Archive 2007-8 Stories & Photos
2007- 8 Tour of the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq
May 16, 2013
Recent Deployment News
and Stories on OIF 2007
Iraqi Freedom I-III and Older Stories from December 2004
Can be found on our
OIF Archives Page
Patrol base Kelsey named for fallen soldier
Monday Dec 24, 2007- Soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division
named a patrol base after one of their own who was killed while
attempting to render aid to a wounded fellow soldier. Patrol Base
Kelsey was established Dec. 23 and named in honor of Sgt. Samuel
Kelsey, 24, who was killed Dec. 13 during Operation Marne Roundup
southwest of Baghdad near the city of Iskandiriyah.
According to an Army press release, Kelsey, a member of B Company,
3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry, 4th Brigade Combat Team, was killed
when an improvised explosive device detonated nearby while he was
helping another soldier who had been hurt. Within a few days of his
death, the release stated, Kelsey’s fellow B Company soldiers seized
the town of Kidhr only a few kilometers away from where he had died.
Marne Roundup was being carried out with Iraqi security forces as
part of an effort to root out suspected al-Qaida in Iraq fighters in
northern Babil province. Kelsey’s company commander, Capt. Chris
Neels, recommended the new patrol base be named in his honor.
“Naming the patrol base after Sgt. Samuel Kelsey has meant a lot to
the leadership and the soldiers of this company,” Neels said in the
Army press release. “Kelsey was a phenomenal NCO who gave his life
trying to save a wounded comrade.”
From Patrol Base Kelsey, Iraqi security forces and coalition forces
will conduct patrols to provide security and bring stability to the
local population, the release said. “Enough can’t be said of him or
his actions that day. Each time we clear routes in the area or hear
‘Patrol Base Kelsey’ over the radio, we’ll be reminded of his heroic
actions and our friend,” Neels said.
Mail to Our
Click Here for the Unit Addresses
“The U.S. Postal Service will
not accept mail addressed to "Any Soldier," "Any Wounded
Soldier," or the like because if it did, it could be providing a
conduit for those who might do harm to armed services members.
For more information on this subject, go to
Yes, they will NOT deliver mail that has “Any Soldier” on it; that’s
why our mail is addressed to one of the Division POCs.
(Any Soldier Mail)
1-3 BTB, 1BCT-3ID
APO AE 09396
So in this example, the mail
will go to 1LT Clinton Rountree, but he will distribute it to any
soldiers who don’t have mail.
2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 52, 60, OP
MARNE, & OP EUROPE 5845
• 1LT Clinton Rountree
(Any Soldier Mail)
1-3 BTB, 1BCT, 3ID
Camp Ramadi, Iraq
APO AE 09396
• LT Demetria Durden
(Any Soldier Mail)
1-3 BTB, 1BCT, 3ID
Camp Ramadi, Iraq
APO AE 09396
1, 12, 13, 17, 18, 33, 35, 57, & 601
• CPT Naomi Johnston
(Any Soldier Mail)
1-41 1BCT, 3ID
Camp Ramadi, Iraq
APO AE 09396
• SGT Tricia Daniels
(Any Soldier Mail)
HHSC, STB - 3ID
Camp Victory, Iraq
APO, AE 09342
4, 15, 22, 54, 63, & 88
• SGT Tricia Daniels
(Any Soldier Mail)
HHOC, STB - 3ID
Unit # 42167
Camp Victory, Iraq
APO, AE 09342
• SGT Tricia Daniels
(Any Soldier Mail)
3rd SIG, 3ID
Camp Victory, Iraq
APO AE 09342
Brigade Combat Team
HHC 4th BCT
Unit 40621, FOB Kalsu
APO AE 09312
ANY SOLDIER MAIL (4BCT)
c/o CAPT John Garcia
UNIT # 40620 FOB Kalsu
APO, AE 09312
Another way to send it would be to send it to the unit commander,
command sergeant major or chaplain—no name, just the title.
1. Notice that the addresses
do not include “Iraq.” Just use the four-line (or sometimes five-line
address in this Troop Support Addresses (Forward) attachment.
2. The USPS has two sizes (one longer and flat; one narrower and stout)
that have a flat-rate fee of $8.95. That is one good deal. You can stuff
quite a few goodies in either of them—and since the mail is going to an
APO, only the domestic fee applies.
3. Nile Stuart has a good idea about bundling cards/letters. Rather than
sending each item at first class mail rates, put them in a manila
envelope and send is a flat-rate package. He and Marianne have used put
10 letters in an envelope, folded it in half and sent it for between 75¢
4. Troop Care packages: In reference to the Troop care packages, LGT
Gale suggested that the following items:
a. Greeting cards (Blank holiday cards: Christmas, Hanukkah, etc.)
b. Books, magazines new and used no older than 6 months (I.E. Gun,
Hunting, Hot Rod, Truck, Motorcycle, Bazaar for the females) are good.
c. Any kinds of nuts – Pistachios, Sunflowers are good ones, because the
guys fill their uniform pockets with them. He stated that he always had
sunflower seeds on the floor boards and in the gunner’s hatch of his
HumVee while over there.
d. Hard candies/ gum – Jolly Rogers, Life savers, etc. – no soft or
chocolates that can melt.
e. Peanut-butter or cheese-crackers or similar snacks.
f. CDs – Music all kinds new and used ones.
g. DVD Movies – all kinds – new and old ones, Westerns, Dramas,
Mysteries, Comedies. Etc. Also,
LTC Gale suggested the following idea that will put a kudos in the
Societies hat and that is that the Society or Society Chaplin send a
request to the local Movie Studios – Sony Pictures, Paramount,
Universal, etc. asking for donations of new and old DVD movies and
explaining to them the purpose to provide entertainment to the soldiers
while they are off duty. He said they did this a few years ago, and one
of the studios send 2500 VHS tapes to the Division for distribution.
Might be a worth-while project for the West-coast OP 22 members who may
have contacts with or access to visit the Studio PR departments.
h. Play Station II/ III or XBOX Games – new or used.
i. Playing cards with poker chips and board games.
Many of you have emailed and
written asking for addresses or sharing info about your support projects
for our Soldiers. Thanks to all of you for these updates. I am
collecting them on behalf of the Troop Support Committee and keeping
President Chuck apprised.
Also, instead of including troop support updates that are not especially
part of an OP meeting in the OP Reports, I’ve started a short section in
The Watch called “Troop Support Reports” where your project/activities’
info can be published. If you haven’t sent me Troop Support updated,
please start doing that. If you have been sending me updates, thank you
and please keep sending them to me.
The most important thing is THANK YOU FOR SUPPORTING OUR MARNE SOLDIERS,
and God bless you and your families at Thanksgiving!
Rock of the Marne!
Here is a copy of a Christmas card and a photo that I have
just received from the 3ID Chaplain LTC Harlon Triplett thanking
Outpost 2 for sending them the many packages that were received by
him and his staff for distribution to the soldiers. The photo show
the 3ID Unit Ministry Team of six, standing near the sign of
the Honor Chapel in Baghdad, Iraq.
Tree Dedication Ceremony in honor of
Our Fallen Comrades
Thursday, the seventeenth day of January 2008
o’clock in the morning at Warrior’s Walk, Fort
More trees salute fallen soldiers
Weather mourns too
By Joe Parker Jr.
912-876-0156 ext. 25
Posted: Jan. 17, 2008 2:47 p.m.
Color guard sloshes through ankle-deep water at
rainy tree dedication Thursday.
Joe Parker Jr. / Coastal Courier
The weather matched the tone as Fort
Stewart dedicated eight more trees to fallen 3rd Infantry Division
warriors on a gray, rainy Thursday morning. Col. Todd Buchs, Fort
Stewart garrison commander, said, ”So long as we have soldiers who
will make the ultimate sacrifice for their country, we will have
room for their trees at Warriors Walk.”
Family members of slain soldiers are escorted to Warriors Walk
Joe Parker Jr. / Coastal Courier
One of the eight was Pfc Ryan D.
Christensen, 22, of Spring Lake Heights, N.J., who died at the
Medical University of Charleston in Charleston, S.C., on Nov. 24,
2005, of a non-combat related illness identified in Balad, Iraq.
Christensen was not initially honored at Warriors Walk because an
Army medical investigation indicated his fatal illness was not
related to his deployment to Iraq. Fort Stewart spokesman Kevin
Larson said Christensen's family did not accept this and had
remained in contact with the 3rd ID's commanding general, Maj. Gen.
Rick Lynch, during two subsequent inquiries into the illness. Those
investigations, Larson said, revealed a possible link with
Christenson's deployment. "So now he is honored here, where he
belongs,” Larson said. “This is the right thing to do for Pfc.
Christensen and his family." Christensen was assigned to the 1st
Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team.
Buchs skillfully wove personal information about each soldier into
his speech, honoring the eight young men who died in connection with
Operation Iraqi Freedom. Christensen, Buchs said, had a personal
interest in technology and used his skills to help an Iraqi radio
station while he was deployed.
Sgt. Lui Tumanuvao Sr., 29, of Fagaalu, American Samoa, died
Nov. 7 in Arab Jabour, Iraq, of wounds suffered when he was struck
by an improvised explosive device during combat operations. The day
of Tumanuvao’s promotion was one of the proudest moments for him and
his family, Buchs said. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 30th
Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team.
Sgt. Mason L. Lewis, 26, of Gloucester, Va., died in Baghdad
on Nov. 16, as a result of a non-combat related training accident.
Nicknamed as a child “Little Rambo,” Lewis had grown to love the
Iraqi people and culture, and had learned to speak Arabic. He was
assigned to the 26th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat
Sgt. Samuel E. Kelsey, 24, of Troup, Texas, died Dec. 13 in
Tunnis, Iraq, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device
detonated. Kelsey is remembered as a high school athlete and an
outdoorsman. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry
Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team.
Sgt. Daniel McCall, 24, of Pace, Fla., died Oct. 30 of wounds
suffered in Salman Pak, Iraq, when enemy forces engaged his unit
with small arms fire and an improvised explosive device. McCall set
a record for the 400-meter at his high school in Florida. His record
still stands. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry
Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, at Fort Benning.
Spc. Rush M. Jenkins, 22, of Clarksville, Tenn., died Oct. 30
of wounds suffered also in Salman Pak, when enemy forces engaged his
unit with small arms fire and an improvised explosive device.
Jenkins has a twin brother, Michael, who received word of his death
on their shared birthday. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 15th
Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, Fort Benning.
Pfc. Cody M. Carver, 19, of Haskell, Okla., died Oct. 30 in
Salman Pak, when enemy forces engaged his unit with small arms fire
and an improvised explosive device. Carver is remembered as a good
soldier, who “joined the Army to make a difference. He was assigned
to the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat
Team, at Fort Benning.
Pfc. Dwane A. Covert, 20, of Tonawanda, N.Y., died Nov 3, in
Al-Sahra, Iraq, from injuries suffered in a non-combat related
incident. Covert and his wife have a daughter born last month. He
was assigned to the 104th Transportation Company, 13th Corps Support
Sustainment Battalion, Fort Benning.
© 2006 Hinesville Publishing - All Rights Reserved
Top 3rd ID officer: Morale, awareness key to Iraqi war
Andrews says conditions are better but could
turn at any time
BY MICK WALSH -
Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Andrews
Jan.26, 2008 - Even though he's now the 3rd Infantry Division's
top enlisted man, Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Andrews still has a soft
spot for his old buddies in the division's 3rd Brigade. "A part of
me's still with the guys I served with on Kelley Hill," said
Andrews, speaking by telephone Thursday from his office at Baghdad's
Andrews, a native of Lincolnton, Ga., served as the 2nd Battalion,
69th Armor Regiment's top non-commissioned officer during the
invasion of Baghdad in 2003. Two years later, he was brigade
commander Col. Steve Salazar's "battle buddy" during the unit's 2005
deployment. He served in that same role for Col. Wayne Grigsby up
until two weeks before the 3rd Brigade left for Iraq.
Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, 3rd ID commander, tapped Andrews as his top
NCO last February. "I went from being in charge of about 4,000
soldiers to 20,000 soldiers," said Andrews, 45, who spends much of
his time these days visiting all of the 3rd ID units stationed at 55
forward operating bases and outposts throughout the Baghdad area, as
well as visiting wounded troops at the combat support hospital in
the capital city.
"I can tell you that morale is extremely high, evident mostly by the
high number of re-enlistments," Andrews said. "We've had more than
1,000 so far and another 300 or so will re-enlist in February."
Though casualties have been down in the division's theater of
operations, Andrews warns troops not to let their guard down. "It
could turn on us any day," he said, referring to the insurgency.
"The war is a long way from being over. There are still a lot of
extremists, so we must continue to conduct kinetic operations.
"The good thing is that we know a lot more about our enemy and the
terrain than we did during my first two tours. Our primary mission
in Operation Iraqi Freedom was to terminate the bad guy. Now, it's
to work with Concerned Local Citizen groups -- to help them protect
their own neighborhoods. Some of these people were bad guys just a
year or so ago; they were definitely part of the problem. Now, many
of them want to be part of the solution."
Andrews' old brigade is getting some help in its almost 10-month
fight to tame the Sunni town of Salman Pak, a Tigris River town
about an hour from the brigade's headquarters at Forward Operating
Base Hammer. "We're moving in a battalion of soldiers from Georgia
(the country, not the state) to Command Outpost Cleary, enabling the
1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment to shift to a new place called
Camp Carver," he said. "That will allow the 1-15 to use all of its
combat power to clean up Salman Pak." That former resort town is one
of the few in the 3rd Brigade's theater of operations without a
local citizens group. A majority of the brigade's fatalities have
come in Salman Pak. "The formation of the CLCs, along with putting
our soldiers in outposts right in the hearts of towns, are two big
factors in why our success rates are climbing. Most of the
townspeople are armed and they want to protect their neighborhoods
from extremists," he said.
Andrews, whose wife still lives in Columbus, will return to Fort
Stewart in June with the division. "You'll be seeing a whole lot of
changes this summer," he laughed. "A new division commander, new
brigade and battalion commanders. But I'll be around for a while.
I'll be part of the transition team."
Policy Allows Married Couples
Serving In Iraq To Share Same Sleeping Quarters
April 1, 2008
Vittorio Hernandez - AHN News Writer
(AHN) - Two years after it was quietly implemented, the U.S. Army is
now reaping the fruit of a little known Army policy by helping
strengthen military marriages and keeping more married soldiers
enlisted. The policy, implemented on May 2006, allowed
soldier-couples to share the same quarters while serving in Iraq Now
quartered in trailers, several couples are enjoying the reversal of
an Army regulation that prohibited male and female American soldiers
from sharing sleeping quarters while in war zones.
Prior to the lifting of the prohibition, married troops bunked in
all-male or all-female quarters. Third Infantry Command Sergeant
Major Thomas Thornton explained to the Boston Globe the
rationale behind the policy change. "It's better for the soldiers,
which means overall it's better for the Army," Thornton said.
The protracted Iraq war led to a rethinking of the policy,
particularly the effect of long separations on Army marriages. There
were some couples deployed to the Middle East in the 1991 Gulf War
but the battle was short-lived that living arrangements of married
soldiers then was not an issue, said Lory Manning, a retired now
doing military policy studies for the Women's Research and Education
There are 40 married couples on Couples Row at Camp Striker and
another 7 at Camp Victory.
Army couples are not, however, allowed to show public display of
affection including hold hands or kissing while on duty or at the
Manning pointed out it is rough on marriages if couples rarely see
each other over the years. "It would make sense, certainly from a
morale perspective and for the Army, to try to preserve marriages,"
Copyright © AHN Media Corp - All rights reserved.
Honoring valor: Soldiers, Marines
as America's War on Terror enters sixth year
Pamela E. Walck
Purple Heart medal bearing the silhouette profile of George
Washington. (Photo: John Carrington)
FORT STEWART - December 15, 2007 -It isn't sought
out, expected or desired. Yet, many recipients become legendary when
they receive one - members of an elite club they never asked to
join. And their numbers are rising. Since Operation Enduring Freedom
began in 2001 - and then Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 - some
400,000 U.S. soldiers and 8,000 Marines have been honored for their
valor on the battlefield. Some awards, such as the Medal of Honor,
remain so sacred, few receive it. Others date back to America's
Revolution. Although America's War on Terror is going into its sixth
year, the number of soldiers and Marines honored still pales
compared with the more than 2.8 million military awards presented
Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, pins a
Purple Heart on one of 10 soldiers during a ceremony at Fort Stewart
who were presented the medal on Sept. 20 for injuries they suffered
during combat in Iraq. (Photo: John Carrington)
Army Spc. Christopher Hayes' chest puffed out in pride. Dressed in
civilian clothes, a purple pin dangled from his shirt collar. Last
Tuesday, the soldier became the 3rd Infantry Division's latest
recipient of the Purple Heart after an improvised explosive device -
or an IED - struck his Humvee while it was leading a convoy through
the streets of Baghdad. For Hayes, Nov. 16, 2007, will be a day he
won't easily forget.
Milton M. Mitchell Jr., left, stands with his 8-year-old son Anthony
and fellow soldier Spc. Zacharie A. Nelson in the receiving line
after a Sept. 20 Purple Heart medal ceremony at Fort Stewart. The
two soldiers were among 10 troops who were presented the Purple
Heart for injuries suffered during combat in Iraq. 3rd Infantry
Division commander Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, who was home for his
two-week leave, pinned the medals on each of the recipients.
(Photo: John Carrington)
The 3rd ID's 4th Brigade Combat Team was participating in a
relief-in-place with the 25th Infantry Division - a formality on the
battlefield that marks the end of one unit's deployment and the
beginning of another unit's 15-month rotation. Hayes, a scout with
the 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry, was seated in the gunner's spot in
the lead vehicle, behind the barrel of a loaded .50-caliber machine
gun. When the IED exploded, the power of the blast threw the
22-year-old into the gun, knocking him unconscious and shattering
his wrist and thumb.
"Honestly, in that moment, I thought I was going to die," said
Hayes, who was on his second tour in Iraq. Hayes has a four-month
recovery ahead of him - and an honorable discharge in his future. He
and his wife, Johanna, have begun planning life after his four and a
half years in the Army. "This is one of those awards I never wanted
to get," Hayes said. "But now that I am still alive ... well, I'm
Hayes wipes away a tear as her husband, Spc. Christopher Hayes,
speaks to the audience attending an award ceremony in which he was
presented a Purple Heart and a Combat Infantry Badge. Fort Stewart
Garrison Commander Col. Todd Buchs, right, presented the awards to
Hayes. (John Carrington/Savannah Morning News) (Photo: John
Before pinning the medal to Hayes' chest, Col. Todd
Buchs, the garrison commander at Fort Stewart, praised the soldier
and his wife. "There is nothing more important than taking time out
to honor a great hero," Buchs said. "On behalf of a grateful nation
and a grateful Army, thank you." Hayes said the comments were
overwhelming, and while it feels good to be honored, he hasn't lost
sight of war's reality. "Soldiers die every day," he said. "But when
it happens to you ..."
History of valor
Military history documents Gen. George Washington as the first to
issue a "purple heart" to soldiers who fought with valor during the
American Revolution. Washington only issued three such awards, each
presented in purple cloth and pinned to a soldier's uniform. The
Continental Congress asked him to stop in the summer of 1782. It
would take 150 years before the honor was revived on Feb. 22, 1932.
The fabric heart was replaced with metal, but it remains America's
oldest military award in use. Since America's War on Terror began,
7,738 Marines and 7,159 soldiers have been awarded Purple Hearts.
But it is far from being the only military honor. The highest award
anyone in uniform can receive remains the Medal of Honor. Two such
medals have been issued since 1.4 million men and women began
deploying to Afghanistan and Iraq. The first went posthumously to
Sgt. 1st Class Paul Smith, 33, who served with the 3rd ID.
On April 4, 2003, Smith's platoon of combat engineers was charged
with building a holding area for Iraqi prisoners near the Baghdad
airport, when more than 80 members of the Iraqi Republican Guard
attacked. Smith was credited for fighting off the attack, protecting
his platoon and killing countless Iraqis with an open-mount
.50-caliber machine gun before a round took his life.
A year later, on April 14, 2004, along the Syrian border, Cpl. Jason
Dunham, 22, was fighting hand-to-hand with a suspected insurgent
when the Marine saw the Iraqi had a grenade. Dunham quickly threw
his helmet over the grenade and leaped onto the helmet. The helmet
was destroyed and the Marine was severely injured. He spent a week
in a coma before dying, but the Marine Corps credits his quick
action with saving the lives of three comrades. Dunham reacted the
way so many soldiers and Marines do, said William Daugherty, an
associate professor of government at Armstrong Atlantic State
University and a former Marine.
"I've watched the shows and read the books, and to a man, they all
say, 'I was just doing my job,' " he said. Living recipients "are
the first to say it was their colleagues who were the real heroes."
Daugherty also is quick to note the military branches have very
different approaches to honoring men and women in uniform. For
example, during the military operations in Grenada in 1983,
Daugherty said, the Army issued some 5,500 awards, a majority of
which were Bronze Stars. "A vast majority of those went to people
working in the Pentagon," he said. "A lot was made at the time of
the fact that so many Army folks in the Pentagon received medals
that, perhaps, were questionable."
The Marine Corps takes pride in knowing it issues fewer honors.
"Awards, there is a significance to them," said Russ Abolt, Chatham
County's manager who served in Vietnam with the Marine Corps. "The
expectation, as a Marine, is never to win awards or to seek
individual glory. It's based on what you become: You become a
Marine." For many, Abolt said, that is enough. 'This must be it'
A flood of decades-old memories crashed over Eugene Harmon as he
watched Hayes receive his Purple Heart. "They awarded me mine from a
hospital bed," said Harmon, a civilian post employee who attended
the ceremony. "Yeah, it brings back a lot of memories." A special
ops soldier during Vietnam, Harmon was assisting in the training of
South Vietnamese Rangers at Kham Duc when the airfield was attacked
by the North Vietnamese Army. Later, it would be estimated that
about 1,000 allied forces were surrounded by some 10,000 North
Vietnamese. "We were written off," he said. "They called us the
walking dead." During the second day of battle, Harmon took a bullet
in the shoulder. The tech communications chief continued to work
until a grenade went off nearby, and he was hit a second time. Then,
when medics were trying to airlift him out, Harmon was hit a third
time, in the side. He figures it must have been a sniper. It all
happened between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. May 12, 1968. "When I got hit
the third time, I figured, this must be it," he said.
Instead, three days later, Harmon was presented a Purple Heart from
his hospital bed."I still carry the metal,'' he said. "There's a lot
of it inside me still.
"I remember going over there saying, 'I do not want a Purple Heart,
I do not want to get shot,' " Harmon said. "But it happened so
quickly. It's just one of those things that's bound to happen (in
war). "It does give you a feeling, being recognized for something
that happened. You don't want it, but at the same time, it is
something George Washington started, and it was given to me."
© 2007 SavannahNOW and the Savannah Morning News.
Honoring 3rd ID Soldiers for the
By Alaina Anderson-
WSAV-TV on your side
A little girl hangs a bell on one of the trees. Photo by Lewis
Dec 08, 2007 - Unfortunately, not all of our
loved ones can be with us for the holidays. Saturday, Fort Stewart
held a Bells for Trees Ceremony – hanging bells on each tree on
Warriors Walk. It's done in memory of 3rd Infantry Division soldiers
who have paid the ultimate sacrifice – their lives.
"We want their family members and the rest of the United States to
know this is an active memorial. These soldiers are not forgotten
just because they have fallen," says Kathleen Thornton.
The bells were hung by spouses who are members of Support3rdID.com.
It's a forum that supports family members of soldiers serving
Bells of blessing go up at Warriors
Lewis Levine |
Brooke Dinkins gives her son Patton Dinkins a lift as he places a
camel bell on one of the Eastern Redbud trees
that line Warriors Walk on Fort Stewart. (Photo: Savannah Morning
HINESVILLE - December 9, 2007 -If Kathleen
Thornton has her way, the soldiers immortalized by Eastern Redbud
trees in Fort Stewart's Warriors Walk will never be forgotten. On
Saturday morning, Thornton and several members of the group
Support3rdid.com hung tiny camel bells on the fallen soldiers' trees
that had little or no decorations adorning them. The bare trees line
Cottrell Field - the site of numerous homecomings for deployed
Thornton talked beforehand about the somber Saturday mission. "We
will be hanging bells on trees less visited because family members
may be far away," she said. "We want their family members and the
nation to know this is an active memorial." Fighting back her
emotions, Thornton said the trees that make up the solemn memorial
stand for soldiers who should always be remembered. "These soldiers
are not forgotten just because they have fallen and paid the
ultimate sacrifice," she said.
One by one, those in the group of eight adults and three children
walked to each tree and suspended a camel bell on one of the
branches. The bells, which normally are worn around the mane of a
camel, are believed to provide the animal with a blessing and keep
it safe in its travels. The organization purchased $600 worth of
silver bells. Warriors Walk contains 373 trees in honor of fallen
3rd Infantry Division soldiers. Thornton is the wife of 3rd ID
Special Troops Battalion Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Thornton, who is in
Iraq as part of the division's third deployment there since the war
began in March 2003.
Bells for Trees Ceremony at
HINESVILLE, GA--It was an emotional day on Fort
Stewart, family and friends of soldiers who paid the ultimate
sacrifice, honored their loved one's with a bells for trees ceremony
along Warrior's Walk. For families who live too far away, volunteers
made sure the wind passed through a bell for each 3rd ID soldier no
longer with us. It's a walk, most would say is too long.
"I'm blessed to live across from Warrior's Walk. I'm blessed to be a
guardian of the walk," said support 3rdID.com member Kathleen
Thornton. Kathleen Thornton's husband is a member of 3rd ID. She is
very familiar with Warrior's Walk. "I come by every night, water the
trees and check on David's tree," said Thornton. David is a soldier
whose wife lives across the country. Kathleen and other members of
support 3rd ID dot com hung bells on each tree along the walk in a
special ceremony this morning.
"We want the family members of U.S. soldiers and the U.S. to know
this is an active memorial. "It's an honor to do this.to remember
our soldiers," said support 3rdID.com member Tara Pivotto. Tara
Pivotto is a military wife as well and she was joined by Kathleen
and other wives. They hung the camel bells attached to satin cords
on the trees as a tribute and in memory of fallen soldiers. "Every
time a bell rings, an angel gets it's wings and it's important for
us to do this," said Pivotto.
Each bell represents a father, mother, son or daughter, or other
family members lost defending our country. Kathleen says the bells
may not last forever. but their memory will. "They made a sacrifice
and when the wind touches these bells it would be as if someone was
here touching the soldier," said Thornton.
The military wives are members of
which is a forum created to help support spouses and other family
members. The bells were bought through donations to the website.
More Support is on the Way for 3rd ID Troops
A kissing pillow.
SAVANNAH, GA-Nov. 13, 2007-More
support is on the way to our 3rd ID troops.
The Savannah Needle Point Society gave the 3rd Infantry Division Senior
Spouses some 300 kissing pillows. It's their way of showing our troops
just how much they love and appreciate the work and effort they are
giving. Families of the soldiers will kiss the pillows and send them to
their loved ones overseas.
"I think it will be a wonderful support system from them. The Savannah
community is very supportive of all of our troops and it will show them
how much they truly are cared about in their hometown of Savannah," said
Senior Family Readiness advisor Sarah Lynch.
Sarah Lynch is wife of Major General Rick Lynch and says sometimes
soldiers put these kissing pillows in their helmets, carry them into
battle, or keep them close by at night.
Reported by: David Hall, email@example.com
deploys first wave of Soldiers in support of OIF
Pvt. Jerome Arp / 4th BCT PA
The first body of Soldiers with the
4th Brigade Combat Team deployed to Kuwait Oct 10.
Approximately 60 Soldiers were part of the Torch Party, which is the
first wave of Soldiers to deploy in the Brigade to help with
mission-oriented preparations and ease stress of the flow of
incoming and outgoing Soldiers in theater.
Spc. Aracelio Perez, a Soldier with Headquarters and
Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Combat Team, is
surrounded by his loved ones prior to him deploying Oct. 10. His
Family members include his wife Hilda, son Bryan, and daughters
Zahira and Nushka. Approximately 60 Soldiers were part of the Torch
Party, which was the first wave of Soldiers to deploy for the 4th
Brigade Combat Team.
Families and friends of the
deploying Soldiers gathered at their respective companies to say
goodbye and wish the Soldiers luck.
Although the Soldiers will be thousands of miles away from their
Families, 4th BCT offers many different means of communication and
“We stay in touch through letters, e-mail and the telephone,” said
Hilda Perez, wife of Spc. Aracelio Perez, who is assigned to
Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Special Troops
Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division. “I prefer talking to him on the
phone so I can hear his voice.”
with Battery B, 1st Battalion, 76th Field
Artillery, run through a pre-deployment equipment check Oct. 10.
Approximately 60 Soldiers were part of the Torch Party, which was
the first wave of Soldiers to deploy for the 4th Brigade
For many, this isn’t their Family’s
first deployment and they’re familiar with the techniques and stress
involved with separation.
“This will be his third deployment, and I’ve learned you have to
take the good with the bad,” said Wendy Bush, wife of Sgt. 1st Class
Terry Bush, an infantryman with HHC. “I’ll write him often and
always enjoy holding and re-reading his responses.”
with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade
Combat Team, form a “chain” to more efficiently load the gear of
deploying Soldiers Oct. 10. Approximately 60 Soldiers were part of
the Torch Party, which was the first wave of Soldiers to deploy for
the 4th BCT.
The Family Readiness Groups (FRGs)
within the Brigade are groups of volunteers responsible for
maintaining the critical communication link between Families and the
Soldiers during deployment.
4th BCT Soldiers and their Families have attended numerous FRG
meetings and are familiar with support the group offers.
Class Terry Bush, an infantryman with Headquarters and Headquarters
Company, 4th Brigade Combat Team, spends some time with
his family before deploying Oct. 10. Approximately 60 Soldiers were
part of the Torch Party, which was the first wave of Soldiers to
deploy for the 4th BCT.
The Main Body of 4th BCT is
scheduled to deploy in late October and the Trail Party, the
remainder of 4th BCT Soldiers, is scheduled to deploy in early
father of Maj. Christine Roney, a Soldier with Headquarters and
Headquarters Company, 4th Brigade Combat Team, helps his
daughter carry her gear as the two spend some time together before
her deployment Oct 10. Approximately 60 Soldiers were part of the
Torch Party, which was the first wave of Soldiers to deploy for the
members watch as 4th Brigade Combat Team Soldiers
pre-stage equipment at the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th
BCT company area Oct 10. Approximately 60 Soldiers were part of the
Torch Party, which was the first wave of Soldiers to deploy for the
Photos by Pvt. Jerome Arp
Lynch: Attacks, casualties down in
3rd ID area in Iraq
October 8, 2007
BAGHDAD - During September I was lucky enough to
return to the United States for my R&R. As soon as I returned, my
wife, Sarah, and I visited West Point where I addressed my class
during our 30th reunion. I also addressed some of the Corps of
Cadets - the future of our Army's leadership.
When I returned to Georgia I spent some more time with the family as
well as some time with local Savannah and Hinesville media and
leadership. I wanted to take the time to tell the story of how well
our soldiers are performing in Iraq. I also met with leaders and
soldiers of our Fourth Brigade Combat Team, who are expected to join
us in Iraq next month.
Before I returned to Iraq, I visited our wounded warriors at Brooke
Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, and at Walter Reed Army
Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Being with those soldiers was the
most humbling experience I've had while wearing this uniform. Their
injuries ranged from wounded hands and legs to double amputees. In
every encounter, the soldiers were not complaining about their
struggles but thinking of their fellow soldiers. They were asking
about their unit, their buddies, and when they could get back in the
fight. I was amazed to talk with these young men and women - they
are truly America's heroes.
When I returned to Iraq I was absolutely amazed at the progress that
had been made in the three weeks I was gone. Attacks have dropped
drastically across the entire area and casualties are down. The 3rd
Infantry Division suffered two losses in my absence. We also lost
Specialist Christian Neff to an IED attack on his tank in Baghdad on
Sept. 19. Christian had become the hometown hero in Lima, Ohio,
where the town's number one priority is to make tanks to support the
war effort. Thousands showed up to his funeral and we keep his
parents, William and Nancy, in our prayers.
Sgt. John Mele paid the ultimate sacrifice when he was killed by a
pressure plate IED while conducting a dismounted patrol with a
concerned citizen. Sgt. Mele was a great American and served under
the legendary Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith, one of two medal
of honor recipients from Operation Iraqi Freedom. During the initial
invasion into Iraq, Paul and John served side by side when Paul paid
the ultimate sacrifice. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife,
Jennifer and his daughter, Clarissa.
The concerned citizens program has grown in the 3rd Infantry
Division from no concerned citizens in June to over 20,000
recognized volunteers this week. Over 20,000 Iraqis have said they
do not approve of violence and have stepped up to secure their local
neighborhoods. These 20,000 concerned citizens come from 32 groups
that actively oppose al-Qaida. These Iraqis do not only secure their
neighborhoods, but clean canals, clear fields, secure critical
infrastructure, and train with Iraqi police and Iraqi Army units.
Concerned citizens reach out across sectarian lines - Sunnis and
Shiites have joined together to tackle the violence in their
communities. In Muellah, a mixed are along the Sunni-Shia fault line
25 miles southeast of Baghdad, Sunni and Shia leaders are planning
for combined checkpoints along main route through the center of the
area. These leaders are also working together to help resettle both
the Shiite and Sunni families that left the area as a result of
Most importantly, the concerned citizens are coming forward with
actionable intelligence. Because they know they can trust Coalition
Forces, they are leading our soldiers to IEDs, caches, and the
houses of insurgents. Concerned citizens are responsible for turning
in four of the Division's high value targets - insurgents that are
now in prison. Also while I was gone, our soldiers worked to build
three more patrol bases. By living amongst the Iraqi population with
Iraqi Army soldiers, we are working to ensure insurgents have no
where to hide.
Rock of the Marne!
Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch is commanding general of the 3rd Infantry
Division, which is based at Fort Stewart and is deployed in Iraq.
Capt. Allie Weiskopf Chase contributed to this column.
SavannahNOW and the
Savannah Morning News.
Soldier's Recovery Inspires
Spc. Ben Hutto of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office
Saul and his wife Sarah. While at WRAMC
FORWARD OPERATING BASE
HAMMER, Iraq - An injured infantryman is inspiring the 3rd Heavy Brigade
Combat Team here with his rapid recovery and his determination to become a
better, stronger Soldier.
Spc. Saul Martinez, a gunner with Headquarters Troop, 3rd HBCT, 3rd Infantry
Division, was the only survivor of an attack May 8 that left two other
"When we pulled up to the vehicle, it was one of the worst things I've ever
seen in my whole life," said Staff Sgt. Michael Henderson, Spc. Martinez's
section sergeant. "I thought for sure everyone in the vehicle was dead."
"When I put my hand under his body armor vest, I was praying that he was
breathing," said combat medic Pfc. Stephanie McCulley. "I was worried about
a million things. I was trying to keep him talking so he wouldn't go
unconscious again. In the back of my mind, I was worried he would lose his
legs, but I focused on what I was doing."
Spc. Martinez's legs were both severely damaged by multiple lacerations and
shrapnel wounds. Heavily sedated for nine days after the incident while
doctors removed one leg, he can't remember his medical evacuations to
Baghdad or Germany. He does remember most of the incident itself, especially
Staff Sgt. Henderson and Pfc. McCulley.
"They were my two angels," Spc. Martinez said. "I remember lying there
asking God to help me, and they were there. "I woke up and my wife Sarah was
next to me at Walter Reed," he added. "The doctors told me I was on the
verge of dying every hour of every day. I was really close to not being
Two days after regaining consciousness, Spc. Martinez had to decide whether
to keep his other leg or have it amputated. "I would not be able to roll my
heel, move my toes or walk on it. I told the doctors I would rather be up
walking with my wife on two fake legs than limping through life. It really
wasn't that hard a decision," he said. "I felt terrible for him," said Pfc.
McCulley. "It wasn't until I talked to him that I felt better. He told me,
'I made the decision to walk again. I can heal now.' He helped me realize it
was the best decision for him."
Spc. Martinez said his recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center was a
good experience and has nothing but good things to say of his care. "If I'd
gone anywhere else in the world, I would have died," he said.
Soon after his last surgery, Spc. Martinez was transferred to the Naval
Medical Center in San Diego, Calif., to begin his physical therapy, which
consists of three hours of strength training every day. After only four
months, he is already walking on his new legs. "I didn't think he would be
walking in four months," Staff Sgt. Henderson said. "It shows you how
strong-willed he is. He is walking because he wants to. His determination
has made that happen. I think that says a lot about him."
Spc. Martinez wants to do more than walk, however. He wants to stay on
active duty and become a better, stronger Soldier. "He's a Soldier," Pfc.
McCulley said. "He's always been a Soldier. He still believes in what he
does after everything he's been through. That is motivating and the Army
needs motivating people."
"I want to be able to do my job and show everyone that everything is okay,"
said Spc. Martinez. "If I could motivate one Soldier, I would be happy.
There is life, no matter what happens. I was hurt doing something I was
proud to do, and I'm looking forward to coming back. I want to carry an
80-pound ruck on a 20 kilometer march. I want to run in the brigade run. I
can be a better infantryman than I was before."
Article URL on Military.com:
Hello Fellow Marne Riders and Society
While the Marne Riders were in DC attending Rolling Thunder, we had the
opportunity to meet Saul, his wife Sarah, and his parents: Elise and
Renaldo as well as the other wounded heroes of our Marne Division. We
were deeply impressed with the high morale and high Esprit de Corp that
Saul and the other Marne soldiers displayed considering what they just
went through a few weeks earlier. Clearly, a strong indication of the
Divisions training , Leadership, and high Esprit de Corp.
Saul, who is also interested in motorcycles is being mailed a Marne
Riders T-Shirt and will provide a gift Marne Rider membership on top of
his Society gift membership.
Ride Safe and Rock of the Marne!
Dennis R. Noes
Marne Riders M/C, Director
3ID Society Active Duty Liaison
1-10 Artillery rejoins brigade
Combat unit was guarding detainees at Camp Bucca
BY MICK WALSH-Posted on Sat, Oct. 13, 2007
So long, Persian Gulf. Hello, Baghdad.
The 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery Regiment,
which has augmented the prison guard staff at the Camp Bucca
detention center for the last six months, has been reunited with its
brothers in arms, the 3rd Heavy Combat Brigade Team.
Brigade commander Col. Wayne W. Grigsby Jr. was so
happy to see the return of one of his main combat battalions from
the port city of Umm Qasr that he threw a lobster dinner for them at
Forward Operating Base Hammer this week.
"We're so glad to get you guys back here," Grigsby
said to his audience. "It's incredible what you've done. I still
hear about the great work you guys did down in Bucca."
The 1-10, under the command of Lt. Col. Mark
Sullivan, wasn't originally scheduled to go to Bucca, located in the
port city of Umm Qasr, tucked on a sliver of land between Kuwait and
"As late as the fourth week in March, we were
programmed to join the rest of the brigade in the Baghdad area,"
Sullivan said. "We were subsequently redirected and given the
mission of detention operations. We certainly hadn't anticipated a
job of guarding detainees."
Now that they are back in the fold, they'll soon
be doing the job they were trained for.
"Pat yourselves on the back today, tomorrow and
maybe the day after that," Grigsby told the 1-10 soldiers. "But get
ready to get out there and start doing your job. It's time to get
your game faces on."
The brigade will remain in Iraq until next June
when it is scheduled to complete its 15-month deployment.
sense the momentum'
By Kimberly Dick · The Herald - Rock Hill, SC
Lt. Col. Randy Martin, a
1985 graduate of Rock Hill High School,
is a public affairs officer of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division.
Lt. Col. Randy Martin's job
is to tell the story of the soldiers in Iraq. His second trip to the
country has surprised him.
Martin, a public affairs officer of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, is
a 1985 graduate of Rock Hill High School.
He's based at Fort Stewart, Ga., where his wife, Amy, and three children
call home. In March, Martin started his second tour in Iraq, the fifth
deployment in his military career.
He talked with Herald reporter Kimberly Dick by phone from Iraq on
Q: What's surprised you about this trip in Iraq?
A: "After I returned the first time, I noticed you really didn't have a
sense of what was going on watching it on TV. Now that I'm here, beneath
all the bad news, there is a glimmer of hope. You can sense the momentum
in the right direction.
"The number of attacks on U.S. forces has gone down, and the number of
people trying to help us, up. You see more lights; more commercial
airplanes departing. You see cars; you see kids that are running around
and enjoying life the way kids are supposed to. It's been an
enlightening experience this trip."
Q: Why did you join the Army?
A: "Growing up, I was impressed by people who served in the military. I
remember going to the Tomb of the Unknown Solider in Arlington, Va., and
being so impressed with the soldiers on guard. I remember going through
family albums of my dad, who was in the Army in the 1950s and in Korea.
Those were my heroes. As soon as I could join the Army, I did. And I
have been doing it ever since."
Q: What does your job entail?
A: "I work for Major Gen. Rick Lynch. I am the leader of a team of about
23, responsible for outreach with American and Western media. As
director of internal communication, I'm responsible for producing a
newspaper, newsletter and Web-based newscast for our divisional task
force, totaling about 18,000."
Q: What's your typical day like in Iraq?
A: "It begins about 5:30 a.m. After breakfast, personal hygiene and a
visit to the chapel, I go to our operations center and talk to the folks
I have manning the battle desk to assess anything that happened
overnight that may need to be reported in the news. I take whatever
steps necessary to get it on radio, TV, newspapers. That's how I fight
my fight for the rest of the day."
Q: So that's pretty similar to how I spend my day?
A: "Except you don't hear explosions; I do."
Q: How did you get a public affairs gig?
A: "For several years, I rode on tankers like my dad. As my career
progressed, I reached the point where the Army said, 'We need officers
to look at career options.' After several years of doing what they told
me to, here the Army was now asking me what I wanted to do."
Q: What's the most interesting situation you've found yourself in since
you went to Iraq?
A: "Well, the toughest experience in my Army career thus far is dealing
with the real-life drama of having missing soldiers. There was an attack
on soldiers who were part of our task force by al-Qaida. In the attack,
five men lost their lives, and three weren't accounted for. Five days
later, we found one, but two still remain missing -- months later. We
commit ourselves to never leaving a fallen comrade behind. Think about
their families at home."
Q: When are you coming home?
A: "June or July 2008. I just returned home on leave in September for
about three weeks, and that was wonderful and fun. Until you've served,
you really don't appreciate all of the goodness you have in America:
family, freedom to go where you want, to do what you want to do."
Q: Anything we should be doing as Americans to help?
A: "Never forget why we are doing what we are doing. Continue to support
us, and take care of our families while we are gone. Learn as much as
you can about why we are fighting."
-- Kimberly Dick
Ambassador Visits Ramadi
August 9, 2007
Press Release: 8-9.1
RAMADI, Iraq – Legislators and citizens of Ramadi were surprised when the
top U.S. diplomat in Iraq paid a visit to the capital of Al Anbar province
U.S. ambassador Ryan Crocker spent the entire afternoon meeting local
legislators including Anbar’s governor and provincial council, Ramadi’s
mayor and city council, as well as touring a city market.
This was the first trip to Ramadi as the ambassador and comes approximately
one month before he will provide an assessment to the U.S. Congress on
Iraq’s state of affairs.
Maj Lee Peters
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Ryan
Crocker, greets Ramadi embedded Provincial Reconstruction
Team leader Kristin Hagerstrom, at the Ramadi Municipal Coordination Center.
13th SMA the Soldiers and Leaders of TF Marne
|Five Star Iris
entertains troops in Ramadi
Spc. Ricardo Branch
1st BCT Public Affairs
CAMP RAMADI, Iraq (July 12,
2007) – Troops and civilians alike gathered in the Morale Welfare
and Recreation facility for a special concert July 11 at Camp Ramadi.
Five Star Iris, an Atlanta, Ga., rock and roll music band, made a
special trip to Iraq as part of a four-day MWR concert for military
servicemembers operating in the Middle East.
“This was our chance to show our support the best way we could,”
said Alex Winfield, Five Star Iris lead singer. “This is our third
military tour, and it’s our first time in Iraq. It’s been an
The band was approached by MWR officials during one of their
performances in Texas and asked if they’d like to perform overseas
for the military. “A few months ago, we were approached by an MWR
promoter and asked if we’d go to Southwest Asia and of course we
said yes,” Winfield said. “Then they asked if we’d be willing to go
to Iraq. We said definitely.”
The current tour was something the members really wanted to do for
the troops and themselves as Americans.
“Not many bands can say they’ve been in Iraq,” Winfield said. “The
people here have been really welcoming and appreciative of us
traveling here for them.”
Although it’s only three shows in Iraq, the band enjoys the time to
travel across the country and see what the troops endure and what
life’s like for the men and women of the armed forces.
“We all have a different takes about our experiences here,” said Dan
Fishman, Five Star Iris drummer.
He said that everyone has a responsibility to each other as human
beings to do what we can to help in any way they can.
“It’s a huge sacrifice,” Fishman said. “It’s not easy to come and
serve here, so if we can do something to help out and break the
monotony … this was something we needed to do.”
Before even arriving overseas to entertain the troops, the band was
receiving emails from their fan base to make the performance a
special one for the military. “We’d have fans telling us that coming
here was something we needed to do,” Winfield said. “They were
telling us to make this concert a memorable one. We didn’t know what
to expect coming here so we were a bit nervous. This was one of our
only concerts where you saw weapons in the crowd.”
The troops attending the show loved the chance to break away from
their daily routines and enjoy a concert in a combat zone. “It gets
dull here,” said Pfc. Gary Murdock, Headquarters and Headquarters
Company, 1st Brigade Combat Team paralegal. “This concert helped
relieve some stress.” He added, “It was a good concert. The band was
enthusiastic about being here and created a very fun and uplifting
environment for us. Iraq is a very stressful place and having events
like this is a great way for servicemembers to have an outlet and
escape the reality of what’s going on around them.
When asked what they all thought of their time at Camp Ramadi, the
band had one reply, “Awesome. The crowd was really enthusiastic, and
appreciative of us. It’s always great to make new fans wherever we
Soldier Creates Empathy
By The Times-Union
Carol Megathlin is a writer based in Savannah
July 5, 2007 - I know a little
bit more than I did three months ago about the war in Iraq. That's when I
approached Major Gen. Rick Lynch, commanding general of the Third Infantry
Division, with the adopt a soldier idea. At Hunter Army Air Field in
Savannah, deploying soldiers sign up to be sponsored by a civilian while
they are in Iraq. In the back of my mind, I knew that some of the soldiers
who boarded those planes at Hunter would not be coming home. I even thought
about it as they lined up before my table to ask for sponsors.
Last week, however, things started to get real. All of the soldiers who have
been adopted so far are in the Second Brigade or the Combat Aviation
Brigade. And a few days ago, those brigades began to take casualties. These
good-hearted people have e-mailed encouragement, sent care packages and
prayed for their soldier's safety. The soldiers write back when the war
gives them a free moment. A shy love is taking root among them.
Over the weekend, the sponsor's message came. One of the three soldiers
killed in combat was hers. I don't know her, I didn't know her soldier. But
I held in my hand the last request he had made before he flew off to Iraq.
Had I earned the right to sit at my computer and cry? Is she qualified to
grieve at Fort Stewart's Warriors Walk, where he will be honored in a
Some soldiers don't think so. We have not felt the exhaustion, smelled the
sweat, put hand to weapon in the wild chaos of a fire fight. Unbaptized by
blood, how dare we stand with the dead warrior's brothers-in-arms and
blubber our easy tears.
We civilians bear the ultimate responsibility for sending them off to war.
We also own the obligation to look into the eyes of the grieving parents,
the heartsick spouse, the confused and frightened children.
We don't show up at the memorial service on crutches, our camouflage pants
pinned up where our leg should have been, trying to comfort our fallen
buddy's family. There is no way we could qualify to witness that. Yet we owe
it to the Americans who stepped forward to fight for our country to
cultivate our sensibility to the human cost of war. And to learn humility.
Most of all, to learn humility. Perhaps the best place to start is at a
memorial service for a soldier we never knew. On the back row, with our
Carol Megathlin is a writer based in Savannah.
To adopt a 3rd Infantry Division soldier, send an e-mail:
Top US Commander
Against Premature Troop Draw Down
(July 6, 2007)--A top US commander in
Iraq is warning that drawing down troops too soon would leave the country "a
mess." Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of Multinational Division Center and
the 3rd Infantry Division, said Friday at a Pentagon news conference that
doing that would lead to more violence.
"You'd find the enemy regaining ground, reestablishing sanctuaries, building
more IEDs (and) carrying those IEDs to Baghdad, and the violence would
escalate," he said. Lynch said “it would be a mess” if surge forces were
withdrawn as part of an early pullout. "Those surge forces are giving us the
capability we have now to take the fight to the enemy," the general said.
"The enemy only responds to force, and we now have that force."
The comments come as more members of Congress push for a new strategy in
Iraq. Republican New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici said Thursday he has
already decided that he wants to see an end to combat operations and US
troops heading home from Iraq by spring.
A White House spokesman says those remarks are just more "thoughtful
discussion," and that it's too early to say if the surge is working.
|3-1 Cav. finds four weapons
caches, detains five
By Sgt. Natalie Rostek, 3rd HBCT Public Affairs
Jul 6, 2007
A Soldier from Company D, 1st Battalion, 15th
Infantry Regiment, that is currently attached to the 3rd Squadron,
1st Cavalry Regiment, stands guard during a raid in Jisr Diyala.
(Photos by Company D, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment)
One weapons cache found by Company D, 1st
Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, that is currently attached to the
3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, July 5, in Jisr Diyala. (Photos
by Company D, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment)
Blackanthem Military News, FORWARD OPERATING BASE
HAMMER, Iraq – Soldiers of 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, and
Company D, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, detained five
suspected insurgents and found four weapons caches July 5 near Jisr
Diyala. Each cache found and destroyed decreases the munitions and
improvised explosive device making materials available for
insurgents to use against the populace and Coalition Forces, said
Capt. Jimmy Hathaway, from Columbus, Ga., commander of Headquarters
Co., 3-1 Cav.
The operation resulted in the largest cache
seizure for the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team since beginning
operations southeast of Baghdad in late March. Unit leaders said
Soldiers conducted the five-phase operation to deny enemy
sanctuaries and seize caches. Soldiers from 3-1 Cav. and Company D,
currently attached to 3-1 Cav., secured and searched four target
locations simultaneously during the operation.
“Ultimately, this mission was a step in the right
direction towards making Iraq a more secure and safe region,”
Hathaway said. “The mission established the standard that Coalition
Forces are not going to stand for anti-Coalition Force activity,”
said 1ST Lt. Donovan Duke, from New Cumberland, Pa., a platoon
leader with Company D, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, from
Fort Benning, Ga. “We are here to establish a safe environment in
cooperation with the Iraqi Security Forces for the Iraqi citizens.”
The following was seized from the four caches: 8 fuses, four
artillery rounds, three rockets, nine hand grenades, 56 mortars, 10
rocket propelled grenades, more than 15 pounds of C4 explosives and
miscellaneous bomb-making materials and unidentified explosives.
The 3-1 Cav. is assigned to the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd
Infantry Division, from Fort Benning, Ga.
More than 500 troops re-enlist
in Iraq; 160 become Americans
By Drew Brown, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Thursday, July 5, 2007
Drew Brown / S&S
Sgt. Jason Mawhorr, 24, of Rockport, Texas and
his wife, Sgt. Yelixa Mawhorr, 25, of Brooklyn, N.Y. were among more
500 U.S. troops who reenlisted Wednesday during a special July
Fourth ceremony at Camp Victory, Iraq.
Drew Brown / S&S
More than 500 U.S. servicemen and women reenlisted and more than 160
became naturalized U.S. citizens. at Camp Victory in Iraq.
BAGHDAD — When Sgts. Jason Mawhorr and Yelixa
Mawhorr first deployed to Iraq in March, they didn’t think they
would be seeing much of each other. So when the opportunity came for
husband and wife, both soldiers with the Army’s 3rd Infantry
Division, to re-enlist together, they jumped at the chance. “We
didn’t think we would have the chance to deploy together,” said
Jason, 24, of Rockport, Texas. “So while we were here, we decided it
was something to take advantage of.”
The couple, who have two children at home with Yelixa’s mother, both
re-enlisted for six more years in the Army; it was another
milestone, they said, in what they both hope will be long and
successful careers in uniform.
The husband and wife were among 500 service members who re-enlisted
Wednesday at one of Saddam Hussein’s former palaces, at Camp
Victory, adjacent to Baghdad International Airport. The massive
ceremony, during which 160 troops from 54 countries also became U.S.
citizens, was the biggest of its kind to take place in Iraq. The
fact that the ceremony took place on July 4, exactly 4½ years to the
date when they met at Fort Hood, Texas, also made the day a special
one, said Yelixa, 25, of Brooklyn, N.Y. “We believe that the family
who re-enlists together stays together,” she said.
Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, presided over
the ceremony. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C.,
were guest keynote speakers. McCain, who spent more than six years
in captivity during the Vietnam War and who is now seeking the
Republican presidential nomination, praised the troops for their
sense of duty and their commitment to the U.S. mission in Iraq. “We
have incurred a debt today that we can never repay in full,” McCain
said. “What you have done for us, we can never do for you.”
Although the country is deeply divided over the war, and Congress is
pressuring President Bush to start bringing troops home, support
from the American people for its service members has not wavered,
McCain told the troops.The war “has divided the American people,”
but it has not diminished “America’s admiration for you,” he said.
Graham led the troops as they recited the pledge of allegiance. A
videotaped message from Bush called the day “a defining event” for
those soldiers who’d just become U.S. citizens. “Today,” Bush noted,
“the United States is not only your home; it is your country.”
Bush’s message was followed by country singer Lee Greenwood’s
classic song “Proud to be an American,” which became famous in 1991,
during the first Iraq war.
Soldiers then stood at attention and saluted as a speaker read out
the names of each of the 50 states and the dates they joined the
union. Cannon fire boomed out over the loudspeakers after each state
and date was called out. The troops cheered loudly when their home
states were mentioned. Shouts of “Hooah!” echoed throughout the
After the ceremony, Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of the Army’s
3rd Infantry Division, moved from one small group of soldiers to
another, congratulating those who’d just re-enlisted and those who
had just become new citizens. More than 180 soldiers from 3rd
Infantry Division re-enlisted in the ceremony; 37 of them gained
“It’s an amazing thing, in the middle of a combat zone, for these
guys to raise their right hand and decide to stay in the Army,”
Lynch said. “People ask how you do it,” he said. “You do it because
Brigade enters fourth month in
Sledgehammer soldiers building a better Iraq
BY MICK WALSH
The 3rd Heavy Combat Brigade Team began its fourth of 15
months in Iraq on July 1 and things are going better than expected,
according to its commander. "I'm amazed at what our magnificent
Sledgehammer soldiers have been able to accomplish," said Col.
Wayne Grigsby Jr. As the third of five brigades called upon by
the Pentagon in early January to "surge" forward into Iraq and
implement the Baghdad Security Plan, the 3,800 soldiers from Fort
Benning have been right in the middle of some of the heaviest
fighting of the war.
And they've done it while finding conditions on their arrival to be
a bit, uh, spartan. "What's so astonishing is that we have built
everything from the ground up," said Grigsby, who pointed out that
no coalition forces had ever occupied what is now Forward Operating
Base Hammer or any of the smaller Combat Outposts where brigade
soldiers are stationed. While much of the brigade's time is spent
disrupting the flow of accelerants into Baghdad and either capturing
or killing insurgents, terrorists and criminals, Grigsby also points
out that his soldiers have already forged bonds between themselves
and the local populace. Over the past week, brigade soldiers have
been involved with such things as sponsoring a medical clinic,
renovating a youth center, fixing a water pump and meeting with
Here's a look:
Free medical clinic
Brigade soldiers conducted an outdoor medical clinic earlier this
week at a school in Nahrwan. Medics set up three treatment stations
under a camouflaged net surrounded by concertina wire while the 3rd
Battalion, 1st Cavalry Regiment's loud speaker broadcast a message
to villagers announcing the opportunity to receive free medical
care. During the broadcast, villagers from the area began forming
two lines, male and female, waiting to be seen. The separate lines
were set to ensure female medics were available to see female
According to Pfc. Kristina Sutton, a medic from Springfield,
Mass., some patients stood in line for almost four hours. The medics
saw ailments such as back, stomach, head, skin and upper-respiratory
problems and were able to treat those with medicine bought from a
The medics saw approximately 225 patients.
New youth center
Elements of the Fort Benning-based 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team are
helping to improve life for Iraqi youth by assisting with a
renovation project that will cost up to $500,000. Iraqi contractors,
youth center leaders and members of the 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry
Regiment and the 97th Civil Affairs Battalion, which is currently
attached to 3-1 Cav, met last week in Jisr Diyala to discuss the
planned improvements. Construction is expected to begin in late July
and will include renovations to the weight room, sewing room,
library and arts and crafts room. Coalition forces are also
expecting new computers and exercise equipment for the center.
"The renovations of the youth center will help show the youth of
Jisr Diyala that there are other activities out there that can help
improve their lives," said Capt. Jimmy Hathaway of Columbus, the
3-1's Headquarters Company commander. "We are going to turn this
youth center into a world class facility."
Brigade leaders, the Iraqi Security Force and the Mada'in Qada mayor
met at Forward Operating Base Hammer this week to increase
communication among the three elements. Meeting in the brigade's new
Tactical Operations Center, the group reviewed combined operations,
lessons learned and future projects in the Mada'in Qada (qada is
equivalent to a county in the United States). "I'm glad we had this
meeting," Grigsby, the brigade commander, told the group. "We want
to assist all of you in getting the help you need and we will use
our contacts in Baghdad to do that."
Al-Rubay'l, the mayor of Mada'in Qada, reported that the people in
his province are very supportive of coalition forces. He explained
that he had witnessed many young men volunteering to join Iraqi
Security Forces so they can help expel al-Qaida from the province.
"Soon they will be ready to fight and take the lead in operations,"
explained Al-Rubay'l through a translator. "The people here are
willing to help themselves, but we still need support. The
insurgents, we must admit, are well equipped and have military
training. They are using innocent women and children as shields.
Innocent people would become targets. American help is still
Water pump repair
Lt. Col. Ryan J. Kuhn, the brigade's deputy commander, complimented
the Qada mayor for his government's work to refurbish the Al Bawi
water pump station this week. The pump station was sabotaged in
early March, prior to the arrival of the 3rd Brigade. When
fully-operational, the pump station provides more than 90 percent of
the water needed in the Mada'in Qada.
"Under the guidance of the mayor, we are almost done with the
project," said Kuhn. "The pumps are almost up and ready. This is
good, but it also makes the station a target. It has to be
The 3rd Brigade public affairs office contributed to this report.
MAJ. GEN. RICK LYNCH
TF MARNE COMMANDER
July 4, 2007 - Today America
turns 231 years old. It is able to claim so many years of freedom because
Soldiers like you keep it free. It was Soldiers who fought for our
independence, and it is the Soldiers who answer the nation’s call to be
where America needs them.
I am so very honored to be your commander. Every day I witness acts that
make me so proud.
Just last week, I went to a
memorial service for 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment and reenlisted two
Soldiers just before they mourned the loss of their brothers in arms. In the
darkest hours they raised their right hands, said “Our nation needs us” and
asked to continue to serve America.
What we as Soldiers do is important. Our sacrifices ensure that Americans
sleep soundly and live without fear. The anniversaries and birthdays you
miss are small sacrifices compared to the freedoms you protect. You are
taking the fight to the enemy on the battlefield.
Operation Marne Torch has been and will continue to be very successful.
Soldiers from 3rd Heavy Brigade
Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division killed more than 23 enemy insurgents at a
Pepsi factory and Soldiers from 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th
Infantry Division took out a JAM battalion commander and EFP cell leader.
Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light
Infantry) are engaging with locals in an effort to increase the Iraqis’
willingness to secure their own neighborhoods. Our aviators are crushing the
enemy emplacing improvised explosive devices from the sky.
Everything you do has an impact
– from a patrol following an intelligence tip, to bringing water to a
neighborhood with it, to developing a youth center. Every action has an
impact on the Iraqi society, every one of your actions brings the Iraqi
people closer to being a free country, one like we sometimes take for
Today Gen. Petraeus will reenlist hundreds of Soldiers right here on Camp
Victory. Hundreds of Soldiers are answering our nation’s call and
volunteering to continue to give their service. I couldn’t be more proud.
Although we close our eyes and think of our families back home, we know they
celebrate today because of the work we are doing here. They are celebrating
their freedom because you brave men and women keep them free.
Rock of the Marne!
Hamilton Native Commands
Multinational Division in Iraq
By Joshua Rinaldi
Staff Writer, Journal-News.com
MG Rick Lynch,
Commanding General of the 3rd Infantry Division
Wednesday, June 27, 2007 - When Rick
Lynch left Hamilton, Ohio for the U.S. Military Academy in 1973, he expected
to do his five years in the Army and get out. More than 30 years later, he's
a two-star general commanding 20,000 troops. Lynch, a Hamilton native, said
he never made the decision to be a career military man, but stayed with it
because it felt right. "Everyday, I can look in the mirror and feel like I'm
doing something important," Lynch said in a phone interview from Baghdad on
Click Here to read full story:
10 New Trees
Mark Fallen Soldiers
Sean Harder | Friday, June 22, 2007
Staff Sgt. Todd Toomey, left, grieves for Spc.
Kyle A. Little, a member of his platoon in 1st Battalion, 15th
Infantry. Little was one of 10 soldiers honored during a Warriors
Walk tree dedication ceremony at Fort Stewart. (Photo: John
FORT STEWART - Army Spc. Kyle Little returned home
from his pre-Iraq training in February with a mission: Make a baby
with his newlywed wife, Tiffany. "I remember he called me all
excited and told me he wanted us to get pregnant," said Tiffany
Little. "Miraculously, we did before he left." The 20-year-old
Massachusetts native deployed to Iraq in March as soon-to-be father.
In Iraq, Little was hand-picked for his brigade commander's personal
security team. A roadside bomb killed him and a fellow soldier on
May 8- three months and three days into his marriage and too soon to
learn he was going to be the father of a girl. Baby Kylee is
expected to be born in November. She one day might visit the Eastern
Redbud tree and granite marker dedicated Thursday to the father for
whom she'll be named.
The names of Little and nine other 3rd Infantry
Division soldiers killed in Iraq were read aloud Thursday morning at
Warriors' Walk. Each man was 25 years old or younger. The living
memorial's 336 trees bookend Fort Stewart's parade grounds. Each
tree represents one 3rd ID soldier killed since the Iraq war began
in March of 2003. The division is now serving its third combat tour
in the conflict.
Soldiers and other guests stand for the
national anthem during the Warriors Walk tree dedication ceremony
at Fort Stewart on Thursday. (Photo: John Carrington)
"Young and old, soldier and civilian alike, will
walk these paths," said Col. Todd Buchs, Fort Stewart's garrison
commander. "They will pause and read their names and reflect on the
sacrifice they made for freedom."
Among those honored Thursday was Pfc. David Kirkpatrick, 20, whose
interest in the military began at an early age.Growing up on his
family's farm in Matthews, Ind., Kirkpatrick dressed in camouflage,
played soldier and read everything military-related he could find,
said his father, Kenny Kirkpatrick. "I tried to talk him out of
joining, but he wouldn't listen," Kirkpatrick said. "He said 'Dad,
what did you think I was going to do?' He knew what he was doing,
and he wanted to do it." The Army mechanic was killed by a roadside
bomb in Fallujah while recovering a damaged vehicle on April 27 -
one month before he was due to return home on leave.
Roadside bombs are a "cheap, highly effective way to kill our boys.
And I don't know how they can protect against it," Kenny Kirkpatrick
said. Kirkpatrick said he, his wife and their four daughters have
been devastated by the loss of their only son. They plan to use his
life insurance to pay off the family farm, which they have struggled
financially to keep.
"That's what David would have wanted us to do," he said.
Tiffany Little, left, and Tonita Gonzalez, her
niece Kyra Tso and son Brennen Gonzalez, right, sit with other
family members during the Fort Stewart tree dedication ceremony at
Warriors Walk. Their husbands, Spc. Kyle A. Little and Sgt.
were among the 10 fallen soldiers honored Thursday. (Photo: John
More than a month of memorial services, tributes,
calls from fellow soldiers and military escorts have left the
Kirkpatrick family overwhelmed. But they also have been impressed by
how many lives their son had touched. "The Army really has been
behind us 1,000 percent," Kirkpatrick said. "It's been so wonderful,
yet so horrible. You can't imagine how wonderful and horrible
something can be at the same time.
"David did a very honorable thing. No one can say it's not an
A soldier folds the camouflage cloth
embroidered with the name of one of 10 fallen soldiers honored
during the Warriors Walk tree dedication ceremony at Fort Stewart on
Thursday. (Photo: John Carrington)
Here are the names of the 10 soldiers honored at Thursday's tree
Pfc. David A. Kirkpatrick, 20, of Matthews, Ind.
Pfc. Nicholas E. Riehl, 21, of Shiocton, Wis.
Spc. Eddie D. Tamez, 21, of Galveston, Texas
Pfc. Jay-D H. Ornsby-Adkins, 21, of Australia
Sgt. Dale Hicks, Jr., 21, of Pantego, Texas
Pfc. Cole E. Spencer, 21, of Decatur, Ill.
Sgt. Blake C. Stephens, 25, of Pocatello, Idaho
Spc. Kyle A. Little, 20, of West Boylston, Mass.
Sgt. Allen J. Dunckley, 25, of Yardley, Penn.
Sgt. Christopher N. Gonzalez, 25, of New Mexico
The 3rd ID, which led the invasion of Iraq in 2003, began its third
rotation into Iraq earlier this year. The division's 20,000 soldiers
will serve extended 15-month tours as part of a troop buildup to
As of Thursday, 28 soldiers from the division have been killed this
year in Iraq, according to www.icasualties.org , a Web site that tracks the war's
Walk' memorial at base expected to grow
By GREGG ZOROYA
Gannett News Service
FORT STEWART, Ga.
(Photo: Carl Elmore)
Wednesday, May 23,
2007-A popular war memorial consisting of dedicated trees -- one
planted for every soldier lost to war -- presents commanders
with a problem. The memorial is running out of space. Its
elaborate design -- requiring sidewalks and buried electrical
lighting -- has forced Army officials to prepare expansion
It is a delicate issue at a base where thousands of families are
sending loved ones off to war again, in some cases for the third
time. "The assumption was, unfortunately, four years ago there
wouldn't be but two sidewalks worth of trees, and that just
didn't happen to be the case," says Michael Biering, the
garrison director of public works. The memorial is filled with
eastern redbud trees. Those trees were chosen because their
pink-purple blossoms appear in the spring, when soldiers from
the 3rd Infantry Division based here first raced to Baghdad in
2003 and suffered their first fatalities. The division has
returned to Iraq twice since then.
Now, 326 trees are planted along sidewalks that border the
parade ground, where troops assemble before reuniting with their
families after a combat tour. Next to each tree is a granite
stone engraved with the soldier's name and a small spotlight to
illuminate the branches. The memorial is called Warriors Walk.
"It's sort of bittersweet to return (to the memorial), and it
gives me comfort and sadness at the same time," says Birgit
Smith, the widow of Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith, posthumously
awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry during the Iraq
invasion. She drives six hours from her home in Hollywood, Fla.,
five times a year to visit her husband's tree. "It's the most
hallowed ground on this installation," says the garrison
commander, Col. Todd Buchs. He helps preside over tree
dedication ceremonies that are a monthly ritual. Family members
come. A color guard is there.
The Fort Stewart memorial differs from other military
installations that often honor war dead with names etched onto a
remembrance wall. The tree memorial was initially one long
sidewalk along the south edge of the parade area. As the
division returned to combat in 2005 and fatalities mounted,
three more sidewalk phases were built along the parade ground's
northern edge. The trees were staggered to economize space.
The division is incurring losses on its third tour, and Biering
estimates space will run out in about two months. "Part of it is
experience," he says of his estimate, recalling a bad month in
2005 when 40 trees were planted. In his office, he keeps
blueprints for at least four more parallel sections of sidewalk.
It is, he says, a sensitive topic.
"I don't want to get too much out ahead of this because of the
potential adverse impact it may have" on installation families,
Many Army families say they understand the grim reality and how
expansion plans for Warriors Walk are necessary.
"We're pretty strong people," says Amy Lambert, whose husband,
Sgt. 1st Class Scott Lambert, is in Iraq. "This is a fact of
life. More people are going to die. Nobody wants it to happen.
But it's going to happen until the war ends."
IP’s recognized for hard work
Staff Sgt. Raymond Piper - 1st BCT Public
RAMADI, Iraq (May 22, 2007) – It’s arguably one of the
toughest law enforcement jobs in the world. Iraqi Police face
car and road side bombs, snipers and insurgents bent on breaking
there will. Often less equipped than their coalition partners,
the policemen are prepared to do their duty on a daily business.
Coalition and Iraqi Police leaders held a ceremony May 20 to
recognize the sacrifices and hard work of the Ramadi police.
“Today is a very memorable day and is a day that should make all
the people of Ramadi proud of its young men,” said Ramadi Iraqi
Police Chief Brig. Gen. Ahmed Khalil. “It is a day for the
coalition and Iraq leaders to recognize the brave policemen of
Col. John Charlton, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry
Division commander, told the gathered policemen that the
ceremony was dedicated to the sons of Anbar, who have brought
security to the area.
“Every day I see Iraqi police putting their lives on the line to
protect the people of this city. It is because of your continued
bravery that children can play outside and people can open shops
and begin to live normal lives again,” Charlton said.
The path to a more safe and secure Ramadi has not been easy and
many officers paid the ultimate sacrifice for security. On the
same day as the ceremony, Iraqi Police from the Zangorra station
were looking for a truck laden with explosives.
“Those police officers were on patrol looking for the truck bomb
because they knew the (terrorists) would attack,” Charlton said.
“While they had stopped and were searching the truck, it
exploded killing one of the officers and wounding two others.”
He added the policemen knew that there would be danger when they
stopped the truck, but they set aside personal safety and
continued to do their duty. “As a result, no civilians were
hurt. Once again the Iraqi Police protected the people of Iraq,”
The Iraqi security forces are one of the primary targets of
insurgents because they are what the terrorists fear, Charlton
said. “They know the police are the only thing preventing them
from coming into the area and taking over.”
Khalil told the gathered police that all of the stations must
continue their hard work because they are going through a very
critical point of time. He said, “Maintaining victory will be
the hardest part, therefore we most continue our hard work
during this state of war and stick together as we fight the
More Outposts being Built to Accommodate
Troops for ‘Surge’
Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Tuesday, May 22, 2007
American troops continue to build small,
neighborhood outposts to support the troop “surge” in and around
Baghdad, while the final extra Army brigade is poised to arrive
in Iraq next month.
Units such as the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, of the
3rd Infantry Division’s 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, have
moved from larger foward operating bases to combat outposts. In
the case of the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry, three new outposts
named after soldiers from the unit killed in combat have
replaced their home at Forward Operating Base Hammer. The combat
outposts include Cleary, Cahill, and Cashe, in Wahida, Salman
Pak, and Tuwaitha, respectively, officials said. “To live with
the populace and experience what they experience, you get a
better appreciation for the area,” Maj. John Cushing, the
battalion’s operations officer, was quoted as saying in a news
In one case, a combat outpost was built in a former government
building and a set of greenhouses, officials said. The COPs, as
the outposts are known, are being outfitted with showers and
dining halls, among other amenities. In another area of Baghdad,
the eastern district of Sha’ab, officials are touting successes
since February, when Iraqi police trucks with blood-stained beds
looked “like they had just come from a butcher shop,” one
But now, the sectarian murders have largely ended, according to
Capt. Will Canda, commander of Company B, 2nd Battalion, 325th
Airborne Infantry Regiment. The battalion patrols an area of the
city that includes Sha’ab, Ur, and Sadr City. Some 20 percent of
Baghdad’s population lives in the area, giving a ratio of one
U.S. soldier for every 26,000 Iraqis, officials said. While
acknowledging there is still “a ways to go,” officials have said
they’re confronting militias, failed local governments and
breakdowns in public services. That unit too operates from a
combat outpost, this one named Callahan; it was formerly an
upscale shopping center that had been abandoned.
1-15 Infantry Establishes Combat Outposts
By Multi-National Division - Center PAO
May 21, 2007
Spc. Jeff Nutter, 27, Redding, Calif., Pvt.
Dillon Bella, 19, Fredrick, Md., and Sgt. Anthony Shuta, 27,
Daytona Beach, Fla., all from Company D, 1st Battalion, 15th
Infantry Regiment, relax in their living quarters May 2, at
Combat Outpost Cashe, Iraq.
Blackanthem Military News, COMBAT OUTPOST
CLEARY, Iraq — Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry
Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team have established three
combat outposts in the unit’s area of operation, all named after
their fallen comrades. While in support of Operation Iraqi
Freedom, V, 1-15 Inf. moved from Forward Operating Base Hammer,
where the brigade headquarters is located, to Combat Outposts
Cleary, Cahill, and Cashe in the areas of Wahida, Salman Pak,
and Tuwaitha, respectively.
According to Maj. John Cushing, of Rochester, Mich., Operations
Officer for 1-15 Inf., the battalion was assigned to the
outposts to be closer to the communities and people they are
here to secure. He said moving closer to the towns where they
will be conducting their operations also allows for the
battalion to better intermingle with the locals. “To live with
the populace and experience what they experience, you get a
better appreciation for the area,” Cushing said.
COP Cleary is named after 1st Lt. Michael J. Cleary, 2nd Platoon
Leader for Company E, 1-15 Inf., who was killed during an IED
strike Dec. 5, 2005 during OIF III in Ad Duliayah, Iraq.
According to Capt. Mathew Garner, of Dallas, Texas., commander
for Company C, the unit had moved from a pharmaceutical plant to
COP Cleary almost immediately. When they arrived at the former
government building and greenhouses, there was nothing but one
run-down building. Rubble and broken glass covered the ground,
rendering it nearly impossible to maneuver vehicles. “It only
took one day, really, for the inside of the building to be
cleared,” Garner said, “and about a week or two to get all the
glass cleared away.” After hard work and dedication from the
Soldiers at COP Cleary, the outpost now has toilets, a shower
facility, and the Dragon Inn dining facility area. “It’s gotten
so much better here,” said Sgt. 1st Class Quentin Fenderson, of
Tuscaloosa, Ala. “Especially with the new chow hall and showers.
Most of the Soldiers would rather just stay here than go back to
(FOB Hammer) for showers and chow.”
Company D occupies COP Cashe, which is named after Sgt. 1st
Class Alwynn Cashe. Cashe was a platoon sergeant in Company A
during OIF III. He died on Nov. 8, 2005 from injuries suffered
during an IED strike on Oct. 17, 2005 in Ad Duliyah, Iraq.
The outpost is located in the town of Tuwaitha, just north of
Salman Pak. Directly next to the building is a fire station
where the Soldiers get most of their water. “The firefighters
help us out,” said Staff Sgt. Quentin Heard, 33, Lagrange, Ga.,
tank commander for 2nd Platoon, Company D, 1-15 Inf. “They bring
bread; they help us get our water running. We help them too.
Like, if one has a headache or something, we will get with our
medic to try to help them.” COP Cashe currently has two man-made
toilets, a new chow kitchen, and a shower made from ponchos, old
lockers, and a fire hose. The living quarters are rooms within
the building capable of housing eight to 16 Soldiers.
COP Cahill, named after Capt. Joel Cahill, Commander of Company
B, 1-15 Inf. during OIF III, who was killed Nov. 6, 2005 in an
IED attack in Ad Dwar, Iraq, is the smallest of the three
outposts and is believed to be the former Hunting Club security
building for Saddam Hussein’s sons, owned by the Ministry of
“It’s getting better everyday,” said Spc. Anthony Hartley, 22,
Delaware, Ohio, Company A, 1-15 Inf. “We have the phones and
internet, all we need is a place to wash clothes and I’ll be
set.” The COP has one makeshift shower, dining facility, and
phone and internet access. According to 1st Lt. Chris Pearson,
Executive Officer for Company A, improvements to be made to the
outpost includes additional living space and air conditioning.
Although it is not clear how long 1-15 Inf. will be living at
their designated outposts, the Soldiers are making tremendous
progress with the resources they are given and are prepared for
what could be an 18-month deployment. “It’s my job,” Hartley
said. “If I wasn’t prepared to do whatever I needed to, I
wouldn’t have signed on the dotted line.”
Plus Size V-Neck Dark T-Shirt
Women's Plus Size Scoop Neck T-Shirt
LTC Tim Stoy on his
June 2nd visit to Walter Reed Hospital
I visited our men in the hospital again this weekend. PFC David Foss was
doing well, and is departing today, 4 June, for San Diego, California
where he will continue his recovery. Has a great attitude going into the
PFC Arnold was in outpatient on Saturday so I did not have the
opportunity to see him, but he is coming back into inpatient treatment
this week for a further operation.
There is a new soldier on Ward 57, PFC Evan McQuislen. He was hit by an
IED blast as a driver in a 3-1 CAV HMMWV. They are rebuilding his right
arm, he had some blast effect to his face. His mother and stepfather are
present. He is a bit frustrated at the moment, but appears to be
progressing. Evan is from Florida.
I visited a soldier from 10th MTN whose brigade is under the 3rd
Division. PFC Tommy Langseth of the 2-15th FA was hit by an IED blast
while on foot patrol He has burns and shrapnel damage to his face, and
his eyes were damaged by the blast. He has a great attitude and is
progressing very well. The doctors believe they can get his eyesight
back, and will do so before he is released for further burn treatment in
Texas. His parents were present and were very positive. The family is
from Texas. This Soldier turned down a scholarship to Texas A&M to join
I also had the chance to say goodbye to PFC Saul Martinez, who will be
leaving for California and further medical treatment on Wednesday. He
lost both legs in a blast which obliterated his HMMWV and killed the
other two occupants. He spent one week with 1-15 IN before being pulled
up to BDE HQ to serve on the Bde Cdr's Security Detail. The convoy got
hit while traveling to an important meeting. They were gunning for the
Colonel. Saul said the bomb consisted of four explosive penetrators
(shaped charges). His parents and grandparents, brother, and wife were
all there. Great attitude on this young man.
SSG Brown continues to work hard to take care of our men.
I met another SSG Brown with a Marne combat patch now on staff at the
hospital. He served on a surgical team in support of 2d Bde in OIF I.
Hopefully he will sign up as a new member.
While I was there a group of Indonesian officers with their wives
visited Foss and McQuislen. It was nice to see that other people also
appreciate what our soldiers are doing.
As always, a good trip. Will hopefully make it out next weekend.
Rock of the Marne!
hints of a better future
By Zeke Minaya, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Wednesday, June 6, 2007
Capt. Joseph Peppers, on loan from the 3rd
Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, shares a laugh with a Karada
district council member on Monday.
Zeke Minaya / S&S
BAGHDAD — When Capt. Joseph Peppers rides through
the streets of the Karada Peninsula, east of the Green Zone in
Baghdad, he catches glimpses of the future. In the crowded
commercial district, where merchants stack televisions, air
conditioners and refrigerators in front of their busy shops, Peppers
sees a hint of the prosperity that is possible in Iraq.
“Think of the peninsula as what Iraq will look like 10 years from
now; security is good and people are making money,” Peppers said.
Karada, long one of Baghdad’s safest neighborhoods, has been made
more so by the recent security push, military officials in the area
say. Having achieved a measure of public safety, troops have shifted
more of their focus to building up essential services and coaching
local leaders. But even as the improved security in Karada provides
hope, it also underscores just how much is left to be done once the
violence settles down. Electricity and fuel shortages have hounded
residents for years, infrastructure improvements are sorely needed
and the nascent democratic institutions of the area are far from
“If we can get the area fixed it could be a pilot program,” Peppers
said. “If we can get electricity and sewage fixed we would be
heroes. The opportunity is there. It’s going to take a lot of time
and effort, but it’s doable.”
Karada was one of Baghdad’s premier neighborhoods under the regime
of Saddam Hussein, and it still is. The area, with roughly 250,000
predominantly Shiite residents, is marked by a relative affluence
and is home to many government officials as well as Baghdad
Peppers, a Chicago native with the 2nd Battalion, 69th Artillery
Regiment, on loan from the 3rd Infantry Division out of Fort
Benning, Ga., helps coordinate civic improvement projects. Last
week, there was a rally at the southern tip of the peninsula where
residents protested the lack of dependable electricity service,
Peppers said. Military officials estimate that it will take more
than six years before the region’s power woes can be completely
“Electricity is a big, big issue, and we have made it a priority,”
Other concerns are antiquated sewer systems and the lack of gas
stations in the area, Pepper said.
“People wait six hours in line for fuel.”
Unemployment is high in the area, as in Iraq as a whole. Military
officials, along with Provincial Reconstruction Teams, are helping
build local industry through a mixture of grants and government
“We need to get the economy going,” Maj. Dean Bushnell said. “If you
can employ military-aged males, they are less susceptible to
terrorists.” Though the commercial district is busy, most of what’s
sold is imported and industry native to the area is sorely lacking,
“There’s no Iraqi-made cars, no Iraqi Wal-Mart. So we’re really
trying to foster large businesses to employ military-aged people,”
After being under a totalitarian system, local leaders will need
more time to grow into the responsibilities of democratic
governance, Peppers said. “All decisions were made by one person or
few people just a few years ago,” Peppers said. “Now you have
different councils and groups; that dichotomy brings about some
issues.” Being able to tackle concerns other than public safety
means the security plan has begun to pay dividends, Peppers said.
“Once [the plan] is done you can focus on quality of life issues and
not just on where to place barriers and planning raids. That’s how
you can tell you are making a difference,” Peppers said.
It is not clear where other neighborhoods in Baghdad have
experienced the same benefits of the security push that Peppers has
seen in Karada. On Monday, the New York Times reported that a
military assessment of the security plan has shown slow progress.
The assessment, which was completed in late May, said coalition
forces had control of 146 of the 457 Baghdad neighborhoods,
according to the newspaper.
In Karada, Peppers said, the future is close. “Iraqis didn’t
progress at all for about 20 years, so now we are taking a whole
society and throwing them into the millennium,” he said. “It’s going
to take time. What do you expect? The risks are high but so are the
© 2007 Stars and Stripes. All Rights Reserved.
Trees for the Fallen
Coastal Empire by Sean Harder |
Friday, May 18, 2007
Jennifer Lawlor and her child, Brennan, are
framed by some of the 326 Eastern Redbud trees now planted on
Warriors Walk. Lawlor's husband, Staff Sgt. Brian Lawlor, served
with Sgt. Adrian Lewis, one of the slain 3rd Infantry Division
soldiers honored Thursday. (Photo: Carl Elmore)
FORT STEWART - A memorial to fallen soldiers was
expanded Thursday as soldiers and family gathered to honor the
lives of five more 3rd Infantry Division soldiers killed in
Iraq. Amid occasional rain and haze from the wildfires in
southeast Georgia, they stood as each soldier's name was read
aloud and granite markers were uncovered at each Eastern Redbud
tree planted for the fallen.
"I'm humbled to speak of five great people, five great soldiers
who made the ultimate sacrifice," said Col. Todd Buchs, garrison
commander at Fort Stewart. "They each answered their nation's
call to duty, serving to protect what we all hold dear." The
trees dedicated Thursday bring the number of Eastern Redbuds at
Fort Stewart's memorial, Warriors Walk, to 326.
3rd Infantry Division soldiers salute
Thursday during a ceremony at Fort Stewart honoring five slain
(Photo: Carl Elmore)
The first tree dedicated Thursday was in honor
of Spc. Forrest J. Waterbury, 25, of Richmond, Texas, who was
killed March 14 in Ramadi by enemy fire. He was assigned to Fort
Stewart's 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor. Waterbury was on his third
deployment to Iraq and had been there only three weeks before he
was killed, said his aunt Kathy Hall. He is survived by his wife
and step-child. "He always had a smile on his face, no matter
the situation," Hall said. "He loved what he was doing and loved
being in the Army. He had planned to make the military his
Amanda Lewis, widow of slain 3rd Infantry
Division Sgt. Adrian Lewis, attended Thursday's tree ceremony at
Fort Stewart with several family members, including, from left,
daughters Brianna Martin and Lexy Lewis. (Photo: Carl Elmore)
One week after Waterbury's death, another Fort Stewart
soldier from 3-69 Armor was killed. Sgt. Adrian J. Lewis, 30, of
Greenville, S.C., was killed March 21 by small arms fire in
Ramadi. "He didn't want to go this last time," said Amanda
Lewis, his wife and mother of four children. "We had just had a
baby. She was a month and two weeks old when he left."
As a father of four, Lewis enjoyed spending time with his family
and taking the occasional beach vacation to Florida, she said.
A 3rd Infantry Division color guard
participated in the ceremony for five fallen soldiers who were
at Warriors' Walk on Thursday. (Photo: Carl Elmore)
Three other soldiers from the division's 3rd
Brigade at Fort Benning near Columbus were also honored
Thursday. They are:
Pfc. Joey T. Sams, 22, of Spartanburg, S.C.
Staff Sgt. Harrison Brown, 31, of Prichard, Ala.
Pfc. David N. Simmons, 20, of Kokomo, Ind.
The 3rd ID, which led the invasion of Iraq in 2003, began its
third rotation into Iraq earlier this year. Its soldiers will
serve an extended 15-month tour as part of a troop buildup to
stabilize the country.
As of Thursday, 20 soldiers from the 3rd ID had been killed this
year in Iraq, according to www.icasualties.org , a Web site that tracks the war's
© 2007 SavannahNOW and the
Savannah Morning News.
For ‘supply-line’ Soldiers job rewards them like never
Spc. Ricardo Branch-1st BCT Public Affairs
A fork-lift unloads supplies at Camp Blue
Diamond during a supply drop off by Soldiers from Company B, 3rd
Brigade Support Battalion. (Photo by Spc. Ricardo Branch 1st BCT
(May 17, 2007) – On the streets and alleyways of Ramadi, combat
units need the tools necessary to maintain the fight and
continue the mission. For the troops of Company B, 3rd Brigade
Support Battalion, they have to be prepared to live up to their
motto “ready to roll” at a moments notice to delivery valuable
supplies to the units fighting for stability in the city.
The Soldiers lived up to their motto by bringing five thousand
pounds of bottled water, food and vehicle parts to Company B,
3rd Battalion, 69th Armor May 15 at Camp Blue Diamond. “We have
to get this to them so they can continue their mission,” said
Spc. Richard Cowling, a mechanic with 3rd BSB. The 21-year-old
Havertown, Pa., native said, “Right now 3-69 Armor is our main
security here. If they don’t have the supplies and tracks for
their vehicles, they can’t do their mission, so it’s important
we do these runs to resupply and refit units like them.”
Sgt. Mark York, a truck driver with Co. B,
3rd BSB ties down a container of supplies before the unit
travels back to Camp Ramadi.(Photo by Spc. Ricardo Branch 1st
BCT Public Affairs)
don’t just see units in nearby Blue Diamond but units in and
around Ramadi as well. Company B has driven 10, 860 miles on 85
convoy missions in their effort to resupply units around the
city. “There are times where we’ve had to go to Corregidor to
drop off jersey barriers for units to improve their security, or
push supplies into hostile areas like Albu-Bali,” Cowling said.
“We go to where the units are and bring them whatever they
Soldiers from Company B, 3rd Brigade
Support Battalion hold a prayer for a safe journey before the
start of a mission to 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor May 15 at Camp
Ramadi. (Photo by Spc. Ricardo Branch 1st BCT Public Affairs)
they are not on the frontlines, the Soldiers maintaining the
supply lines often find themselves in harm’s way while on duty.
“While we were going down the roads into Albu-Bali, I was
thinking this is a long route, and it was kind of creepy – not
scary – but like I was being watched,” Cowling said. “Then while
I was scanning a house it exploded.” “It was one of those ‘did
that just happen?’ moments,” he said. “I was wondering if EOD
did it … but they were in front of us. We also had a couple of
Bradley vehicles hit not even ten minutes in front of us during
Although the Soldiers have not had to deal with small-arms fire,
which is a testament of the success in Ramadi, they are always
prepared. “We’ve been pretty lucky on our routes because the
units securing them have done a real good job,” Cowling said.
“(But) It doesn’t stop us from scanning our sectors and being
alert for anything suspicious.”
A Soldier directs a truck at the supply
drop off point May 15 at Camp Blue Diamond.
(Photo by Spc. Ricardo Branch 1st BCT Public Affairs)
Joseph Monroe, the convoy commander, sees the pride the Soldiers
have in their job reflected in the way they perform. “The
Soldiers are doing real well,” said the 27-year-old
Fayetteville, N.C., native. “Each time they go out, they use the
operation as an opportunity to get better, so I’m proud of them
– They grow more with every mission.”
Monroe said the satisfaction the Soldiers display in their work
can be credited to their eagerness for the opportunity to
perform something extraordinary – keeping their comrades
supplied in combat.
He added, “They love this work. This is something they may never
get a chance to do again. Some of them we had to pick for this
duty, but most of them volunteered because they knew they could
Despite all the dangers, the Soldiers delivering supplies
continue to roll out the front gates of the combat outposts in
their journey to maintain the line.
“This is my first time being deployed,” Cowling said. “I thought
I’d be in a motor pool working 20 hours a day so this is a new
experience, and I like it. I wouldn’t give it up for anything.”
Caches Discovered in Ramadi
Point of Contact:
Maj Lee Peters
May 12, 2007
Press Release: 5-12.1
RAMADI, Iraq – Iraqi Security and Coalition Forces discovered
multiple insurgent caches in the Albu Bali region while
conducting clearing operations during the past week.
Iraqi Police, Provincial Security Force 2 and Soldiers from 3rd
Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd
Infantry Division uncovered 21 enemy caches including an
underground bunker, a vehicle borne improvised explosive device
factory, two VBIEDs, 24 155mm and 33 120mm artillery rounds, 29
120mm mortars, approximately 650 82mm mortars which included 190
inert rounds, 84 60mm mortars, seven bags of chlorine and
phosphorous powder, two improvised rocket launchers, and 13
Members of the Iraqi Police and PSF 2
proudly stand next to one
of the 21 caches uncovered in Albu Bali.
Many of the cache locations were provided by
local citizens once a permanent police presence was established
in the region. “This is another example of citizens responding
to an increased security presence,” said Col. John Charlton,
Brigade Combat Team commander. “Once the local population sees
that the police are not leaving, they immediately begin
providing them with information on caches and activity.”
The discovery of a VBIED factory represents
an elaborate assembly
line that produces VBIED historically used to attack Iraqi
The VBIED factory included six 55 gallon drums
of homemade explosives, four 50 gallon mixing barrels, 15 drums
of gasoline, two stoves, one water pump, three bundles of wire,
an assortment of metal pipes, two grain bags containing HME
residue and a fire extinguisher. One VBIED was being built and
contained eight containers of HME when the factory was
Two VBIEDs attacked Ramadi May 7, resulting in 16 killed and 19
Albu Bali, one of the remaining areas of persistent enemy
activity, is located 15 kilometers northeast of Ramadi.- 30 -
Media embedded with 1BCT
Stars and Stripes
Brigade Commander on
Progress in Ramadi
By Charles Grey, WTOC – CBS Savannah
As we pause to take time this Memorial Day weekend to honor
those who've given their lives in service to our country, we can
also think of those still living and working in harm's way.
It's still rough in places like Ramadi, Iraq, which has seen a
lot of action since the war began. We got a chance to speak with
Col. John Charlton, commander of the Third Infantry Division's
First Brigade Combat Team, which has been in Ramadi since
"Well, I'll tell you, Ramadi is, at least in my opinion and I've
been over here three times now, the most damaged city in Iraq,"
he told us Friday in a satellite interview from there. "This
city has undergone intense fighting over the past few years, and
a good portion of it is completely destroyed. So one of our
challenges is to work with the Iraqi government to help put that
And a good deal of that work is being handled by Iraqi civilians
through contracting programs.
"We'll hire local Iraqis from certain a neighborhood to clean
the neighborhood up," explained Col. Charlton. "That generates
some immediate income for those people. It also cleans up the
area, it makes it more sanitary. It also, in the process of
cleaning that up...they often find caches of weapons and
munitions that were left behind by insurgents, so they're very
useful programs on several fronts."
Security remains a priority, though. As Col. Charlton explained,
"We've had a total of 27 days in the city of Ramadi where there
was not a single attack. And so we're working very hard every
day to keep that security up. Cause if we can keep the security
up, then all those other things will happen. All the
reconstruction and economic development will continue to
progress very well."
The First Brigade Combat Team plans to have a short, simple
Memorial Day ceremony honoring all the fallen, but those who've
made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq especially.
Col. Charlton says the support of the people on the home front
is essential as he and his soldiers continue to focus on the
serious work to be done in a dangerous environment. "Well, we're
grateful for everyone back home remembering those fallen
warriors," he said. "What they've done for their country, what
they've done for the people here in Iraq."
Build up services, break
By Teri Weaver, Stars and Stripes
With a moment of peace hovering inside Ramadi, its people are
asking for a little bit of prosperity.
The electrical grid is virtually dead. A small sewage plant
operates, but it’s only enough to handle one small part of town.
The ceramics factory is closed, and the nearby workers’ quarters
lie open with shattered windows and crumbling bricks.
In January, the city was in the midst of the war. It had a mayor
with no budget, no officers and no paychecks, said Army Col.
John Charlton, commander of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd
Since then, the military has helped shape local leaders into
local councils, with the hopes that they can start prioritizing
city projects and make formal requests to the Ministry of
Interior for help. That effort will take longer than anyone
wants, military commanders said last week.
“You have no government,” Charlton said of the early part of the
year. “Now all of a sudden you expect the government to be able
to perform all the services of a mature government. It’s just
Possibility and patience are two different things. While Marines
patrolled a Ramadi neighborhood one evening last week, Iraqi
children swarmed them in their usual efforts to get chocolate,
candy, water, anything.
One group of kids had a different request: “Electricity!
Electricity!” they shouted in English.
There’s a military strategy at work in making the city run,
Charlton and others said. If the U.S. military can’t help
deliver certain services and secure abandoned buildings, the
city could fall back into the hands of people willing to pay
money — and threaten harm — to gain a foothold against American
troops and Iraqi forces.
Keeping the Iraqi police force equipped and satisfied is another
concern. The local police are local men, most who have taken up
arms to protect their own property and families.
Their presence and work at security stations throughout Ramadi
and the outlying areas are vital. As one Marine lieutenant told
his squad before a planned walking patrol: “If we don’t have
[Iraqi police] we’re not going,” he said. “It’s not safe. It’s
pointless to go without them.”
The police, too, are at risk. Eight were killed last week at a
checkpoint outside the city. Most are new recruits who have been
to a five-week training school. Most, but not all, have
uniforms. They certainly expect to be paid, American commanders
Maj. Sabah Yusif Zgier, who runs the Iraqi police at a station
south of Ramadi, says that did not happen for his men in March.
Their pay came in April, but it did not include the missing
money, he said through a translator in his office last week. He
was told it was a paperwork problem, and that to fix it, an
official wanted a bribe of 5 million dinar.
“They cannot work for free,” he said.
Marine Capt. Marcus Mainz leads Company L, 3rd Battalion, 7th
Marine Regiment. He’s been in town about a month, and walks the
streets often. Once he was invited inside a home for dinner.
He’s learned simple Arabic phrases, the proper greetings, the
words for good and no. Some of his Marines have had the name
patches on their uniforms sewn in Arabic to wear on patrols.
While Charlton works on getting large money for large projects,
Mainz and other commanders like him have CERP — Commanders
Emergency Response Funds. Mainz can use this to get potholes
fixed, generators put in the right place.
He also has the control to remove barriers, literally, that
block residents’ way to work. A man greeted him on the street. A
week ago, the same Iraqi was shaking in anger that he couldn’t
get to his shop to receive a metal delivery. Mainz has the power
to make that journey easy, and the man hugged him Thursday.
“It’s not about fighting the enemy,” he said. “It’s about
getting [residents] food and water, about long-term economic
During the walk, the Marines went by an empty lot where people
had strung a volleyball net and drawn a court into the sand.
They had no ball. Nearby, a field of garbage, including animal
carcasses, rotted. Down the block, a man was stringing wires
from a generator to a mosque. Another man washed his car. Kids
trailed the patrol, some licking orange ice cream cones.
The Iraqi police led the way on foot. They also circled the
outside of the patrol in an F-350 truck.
For those police in Ramadi, and Maj. Sabah’s who work south of
the city, payday is the 15th. They have it marked on their
Smith: Iraqi officials are
WASHINGTON -- Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., said
his trip to Iraq last weekend affirmed his position that U.S.
forces should not police an Iraqi civil war.
"My position is unchanged," Smith said. "If anything, in
numerous conversations with Oregon soldiers, they ratified my
Smith, who led a congressional delegation to Iraq and Jordan on
Thursday evening, said U.S. troops are making a "heroic effort"
"What we are doing now we have not been doing over the previous
four years," Smith said, "clearing, holding and building."
But that optimism, Smith said, was tempered by his meetings with
"They are in gridlock," Smith said. "They are focused more on
revenge than on reconciliation, on advantage rather than
inclusion. Until they take over their government with progress
and provide their people with security, there is no successful
outcome in Iraq."
Smith voted to authorize the war in 2002 and publicly supported
Bush for the next four years. Last December, he drew nationwide
attention when he denounced Bush's Iraq policy.
Smith was one of two Republican senators to vote for a
nonbinding resolution opposing President Bush's increase in
troops this year. That increase, Smith said, has worked "to a
"In January, al Qaeda in Iraq declared Ramadi their capital,"
Smith said. "Al Qaeda in Iraq has essentially been wiped out.
That is a result of the surge. Ramadi, which was once the worst
area in Iraq, is now one of the best."
But Smith warned that Iraq is a "vast country."
"The complexity of tribal hatreds runs throughout and
ultimately, for them to live together they have to make
compromises together. And I have yet to see the willingness to
Smith said he is concerned about Iran's involvement in Iraq, but
he said that is an issue Iraq must resolve.
"It is widely reported that we have captured Iranian weapons and
bombs, their personnel, their plans and their checklists," Smith
said. "That's simply the truth. Iran is bent on chaos in Iraq.
Iraq should be left to the Iraqis to settle."
Remarkable turnaround in
By Teri Weaver, Stars and Stripes
RAMADI, Iraq — On a routine trip last week into Ramadi’s
center, a driver in a Marine Corps convoy saw the tailgate on
one of the trucks swinging open.
Rather than risk losing the gear inside, the convoy stopped and
a couple of Marines jumped out to fasten the tailgate. A few
short weeks ago, the same convoy would have sped on, the Marines
on the ride said later. The risk of standing on a Ramadi street,
exposed to sniper fire and bomb attack, would have outweighed
the risk of lost cargo, they said.
“It’s not that kind of fight anymore,” said Staff Sgt. Amos
Livingston, a Marine who patrolled Ramadi a year ago and
recently returned with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Corps
It’s been weeks since a major attack or explosion hit inside the
city limits, according to military statistics. Part of the
change comes as local tribal leaders and police forces have
banded with military troops. The joint effort has led to massive
security sweeps, discoveries of piles of hidden munitions and
the dismantling of a makeshift car bomb factory, the military
Key to this effort are neighborhood police and military outposts
— called joint security stations — set up where the violence
dwells, Iraqi and U.S. officials say.
These stations are just taking hold in Baghdad as part of the
military’s surge to defeat the insurgents. But they started in
Ramadi months ago, and they seem to be making a difference,
commanders, troops, Iraqi police and citizens say.
The tactic involves sweeping the area clear of insurgents while
embedding U.S. troops inside the community. The troops — like
Livingston — live alongside Iraqi forces, letting them run
operations while the Americans provide financial and military
Now Ramadi is full of the stations, says Army Col. John
Charlton, commander of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry
Division, which oversees a swath of land in Anbar province that
“It eliminated the enemy’s ability to move around the city,”
Charlton said recently in his office on Camp Ramadi. “ ‘Cause
everywhere they go, they are going to run into one of our
positions. And that has helped hold the terrain that we
But clearing the violence in one sector pushes it into another,
Despite the relative calm inside Ramadi, two suicide car bombs
on May 7 hit an Iraqi police checkpoint and a market less than a
mile east of the city limits, killing 16 — eight police and
eight civilians. Nineteen others, mostly civilians, were
A few weeks prior, Charlton won approval to include that market
in his area because he knew the enemy was running in that
direction. The same day the car bombs hit, an Army unit was in
the midst of opening a security station in the area.
Chasing the insurgency is also happening in other directions.
Earlier this spring, a road leading south from the city to four
villages was littered with buried bombs, and its farms were
stashes for insurgents’ munitions. About two weeks ago, a
security station opened at the southern end of the route.
But it came at a price. A corporal from Company C, 1st
Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, lost his legs in a roadside
bombing in late April, before the calm began.
Charlton and others know one of the biggest vulnerabilities is
suicide car attacks.
An Iraqi store owner injured in the May 7 attacks agreed.
He was brought to the military hospital at Camp Ramadi following
the attacks. He was surprised the American military would treat
him “like one of the family,” he said through an interpreter. He
also said the attack that hit his store seemed inevitable.
But, still, he said, things are better than a year ago. Then, he
would never have trusted the Iraqi police to protect him if he
offered up information about suspected insurgents. Now, he would
go to them, he said. He did not feel safe enough, however, to
print his name in an American newspaper.
The hospital staff keeps track of the violence differently. On
May 7, they treated 12 wounded, including one Iraqi police
officer. Two other people died of wounds. The last time that
many injuries was April 26, 11 days earlier.
Another thing has changed in Ramadi.
“I’m done with raiding homes and scaring women and children,”
Army Capt. Ian Lauer said during a meeting with Iraqi troops
last week. The company commander with 1st Battalion, 77th Armor
Regiment, was talking to an Iraqi officer about a tip on some
hidden weapons. It’s Lauer’s job, in part, to urge the Iraqis to
do more of their own raids and their own arrests.
Charlton is on his third tour in Iraq. He knows peace and calm
can be short-lived in Iraq.
In Ramadi, he’s concerned that the swelling ranks in the local
police force could prove opportune for al-Qaida to enlist its
own recruits. He wants to start rebuilding infrastructure,
before local residents stop believing that America will help fix
the electrical grid and the sewage lines. He’s aware the local
tribal leaders, who are helping drive the cooperation and calm,
may begin their own power struggle.
Still, he remains optimistic.
“I think what’s promising here is the level of support we have
from the local population,” Charlton said. “That’s what gives me
optimism about the way forward.”
Promotion pressure still
By Teri Weaver, Stars and Stripes
Spc. Ryan Hicks is nervous.
Yes, the 25-year-old from Tallahassee, Fla., is living at Camp
Ramadi, just a stone’s throw away from the city that al-Qaida in
Iraq once claimed as its capital.
But Wednesday morning, he had to face a more immediate foe of
another sort — the sergeants in his unit who would decide on his
promotion from E-4 to E-5, the solid terrain of noncommissioned
“That’s the goal: to mess with us to see if you can act under
pressure,” said Hicks, a member of the 1st Battalion, 77th Armor
Regiment, part of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry
Division headquartered at Ramadi.
Hicks’ description isn’t far off, according to Sgt. 1st Class
John Gear of the battalion’s headquarters company. “They’ve got
to react against their nerves,” said Gear as he sized up the
Hicks and others like him may have a bigger advantage going in
front of the promotion board in Iraq than they would at their
unit’s home in Germany, Gear said.
“Here,” he said, referring to car bombs and firefights, “they do
this on a daily basis.”
For Hicks, so far, so good. On Wednesday morning, he passed his
GATES test, a series of hands-on tasks that measure a soldier’s
ability to treat wounds, don a gas mask, call for the explosive
ordnance team and read a map.
Thursday, he knew, would be a different fight. He and a handful
of others would go before a panel of higher-ranking soldiers for
“I’m pretty nervous," he said.
Kudos for the commandant
His squad calls him the Commandant. Like most nicknames, it
brings equal parts respect and abuse.
Sgt. Troy White, 20, of Owasso, Mich., is the Marine of the Year
for the Marine Expeditionary Force I, which includes America’s
West Coast. To achieve the honor, White sat through interviews
from his own base in Twentynine Palms, Calif., up to division
“They look at your appearance, your confidence,” he said last
week, a couple of hours before his squad — part of the 2nd
Platoon, Company L, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment — went on
a walking patrol in Ramadi.
Neither was in question that night. White and others Marines
from his unit patrolled Ramadi a year ago, when gunfire and
roadside bombs were more the norm. This month, the unit returned
for a second tour in the same area to find pockets of calm in
the same city.
It was White who best tracked the route among a crew that
included the company captain. It was White who reported a child
they passed had pointed westward and said “boom,” a sign hard to
read but ominous enough that the group changed their tack.
And it was White who noticed where too many fuel tanks were
piled up on a corner. Even as the neighborhood enjoys a measure
of peace, White saw the intersection and a potential explosion
from a car bomb.
“Yes, that’s it!” Company L Commander Capt. Marcus Mainz
shouted, congratulating the Commandant for his attention.
Goodies from home
Friday was mail call for the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment,
only their second since deploying from California in recent
weeks. And Friday’s shipment to Forward Operating Base Hurricane
Point was the first with boxes, care packages full of goods from
They got smoked almonds, glow-in-the-dark Silly Putty, Twizzlers,
foot powder, Mike ‘n’ Ike candy, energy drinks, tuna packets,
socks, dried fruit, spicy Slim Jims, a towel, Oragel, a sheet
set, the movies “Talladega Nights” and “Rocky Balboa,” a
computer, pictures, kosher chicken and salmon meals, trail mix,
and paper and envelopes for return letters home.
Some Marines got nothing.
And some know that more is on the way. One Marine is waiting for
a package from his wife that contains yellow plastic lemons full
of lemon juice, so he can mix it with sugar and water in the
Iraqi desert and make lemonade.
Far away from home
By Stacy Horany, Wichita Falls Times Record News
Lt Col. Scott Johnson is a long way from Lucy Park.
Less than 100 miles west of Baghdad on the banks of the
Euphrates River, Ramadi, Iraq is about as far from the span
bridge and the Falls as one can get, and Johnson said he will be
ready to visit his parents, Segal and Carol Johson, and see his
old home after his 15-month deployment to Iraq ends next April.
"I miss the country - I miss West Texas more than anything
else," Johnson said. "Wichita Falls changes every time I see it,
but we always go to Lucy Park, walk across the swinging bridge,
go to the Falls and hike around on the trails."
A 1981 graduate of Hirschi High School and a 1985 graduate of
Midwestern State University, Johnson is the commander of the
Army's Third Infantry Division's 1-3 Brigade Troops Battalion,
otherwise known as the "Desert Cats."
Johnson said his battalion does many different jobs in Ramadi,
including military intelligence (operating unmanned aerial
vehicles or UAVs), ground intelligence, communications and
building vigilance security stations for the Iraqi security
forces, among many other jobs. He said the hard work his men are
doing is paying off in terms of security and cooperation with
the locals in Ramadi.
"It's not easy. We're really working hard with the local
government and security forces, including the Iraqi Army and
Iraqi Police. We're also working with the tribal sheiks and the
local population," Johnson said.
"From the time we got here in January until now, it's a
180-degree difference from where it was," Johnson said. "We took
over for the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division and they did a
heck of a lot of work - when we took over, their work started to
Johnson said they are working closely with the Iraqi police and
Iraqi Army in Ramadi and have been able to improve the situation
on the ground there, getting utilities up and running and
improving living conditions in the city.
Johnson said he does miss many things - most of all his family,
including his wife, Ann, who is also a lieutenant colonel in the
Army, and his sons, 7-year-old Conner and 2-month-old David, who
live at Fort Stewart in Georgia. He said he was able to be there
for David's birth in March.
He said he also misses the TV show "24," basketball and football
games and especially dove hunting, but he knows the job he is
doing in Iraq is necessary and important.
"I feel good about what I'm doing here every day, not only
serving my country and being part of the Army, but I actually
feel good about what I'm doing," Johnson said.
"We just need your support. We need the American people to back
us - I tell people that I don't make the policy, I'm just a tool
of the policy makers. We're here to do a job, and when that job
is done then we'll come home," he said.
He said those care packages, letters from schoolchildren and the
like all mean something to soldiers in Iraq.
"We get tons of letters from school classes, a lot of care
packages - all of that makes a soldier smile because we really
feel like people are supporting us," he said.
Johnson's parents moved the family to the area in 1976, shortly
before Segal retired from his career in the Air Force, Carol
said. Along with Scott, Carol said her son Randall is in the
Coast Guard. Her other son Keith served for four years in the
"We're just very proud of them, I worry about Scott because of
where he is, but this is his second tour in Iraq," Carol said.
"We e-mail him and he calls us so we stay in touch- it's a lot
different than when my husband went to Vietnam because we didn't
have computers. We communicated by letters back then."
Johnson said he is looking forward to coming home and visiting
Wichita Falls, but he has another plan in mind as well.
"I think I'm going to go to Angel Fire for two weeks and do some
fly fishing," he said.
Voice of Ramadi speaks for
police, city leaders
By Teri Weaver, Stars and Stripes
FORWARD OPERATING BASE HURRICANE POINT, Iraq — Three times a
week, Lance Cpl. Joseph Day surfs the Al Jazeera and the BBC Web
sites, looking for news to bring to the city in Ramadi.
The Voice of Ramadi, a 15-minute newscast, blares from
loudspeakers throughout the northern part of the city every day
but Friday, the Muslim holy day.
The Arabic broadcast includes the Iraqi national anthem, a
reading from the Quran, and nationalist songs.
There’s always a soccer score from around the world, and,
sometimes, the city’s mayor reads a statement.
The idea is to build credibility between the city and its local
leaders, according to Day and Adel Abouhana, a Department of
Defense worker who translates the English narrative into the
local Arabic dialect and records the message.
To do that, the broadcast never mentions coalition forces.
It also means not mentioning that the message starts in the
small public affairs office at Hurricane Point, a Marine Corps
base just outside Ramadi that houses the 3rd Battalion, 7th
Marine Corps Regiment. The tagline, “The Ramadi police welcome
you to this news update,” but never mentions the U.S. military
or American news outlets.
“We’re speaking for the Iraqi police,” Abouhana said Saturday
“It has nothing to do with coalition forces.”
Yet, for now, it’s U.S. Marines who draft and approve the script
and produce the audio. They put the seven loudspeakers at
various Iraqi police stations throughout the city, and they
e-mail or deliver the final versions to the locations for
The choice of news stories starts with Day, 20, of Amesbury,
Mass. He generally picks two stories from Al Jazeera about
Middle East and Africa, two from BBC about Europe and Asia. One
broadcast last week included the Chinese government’s plan to
send military engineers to Darfur and the deaths of two
Palestinians in Lebanon who were members of the Fatah movement.
Day intentionally skips what he calls negative news: information
about economic turmoil or uprisings that reject democratic
values, he said. Instead, he looks for stories about other
nations in Asia, Europe and Africa that are having elections,
conducting peace talks, and improving their economies.
The broadcast also usually includes a local message, Day said.
The May 9 script explained two suicide car bombs May 7 that hit
a market outside of Ramadi, killing eight Iraqi police and eight
“On Monday, madmen terrorists committed a horrific act by
attacking and killing innocent men, women and children of
Jazeera by driving two vehicles filled with explosives into an
open market and police checkpoint,” the scripts read in English.
It goes on to explain why a couple of bridges were closed and
asks local residents with information about the bombings to
contact the Ramadi police.
The Marines hope to pass the production duty onto local city
officials, especially in time for the end of Abouhana’s
deployment four months from now. Capt. Craig Schaffner, who also
helps with the script, said he wants to start including the city
government, rather than just the police, on the show’s tagline.
“We don’t want them to think it’s propaganda,” Schaffner said.
------------------------- Points of Contact
Please provide comments, suggestions or questions concerning
this newsletter to the 1st Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs
Major Lee Peters SSG(P)
Public Affairs Officer Public Affairs NCOIC
318-340-3832 (DSN) 318-340-3624 (DSN)
Brigade Combat Team Deploys
May 10, 2007-More Third Infantry Division soldiers are on
their way to Iraq tonight. Members of the Second Brigade Combat
Team left their families at Fort Stewart this morning. They'll
deploy later tonight from Hunter Army Airfield. The soldiers
will be gone for at least 15 months. Many families are handling
the news well, knowing the deployment could have been even
longer and remembering that their loved ones have a job to do.
Staff Sergeant Joshua Stone, holding his
youngest son, Jamari
With their bags packed, it was finally time to say
goodbye. The first time wasn't easy said Staff Sergeant Joshua
Stone, holding his youngest son, Jamari, and it doesn't get any
easier. "The second time was a little harder," admitted Staff
Sergeant Stone. "The third time, you kind of get used to it, but
you never really do."
Staying behind is more difficult for his wife, Mae, who
spent nine years in the military, herself. "It's a little easier
for the kids now, but it's harder for me because I'm not there
with him to see what's going on and knowing what to expect over
there, it's a little harder," added Mae Young Stone.
Jessica Reade, who just got engaged to
Private Nathaniel Slosson, gives him a kiss
Jessica Reade, who just got engaged to Private Nathaniel
Slosson, is ready to help him however she can, right down to
carrying his gear. "I'm pretty proud," said Slosson, smiling at
his petite fiance. "She's carrying a rucksack that weighs at
least as much as she does." Both said it's hard to say goodbye.
"It's pretty hard," said Reade, "I've grown up around it in a
military family, but with him, it's a little harder." "It's hard
to leave," said Slosson, "but this is what I signed up for and
this is what I wanted to do. She's not too happy about it, but
15 months isn't too long, I guess."
The troops' 15 month deployments are having another effect on
the Third Infantry Division. The Fourth Brigade Combat Team,
that was scheduled to deploy in July, will now deploy in
Reported by: Liz Flynn,
|iPod tells soldier
he was shot - the real story
Everyone knows it’s a must-have for music fans, but now it's
being put forward as an essential life-saving accessory for
soldiers. Apple’s iPod apparently saved the life of an American
soldier serving in Iraq, if pictures posted on Flickr are
anything to be believed.
According to a comment accompanying the pictures of the
life-saving iPod, Kevin Garrad (3rd Infantry Division)
was attacked by an armed insurgent, who shot him in the
left-hand side of his chest with an AK-47. The iPod in his
jacket pocket reportedly took the full force of the shot,
leading to countless ‘iPod saved my life’ headlines.
A rather unexpected PR bonus for Apple, just as its iPod passed
the 100 million sales mark, but also a bit of a tall story. It
turns out Garrad’s life was actually saved by a good
old-fashioned bullet-proof vest. He told Greg Adler at PC
Advisor’s US-based sister title PC World that he was wearing
upgraded body armor that easily stopped the AK-47 bullet.
He said the upgraded armor he was wearing could
stop the AK-47 round. It was not the newest armor that is in
Iraq now, but it was an upgrade. This was his second iPod that
he had brought to Iraq. The first had been damaged earlier and
the store would not replace it, even with the additional
warranty he purchased.
The pictures are what happens when an AK-47 bullet hits an iPod.
He’s talked to Apple and is happy that they sent him another
iPod. He’s gone through two already. If any others send him
iPods he’ll put them in care packages back to friends in his
unit who don’t have them.
Still, with iPod jackets and iPod trainers (coming by way of the
Nike+iPod sports kit) already on the market, could iPod-enabled
bullet-proof vests be the next big thing?
Compiled from articles in Flickr and pcadvisor.com-Paul
The back of the Ipod.
Christine and Kevin Garrad with iPod.
The front of the Ipod.
Commander Talks About the Future
April 24, 2007-Fort Benning is going through a
transformation. The military's base realignment will bring
thousands of new troops to the area. Fort Bunning's commanding
general talked about the growth and the extended deployments of
Major General Walter Wodjakowski began his command of Fort
Benning 20 months ago. He has no plans of leaving just yet and
expects to be here for at least another year. "It's a great
command Fort Benning is a wonderful place. We love the entire
tri community area.," he says.
The general will continue to oversee the growth and addition of
thousands of new troops to the base as the base realignment
plans move forward. "From the strategic point of view...we have
been planning in detail since the brac law was passed," says
Just over a week ago the defense department announced that some
of the troops serving in Iraq would see longer deployments.
Wodjakowski says that was no major surprise to the military
"In the case of the 3rd brigade combat team, who this really
impacts on. Their families were told by their commander Colonel
Grisby and their division commander General Lynch before their
deployment that a 12 month deployment was probably not going to
happen, they could expect 16 to 18 months to be away from home
so there was some preparation of those families. My belief and I
say this because we of course support the family readiness of
the 3rd brigade combat team group everyday on Fort Benning is
that they are doing fine with it." says Maj. Gen. Wodjakowski.
He says he does not expect any major environmental impact
connected to Fort Benning growth. But there is going to be a
public meeting on the issue at the Columbus Trade Center next
Commander reports from Iraq
Joe Parker Jr., Coastal Courier
April 24, 2007-Although his soldiers are
“exactly where they should be in terms of equipment and
training,” the 3rd Infantry Division’s commanding general said,
“We are still losing great soldiers.” As Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch
spoke to the Coastal Courier in a telephone interview this week,
he noted the death of a soldier in a unit attached to the 3rd ID
headquarters, and the dedication of another tree Thursday at
Fort Stewart’s Warriors Walk, honoring another 3rd ID soldier
“We are in top-of-the-line armored vehicles,” the general said
as an example of improved equipment used by the division in
Iraq. “As I said before we left Fort Stewart, we will only bring
to Iraq soldiers who are trained and ready,” he said.
Noting the recent extension of Iraq tours from 12 to 15 months
for all deployed and deploying soldiers, Lynch recalled he had
told 3rd ID soldiers and families to be prepared for a potential
stay of 18 months. “There are signs of progress,” he said, “but
we are in a difficult situation. The cost is high.” Morale is
good, the general said, and pointed out several reasons,
including, “We know our families are being taken care of back
home.” Lynch remains installation commander of Fort Stewart and
stays in touch with home station through formal and informal and
informal channels. “I talk to my wife,” he said, “just like
other soldiers talk to their wives.” The general also has
regular teleconferences with Fort Stewart Garrison Commander
Col. Todd Buchs.
The infrastructure in Iraq to support morale includes a fitness
center “just like the one we have at Fort Stewart,” with another
one under construction. Other features include movies, pool,
ping-pong, a library and a popular Internet café. Lynch said the
recent visit of three National Football League players was an
example of Morale, Welfare and Recreation activities that
include tours by celebrities and entertainers.
As part of the Gridiron Greats Tour 2007, Chris Harris, a safety
with the Chicago Bears, Nick Harper, a cornerback with the
Indianapolis Colts and Israel Idonije, a defensive end also with
the Chicago Bears, visited soldiers last week.
“These players understand what soldiers are doing and they
understand how they are serving and they want to give back to
the community, the greater community of the Army,” said Joe
Canfield, the players’ manager.
The 3rd ID headquarters, established from scratch since its
arrival in Iraq, also commands the 2nd Brigade of the 10th
Mountain Division and the 4th Brigade (Airborne) of the 25th
3rd ID Soldiers miss home, but Morale is High
Savannah Morning News
MG Rick Lynch,
Commanding General of the 3rd Infantry Division
April 24, 2007-Like so many of the soldiers I
lead, I miss family and friends at home in the Coastal Empire
and beyond. There is not a second that goes by that I don't
think about the families and the community we left behind. Our
reunion will be sweet for sure, but for now we do our duty and
focus on the mission at hand.
The Army announced last week that active component, regular Army
soldiers deployed and deploying to this region will spend no
more than 15 months in theater and no less than 12 months at
home. This came as no surprise to our soldiers because we had
told them all to expect an 18-month deployment. I still caution
them to not be fixated on a set date for returning home. That
time will come. We will complete our assigned tasks. Each
soldier will be compensated with extra pay each month after the
12 spent here. But we all know that it is still tough to be
separated from loved ones. In spite of the delay, they remain
motivated and they are doing a magnificent job. Morale is very
high across the force.
I want to thank all of you who have expressed your support to us
over the course of the last four weeks and longer. Our loved
ones at home are comforted by you and we are in your debt. The
"Adopt A Soldier" program is in full swing here. Thanks.
In my role as commander of this great division, I travel around
Iraq to visit units and gain situational understanding. En route
I often look out of the aircraft and see Iraqi children playing
soccer in dusty fields and trying to swim in half-filled pools.
They remind me of our children in the U.S.A. They want to have
fun. And their parents want them to have a better life than they
themselves had. For now their dream is just out of reach. They
lack the security and resources necessary to have the joy
freedom provides. And that's where your division, the 3rd
Infantry Division, comes in.
A key to establishing security for the Iraqis is stopping
weapons and extremists with their foreign ideologies from
entering the city of Baghdad. Today, Dog Face Soldiers, our 1st
Brigade (Raiders) and 3rd Brigade (Sledgehammer), are performing
that task on both sides of this nation's capitol.
In Ramadi, the Raider Brigade has established numerous outposts
in that former bastion of terror. Now, civilians have greater
freedom. There are jobs, reconstruction and citywide improvement
projects. Our troops have reduced the number of terrorist
attacks from 25 per day to four and even zero per day in just
three short months. Civilians are joining the political process
there and rejecting the insurgents.
Another of our tasks is to help train the Iraqi security forces.
In many parts of Iraq, Iraqi security forces operate on their
own. In others, they are teamed with U.S. soldiers until they
are sufficiently trained and equipped to perform the task
independently. I have met many of their leaders and they are a
proud lot. Our 1st Brigade Combat Team has hosted recruiting
drives and Sunnis are joining the Iraqi Army and police. You
would be pleased to know that our great soldiers in the Marne
Division are enjoying some success. They are moving into
neighborhoods with the Iraqi Security Forces, conducting
patrols, serving jointly with the Iraqi Army and police. I am so
very proud of our soldiers. They are building schools and they
are helping Iraqi citizens to obtain clean water for drinking as
well as watering of their crops.
In time, the children in this region will have their security
and be able to play, grow and enjoy the freedom we enjoy at
home. For now someone must stop the terrorist threat. And that
takes courageous young men and women like your friends and
neighbors now deployed.
I have had the privilege of awarding soldiers medals for bravery
and valor. Pinning these awards on a soldier's chest is the
greatest honor a leader can have. May God bless each one. Sadly,
I have also attended memorial services for fallen heroes. Staff
Sgt. Harrison Brown and PFC. David "Neil" Simmons were assigned
to our Third Brigade Combat Team from Fort Benning. They were
killed in action here while on patrol. Improvised explosive
devices and indirect fire remain our greatest threats and we are
working hard to defeat these systems and find the persons
responsible for creating them.
Staff Sgt. Brown left behind a wife and three daughters. PFC
Simmons' mother told his fellow soldiers that her son had died
doing what he wanted to do - what he believed in. Their families
can rest assured that they were cherished.
I hug our soldiers in their victories and I am there to console
them in their grief. If insurgents are nothing else, they are
the breakers of hearts. And I have tired from attending memorial
services and tree dedications. As I stare at the photos of
soldiers who have fallen, I think of their families at home,
their friends left behind, and the dreams they did not fulfill.
Then I pray and resolve myself to honor their memory by doing my
duty to the best of my ability so that others may live freely.
Rock of the Marne.
Mail comes sooner than later for 3rd Brigade Soldiers
Photo by Sgt. Kevin McSwain
FOB HAMMER, Iraq— An
open mailroom puts some 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team Soldiers in
contact with family members for the first time since arriving in
Iraq. “Soldiers are getting their mail and it feels good to know
that I am a part of that,” said. El Paso, Texas, native Cpl. Maria
Guardado, a brigade mail clerk. The task was to establish a mailroom
for the Soldiers on Forward Operating Base Hammer from the 3rd
Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga.
The mailroom started out with one large storage container and five
Soldiers. However, Guardado said that did not provide sufficient
space to hold the mail that was coming in, so she had to find other
containers for storage. “I talked to the Mayor’s Cell and acquired
more storage space to accommodate the incoming mail,” Guardado said.
“I am very thankful for all the help the battalions have provided
us. We had Soldiers from all over the brigade volunteer to help
receive, organize, and distribute the mail.” With the help of the
volunteers, Guardado said service members are able to receive their
mail within 24 hours of its arrival to the forward operating base.
The base is so new that phones and internet are not readily
available for Soldiers. So, for some, this is the first connection
to friends and family since their arrival in Iraq. Guardado said
mail gives the Soldiers something to look forward to and it has
lifted morale around the brigade. “I like to see the smile on a
Soldier’s face when I tell them that they have a package,” she said.
Guardado said all the mail clerks have become very popular.
“Soldiers are always coming up to us and asking if they have any
mail for the day,” she said. Soldiers on base emphasized how
grateful they were for the hard work and dedication the mail clerks
have put in to establish a mailroom.
“It feels good to be receiving mail, and I know it is because of
their hard work that this is possible,” said Sgt. Jamie Jones, a
personnel specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company,
203rd Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd HBCT, 3rd Inf. Div.
Jones, from Beaumont, Texas, said that out of everything she
received in her first package, she cherished the pictures of her
infant daughter the most. “Being able to see how much my daughter
has grown in such a short time brings me joy and it gives me
something to look forward to throughout the deployment,” she said.
As one of the designated mail clerks for her battalion, Jones said
the mail system has been a way for Soldiers to receive products they
are not able to purchase at the local Post Exchange.
“The care packages that have been sent so far have been very helpful
for Soldiers,” she said. “It provides them with a little of the
comforts of home out here in the desert.”
Guardado, who has not received her first package, said she has one
special request for the contents of the box. “When my package
arrives, I hope it has a bottle of Louisiana hot sauce,” she said.
“But whatever is inside will be greatly appreciated.”
With the establishment of a mail center and other services around
base, Soldiers of 3rd HBCT, 3rd Inf. Div. have shown how motivation
and training can make anything possible.
For queries, contact the Multi-National Division – Center Public
Affairs Office by sending an e-mail to Maj. Alayne Conway at
or MSG Marcia Triggs at
or by phone at VOIP 822-777.
Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Squadron, 1st
Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry
Division sort mail during a recent mail drop on Forward Operating
This is a story from the 3rd Infantry Public Affairs Office.
'adopt' 3rd ID soldiers warms the heart
Carol Megathlin, Savannah Morning News
Requests to sponsor soldiers pouring in. Zeke was the
first to volunteer. His message popped into my inbox at 8:58
Sunday morning. I fretted while it trembled there, alone, for 30
minutes. Maybe Easter Sunday wasn't the best time to run a
column asking readers to adopt a Third Infantry Division
soldier. Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commanding general of the 3rd ID,
had his staff ready and waiting to match soldiers in Iraq with
sponsors in Savannah. How demoralizing it would be if only Zeke
How could I have doubted you, even for 30 minutes? After the
church services and the Easter egg hunts were over, a trickle of
responses began to pool in my inbox. Then on Monday, the trickle
became a torrent.I scrambled to forward your requests to Maj.
Gen. Lynch, send you a list of items for care packages, and
gather your e-mail addresses into a listserve.
Now, three weeks after the column appeared, your requests to
sponsor a soldier are still slipping into my inbox. You have
sent the column so far afield that 3rd ID soldiers are
introducing themselves to sponsors in Nevada, Missouri,
Maryland, Kentucky and Virginia. I didn't expect your messages
to blur my eyes and tighten my throat. When our fingers fly over
the keyboard, we reveal our hearts.
These words, from "old soldiers": "Mail call is a lonely
time when your name is never called.
"I spent 23 years in the United States Army with two tours of
duty in Vietnam. There is no replacement like hearing your name
called at mail call and a letter from home."
From newcomers to Savannah: "Our family would LOVE to adopt a
soldier. We have recently moved to the Savannah area, and we see
how much this community loves their military men and women. "I'd
be honored to be in touch with a couple of our soldiers. I'm a
Richmond Hill resident now - moved from Long Island a year ago.
I have to say the sense of patriotism and pride in our soldiers
and country have really had an effect on me ..."
Then, from a home-schooling pastor's wife in Kentucky: "PLEASE
can you get our family on the list to adopt. We are studying
American History and feel that a personal touch would give our
children such a special experience. It makes me so proud to live
in such a wonderful country ... so protective and appreciative
of the men and women who serve us. We have so much to thank them
ALL for, past and present."
The most determined of the respondents had to be Virginia.
Eighty-four years old, happily unhampered by the Internet, she
had a neighbor send her name to my e-mail address. Later she
sent me a letter, written in a beautiful hand on lined yellow
paper: "Thank you so very much for sending a soldier's
name to me. Today, I sent his care package and also a letter. I
couldn't get all the things I bought in that small box. Maybe he
will answer and I can send him some more. I always wanted to
write to our boys but just didn't know how.
" P.S. I am 84 years old but I love everybody and especially
those boys who are fighting for their country."
Sometimes your stories took my breath away with an unexpected
turn. This, from Marty: "I would be very happy to write to
one of our soldiers. Last year I had sent a box of books to
soldiers in Baghdad, and one soldier wrote to thank me. We
shared e-mails for several months and he even sent some patches
from his regiment to me. And suddenly - nothing - and it's
haunted me ever since that something might have happened to
The most poignant message was from the ex-wife of a soldier. "I
have a soldier for you that can use your prayers and care," she
said. The soldier had just left for his third deployment, the
first since his divorce. Her closing words were these: "Please,
the most important thing of all, pray. Pray for him and all the
others out there at war that risk their lives every day to keep
peace in another country."
We reveal our hearts when we write. Your good hearts are on the
way to Iraq.
dealt 2nd blow with benefit plan
By Deanna Salie
Deanna Salie is the widow of Sgt. 1st Class David J. Salie, who was
killed in Iraq on Feb. 14, 2005.
My husband was certain that he was going to die in Iraq. Sgt. 1st Class
David J. Salie had been an American soldier for almost 17 years. He'd
deployed many times, and he'd been to war before. He'd parachuted into
Panama with the 82nd Airborne Division, served in the Gulf War and gone
to Haiti with the 25th Infantry Division. But he'd never been so certain
that he was going to die that he prepared for death. David told me that
he wouldn't be coming back. I didn't believe him. I felt that he was
just under so much stress thinking of our children and me, and about the
40 soldiers in his platoon who were his responsibility.
In the month before he left for Iraq with B Company, 2nd of the 69th
Armor, 3rd Infantry Division, David went over his will with a
fine-toothed comb, and he checked out his Survivor's Group Life
Insurance, which provides protection for military people. David even
gave away some of his personal belongings. He also checked on the death
benefits that a soldier's family receives. My husband came home and
proudly announced that if he died in Iraq, his family would be taken
care of. I tried to tell him that he shouldn't worry about things like
that. He said that every soldier going to war worries about his family
and wants to make sure that if he's killed, his family will be taken
care of just as they would be if he were still alive.
We were "all squared away," David told me. I wish I could say that he
was wrong about dying and right about the rest of it. Instead, he was
correct in his premonition about his own death, but wrong that we were
On the evening of Feb. 14, 2005, a little after 9 p.m., I heard a knock
on the front door of our house at Fort Benning, Ga. I got up from the
couch in the living room, where I'd been resting with a sick child, and
I saw two soldiers in dress green uniforms standing on the front porch.
As my 11-year old daughter watched, they informed me that David had been
killed that day by a roadside bomb in Baqubah, Iraq. I can't tell you
what they said after I heard the words, "... regrets to inform you"
because I was crying and screaming too loudly to hear much.
The next week was filled with contacting family members, trying to hold
myself together for my three children, making funeral arrangements and
dealing with all the red tape that a military death forces upon you. Had
it not been for my Casualty Assistance Officer and the Rear Detachment
Command of my husband's brigade, I'm not sure I would have made it
through those first weeks. I was one of a lucky few who had wonderful
help after my husband's death. Many other Army wives are less fortunate.
After making it through my husband's
funeral, I was greeted with mountains of paperwork. I was escorted from
office to office by my casualty officer as my military identification
card was changed and reissued; as I signed up for the Veterans
Administration's Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) and the
military's Survivor's Benefit Plan (SBP).
I reviewed the paperwork after all of
these appointments, and I was shocked to discover that David had been
wrong: We weren't going to be cared for as if he were still alive.
My husband didn't know that dependents' compensation offsets the
Survivor's Benefit Plan. If he'd known that, it would have made him very
DIC is a payment made to widows, their children and some parents who've
lost a husband, father or son. Widows are entitled to the benefit for
the remainder of their lives, unless they remarry. DIC comes from the
Department of Veterans Affairs. SBP pays a deceased soldier's income,
and it comes from the Department of Defense. The offset, a
dollar-for-dollar deduction, is supposedly intended to prevent double
dipping from two similar benefit plans. But the Survivors Benefit Plan
and Dependents Indemnity Compensation are provided for different
reasons, and the offset leaves many military families with no survivors'
benefits at all. Others receive only the pittance that's left over after
the offset is deducted.
As we try to rebuild our shattered lives, the offset deals us a second
blow. Grief and loss are hard enough to handle, but now we have more
important worries, such as providing homes, food, clothing and schooling
for our families. This is not a partisan political issue. This is not a
matter of whether you're for or against the war in Iraq. This is about
those who died serving our country, standing between our enemies and us
and believing that their families would be cared for if they gave their
It's a shame that that isn't true. There are two bills pending in
Congress -- S. 935 in the Senate, sponsored by Sen. Bill Nelson of
Florida, and H.R. 1927 in the House of Representatives, sponsored by
Rep. Solomon Ortiz of Texas -- that would eliminate the offset and help
the families of our fallen. Please contact your senators and
representatives and urge them to vote for these bills.
Senate bill S. 935
House bill H.R. 1927
New American heads off to
Sean Harder, Savannah Morning News
Turkish immigrant, forced to sue to obtain his
U.S. citizenship, will soon join the fight in Iraq. Army Spc.
John Yasar got his wish to become a citizen of the nation he's
going to fight for. The Turkish immigrant raised his right hand
in Atlanta on April 20, fulfilling a decade-long quest that
temporarily careened off course into a labyrinth of bureaucracy
and post-Sept. 11 paranoia about foreigners.
An FBI background check held up Yasar's application for 19
months - longer than most of the 60,000 foreign-born troops
serving the United States. Under new rules enacted by President
Bush, active-duty immigrants enjoy a streamlined naturalization
process that typically lasts only four months.
This weekend, the 29-year-old Apache helicopter technician will
deploy to Iraq with the 3rd Infantry Division's Aviation
Brigade. "I feel relieved now," he said. "It's all I've been
waiting for since I turned 18."
To take his citizen oath, Yasar had to resort to something very
American: He sued. Filing a complaint against the federal
government apparently did the trick. Just minutes before his
first hearing before a judge, immigration officials suddenly
approved his application and scheduled his ceremony date.
Yasar was born in Ankara, Turkey. At 14, he would sit transfixed
to the green night-vision TV coverage of U.S. bombs being
dropped on Baghdad during the first Gulf War. That's when the
young Turk decided to become a U.S. pilot.
"That was the year my dad got me a computer," he said. "I
started using a flight simulator program. All of a sudden, I'm
hooked up on all these things."
After training to fly with a civil air patrol group in Turkey,
Yasar saved enough money to come to the U.S. in 1999 and enroll
in an Oklahoma flight school. Before he could finish the course,
he ran out of money. A fellow Turk-turned-con-man summoned him
to New Jersey and bilked him of what money he had left by
promising financial help that never came.
Before long, Yasar's visa was set to expire. So he stayed in New
Jersey and waited for the one thing that could come into his
life and save him: love. If he got married, he could apply for a
Green Card, stay as a permanent U.S. resident and pursue his
dream to become a pilot."I just worked faithfully, waiting for
that right person to come into my life," he said.
She did, in August of 2001, through the Internet. "Jolene found
me," he said. "We started talking, writing letters and sending
pictures. "It was like an oasis in the desert. With the all the
hardships going on, we had a good time." The couple wasted no
time making plans to get married. They set a date: Oct. 12.
Then came Sept. 11, 2001.
Yasar was a secular Sunni Muslim in a nation that had just been
attacked by Middle Eastern airplane hijackers. He had completed
flight training at the very same school that two of the
hijackers visited and that Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called
20th hijacker, attended. None of this dawned on him in the run
up to his wedding.
As he was preparing to travel with Jolene to get married at
Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, Yasar realized he had lost his
wallet. With it, his expired visa and other important papers
were missing. So he called his attorney for help and explained
who he was to a legal assistant. He told her he was looking for
help to get a Green Card, and that he was a pilot.
"Looking back, someone got suspicious and called it in," Yasar
said. "Maybe it was the right thing to do for them. I
The next day, two detectives knocked on Yasar's door and said
they had his wallet and needed to take him in for questioning.
He was arrested for having an expired visa and detained for 42
days before an FBI agent soon saw Yasar for what he was: a
victim of circumstance.
He had two choices. He could waive his rights and be deported
back to Turkey to apply for a new visa, or he could appeal his
case before an immigration judge. He chose the judge, and the
judge gave him a second chance. Yasar finally received his Green
Card and in May 2005. He enlisted in the Army as an armament,
electrical and avionic systems repair specialist for Apache
Hunter Army Airfield's Apaches will fight throughout Baghdad and
beyond on a 15-month deployment. Yasar won't be far behind,
repairing and arming the gunships on his first combat
deployment. "There's some anxiety," he said. "But it would be
more stressful if I wasn't able to be a citizen going into this
war. Now I can look forward to getting through it."
With U.S. citizenship, Yasar is able to obtain the security
clearance needed to eventually become a pilot.
"My focus is to improve during this deployment," he said. "I
want to come back safely and go to warrant officer flight
Training the future
3-69 Armor trains Iraqis to save lives
Spc. Ricardo Branch
1st BCT Public Affairs
Spc. Michael Darby, a medic from Company C,
2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment attached to Co. A, 3-69
Armor, watches on as a Provincial Security Force member
demonstrates how to administer an air tube to restore breathing
in someone’s body.
(Spc. Ricardo Branch 1st BCT Public Affairs)
RAMADI, Iraq (April 27, 2007) – The troops arrive at a small
town on the outskirts of Ramadi. They could rush out and engage
the enemy at a moments notice, but their job today is different
– to train Iraqis to save lives.
For the Soldiers from Company A, 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor, it’s
all about helping the Iraqis to help themselves.
The Soldiers latest effort was training local Provincial
Security Forces in basic medical care during a visit to one of
their stations April 23 at Hamidia.
“We’ve been working with the PSF here for the last two and a
half weeks to get them better prepared to handle situations in
their area,” said Sgt. Charles Dinkins, a tanker with Co. A,
3-69 Armor. “Today, we’re showing them basic medical aid to help
their buddies out on the battlefield.” The Soldiers taught the
Iraqis airway movement, the different types of bleeding, how to
stop bleeding, and how to administer air tubes to restore oxygen
flow in the body.
“They are catching on real quick with airway movement and
knowing that oxygen is a valuable part of life,” said Spc.
Michael Darby, a medic from Company C, 2nd Battalion, 7th
Infantry Regiment attached to Co. A, 3-69 Armor.
He said that with the training, Iraqis understood most of the
lessons but had an easier time when it was more hands on for
Spc. Michael Darby demonstrates how successful
the nasal pharyngeal tube can be for someone during medical
training with the Provincial Security Forces April 23 at Hamidia.
(Spc. Ricardo Branch 1st BCT Public Affairs)
“They were grasping the material real fast, but when we went
into the different types of pharyngeal tubes and how to use
them, it was a bit difficult until I demonstrated on one of
their own,” said the 39-year-old Texas City, Texas, native.
The Soldiers said they view their new mission as a big step
forward from how they operated with the Iraqi Security Forces in
“I’ve worked with Iraqi Police and Iraqi Army …, but I’ve never
dealt this close before with the Iraqi Security Forces,” Dinkle
said. “We’re working on a more personnel basis with these guys
over here. We work with them almost every other day and see them
just like us minus the training, but they are getting it down
very quickly.” Darby said that with this new training he sees
lots of hope these days for Iraq in the future.
“If we give them the tools to protect themselves, their family,
friends and neighborhood, maybe we won’t have to come back in
the future,” said the 24-year-old Memphis, Tenn., native. While
the training was being conducted each PSF battalion in Hamidia,
sent over their most qualified medical personnel. “We trained 17
personnel today with prospects for another 17 in two to three
weeks,” Darby said. “The idea is to have as many security
personnel trained in the most basic combat medicine as
“This is really a two-fold mission,” he said. “One, is ridding
the Anbar province of insurgents, and two, is better training
and equipping the Iraqi Security Forces we work with, so they
can maintain what we’ve done here together.”
As the day came to a close, and the last Iraqi left the
training, the Soldiers see their work as part of the growing
effort to improve security for Ramadi, one little piece at a
Care Packages For Soldiers
A group of soldiers stationed in Ramdai, Iraq will son
have a taste of Southern Hospitality.
Montgomery's Young Meadows Presbyterian Church and the Air
University at Maxwell Air Force Base sent care packages to the
1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division Thursday. The packages have
everything you can imagine from books to snacks and letters from
A mother who's son is third in command in the unit spear-headed
the project, she wanted them to know that despite their
conditions and the controversy surrounding the war in Iraq,
people back here in Alabama care for them.
Troops Come Home
A group of 3rd ID soldiers is home with their families
this morning after spending months in Iraq.
About 50 soldiers with the 233rd Transportation Company landed
at Hunter Army Airfield around 1am Friday. They were then
escorted to Fort Stewart, where family members waited for their
first big hug in seven months.
Every soldier in the 233rd Transportation Company made it back
safely. Some of these soldiers have been deployed to Iraq as
many as six times.
Operation Targets Remaining
RAMADI, Iraq – May 3, 2007-Approximately 450 Iraqi
Security and Coalition Forces completed Operation Forsythe Park
in northern Ramadi Wednesday.
Iraqi Provincial Security Force – 2, Iraqi Army demolition
experts and Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment,
1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division conducted the
weeklong clearing operation in Albu Bali, located 15 kilometers
northeast of Ramadi, targeting one of the remaining hotspots in
the brigade’s area of operations.
“We had seen an increased amount of enemy activity in this
region over the last three weeks,” said Col. John Charlton,
commanding officer for 1BCT. “Once we set the conditions and
built sufficient combat power, we took the fight to the enemy
and provided much needed relief to the population.”
The combined forces built a new joint security station during
the operation. The JSS will establish a permanent Iraqi police
presence in Albu Bali and prevent the terrorists from
controlling the area. Local citizens saw the immediate results
of the operations and more than 100 Iraqi males immediately
requested to join the police force, Charlton said.
The five-day operation discovered multiple weapon caches
including 28 improvised explosive devices, two AK-47 assault
rifles, 5,000 rounds of ammunition, three 14.5mm anti-aircraft
guns, five mortars, 300 pounds of home made explosives, 2200
gallons of nitric acid and 200 blasting caps.
Two coalition service members and six terrorists were killed
during the operation.
This marks the sixth large-scale operation for 1BCT this year.
Four previous operations focused on clearing terrorists from
General predicts Troop
Death Rate likely to Climb
Fort Worth Star Telegram
BAGHDAD -May 7, 2007- A U.S. Army general
forecast Sunday a rise in deaths among American forces in the
coming months, a prediction underscored by the announcement that
roadside bombs killed eight U.S. soldiers and a foreign
A car bomb also killed 30 people in a wholesale food market in a
part of the Iraqi capital where sectarian tensions are on the
In all, at least 95 Iraqis were killed or found dead nationwide
Sunday, police reported. They included 12 policemen in Samarra,
among them the city's police chief, who died when Sunni
insurgents launched a suicide car bombing and other attacks on
Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division,
said casualties will climb as American troops dig into enemy
territory as part of a stepped-up military operation ordered by
President Bush in January. Lynch, who oversees a swath of
territory to the south and east of Baghdad, gave his bleak
prediction on the heels of the deadliest month this year for
American forces in Iraq.
In April, 104 troops were killed, only the fourth time since the
beginning of 2005 that U.S. deaths exceeded 100 in a month. At
least 25 troops have been killed in May, a grim start to a month
in which Democrats are expected to keep up pressure on the White
House to plan a withdrawal from Iraq.
"There are going to be increased casualties during this surge
because we're taking the fight to the enemy," Lynch said.
He said troops in his area are facing a "thinking enemy" that
has been on the ground far longer than most U.S. soldiers and
has adopted techniques to trip up the Americans, such as
planting roadside explosives too deep to be detected by
high-tech equipment. "He dominates that terrain," Lynch said,
adding that 13 of his troops had been killed since arriving in
Iraq in March.
Lynch said most of those died as a result of armor-piercing
roadside bombs that U.S. officials allege are coming from Iran.
The deadliest attack against U.S. forces Sunday occurred in
Diyala, where six U.S. soldiers and a European journalist were
killed when a massive bomb destroyed their vehicle, the U.S.
military said. Two U.S. soldiers were wounded
Two other American soldiers died Sunday in separate bombings in
On Sunday, the military also reported three other deaths: two
Marines in a blast Saturday in Anbar province and a soldier who
died Sunday in a noncombat incident in northern Iraq. Those
deaths raised to at least 3,373 the number of U.S. military
members who have died since the Iraq war started in March 2003,
according to an Associated Press count.
U.S. Aviation Brigade headed
The 3,200 troops and 152 helicopters are the final
contingent in a plan to improve security.
But violence continues as a suicide bomber kills 15, injures 26.
Los Angeles Times
May 7, 2007-The final troop contingent in President Bush's
controversial plan to improve security, a brigade that includes
152 attack and transport helicopters, will soon arrive in the
capital, a U.S. commander said.
With the arrival of the 3rd Infantry Division's Combat
Aviation Brigade, based at Ft. Stewart, Ga., the addition of
28,500 troops begun in mid-February will be complete. The
brigade will be based at Camp Victory near Baghdad International
Airport, Maj. Gen. James Simmons, deputy commander of
multinational forces, said in an interview Friday.
As the buildup neared completion, violence continued in the
capital. A suicide bomber in a line with police recruits outside
an Iraqi base near the infamous Abu Ghraib prison west of
Baghdad detonated an explosive vest Saturday, killing 15 and
injuring 26 others, police said. In Kut, southeast of Baghdad,
nine insurgents and four Iraqi police were reported killed in a
In the north, an explosion aimed at a police patrol in the
center of Kirkuk killed two civilians and injured three police.
To the south, the Basra airport was reported closed until
further notice after insurgent attacks Saturday damaged a
The new air combat brigade will increase the U.S.-led forces'
helicopter fleet by 34%. Also coming are 3,200 pilots, crew
members, mechanics and other support personnel.
Helicopters are increasingly important tools in the war effort
because insurgent attacks have made ground transport dangerous
in many areas of Iraq. The workhorse of the fleet is the UH-60
Black Hawk, which is used to shuttle cargo, troops and other
personnel around Iraq. The helicopter fleet also includes the
UH-1 Huey and the AH-64 Apache. Despite the increased reliance
of the U.S. military on choppers, there has been no increase in
the fleet since the war began in March 2003, Simmons said.
The announcement in March that the air combat brigade, as well
as almost 4,000 other support troops, were coming in addition to
21,500 extra troops already committed to Iraq infuriated some
war opponents, who saw it as a back-door method of squeezing
more troops into an unpopular conflict. When completed, the
buildup will bring the U.S. troop level in Iraq to 160,000.
Bush and the Democratic-controlled Congress are locked in a
bitter struggle over an Iraq war funding bill. Bush vetoed a
bill last week that would have made future funding for the war
conditional on a timetable for a phased withdrawal of U.S.
The current helicopter fleet in Iraq includes 449 choppers. With
the arrival of the new brigade, Iraq will be home to four of the
Army's 10 air combat units worldwide. Since June 2003, 58
helicopters have been lost in Iraq, of which 28 were shot down
by ground fire. The rest crashed in accidents. According to a
tally by the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, a
total of 179 people died in those crashes.
Albany Times Union
May 9, 2007-Oh, there's an unmistakable surge under way in
Iraq, all right. It's the increase in the casualty toll among
American troops and Iraqi civilians that will continue over the
next three months as fighting intensifies. The additional troops
that President Bush has committed to sending to Iraq can look
forward to dangerous duty in a land of sectarian chaos. That
much is candidly acknowledged by a top U.S. commander, more than
four years into an ever futile war.
"There are going to be increased (U.S.) casualties during this
surge because we're taking the fight to the enemy," says Maj.
Gen. Rick Lynch, the commander of four of the five brigades that
are part of the deployment of 28,000 more troops. "We're going
to do everything we can do to preclude that from happening."
The blunt words of General Lynch are reiterated by Maj. Gen.
William Caldwell, a spokesman for the military. "It may get
harder before it gets easier for the Iraqis," he says.
For evidence of that, look no further than the frustration and
despair expressed in Baghdad and other cities. "Where is the
security plan? Where is the Maliki government?" people cried out
in Baghdad Sunday after a double car bombing that killed 35
Such are the circumstances under which U.S. forces are left to
"take it" to a seemingly omnipresent enemy -- enemies, really.
What no one can say -- not the brutally honest generals in Iraq,
and certainly not the more circumspect and calculating
politicians in Washington -- is when the surge in casualties,
brought on by the surge in troops, might end. At least 3,376
American troops, according to an Associated Press count, have
died already. And top military commanders are telling both the
troops themselves and their families back home to brace for
It's best left to President Bush to offer the requisite
reassurances and explanations as to just what has been achieved
by sending all those soldiers to die in a land that demonstrates
little ability to accept anything resembling peace.
It's the members of Congress, especially those still hesitant to
support efforts to at least begin to bring home the troops from
Iraq, who should listen most intently. Only now, any defense of
the war must be filtered through the admission from the ground
that the Iraq war is about get even bloodier.
In Baghdad, they can ask about the government of Prime Minister
Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, in danger of its biggest political crisis
yet as Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi threatens to lead a
walkout of Sunni Cabinet members.
Here at home, we can wonder similarly about our own.
Benning soldiers enter Iraq
As first wave gets settled, no word when others will arrive
BY MICK WALSH
Gallery | Images of 3rd Brigade soldiers training in the Kuwaiti
Mar. 31, 2007: The first wave of 3rd Heavy Brigade
Combat Team soldiers have crossed the border into Iraq. A company of
2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment soldiers, nicknamed Team Bayonet,
has joined forces with soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division at
the division's tactical operations center at Camp Striker, Iraq,
which is located near Baghdad's International Airport. While there,
the company will support the 10th Division's 2nd Brigade Combat
Team. It's not unusual for elements of the 3rd Brigade to be
attached to other units during their deployment to Iraq. In fact,
while the majority of the 3rd HBCT soldiers were stationed in
Baqouba in 2005, the 2-69 spent much of its time in the Ramadi area
in Anbar province. There's still no word on when the remainder of
the brigade will travel north.
Staff Sgt. Chad Inman (left), a native of Prattville,
Ala.,and Sgt. Shawn Harris, a native of St. Charles, Ill., both tank
commanders with "Team Bayonet" of the 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor
Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, fold a flag after taking a photo
inside the 2nd Brigade Combat Team's, 10th Mountain Division (Light
Infantry) tactical operation center on Camp Striker, Iraq March 29.
Team Bayonet recently arrived to Camp Striker in order to support
the 2nd BCT.
(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Angela McKinzie, 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn.
Div. (LI) Public Affairs)
Capt. John F. Detro, a senior physician's assistant with the 75th
Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning has been chosen to receive the
Outstanding Alumni Award from his alma mater, Siena Heights
University of Adrian, Mich. The 1985 graduate was honored along with
two fellow alumni at the school's annual awards day
celebration."These alumni are great role models for our students,"
said Jennifer Hamlin Church, program coordinator. "They all have
used their education to make a positive difference in our world, and
they are great examples of what is possible with a Siena Heights
Detro majored in biology and chemistry and enlisted as a medic in
1987. He became a PA while earning a second bachelor's degree and
two master's degrees. In 1999, at age 35, he was the oldest
candidate in his Ranger class, but he finished the grueling training
first in his class -- thanks in part, he says, to the "athletic
mind" he developed at Siena as an All-American track and field
athlete. A veteran of five combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, he
recently was honored with the 2006 Surgeon General's Annual
Physician Assistant Recognition Award and the 2006 Association of
Military Surgeons Physician Assistant Award. In addition to his
Ranger duties, Detro is also an assistant coach of Columbus State
University's cross country teams.
Columbus native Ken Thomas, a historian whose books include one on
Fort Benning, will be speaking about the early history (1917-1920)
of the Army post Thursday evening at Columbus Museum. His lecture is
part of the "Red Clay, White Water and Blues" series that Virginia
Causey of Columbus State University is coordinating. Thomas will
address the effect the advent of Fort Benning had on the families
that were displaced and how the process went to get them off their
George Ertel was matter-of-fact when he blamed sickness and recent
deaths for the relatively small turnout of soldiers at the October
reunion of Korean War vets at the Holiday Inn Airport. "They get
smaller and smaller all the time," said the Turtletown, Tenn.,
resident who for years has helped organize a reunion of soldiers
from Baker Company, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment.
Most of those who came to Columbus last fall were survivors of a
horrific battle at what was called Easter Egg hill. They came
complete with detailed maps, yellowed newspaper clippings, snapshots
and tall tales. When the three-day event ended, Ertel told the rest
he'd see them next year... God willing. Baker Company may meet in
October, but it will be without George Ertel. He died recently in
Tennessee and was buried Wednesday at Parkhill Cemetery in Columbus.
Contact Mick Walsh at 706-571-8588 or
Chopper pilot heads back to a
A Black Hawk pilot waits to return to Iraq, where 8 U.S.
helicopters have gone down this year.
He doesn't dwell on the risks, but his family can't help it.
By Richard Fausset, Times Staff Writer
March 27, 2007
THE RIGHT STUFF: “Each time we go over there it
seems like the situation is progressively worse,”
says Chief Warrant Officer Hector Echevarria, a Black Hawk pilot who
expects to be deployed again soon.
IN THE AIR: Black Hawks are known as workhorses,
often used to shuttle personnel.
Echevarria says such flights were usually safe in his first tour.
During his second, the insurgency had strengthened.
Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. — EACH time he receives
the order to fly a Black Hawk helicopter over Iraq, U.S. Army Chief
Warrant Officer Hector Echevarria tidies up the personal effects he
Echevarria has completed two yearlong tours of Iraq since 2003, and
he is planning a third. He has helped clean out a dead soldier's
messy room before. If he is shot down, "messy" is not how he wants
to be remembered.
"People don't remember you for how you go into a situation,"
Echevarria said. "They remember how you went out."
FAMILY: “I didn’t want to leave my wife a widow,”
says Echevarria — with Rebeca and their daughter, Mariah —
about his second tour. (John Carrington)
Perfectionism and fatalism are two traits common
in Army helicopter pilots, and both are being sharpened here on this
bustling airfield, where hundreds of soldiers, pilots and crew
members from the 3rd Infantry Division's Combat Aviation Brigade are
preparing to deploy to Iraq, perhaps by mid-May.
They are packing sand-colored shipping containers, queuing up for
new battle gear and hustling from office to office, fulfilling the
military's insatiable appetite for paperwork.
Helicopter pilots are fitting in last-minute training flights, with
veterans like Echevarria warning the new ones to take their training
seriously — because the next time it will probably be real.
Click Here to read the entire story
U.S., Iraqi forces launch operation aimed at
expanding security zones
By Joseph Giordono, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Tuesday, March 27, 2007
American and Iraqi forces have launched a “major
operation” in Ramadi designed to expand security zones in the
contested city, officials said Monday. The operation focuses on
western Ramadi and includes troops from Task Force 1-9 Infantry and
Iraqi police and soldiers. It is the fourth such large-scale
clearing operation conducted in the city since February, officials
said, and aims to create a permanent presence of Iraqi and American
troops where there previously was none.
“This operation will benefit the people of Ramadi by establishing
security and providing basic services and necessities,” U.S. Army
Col. John Charlton, commander of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd
Infantry Division, said in a news release. “[Al-Qaida] has
intimidated the people of Ramadi through murder, kidnapping and the
destruction of their city. The Sons of Anbar are here to establish
and maintain security,” Charlton said, referring to Iraqi troops
specifically recruited in and deployed in the province.
Other U.S. military officials were quick to say that the operation
was not a “Fallujah-style” battle for the city. In that large
operation, civilians were cleared from the city and American troops
battled insurgents house-to-house in pitched fighting. According to
an Australian television news crew embedded with U.S. forces in
Ramadi, the new operation targets the al-Iskan district of the city
and included Apache attack helicopters. The report quoted Army Maj.
Dave Christensen as saying there had been several troops wounded
already, including two Americans and two Iraqis. One Iraqi police
officer was reported killed.
Ramadi, long one of the centers of the Sunni insurgency in western
Iraq, falls under the Army’s 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry
Division. But, the troops in the city are a mix of Army, Marines and
Navy personnel, including many special operations units. Before
February, the city and its surrounding areas fell under the
Germany-based 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division. That brigade has
been credited with a grinding, determined effort to establish combat
outposts in territory previously ceded to the insurgents.
As 3rd ID Deploys, a Colonel
Holds Down the Fort
Sean Harder | Monday, March 26, 2007
Please meet: Col. Todd A. Buchs
Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield Garrison Commander Col. Todd
FORT STEWART - With most of the 3rd Infantry
Division's 20,000 troops heading to Iraq for another yearlong combat
tour, things could get a little lonely for Col. Todd A. Buchs, Fort
Stewart's new garrison commander. Buchs, however, sees the
deployment as just one more challenge in his 20-year Army career.
"As we look at this deployment, I'll never forget the soldiers that
remain here but my priority will be the family members," he said.
"That's the only way we're going to be able to continue this long
war - by taking care of our family members."
As garrison commander, Buchs holds a position similar to that of a
small city mayor. He oversees the programs, services and facilities
at Fort Stewart and is one of the local public faces of the U.S.
Army. With previous assignments in Germany and a war college in
Pennsylvania, this is the first time Buchs, his wife Renee and their
two children, Austin, 13, and Alexie, 6, have lived in the
Southeast. They arrived last June and Buch's assignment will keep
them here into 2009. "We absolutely love it down here," Buchs said.
"You get down here and there is that Southern hospitality that is
Even with most of Fort Stewart's population heading to war, Buchs
said there are encouraging signs that the exodus of family members
this time around may not be as severe as the division's previous two
tours in Iraq. For example, Fort Stewart's housing occupancy rate
still hovers around 95 percent despite the deployment of more than
5,000 soldiers so far this year. "The indicators tell us the
families are not leaving," he said. "We as an Army have gotten
better and better at taking care of our families during deployment."
On Buch's watch, Fort Stewart will cut the ribbon on a new chapel,
new headquarters building and new buildings for the division's
newest brigade, the 4th Brigade Combat Team. He'll also keep vigil
over the expansion of Warriors Walk, a memorial of 320 Eastern
Redbud trees that stand for each division soldier killed so far in
Iraq. The deployment will give the Army an opportunity to upgrade
Fort Stewart's motor pools, which weren't designed to house the
Humvees and other armored vehicles in use today. Soldiers' dining
facilities will also get a $6 million makeover.
Buchs has future projects in the pipeline, too. There are plans to
upgrade Fort Stewart's Wright Army Airfield to accommodate both
military and private civilian flights, giving Hinesville's economic
leaders a new way to attract corporate investment. Buchs is moving
forward a plan to allow Liberty County schools to build a new middle
school on Fort Stewart for 550 children who now must travel 14 miles
to a school in Midway. The new school would free up space for
students as Midway's population grows while accommodating students
on Fort Stewart and in neighboring Hinesville, said Liberty County
School Superintendent Steve Wilmoth.
"We've been working on this for a few years now. At this point we
have a general and Col. Buchs who like the idea. It's an opportunity
for us to do something for them, and them something for us," Wilmoth
said. In exchange for a school site, the Department of Defense
school system will allow its sixth-graders to enter the Liberty
County system so they don't miss out on sports and extracurricular
activities when joining middle school. "Every day, that's what we
talk about: How we can develop win-win situations between our
communities," Buchs said.
war near Fort Stewart
As 3rd ID heads back to Iraq for third tour, residents and
soldiers show support for bringing troops home
Sean Harder | Thursday, March 22, 2007
E. Victor Mereski of Savannah, at right, holds up
signs protesting the Iraq war.
Behind him, Harvey Tharp of Cincinatti, traveling with the Veterans
For Peace, also protested. (Photo: Carl Elmore)
The Veterans for Peace caravan arrived in
Hinesville in two buses advertising the group's message. (Photo:
HINESVILLE - They rolled into town in colorfully
painted buses reminiscent of author Ken Kessey's psychedelic school
bus of the 1960s.
They held up signs that read "Iraq Vets Against the War" and "Bring
the Troops Home Now!" Contrary to what you might expect in this
military town outside Fort Stewart's front gates, the dozen or so
Veterans for Peace protesters received a largely positive response.
Several Hinesville residents, military spouses and 3rd Infantry
Division soldiers who drove by the protesters honked their horns,
some even flashing the peace sign during Wednesday's lunch hour.
Pfc. Omar Figueras, a 3rd
Infantry Division soldier, at right, said that he's against the war
and paused to talk with Sandy Kelson of Veterans for Peace. (Photo:
Army Pfc. Omar Figueras made a point of stopping his
vehicle to say one thing to the demonstrators: "Peace.""I
agree with them," said Figueras, who'll be deploying to Iraq this
summer with the 4th Brigade. "I'm against this war. I don't want to
go, but that's my job."
Just four years ago, as the 3rd Division led the charge into
Baghdad, these demonstrators likely would have received a chillier
reception. Now, however, polls show the majority of Americans wants
troops to withdraw from Iraq, and that's giving active-duty soldiers
the courage to speak out, said Elliot Adams, president of Veterans
for Peace and a former Army paratrooper who served in Vietnam.
Adams' group, along with Iraq Veterans Against the War and Military
Families Speak Out, launched a "peace convoy" to military bases
throughout the Southeast this week.
Adams said honking horns and other signs of support aren't unusual
outside military installations. It's just one sign of the anti-war
movement's growing momentum. "It's a sea change," he said. "People
are getting the message. Our government is destroying our military.
They're wearing out equipment and wearing out our people. Soldiers
are angry about this war, but they don't know how to express it, so
we're trying to give them that out."
Bruce Peterson of Savannah carries a sign and
flashes a peace sign during a war protest in Hinesville near Fort
Some soldiers and residents honked their horns or shouted their
support for the anti-war protester. (Photo: Carl Elmore)
The veterans handed out brochures about the GI
Rights Hotline and the Appeal for Redress, a petition drive that so
far has collected the signatures of more than 1,700 active-duty
service members who want Congress to end the U.S. occupation of
Iraq. Pfc. Ty Heald, a 2nd Brigade soldier who will deploy to Iraq
in May, accepted the information but wasn't sure how he felt about
the anti-war message. "I just can't wait to go over there for the
extra pay," he said. "Everybody who goes over there has a different
take on it. You're really there to make sure your buddy doesn't get
Kevin Benderman met with the protesting veterans
Benderman, a former 3rd Infantry Division soldier, served in prison
after refusing to deploy to Iraq in 2005. (Photo: Carl Elmore)
Kevin Benderman, a former Army sergeant at Fort
Stewart who served 13 months in a military brig for refusing to
deploy to Iraq a second time with his unit, also attended the
protest. He and his wife, Monica, are working on "Benderman's
Bridge," a project to help veterans obtain vocational training and
transition into civilian life. "Soldiers should be the first ones
allowed to exercise their constitutional right to free speech," he
said. "There are a lot of talking heads who like to say a lot of
things, but it's the soldiers who know better than anyone what's
going on in Iraq."
Robert Randall of Brunswick, founder of GlynnPeace, said it helps to
have a veterans group leading the call for a troop withdrawal. "It
helps dispel that myth that people who are against the war are also
against the troops," Randall said. "The people who are really
against the troops are the ones who are sending them off to get
killed in a counter-productive war."
Elliot Adams, president of Veterans for Peace.
(Photo: Carl Elmore)
Despite pending resolutions in Congress to set a
time line for withdrawing U.S. troops, several activists predicted
politics will prevent Democrats from ending the war. "If you're a
Democrat, you can hang the war as a millstone around the
Republicans' neck, and come 2008 you might get elected," Adams said.
"But we're going to stop the war before then."
Does he really think that will happen?
"Sure it can happen," he said. "It's just a matter of winning over
for 3rd ID's fallen
Sean Harder | Friday, March 16, 2007
Soldiers, families gather to honor first two
Fort Stewart soldiers killed this year in Iraq
Kristen Chacon, mother of Pvt. 1st Class Kelly
Youngblood, is comforted by Joy Nelson, left, wife of 1st Brigade
rear detatchment commander Maj. David Nelson, at a tree dedication
and memorial service held at Warriors Walk. Younger sister Melanie
Youngblood, right, holds the memorial marker cover embroidered with
her brother's name. Two soldiers, Pfc. Kelly Youngblood and Pvt.
Matthew Zeimer both of the 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment were
honored at the Fort Stewart ceremony. (Photo: John Carrington)
FORT STEWART - Pvt. Matthew Zeimer had arrived at
the combat outpost in Ramadi just two hours before the shooting
began on Feb. 2.
He and the 1st Armored Division soldier he was replacing ran to the
roof to fight back against attacking insurgents. Enemy fire hit a
nearby concrete wall and killed them both, making Zeimer the 3rd
Infantry Division's first casualty of 2007.
On Thursday, the division added its first tree of the year in honor
of the Montana native to Warriors Walk - a living memorial of
Eastern Redbud trees. "Shoulder to shoulder, Matthew and his comrade
fought back, fighting for their lives and the lives of their fellow
soldiers in the outpost," said Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, the division's
commander. "Matthew answered the call and was proud to be a
Zeimer, 18, decided to become a soldier after
learning his father was the first in his family to join the Army,
said his father Tom Epperson, of East Haven, Conn. Looking at the
pink show of the trees' spring bloom, Epperson said he's satisfied
knowing his son died doing what he loved. "How many people can
honestly say their son is their hero? I can," he said.
Eastern Redbud trees dedicated to the fallen
soldiers bloom at Fort Stewart's Warriors Walk. Thursday two trees
were dedicated to the memory of 3rd Infantry Division soldiers Pvt.
Matthew Zeimer and Pfc. Kelly Youngblood, both of whom were killed
in Iraq (Photo: John Carrington)
A second tree was planted Thursday in honor of
another 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor soldier who was killed. Pfc. Kelly
Youngblood, 19, of Mesa, Ariz., was killed by sniper fire in Ramadi
on Feb. 18. His grandmother Jean Herrold remembered how proud
Youngblood was while showing his family around Fort Stewart in
October. "He just loved the Army," she said.
Youngblood's fellow soldiers loved him. Known as a prankster,
Youngblood was often at the receiving end of a serious chewing-out
by his non-commissioned officers, said Spc. Derek Benson. "He was
one of the funniest soldiers you'll ever meet," said Benson, who
considered Youngblood his best friend. "Even the non-commissioned
officers would laugh at him. He brought excellent morale to
Benson, 20, recalled a time he was beaten up at a party. Youngblood
stepped in to help, and eventually took Benson to the hospital.
"They were giving me all sorts of pain medication and stuff, but the
thing that helped more than anything was him sitting there making me
laugh," he said. "I was rolling, and that was the best pain medicine
I could have had." Benson said he's part of the rear detachment that
will remain at Fort Stewart during his unit's combat tour in Iraq.
That makes losing his friend all the more frustrating.
"I feel like I failed him, like I should have been there for him,"
he said. "It's hard. I want to get over there so bad. I just feel
Combat Aviation Brigade
to Deploy Early to Iraq: Official
WASHINGTON (AFP) - March 16, 2007-A
US Army combat aviation brigade with about 2,600 troops will be deployed
to Iraq 45 days ahead of schedule, expanding a surge of US forces to
nearly 30,000 troops, a senior defense official said Friday.
An aviation brigade from the 3rd Infantry Division was being notified of
the decision, which was made Thursday, the official said. It had been
scheduled to go to Iraq in June. "The latest piece on this is the combat
aviation brigade which is being notified it is being deployed early,"
said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "This
aviation brigade, which will go 45 days early, we hadn't previously
announced," said the official. "But it is part of the 7,000 to 8,000
enablers that you've been hearing about."
Top Pentagon officials told Congress earlier this month that some 7,000
additional troops would be deployed as part of the surge.
They are in addition to 21,500 extra combat troops in five combat
brigades that are being sent to Iraq at a rate of about one a month
through May. Currently, there are 142,000 US troops in the country.
The official said General David Petraeus, the US commander in Iraq, had
requested the aviation brigade and some 2,200 military police after
reviewing his requirements for a crackdown center in Baghdad. His
request for military police was approved last week.
The aviation brigade would include UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, AH-64
Apache attack helicopters, CH-47 Chinooks, and OH-58 Kiowa Warrior
reconnaissance/attack helicopters. The piece-by-piece expansion of the
surge comes amid fierce debate in the US Congress over
Democratic-sponsored measures to force the administration to begin
withdrawing forces from Iraq this year.
The Senate late Thursday rejected 50 to 48 a measure that set a goal of
March 2008 for the withdrawal of US troops. But a separate measure that
would pull US troops out by September 2008 was passed by the House
Early Return to Iraq
MG Rick Lynch,
Commanding General of the 3rd Infantry Division
As I am sure you are aware, our Division is heading back to Iraq earlier
than we anticipated....the Division Headquarters must be there NLT 25
March07. Our liaison teams are already there...the main body of the
headquarters leaves o/a 18 March.
We in the Division headquarters are into detailed training in preparation
for our deployment...and the Brigades are on a separate deployment schedule
based on our modular Army. The 1st Brigade is already in Iraq fighting in Al
Anbar, our 3rd Brigade will be there by mid- March, our 2nd Brigade,
Sustainment Brigade and Combat Aviation Brigade in May, and our 4th Brigade
in July. Our soldiers and units are ready or will be ready for this
important mission, and we will continue to build on the amazing history of
this magnificent Division that you have established.
We are having a prayer luncheon, followed by a Division Colors casing
ceremony, on 8 March. As always, you are invited to attend....but please be
there in spirit....and keep us in your prayers.
Thanks for all your support. Take care and God bless. Rick
Top post NCO promoted
Andrews takes over 3rd Infantry Division
BY MICK WALSH
Staff Writer- Posted on Sat, Mar. 10, 2007
Just days before deploying to Iraq with the 3rd Heavy Combat
Brigade Team, commander Col. Wayne Grigsby Jr. must break in a new
battle buddy. Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Andrews, who rode shotgun
alongside Lt. Col. J.R. Sanderson with the 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor
Regiment during the brigade's 2003 deployment, and then filled the
"Hammer Seven" role under Col. Steve Salazar in 2005, has been named
the 3rd Infantry Division's top NCO. His promotion, which is
effective immediately, forced a shake-up on Kelley Hill.
Grigsby tapped Command Sgt. Maj. James Pearson from Lt. Col. Jack
Marr's staff at the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, to fill
Andrews' position. Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Moore, formerly of the
Brigade Troops battalion, was quickly named to succeed Pearson. "All
of this came pretty quickly," Andrews said Friday as he hurriedly
packed up his office for his move to Fort Stewart. "I'm humbled and
excited about the move, but I'm leaving my soldiers in very capable
The 44-year-old Andrews was spending his final leave in his hometown
of Lincolnton, Ga., earlier this week when he received a phone call
from division commander Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch's office. "They wanted
me to come in Wednesday morning for an interview as brigade command
sergeant major," Andrews said. In fact, all of the division's
brigade command sergeants major were invited to the interview with
Lynch. "I was told that evening I had the job," he said. "It means
that instead of being over about 5,000 soldiers with the brigade,
I'll be in charge of 20,000 soldiers."
Andrews, who was married on Feb. 20, is still headed to Iraq. But
instead of being with the 3rd Heavy Combat Brigade Team, he'll be
working with Lynch and the rest of the divisional staff in
Baghdad."I'm very pleased for him," Grigsby said. "He's certainly
deserving of the promotion."
3rd ID Flag to Unfurl Next in Baghdad
Sean Harder | Friday, March 9, 2007
3rd Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Rick
Lynch, right, and 3rd ID Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Andrews
ceremoniously roll the Marne flag during a Division Casing and
Retreat Ceremony in preparation for the command staff's deployment
to Iraq. Wherever the commander is, so too are the colors.
(Photo: John Carrington)
3rd Infantry Division Commander Maj. Gen. Rick
Lynch speaks at the Division Casing and Retreat Ceremony after he
and 3rd ID Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Andrews ceremoniously furled the
division's flag in preparation for the division command staff's
deployment to Iraq. (Photo: John Carrington)
Ceremony officially marks third combat tour for
Army division from Fort Stewart
FORT STEWART - The next time the U.S. Army's 3rd
Infantry Division flag is flown, it will be over war-torn Baghdad.
That's where Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, the division's commander, and
about 1,000 troops in his headquarters will go next week to help
beef up the U.S. military command in Iraq's capital city. Lynch
officially packed up the red, white and blue flag on Thursday during
a short ceremony that serves as a symbolic start to the division's
unprecedented third combat tour in Iraq.
The 3rd ID led the initial U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the
combat unit is returning to make more history, Lynch said. "They
(the flags) are more than mere fabric," he said. "They represent the
blood and sweat of all 'Marne' soldiers who came before us. They are
a record of our past, the standard of our present and an inspiration
to all those who follow us in the future. "In a matter of weeks,
we'll uncase our colors in Baghdad, and we'll think of all of you
here, and we'll be grateful for the memories we've made together."
The day began with a prayer luncheon at Fort Stewart. It ended with
a street dance for soldiers, their families and area residents.
Soldiers such as Lt. Alexandra Chase, a military intelligence
officer in the division's headquarters, had to accelerate their
deployment by more than three months to fulfill President Bush's
order for a troop surge to stabilize growing sectarian violence in
Baghdad. Chase, whose job will be to prepare Lynch for meetings with
Iraqi governing officials, is heading into her first deployment.
"There is a lot of history in this division, and it's exciting to be
a part of it," she said. "I'm hoping to learn a lot over there."
Lynch also used Thursday's ceremony to install a new command
sergeant major, the highest ranking enlisted soldier in the
division.Command Sgt. Maj. Jesse Andrews, who served with the 3rd
Brigade at Fort Benning, was promoted to the division level and will
deploy to Iraq as Lynch's enlisted counterpart. Andrews replaces
Command Sgt. Maj. John Calpena, who had to step down because of knee
surgery that would have prevented him from deploying.
Army Inspectors Visit Fort
Walter Reed Scandal Prompts Visit
Sean Harder | Saturday, March 10, 2007
In the wake of revelations about bureaucratic struggles and poor
living conditions at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington,
a team of inspectors visited Fort Stewart's Army hospital on
Wednesday. The inspection team, which included U.S. Army officers
and civilian employees of the Army's medical command, spent the day
examining the medical hold facilities and administrative procedures
at Winn Army Community Hospital. Winn is one of 11 Army post
hospitals the inspectors are visiting.
The inspection was conducted under the command of the Army's surgeon
general. Its findings have not yet been made public, said Lt. Col.
Randy Martin, 3rd Infantry Division spokesman.
Foreign press descends on Fort Stewart
There were more international journalists than
local reporters at Thursday's retreat ceremony marking the 3rd
Infantry Division's deployment to Iraq. A Fort Stewart spokesman
sent a news release about the ceremony to the U.S. State Department,
which in turn sent it out to foreign media. Reporters from Spain,
Britain, Germany and Finland made the trip to the Army post near
Hinesville to report on the start of the division's third combat
deployment since the war in Iraq started in March 2003.
Ramadi is now a two-faced city
Fierce fighting still rages downtown as
calm takes hold in outskirts
Monte Morin, Stars and
Mideast edition, Friday, March 2, 2007
RAMADI, Iraq — It’s a tale of two Ramadis.
As troops attached to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division
wage a pitched battle against entrenched militants in the city’s
downtown — a fight marked by dense urban terrain, booby-trapped
buildings and sustained gunbattles — units to the city’s immediate west,
north and northeast are experiencing an unprecedented calm.
The split personality in this provincial capital of roughly 500,000
largely has to do with a recent alliance between U.S. forces and a dozen
local tribes who say they’ve had enough of militants whose stated goal
is to oust U.S. troops and establish an Islamic caliphate in the region.
A campaign to root out and destroy enemy cells in Ramadi’s notorious
Mulaab district — a downtown neighborhood of roughly 15,000 residences —
kicked into high gear this week as troops with the 1st Battalion, 9th
Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division began clearing the quarter,
building by building.
The ultimate goal, commanders say, is to establish nine permanent Iraqi
police stations throughout the downtown to try to hold the territory.
But even as this costly battle rages downtown, Col. John W. Charlton,
commander of the 1-3ID, is planning an economic revitalization
conference for the city’s western Ta’meem neighborhood.
Monte Morin / S&S
Col. John W. Charlton, commander of the 1st
Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division,
visits Combat Outpost Iron in southern Ramadi recently.
Among other projects, Charlton hopes to kick start the renewal of power
and water stations in the once notorious neighborhood, as well as
reactivate Ramadi’s large ceramics and glass plant.
“It’s a unique situation, a real counterinsurgency fight,” Charlton said
Wednesday. “In one part of town we’ve got massive kinetic operations. On
the other side, we’ve got massive non-kinetic operations.”
The current kinetic fight was formulated months ago by the 1-3ID’s
predecessor, the 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division. For roughly eight
months, units under the 1-1AD battled militants with heavy armor,
satellite-guided rockets, jets and ground troops, clearing much of
downtown’s eastern neighborhoods and closing in on neighborhoods like
The focus changed radically in November, however, when area tribes sided
with U.S. forces and volunteered more than 4,500 local men for service
in the Iraqi police and associated security units dubbed Emergency
Response Units, or ERUs.
When the sheik of a Ramadi suburb called Sofia, northeast of downtown,
called U.S. forces to say his clan was being attacked by more than 50
insurgents, 1-9 troops responded, killing most of the attackers. From
there, troops focused on securing this area and other suburbs further
east, leaving the downtown battle on hold.
“We had an opportunity we didn’t expect and we took it,” Col. Sean
MacFarland, commander of the 1-1AD said recently. “We figured that once
we secured those areas, we’d go back to our original plan of clearing
Today, Charlton’s troops, as well as soldiers from the 1st Battalion,
1st Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division, are once again pushing the fight
downtown. During a visit to Combat Outpost Eagle’s Nest in the city’s
center, Charlton discussed the operation with 1-9 commanders.
One reason the city’s downtown remains more violent than outlying areas
is that it lacks a formal tribal structure, and therefore has yet to
benefit from the local tribes’ movement known as the “Anbar Awakening.”
The downtown fight has been a hard one, as militants used the lull to
build up their defenses, officers said, lining streets with vehicle and
anti-personnel bombs, rigging the sides of buildings with improvised
rockets and cementing explosives into courtyard walls.
Earlier this week, an entire U.S. squad was severely wounded when they
sought cover beside such a wall and it exploded.
“Entire buildings have been rigged with explosives,” Charlton said.
“They’ve literally made the building a weapon.”
Explosives teams have worked around the clock clearing the area of
caches. Soldiers have discovered numerous roadside bomb and car bomb
“factories.” Recently, troops found that a local school had been
converted into an enemy firing range, complete with silhouette targets.
Troops also discovered a bomb nearby, its detonating cables leading into
an adjacent mosque.
Commanders also say militants have laid boards across rooftops of
adjacent buildings to allow them to move through the neighborhood
without using the streets, and that enemy fighters also have taken to
attacking U.S. and Iraqi troops from buildings occupied by civilians.
That tactic, they say, seems intended to draw U.S. fire on households so
as to cause civilian deaths and generate negative publicity.
Some commanders estimated that at the time the operation began, from 100
to 200 of such hard-core Islamic militants operated in the city. Today,
some U.S. commanders estimate that roughly 60 enemy fighters remain.
3rd ID soldiers leave today for Iraq
Iraq deployments for close to 4,000 soldiers of 3rd Brigade Combat
Team, 3rd Infantry Division, begin today, the Army announced in a press
release.This deployment marks the third rotation to Iraq for 3rd ID,
which led the march to Baghdad four years ago this month. The
1,000-soldier headquarters element began departing for Iraq last week,
and other brigades began departing Fort Stewart, Ga., in January. The
deployment has been accelerated as part of the surge in troops to help
The first departure of the brigade’s main body on Thursday will include
about 175 soldiers from a number of units within the 3rd BCT and
departure ceremonies for family members will take place at a variety of
locations on Fort Benning, Ga.
2 Army Units Rushing to Iraq
Will Forgo Desert Training
By ROBERT BURNS
WASHINGTON — Feb. 27,
2007- Rushed by President Bush's decision to reinforce Baghdad with
thousands more U.S. troops, two Army combat brigades are skipping their
usual session at the Army's premier training range in California and
instead are making final preparations at their home bases.
Some in Congress and others outside the Army are beginning to question
the switch, which is not widely known. They wonder whether it means the
Army is cutting corners in preparing soldiers for combat, since they are
forgoing training in a desert setting that was designed specially to
prepare them for the challenges of Iraq.
Army officials say the two brigades will be as ready as any others that
deploy to Iraq, even though they will not have the benefit of training
in counterinsurgency tactics at the National Training Center at Fort
Irwin, Calif., which has been outfitted to simulate conditions in Iraq
for units that are heading there on yearlong tours. "You would like
everybody to go through" the training center, but in this case it is not
possible, Brig. Gen. Tom Maffey, director of Army training, told a news
conference at the Pentagon today. He said the soldiers are losing very
little by not going to Fort Irwin. "The effect is marginal, at most,"
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said Monday she is concerned about the
"less-than-ideal training situation" for the 4th Stryker Brigade of the
2nd Infantry Division, which is based in her state and is one of the two
brigades that did its final training at home. That brigade is to go to
Iraq in April, one month earlier than planned.
The other is the 2nd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division, based at Fort
Stewart, Ga., which is due to go in May for its third combat tour since
the war began in 2003. Instead of going to the National Training Center
first, it imported personnel and equipment — even Toyota pickups like
those used by Iraqi insurgents — from the training center at Fort Irwin
for two weeks of final rehearsals that begin Wednesday.
"The preferred method is to have them come here," a spokesman at the
National Training Center, John Wagstaffe, said in a telephone interview
Monday. The main things that cannot be replicated in a home station
exercise are the vast spaces of the National Training Center, which is
located in the Mojave Desert, and the weather and other environmental
conditions that so closely resemble much of Iraq, Wagstaffe said.
"Your weapon won't jam from sand at Fort Stewart," he said. Murray said
she does not doubt the ability of soldiers to adapt. "They have done
everything we have asked of them," she said. "However, I am deeply
troubled by the president's escalation plan and am committed to
questioning the new demands it places on service members."
On a visit to the brigade's home station at Fort Lewis last week, Murray
asked the top commander there, Lt. Gen. James Dubik, whether the
soldiers' preparation for Iraq was adequate without going to the
National Training Center, according to a Fort Lewis spokesman, Lt. Col.
Dan Williams, who said he attended Dubik's meeting with Murray.
Dubik assured her it was, Williams said. The general told her he was
confident "that they were ready to go" to Iraq even if they had not had
1,300 soldiers imported from the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort
Polk to play the role of Iraqi insurgents and civilians and to observe
and control the mission rehearsal exercise. "They went through all the
things they know they're going to do in Iraq," Williams said. Some
outside observers say it was inevitable that, in a pinch, the Army would
tinker with training.
"It tracks with what we should expect when we hurry the units up in
their last three months" before a deployment, said Kevin Ryan, a retired
brigadier general and former Army planner who is now at Harvard
University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Army
commanders are compelled to make "economies," he added, when an
accelerated deployment plan forces them to compress some aspects of
training. Ryan said he doubts this approach will significantly detract
from the soldiers' degree of preparation for Iraq.
"'Adequate' is probably a good description of what that training is," he
said. "It's not the premier kind of situation that commanders would
prefer, but it is adequate." Daniel Goure, a military analyst at the
Lexington Institute, a think tank, said, "This shouldn't have a decisive
impact, although it carries a modicum of risk." The two units that are
skipping their National Training Center sessions are among five Army
brigades that are being dispatched to Baghdad on an sped-up schedule as
the centerpiece of Bush's new approach to stabilizing Iraq.
The first to go, in January, was an 82nd Airborne brigade specially
designated for short-notice deployments; it did no full-scale final
exercise before deploying to Kuwait and then into Iraq. The next two,
from Fort Benning, Ga., and Fort Riley, Kan., did their final training
sessions at the National Training Center. The unit from Fort Riley is
entering Iraq now and the other is due to arrive in March.
Soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Brigade tapped for third Iraq tour
Posted on Mon, Feb. 26,
FORT BENNING, Ga. - The
first contingent of soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Brigade departed for
Iraq over the weekend, with more-than 4,000 to follow over the next
month, officials said. The 3rd Brigade, based at Fort Benning, is a part
of the 3rd Infantry Division, which helped lead the charge to Baghdad in
2003 and is the first Army division tapped for a third tour in Iraq.
The 3rd Brigade had been expected to deploy in May and June, but is
leaving at least two months early as part of President Bush's order to
send 21,000 additional troops to help stem a dramatic rise in attacks on
coalition forces and civilians in Baghdad. The first group of 50
soldiers left Fort Benning on Saturday and the remainder will follow
over the next month, Army spokeswoman Elsie Jackson said Monday.
The 19,000-member 3rd Infantry Division is headquartered at Fort
Stewart, along with its 1st, 2nd and 4th brigades. Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch
told reporters earlier this month that he will command a task force of
about 20,000 troops in southern Baghdad. His headquarters is scheduled
to deploy by March 25. The division's 1st Brigade deployed in January.
The 2nd Brigade had its deployment moved up a couple of months and is
now expected to depart in mid-May. The deployment of the 4th brigade
also could be sooner than anticipated, possibly in July rather than
September, officials said.
Young GIs get first taste of war in Ramadi
Troops took different paths toward enlisting, but face common
By Monte Morin, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Saturday, February 24, 2007
Monte Morin / S&S
1st Lt. Joshua Drake, 24, of Lakeland,
Fla. (wearing helmet) questions Iraqi men through his interpreter
during a search of homes in Ramadi early Wednesday morning. The men
were not taken into custody.
RAMADI, Iraq — What lures a young private to Iraq?
For at least two recent arrivals in this battered provincial
capital, where troops attached to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd
Infantry Division are battling Islamic militants in a muddy and
bloody urban war, the answer is both love and money. “I joined for
the money,” Pvt. Andrew Ralston said before heading out on a
cordon-and-search operation Wednesday. “My plan is to retire at 45
with $3 million.”
Monte Morin / S&S
Pvt. George Maxham, 24, of Farmington,
Maine, uses a cigarette lighter to apply camouflage face paint to
Pvt. Andrew Ralston, of Eden Prairie, Minn., before a recent mission
in downtown Ramadi.
Although the 3rd ID is now on its third deployment
in Iraq, many soldiers, including Ralston, are experiencing war for
the first time. In Ralston’s squad alone, all but two soldiers are
serving in Iraq for the first time. The 22-year-old Eden Prairie,
Minn., native said that with the right investments and shrewd
financial planning, a 23-year career in the Army would take care of
him for life. “Plus, the benefits are great,” he said. “I got
$20,000 for enlisting.” Before he can retire though, Ralston has to
face one of Iraq’s toughest areas of operations — downtown Ramadi.
While commanders say they have made phenomenal gains in this Sunni
Arab city over the last eight months — forging an alliance with
local tribes and enlisting more than 4,500 new Iraqi police — the
city’s dense, south-central area remains violent.
Commanders with the 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, the unit
responsible for much of downtown Ramadi, say that scores of
hard-core Islamic militants have, after being driven out of other
areas, focused their operations here, staging frequent, brazen
attacks against U.S. forces. In one recent episode, a Bradley
fighting vehicle melted to the ground after enemy fighters snuck up
to the vehicle and placed a bomb beside it. No soldiers were
Monte Morin / S&S
Spc. Michael Murphy (left), 23, of
Vineland, N.J., and Pfc. Joshua Vandergrift, 19, of Rochester, N.Y.,
listen to instructions from their squad leader before going out on a
mission in Ramadi recently. The soldiers are attached to Blue
Platoon, Company D, 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Infantry
Officers believe that Islamic fighters here are
staging an offensive of their own, timed perhaps with the U.S. troop
surge in Baghdad, as well as the 3rd ID’s recent arrival in Ramadi.
The new units have hit the ground running and have launched a series
of operations aimed at rooting out enemy cell commanders and
disrupting insurgent supply networks. The plan, they say, is to
clear the dense city blocks and establish new outposts for Iraqi
army and police so that they can hold the territory.
“We’re definitely in for a fight,” said Maj. Rich Cleveland, the
brigade operations officer. “They’re not going to give it away. This
won’t be a freebie.”
With just three weeks on the ground here, Ralston and his fellow
Blue Platoon soldiers already had experienced their first firefight
— a harrowing, hour-long ordeal in which six soldiers and Marines
were injured by gunfire, roadside bombs and rocket-propelled
grenades. The group was pinned down for much of the time, until
Bradleys clanked down the street, laid down fire with their 25 mm
cannons and evacuated the soldiers. “A Bradley is the most beautiful
sight in the world,” Ralston said. “When you’re taking fire like
that and a Brad rolls up and unloads 25 [mm fire], it’s just
beautiful.” When the troops were clear of the scene, an F-18 fighter
jet dropped a bomb on the enemy’s position. Soldiers estimate that
as many as 10 enemy fighters were killed in the engagement.
Monte Morin / S&S
Pfc. Adam Novikoff, 21, of Novikoff
Mountain, Ore., takes a seat in an Iraqi home following a recent
cordon and search operation in downtown Ramadi.
Pfc. Adam Novikoff, 21, of Oregon, also is attached
to Blue Platoon, Company D, 3-69. The M240 gunner recalls frying the
barrel of his weapon that afternoon when he fired more than 1,000
rounds of suppressive fire. When he recalls the incident, he says it
wasn’t exactly what he figured life had in store for him a little
more than a year ago. At that time, he hadn’t considered joining the
Army and thought little about the war. “I had a house, all the toys,
and was engaged to be married,” Novikoff said. “I had a really nice
life. That was until my girlfriend cheated on me with a guy I worked
with.” Novikoff, who was working at a tire store, quit in disgust.
“I told the guy, ‘I quit!’ Then I threw a tire at him,” Novikoff
said. “After that, I kind of lived like a bum for a while and joined
the Army. It’s a classic story.” Oddly enough, Novikoff said he
didn’t realize at the time he would wind up in Iraq, much less the
streets of Ramadi. “I guess it was in the back of my mind, but I
thought I’d wind up at Fort Lewis,” Novikoff said with a grin. “I
had probably watched about an hour of news since the war started.”
Monte Morin / S&S
An Iraqi family, in apparent
anticipation of a house search, left a note for American troops on
their refrigerator door saying they were at a funeral and would be
back in three days. Troops from Blue Platoon, Company D, 3rd
Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, discovered
the note during a cordon and search operation Wednesday morning.
© 2006 Stars and Stripes. All
party leaves Saturday for Iraq
By Gina Cavallaro - Staff writer
Posted : Friday Feb 23, 2007
An advance group of soldiers from 3rd Infantry Division’s brigade at
Fort Benning, Ga., will deploy to Iraq on Saturday, the Army announced.
The “torch party” will consist of close to 50 soldiers and will be the
first group from 3rd Brigade Combat Team to deploy, according to a news
release from Fort Benning.
The deployment will mark the brigade’s and division’s third rotation to
Iraq since operations began there in March 2003. Deployment for the
division’s 1,000-strong headquarters element from Fort Stewart, Ga., was
moved up from June to March. More than 4,500 3rd ID soldiers are
deployed to Iraq already, with 8,000 more, including 3rd BCT, preparing
to deploy in March and May.
The division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team deployed to Iraq in January.
All content © 2007,
Army Times Publishing Company
Trained and Ready for Deployment
Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch
Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch
Jan. 25, 2007. One
brigade is already in Kuwait on its way to Iraq. In the next few months,
first in mid March, then mid May, and finally June, the rest of the 3rd
Infantry Division will follow.
It's a deployment that comes two to three months faster than originally
expected, the result of President Bush's plan to increase troop levels
by 21,000 soldiers. But Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, the 3rd ID commander, says
the plan doesn't come at the expense of training for his soldiers. "We
as an Army, and we as a division, will not send untrained or poorly
equipped soldiers on combat operations," said Gen. Lynch.
That's the message the general wanted to get out to everyone. At a media
luncheon at Fort Stewart, he said his soldiers will be well-trained and
ready to go to Iraq when the call comes. That call could send the 2nd
and 3rd Brigades to the center of the action in Baghdad. "The insurgents
realize that the eyes of the world are on Baghdad," said Lynch. "So goes
Baghdad, so goes the rest of Iraq. "Security has to be job one," he
added. "Create a secure environment and everything else might, might
The 3rd ID 1st Brigade Combat team left home earlier this month and is
currently staged in Kuwait. Soon they are off to the Al-Anbar province
in western Iraq.
Lynch says he knows how hard it is for the families left behind to see
their loved ones go into battle again, but he wants them to stay strong,
so the soldiers can concentrate on their jobs. "If you are deployed in
combat operations spending all your time worrying about your family,
your morale is not good," according to Lynch. "If your wife, your spouse
says things here are going fine, you're okay, we're okay, then they're
going to be just fine. So if I can keep the families' morale up, I can
keep the soldiers' morale up as well."
Lynch says the 3rd ID soldiers face a daunting challenge, but not an
impossible one. Fourteen of 18 provinces are already secure. The next
job will be to stabilize the others, and gain the trust of the Iraqi
people, so progress toward democracy can continue. "There are 26
million Iraqis and only ten to fifteen thousand insurgents," said Lynch.
"Taking these 26 million Iraqis there and make them love the coalition,
make them glad we're there because we're bettering their society. That's
what we have to do every day."
Lynch says while he hopes the troop surge will help, Americans shouldn't
count on a quick resolution to the war.
Lynch believes conflicts like this take up to nine years to complete. He
will be on hand to help his soldiers this time around. He plans to
deploy to Iraq himself in June, and will be in charge of military
operations in one half of the country.
Reported by: Andrew Davis,
3rd ID Heads
Back to Iraq
Alaina Anderson WSAV News 3 Send
Monday, Jan 08, 2007
the 3rd Infantry Division are already preparing for another
deployment. One hundred soldiers boarded a plane last night for Iraq
and others left last week. More members of the 3rd ID’s 1st
Brigade Combat Team are expected to leave in the next few
weeks. Thanks to the USO, there's one package soldiers won't leave
families must be proud of you. Thank you and hurry home," is part of
a note that’s in just about every care package the USO gives to
troops when they're deployed. "A flight leaves at 2 o'clock in the
morning, I'm there and one leaves at 5 o'clock. One leaves at midday
-- I'm there. It's just an honor to be with those courageous men and
women," says Mary Nelson Adams, the Savannah USO’s Volunteer
Baby Wipes and Calling Cards
members of the 3rd ID are heading back overseas, Mary and other
volunteers are making sure they have enough care packages for the
soldiers -- packages filled with everything from magazines to a 100
minute calling card. Mary says, "That's the main thing they look
for. But the other stuff is appreciated, too."
wipes. That's one item Specialist Nathan Hawkins loved the last two
times he was deployed. "You don't have time to get everything you
need and it seems like they kind of get everything together where
they don't forget a lot of things you do forget," says Nathan.
Helping soldiers like Nathan is why Mary loves working with the
USO. "These men and women are going off for our freedom and this is
my main purpose for contributing my time and I feel very honored,"
3,500 soldiers are members of the 3rd ID’s 1st Brigade.
You Can Help
like to volunteer with the USO or make a monetary donation to them,
Mary says to give her a call at (912) 354-5794. For more information
about the USO, log on to their
American Red Cross Searching for Volunteers
American Red Cross is also looking for volunteers to help at Hunter
Army Airfield's deployment site. The organization provides
refreshments as well as comfort kits for soldiers to use during
their trip to Iraq.
like to volunteer with Savannah's American Red Cross chapter, give
them a call at 651-5300.
Infantry Division -
"Rock of the Marne" - Goes to Iraq in March
Feb 16, 2007. The Defense Department announced Feb. 16 that the 3rd
Infantry Division Headquarters, from Fort Stewart, Georgia, will
deploy to Iraq beginning in March 2007. This headquarters previously
was scheduled to deploy for Operation Iraqi Freedom in June 2007, as
announced on November 17, 2006, but will now be accelerated by a
little over three months. The unit leadership notified the Soldiers
and their families prior to this announcement.
This deployment affects an Army division headquarters of
approximately 1,000 Soldiers. U.S. troop levels in Iraq continue to
be conditions-based, and are determined upon the recommendations of
military commanders in Iraq and in consultation with the Iraqi
The 3rd Infantry Division, nicknamed "The Rock of the Marne" for its
steadfast defense in the face of numerically superior enemy forces
in France during WWI, will provide essential command and control,
intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities in
support of security operations in and around Baghdad. Over 4,500
Soldiers from the division are deployed to Iraq already and 8,000
more are preparing to deploy in March and May.
The Army continues to be completely supportive of Army families
touched by the war's needs. Without our families' steadfast and
unrelenting support, Soldiers would not be ready for combat, Army
officials say. Using the Army's time-tested Family Readiness Group
organizations, unit and installation commanders and their staffs are
ensuring families are fully supported while their Soldiers are away.
Established in 1917, the 3rd Infantry Division is battle-tested and
battle-hardened. From World War I to Operation Iraqi Freedom, Marne
Soldiers have achieved legendary accomplishments and established a
lasting heritage of service to our country.
The division fought in Europe during WWII and remained in Europe to
help protect NATO allies during the Cold War. The division also
fought in the Korean War. One brigade fought in Iraq during
Operation Desert Storm and Marne division units deployed to Bosnia
and Kosovo to restore security there.
This is the headquarters third deployment to Iraq in support of
Operation Iraqi Freedom. The division was the vanguard unit in the
march to Baghdad and it later returned to Iraq and helped fight
insurgent forces alongside Iraqi security forces.
Fifty-one heroic members of the division have been honored with the
Medal of Honor in its 89 years of service to our nation. Today, 3rd
ID Soldiers are supported by friends and neighbors in Columbus,
Hinesville, and Savannah GA where it trains for GWOT missions at
Georgia's Fort Stewart, Hunter Army Airfield and Fort Benning.
The Defense Department and the U.S. Army will continue to announce
major unit deployments as they are identified and told. For
information, please contact Army Public Affairs at (703) 692-2000.
Last updated Friday 16 February, 2007
Ready to shift
Plan has 3,800 soldiers departing in mid-March
BY MICK WALSH, Staff Writer
Colonel Wayne Grigsby Jr., commander of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat
Team, discusses the upcoming deployment to Iraq.
Tue, Feb. 20, 2007:
Unlike the 2005 send-off at Doughboy Stadium, which was complete with
speeches, music and enough tears to fill Upatoi Creek, this year's
deployment by the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team to Iraq will be much
more subdued. "Family good-byes at the battalion areas and bus rides to
the airport," said brigade commander Col. Wayne Grigsby Jr. as he
outlined Monday the timetable for the mid-March departure of his
Just back from four weeks of intense combat training at Fort Irwin,
Calif. -- much of it under the critical eye of former brigade boss Col.
Steve Salazar -- the 3rd will be making its third trip to Iraq since the
invasion of 2003.
"We're ready to go," Grigsby said. "We're very close to full strength,
almost 60 percent of our soldiers have combat experience and we're
trained for full spectrum operations."In other words, the brigade is
ready to tangle with insurgents in Baqouba, Ramadi or downtown Baghdad.
"We're strong in all the fundamental skills that we'll need," he added.
So where are they headed? And when? And for how long?
It appears as if the brigade will be stationed in the southeast section
of Baghdad, possibly under the umbrella of the 3rd Infantry Division.
"General (Maj. Gen. Rick) Lynch and I are in contact every other day and
we have a pretty good relationship," said Grigsby. "It would be great to
be part of his team."
Grigsby has already been in touch with another of the division's brigade
commanders, Col. John Charlton, who took his unit, the 1st BCT, to
Baghdad in January.
"We talk about issues that he's had to address since his arrival in
Iraq, things that we may need to focus on in the weeks ahead," Grigsby
said. "Keeping those communication lines open is important."
All of the brigade is to be in theater no later than the Ides of March,
Soldiers could be leaving Fort Benning from Lawson Army Airfield as
early as March 9.
"How long will we be gone?" said the colonel. "A minimum of 12 months."
He's already told the Family Readiness Group that tours could be
extended for as many as six months.
"It's condition-based," he said, noting that circumstances in Iraq at
the time of the scheduled re-deployment dictate whether or not a unit
might be extended. Soldiers in the 10th Mountain Division serving in
Afghanistan had their tours lengthened by four months recently.
Grigsby, who took the reins of the brigade last June, also spoke on the
matter of the Army's controversial "stop-loss" program. "We've had to
keep some people longer than they had hoped," he said. "Some enlistments
were extended. I don't have an exact number but I believe if you said
'dozens of soldiers,' you'd be right. It was all done on a case by case
basis." Lynch, who will be visiting the brigade on Thursday, announced
on Feb. 1 that about 350 soldiers in the division would be retained
despite retirement or transfer orders.
Almost every brigade soldier can count on one four-day weekend between
now and deployment. The rest of the time? More training and packing.
Brigade’ takes over Ramadi
Ceremony marks end of
1-1AD’s battle to stabilize volatile city
By Monte Morin, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Monday, February 19, 2007
Monte Morin / S&S
From left to
right, Maj. Gen. Walter Gaskin and Cols. Sean B. MacFarland and John W.
Charlton sit for an interview Sunday with Fox News correspondent Geraldo
Rivera following a formal transfer of authority ceremony at Camp Ramadi,
RAMADI, Iraq — The Germany-bound “Ready First Brigade” of the 1st
Armored Division formally relinquished combat authority in and around
Ramadi Sunday following a fierce, eight-month campaign that commanders
say broke a long and bloody stalemate between U.S. soldiers, Sunni Arab
tribes and Islamist militants here. The breakthrough — which occurred
when a majority of local tribe leaders decided to ally with coalition
forces against Islamist militants — bodes well for the incoming 1st
Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division “Raider Brigade,” which is
now on its third tour in Iraq.
“We leave here with a great sense of accomplishment,” Col. Sean B.
MacFarland, commander of the 1-1AD said at Sunday’s transfer of
authority ceremony. “Although there is still work to be done, we take
comfort knowing that we are relinquishing our job to the superior
soldiers of the Raider Brigade.”
Col. John W. Charlton — commander of the 1-3ID who has served twice
before in Iraq — said Sunday that his soldiers were prepared to build on
the gains made by the departing 1-1AD. “We’re ready to take on this
mission of bringing peace and prosperity to this region,” Charlton said.
Stars and Stripes. All Rights Reserved.
|Insurgents attempt a surge of
Troops take on determined militants in
By Monte Morin, Stars and Stripes
Monte Morin / S&S
An Abrams tank with the 3rd Battalion,
69th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division,
watches over a street corner in downtown Ramadi recently.
Mideast edition, Wednesday, February 21, 2007:
RAMADI, Iraq — The 3rd Infantry Division has fought two previous
tours in Iraq, but as Lt. Col. Mike Silverman and his “Speed and
Power” soldiers are quickly learning, the enemy in this battered
city is unlike that of previous tours.
As U.S. troops in Baghdad are attempting to quell a bloody sectarian
war between rival Sunni and Shiite religious sects, soldiers of the
1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division are squaring off
against a determined force of Islamist militants belonging to al-Qaida
in Iraq and other terror groups. Unlike insurgents in many other
areas of Iraq — who often melt away into the landscape after sudden
roadside bomb attacks or drive-by shootings — brazen, sustained
attacks appear to be the hallmark of insurgents in Ramadi.
Commanders hope to capitalize on gains made, but are now countering
an anticipated surge in enemy attacks. While it is customary for
enemy forces to increase attacks on troops who have recently rotated
into Iraq, officers here say Islamist fighters have launched a
particularly fierce offensive against U.S. troops and cooperating
“Basically, al-Qaida in Iraq and these other groups have been
reading about the surge in Baghdad, and they’ve been hearing what
President Bush is saying. We think now that they’re trying their own
surge,” Maj. Charles Krumwiede, the battalion operations officer,
Monte Morin / S&S
Marine Warrant Officer One James Wright,
32, of Houston, Texas, uses his rifle scope to scan buildings in
downtown Ramadi after hearing gunfire recently. Wright, a public
affairs officer with the 4th Civil Affairs Group, was visiting a
joint security station.
The recent car bomb assassination of a highly
skilled Iraqi Police commander and another such attack on an Iraqi
Police post Monday were part of this three-pronged enemy offensive,
according to commanders. The offensive, they said, was aimed at
intimidating local residents from cooperating with new Iraqi Police
or U.S. forces, assassinating Iraqi Police and government leaders,
and attacking U.S. troops.
Commanders said a series of ongoing, coordinated operations between
units throughout Ramadi would help to destabilize the enemy. At the
same time however, Silverman said he and other commanders were not
about to underestimate their foes. “These guys have been involved
since 2003,” Silverman said. “These guys are at their pinnacle. In
some ways, they are almost as good as a professional army. Don’t get
me wrong — I’m not enamored of the enemy. They are savages,
absolutely. But they are not poorly trained savages.”
During the 3rd ID’s 2005 deployment to the areas of Balad, Tikrit,
Samarra and Beiji, it was common for groups of 15 or 20 attacking
insurgents to flee after two or three of them had been killed. Here,
however, the same sized group will press their attack until most of
them have been cut down, commanders say. In a vivid example,
officers said that U.S. snipers methodically killed 10 insurgent
attackers recently as they attempted to crawl up a creek bed toward
a combat outpost downtown.
The phenomenon, officers say, is linked to a breakthrough alliance
here between U.S. forces and a majority of local tribes who once
aided the Islamist groups. Until late last year, more than
two-thirds of enemy fighters here were considered to be local Baath
Party loyalists and/or from criminal groups. Now many of those local
tribe members have opted out of the fight or joined the Iraqi
police. Those enemy who remain, officers say, are mostly hard-core
Islamists who are increasingly desperate to break the alliance
between tribes and the coalition.
As such, units like Silverman’s 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment,
are encountering an enemy he and other officers describe as highly
experienced, religiously zealous and organized along traditional
military lines. “It looks to me like they operate very much the way
we do,” Silverman said. “There is a battalion-level emir who comes
up with a vision for the battlefield. They issue guidance to cell
leaders who function fairly autonomously. They would be like company
commanders in our operations. Most of the attacks are then committed
by lower platoon-level fighters.”
After years of combat in Ramadi, enemy fighters here are among the
most experienced in Iraq. They are drawn from a steady pool of local
and foreign Islamists attracted to Ramadi because it symbolizes, for
them, the center of the fight against the U.S. and the west in
general. “For them, Ramadi is jihad land,” said Krumwiede. “They
know that if they want to fight the Americans, Ramadi is the place
to go.” By the same token, U.S. troops here say they take
satisfaction in knowing that those fighters they kill or capture are
part of al-Qaida and its many associated groups. “No kidding, when
you’re in Ramadi, you’re not just fighting to stabilize Iraq, you’re
part of the larger war on terrorism,” Silverman said.
Monte Morin / S&S
Soldiers attached to the 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, of the
1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, cross a sewage creek
in downtown Ramadi during a recent patrol.
Over the past few years, Ramadi has functioned as
a de facto training camp for these Islamist fighters, commanders
say. Those who pass the course survive; those who don’t, die.
“There’s nothing more Darwinian than an insurgency,” Silverman said.
“The gene pool for poorly trained and unthinking insurgents gets
cleaned out pretty quickly.” In Silverman’s area of operations,
there are perhaps 100 or 200 such fighters, operating in autonomous
cells, and communicating via couriers or Internet cafes.
The previous unit in Ramadi, the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st
Armored Division, has been credited with significant gains over the
past eight months by establishing a network of joint security
stations throughout Ramadi’s downtown — an area that was once
controlled mostly by the enemy.
The number of police has increased from just over 200 eight months
ago to roughly 4,500 today. While this has done much to stabilize
western and northern Ramadi, areas like downtown, which lacked a
tribal structure, remain contentious.
© 2006 Stars and Stripes. All Rights Reserved.
|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).
Click Here to go to the Current
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