert.
“Everyone loves him,” Bell said. “He has proven to them time and
time again that he will make the right decision. He has always been
fair when making decisions on rewards and punishments. “ That
respect and admiration has translated into performance, said Woody.
“Our Soldiers have remained professional throughout this
deployment,” Woody said. “The locals know we are operating in Jisr
Diyala. We treat people with respect. The Soldiers have carried
themselves like the professionals they are at all times when we have
gone outside the wire. All of local leaders have noticed that. Capt.
Gilbert is constantly complimented by them for that.” In turn,
Gilbert credited his Soldiers’ performance for the award. “Your men
make you who you are as a leader,” he said. “It really isn’t hard to
be a company commander when you have Soldiers like we do.”
Gilbert’s commander, Col. Wayne W. Grigsby, Jr., from Prince
George’s County, Md., commander of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team,
congratulated him on winning the award. Grigsby won the same award
in 1987. “He told me he was proud of me,” Gilbert said. “It meant a
lot coming from him. As a former winner of the award, it helped set
him up for success. I hope I can emulate him and his success.”
Grigsby said Gilbert is deserving of the award. “Brian Gilbert is a
combat leader, who always leads from the front and has the mental
toughness to deal with the complexities of a COIN
(counterinsurgency) fight,” Grigsby said. “Simply put, he is the
The 1-15 Inf. Regt., currently attached to the 3rd Squadron, 1st
Cavalry Regiment, is assigned to the 3rd BCT, 3rd Infantry Division
from Fort Benning, Ga., and has been deployed in support of
Operation Iraqi Freedom since March 2007.
Bravery Under Fire: Remembering
Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith
5 Years After Earning the Medal of Honor
Task Force Marne Soldiers, who organized a remembrance ceremony on
April 4 for Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith, stand in the courtyard
where Smith gave his life in defense of others five years ago. For
his selfless service, Smith was posthumously awarded the Medal of
Honor in 2005.
Date Taken: April 4th, 2008
Location: Camp Victory, IQ
Photographer: Sgt. Jasmine Chopra
302nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
Troops Can Live Together in Iraq
By BRADLEY BROOKS and
RUSS BYNUM BAGHDAD (AP) — When American soldiers get off duty in
Iraq, the men usually return to their quarters, the women to theirs.
But Staff Sgt. Marvin Frazier gets to go back to a small
trailer with two pushed-together single beds that he shares with his
In a historic but little-noticed change in policy, the Army is
allowing scores of husband-and-wife soldiers to live and sleep
together in the war zone — a move aimed at preserving marriages,
boosting morale and perhaps bolstering re-enlistment rates at a time
when the military is struggling to fill its ranks five years into
"It makes a lot of things easier," said Frazier, 33, a helicopter
maintenance supervisor in the 3rd Infantry Division. "It
really adds a lot of stress, being separated. Now you can sit
face-to-face and try to work out things and comfort each other."
Long-standing Army rules barred soldiers of the opposite sex from
sharing sleeping quarters in war zones. Even married troops lived
only in all-male or all-female quarters and had no private living
space. But in May 2006, Army commanders in Iraq, with little
fanfare, decided that it is in the military's interest to promote
wedded bliss. In other words: What God has joined together, let no
manual put asunder.
"It's better for the soldiers, which means overall it's better for
the Army," said Command Maj. Mark Thornton of the 3rd Infantry.
Military analysts said this is the first war in which the Army even
gave the idea any serious consideration — a reflection not only of
the large number of couples sent to war this time, but also of the
way the fighting has dragged on and strained marriages with repeated
12- and 15-month tours of duty. While some couples were also sent
into the 1991 Gulf War, the fighting was over before their living
arrangements became an issue, said Lory Manning, a retired Navy
captain who studies how military policies affect women for the
nonprofit Women's Research and Education Institute. More than 10,000
couples are in the Army. Exactly how many are serving in the war
zone, and how many of those are living together, are not clear. The
Army said it does not keep track.
But Frazier and his wife, Staff Sgt. Keisha Frazier, are
among about 40 married Army couples living together on "Couples Row"
at Camp Striker, which is on the outskirts of Baghdad and is one of
more than 150 U.S. military camps in Iraq. Similarly, a Couples Row
opened in October at nearby Camp Victory, though it has trailers for
only seven of the many couples who have requested them.
Husbands and wives are still prohibited from public displays of
affection, under the same strict regulations that govern unmarried
men and women in uniform. Holding hands and kissing, whether on duty
or in the chow hall, are against the rules. "It's rough on marriages
when, over the course of years, you don't see each other," Manning
said. "It would make sense, certainly from a morale perspective and
for the Army, to try to preserve marriages." The only downside of
married soldiers sharing sleeping quarters, she said, would be an
increased risk of pregnancies.
John Pike, director of the military think tank Globalsecurity.org.,
said: "I think they are looking under the sofa cushions for anything
they can do to improve retention. They spend a lot of money getting
these people trained up."
After spending the first five months of their 15-month deployment on
separate bases in tents with up to 15 other soldiers, all of the
same sex, the Fraziers prize the small degree of privacy and
intimacy they gained after moving in together in October. Still
newlyweds, Sgt. Amanda Christoper, 25, and her husband,
Sgt. Matthew Christopher, 22, said the change in rules has been
a blessing for their nearly year-old marriage, four months of which
has been spent in Iraq. Both work at the military hospital in
Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, where Amanda is a licensed practical
nurse and Matthew is in patient administration, which can include
"Some of the stuff I've seen, if she weren't here, I'd be a lot less
cool about it," Matthew said as the pair sat inside their
potpourri-scented living quarters — a mere 120 square feet, with a
TV set atop two black lockboxes, an impressive collection of stuffed
animals and a Chicago Bears plaque. "There was one night in
particular, I saw something and I just thought, 'Oh, God.' I came in
here, talked to her for a few minutes, went outside, took a deep
breath and I was good to go." Because of the prohibition on public
displays of affection, the Christophers declined even to put their
arms around each other for a photo. "It's not like in the civilian
world where if you see your boyfriend at work you can just go, 'Oh,
hi, Babe,'" Amanda said. "We're in uniform, and we have to maintain
a professional demeanor at work."
Capt. Jessica Hegenbart and her husband, Chief Warrant
Officer Brian Hegenbart, had to live separately for two months
when they arrived at Camp Striker because all the trailers for
couples were full and were mostly allotted by rank. They finally
moved in together in June. "It's nice to come back to our trailer. I
just feel bad for all those guys who don't have that to come home to
every day," said Brian, a 32-year-old Black Hawk helicopter pilot.
Living together, however, doesn't stop the Hegenbarts from worrying
about each other's safety. Sometimes, it can make it harder.
"Because we're so close out here, we know to the hour when our loved
one's supposed to be home from a mission," Jessica said. "So if
they're late, our brains starts going to that place where you start
to wonder what went wrong. That happens more often than I'd like to
Associated Press writer Russ Bynum reported from Savannah, Ga. AP
writer Bradley Brooks reported from Baghdad.
1st BCT cases
colors, bids farewell to Ramadi
Spc. Ricardo Branch 1st BCT Public Affairs
1BCT Cases Colors Mar 20, 2008
Soldiers of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division
held a casing of the colors ceremony March 20 at the Morale Welfare
and Recreation building on Camp Ramadi. The ceremony marked the end
of the deployment for the 1st BCT as well as a transfer of authority
to Regimental Combat Team 1, who will be controlling the Ramadi are
after the brigade’s departure. “Today is a very important day, today
is a day the members of the 1st Brigade thought would never happen,”
said 1st Marine Expeditionary Force Ground Combat Element Commander
Brig. Gen. Richard Mills. “After 15 long, hard months they are going
home with the mission accomplished, and many thought they’d never go
home on a day where there is security in Al Anbar province.”
He said security came from the brilliant performance by the
Soldiers and members of this brigade. “This unit was brilliant on
the battlefield; within days of taking over, they were in urban
combat in a tough fight in the city of Ramadi,” Mills said. “Their
brilliant performance was signified by their continued success
against the enemy.”
1st BCT commander Col. John Charlton echoed the word of security
along with the brigade’s other goal for their mission in Ramadi.
“When we arrived here last year, we had two goals: one was to clear
Ramadi of terrorists in eight weeks, and the other was to make this
area secure enough, so we would be the last brigade combat team to
serve in central Anbar,” he said.
Col. John Charlton, Commander 1BCT
Click here to read Col Charlton's transcript
Charlton said the brigade didn’t achieve their goals like they
planned because it took them only six weeks instead of eight, and
the success was in large part due to the partnership with the Iraqi
Security Forces. “We have always said that together we can do
anything, and we proved that,” he said. “This effort did not come
without a cost. During our deployment, 29 Coalition troops, 13 Iraqi
Army Soldiers, and 59 Iraqi Policemen paid the ultimate sacrifice.”
In January 2007, downtown Ramadi laid in ruins. Half of the
buildings were destroyed and just about every structure in Ramadi
showed signs of battle damage. The insurgents had such a
stranglehold on this city; they conducted a parade in downtown
Ramadi, declaring it the capital city for Al Qaeda in Iraq. “Central
Al Anbar averaged between 30-to-35 attacks a day,” Charlton said.
“Ramadi was easily the most dangerous city in Iraq, if not the
entire world.” Today, the city of Ramadi and Al Anbar province have
been reborn. In a little over a year, the city has gone from the
most dangerous, to one of the safest in Iraq.
All of the major damage has been repaired and only a few small signs
of the fighting remain. The electrical system has been completely
restored and hundreds of water and sewer pipes have been fixed.
Children play outside and go to school and the economy is growing at
a massive rate in the city. Charlton credits the success of Anbar to
the people standing up against the oppression and violence brought
about by terrorists. “To understand how this happened, we must start
with the tribes of Anbar,” he said. “Starting in 2006, and led by
Sheik Sittar Abu Risha and many other brave sheiks, the sons of
Anbar stood in defiance of the terrorists and fought back to protect
their land, their families and their way of life.”
Many including Sheik Sittar gave their lives for the cause of
freedom, which inspired the people to join the Iraqi Security
Forces. “They joined by the thousands,” Charlton said. “Tribes of
Anbar formed a close friendship with the Coalition Forces and
together we fought the terrorists.” Terrorists received no support
from the people in the province after the tribes joined with the
coalition. The combined efforts of the partnership got rid of the
hold Al Qaeda had in the province.
Charlton said, “Without question it was the tribal leaders of Al
Anbar who created the “Awakening” that is now spreading across the
country and giving hope for a united and peaceful Iraq.”
He went on to talk about the Coalition and Iraqi Security Force
units, which helped take back Ramadi and the countryside from
terrorists before reminiscing about the strong emotions this
deployments has caused. “This has been a tremendous experience for
the Raider Brigade, but we leave here with mixed feelings,” Charlton
said. “It’s a happy day for us because the Soldiers will soon go
home to their families after a tough 15-month combat tour. For many
of these Soldiers it’s their third deployment to Iraq and they and
their families have sacrificed much, however, it’s also a sad day
because we leave behind so many of our Iraqi friends.
He added, “We all have developed many close friendships with all of
the Iraqis that we’ve worked with and it will be tough to say
goodbye. We know that our friends will be in good hands … and that
the close partnership between the Iraqis and Coalition Forces will
grow even stronger.”
Infantry Division marks fifth year of war in Iraq
Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch | Monday, March 17, 2008
The Marne Division that led the initial attack
into Baghdad is now leading stability efforts for the Iraqi people.
BAGHDAD - Five years ago, the first unit to cross the Kuwait-Iraq
border was the 3rd Infantry Division's 3rd Squadron, 7th Calvary
Regiment. The days following were the most rapid advance in the 3rd
Infantry Division history, outpacing even the World War II invasions
of Sicily when the Division advanced 100 miles in 12 days, and
southern France when the Division advanced 400 miles in a month.
By March 31, 2003, the 3rd Infantry Division was within 50 miles of
Baghdad. The first 10 days of April 2003 were the most crucial days
of this initial campaign, and the Division became famous for its
brave "Thunder Runs." Our First Brigade Combat Team seized the
Saddam International Airport from the Republican Guard after 12
hours of heavy fighting. Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith of the
11th Engineer Battalion was killed while manning a .50 caliber
machine gun, and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. By
April 9, 2003, Baghdad fell, and the 3rd Infantry Division was
awarded the Presidential Unit Citation - the first awarded since
World War II.
The 3rd Infantry Division returned to Iraq in 2005. But rather than
overthrow Saddam Hussein and his regime, the Division oversaw the
transition from Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's interim government to a
freely and fairly elected representative Iraqi government. During
this deployment, "dog face soldiers" protected the new Iraqi
Transitional National Assembly which wrote the first
popularly-ratified constitution for Iraq and oversaw the transition
of Iraq to a government democratically elected by the Iraqi people
of all ethnic and religious persuasions in a free and fair election.
When the President announced the surge in January 2007, the 3rd
Infantry Division answered the call again. The Division Headquarters
deployed six months ahead of schedule, and the Second and Third
Brigade Combat Teams accelerated their deployment time lines. The
Division stood up Multi-National Division/Center to focus on
Baghdad's southern belts and the southern provinces. Attacks in this
area decreased from over 25 per day in March 2007 to under two
attacks per day in March 2008, and civilian casualties are down 75
Now, 3rd Infantry Division soldiers no longer "commute to work."
They live in forward patrol bases with the Iraqi people. They not
only secure them, but work hand-in-hand to provide essential
services and a stable way of life. They are focused on all lines of
operation equally. For the first time in the division's history,
Operation Marne Piledriver will kick off next month to solely focus
on the capacity building of the Iraqi security forces, Iraqi
government, and Iraq's economic stability. The advantage of the
division's multiple deployments to Iraq is that progress is evident.
Unlike the Iraqis of 2003 who lived in fear, the will the Iraqis of
2008 has turned against the insurgency and toward freedom. Iraqi
security forces share the cost of defending their country, currently
suffering casualties at a rate three times that of coalition forces.
Iraqis are truly fighting for their country. Our soldiers are
working at the local level - building schools, health clinics and
governance centers. Sectarian divides have gone away and Sunnis and
Shiites are working together to seek legitimacy at the most grass
The division's current campaign plan focuses completely on capacity
building. A year ago I spent my time on large combat outposts
planning major kinetic operations - operations requiring lethal
force as the main effort. Now I walk through the local markets,
visit fish farms and spend my time eating with and engaging the
Iraqi people. I always tell the soldiers they have a choice in life
- they can either read history or make history, and dog face
soldiers are making history every day. They have set the standard
for operating in a counterinsurgency environment.
When the division returned in 2007, it unfurled its colors on Iraqi
soil for an unprecedented third time in four years. The Marne
Division led the initial attack into Baghdad and is now leading
stability efforts for the Iraqi people. At the heart of the
division's history is its soldiers. They are doing amazing work
Rock of the Marne!
Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch is the commanding general of the 3rd Infantry
Division from Fort Stewart, now deployed in Iraq. Captain Allie
Weiskopf Chase contributed to this column.
Local Shul (Temple) supports the
By Lois Goldrich
Nearly 100 volunteers turned out to stuff care packages for
soldiers in Iraq.
Noah Herskovitz, a 22-year-old combat engineer in
the U.S. army’s 3rd Infantry Division, now stationed outside
Baghdad, felt a bit uncomfortable receiving so many more care
packages than the other members of his unit. Nearly 100 volunteers
turned out to stuff care packages for soldiers in Iraq.
"He told me he was getting self-conscious," said his mother, Linda
Herskovitz, a member of Netivot Shalom in Teaneck, who has had sons
serve in both the U.S. and Israeli military. "On one hand, I was
proud of the Jewish community for reaching out to Jewish soldiers;
on the other, I felt that it wasn’t right that the others weren’t
getting anything. They’re doing the same job." To rectify the
situation, she resolved to send a package to each of the 77 soldiers
in her son’s unit. But after she mentioned her plan to shul
president Pam Scheininger early this year, another idea took root,
leading to participation by the entire synagogue.
On Sunday, Netivot Shalom congregants, together with student
volunteers from the Frisch School as well as other members of the
community — adults and children — gathered at the synagogue to
assemble what Scheininger described as "substantial" care packages.
"We even have extras left over," she said, noting that in a short
time, the volunteers collected or bought large quantities of candy,
cookies, powdered drink mix, soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste,
books, magazines, DVDs, CDs, and basic tools.
Noah Herskovitz at work, as the gunner in a tank unit.
"We were glad to find a substantive way to support the brave
soldiers serving in Iraq," said Weininger. "The personal connection
stemming from the fact that one of our congregant’s sons is in the
unit makes the project even more meaningful. The response from the
congregation and the community at large has been overwhelming." "I’m
still smiling," said Herskovitz, noting that some 100 volunteers
turned out to help stuff the packages. "I was very surprised at the
numbers, and degree of support, we received." In addition to filling
boxes, volunteers, mostly children, wrote letters and drew pictures
for the soldiers.
Congregant Richard Dukas said that it was only when packing simple
items like batteries that he began to "feel a connection to the
soldiers. I got a chill," he said. "We usually think of them as
nameless and faceless." By pure chance, said Herskovitz, her son
Noah — while not at Sunday’s event — had just been home for a
two-week visit, during which he was invited, as a Frisch graduate,
to address seniors at the school. "They were interested to know why
an Orthodox Jewish boy joined the army," she said, adding that the
talk went so well, the Frisch administration and parents association
began to encourage participation in her care-package project.
"Originally it was an internal project," she said. "We posted a
notice on TeaneckShuls when we realized the scope of what would be
involved in filling 77 boxes." Not only did the posting help bring
in the required items, but "I received calls from people who said
they wanted to help support us financially," she said. "I’m
overwhelmed by how many people seemed to get excited about his
The project "snowballed after Noah’s visit to Frisch," she added,
resulting not only in additional supplies but in more than 10
additional volunteers for Sunday’s event. "We originally conceived
of the project as a youth activity," said Herskovitz, pointing out
that Noah had mentioned how moved the soldiers were by letters and
drawings from children. "They have such a beautiful, innocent way of
expressing themselves," she said. While the project ultimately
became a social action event, targeted to the whole shul, a special
room was reserved for young children, who were encouraged to write
letters and draw pictures.
"I think it is important to write to the soldiers because they are
in the middle of the war, and if we send them nice pictures and
letters it will help take their minds off of the bad things," said
Josh Dukas, age 8, of Teaneck. "We put one letter in every package,"
said Herskovitz. The boxes will be picked up by the post office and
delivered to an APO address, awaiting shipment to Iraq. "Noah isn’t
telling the other soldiers about it," she said. "He can’t wait to
see their faces when the packages arrive."
Noah will be in Iraq for another year, said his mother, indicating
that it was likely that the members of the unit would appreciate
receiving another package before then. "We may do this again in the
fall," she said. "I hope we do it again," said Scheininger. "It’s a
great feeling. The shul never did anything like this before. It was
an opportunity to look outside of ourselves to see and address the
needs of other groups. It says a lot about the shul that the idea
was so enthusiastically received."
"More than anything, the brave men and women serving in Iraq need to
know that the people back home are thinking about them and care
about them," said Herskovitz. "Because the number of Jewish soldiers
in Iraq is so small, the American Jewish community has been able to
shower them with many packages, which is wonderful, but it made me
realize how important it is to show our support of all the
soldiers—regardless of background."
Copyright 2008 - The Jewish Standard
Soldier in Iraq sends message to mom in St. Pete
By: Kathryn Bursch
St. Petersburg, Florida – The troop
surge in Iraq is working. Compared to 10 months ago, there are fewer
attacks on U.S. forces and more cooperation from the Iraqi people.
That’s the word coming from U.S. Army officials in Baghdad Wednesday
during satellite interviews arranged by the military. And one of the
people pushing that message is Major Alayne Conway.
Maj. Alayne Conway
”We’re making progress every day,” says Conway, a public affairs
officer for the 3rd Infantry Division. “It’s tough being over here,
but the soldiers are doing great, morale is high, so we want to make
sure the folks back home know that.” Conway, whose mother Mary
Hoover lives in St. Petersburg, is based at Camp Victory in Baghdad.
Her job is to help journalists connect with military leaders and
soldiers in the field.
“We do media events and I get to facilitate those, but a lot of
times I’m either chained to the desk or chained to the phone.”
And even though her days are busy, Conway says there are lighter
moments. One photograph she e-mailed Tampa Bay’s 10 News shows her
at her desk wearing a tiara for her birthday celebration.
And unlike most soldiers living in outposts, Camp Victory offers
some advantages. When weather gets warmer there’s even some pool
time. “I like to hang by the pool for a couple hours on Sunday
before I go into work and collect my thoughts and get ready for the
week ahead,” says Conway.
Conway is nearing the end of her 15-month deployment to Iraq and
like most soldiers, she says it’s difficult to be away from home.
This week she’ll miss her mom’s birthday, but she was able to send
this message via Tampa Bay’s 10 News.
“She’s the best mom, my heart goes out to her and I love her very
Kathryn Bursch, Tampa Bay's 10 News
© Copyright 2005-2008 WTSP-TV.
Boxes back troops, win Iraqi fans
by TERRY DICKSON, The Times-Union
ST. SIMONS ISLAND- March 9, 2008 - Wednesday
morning, a few lodge members loaded an SUV with boxes of goods they
had collected for the troops in Iraq. John Winslett Sr. and Jack
Renfroe hauled out ramen noodles, Carmex lip balm, pencils, snacks,
batteries, candy and enough toothpaste to supply a convention of TV
news anchors. But most telling was the 144 rolls of Charmin toilet
tissue. Other brands would have worked, so long as they were,
Renfroe said, "un-John Wayne toilet paper.''
Charmin is a brand said to be squeezable. As a rule toilet paper
commercials aren't like those for pickup trucks. Who wants toilet
paper that's rugged and durable? Dependable? Of course, but in a
gentle sort of way, even if you're an Army Ranger.
No man ever got a call on the cell phone from his wife saying,
"Could you pick up some milk and bread on the way home? And we're
out of toilet paper. Pick up a four pack, but be sure it's built
Ford tough.'' This was the third time Golden Isles Lodge No. 707
F&AM had collected and shipped goods off to the troops, Renfroe
said. This time it's for the 1/30th Infantry battalion of the 3rd
It was formerly the 3/15th Infantry, whose most
famous member was Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier of World
War II. Murphy went on to be a successful rancher and actor after
the war. His name lived on at military training posts long after his
death in 1971. If anyone did anything flamboyant in training, such
as standing up and firing at a target, a sergeant would growl, "Get
your -- down. You ain't Audie Murphy.'' Even with a Medal of Honor
around his neck, one imagines Audie Murphy would have appreciated
the qualities of Charmin and similar products.
While the 1/30th is in Iraq, Capt. Eric Motzenbecker commands the
unit's rear detachment. He already did a tour in Iraq. This is
likely among the last shipments the 1/30th will receive. They're due
to come home this summer, and it takes a long time to get the stuff
there, Motzenbecker said. Motzenbecker stressed that troops are
well-supplied, especially at the battalion level, but shipments
offer "comfort from home.'' Some units are on small patrol bases and
those aren't as well-stocked; it's there that goods from home are
most appreciated, he said. Bigger camps have plenty of beverage
choices, but the powdered Gatorade that Lodge 707 sent will let the
soldiers at smaller bases enjoy some sports drinks, Motzenbecker
said. "And everyone likes the newspapers and magazines, like Sports
Illustrated and Maxim,'' he said.
Renfroe made a huge sacrifice in sending his Sports Illustrated
swimsuit edition. By the way, Sports Illustrated must be going
through hard times. They didn't have enough swimwear for all the
models this year. By the time they get to Iraq, some of the
magazines will be old enough to qualify for a doctor's waiting room,
but they're still welcome, as are novels and DVDs, Motzenbecker
The lodge also sent stuffed animals and candy, but
not for the troops. They hand it out to Iraqi children, especially
in new areas. "There are always a lot of kids,'' Motzenbecker said.
"They're always the first ones to approach. It's something to win
over the hearts and minds.'' Kids' hearts and minds can be won with
comforts far from their own uncomfortable homes.
Copyright The Florida Times-Union.
Dreams of Austin Retirement
Commander of 20,000-soldier task force
says he sees progress in Iraq.
John Carrington/SAVANNAH MORNING NEWS
Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch commands 3rd Infantry
By Robert W. Gee
Saturday, February 16, 2008
CAMP VICTORY, Iraq — Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch,
commander of the 20,000-soldier Task Force Marne and an architect of
the troop surge strategy in Iraq, likes to joke that when he grows
up, he's going to open a bar in Austin. The growing-up part is a
joke, but not the bar. It will be called the Black Lab Inn, he said,
in a nod to his favorite breed of dog. "I've already got the sign
made," he said. "I've just got to find a place to hang it."
Lynch, who has garnered attention for reducing violence and
sectarian tension across a broad swath of south-central Iraq, grew
up in Ohio but spent 14 years stationed at Fort Hood and met his
wife, Sarah, when he was a young captain in Killeen. "I have no
intent to leave (the Army) until the nation doesn't need me
anymore," Lynch said. Come time to retire, though, he pictures
himself on 160 acres in the Hill Country. Somewhere around Wimberley
would be nice, he said. "We're going to have a whole bunch of
Labrador retrievers. We're going to have horses. We're going to have
cattle just to say we have cattle. I wouldn't know what to do with
Lynch, 52, recently marked 30 years in the Army and is in the midst
of his second tour in Iraq. He commands the 3rd Infantry Division.
His office was once an Iraqi mint and was later converted to an
Iraqi army barracks and then into a U.S. Army barracks. Near his
desk stands a life-sized stuffed toy black Labrador, which reminds
him of his two female Labs back home, 14-year-old Harley and
The area he controls, like much of Iraq, has witnessed a steady
improvement in security, even if services, such as electricity, are
slow to recover. Attacks on U.S. troops have decreased from an
average of 25 a day to three a day. Civilian casualties have
diminished by 75 percent to one a day, according to Army statistics.
Lynch attributes the improvements to the troop surge strategy of
aggressively pursuing insurgents and moving U.S. forces into patrol
bases in neighborhoods to maintain security gains.
Newly formed volunteer paramilitary forces, predominantly Sunni
Arabs allied with the U.S. military, have also contributed to the
downturn in violence, patrolling neighborhoods and warning of
insurgent activity, he said. But in the same breath, he called the
progress "tenuous." On Monday, the day he spoke, bombers killed 22
Iraqis, underscoring the challenges.
Lynch is scheduled to return home this summer – he lives outside 3rd
Division headquarters in Fort Stewart, Ga. – and is awaiting his
next assignment. His daughter, Susan, 24, is a graduate of Texas
State University in San Marcos, and is now an aspiring actor in
Hollywood. His son, Lucas, 22, is a part-time college student,
part-time bartender in Georgia. Maj. Gen. Lynch said his first job
was busing tables at age 14. He was promoted to grill cook and later
painted houses. "What my parents taught me is a work ethic," he
His parents still live in Hamilton, Ohio, as does his half-brother,
"Ohio is great. But there's winter. I don't do winters anymore," the
General said. "You got to love Texas. You got to love the people.
You got to love the climate."
Plus Size V-Neck Dark T-Shirt
Women's Plus Size Scoop Neck T-Shirt
In addition to deadlines, several other factors must be considered when
sending mail downrange. For example, each country has customs
regulations that apply to all incoming mail, pertaining to everything
from food items to reading materials. Furthermore, military units may
also have additional restrictions concerning incoming mail imposed by
unit commanders relative to size and weight to ensure logistics support
can handle the heavy mail load. Finally, all packages and mail must now
be addressed to individual service members as required by U.S.
Department of Defense regulations.
Free Packing Materials
from the US Postal Service
The United States Postal Service is offering free
packing materials to spouses
and families of military members who are deployed overseas.
To take advantage of this service call:1-800-610-8734 and press 1 (for
then 3 for an operator), alternate direct line 1-800-527-1950 and they
will send you
free boxes, packing materials, tape and mailing labels. These products are
used to mail care packages to service members. Make sure you ask for CARE
You will receive:
5 - 7"x7"x6" boxes
5 - 12"x12"x8" boxes
1 - Roll of tape
15 custom forms
10 address labels
5 - tyvek bags (water proof and non tear)
Call this number to order: 1-800-610-8734
(Press 1 for English and then 3 for operator).
Last Update April 24, 2011