Operation Iraqi Freedom Archive


Operation Iraqi Freedom
Archived Stories of the 3rd Division in Iraq

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Iraqi Citizen Helps Coalition Forces
Maj. Russ Goemaere, 2nd Brigade Combat Team PAO

BAGHDADDec. 22, 2005- A local national identified a home in east Baghdad that was being used as a factory to make improvised rocket-launchers. At about 6:30 p.m. elements of 3rd squadron, 7th Cavalry, raided the home and discovered 15 rocket-launchers were in the process of being built and one 57 millimeter rocket was competed and ready to be fired. No one was present in the home at the time of the raid.
           “It is encouraging that the Iraqi citizens are continuing to choose the side of the new government over the terrorists. The Iraqi citizens know that providing information against the terrorists to Coalition or Iraqi Security Forces will help to improve the security situation in their neighborhoods,” said Col. Joseph DiSalvo, commander of Coalition Forces in east Baghdad. All equipment in the home was seized and will be used as evidence against the homeowners when they are caught. Iraqi Security Forces are continuing the search.

3 Terrorists Caught Emplacing Bomb
Maj. Russ Goemaere, 2nd Brigade Combat Team PAO

BAGHDADDec. 22, 2005- Three terrorists were captured as they were caught emplacing a hoax roadside bomb in east Baghdad Dec. 21.At about 6 p.m. a patrol from 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry observed a civilian vehicle dropping cement blocks in the median of a major thoroughfare. The patrol intercepted the suspicious vehicle and detained three suspected terrorists.
           Additional elements of 3-7 CAV secured the site surrounding the suspicious items and an explosive ordnance disposal team investigated the objects and found them to be hoax roadside bombs.
           “These suspected terrorists were not placing cement blocks in the road for any other reason then to terrorize and intimidate the population. They are currently being detained at a military detention facility,” said Maj. Paul Reese, operations officer for 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division.
            “Anyone found guilty of emplacing a hoax roadside bomb is a terrorist – make no mistake about it; the good people of Iraq are disgusted by these types of games.”
            Hoax roadside bombs are commonly used by terrorists to check how Iraqi Security and Coalition Forces will react. Roadside bombs are a deadly threat, anyone found planting roadside bombs, either real or hoax, will be treated as a terrorist.


East Baghdad Neighborhoods Turn Out to Vote
2nd Brigade Combat Team PAO, Dec. 15, 2005
Sgt. Andrew Miller,Task Force Baghdad PAO
BAGHDAD — Elizabeth Vargas of ABC News interviews Maj. Gen. William Webster, Task Force Baghdad commander,
as they visit polling sites in east Baghdad Dec. 15. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Teddy Wade)

BAGHDAD — Maj. Gen. William Webster, Task Force Baghdad commander, discusses polling site security with an
Iraqi Police officer in east Baghdad Dec. 15. Iraqi Security Forces were responsible for safeguarding polling sites
while U.S. Soldiers kept outer perimeters secure. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Teddy Wade)

BAGHDAD — Col. Joseph DiSalvo, commander of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division,
gives a soul handshake to a young Iraqi boy as he tours voting sites in east Baghdad Dec. 15.
(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Teddy Wade)


National Elections Set Milestone for
Iraqi Security Forces

Spc. Dan Balda
4th Brigade Combat Team PAO

BAGHDAD -Dec. 15, 2005- The day seemed downright festive: children marched in impromptu parades, men wore suits (on their day off no less), entire families took long walks from their homes to polling sites. The Iraqi parliamentary elections Dec. 15 gave Iraqis a chance to showcase the pride they have in their country and the hope they have for the future.

“Nationalism is defined by the actions of the people,” said Maj. Ross Coffman, 4th Brigade Combat Team executive officer. “It only takes a moment to see their faces as they vote, to see their pride, not only because they are voting but because they are part of something bigger. That is promising. Not only for the efforts we’ve made, but also for the future of the country.”

The future seems to be the center of Coffman’s focus and for good reason. “Today, they chose their leaders for the next four years,” Coffman said. “If someone chooses to vote as many did, they chose to vote because they believe in the future of their country. It’s another step for democracy for this country, but it also shows that Iraqis believe in their future.”

BAGHDAD -- (L) Iraqis wait in line for their chance to vote in the historic Dec. 15 national elections.
(R) An Iraqi woman holds an Iraqi flag after voting during the historic Dec. 15 national elections.
(U.S. Army photos by Spc. Timothy Story)

Hundreds of thousands of Baghdad residents were able to vote mainly because of the security at polling stations provided by Iraqi Security Forces. Coffman said the violence stayed at or below normal levels. There were a few terrorist attacks with improvised explosive devices and isolated indirect fire incidents, but otherwise election day was very safe, he said. This can be directly attributed to the ISF, who took the lead on all matters electoral.

“The ISF took the front, just as they have for the last two elections,” Coffman said. “Basically this was run by Iraqis, the polls and the security, and the Americans were there in case something happened and they needed our assistance. Today was another milestone in the ISF’s capabilities. They were able to secure numerous sites across the country and prevent Anti-Iraqi Forces from influencing those sites.”

Staff Sgt. James Bryant, a team leader with B Company, 4th Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment was especially heartened by the performance of the ISF. He has been part of a military transition team training ISF members since August. He ran into a number of his former trainees during a foot patrol through Karradah during the election. “It’s great seeing these men out here because they are like my own Soldiers,” he said. “When you train up the new guys in your unit, and you see them excel, it’s a good feeling to see them out there and see that they are using all the skills they’ve learned and (are) doing their job. It’s going to make a big difference for this country’s future.”

Coffman was heartened by the actions of the troops on this monumental occasion. "The job the Iraqis and our forces have done is nothing short of amazing,” he said. “The Military Transition Teams and Special Police Training Teams that have stood beside the Iraqi forces during training and mission execution over the last year will carry Iraqi security in the future for the next five to 10 years. It’s an honor being part of America’s team here in Iraq, standing side by side with Iraq’s team making sure that this is a safe place for the Iraqi people.”

Iraqi Army Soldiers Exercise Right to Vote
Sgt. Matthew Wester, 3/1 AD PAO

TAJI, Iraq – Iraqi Army Soldiers hold up political posters as they chant and sing
after they participated in early voting Dec. 12. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Kevin Bromley, 3/1 AD PAO)               

TAJI, Iraq – An Iraqi Army Soldier flashes his ink-stained finger as proof that he voted.
(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Kevin Bromley, 3/1 AD PAO)

TAJI, Iraq –Dec. 13, 2005- Iraqi Army Soldiers northwest of Baghdad voted three days before the country's national elections, freeing them for duty on Dec. 15.
Soldiers had been working to make polling sites throughout the area secure prior to election day. On Dec. 12, thousands went to the polls themselves and voted at a site in Assariya village, near Camp Taji north of Baghdad.
"I am very glad. This is good for all Iraqis, not just for us, " said Pvt. Zaheer, an infantryman with 9th Iraqi Army Mechanized Division.
This is the third time in a year Iraqis have participated in democratic elections, after the success of the interim government elections in January and the Constitutional Referendum in October.
The Iraqi Soldiers formed long columns and marched to the polls. Other IA Soldiers guarded the Assariya site.
"The Iraqi Security Forces vote early so they can do their job on election day, which is primarily to provide security for the citizens of Iraq, so that they have an opportunity to vote in a safe environment," said Capt. Richard Hicks, a team leader for A Company, 490th Civil Affairs Battalion. His team works with the citizens of the area to improve infrastructure and quality of life.
"The Iraqi Security Forces are the lead element in providing this security. They are the ones people see at the polling sites," Hicks said. "It's a further demonstration of their ability to take the lead as they will guide their country following the election."
The Soldiers took charge of security during the recent referendum vote and were successful at curbing attacks and ensuring citizens made it to the polls safely.
After voting, some troops danced and sang patriotic songs. One Soldier led his comrades in a chant extolling the virtues of their favorite candidates.
"It really means a lot to see how much enthusiasm they have, " Hicks said. "It's just a very warming experience to share that with them here and see democracy in action."
"I hope for democracy and security for this country," Zaheer said as he headed to the polls to cast his vote.

Iraqi Security Forces,
U.S. Soldiers pursue terrorists
Maj. Russ Goemaere, 2nd Brigade Combat Team PAO

BAGHDAD –Dec. 12, 2005- Iraqi Security Forces and Task Force Baghdad Soldiers continued to aggressively pursue terrorists in east Baghdad Dec. 12.
In the early-morning hours, elements of 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry launched a raid to capture three suspected terrorists. The three suspects were subsequently detained and will be processed into the Iraqi judicial system.
Later that morning, elements of the 3rd Public Order Brigade in Salman Pak reported discovering a roadside bomb. Acting on information from a local citizen, the POB identified the potentially deadly device before it could be detonated. The bomb, hidden in the carcass of a dog, contained an unknown amount of explosives.
An Iraqi Police explosive ordnance disposal team used a controlled detonation to destroy the device.
Around midday, Iraqi Army Soldiers responded to the report of a car bomb. A suicide car bomber missed his target, an Iraqi Police patrol, and wounded five Iraqi civilians. The Iraqi Police and Iraqi Soldiers quickly secured the site and evacuated the wounded civilians to a local hospital.

U.S., Iraqi Forces Keep
Baghdad Streets Safe for Election
4th Brigade Combat Team PAO

BAGHDAD –Dec. 11, 2005- Task Force Baghdad Soldiers and Iraqi Security Forces detained 13 suspected terrorists and located a weapons cache during pre-election operations in the capitol city Dec. 9-10. Soldiers assigned to 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment captured three suspected terrorists during a cordon-and-search operation Dec. 9. During two different operations Dec. 10, 3rd Bn., 7th Inf. Soldiers detained six additional suspects and seized a weapons cache which included six AK-47 assault rifles, 13 AK-47 magazines, one bag of money and a hand grenade. Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry Regiment also conducted an assault operation which led to the capture of three suspects in the Dora neighborhood Dec. 9. 

            In other operations, Iraqi forces assigned to the 1st Battalion, 4th Public Order Brigade detained one suspected terrorist in eastern Rasheed Dec. 9.

Iraqi forces, U.S. Army
Keep Pressure on Terrorists
Master Sgt. David Abrams,Task Force Baghdad PAO

BAGHDAD —Dec. 7, 2005- Iraqi Security Forces and Task Force Baghdad Soldiers continued to scour the streets of Baghdad during operations Dec. 3-7, hunting down terrorists, disabling roadside bombs and seizing stockpiles of weapons.
Some of the success of these operations can be attributed to tips received from concerned citizens who approached Iraqi and U.S. forces with information about the whereabouts of terrorists and weapons caches.
While Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry Regiment were on patrol in south Baghdad Dec. 3, they were approached by two Iraqi citizens who said they knew where suspected terrorists were located. When the U.S. Soldiers went to the residence in question, they found six individuals—two of whom were known for terrorist activity. All six suspects were detained for further questioning.
Another patrol operating in west Baghdad Dec. 3 was stopped by an Iraqi woman who told the Soldiers about an improvised explosive device which had been planted in the area. The woman pinpointed the location of the IED on a map for the Soldiers from 1st Squadron, 75th Cavalry Regiment. When the patrol went to the location, the Soldiers found a 155-millimeter round with a radio device attached to it. An explosive ordnance disposal team was summoned to the site and the IED was rendered safe.
Soldiers from 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment observed an individual emplacing an IED in the Abu Ghraib district Dec. 6. Task Force Baghdad ground and air assets eventually cornered the individual, along with an accomplice, and detained the pair. Those suspects then positively identified another terrorist known for emplacing IEDs. All three suspects were detained for further questioning.
On Dec. 4, Soldiers from 1st Bn., 184th Inf. Reg. detained two suspects in the vicinity of a meat packing plant in southeast Baghdad after they were found with 20 bags of aluminum sulfate and weapons, including five AK-47 assault rifles, six SKS machine guns and an RPK rifle.
Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment on patrol in an area southwest of Baghdad reported taking small-arms and rocket-propelled-grenade fire Dec. 3. A patrol from the Iraqi Army swept through the vicinity and detained three individuals suspected of firing on the American Soldiers. There were no U.S. casualties or damage to equipment in the incident.
Task Force Baghdad Soldiers in west Baghdad reported receiving indirect fire Dec. 6. There were no casualties or damage as a result of the rocket attack. Aviation assets quickly pinpointed the origin of the fire and found three mortar tubes which were then destroyed.
Meanwhile, other Task Force Baghdad aviation in the area spotted a suspicious vehicle and individuals unloading items and taking them into a nearby house. A ground forces unit later went to the house and detained three terrorists suspected of firing the mortars. The U.S. Soldiers also seized a small cache of a 60-millimeter round, a 130-millimeter round, a 120-millimeter round, a 60-millimeter mortar system and 10 projectiles.

Citizens Help U.S. Forces
Take Terrorists Off Streets
4th Brigade Combat Team PAO

BAGHDAD –Dec. 6, 2005- Task Force Baghdad Soldiers captured four terror suspects and discovered a large weapons cache during a series of operations in the Al Rashid district Dec. 4. U.S. Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment conducted a raid in western Rashid based on information provided by local Iraqis. The raid resulted in the capture of two individuals. 

In another mission, Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry Regiment conducted a cordon and search in eastern Rashid, resulting in the capture of two individuals and a sizable weapons cache. The weapons cache consisted of five AK-47 assault rifles, seven AK-47 magazines, six SKS automatic weapons, one Russian machine gun and 20 100-pound bags of aluminum sulfate. 

Iraqi, U.S. Forces Launch Raid Against Terrorist Ring
Maj. Russ Goemaere, 2nd Brigade Combat Team PAO

BAGHDAD -Dec. 5, 2005- Iraqi and Coalition Forces in east Baghdad remained vigilant in the face of numerous acts of terror in east Baghdad Dec. 4. Iraqi Police and Coalition Forces launched a raid to capture suspected members of a known terrorist ring.  Within two hours, six suspects were arrested and are currently being processed into the Iraqi justice system.

“We are continuing an aggressive campaign to capture the terrorists in our zone. The Iraqi Security Forces are doing most of the work and we stand ready to support them when ever necessary,” said Col. Joseph DiSalvo, commander of Coalition Forces in east Baghdad.

BAGHDAD – Task Force Baghdad Soldiers and Iraqi Police secure the site of a bomb attack Dec. 4 in the Rusafa area of east Baghdad. Six Iraqi civilians were wounded in the attack which was directed against civilians at a marketplace.
(U.S. Army photo)

Around 7 a.m., a patrol from 3rd Battalion, 7th Cavalry discovered an improvised explosive device. The roadside bomb, a surface laid anti-tank mine, was destroyed by an explosive ordnance disposal team.  There were no casualties or damage to equipment. About a half hour later, an Iraqi Army patrol responded to the explosion of a roadside bomb which targeted an Iraqi Police patrol. No injuries or damage were reported. 

BAGHDAD – Iraqi Police gather information at the site of a bomb attack Dec. 4 in the Rusafa area of east Baghdad.
(U.S. Army photo)

Elsewhere, a U.S. Army Military Police patrol was attacked with a roadside bomb around 9 a.m.  The bomb detonated between two vehicles, resulting in no casualties or damage to equipment. A half hour later, an American tank on patrol was attacked with a roadside bomb. The bomb missed the tank and no casualties or damage to equipment were reported.

Meanwhile, in the Rusafa area, the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police responded to the site of a roadside bomb attack that was directed against civilians at a marketplace.  Six Iraqi civilians were wounded in the attack and were evacuated by Iraqi Security Forces and emergency services to local hospitals for treatment. “The terrorists continue their campaign of indiscriminate violence against the population, the Iraqi Security Forces and Coalition Forces, because they are intimidated with Iraq’s progress towards freedom and democracy,” DiSalvo said. 

    Citizen’s Tip Yields Weapons Cache,
Two Terror Suspects
4th Brigade Combat Team PAO

BAGHDAD –Dec. 4, 2005- A tip from a local citizen resulted in the capture of two terror suspects and the discovery of a large weapons cache in western Rashid Dec. 3. Soldiers assigned to 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment received information about terrorists storing weapons in a salt factory. Upon further investigation, Soldiers found the following items: 23 60-millimeter mortar rounds, 20 82-millimeter mortar rounds, two 120-millimeter artillery rounds, 40 fuses, two rocket-propelled grenades, one grenade and 200 rounds of small-arms ammunition. An explosive ordnance disposal team was called in and destroyed the cache in a series of controlled detonations.

24 Terror Suspects Taken Off the Streets of Baghdad
Maj. Alayne Conway, 4th Brigade Combat Team PAO

BAGHDAD –Dec. 4, 2005- Launching operations based on tips from Iraqi citizens and intelligence developed over time, Task Force Baghdad Soldiers captured 24 terror suspects in the Al Rasheed district during a 12-hour period Dec. 3-4. Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry Regiment conducted three cordon and searches and captured a total of nine individuals.  A Company, 1st Bn., 184th Inf. detained six individuals in eastern Rasheed Dec. 3 around 11:35 p.m.  One of the detainees was a known member of an Al-Qaeda bomb-making cell and another individual is suspected of running safe houses used to smuggle terrorists into Baghdad.

            Three hours later, another element from 1/184 detained a targeted individual in Abu Dischir and another two at daybreak in Dora. A tipster alerted Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment on the trail of terror suspects operating in western Rasheed. They conducted a hasty cordon and search and captured two individuals before midnight on Dec. 3. At about 2:30 a.m., 3/7 Inf. Soldiers conducted another cordon and search in Jihad and captured three individuals. The battalion also detained another individual in Jihad the night before.

 “The operation last night was a huge victory for the locals in Jihad,” said 1st Lt. Reeon Brown, a platoon leader from A Co., 3/7 Inf. who led one of last night’s operations.   “This man has spent months killing innocent Iraqis and Iraqi Security Forces.  Now he is off the street thanks to the bravery of one local man.  I want to thank him and let the Iraqi people know that they are the most powerful weapons in the fight against terrorists.” 

Farther south in the rural areas of Baghdad, Soldiers from 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment was also rounding up terror suspects. A unit conducting a cordon and search at 1 a.m. on Dec. 4 captured nine individuals.  All of the suspects were taken to military facilities for further questioning.

            Iraqi Firefighters turn in Ordnance
to U.S. Troops
Maj. Russ Goemaere, 2nd Brigade Combat Team PAO

BAGHDAD -Dec. 2, 2005- Iraqi firefighters from the Rusafa Fire Station in east Baghdad turned over more than 200 rounds of unexploded ordnance to elements of Task Force Baghdad for destruction Dec. 1. The firefighters gave 65 artillery rounds and 143 mortar rounds to elements of 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery.

BAGHDAD -- Iraqi firefighters from the Rusafa Fire Station in east Baghdad watch as Soldiers
from 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery inventory unexploded ordnance Dec. 1. (U.S. Army photo)

This is a continuing effort and partnership between the leadership of the Rusafa Fire Station and 1st Bn., 9th FA to rid the area of unexploded ordnance and denying terrorists potential bomb-making material. "On Nov. 3, we secured a slightly smaller, but still significant, load of munitions in the same location. I am glad to be working with the firefighters here to make the community safer for everyone -- especially the children who like to play in areas where much of the unexploded ordnance still remains," said Maj. Jay Sawyer, operations officer for 1/9 FA.

BAGHDAD – Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery and Iraqi firefighters from the Rusafa Fire Station in east Baghdad watch as another Soldier inventories unexploded ordnance prior to its destruction Dec. 1. (U.S. Army photo)

            “The most exciting aspect to me is that the Iraqi citizens provide the Iraqi Security Forces and Fire Departments with the location of unexploded ordnance they find in their neighborhoods,” Sawyer added.  “The people want their communities safer and they look to the Iraqi government to provide that safety.” All of the ordnance was later destroyed by a U.S. explosive ordnance disposal team.


Iraqi, U.S. forces patrol streets of south Baghdad
Maj. Alayne Conway, 4th Brigade Combat Team PAO 

BAGHDAD Nov. 29, 2005– Iraqi Security Forces and Task Force Baghdad Soldiers kept the pressure on terrorists operating in the Al-Rashid district Nov. 27-28 in an effort to set the conditions for the Dec. 15 elections and deny the enemy the opportunity to carry out attacks. On Nov. 28, elements from 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment conducted a cordon and search in western Rashid detaining three terror suspects.

Iraqi forces from the 4th Public Order Brigade received small-arms fire in Dora Nov. 27 around 7 p.m.  The attackers fled and ran into a mosque, causing the Iraqi forces to follow them. The Ministry of Interior approved the mosque entry for the Iraqi forces at 11 p.m.  The Iraqi forces entered and found a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, an RPG round and 190 rounds of machine-gun ammunition.  There were no detainees in the incident.   

 Early in the evening of Nov. 27, Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry Regiment responded to a coordinated attack involving a roadside bomb and small-arms fire in eastern Rashid.  The blast from the improvised explosive device caused minimal damage to the patrol.  The Soldiers immediately conducted a counterattack and found an initiation wire leading to a nearby house.  The Soldiers detained two terror suspects found in the house.

             Tip leads Iraqi Security Forces to car bomb
Maj. Russ Goemaere, 2nd Brigade Combat Team PAO

BAGHDAD  Nov. 29, 2005– A tip from a local resident, given to Iraqi Security Forces Nov. 28, may have helped save many lives. Elements of the Iraqi Army in Adhamiyah, working with Iraqi Police, responded to information provided by a citizen that a vehicle bomb was located near the Abu Baker School and Tahmad Gas Station in the Uhr neighborhood.When they reached the location, the Iraqi Army discovered a silver Hyundai with four 155-millimeter artillery rounds and one propane gas container inside.The area was immediately secured by the ISF and an Iraqi Police explosive ordnance disposal team rendered the improvised explosive device safe. 

“This was a great operation,” aid Capt. Dan Cummings, an operations officer with the U.S. Army’s 1st Battalion, 64th Armor.  “Iraqi citizens are choosing the side of democracy and progress.  The citizen who reported this is a hero and may have saved the lives of many innocent children today.”

Bradley Fighting Vehicle hits roadside bomb
From the 2nd Brigade Combat Team PAO

 BAGHDAD Nov. 28, 2005-- A Bradley Fighting Vehicle struck a roadside bomb around 8 a.m. Nov. 28 in east Baghdad. One member of the Bradley crew sustained minor injuries in the attack and was quickly returned to duty. Elements of 1st Battalion, 64th Armor and Iraqi Police secured the area to prevent injury to nearby civilians.

            “We have gathered some intelligence on who might be responsible and we are working the issue right now with the Iraqi Security Forces and the local citizens to catch the responsible terrorists,” said Col. Joseph DiSalvo, commander of Coalition Forces in east Baghdad.  “The terrorists are willing to put innocent civilians at risk when they attack us.  It is important that local civilians continue to turn in suspected terrorists to the Iraqi Security Forces.”

Citizen’s tip about bomb saves lives
From the 2nd Brigade Combat Team PAO

 BAGHDAD Nov. 27, 2005-- A local citizen provided a potentially life-saving tip to the Iraqi Army in Sadr City Nov 26, alerting them to what appeared to be a bomb placed in the road.The civilian provided the tip to an Iraqi Army checkpoint around 10:30 a.m.
The Iraqi Army and Soldiers from Task Force Baghdad’s 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry responded to the scene, secured the site and kept civilian traffic out of harm’s way. Upon investigation, the Iraqi Army and Task Force Baghdad team discovered a 122-millimeter mortar round rigged with a remote detonating device.A U.S. Army explosive ordnance disposal team responded rendered the bomb safe.


Task Force Baghdad/3ID

 ‘Teddy Troopers’ perform important mission in Iraq

Spc. Derek Del Rosario
Aviation Brigade PAO

CAMP TAJI, Iraq – July 13, 2005-They can be seen parachuting into various areas around Baghdad.  Specially trained individuals recruited during Operation Iraqi Freedom 3, whose primary mission is to bring smiles to the faces of Iraqi children. 

These airborne “Soldiers” are actually “Teddy Troopers” or “Para-Bears,” stuffed animals with makeshift parachutes jumping into the arms and hearts of children during Operation Teddy Drop.

TAJI, Iraq - Spc. Benjamin L. Kepenke, a crew chief with C Company, 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment (Assault Helicopter),
prepares a “Teddy Trooper” for its descent to children below. Operation Teddy Drop is a humanitarian mission geared to give teddy bears to Iraqi children.
(Photo by Spc. Del Rosario, Aviation Brigade PAO)

The commander for this unique operation is Chief Warrant Officer 4 Randy M. Kirgiss, pilot for C. Company, 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment (Assault Helicopter).  He started the airborne mission as a way to impact the lives of Iraqi children.  He began the operation in mid-April, inspired by previous humanitarian efforts he had witnessed, as well as by Col. Gail Halvorsen, the “Berlin Candy Bomber” who dropped candy to German children during the Berlin Airlift. “I got the idea from a lot of my friends who conducted humanitarian missions on some of my previous deployments,” Kirgiss said.  “In Bosnia, I saw school supplies donated; in Kosovo, teddy bears were given out.  I wanted to model something after the Candy Bomber who parachuted bags of candy to kids.  It was from this idea that Operation Teddy Drop began.”

In order for his airborne humanitarian mission to get off the ground, Kirgiss needed support from his chain of command, his unit, and from friends and family to help him gather the stuffed animals.  He received complete support in helping him begin his humanitarian efforts. “Capt. Kirk, C. Co. commander, and Lt. Col. Haraldsen, 4-3 AHB commander, were very helpful -- they wanted this to happen,” Kirgiss said.  “They were very supportive, and they helped me brainstorm ideas to make the operation run safely and smoothly.”

In conjunction with his official flight missions, Kirgiss brings boxes of stuffed animals with makeshift parachutes along with him.  When he sees a child down below, he instructs a crew member to drop a Teddy Trooper. “There is a mission to be done, but dropping bears doesn’t take away from that mission,” Kirgiss said.  “We have the assets to do both our mission and execute Operation Teddy Drop effectively.”

Kirgiss originally told a group of eight friends and family members about the operation.  He received help in the form of donated stuffed animals and parachute supplies.  The original network of eight grew immensely, and Kirgiss began to receive donations from everywhere around the States; receiving old parachutes and boxes of teddy bears.  Kirgiss is even getting a donation from a well-known teddy bear manufacturer.

“Originally, I just wanted my friends and families to look into their kid’s closet to find old teddy bears to donate,” said Kirgiss.  “When unit members started talking and my friends started talking, through word of mouth it just got out and now I get donations from everywhere.” Kirgiss spends most of his free time, usually at night, making the parachutes for the Teddy Troopers.  The airborne recruits come in all shapes and sizes, so specialized parachutes usually have to be made.  Using material from old, donated parachutes, Kirgiss makes the parachute that is best suited for his troopers so they can complete their mission.  It takes Kirgiss approximately three minutes to make each chute.

The unit’s largest recruit jumped May 21 as part of the largest drop in the unit’s short history. “We received eight boxes of donated stuffed animals one day.  The boxes stacked to my ceiling,” Kirgiss said.  “The following day we dropped (more than) 200 stuffed animals, including the largest one we have ever received – a bear that was about 3 feet tall and weighed around six pounds.  I needed to make a special chute for that trooper.”

Kirgiss tries to get the plush toys to all kids, but his main aim is the poorer Iraqi children in the countryside.  “It can be a safety hazard to drop them in the city.  We don’t want kids running into the streets to get them,” said Kirgiss, also the safety officer of the company.  “When we can, we try to send the bears to urban and poorer areas, and for each kid we see we send down a bear so there is no fighting among the children.”

Sending these Teddy Troopers on their mission is very fulfilling for Kirgiss.  He enjoys seeing the smile on their faces when they get a hold of their new stuffed animals. “It’s a great thing to see, even from 200 feet above,” Kirgiss said.  “When we see those kids wave and we send down a bear, most kids will not know what it is at first.  Some hide behind their parents, some stay back in hesitancy, but once they see that parachute open, they know what it is and go running toward it.  Some even catch them before they hit the ground.”

TAJI, Iraq - Melbourne, Fla., native Spc. Richard Kanagie, B Company, 4th Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment,
prepares a “Teddy Trooper” for descent. 
(Photo by Staff Sgt. Mick Minecci, 214th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment) 

More than 900 Para-Bears have bravely jumped since the start of the operation.  It is Kirgiss’ hope to continue the humanitarian mission for the duration of his deployment and hopefully pass on the operation to the next aviation unit that comes to Taji.  For Kirgiss, it is a personally gratifying experience to be a part of the operation, and an operation he hopes will have an impact on the future.

“It is something I find very fun and constructive,” he said.  “Talking about it also helps me stay grounded to my two young children.  I can’t help but think that somewhere down the line we might be influencing the future decision makers of Iraq.  This operation is only a small way to show that we are human and compassionate.  We are Soldiers, but we are humane as well.”


DoD Identifies Army Casualties
The Department of Defense announced the death of  soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The mighty Third is back in the battle again. The 3d Infantry Division has been called back to Iraq to complete the job after they captured Baghdad in 2003. The insurgents have been halting efforts to bring an everlasting peace to the Iraqi citizens. The division was ordered back as Task Force Iraq, a duty to secure the city of Baghdad. Since their arrival the division has had 13 casualties with 6 deaths this month alone.

One of the killed in action on Feb. 26th, 2005 was PFC Min Soo Choi, a Korean immigrant here in the United States living in River Vale, NJ, my hometown, only 7 years. He loved this country dearly. After the attack on United States September 11, 2001 he was very upset knowing well what America did for his country during the Korean War, joined the Army and was later sent to serve with the 3d Infantry at Ft. Stewart, Georgia.

A memorial service was held for him in the school he attended. PFC Choi was not
an American citizen upon entering service and died that way. U.S. Senator Lautenberg, NJ, saw to it that he become a United States citizen posthumously,  Maj. Gen. Michael R. Mazzucchi, presented the parents with the Purple Heart, Bronze Star Medal, Good Conduct Medal and the Combat Infantrymen’s Badge. Mrs. Angela Harris presented Mr. Choi with a pair of spurs and his Dog Tags with a picture of him before departing to Iraq. Mrs. Harris is the wife of LtCol. Michael J. Harris, PFC Choi’s Commander of the 8th Cavalry Regiment.

At the last reunion, General William Webster gave me a few “Outstanding Soldier” coins to present to the families of any 3d Division soldiers killed in action from New Jersey. Angela Harris and I made the presentation on behalf of the Society of the 3d Infantry Division.

A police escort was given to Arlington National Cemetery for the burial at 1:00 PM. Colonel John Insani, Secretary /Treasurer of Outpost 7, in the Washington DC area presented himself to the family. They recognized the 3d Division lapel button on his jacket and were immediately received by the family and were given a red rose for placement on the casket.
Colonel Insani has been instrumental in doing these honorable deeds often throughout the years and is most appreciated by me from Outpost 5.

Joseph M. Poggi
Outpost 5

Two soldiers from Fort Stewart killed in Iraq
They were the first casualties reported from the Division since its 19,000 soldiers deployed for a second tour in Iraq last month.

Sgt Daniel Torres was killed recently while serving in Iraq.
 (AP PHOTO/Family Photo) Family photo FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM /AP

The Associated Press, February 9, 2005
The 3rd Infantry Division has suffered its first fatalities since last month's deployment.

Staff Sgt. Steven G. Bayow, 42, of Colonia, on the island of Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia, and Sgt. Daniel Torres, 23, of Fort Worth, Texas, died Friday in Bayji, Iraq when a roadside bomb exploded, hitting their patrol vehicle.

Five other soldiers were wounded in the blast about 140 miles north of Baghdad.

Torres had been looking forward to the birth of his first child. His girlfriend is five weeks pregnant. But Torres' father said the young soldier had doubts he would return.
"The last time we saw him, he told us not to worry if the Army came to his house to tell us he had died," Sergio Torres said Tuesday from Fort Worth. "He had a hunch it would happen. When he came to visit us in December, he told us he didn't know if he would return."

Bayow entered the Army in 1999 and arrived at Fort Stewart in April 2003. Torres entered the Army in June 2001 and arrived at Fort Stewart that November. Both were assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment of the First Brigade. That's the same battalion as Sgt. Kevin Bendermen, who is seeking conscientious objector's status and facing charges of desertion and missing movement.

Although the exact mission of the soldiers' unit is unknown, division spokesman Lt. Col. Robert Whetstone said most of the troops have basically the same mission: helping the Iraqis to set up their own government by providing security and logistics as well as training Iraqi security forces.

Since May 1, 2003, when President Bush declared that major combat operations in Iraq had ended, 1,312 U.S. military members have died, according to AP's count. That includes at least 998 deaths resulting from hostile action, according to the military's numbers.

Savannah Morning News military reporter Michael Fabey contributed to this report.

April 18, 2005-Two soldiers based in Georgia have died in Iraq over the past few days, military authorities said Monday.

The Pentagon said Army Specialist Aleina Ramirez Gonzalez, 33, of Hormigueros, Puerto Rico, of the Fort Stewart-based 3rd Infantry Division was killed in a mortar attack in Tikrit on Friday.

Ramirez Gonzalez was assigned to the Third Brigade Troop Battalion of the 3rd Infantry based at Fort Stewart, officials said. She was the 20th Fort Stewart-based soldier to die since the 19,000 3rd Infantry members from the post deployed to Iraq in January for second time since the 2003 invasion.

Ramirez Gonzalez became the third Puerto Rican woman and the 28th person overall from the U.S. Caribbean territory to die in the Iraq war. Another five Puerto Ricans have died in Afghanistan.

"She was a brave one because it was the third time she went to Iraq," her father, William Ramirez, was quoted as saying in El Nuevo Dia newspaper's Monday edition.

Her father said that Ramirez Gonzalez was born in the southwestern town of Guayanilla and saw him as an example because he had spent 27 years in the U.S. military, serving in Vietnam for two years and twice in Iraq during the Persian Gulf War in 1991. He said she was hoping to retire from military service after 20 years and become eligible for a pension.

He said his daughter arrived in Iraq for the last time in December after she joined up for active duty less than a year ago. Previously, Ramirez Gonzalez spent 14 years in the National Guard in the southern town of Yauco.

Pvt. 1st Class Steven F. Sirko, 20, of Portage, Ind., died Sunday Muqdadiyah, Iraq, of non-combat related injuries, officials said. Sirko was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, of the 3rd Infantry's 3rd Brigade, based at Fort Benning.

Pfc. Danny L. Anderson, 29, of Corpus Christi, Texas, died Feb. 27 in Baghdad, Iraq, from injuries sustained from small arms fire. Anderson was assigned to the Army's 26th Forward Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

Two 3rd Infantry Division Soldiers Killed in Iraq
Associated Press

SAVANNAH, Ga. - Even after 17 years in the Army with three combat deployments, Sgt. 1st Class David J. Salie maintained a playful appetite for mischief. As a father, he loved to wrestle his children on the floor and engage them in french-fry sword fights at McDonald's. As a soldier, he relished the adrenaline rush of gunfire and explosions.

"My husband said he was the ultimate Dennis the Menace," Salie's wife, Deanna, said Friday. "His job was wonderful because he got to blow up stuff, break things and do things that he got spanked for as a kid." Salie, 34, of Columbus died Monday when a bomb ripped open his armored Humvee in Baqouba, Iraq, killing him instantly. He was assigned to Fort Benning's 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment of the 3rd Infantry Division.

The deaths of Salie and Pfc. David J. Brangman, 20, of Lake Worth, Fla. - killed Sunday in Uvanni, Iraq, when a mortar round hit his vehicle - raised to seven the number of 3rd Infantry troops killed since the Fort Stewart-based division deployed last month for its second tour in Iraq. "You never think that your son won't come home," Brangman's mother, Inez Ortiz, told the Palm Beach Post, saying her son had his 20th birthday two weeks before he was killed. "To lose your child in the same month that you brought him in is doubly hard."

When Salie arrived at Fort Benning in 2003 as an infantry platoon sergeant, he had served in the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989 and the 1991 Persian Gulf War. He stood an imposing 6 feet, 5 inches and weighed 230 pounds. But the veteran soldier was troubled about going to Iraq. His wife said he confided two months before deploying that he felt he wouldn't come home alive. He also left videotapes with personal messages for his wife and their three young children if his premonition came true.

On one tape, "he told me that he felt in his heart he was doing the right thing, he was going to right some wrongs he saw the last time he was there," Deanna Salie said. "He said the cause was bigger than himself and the cost was well worth it - meaning his life," she said. "I'm in total disagreement with him on that one, but that's what he said." Salie was killed on Valentine's Day. Days earlier his wife received a card from him, mailed from Kuwait, with a picture of an elderly couple on the front. "It had hearts on it that said `decrepit' and `over the hill,'" Deanna Salie said. "He wrote on the inside, `Ha, ha, ha. I'm sorry. They didn't have much of a selection and this was the best I could do.'"

Salie's father saw signs that his son, at an early age, wanted to be a soldier. Jim Salie was serving in Vietnam when he received a photograph in the mail of 2-year-old David, naked in the bathtub, saluting the camera. Twenty years later, father and son both deployed with the Army to the first Gulf War, where the elder Salie used his field-grade officer status to visit his grown-up, gung-ho son at his base camp. "He was chomping at the bit, he was ready to go war with his squad. He would say, `Dad, when are we gonna go,'" said Jim Salie, a retired policeman who spent 30 years in the Army and reserves. "David was a professional soldier and he knew what his job was. He was always very proud of his men." Salie's younger brother, Army Capt. Brian Salie, is also deployed to Iraq and is escorting his brother's body home for the funeral Wednesday.

Salie's children - 11-year-old Chyna, 6-year-old Luke and 2-year-old Hunter - will have fresh memories of their father for years to come on. "He made videos for my children for every important event in their life - their wedding days, birthdays," Deanna Salie said. "That's the kind of father he was."

Twenty-year-old Private First Class David Brangman of Lake Worth, Florida was assigned to the 3rd Battalion 69th Armor Regiment of the 3rd ID out of Fort Stewart. Defense officials say Brangman died Sunday at Patrol Base Uvanni, a military post in the Iraqi city of Samarra.

Soldier Who Died in Iraq Dreamed of Serving
'He loved what he was doing,' says a relative of the Iowan who died in a Humvee accident.

February 17, 2005

An Iowa soldier who died Sunday in Iraq loved his country and had wanted to serve in the U.S. Army since he was a little boy, a relative said Wednesday.

Spc. Dakotah "Koty" Gooding, 21, of Des Moines and two other Army soldiers died after their armored Humvee failed to negotiate a curve and plunged into frigid waters of a canal near Balad, Iraq, U.S. Department of Defense officials said.
A fourth U.S. serviceman drowned trying to save them, and several other soldiers involved in the rescue effort received medical treatment, military officials said. Temperatures in the area were about 30 degrees when the accident occurred at 5:10 a.m.

Proud to serve: Spc. Dakotah "Koty" Gooding, 21, of Des Moines enrolled in the Army at 17
and had served in Korea and the United States before being deployed to Iraq in January.
Copyright © 2004, The Des Moines Register.

Gooding grew up in Keokuk and joined the Army about four years ago, said Melissa Bonnell, 34, of St. Charles, the deceased soldier's cousin. His mother, Judith Gooding, moved to the Des Moines area about five years ago and now lives in Urbandale, where military officials notified her Sunday night of her son's death, Bonnell said.

Joined Army at 17
Gooding attended Scavo Alternative School and Lincoln High School in Des Moines, withdrawing from classes in October 2000, said Klark Jessen , district spokesman. Bonnell said Gooding enrolled in the Army at 17 and had served in Korea and the United States before being deployed to Iraq in January.
"From the time that he was 5 years old, he always played soldier. He always wanted to be a soldier, and he comes from a long line of military family members," Bonnell said. The family plans to display a photograph outside the soldier's casket that showed him grinning from ear to ear as a boy while wearing a military uniform.

Besides his mother, other immediate survivors include Gooding's wife, Angela, of Georgia and two sisters, Jessicca and Brandy, both of Des Moines. Tentative plans call for Gooding's funeral and burial to take place on Friday or Saturday in Georgia, Bonnell said. Relatives are in Georgia, awaiting the return of his body to the Fort Stewart military base.

Checking Rocket Fire
Gooding was an Army scout who served with the Army 5th Squadron, 7th Cavalry, 3rd Infantry Division, based at Fort Stewart. He and the other two soldiers who died Sunday morning had reportedly been sent to investigate rocket fire that had been bombarding their camp near Balad, about 50 miles north of Baghdad. Gooding was the 21st Iowa serviceman to die in Iraq or Afghanistan over the past two years.

"First and foremost, he loved his family and he loved God, and he loved what he was doing," Bonnell said. "He knew that he had a mission, and it was something that we had talked about in our family for ages, and it was to protect the United States. He knew that by protecting the surrounding countries and people and by making sure that all of God's children around the world were protected and safe, that we would be protected and safe."

Gooding was especially close to his mother, who is disabled, Bonnell said. He died about three weeks after arriving in Iraq. "The one thing that I can remember him saying before he even went over there was that he was telling his mom that he was going to be OK and he was going to be fine," Bonnell said.

April 27, 2005-Spc. Gary W. Walters Jr., 31, of Victoria, Texas, died April 24 in Baghdad, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV. Walters was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

April 22, 2005-The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died April 19 in Baghdad, Iraq, when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated near their dismounted patrol. Both Soldiers were assigned 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, and Fort Stewart, Ga.

Spc. Jacob M. Pfister, 27, of Buffalo, N.Y. 

Pfc. Kevin S. K. Wessel, 20, of Newport, Ore.

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - A soldier from western New York was killed when a car bomb exploded near his patrol in southern Baghdad, his family said Wednesday.
Spc. Jacob Pfister grew up in Buffalo and Evans but moved to Florida after joining the Army four years ago, his mother Amy MacGregor said.

A spokesman with the 3rd Infantry Division said the Tuesday night attack by a suicide bomber killed another U.S. soldier and wounded four. Seven Iraqi civilians were taken to the hospital with injuries.
The Department of Defense has not released information on Pfister's death.

MacGregor described her son as a serious man who loved his family.
``The way he put it to me is, `Mom, who would you rather have over there defending you, me or some other joker?''' MacGregor told WIVB-TV.
Pfister is survived by his wife, who is expecting their first child in June.
Funeral arrangements were pending.

Pfc. Wesley R. Riggs, 19, of Baytown, Texas died May 17 in Tikrit, Iraq, from injuries sustained when an improvised explosive device detonated near his dismounted position. Riggs was assigned to the Army's 2d Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

Pfc. Travis W. Anderson, 28, of Hooper, Colo., died May 13 in Bayji, Iraq, when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated near his convoy. Anderson was assigned to the Army's 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga

Spec. Steven R. Givens, 26, of Mobile, Ala., died May 8 in Balad, Iraq, from injuries sustained from enemy small arms fire. Givens was assigned to the Army's 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3d Brigade, 3d Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga.

Sgt. Andrew R. Jodon, 27, of Karthaus, Penn., died May 12 in Samarra, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his military vehicle. Jodon was assigned to the Army's 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

Pfc. Kenneth E. Zeigler II, 22, of Dillsburg, Penn., died May 12 in Baghdad, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his military vehicle. Ziegler was assigned to the Army's 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

Staff Sgt. William J. Brooks, 30, of Birmingham, Ala., died May 3 in Baghdad, Iraq, when his unit was conducting a route security mission and an improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV. Brooks was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Staff Sgt. Victor M. Cortes III, 29, of Erie, Pa., died May 29 in Baghdad, Iraq of non-combat-related injuries. Cortes was assigned to the 703rd Forward Support Batttalion, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

The Department of Defense announced today the death of three soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died May 24 in Baghdad, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near their HMMWV. They were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 76th Field Artillery, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

The Soldiers are:

Sgt. Charles A. Drier, 28, of Tuscola, Mich.

Spec. Dustin C. Fisher, 22, of Fort Smith, Ark.

Pfc. Jeffrey R. Wallace, 20, of Hoopeston, Ill. 

DoD Identifies Department of the Army
Civilian Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Department of an Army civilian who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Ms. Linda J. Villar, 41, of Franklinton, La., died June 3 in Baghdad, Iraq, from injuries sustained when a mortar struck her forward operating base. Villar worked for the U.S. Army Field Support Command, Fort Stewart, Ga.

DoD Identifies Army Casualty
June 14, 2005

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Cpl. Stanley J. Lapinski, of Las Vegas, Nev., died June 11 in Baghdad, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his military vehicle. Lapinski was assigned to the Army's 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

DoD Identifies Army Casualty
June 16, 2005

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Sgt. Anthony G. Jones, of Greenville, S.C., died June 14 in Baghdad, Iraq, where an improvised explosive device detonated near his military vehicle. Sgt. Jones was assigned to the 104th Transportation Company, 36th Engineer Group, 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized), Fort Benning, Ga.

June 24, 2005

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Sgt. Joseph M. Tackett, 22,   of Whitehouse, Ky., died June 23 in Baghdad, Iraq, of a non-combat related injury. Tackett was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 76th Field Artillery, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.


July 11, 2005

FORT STEWART, Ga. -- The Department of Defense announced Tuesday, July 5, the death of two 3rd Infantry Division Soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sergeant Chad M. Mercer, 25, of Waycross, Ga. was assigned to the Army National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment, Fitzgerald, Ga. Mercer died June 30 in Baghdad, Iraq when his M2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle rolled over while conducting combat operations.

Mercer was an infantryman. He entered the Army March 17, 1998 and arrived at Fort Stewart December 6, 2004.

Specialist Rafael A. Carrillo, Jr., 21,  of Boys Ranch, Texas was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment. Carrillo died June 28 in Baghdad, Iraq when an enemy mortar detonated near his HMMWV.

Carrillo was an indirect fire specialist. He entered the Army August 15, 2002 and arrived at Fort Stewart January 13, 2005

July 26, 2005

Spc. Adam J. Harting,   21, of Portage, Ind., died July 25 in Samarra, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Harting was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 42nd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

Sgt. Christopher J. Taylor,  22, of Opelika, Ala., died July 24 in Balad, Iraq, when he was hit by mortar rounds while he was exiting a bunker. Taylor was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 41st Field Artillery, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

July 29, 2005

Pvt. Ernesto R. Guerra,    20, of Long Beach, Calif., died July 29 in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries sustained on July 28 in Baghdad, Iraq, when his HMMWV was involved in an accident. Guerra was assigned to the Army's 4-3rd Brigade Troops Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

Spc. Edward L. Myers,  21, of St. Joseph, Mo., died July 27 in Samarra, Iraq, where his unit was conducting patrol operations and an improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV. Myers was assigned to the Army's 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

August 1, 2005

Pfc. Jason D. Scheuerman,    20, of Lynchburg, Va., died July 30 in Muqdadiyah, Iraq, of non-combat related injuries. Scheuerman was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga.

August 7, 2005

The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. They died on Aug. 4, in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, when their vehicle left the road and went into a river. The soldiers were assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Fort Benning, Ga.

Killed were:
Pvt. 1st Class Damian J. Garza,  19, of Odessa, Texas.
Pvt. John M. Henderson Jr.,    21, of Columbus, Ga.

August 12, 2005

Spc. Miguel Carrasquillo,  25, of River Grove, Ill., died on Aug. 9 in Baghdad, Iraq, when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated near his military vehicle. Carrasquillo was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 76th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

August 16, 2005

1st Lt. David L. Giaimo,    24, of Waukegan, Ill., died Aug. 12, 2005, in Tikrit, Iraq, where his HMMWV hit a land mine. Giaimo was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

Spc. Rusty W. Bell,  21, of Pocahontas, Ark., died Aug. 12 in Taji, Iraq, of non-combat related injuries. Spc. Bell was assigned to the 603rd Aviation Support Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division, Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. as a helicopter repairer. He entered the Army April 30, 2004. He arrived Feb. 7, 2005 to Hunter Army Airfield.

August 22, 2005
DoD Identifies Army Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the death of four soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died on August 18, 2005, in Samarra, Iraq, where an improvised explosive device detonated near their HMMWV following a mine assessing mission. The soldiers were assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

Killed were:
Sgt. Nathan K. Bouchard, 24, of Wildomar, Calif.
Staff Sgt. Jeremy W. Doyle,  24, of Chesterton, Md.
Spc. Ray M. Fuhrmann, II,  28, of Novato, Calif.
Pfc. Timothy J. Seamans,  20, of Jacksonville, Fla.

August 24, 2005

1st Lt. Carlos J. Diaz, 27, of Juana Diaz, P.R., died on Aug. 23, 2005, in Baqubah, Iraq, when enemy forces detonated an explosion near his position. Diaz was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga.

September 2, 2005

Sgt. Monta S. Ruth,  26, of Winston-Salem, N.C., died on Aug. 31, 2005, in Samarra, Iraq, where an improvised explosive device detonated near his military vehicle during security patrol operations. Ruth was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga.

September 5, 2005
The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died on Sept. 1, 2005, in Baghdad, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near their HMMWV during patrol operations. Both soldiers were assigned to the Army National Guard's 108th Cavalry Regiment, 48th Infantry Brigade, Griffin, Ga.
Killed were:
Staff Sgt. George R. Draughn Jr., 29, of Decatur, Ga.

Sgt. 1st Class Robert L. Hollar Jr., 35, of Griffin, Ga.

Sgt. 1st Class Lonnie J. Parson, 39, of Norcross, Ga., died on Sept. 2, 2005, in Baghdad, Iraq, when his M3A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle was struck by an enemy explosive device. Parson was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

September 6, 2005

Spc. Luke C. Williams, 35, of Knoxville, Tenn., died on Sept. 5, 2005 in Baghdad, Iraq, when the HMMWV he was riding in accidentally rolled over into a ditch. Williams was assigned to the 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

September 7, 2005

Sgt. Matthew C. Bohling,  22, of Eagle River, Alaska, died on Sept. 5, 2005, in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, where an improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV during combat operations. Bohling was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga.

September 8, 2005
The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died on Sept. 6, 2005, in Baghdad, Iraq, where an improvised explosive device detonated near their HMMWV causing it to rollover. Both soldiers were assigned to the Brigade Troops Battalion, Division Support Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

Killed were:

Staff Sgt. Jude R. Jonaus, 27, of Miami, Fla.

Sgt. Franklin R. Vilorio, 26, of Miami, Fla.

September 14, 2005

Sgt. Kurtis D. K. Arcala, 22, of Palmer, Alaska, died on Sept. 11, 2005, in Tikrit, Iraq, where an improvised explosive device detonated near his position during convoy escort operations. Arcala was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

Fallen Warriors: Listed Alphabetically


Pilots Foil Terrorist Rocket Attack

Overhead view of an Improvised Rocket Launcher, moments after being discovered about 15 miles southwest of Baghdad. The rocket launcher was aimed toward the road intersection. The launcher, along with the ammunition, were later destroyed. (U.S. Army Photo by 1-3 Attack Battalion)

May 18, 2005-Alert AH-64 Apache attack helicopter pilots from the 3rd Infantry Division’s Aviation Brigade disrupted a potential terrorist attack May 15.

The aircraft, from Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment (Attack Reconnaissance) spotted an improvised rocket launcher while providing security to ground forces from the 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment.

The pilots spotted the improvised rocket launcher approximately 15 miles southwest of Baghdad.

Soldiers on the ground approached the site and determined that the rocket launcher was not loaded, but they did find ammunition located next to the launcher.

“The brigade has a talented group of aviators whose sole purpose is to support the Soldiers on the ground, said Maj. Mike Musiol, Executive Officer, 1st Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment (Attack Reconnaissance), one of the pilots in the operation. “We were fortunate to locate a launcher that was going to be used against our troops or the Iraqi Army and prevent that from happening. We'll continue to make every effort to be in the correct place at the critical time and influence the outcome of each engagement."

The Soldiers secured the area, and an explosives team safely disposed of the rocket launcher.

By Aviation Brigade PAO

Reaching Out: Troops Help Clinic,
Deliver School Supplies

May 18, 2005-Hundreds of excited children gathered near a clinic as Soldiers passed out school supplies, book bags and toys. Inside the clinic, another group of troops unloaded boxes of medical supplies as Army medical professionals consulted with their Iraqi counterparts.

Soldiers of the 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, serving as part of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division; 3rd Infantry Division and supporting units conducted a humanitarian mission to the Husseiniya section of northwest Baghdad near Camp Taji on May 7. A large part of the mission was delivering medicine, vaccines, bandages, and vitamins to the Husseiniya clinic.

“About two weeks ago we identified what the facility needed in regards to medical supplies and training,” said Capt. Marc Pelini, effects coordinator for the 1/11th ACR. After dropping off the supplies, Army medical personnel were on hand to show the Husseiniya clinic’s staff how to properly use the supplies, Pelini said. Army personnel were also on hand to offer guidance to Iraqi doctors and assess whether past guidance had helped the efficiency of the clinic.

“We came back to assess whether they had taken our recommendations, and they had,” said Capt. Eva-Marie Austin, the 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division’s medical planner from Catonsville, Md. “They’ve stocked certain things in the pharmacy, and they’ve made improvements here.”

The focus of the medical part of the mission was support, with Iraqi medical practitioners taking responsibility for providing the healthcare to their own people, and Army personnel helping to get them the supplies and organization they need. “We’re doing things behind the scenes, and we’re letting the Iraqi’s treat their people in the way they believe is the best way to treat them,” Pelini said.

Spc. Kris A. Zientara, of B Company, 403rd Civil Affairs Battalion, hands out toys to children in Husseiniya on May 7. "They know we're working for them and they're really appreciative," the Utica, N.Y. native said. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Matthew Wester, 100th MPAD)

Dr. (Col.) John Lammie, of 550th Area Support Medical Company, 3rd Infantry Division and senior physician on Camp Taji, examines an Iraqi woman's eyes during a mission to Husseiniya. Lammie consulted with Iraqi medical staff members about treatment for the woman. “I’ve met a lot of tremendously capable colleagues on the Iraqi side,” he said. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Matthew Wester, 100th MPAD)

“I’ve met a lot of tremendously capable colleagues on the Iraqi side,” said Dr. (Col.) John Lammie, of 550th Area Support Medical Company, 3rd Infantry Division and senior physician on Camp Taji. “My hope is that we can get them the infrastructure and be able to provide them with the tools to do the job they know how to do.”
As the Army doctors me with the clinic’s workers, neighborhood kids shrugged off the afternoon heat and crowded around a humvee, eventually forming a line to receive backpacks, notebooks, pencils, soccer balls and toys. “Everybody needs school supplies,” said Spc. Kris A. Zientara, of B company 403rd Civil Affairs Battalion and a Utica, N.Y., native. “It was a little hectic, but it turned out alright. We try our best to organize and go from there.”
“They know we’re working for them, and they’re very appreciative,” he said.
The crowd continued to grow as the Soldiers made sure every child got something.
“The turnout was good,” said Sgt. Michael J. Glenn, from Lacey, N.J., also a member of B Company. “Once we open the trunk, they come from everywhere.”

“The reception we’ve gotten here, no matter what the operation is, has been good,” he said.

Glenn said the wider civil affairs mission in Husseiniya includes distributing needed supplies, but also will also focus on improving sewage systems and infrastructure for the area.

‘We’re here to help them get back on their feet,” he said.
The children smiled gratefully after receiving the items from the civil affairs Soldiers.
The adults in the community were positive about the visit as well.
Lammie described the people he dealt with during the mission as polite and receptive.
Austin agreed.
“This is a very positive area. The people have received us well, have been very respectful” she said. “Overall, it’s been a good experience.”

By Spc. Matthew Wester
3/1 Armor Division PAO


Soldiers in Iraq Get to See Kids Graduate
 On Screen

May 18, 2005-The Associated Press - HINESVILLE, Ga.
Graduation season in this military town can be bittersweet for solider parents. When moms and dads are away at war, they miss the day when their graduates turn their tassels and pick up the diploma.
That's changing, if only a little, in Hinesville this year, home to Fort Stewart and the often-deployed 3rd Infantry Division. When two local high schools hold graduation ceremonies this Saturday, they'll have 30-foot screens set up with a video hookup to soldiers serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The long-distance ceremony means a lot to Staff Sgt. Orlando Lee Jr., who didn't get to see his son march at his high school graduation two years ago because of the war. This year, Lee will get to see younger son Zaccre Smith finish high school.
"I know he's real proud of me. He'll be happy getting to see it," said Smith, who also joins the Army on May 25.

Last weekend, families of deployed soldiers with students about to graduate had the chance to talk to them via video. In a small building that is ordinarily a locker room for Liberty County High School's football team, they gathered and waited their turn to enter a tiny room with two TV monitors and a small camera. One monitor shows them. The other shows their loved one in Iraq.
Each family got 30 minutes. Families' time in the suite was based on when the soldiers were available.
"We opened it up to all graduating seniors _ anyone whose parent is deployed to Iraq, any soldier who wanted to participate," said Capt. Joseph Christadore of the division's rear detachment.

The weekend teleconference was a chance for Sandra Hamrick with the 92nd Engineer Battalion to see her daughter Lindsay, who is almost 3 years old. Like Lee, this is also Hamrick's second deployment. The first time, she left when Lindsay was 4 months old and came back when her daughter was 11 months.

Hamrick's younger sister, Katherine Kunda, graduates from high school this weekend. It was Kunda's first chance to see her sister since she deployed Jan. 31.
"I'm always working when she calls, so we never have time to talk," Kunda said.

Sgt. 1st Class Terence Green said the videoconferencing makes war a little easier to bear.
"I've been there in that position," he said. "The enhancement to morale, words can't describe it. It can carry a soldier for a few extra months. You can't beat it, seeing it in real time. And even from this end, to watch the parents and the kids, it speaks volumes to watch the reactions."

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Soldiers Rescue Man Blackmailed into
Suicide-Bombing Mission
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 1, 2005 – Task Force Baghdad soldiers this morning rescued a man apparently blackmailed into a suicide-bombing mission by terrorist master Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
The man exploded his red Kia sedan roughly 15 feet from a barrier to a coalition base in east Baghdad, Iraq. The car bomb failed to detonate properly and the vehicle caught on fire. Soldiers manning the gate reacted quickly and saved the driver, coalition officials said in a release.

An initial investigation revealed that terrorists had kidnapped the driver's family and that he was forced to carry out this suicide-bombing mission to protect his wife and children, coalition officials said.

No soldiers were injured in the attack. The driver is being treated at a military hospital and is cooperating with authorities. "This is another case where Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has to extort men to carry out his indiscriminate slaughtering," said Army Col. Joe DiSalvo, commander of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. "He can't recruit volunteers. (So) he is resorting to forcing Iraqi civilians to carry out these mission by threatening harm to kidnapped family members."

Officials released no more information on the fate of the man's family.


DoD Identifies Army Casualties

April 27, 2005-Spc. Gary W. Walters Jr., 31, of Victoria, Texas, died April 24 in Baghdad, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his HMMWV. Walters was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

April 22, 2005-The Department of Defense announced today the death of two soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died April 19 in Baghdad, Iraq, when a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated near their dismounted patrol. Both Soldiers were assigned 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, and Fort Stewart, Ga.

Spc. Jacob M. Pfister, 27, of Buffalo, N.Y. 

Pfc. Kevin S. K. Wessel, 20, of Newport, Ore.

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - A soldier from western New York was killed when a car bomb exploded near his patrol in southern Baghdad, his family said Wednesday.
Spc. Jacob Pfister grew up in Buffalo and Evans but moved to Florida after joining the Army four years ago, his mother Amy MacGregor said.

A spokesman with the 3rd Infantry Division said the Tuesday night attack by a suicide bomber killed another U.S. soldier and wounded four. Seven Iraqi civilians were taken to the hospital with injuries.
The Department of Defense has not released information on Pfister's death.

MacGregor described her son as a serious man who loved his family.
``The way he put it to me is, `Mom, who would you rather have over there defending you, me or some other joker?''' MacGregor told WIVB-TV.
Pfister is survived by his wife, who is expecting their first child in June.
Funeral arrangements were pending.

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

April 14, 2006-The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Spc. Manuel Lopez III, 20, of Cape Coral, Fla., died April 12 in Baghdad, Iraq, when his HMMWV was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade. Lopez was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.

Fort Stewart soldier is 18th to die in Iraq this year
Associated Press

FORT STEWART, Ga. Apr. 08, 2005 - The Pentagon has identified another Fort Stewart soldier killed in Iraq, the 18th to die since the 3rd Infantry Division's second deployment to the Middle East earlier this year.

Sgt. Javier J. Garcia, 25, of Crawfordville, Fla., died Tuesday in Baghdad after an explosive detonated near his patrol. He was assigned to the Army's 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment of the 3rd Infantry.

The division's 19,000 troops deployed to Iraq in January for the division's second tour of duty since the March 2003 invasion.

As of Thursday, at least 1,543 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. At least 1,174 died as a result of hostile action, according to the Defense Department. The figures include four military civilians.

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

Sgt. Kelly S. Morris, 24, of Boise, Idaho, died March 30, in Baghdad, Iraq, from injuries sustained from enemy small arms fire. Morris was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 3d Infantry Division from Fort Stewart, Ga.
Posted on Wed, Apr. 06, 2005

Fort Stewart soldier killed under fire in Iraq

Associated Press April 6, 2006-FORT STEWART, Ga. - A Fort Stewart soldier killed by small-arms fire in Iraq was identified Wednesday as Sgt. Kelly Morris, 24, of Boise, Idaho.

The Army said Morris died March 30 in Baghdad. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment of the Fort Stewart-based 3rd Infantry Division.

Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida told The Idaho Statesman in Boise that a man shot at soldiers patrolling in east Baghdad. The man fled into the crowd, according to soldiers at the scene, and soldiers searched a home in the area and detained five suspected terrorists.

Morris was born in Boise, and raised from the age of 7 by Bill and Lisa Lowery, said Idaho National Guard spokesman Tim Marsano. He attended Boise High School and graduated from Mountain Cove High.

"This is obviously a very difficult time for our family and for all who knew and loved Kelly," Lisa Lowery said in a prepared statement. "There was something definitely special about him. When you met Kelly you knew you were meeting somebody who was going to affect your life in a positive way. He would have liked everybody to celebrate his life and not mourn his death, and would want us to be very strong at this difficult hour. Kelly will always have a special place in our hearts."

The family is refusing all interview requests, Marsano said.

Morris is the 10th soldier from Idaho to die in Iraq since the start of the war, and the 13th to die since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Morris was the 17th soldier from the 3rd Infantry killed since its 19,000 troops deployed to Iraq in January for the division's second tour of duty since the March 2003 invasion.

At least 1,542 U.S. troops have died in Iraq since the war began.

Funeral Held for Hampton Native,
Army Medic Killed In Iraq

Pfc. Lee Lewis Jr.

(AP) March 30, 2005 - Friends say Pfc. Lee Lewis Jr. was a funny but tough man who loved God and had a "servant's heart." He was the sort of guy who, instead of trash talking, would help a player up after knocking him down on the football field.

The 28-year-old Hampton native and Army medic was shot and killed by small-arms March 18 in Baghdad's Sadr City area. The Army said he was shot in an ally by a gunman 250 feet away. He was stationed with the 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Ga.

The former athlete was "just one of those young men you wanted your son to turn out like," said Curtis Newsome, assistant head football coach at James Madison University who once coached Lewis at Kecoughtan High School. Lewis played not only football but basketball, track and soccer in high school and local sports clubs.

Lewis graduated from Kecoughtan in 1994 and later attended Virginia State University and Old Dominion University. He talked of fusing sports and medicine, friends said.
Lewis married Telia Jackson in May of 2003. He raised Telia's daughter, Justina, and planned to adopt her. He joined the Army in 2003 as an Army medic.

"It didn't surprise me at all that he was a medic, somebody who wanted to help somebody," said Thomas Moore, who coached Lewis at the Fox Hill Athletic Association. "And he was a tough guy. He was brave. There's no doubt in my mind he was doing what he thought was right." Moore said he had expected Lewis to return to Hampton to practice medicine someday. "He had a servant's heart," Moore said.

Hampton Mayor Ross Kearney once directed Lewis' youth group at St. Joseph Catholic Church. He said the fact that Lewis didn't quit the church when he started playing football and instead brought his teammates to services said a lot about his character. And both he and Moore say a lot of that came from his mother and retired Army lieutenant colonel father.

A funeral for Lewis was held Wednesday in Hampton. He will be buried Thursday at Arlington National Cemetery.
(Copyright 2005 Associated Press.)


Ft. Stewart Memorials a
Monthly Ritual as Deaths Pass 20

April 21, 2005-The Associated Press - FORT STEWART, Ga.

Lynn Deem last came to Warrior's Walk to support families of the slain soldiers being memorialized by a row of eastern redbud trees.  She returned Thursday as the Army dedicated 13 new trees _ this time including one for her husband.

Memorial services for soldiers killed in Iraq have become a monthly ritual at Fort Stewart since the 3rd Infantry Division deployed 19,000 troops for a second tour in January. More services are sure to follow.

"Unfortunately, they're getting bigger," said Deem, wife of Spc. Michael S. Deem, 35, of Hinesville, who died Feb. 25 from non-combat injuries. "It's grown to where (trees) are almost at the end of the walkway. And here we are, two years after the victory."

The service Thursday was the largest at Fort Stewart since Warrior's Walk was first dedicated April 30, 2003, with redbud trees memorializing 34 soldiers killed in the U.S. invasion. Nearly two years later, 69 fallen soldiers now have living memorials planted beside granite stones bearing their names. A third of them recognize troops who died since the division returned to Iraq this year.

The latest casualty, Pfc. Steven F. Sirko of Portage, Ind., last Sunday was the 21st soldier to die since the division deployed in January.

"It weighs on you over time," said Lt. Col. Noel Nicolle, commander of the non-deployed rear detachment at Fort Stewart. "I'm the guy who usually receives the phone call initially when something happens. I'm thinking, these guys had families, sons, daughters. "It's difficult" for rear detachment soldiers, he said, "because we have time to dwell on it."

Not only 3rd Infantry soldiers are recognized at Warrior's Walk. Seven soldiers remembered Thursday came from units serving with the division from the National Guard in New York, Louisiana and Michigan as well as active-duty soldiers from Fort Riley, Kan.

Jennifer Giles-Wentworth wept Thursday as she laid carnations next to the tree dedicated to her younger brother, Pfc. Landon S. Giles, killed in an explosion Feb. 26 while on patrol in Iraq. Giles-Wentworth of Arkadelphia, Ark., said she and her mother tried to dissuade her 19-year-old brother from enlisting last year. But since his death, she said, the Army had helped comfort her family in its mourning.

"It's like a link to Landon, the Army is, so it helps," she said. "My brother wasn't drafted. This was something he wanted to do. You couldn't talk him out of it."

Lee Lewis Sr.'s son, 28-year-old Pfc. Lee A. Lewis Jr., was killed by enemy gunfire March 18. The elder Lewis, a Vietnam veteran, said he's comforted by the belief his son died helping to build a newly independent Iraq. "Sometimes, we feel like we're paying a pretty high price for them to get their country back," said Lewis of Hampton, Va. "For family members, this is the ugly part of war. The beautiful part of it is the good they're doing over there _ building schools, building hospitals."

The Warrior's Walk Honorees

 Staff Sgt. Ricky A. Keiffer, 1st Battalion, 182nd Field Artillery

 Sgt. Paul M. Heltzel, 2nd Battalion, 156th Infantry

 Spc. Danny L. Anderson, 26th Forward Support Battalion

 Spc. Michael S. Deem, 3rd Infantry Division, Special Troops Battalion

 Spc. Colby S. Farnan, 4th Battalion, 1st Field Artillery

 Spc. Matthew A. Koch, 70th Engineers

 Spc. Jason L. Moski, 4th Battalion, 1st Field Artillery

 Spc. Adriana N. Salem, 3rd Forward Support Battalion

 Pfc. Azhar Ali, 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry

 Pfc. Min S. Choi, 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry

 Pfc. Landon S. Giles, 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry

 Pfc. Arthur L. Lewis, Jr, 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry

 Pvt. 2 Wai Lynn, 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry


 Families remember their fallen soldiers
John Carrington

Kim Giles kneels by the eastern red bud tree planted in memory of her son Pfc. Landon S. Giles of the 6th Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division who was killed in combat in Iraq. Vicki Taylor (right), wife of 6/8 Cavalry's Command Sgt. Maj. comforts Giles' sister Jennifer Giles. Thirteen eastern red bud trees were dedicated to the memory of fallen soldiers during a ceremony at Warrior's Walk at Fort Stewart on Thursday.

Mary Ann Warner, aunt and god mother of Spc. Michael Dean of the 3rd Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division, wipes away tears as she and other family members of thirteen fallen soldiers attended a memorial service and tree dedication ceremony at Fort Stewart on Thursday.

Jennifer Giles, sister of Spc. Landon S. Giles, weeps as she kneels by the eastern red bub tree planted in memory of her brother at Fort Stewart where a memorial service and tree dedication ceremony was held on Thursday for thirteen fallen soldiers.
 John Carrington Savannah Morning News

Jennifer Giles wept as she knelt by the redbud tree dedicated to her brother. Around her neck was a dog tag bearing her brother's picture on one side - on the other, an inscription, "Fallen but not Forgotten."
"Everyone says he's a hero, and he is a hero, but I think anyone that gets up each morning and puts that uniform on is a hero," said Giles of her brother Pfc. Landon Giles, who joined the Army right out of high school. He had turned 19 just before he was killed in Iraq.
Giles was one of six soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division honored in a memorial service and tree dedication ceremony at Fort Stewart on Thursday. Seven soldiers from other units attached to the 3rd ID were also honored.

A somber pause followed each of the names read aloud by 3rd Infantry Division rear detachment Command Sgt. Maj. Sam Perrotta during the service which honored those soldiers recently killed in Iraq. After each name, an individual memorial headstone engraved with the name of the fallen soldier was unveiled. One memorial headstone lay beside each of the 13 eastern redbud trees planted in their memory along Warriors' Walk, a sidewalk flanked by rows of trees dedicated to the fallen after the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Lt. Col. Noel Nicolle, 3rd ID rear detachment commander, described the redbuds as symbols of freedom and the sacrifices made by these soldiers to preserve it. Quoting Thomas Jefferson Nicolle said, sometimes the tree of freedom has to be nourished by the blood of patriots. He also reminded the family members attending the service that the sacrifices their loved ones made were for noble reasons.

Kim Giles recalled her son's decision to join the army. "He was doing it so his family could remain free and help the people in the other country to have a little bit of what we have here," she said. He knew when he joined he would go to Iraq she added.

Pfc. Giles and fellow soldier Pfc. Min S. Choi were killed in February when their humvee was hit by enemy fire. Members of both families attended the service.

Michael Deem, father of Spc. Michael S. Deem was also in attendance. Deem recalled giving his son some articles he had carried while serving in Vietnam - things he thought might bring his son good luck. The articles were returned with the rest of his son's belongings. "We're all really going to miss him. I know his wife especially and his kids are going to miss him," said Deem as he stood by the redbud planted for his son. "Now his youngest son will never know his father."


Why I Serve: Fallen Friend,
Son Motivate Soldier
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Army Spc. Eddie Aguilar from 3rd Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade said he’s motivated during his second deployment
to Iraq by the memory of his fallen close friend and mentor and hopes for his young son.

BAGHDAD, Iraq, March 28, 2005 – The ground operation here two years ago was a tough one for Army Spc. Eddie Aguilar.
As he and his fellow members of 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade, 64th Armor, were pushing north and into Baghdad, his wife was at home giving birth to their son, born April 1. Aguilar, who said he had to push thoughts about his son out of his mind so he could focus on his mission, got official word of the birth two weeks later.

But even more emotionally difficult, he said, was the loss of his close friend and mentor, Staff Sgt. Stephan Booker. Booker died during an attack by Republican Guard troops as the unit was clearing the road leading to what was then called Saddam Hussein International Airport on April 5, 2003.

Booker’s death, Aguilar said, left everyone “stunned.” Aguilar, still devastated by the loss, said he thinks of Booker often, and the example he set for his soldiers.  “He was the first person I met when I got to the unit,” Aguilar said. “He taught me all the ins and outs.”

Today, Aguilar is deployed once again to Iraq with the 3rd Infantry Division, this time working in the 2nd Brigade’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company. The division’s mission here is markedly different from two years ago. Rather than combat operations, it’s focused on fighting the insurgency and helping the Iraqi people build their country.

As he carries out the mission, Aguilar said he’s found gratification in seeing the Iraqis build their country and feels good about being part of the progress. But he said he has a more personal motivator, to ensure that his friend Booker did not die for nothing. So he’s taking the lessons he learned from his NCO and sharing them with other, more junior soldiers.

Booker taught him a lot, Aguilar said. “He taught me that you always look out for your battle buddy, and that if I ever needed help, he’d be there for me,” Aguilar said. “He also taught me that your fellow soldiers are your family here, people you can turn to and count on.”
“I’m taking what Sergeant Booker taught me and passing it on,” he said.

Aguilar said he has another motivation during his deployment: to make sure the son born when he was here two years ago here never has to serve in Iraq. “If I had to do this one more time to prevent my son from having to, I would,” he said.


Army mechanics keep wheels rolling into combat
by Spc. Ben Brody
Special to American Forces Press Service

April 29, 2005-The sound of cranking ratchets, rumbling engines and shrieking timing belts can often be heard in one spot on Camp Loyalty, Iraq.

At the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division motor pool, 11 mechanics work long, strenuous hours maintaining the brigade's vehicles.

"We're working hard to keep the unit mobile and sustain our combat power," said Army Staff Sgt. Keith Kerrick, the company's shop foreman. "We keep y'all rolling."

Kerrick, from Washington, D.C., said he often works hand-in-hand with other 2nd Brigade Combat Team motor pools to secure needed parts, rather than waiting weeks for orders to be filled.

The motor pool also handles all of the brigade's attached units and their vehicles, such as civil affairs, psychological operations, personal security details, and Air Force detachments. In all, they are currently responsible for about 70 vehicles, and every week they get more.

Vehicles as diverse as Humvees, light medium tactical vehicles, M577 armored personnel carriers, M88 recovery vehicles, M2 Bradleys, and generators can be found in various states of disassembly during the day in the motor pool.

"It's a good team, a good set of people -- squared away noncommissioned officers," said Pvt. Uriah John, a generator mechanic. "I'd stay 20 years right here with this team if I could."

John, from St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, said he thinks the 3rd Infantry Division is a good place for a soldier to start a career. "It's tough here [in Iraq]. You get put to the test mentally and physically," he said. "But the pressure makes you perform at a higher level."


Army's 3rd Division Returns to Iraq
By Rowan Scarborough

The Army's 3rd Infantry Division is back in Iraq, 22 months after it stormed the country from Kuwait and was the first U.S. unit to penetrate downtown Baghdad to oust Saddam Hussein.
The Fort Stewart, Ga.-based division has a new commander and a whole new combat configuration. Of its roughly 20,000 soldiers, about 50 percent participated in the invasion and subsequent occupation that saw a rise in lawlessness and a burgeoning insurgency.

"Our soldiers, for the most part, feel like this is the right thing to do," said Maj. Gen. William Webster, the 3rd Infantry commander, who was deputy commander of all U.S. ground forces during the drive to Baghdad.

"They understand that the mission is not complete," he said at a Baghdad press conference. "It wasn't complete when we left the first time. They were very happy to have 15 to 18 months back home with their families, and they're proud to be back here serving in the U.S. Army again, to help the Iraqi people get control of their country."

Gen. Webster's troops are returning to a changed landscape, politically and militarily.
The Iraqis now run the government in a transition that ends with the convening of a national assembly that will elect new leaders. The Iraqi armed forces and police, disbanded after Baghdad fell April 9, have been reconstituted and now number more than 135,000. And an insurgency that seemed sporadic when the 3rd Division left in 2003 is a powerful killing force that attacks at any time, 40 to 70 times a day.

The 3rd Infantry arrived in Iraq as an experiment. It was the first division to break its three combat brigades into smaller "units of action," all part of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's military transformation.
Elaine Donnelly, who heads the Center for Military Readiness, charges that in the process of redesigning the division the Army is violating the Pentagon ban on women in combat by embedding mixed-sex support units with warfighting battalions. The Army denies this. The House Armed Services Committee staff is conducting an investigation.
"We come back with newly organized brigades," Gen. Webster said. "We have spent the entire 12- to 15-month period training and preparing for the conditions that we face today."

The division will control the Baghdad sector, one of a number of dangerous patrolling areas in the Sunni Triangle. The 3rd Infantry Division is relieving the 1st Cavalry Division, which will return to Fort Hood, Texas, and go through the same kind of transformation.

Maj. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the division commander, appeared at the same press conference. He talked with pride of newly minted Iraqi army battalions patrolling Baghdad streets.
"These forces are conducting counterinsurgency operations," Gen. Chiarelli said. "They're down patrolling the streets in continuous operations, not going out for a three-day to three-week fight and then coming in. They are down on the streets every single day conducting counterinsurgency operations."
He added, "With our support, the Iraqi people will prevail."
Copyright 2005 News World Communications, Inc.


3rd ID Assumes Task Force Baghdad Mission
By Spc. Emily J. Wilsoncroft

Command Sgt. Maj. Neil L. Ciotola, 1st Cavalry Division command sergeant major, participates in the casing of his division's colors with Maj. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, 1st Cav. commanding general, during a Transition of Authority ceremony at the parade grounds
in Baghdad Feb. 27.
"Photo Courtesy of U.S. Army"

BAGHDAD, Iraq (Army News Service, March 1, 2005) — The 3rd Infantry Division officially took over Task Force Baghdad Feb. 27 during a transition of authority ceremony with the departing 1st Cavalry Division.

“Today marks the passing of the torch for advancing the freedom of the people of Baghdad,” said Maj. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, 1st Cavalry Division commander. “The 1st Cav drew upon the important lessons gained by those who preceded us and our sincere wish is that we have contributed wisely to the 3rd ID in their preparation for this mission.”

The 1st Cavalry Division has had elements in Iraq since relieving 1st Armored Division Soldiers. Now, after more than a year serving as TF Baghdad headquarters, 1st Cav Soldiers are heading back to Fort Hood, Texas. With the famous giant crossed-swords statues looming over the Sahet Alihtifalat Alkubra parade grounds, the transition was presided over by Lt. Gen. John Vines, Multi-National Corps-Iraq commander.

“Today, we welcome Maj. Gen. William Webster and Task Force Rock of the Marne back to Iraq,” Vines said. “Twenty-two months ago, your division spearheaded coalition forces attacks as it fought its way to Baghdad, leading to the toppling of Saddam Hussein and his imposed tyranny on the Iraqi people. Twenty-two months ago, you stood on this very ground in victory.”

Maj. Gen. William G. Webster Jr., 3rd Inf. Div. commander, Vines congratulated Chiarelli and 1st Cavalry for a job well done, referencing Iraq’s Jan. 30 elections and other benchmarks of progress.
“Together, you and our Iraqi partners improved the way of life for the Iraqi people, conducting more than 800 civil engineering projects totaling more than $104 million in Baghdad.”

“You’ve sponsored 14 Iraqi police academies, rebuilt 600 schools, conducted more than 70 electrical projects totaling $1.8 million, and contributed $8.3 million in grants to Iraqi businesses,” he continued. “Finally, under Task Force Pegasus tutelage, the 40th Iraqi National Guard Brigade took control of its own operational area in Baghdad, marking the first time an Iraqi Brigade has done so. Without question, you have positively touched every aspect of Iraqi life — truly a phenomenal feat!” He also emphasized the need to continue the hard work that began with the recent elections.

“As great and historic a day as January 30th was for the Iraqi people — and frankly the world — it was not the ultimate goal, which is a free and secure Iraq,” Vines said. “We, the Iraqi government and the coalition know there is still much work to be done, but Iraq’s progress to date is both extraordinary and irreversible.”

Chiarelli welcomed the Marne division and expressed his confidence in the Soldiers and commander who will be taking on the duties 1st Cavalry has performed for the past year.
“The 3rd ID is well-trained, led by gifted officers and non-commissioned officers, and blessed with great Soldiers,” Chiarelli said. “The division is poised to ensure Baghdad moves powerfully toward complete self-sufficiency. The people of Baghdad have a partner in the 3rd Infantry Division as committed to the mission as any they will ever see on their streets.

“Maj. Gen. Webster, you’ve been a great friend to the Cav,” he continued, “and I know that the people of Baghdad will embrace you and your Soldiers as warmly as they have the 1st Cav. Baghdad has a special place in the history of the world and it stands on the precipice of greatness once again.”

Command Sgt. Maj. William M. Grant, 3rd Infantry Division command sergeant major, and Maj. Gen. William G. Webster Jr., 3rd Inf. Div. commander, uncase the Marne Division colors during a Transition of Authority ceremony at the parade grounds in Baghdad Feb. 27.
Spc. Emily J. Wilsoncroft

Upon taking command of TF Baghdad, Webster acknowledged the responsibility being given to him and the Marne Soldiers, and accepted the mission at hand.

“The 3rd Infantry Division has trained hard and is ready,” Webster said. “We will work with our Iraqi partners as they continue to increase their capability to protect the Iraqi people from any foe.”

“We will help the people of Iraq maintain their right to freedom and the pursuit of a prosperous future for all Iraqi citizens,” Webster promised. “Our Soldiers know this is right and just.”

(Editor’s note: Spc. Emily J. Wilsoncroft serves with the 3rd ID Public Affairs Office.)

Division Returns to a Different Iraq
Los Angeles Times
Published on: 02/17/05

BAGHDAD, Iraq — On his fourth day in Iraq, Staff Sgt. Jason Dene ventured for the first time outside his unit's fortified base near the densely packed Sadr City slum and plunged into its mud-slicked streets.
Dene manned an M-240 machine gun on an armored Humvee, scanning the garbage-strewn pavement for roadside bombs. He had been warned to expect the worst — car bombs, rocks and ball bearings flung from slingshots.
"I'm paying close attention, believe me," Dene said, a loaded shotgun at his elbow and a medical kit at his feet.

Dene and fellow infantrymen of the 3rd Infantry Division were on a combined patrol, trying to learn about patrolling hostile neighborhoods in Sadr City from the departing 1st Cavalry Division. The 3rd Infantry, which led the assault on Baghdad during the 2003 invasion, is back in charge of the capital. They will have to fight a different war, placing equal emphasis on combat operations, training the Iraqi army, and rebuilding infrastructure.

About 65 percent of the 3rd Infantry's 20,000 soldiers fought face-to-face battles in 2003 against Saddam Hussein's army, Republican Guards, fedayeen militiamen and Arab jihadis. Today, the enemy is an a network of Iraqi and foreign insurgents waging a classic guerrilla war of hit-and-run and sabotage.
"The last time the 3rd Infantry was here, they were in the business of fighting a war," said Brig. Gen. Jeffery Hammond, the 1st Cavalry's assistant division commander. "Now they're in the business of developing Iraqi security forces and the essential services of Iraq."

This week, the joint patrol was on a mission that included delivery of a thousand frozen Brazilian chickens to a poor Sadr City neighborhood. Five armored Humvees, plus a flatbed truck of Iraqi army trainees, plowed through raw sewage and rotting vegetables. The soldiers were met by cold stares, rocks, posters of the Shiite Muslim firebrand Muqtada al-Sadr and graffiti in English: "No No USA. Yes Yes RPG."

Hundreds of children and a smattering of adults waved wildly and flashed thumbs up signs. At every stop, young boys mobbed the soldiers, grinning and mugging for the troops' digital cameras. Along the way, the 1st Cavalry veterans pointed out chunks of roadway gouged out by recent roadside bombs, known as IEDs, or improvised explosive devices.

The First Cavalry arrived last spring in time to fight a bitter, weeks-long battle with Sadr's Mahdi militia. The division's soldiers fought a second round against the same militia in August and September. Their bases were pounded regularly by mortars and rockets. Members of the unit say the situation in Sadr City has improved markedly since October, though roadside bombs and car bombs are a constant threat. Soldiers are required to wear shatterproof goggles and ballistic earplugs.

Capt. Brendan Ormond, a 3rd Infantry officer, said his convoy was hit by a roadside bomb as it entered Baghdad for the first time three days earlier. From the front seat of a Humvee, listening to 1st Cavalry voices over the radio, Ormond warned Dene to stay alert in his rooftop perch. "You need to watch for rocks 360 (degrees)," he said. "And don't let any civilian vehicles into the convoy." Dene lowered a plastic riot shield over his face to protect himself against slingshots.

On patrol, the most prosaic items can pose a mortal threat — a parked car, a donkey cart, a pile of garbage, a taxi that suddenly pulls alongside a convoy. The 1st Cavalry soldiers recounted how they survived the explosion of a bomb hidden in a vegetable cart earlier this month.

Two 3rd Infantry soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in Bayji, north of Baghdad, less than two weeks after arriving in Iraq. Even though Sadr City is less violent than last summer, the 1st Cavalry soldiers warned the newcomers that the neighborhoods could explode at any time. "Right now, it seems easy, with just IEDs and rocks to worry about," said Capt. Josh Davis, commander of the 3rd Infantry company on the patrol. "But we know from the 1st Cav guys that you have to be ready for the other shoe to drop."


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3rd Infantry Starts Second Tour of Duty
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Mike Williams/AJC
'We're getting to the hard part now,' said Capt. Jason Freidt, commander of Charlie Company.
'We're helping build up the Iraqi people, but at the same time we're going to be going into these towns
and arresting a bomb-maker or an insurgent.'

TIKRIT, Iraq 02/20/05— Less than two years ago, Staff Sgt. Antonio Presley was riding as a gunner in a tank, part of the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division from Fort Stewart that captured Baghdad International Airport and helped bring down Saddam Hussein.

Now Presley and his unit, Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment of the 1st Brigade Combat Team, are back in Iraq for their second tour of duty, hoping to finish the job they started — this time, by helping Iraqis rebuild the country with a stable, democratic government.

"Some of the guys were jumpy when we first rode in this time, but now we've got it down," said Presley, 25, a native of Atlanta. "I wasn't disappointed when I heard we were coming back. It's the cause. That's what I signed up for."

The 3rd Infantry Division is the first major military unit sent back to Iraq for a second time since the March 2003 U.S.-led invasion. Some 19,000 soldiers of the division were being sent to Iraq in phases in January and this month. This second deployment is expected to last 12-14 months. While the division's mission this time is essentially peace-keeping and nation building, there is no question that the job is still dangerous.

The unit suffered its first casualties less than a week after arriving in Iraq when a roadside bomb blew up a vehicle on Feb. 4 in the town of Bayji, north of Tikrit. Staff Sgt. Steven G. Bayow, 42, of Micronesia and Sgt. Daniel Torres, 23, from Fort Worth, Texas, both veterans of the 2003 invasion, were killed.
"As you can expect, that was hard on the unit," said Maj. Mark Nordstrom, 49, the 1st Brigade chaplain. "These were their friends, their roommates, and they had worked together for four years."
Word of the casualties spread quickly, shocking some soldiers and reinforcing the dangers they face.

"For guys who haven't been here before, it was a reality check," said Staff Sgt. Anthony Lewis, 25, from Fresno, Calif. "It made them aware of what we're doing out here, that you never know when or how something might happen. It's important to be ready all the time."
But despite the ever-present threat of insurgent attack, most of the soldiers feel Iraq is a far different place than during the 2003 invasion.

"Last time we were here, this patch was feared," said Capt. Jason Freidt, 30, Charlie Company's commander, pointing to the division emblem on his shoulder. "Now it's welcome. There are a lot of former Iraqi military officers living in one of our towns, and some of them told us they fought against us near the Baghdad airport. Now they're cooperating with us."

Freidt's company has been assigned to patrol territory south of Tikrit that includes farmland and two small towns, Wynot and Owja. The job is to provide security, to find and arrest insurgents and to help the Iraqis rebuild their government, economy and institutions.
"We're getting to the hard part now. We're helping build up the Iraqi people, but at the same time we're going to be going into these towns and arresting a bomb-maker or an insurgent," said Freidt.


Gen. Webster Deploys
3rd Infantry Division
Commanding General says troops are trained for mission.

Michael Fabey  912.652.0381  mike.fabey@savannahnow.com

January 20, 2005.
This time, it's personal. Other generals have gone off before to fight formidable foes in countries seemingly on the brink of civil war. But few, if any, would have the personal and professional experience that Major Gen. William G. Webster Jr. brings back to Iraq. The 3rd Infantry Division commander flew out Thursday from Hunter Army Airfield to lead the next phase of war as the country tries to establish its new government.

The 3rd Infantry Division's commanding general, Major Gen. William G. Webster Jr., talks with Major Roy Zinser before deploying from Hunter Army Airfield in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom III Thursday afternoon.
Richard Burkhart Savannah Morning News

Webster knows the terrain. He was the deputy commander for ground forces during the war in 2003. The general also knows what the enemy is capable of. He was working in the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. 
The general also knows what the enemy is capable of. He was working in the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. His office was 30 yards north of the spot where the hijacked jet crashed into the E-ring. The general has since described the scene. The explosion. A fireball shooting by his window. Flames along the ceiling and hallways.

A former commander of the Army's National Training Center, Webster likened the noise to an entire 155mm artillery battalion making simultaneous ground strikes. Now, he'll decide when strikes will be made. But there can be no sense of revenge for him or the troops, Webster says.

He and his troops are going to be in Iraq at a historic time, the general said Thursday. "I want to remind soldiers they are part of a great team. They can accomplish great things. They can do something that's noble and appreciated by the American people." Those themes have been a thread carried through conversations with Webster, public and private, over the past several months. Both could be put to the test over the next few months as the 3rd Infantry soldiers work to quell the insurgents and help rebuild a country.

"We're preparing for the violence to increase after the elections," Webster said. But, he added, he thought the violence would settle down once Iraqis realized their role in rebuilding their country. The division troops have been preparing for the new form of battle.
"We've intensified our training this year," Webster said. "We've put soldiers into urban environments."

And not just any urban environment - but Iraqi cities, or as much as the Army could simulate, with real Iraqis playing citizens or insurgents. And sometimes using live ammo.
"We've fired millions or more rounds," the general said.
The training has paid off, said Sgt. Maj. William Grant, who deployed with Webster.
"We've changed our training philosophy," Grant said. "They're not just trained. They're competent."

Preparation aside, the most valuable asset this time could be troops who have been there before, such as Spc. Brian Mintzlaff. At 32, he's relatively old to be among the lower ranks, especially for an Iraqi war veteran. But he didn't join the Army until after the 2001 terrorist attacks. "I was sitting at breakfast with my daughter. She said, 'Daddy, get me some jelly.' Then she snuck around and turned on the TV. I said, 'That's an awful violent TV show.'"

After watching the carnage and aftermath, he gave up his $60,000-a-year printing job in Grand Prairie, Texas, and joined the Army. How did his wife deal with it? "Not well at all. But I'm proud to have done it. I'm surprised there was not a huge amount of people like me."
His advice to first-timers: "Just do what I say. Just listen, you'll do fine."

But Webster knows it's not enough to rely on experiences of those who have been there before. He intended to spend the flight reading up on the Islamic culture. What he's trying to understand most, he said, is the different interpretations of Islamic religion and its rules governing how people conduct themselves.
"It's a nuance," he said. "But maybe it could be the difference between life and death."


Number of soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division who have deployed so far from Hunter Army Air Field: about 7,000

Number of soldiers who deployed Thursday: about 500

Number of soldiers who deployed on the plane with Gen. William Webster: about 250

Number of soldiers expected to deploy and be attached to 3rd ID: about 25,000; plus Rocky, division mascot.

Tying yellow ribbons around the old oak tree
Lewis Levine

February 28, 2005. Well over 100 people - most of them friends, family members and colleagues of 3rd Infantry Division soldiers deployed in Iraq - gathered to tie two huge, yellow ribbons around an oak tree on North Main Street in Hinesville Monday afternoon.

They were unveiled by Kimberly Webster, wife of division commander Major Gen. William Webster, and garrison commander Col. John Kidd. Hinesville Mayor Thomas Ratcliff
and county commissioner Connie Thrift also participated.
Photos by Lewis Levine /for the Savannah Morning News

Cara Jones, 5, holds a candle in honor of 3rd ID soldiers on Monday. Her father, Sgt. Christopher Jones, is assigned to 2/6th FSB.

Brandyn Laughlin, 9, holds a sign in honor of his dad, Spc. Jerry Laughlin, assigned to A Company, 92nd Engineers, Monday during a yellow ribbon ceremony in Hinesville.

Capt. Tynisa Jones, rear detachment commander for the Special Troops Battalion at Fort Stewart, takes a moment to remember her fellow soldiers during a yellow ribbon unveiling in Hinesville on Monday afternoon.

Rachel Jones (in the foreground) and Stephanie McGraw (in the red sweater) hold candles Monday afternoon during the unveiling of a yellow ribbon in Hinesville for the 3rd ID. Stephanie is the wife of Sgt. Joseph McGraw, 2/6 FSB; Rachel is the wife of Sgt. Christopher Jones of the same unit.

Kimberly Webster and Col. John Kidd unveil the ribbon. Kimberly Webster, wife of 3rd Infantry Division commander Major Gen. William Webster, unveils a yellow ribbon tied to an oak tree in downtown Hinesville Monday afternoon with garrison commander Col. John Kidd.

The Terry family poses for a photo taken by Ereka Akers in front of a yellow ribbon unveiled Monday afternoon during a ceremony in Hinesville. CW 1 John Terry, HHB 1/9th Field Artillery, and CW2 David Akers, HHB 1/41st Field Artillery, are deployed with the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq.

A close-up of the yellow ribbon that was unveiled during a ceremony Monday afternoon in Hinesville.


Army Hero Wins Medal of Honor for Valor in Iraq
Bush Bestows Highest Military Honor
to Sgt. Paul Ray Smith Posthumously
By William Branigin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 4, 2005

President Bush, right, presents the Medal of Honor posthumously awarded to Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith in the East Room of the White House Monday. Accepting the medal on his father's behalf is Smith's 11-year-old son, David. Smith's daughter Jessica, left, and his wife, Birgit, watch. (LARRY DOWNING - Reuters)

Birgit Smith, wife of Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul Smith, addresses the audience during the Pentagon Hall of Heroes induction ceremony honoring her husband on April 5, 2005.
DoD photograph by Helene C. Stikkel

Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith today became the first soldier to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq, receiving the nation's highest award for valor posthumously exactly two years after he was killed in a battle near Baghdad's airport.


David Smith cradles the Medal of Honor presented to him on behalf of his father Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul Smith by President George W. Bush at the White House, on Apr. 4, 2005.
DoD photos by Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen, US Air Force

President Bush presented the award to Smith's 11-year-old son, David, in a White House ceremony also attended by the medal-recipient's widow, Birgit, and teenaged daughter, Jessica, as well as his mother and stepfather. Also in attendance were Secretary Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard B. Myers, other top Pentagon officials, congressional leaders, five living Medal of Honor recipients and members of Smith's unit in the Army's 3rd Infantry Division.

Sgt. 1st Class Smith, 33, of Tampa, was mortally wounded on April 4, 2003, while holding off an attack by at least 100 Iraqi Special Republican Guard troops against a vulnerable U.S. position just east of the Baghdad airport. The veteran of the Persian Gulf War was directing his platoon of the 11th Engineer Battalion in setting up a holding area for enemy prisoners of war when the unit came under fire. ...

"He saved everybody out there," said Pvt. Michael Seaman, of St. Clair, Mich., who was in the M-113 feeding Smith ammunition as the sergeant manned the machine gun.

In his speech at today's ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Bush quoted Seaman, who was in the audience, as saying that Smith had been hard on his men in training, "because he knew we had to be hard in battle." Bush said Seaman and others "are alive today because of Sergeant Smith's discipline."
He observed that more than half those awarded the Medal of Honor since World War II sacrificed their lives in the actions for which they were cited.

Birgit Smith caresses the headstone of her late husband Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul Smith after it was unveiled at Arlington Cemetery on April 5, 2005.
DoD photograph by Staff Sgt. Reeba Critser, U.S. Army.

Click here for entire story.


Medal of Honor Ceremonies
 3rd ID Hero
April 4, 2005
Michael Fabey
mike.fabey@savannahnow.com and

Sgt. 1st Class Paul Smith will be the first soldier from
Operation Iraqi Freedom to earn the military's highest honor.

Sgt. 1st Class Paul Smith enlisted as a combat engineer. He served with Bravo Company, 11th Engineer Battalion, which fought alongside 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry as part of Task Force 2-7 in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The Medal of Honor ceremonies for Sgt. 1st Class Paul Smith, the 3rd Infantry Division hero who was mortally wounded as he killed dozens of Iraqis to save his men in April 2003, are tentatively scheduled for early next week, Army sources said.

Two separate ceremonies are planned - a private one presided over by President George W. Bush in the Rose Garden, and another at the Pentagon Wall of Heroes, sources said.
The president's office has to make the official announcement. Army spokespeople said they cannot release any details about the ceremonies until then. The official citation will be made available after the White House Presentation on April 4, 2005.

The Medal of Honor, seen above, will be awarded to Sgt. 1st Class Paul Smith. AP file photo

On April 4, 2003, along Highway 8 near Saddam International Airport, Iraqi soldiers attacked Bravo Company, 11th Engineer Battalion, grouped with Task Force 2-7 Infantry. The engineers had been ordered to build a holding cell for Iraqi prisoners; Smith found a courtyard alongside the highway he thought would work.

Unbeknownst to Smith, some 50 to 100 Iraqi soldiers were on the other side of the compound's wall. In the firefight that followed, Smith killed between 20 and 50 Iraqis with a .50-caliber machine gun mounted on an armored personnel carrier. While providing cover for fellow soldiers in his platoon, he was shot. Smith still had a pulse when his soldiers carried him to the medics in a stretcher. But after 45 minutes of working on him, medics could not save him.

The new Medal of Honor flag will be presented to the Sgt. 1st Class Paul Smith's family.
It's field replicates the pattern of stars found on the Medal of Honor.

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, March 29, 2005) -- When Sgt. 1st Class Paul Smith’s family receives his Medal of Honor, they will receive a new item that will be given to all future recipients of the medal – a Medal of Honor flag.
The flag consists of a field of blue, with 13 stars arranged in the same formation that the stars appear on the Medal of Honor ribbon. It is fringed with gold.

Awarding a Medal of Honor takes time as military leaders intensively investigate the action. A soldier's peers or commanders may nominate him by writing an explanation of the soldier's combat heroics. The recommendation travels up the chain of command until it reaches a branch headquarters. For the Army, the recommendation is reviewed by a Senior Army Decorations Board. If approved there, it must be reviewed by the Secretary of the Army, the Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and finally the president.

Smith poses in the midst of a sandstorm. He served with the 11th Engineer Battalion,
3rd Infantry Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The last combat to produce Medal of Honor recipients was the Battle of Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993. Master Sgt. Gary Gordon and Sgt. 1st Class Randall Shughart served as special operations snipers and volunteered to leave their positions in a helicopter to aid the crew of another helicopter that had been shot down. Both died in the fighting on Oct. 3, 1993.
Click Here for citation website and www.army.mil website
The last medal awarded was in July 2002 to Capt. Humbert Versace for his valor in Vietnam.

A Colonel's Comments on Returning to Iraq

By  John B. Dwyer a military historian, February 16th, 2005

I found this letter from 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Commander, Lt Col. Todd Wood
 at the 3rd Infantry Division website and thought it might merit posting as an inspirational message:

"It seems like just a sort time ago that we redeployed from Iraq after Operation Iraqi Freedom I. This unit carved a piece of history not just for the 7th Regiment, but for the world. We took the fight to terrorism, we overthrew an evil dictator, an evil regime, and we have given a country and people a new chance. 2-7 Infantry fought hard for the freedoms now enjoyed by the Iraqi people, but the fight is not over. Why are we going back? This is a question that many ask themselves and the leaders of this unit.

We are going back because in this war on terrorism we would rather fight the enemy on his soil and not on the streets in the U.S. We are going back because our country is a world leader, and with that title comes the responsibility of ensuring security - not just of our people but also our national interest. We are going back because the job in Iraq is not yet finished and we as a nation are committed to allowing democracy to form in the region. We are going back because we have a responsibility to the Iraqi people to make sure that they get a chance to pursue freedom. Most importantly, we are going back because we are Soldiers, professionals who are committed to protecting our country and our people.

As Soldiers we have answered our nation's call; 2-7 Infantry is the tip of the spear in the War on Terrorism, and we will make a difference in this fight. We are going back to help finish the critical task which will make the future secure for our families. We have prepared ourselves well for this deployment, we have trained hard, we have great leaders, and we are following a very good unit. Thank you again for your hard work, support and prayers."
Lt Col. Todd Wood, 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Commander

Click Here to read Original Article in the American Thinker

At the Front
In Iraq, where danger is a constant, bases offer troops a taste of home.
By David Zucchino, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

BAGHDAD March 27, 2005— The war in Iraq is the first American conflict in which a GI on patrol can risk evisceration from artillery shells rigged to a cell phone, then return to base in time for ESPN's "SportsCenter," a T-bone steak, a mocha cappuccino, a gym workout, an Internet surf session, a hot shower and a cold, if non-alcoholic, beer.

In Iraq, there is the "fob" — the forward operating base — and there is life outside the fob. A soldier's existence in Iraq is defined by the fob, and by the concertina wire that marks its boundaries.

The war beyond the wire is so draining that each of the more than 100 fobs in Iraq is a hardened refuge for the nearly 150,000 U.S. troops here. Brig. Gen. Karl Horst, a 3rd Infantry Division commander based at the Baghdad airport's FOB Liberty, calls them "little oases in the middle of a dangerous and confusing world. "This is a war without a front but with plenty of rear. Many soldiers spend a year in Iraq without ever leaving their fortified bases. Others may never meet an Iraqi, much less kill one. A soldier may patrol for months without ever seeing the enemy, yet risk death or disfigurement at any moment.

Each day in Iraq will end, almost without exception, with an American on patrol losing an arm, a leg, an eye or a life to an earth-shattering detonation of high explosives. That these bombs are embedded in the most prosaic emblems of Iraqi life — a car, a donkey cart, a trash pile, a pothole — only intensifies the dread that attends every journey outside the wire.

Inside each fob lies an ersatz America, a manifestation of the urge to create a lesser version of home in a hostile land. The three vast airport fobs, home to the 3rd Infantry Division and 18th Airborne Corps, have the ambience of a trailer park set inside a maximum-security prison. Soldiers live in white metal mobile homes piled high with sandbags. They have beds, televisions, air conditioning, charcoal grills and volleyball courts.

At the flat, dusty airport fob called Liberty, there is a Burger King, a Subway sandwich shop and an Internet cafe. TV sets in mess halls and gyms blare basketball games or Fox News, the unofficial official news channel of the U.S. military. A sprawling PX sells CDs, DVDs, "Operation Iraqi Freedom" caps and T-shirts that read: "Who's Your Baghdaddy?" Every need — food, laundry, maid service — is attended to by a legion of imported workers from non-Muslim nations, mostly Indians, Filipinos and Nepalese. They are a chipper, efficient lot who, combined with soldiers from places like El Salvador and Estonia, give the fob the breezy, cosmopolitan feel of a misplaced Olympic Village.

MESS HALL: Capt. Tim Terese, left, discusses food options with Sgt. Maj. Fernando Rodriguez at a base near Baghdad.
Army food is plentiful if not always healthy.
(Steve Hebert / Polaris / For The Times)

The mess halls are like shopping mall food courts, with salad bars, taco bars and ice cream stations. Cheeseburgers and cheesesteaks hiss and pop on short-order grills. The aisles are clogged with M-16 automatic rifles and flak vests set aside by soldiers. Fit young men and women in combat fatigues mingle with civilian contractors, some of them beer-bellied, bearded and well into middle age.

Administrative specialists who never leave the fob are known, with some condescension, as fobbits. Like every soldier here, a fobbit is always at risk of sudden death from a random rocket or mortar round. But on most days the greatest danger to a fobbit's health is the cholesterol-packed mess hall meal served in three heaping, deep-fried daily portions.

From the relative safety of fobs, U.S. commanders deliver calm, reassuring accounts of progress — insurgents captured, weapons seized and Iraqi soldiers trained to one day fight the insurgency on their own. Some commanders plot strategy in marble-walled offices inside Saddam Hussein's former palaces, beneath massive chandeliers and tiled ceilings.

For staff officers billeted at fobs, the war sometimes has all the glamour and drama of a doctoral dissertation. Maj. Tom Perison, the future operations chief for the 42nd Infantry Division at FOB Danger in Tikrit, likes to joke that he is "at the pit of the spear" — a play on the "tip of the spear" analogy used by combat commanders. Perison spends much of his time in one of Hussein's palaces analyzing local political currents and worrying about the state of the regional oil industry.

The measure of military success in Iraq lies not in cities taken or enemies killed. "The key is learning who has control of the local population — the imams, tribal sheiks, local council leaders — and turning that to your advantage," said Maj. Doug Winton, a planner with the 3rd Infantry Division.

This is a war in which soldiers must also be politicians, diplomats, engineers and city planners, as familiar with municipal budgets and sewage capacity as M-16s and Abrams tanks.

Their daily schedules are consumed by acronyms.

The typical BUB — the daily battle update brief — lists attacks by roadside bombs and raids on insurgent hide-outs. But the briefings devote far more time to trash pickups, mosque sermons, road paving, school attendance and repairs to electrical substations. Many officers spend more time with Excel spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations than in armored Humvees.

They preside along with local officials at DACs and NACs (District Advisory Councils and Neighborhood Advisory Councils). They work with civil affairs officers in CMOCs (Civil Military Operations Centers) and with Iraqi police and municipal workers at JCCs (Joint Coordination Centers). Each meeting requires a perilous round-trip patrol. Not even an armored U.S. patrol equipped with 21st century weaponry is guaranteed safe passage on Iraq's roads. To leave the blast walls and sandbags is to virtually guarantee American casualties — without forcing the face-to-face firefights that U.S. troops are certain to win.

If the defining mission of the Vietnam War was the jungle foot patrol, the defining mission of Iraq is the vehicle patrol. There are hundreds a day involving thousands of GIs. There is no such thing as a "routine patrol" in Iraq. Every patrol, whether to raid an insurgent hide-out or deliver the mail or attend a meeting, is a combat patrol. "We're fighting the hardest war this country has ever had to fight," said Brig. Gen. Jeffery Hammond, who finished an exhausting year in Iraq late last month.

Each journey begins with a pre-combat review, a weapons check, a map session and a grave discussion of how casualties are to be handled. There are medics on every trip. Soldiers scrawl their blood types on their helmets and boots. Aspirin is banned — it promotes bleeding.

In this war, face-to-face combat is rare. It is a war of stealth and cunning and brutally effective means of shredding human tissue. The signature weapon is the IED, the improvised explosive device, a lethal fusion of ordinary combat munitions and the electronic signal of the ubiquitous cell phone. It is the single biggest killer of U.S. troops, 1,524 of whom have died so far.

Every trip outside the wire is also, by necessity, a mission to search for IEDs. Soldiers on patrol are forever scanning the roadside. Their radio chatter focuses on the endless places to hide an IED, and on divining the intentions of approaching drivers, vegetable-cart owners and grinning little boys. Every car is a potential bomb, every pedestrian a possible suicide bomber. For soldiers on patrol, every Iraqi is the enemy until proven otherwise. All Iraqis are known as "hadjis," for the hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. Often the terms "hadji" and "the enemy" are used interchangeably.

Some children smile and wave and try to cadge candy or coins from passing convoys. Most soldiers wave back but keep one hand on their weapons. Most Iraqi men, particularly young men, offer only baleful stares. Women are distant, spectral figures in black.

There is a delicate ballet on roadways when convoys pass. U.S. forces have learned to hog the middle of the road to reduce the effects of IEDs from either side. Iraqi drivers have learned to pull off the road entirely and stop, flashing emergency blinkers to signal an absence of malice. Scores of Iraqi civilians have been shot dead by U.S. soldiers and Marines at checkpoints and on roadways.

Many U.S. vehicles display huge signs, in Arabic and English, warning drivers to stay 50 meters away to avoid possible "lethal force." Some soldiers joke that the signs should say, "If you can read this, you're just about to get shot."

It is the job of civil affairs officers to somehow mitigate the poisonous relationship between many Iraqis and U.S. soldiers. In Baghdad's Shiite Muslim slum of Sadr City one day recently, Capt. Raul Gamble, a civil affairs officer, made a point of stopping a patrol to pass out candy, pencils and paper Iraqi flags to a group of children and teenagers. Predictably, the handouts attracted a rowdy throng of grasping youths. Other soldiers on the patrol, fearing the crowd would draw an insurgent attack, were eager to leave. But Gamble patiently threaded his way through upraised arms to deliver a small stuffed bear to a 2-year-old boy in his grandfather's arms. "It's the little things that add up to big things," he said, satisfied.

Other encounters are less congenial. A day after a soldier in their unit was killed by an IED outside Muqdadiyah, north of Baghdad, soldiers in an IED search team known as the Trailblazers discovered and detonated a roadside bomb nearby. A crowd of young men gathered to watch, smirking and snickering over the American's death a day earlier. On a concrete wall behind them was a drawing of an ass and the word "Bush." IEDs are notoriously capricious. Surviving 100 patrols is no guarantee of surviving the 101st; the first trip is as dangerous as the last.

On Feb. 4, two 3rd Infantry Division soldiers who had just arrived in Iraq, Staff Sgt. Steven G. Bayow and Sgt. Daniel Torres, rode in a patrol with members of the unit they were replacing. It was a "right seat" ride, designed to familiarize new arrivals with conditions outside the fob. Both soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb.

Soldiers on patrol say they find themselves bracing every few moments, anticipating an explosion. The stress saps their concentration, producing more stress when they realize they've lost their focus. Some say they try to think of anything except the jury-rigged "hillbilly armor" some have added to their Humvees for protection, or the military-issue "up-armor" kits that can leave gaps in the armor plating. Soldiers say they try not to imagine shrapnel or super-heated shards of the vehicle blasting through the gaps.

On his first convoy since he watched a good friend killed by a roadside bomb, Sgt. Travis Hall drove past the site of the explosion. It was a tense, taxing journey, made almost unbearable when Hall's Humvee was stalled in rush-hour traffic for half an hour. Three hours later, Hall pulled his Humvee safely past the berms and blast walls of FOB Warhorse. He was one month into a one-year tour in which he expects to take several patrols a week. "Made it," Hall said, stepping out to clear his rifle. "Only 200-some more to go."

Like any war, the one in Iraq is defined by long periods of excruciating boredom punctuated by intervals of sheer terror. After hauling weapons and anti-American propaganda from an insurgent hide-out on the shore of Lake Hamrin near the Iranian border recently, a patrol from Task Force 1-30 of the 3rd Infantry Division spent a listless afternoon on futile searches of surrounding hillsides.

Then, in rapid succession, they watched another unit chase suspected insurgents through a village across the lake; listened to U.S.-fired 155-millimeter artillery shells whistle over their heads toward an insurgent redoubt a few miles away; and stumbled across the ingredients of a powerful roadside bomb on their way back to base.

A soldier in Lt. Brian Deaton's platoon noticed a pile of rocks at the edge of the roadway, halting the convoy. Insurgents often leave markings to warn civilians about IEDs. A search of a culvert revealed a pair of 9-foot-long, 122-millimeter rockets tucked under a riverside roadway.

As the patrol radioed for an ordnance-disposal team, Deaton noticed several men standing on a far ridge. Fearing they were spotters preparing to detonate the rockets by remote control, he ordered a gunner in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle to fire a burst from his 25-millimeter main gun. The rounds thudded against the ridge, scattering the men.

DANGEROUS: Army Staff Sgt. Dustin Flowers and Pfc. Forrest Malone haul a rocket
from an improvised explosive device. Later, they detonate the cache.
(Steve Hebert / Polaris / For The Times)

Fearing a detonation or ambush, soldiers took cover in the hills as two bomb-disposal experts, Staff Sgt. Dustin Flowers and Pfc. Forrest Malone, sent out a tiny remote-controlled robot on wheels to investigate the rockets. Malone steered the robot, a Mars Rover look-alike the size of a child's wagon, from a computer screen set up on the hood of his armor-plated vehicle.

As he guided the device toward the rockets, the robot's batteries suddenly died and it rolled to a stop. Flowers, who had taken cover behind a boulder several hundred yards away, cursed at Malone over a two-way radio. He thought the private, who was just six months out of military explosives school, had botched the remote-control operation. Flowers is a veteran of 50 ordnance disposal missions in Iraq.

ON A MISSION: Army Staff Sgt. Dustin Flowers is forced to don a bomb-protection suit and venture out to inspect ordnance because the batteries died on a remote-controlled robot. “That robot is gonna be the death of me,” Flowers says.
(Steve Hebert / Polaris / For The Times)

He stomped over to Malone. When the private explained that the battery had died, Flowers muttered, "That robot is gonna be the death of me," and began climbing into a 70-pound bomb-protection suit. He would inspect the rockets himself. Even wearing the suit, Flowers said, he wouldn't survive if the rockets exploded in his face. "The suit just gives them something to bury me in," he said.

Struggling to walk in the clumsy clothing, Flowers lumbered toward the rockets, but he couldn't get safely close enough to see whether they had been wired to a detonator. He asked Deaton to have a Bradley gunner fire machine-gun rounds into the rockets. The bullets would detonate the rockets if they had been wired to explode.

The gunner fired several bursts, but couldn't manage to hit the rockets. Finally, Flowers decided to take matters into his own hands. Sweating profusely inside the suit, he made his way down into the culvert. He maneuvered close enough to see that the rockets had not been wired.

He and Malone hauled the heavy rockets, one at a time, down an embankment. They wired several blocks of C-4 plastic explosive to them, set a fuse, then hurried back to their armored vehicle and sped to safety.

ARMOR: Army Staff Sgt. Dustin Flowers puts on a 70-pound bomb-protection suit before checking out two rockets found in a culvert during a patrol. Flowers says the suit would offer little protection if the rockets exploded in his face.
(Steve Hebert / Polaris / For The Times)

The rockets exploded with a thump that echoed off the hillsides. A black mushroom cloud rose over the river valley. The smoke spread as the patrol raced down the roadway, still scanning both sides of the curving mountain road for more IEDs. At dusk, the soldiers eased back into FOB Warhorse, safely home in time for evening chow, DVDs and a hot shower.

Like any war, the one in Iraq is defined by long periods of excruciating boredom punctuated by intervals of sheer terror.
Copyright 2005 Los Angeles Times


Soldiers who captured Baghdad back
for round two in Iraq
By Chris Tomlinson, Associated Press

BAGHDAD, Iraq March 5, 2005 (AP)
Their enemy has changed, from Iraqi soldiers in uniform to insurgents in civilian clothes. But for the soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division returning to Baghdad, some things remain the same.
The smell, for instance a mixture of smog, rotting garbage and sewage.
''It's only here, it's only in Iraq,'' said Staff Sgt. Jason Barr of Roswell, Mich. ''I don't know what it is, but it gets to you.''

Nearly two years after they first entered Baghdad, the Fort Stewart, Ga.-based 3rd Infantry is back in Iraq, taking charge of the Baghdad metropolitan area. While some of the soldiers are here for the first time, most were part of the invasion and capture of Baghdad in April 2003.

Sgt. Joshua Butler of Jackson, Mo., is a team leader in A Co. 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment. His company, code-named Attack, was among the first to roll into Baghdad and spent four months in Iraq in 2003. Bivouacked in an old barracks in south Baghdad, he feels as though he never left.
''The last time I was here, my guard was up 24/7 and I went back home and everything relaxed and it was fine,'' Butler said. ''Now we're back and that feeling is there again all of a sudden.''
Butler's life, like that of many of the returning soldiers, has changed since the invasion. He has been promoted from private first class to sergeant. He has married, has a child and owns a house. ''This time I have to think about having a wife and a daughter back home,'' he said. ''I'm responsible now for bringing home my guys alive to their family.''

The quick redeployment to Iraq takes a toll on families. ''Just as you begin to get relaxed and get back into a normal rhythm with your family, it starts all over again, the pressure of getting ready to leave again,'' said Barr, a father of two.
''It's not just being gone that's the hard part; the hard part is getting ready to leave, preparing your family for it and everything you do to prepare your family for it reminds them, and yourself, that you're leaving,'' he added. ''The few months before you leave are hard; the first few months after you get back are hard.''

The soldiers say what they fear most this time around are roadside bombs there were at least 81 in January alone. Patrolling southern Baghdad will be more dangerous this time around, said Spc. Jacob Pfister of Buffalo, N.Y., because the insurgents fight from the shadows.
''In a direct firefight, we've got them hands down. But what you have to worry about is what you don't see, driving up and a guy has got a bomb on the side of the road,'' Pfister said.
Although Pfister lost 25 percent of his hearing in a bombing in 2003, he has decided to make a career out of the U.S. Army. But many 3rd Infantry soldiers have seen their enlistment involuntarily extended.

Spc. Desmond Lackey, who was due to get out on Saturday, said his first thought on returning to Baghdad was: ''My God, I can't believe I'm here again, I thought I was going to get out and go back to school.''

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Fort Stewart honors Military Policeman
Killed in Iraq

Associated Press, Feb. 16, 2005

FORT STEWART, Ga. - Army Spc. George Daniel Harrison helped his fellow military policemen break the tension of constant danger in Iraq with infectious laughter, starting water gun fights and doing his grizzled veteran schtick.

Harrison, 22, of Knoxville, Tenn., was killed Dec. 2 during a firefight in Mosul. But fellow soldiers and family attending a memorial service Wednesday at Fort Stewart remembered the young soldier for his fearless sense of humor. "He would talk about Vietnam like he was there, back in Nam," said Spc. Joshua Curl, Harrison's roommate. "He would buy water guns from the Iraqi kids and come in guns blazing. We acted like a bunch of kids on our downtime, but when it was time for business, everybody was on it."

Harrison deployed in March with his unit, the 293rd Military Police Company, to help train and acclimate Iraqi police forces. It was hazardous duty, soldiers say, with troops under constant ambush from insurgents. In Harrison's honor, Fort Stewart officials planted an eastern redbud tree with a granite stone engraved with his name at its root at the Army post's Warrior's Walk memorial.


The lane of trees was begun in 2003 as a living memorial to 3rd Infantry Division soldiers killed in Iraq. Harrison's tree marks him as the division's 46th casualty since the invasion of Baghdad.
"I always told him, `You're my hero,'" said Doug Harrison, the soldier's father, who attended the ceremony with his wife, Kim, and younger son, Joshua. "Even though we knew he was in harm's way, you never, ever expect it to be your baby that's taken away."

Since the 3rd Infantry deployed 19,000 troops to Iraq for a second combat tour last month, it's already clear the memorial at Fort Stewart will grow. The Army announced late Tuesday that three soldiers of the division's 5th Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment died Sunday when their vehicle overturned in a canal near Balad.

They were identified as Spc. Dakotah L. Gooding, 21, of Des Moines, Iowa; Sgt. Rene Knox, Jr., 22, of New Orleans; and Sgt. Chad W. Lake, 26, of Ocala, Fla. Two other division soldiers were killed Feb. 5 when a roadside bomb exploded into their vehicle.

The night he was killed, Harrison was behind the machine gun of a Humvee when his convoy rushed to offer suppressing fire to U.S. troops under attack by insurgents. Curl, who rode in another vehicle in the firefight, said an Iraqi bullet ricocheted off the front shield of Harrison's machine gun and struck him in the chest. For members of his unit, Harrison's death hit especially hard because another soldier in his platoon, Spc. Andrew L. Tuazon, was killed in a firefight May 10.

Despite losing his older brother, Joshua Harrison, 20, cracked a smile while he told of a recent conversation with a friend. They were talking about his brother's sacrifice, and the friend started laughing. "She said, 'I know what Dan would say in this situation - Ha, ha! I'm famous.'"

US Soldiers Wound Freed Italian Reporter,
Kill Italian Negotiator

March 4, 2005. The U.S. 3rd Infantry Division, which controls Baghdad, said in an announcement that "U.S. soldiers killed one civilian and wounded two others when their vehicle traveling at high speeds refused to stop at a check point here today.''

It said a U.S. patrol "attempted to warn the driver to stop by hand and arm signals, flashing white lights, and firing warning shots in front of the car,'' the military said in a statement. ``When the driver didn't stop, the soldiers shot into the engine block which stopped the vehicle, killing one and wounding two others.''

Lakeland Flag Goes to Iraq
Shrub Oak, NY

Mrs. Maureen O'Donnell, Class of 2000 Advisor and David Winter, Class of 2000

On December 23, 2004 David Winter, member of the Lakeland High School's Class of 2000, came to the school to take the flag from the flagpole to travel to Iraq with him and his unit. David is deployed as of January 28, 2005 on a 12 to 18 month tour with the Third Infantry. Click Here for website

Arriving Medics Learn From Counterparts
By U.S. Army Pfc. Ricardo Branch 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs

CAMP LIBERTY, BAGHDAD, Iraq, Feb. 4, 2005 — U.S. soldiers assigned to 3rd Infantry Division have started to arrive in Iraq and team up with their counterparts in theater as part of the transition of command gets underway.
Over in the medical aid station at the division logistical support area in Camp Victory, the transition has already began as medic soldiers from the advanced party of 3rd Infantry Division arrived and are working with the 1st Cavalry Division medics to prepare for the handover next month.

Medics from Headquarters and Headquarters Support Company, Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division are calling the division medical aid facility their new home. They moved in to the building Jan. 26 to learn from the medics already working there.  "I came here early to meet with the 1st [Cavalry Division] medics to see where I will be working and to get some hands on experience with where I'll be at and what I will be doing," said U.S. Army Pfc. Alfredo Chiquito, medic with Headquarters and Headquarters Support Company, Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division.
"Over here in Iraq, I really don't know what to expect," he said. "The patients I get here might be the usual sick call patients or patients with real wounds, but that is what I've been practicing for all along back in [Fort] Stewart."

Helping the 3rd Infantry Division medics in the transition process, the medics from 1st Cavalry Division have introduced them to personnel from other aid stations working in the area and explained the overall running of the medical aid station, including hours of operation and the location of supplies and equipment.
"The medics that are arriving are doing a good job," said Staff Sgt. Jason Rankin, Headquarters Company, 1st Cav. Div. "One of them has already screened and treated a few patients in his first three days here."
"This makes me confident that they will be able to do the job here when we're gone so the transition here should go smoothly,” he said.

Chiquito and the other soldiers working in the aid station know they have a tough job ahead of them in their military occupational specialty, but they are confident in their training received in Fort Stewart that they can do it.  "When the division had their field training exercise (October of last year), we had to assist (simulated) combat casualties, find out what's wrong with them and treat them as necessary," Chiquito said.
“When you have to go through the procedures of combat casualties back home, that’s when you know what you’ll be doing here is very real, so I’m fortunate to be here,” he said. “The people already working here have lots of experience doing the job and can show me the ways that gets things done."

A few days after 3rd Infantry Division moved in, the soldiers working the aid station had imparted one important piece of advice for them.
“Take advantage of your down time because when it’s a slow day, don’t kid yourself, it will get busy when you least expect it,” said Spc. Kate Norsey, Headquarters Company, 1st Cavalry Division.
She added, "Everything here is real so you have to be prepared for the responsibility of saving lives anytime."

Chiquito, and the 3rd Infantry Division medics working in the aid station realize the mission ahead and are using the time to be prepared and learn from the experienced.
“It’s a good thing really,” Chiquito said. “Coming here early and learning from 1st Cav. medics allows me to receive insight on the important mission ahead for the medics of my unit.”

Whatever the case the message to the soldiers and personnel on Camp Liberty is clear, 3rd Infantry Division medics are here and will be ready soon.

Fort Benning
40% of Soldiers with 3rd Brigade,
3rd Infantry Division have Children

 1000's of soldiers with the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division deploy for Iraq in a few days. 40% of those soldiers have children they will leave behind. Rebecca Welch with the Family Advocacy Program says 60-90 babies are born on Fort Benning every month. A baby boom is expected in 9 months. This baby boom will be different however, as many fathers will be gone for the birth of their children.

To help families staying in Columbus during the deployment, Miss Welch says it's best to offer to do babysitting, basic maintenance like mowing the lawn and checking on vehicle maintenance.
She says during deployments, one parent has to take on the responsibilities of both.
In the past many spouses would leave Columbus to be with family in other cities but this time it's different. Miss Welch says that's because unlike the past- the military is now offering more family support services.

Gretchen Bartelt e mail: gbartelt@wtvm.com
Jan.14, 2005

Click here for stories and video of 3ID from WTVM and WXTX Columbus,GA

Benning promises family support as
infantry, engineer Soldiers deploy
By Bridgett Siter
January 14, 2005

Click Here for ARNEWS Story

WASHINGTON (Army News Service Jan. 14, 2005) -- About 4,000 members of the 3rd Infantry Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, received a guarantee along with their formal send-off Jan. 7 at Fort Benning’s Doughboy Stadium.

“We will not fail you,” Brig. Gen. Benjamin Freakley said at the Jan. 7 departure ceremony for the Kelley Hill troops who’ll leave for Iraq in waves over the next few weeks.
Freakley assured the crowd of about 8,000, made up of Soldiers and their family members, that Fort Benning and the surrounding communities will “take care of your families.” That, he said, is a guarantee.
“So focus on your mission. Trust your training, trust your equipment, trust your leadership and your country,” he said. “We will not fail you.”And to their families, Freakley offered the same assurance.
“Trust your spouses, trust each other, trust your family readiness group, Fort Benning, Columbus, Phenix City and our nation,” he said. “For we will not fail you either.”

The majority of the 3rd Brigade’s 4,000 troops will leave for Iraq in the coming weeks, some for the second or third time. But the mass exodus in support of ongoing operations in Afghanistan and Iraq actually began late last year, when members of the 988th Military Police Company left for Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom, and 150 Soldiers from the 36th Engineer Group’s 598th Maintenance Company headed to Kuwait and Iraq.

Elements of the 13th Corps Support Battalion, including the 223rd Heavy Equipment Transport Platoon, and Detachment 31 of the 1207th U.S. Army Field Hospital are among those who’ve already left Fort Benning for Southwest Asia.
Freakley was one of several speakers at the event, which featured music by the Infantry Center Band, local performers and up-and-coming country star David Staton.
Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Rep. Sanford Bishop, Columbus Mayor Bob Poydasheff and Phenix City Mayor Jeff Hardin also spoke. The Soldiers and their families are all “part of our Georgia family,” the governor said, regardless of where they call home.

Fort Benning hasn’t seen such a large scale ceremony since the 3rd Brigade's “Dog Face Soldiers" returned from Iraq in summer, 2003, but such ceremonies have a long tradition on the post. Units were hailed there during World War II, Korea and Vietnam. One such ceremony was depicted in the movie "We Were Soldiers," when the 1st Cavalry Division headed to Vietnam.

Unlike the Soldiers who went before, the Soldiers honored Jan. 7 were “volunteers every one,” Bishop said. The thousands present were asked to stand and be recognized.
Poydasheff said he’s making plans for a return trip to Fort Benning, perhaps early next year.

While the commander and state officials offered their support to those gathered at the stadium, a more quiet departure was going on elsewhere on Fort Benning. The 36th Engineer Group’s Headquarters Company slipped out the back gate and said a lingering, tearful goodbye to their families. The company’s departure date changed several times before the deployment.
Master Sgt. Kerrethal Avery attended the ceremony long enough to know “this was a first.” In her 18-year career, she’s never had a send-off like this.
“That’s why I love Columbus,” she said. “Because everybody really loves and supports the military.”
Avery, who returned from Korea in August, left her 17-year-old daughter at home with her cousin, who’ll care for her for a year. It’s easier to say goodbye at home, she said.
“She’s used to it, because I’ve been with so many deployable units,” Avery said, “But it’s just easier not having her here when I get on that bus. “I have great family support, and she’ll be fine,” she said. “And I’m coming home — one hundred percent, I’m coming home.”

Col. James Brooks, the 36th’s commander, left with his troops. Nearly 75 percent of the unit’s Soldiers went to Iraq in 2003. Brooks said he’s confident in Freakley’s assurance that Fort Benning and the local community will take care of the 36th Engineer Group families.
“I do, I trust them all,” he said. “There’s no doubt not one of them wouldn’t help if they were needed. No doubt at all.” That makes the engineers, with one less worry on their minds, “safer and more effective,” Brooks said.
“And that increases the odds of me bringing them all home safe.”


Fort Benning honors 5,800 of its soldiers in or headed to Iraq
The Associated Press - FORT BENNING, Ga.

Military and civilian officials urged thousands of Fort Benning soldiers headed to Iraq to stay focused on their hazardous mission, and promised their families would have the full support of the Army, the state and local communities while they are away.
The soldiers poured into Fort Benning's historic Doughboy Stadium on Friday for a send-off y that included speeches, patriotic music and a concert.
The ceremony honored the 4,000 members of Fort Benning's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, which helped lead the charge into Iraq in 2003 and is expected to return for a second tour by the end of the month, and the 1,800-member 36th Engineer Group, which is also returning for a second time. Some of the engineers are already in Iraq.

"To all of you soldiers, your families and friends, we say, 'Thank you,'" said Georgia Republican U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss. "Thank you for ensuring that our children will enjoy the freedoms that we know.
"It's still a very dangerous place, but you're going to be there at a time that's important to the future of Iraq," he said, referring the country's upcoming election. "You truly will be making history."

Also speaking at the ceremony were Georgia Democratic U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue, the mayors of nearby Columbus and Phenix City, Ala., and Fort Benning's commander, Brig. Gen. Benjamin Freakly.

For 2nd Lt. Chris Pierce, it was a final moment to spend with his wife, Courtney, and daughters, Abigail, 18 months and Avery, 2 1/2. The Army engineer was among a group of soldiers scheduled to depart immediately after the ceremony.
"I know we're going to help Iraq ... to have the freedom we enjoy," he said. "We're going to help a country that needs help." Looking at his wife and daughters, Pierce said, "It's going to be hard to leave them, but we are prepared. These young ones won't have their dad for a while."

Members of the infantry brigade said they have trained hard for the deployment, feel prepared for the mission and just want to get on with it. The brigade and the engineers will be in Iraq for at least a year.
"I'm sure we'll interact with Iraqi police to help them establish a safer Iraq," said Sgt. Matthew Stoltz, 22, one of the brigade's military police officers. Stoltz, of Bradenton, Fla., recently celebrated his first wedding anniversary. He attended the ceremony with his wife, Michelle, who said, "I just want him to come home safely."

Fort Benning's 3rd Brigade is part of the 3rd Infantry Division, headquartered across the state at Fort Stewart, near Savannah. Fort Stewart's soldiers are expected to deploy soon.

Columbus Mayor Robert Poydasheff, a former Army infantryman and staff judge advocate, said Americans have an obligation to support the soldiers, no matter what their views on the war. When he returned from Vietnam and found soldiers and their families being mistreated, he said he made a vow to never let that happen again.
"All of you soldiers come back, come back," he said. "We're waiting to greet you at a ceremony like this."

Phenix City Mayor Jeff Hardin joined Poydasheff in pledging full support for the military families while the soldiers are away, and Perdue said if their resources weren't enough, the state would pitch in.
Perdue told the soldiers he could see in their eyes, love, pride and the courage to defend freedom.
"Your cause is just," he said. "The state of Georgia stands ready to help support your families."
Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Like father, like son-in-law
By:Patrick Donahue, Executive editor 01/24/2005

Gary Yeatts, left, and Paul Hawkins will be about 12 miles apart when they finally reach Iraq. The two soldiers are in the 3rd Infantry Division and Yeatts is Hawkins' father-in-law.
This will be Yeatts' third combat deployment to the Persian Gulf. He will be with one of his platoon sergeants, Staff Sgt. William Zapfe, for a third deployment, dating back to Intrinsic Action in 1996. He is also going back with friend and fellow veteran noncom Sgt 1st Class Jack Wilder. "We work pretty well together," Yeatts said.

This is Hawkins' first deployment, but he can turn to both his father and father-in-law for advice. His dad is Brig. Gen. Steven Hawkins, commander of the Army Corps of Engineers Great Lakes District, who spent a year in Iraq heading up the restoration of water, power and sewage treatment facilities.

"My father has deployed more times than I care to remember," Paul said.

His wife has seen her father go off to an uncertain future. But not her husband of less than a year. Yet his wife's experience with her dad's deployments has eased things.

"We're both Army brats," he said. "It's different this time for her, because it's her husband and her father. We know all the emotions that go with it. It wasn't a surprise, so that has made it not as hard. She's handling it great."

Yeatts' wife Melanie has been through it many times, too. He has no doubts the women of the family are ready for anything. Not only are mother and daughter close, they also work together at Osteen and Osteen.

"Both Melanie and Chastity are strong women," Yeatts said. "They've gone through it several times. It's not new to them. They know what the expectations are. They know it won't be easy. But they have each other."

And Yeatts has his soldiers. When he returned from Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, he took an assignment at the NCO Academy. There, he wouldn't have to deploy again.

But as the 3rd Infantry Division got its notice to return to Iraq, Yeatts, who had been in the 10th Engineer Battalion, decided that if his former soldiers were going, so was he. Plus, the last time he was in Iraq, Yeatts befriended some of the Iraqis and is looking forward to seeing them again.

"I have some personal relationships I want to rekindle," he said. "And if I'm going to be in the Army, I want to go back with my soldiers."

Retirement on hold - for now

Yeatts has been in almost 20 years and the talk of retirement has come up in the Yeatts' household. There was a discussion he might retire after the last deployment.

"Every day, we talk about retirement," he said. "But I still don't know what I'm going to do when I grow up. I've led soldiers since 1986. I would like to think when I return from this deployment, I would retire. But I don't know if that is going to happen. I thought I would retire after the last one."

Gary Yeatts and Paul Hawkins usually have plenty to talk about it, especially since Yeatts is Hawkins' father-in-law. Their conversations have taken a more serious tone over recent weeks.

Yeatts is a first sergeant in E Company, 3/15 Infantry. Hawkins, a first lieutenant, is a tank platoon commander in C Company, 4/64 Armor. Both are set to deploy to Iraq.
"We talk all the time," Hawkins, married to Yeatts' daughter Chastity, said.
His wife has seen her father go off to an uncertain future. But not her husband of less than a year. Yet his wife's experience with her dad's deployments has eased things.

"We're both Army brats," he said. "It's different this time for her, because it's her husband and her father. We know all the emotions that go with it. It wasn't a surprise, so that has made it not as hard. She's handling it great."

Getting homefront ready

Two weeks ago, Yeatts and his company commander spent most of one morning going over what to expect back home with their soldiers, how to make sure things were taken care of, what the communication will be like with the families and about R and R leave.

The mail system is better, Yeatts said, and there will be satellite internet capability, though it may be on a limited basis. They also talked about what the mission is and what will be needed to do it.
"I'm fully confident the soldiers are ready and their families are prepared," Yeatts said. "Fortunately, for my company, my wife is the family readiness group leader. She's been one for 10 years. I'm confident in the fact she can handle any problem."

Yeatts and Hawkins will be about 12 miles apart once they're in Iraq. This time, Yeatts hopes, they move the Iraqi people even closer to a democracy.

"What we started in March/April 2003 is not yet finished," he said. "It's necessary we go back and replace a division and finish the mission and allow elections to take place in a safe environment."
By Patrick Donahue
Coastal Courier (Hinesville, GA) Executive Editor

3rd ID's 'G Staff' Deploys
Savannah Morning News-Jan.17, 2005

The deployment of the 3rd Infantry Division continued Monday, with almost 600 members of the "G staff" flying out from Hunter Army Airfield bound for the Middle East.

G staff, so named because the staff reports to a general officer, constitute the Army's middle management in charge of areas such as logistics, planning, supplies, or communications.

Monday's departure brought the number of soldiers deployed by the 3rd ID to roughly 5,500 - or a little less than half of the division.

Baby Refuses to Wait for Dad
Soldier just misses daughter's birth but has already taken her fishing
Staff Writer-Columbus Ledger-Enquirer-March 24, 2005

Capt. Ed Allen missed the birth of his first child by five days, but he had an excuse. He was in Baghdad. Allen's wife, Katherine, gave birth to Ema Allen earlier this month. The couple weren't expecting their baby until this week.

"She was a little too early, but I am happy about that," said Allen, who is on a two-week rest and recuperation leave. "I was fortunate that the timing worked out where the leave became available. Most people want to come in the summer, so it was easy to get the slot to come home now."

Allen serves with Fort Benning's 36th Engineer Group in Iraq and is the design management chief in Headquarters, Headquarters Company.

Already, the new father took his daughter, his wife and Pike, his golden retriever, fishing. "I took Ema to Lake Oliver, our first fishing trip," said Allen, who owns a 16-foot aluminum boat.

Photo courtesy of the family
Captain E Allen, wife Katherine, and daughter Ema Allen

More than 100 soldiers of 36th Engineer Group, also known as the "Rugged Seahorses," left Fort Benning in December for a year in Baghdad. There, they are attached to the 3rd Infantry Division. Since February, seven soldiers from his unit also have returned for their short leaves to the States.
"We have guys that are steadily coming in now and up until September, October time frame. They spread it out during the whole time so you don't lose everybody all at once," Allen said.

Soldiers of the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division have also begun their leave and should arrive stateside this week, said Lt. Col. Jim DesJardin, the brigade's rear detachment commander. In January, more than 3,000 soldiers of the brigade left for a one-year tour in Iraq.

According to the Army's policy, soldiers who deploy for a year or more in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom will receive short periods of rest and recuperation. A soldier becomes eligible for leave 90 days after deployment. The goal is to get all soldiers on leave. However, it's likely that 85 percent of the unit will take their leave in the States, DesJardin said.

Rest and recuperation periods can be four-day passes or 14 days to the United States. The Department of Defense pays for a round-trip ticket for soldiers on 14-day leaves in the states, DesJardin said.
"These soldiers are on a order of merit lists, and their leave is often tied to an event," such as a birth of child or graduation, DesJardin said.

In Baghdad, the 36th Engineer Group does work at Camps Liberty, Hope, Falcon, Taji and the heavily fortified International Zone, formerly known as the Green Zone. The headquarters company designs the construction missions on forward operating bases and then assigns them to subordinate units and subcontractors. The unit also is working on an area along the Tigris River outside the International Zone, called Project Oasis.

"It's kind of like the riverfront downtown almost," Allen said, referring to the Chattahoochee Riverwalk. "Before it was run down. There was a lot of sand... trash and debris. They've gone in there and cleaned that up, built sidewalks and refurbished a coffee house. We're trying to show that if you let us work with you, that this is what your area can become."
Contact Angelique Soenarie at (706) 571-8516 or asoenarie@ledger-enquirer.com

Sending Josh to war
For the next year, my wife, Mary, and I will hold our breath.


Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 01/23/05

Mary Warren-Martz gets a hug from Iraq-bound son Spc. Josh Warren
at a farewell ceremony Monday at Fort Benning. BRANT SANDERLIN/AJC

Mary's son, Josh, my stepson, is on his way to Iraq with the 3rd Brigade of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division. Although he spent 13 months in Korea patrolling the tense demilitarized zone there, this will be his first time in combat. His mother and I have now joined the ranks of tens of thousands of other American families who in the past 3 1/2 years have sent sons and daughters off to war with feelings that are equal parts pride and fear.

We are proud he is fulfilling his commitment to his country, as his uncle did with the Army during the early stages of the war in Iraq, as I did with the Marine Corps during Vietnam and as my father and Josh's paternal grandfather did with the Army during World War II. But we are fearful that the ringing telephone and the knock on the door will bring us men in uniform and news we do not want to hear.

After reporting on seven different conflicts over the past 20 years, I know the dangers Josh faces. I know what war does to the young men who fight them.
That was never more apparent than in the initial phase of the war in the spring of 2003 during the 3rd Infantry Division's "Thunder Run" into downtown Baghdad. Two soldiers standing in the back of the armored personnel carrier with me were shot almost simultaneously and seriously wounded; one in the head, the other in the back and arm. Both survived, but they will never be the same. Neither will I. I wonder every day why they were hit and not me. It is classic survivor's guilt.

My wife carries those memories as well. We try not to dwell on them, but they are always there, lingering uncomfortably close. But it is far different going to war than it is to send a family member. It is tougher emotionally to stay behind and suffer the fear and uncertainty.
Those feelings are not uncommon, say other moms who have sent their sons off to Iraq, some of whom recently watched them go for a second time.

"If I could, I'd close my eyes and open them in a year and a half," said Mary Ward of Durham, N.C. Her son, Spec. Sean Ward, is leaving for a second tour in Iraq with the 3rd Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade. "It's the first thing I think about in the morning and it's the last thing I pray about at night," said Brenda Larimer of Easton, Pa. Her son, Sgt. Matt Larimer, also is going back a second time. Matt, a tank driver, was due to get out of the Army this month. But the Army implemented a stop-loss order to keep thousands of soldiers in uniform after the active-duty portion of their enlistments expired.

Josh, a cavalry scout, was caught up in that as well. He was scheduled to get off active duty in March. Now, he has been "stop-lossed," as it is sometimes called, until April 30, 2006. Sean Ward, an infantry soldier, was due to get out in August but now will be retained at least until March 2006.

Watching her son leave this time is different from before, said Mary Ward, who wrote a book, "Letters Home," about her family's life and feelings before and during the war. "It's different because we're already there, and we know what to expect. But it doesn't make it any easier," she said.

For Janet Fandel of Washington, N.J., seeing her son, Spec. Neil Titus, a mechanic, go back with the 2nd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division, has awakened feelings she has not had for some time. "I got that very familiar knot in my stomach that I got the first time," she said. "I think it's tougher this time because there's more violence now."

For my wife, the feeling is a constant ache in her heart. "As a mom your whole purpose in life is to protect your children from danger and keep them safe," she said. "It's hard seeing them go off knowing you can't do anything to protect them."

As parents of soldiers in the service of their country, we are proud they are doing jobs so few others are willing to take on. But we also find it disconcerting that a disproportionately larger share of the burden for America's security is being borne by an increasingly smaller percentage of its citizens.

During World War II, when the nation was fighting wars on two fronts, about 12 percent of the population served under arms. Since Sept. 11, 2001, less than 1 percent has done so. What is also troubling to us as parents is the lack of information and communication from the units to which our sons and daughters commit their lives.

Each unit has a family readiness group, or FRG, that is designed to provide assistance and information to family members. But they should more correctly be called spouse readiness groups because they are largely tailored for and run by spouses of soldiers who live near the base from which they deploy. "The parents of single soldiers are out of the loop," Brenda Larimer said.

My wife sent an e-mail to the leader of Josh's FRG more than three months ago. We are still waiting for a reply. Mary Ward and Janet Fandel expressed the same frustration with the FRGs. So, the moms communicate with one another through telephone calls, e-mails and a Web site for military mothers, proudarmymoms.org. It is their way of keeping in touch, of staying in the loop and of having others near at hand who understand what they are going through.

As for Josh, he is eager to get there and get it done, if for no other reason than his living conditions in Iraq will be an improvement over the hovel that the Army considers adequate housing for single soldiers. "Catch you on the flip side," he said jauntily as he backed his battered pickup truck out of the driveway on his way back to Fort Benning and his date with Iraq.

We have tied yellow ribbons on the door, the mailbox and the tree out front. There is a blue star banner in the window to indicate our house has a son serving in uniform. And we lit a candle in the highest window in the house to guide him home.

Now, for the next year, we will hold our breath.


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Fort Stewart troops depart for second combat tour
Associated Press

SAVANNAH, Ga. - Sixteen months after he came home from war, Army Spc. Steven Tucker hugged his parents goodbye at Fort Stewart - answering their anxious tears with reassurance before boarding a plane to Kuwait for the second time.
"I can't put them through this again, just seeing the look in their eyes and the doubts that I might not come back," Tucker, 23, of Ohatchee, Ala., said Saturday evening before embarking on his second combat tour in Iraq. "I comforted them as best I can, saying, `I'll be back.'"

The Fort Stewart-based 3rd Infantry Division, which helped lead the charge to Baghdad, is the first Army division tapped to return to Iraq since the March 2003 invasion.
The division's 19,000 soldiers began deploying in droves this week, with roughly 1,000 departing Saturday from Savannah's Hunter Army Airfield in desert fatigues with rucksacks and rifles slung over their shoulders.

Col. Mark McKnight, commander of the division's 1st Brigade Combat Team, said more than 40 percent of his soldiers are veterans of the 2003 ground war - in which 3rd Infantry troops saw 21 straight days of combat and suffered 42 casualties. McKnight said that experience should give the troops an edge during this deployment, expected to last at least a year.
"You've got great experience in leadership positions, which helps soothe the anxieties of the younger soldiers who may not have served in combat before," McKnight said.

Pfc. Nick Ramsey, 21, is among the newer recruits. He dropped out of Indiana University during his junior year to join the Army in October 2003. He's deploying for the first time as a medic in the 3rd Infantry's 3rd Forward Support Battalion.
"I thought I'd make more of a difference being a medic in the Army than a nurse in a hospital," said Ramsey of Louisville, Ky. Ramsey admitted he's "a bit scared and a little nervous." But he said he's also excited to serve in Iraq as the country takes its first steps toward democracy with elections scheduled Jan. 30. "This is the most crucial part of the war," Ramsey said. "If we can go over and make the transition, it's going to go down in history."

All of the 3rd Infantry's four combat brigades are scheduled to deploy by February. This division's 1st and 3rd Brigades will serve under the command of the 42nd Infantry Division of the New York National Guard.

The 3rd Brigade, based at Fort Benning near Columbus, also began deployments this week.

GIs Savor Holidays Before Heading to Iraq
Fri Dec 24, 3:39 PM ET U.S. National - AP
By RUSS BYNUM, Associated Press Writer

FORT STEWART, Ga. - For the 19,000 soldiers of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, whose tanks and armored Bradley vehicles led the assault on Baghdad, Iraq (news - web sites), last year, being home for the holidays is a bittersweet prelude to a busy new year.

In January, the Fort Stewart-based troops will begin returning to Iraq for their second tour of duty. The 3rd Infantry will be the first Army division to go back since the March 2003 invasion.

"When the information finally came that we were going to deploy after Christmas, there was definitely a sigh of relief," said Staff Sgt. David Smith-Barry, who will be among the first wave to leave. "It's definitely been a positive, good for morale."

While waiting to return to Iraq with his military intelligence unit, Smith-Barry conducted a secret mission to make the most of Christmas.

Visiting his wife in The Woodlands, Texas, during two weeks of December leave, Smith-Barry would take her to work every morning and then go shopping — for tiles and cabinets, brick and paint colors, a lot and a builder.

"I bought her a house," said Smith-Barry, grinning at the thought of his gift for his wife, Amanda. "She doesn't know anything about it."

The unit's assignment comes as no surprise to the 3rd Infantry troops at Fort Stewart and Fort Benning. The soldiers began training for a second tour almost as soon as they returned home in late summer 2003. The Pentagon (news - web sites) officially announced their return trip last March.

Now, 15 months after the troops' homecoming, yellow ribbons again hang along with Christmas lights on utility poles in neighboring Hinesville. In early December, soldiers began loading their tanks, helicopters and other war machines onto Navy freighters bound for the Middle East.

"I believe the majority will be gone 12-14 months," 3rd Infantry commander Maj. Gen. William G. Webster said earlier this month. While much of the 3rd Infantry will not be in place for the Jan. 30 elections in Iraq, Webster said his troops will play a key role in providing security for follow-up elections in the spring and summer.

A number of Fort Stewart soldiers who had planned to leave the Army after their first combat tour remain in the ranks, their enlistments extended as part of the Army's "stop-loss" program.

"I was hoping I'd be moving on," said Spc. Desmond Lackey, 21, a machine-gunner who was slated to leave the Army in March 2005 but learned last month that his enlistment has been extended until April 2006. "Personally, I'd like to get out and go back to college."

Lackey had time to spend Christmas with family in Jay, Okla. He said he particularly looked forward to seeing his grandmother, who had heart surgery this year.

"The bad thing about being in the military is you always have to have that `what if' thought: What if he didn't come home?" said his wife, Victoria. "So I wanted to make sure his grandmother and mother got to see him and tell him they love him."

During the past year, 3rd Infantry troops have trained for a vastly different type of conflict from the war they fought last year. More than 1,300 U.S. troops have died in Iraq, with more than 1,100 killed since President Bush (news - web sites) declared an end to major combat operations in May 2003.

The soldiers who are going back have been honing their urban warfare, riot-control and hand-to-hand combat skills.

"I think it's more dangerous this time, because they know us better," Sgt. Mark Matekovic, a Bradley gunner, said of the Iraqi insurgents. "Now they're not wearing uniforms. It makes it a little trickier."

Matekovic spent the week before his holiday leave tuning up his tracked vehicle, making sure its armor and weapons were in working order. Then he was leaving for Kansas to spend Christmas with his 4-year-old son, Anthony.

"It's my first Christmas with him — I already missed three," said Matekovic, who spent the 2002 holidays in Kuwait during the buildup to war. "I have to try to be a part of his life."

Hero Recognition Day?
By  John B. Dwyer is a military historian, February 15th, 2005

The 24/7 news cycle destroys and distorts context and perspective; it befogs the memory. Think 9/11, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom

On February 2, 2005 several articles appeared announcing the fact that Sergeant First Class Paul R. Smith of Tampa, Florida would become the first Medal of Honor recipient among Soldiers participating in the Iraq war. The St. Petersburg Times reported that President Bush will present the posthumous award to Smith’s wife Birgit at a White House ceremony, possibly in March.

Staff Sgt. Smith earned the medal for actions above and beyond the call of duty while serving with the 11th Engineer Battalion, 3rd Infantry Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom. My guess is that most people who happened to read or hear about SFC Smith on February 2 have already forgotten about it. Which brings us to those other forgotten heroes.

They are the Soldiers, Sailors and Marines who have earned the next highest awards for heroism, Navy Cross and Silver Star. At last count there were about 150 of these brave individuals, some of whom, like SFC Smith, were given the medal posthumously.

One of the most important aspects of this war on terror is sustaining morale and will to persevere. Among other methods, an effective way to achieve this would be to publicize the relatively anonymous heroes in our midst, known only to families, friends and fellow unit personnel. Sure there are websites that name these men and other similar internet resources. But the Pentagon, for unknown reasons, makes no special effort to tell Americans about these heroes and thus sustain morale and national will.

Maybe they figure that folks who write articles complaining about this issue, which cite medal recipients and above-mentioned websites, are doing that work for them. And there are always hometown newspapers. And Google.

SFC Smith’s Medal of Honor dates back to 2003 and Operation Iraqi Freedom so maybe it is understandable that his name is not known. Smith’s 16-man unit had roadblock duty near Baghdad International Airport on April 4 when they were assigned a new mission: build a holding pen for Iraqi prisoners inside a walled courtyard. Soon after they began, the Americans began taking fire from100 Iraqi soldiers. The Bradley Fighting Vehicle that Smith radioed for arrived suppressed enemy fire for a while, then, inexplicably, left. Smith was then left with several options, one of which was to leave. But his commanding officer, LTC Thomas Smith (no relation) later said he believed SFC Smith “rejected that option because it would jeopardize about 100 GIs outside the courtyard, including aid station medics.” He also had several wounded men in his unit.

So Smith mounted a nearby abandoned armored personnel carrier and manned its .50 caliber machine gun, holding off the advancing enemy, blazing away through several cans of ammo fed to him by Private Michael Seaman as the rest of his unit withdrew to safety. As the firefight wound down, Smith was hit in the head and died before he could be evacuated. When his body was retrieved, a half dozen impact marks were found in his body armor.

Mere words, straightforward accounts, cannot relate the true nature, the resonant valor of such deeds. What is known, however, is that they are performed by American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who have served in Afghanistan and Iraq; who personify American character and values.

As noted above, SFC Smith earned his Medal of Honor in 2003 - probably too long ago in terms of 24/7 news cycle-impaired memories. Then, do the names Raymond Bittinger, Christopher Fernandez or Ralph Waters ring a bell? They all earned Silver Stars in 2004, as did many others.

So let me suggest that the particular day on which President Bush presents the posthumous Medal of Honor to SFC Smith’s widow be designated National Heroes Day in recognition of all the others who have served with notable courage, bravery and self-sacrifice in the global war on terror.

John B. Dwyer is a military historian.
Click Here for Original Article in the American Thinker
Previous Story on Florida Post Office named for Sgt. Paul R. Smith-Click Here

U.S. Army puts women in front lines in Iraq
By Bryan Bender The Boston Globe Thursday, January 27, 2005

WASHINGTON The U.S. Army for the first time is placing women in support units at the front lines of combat because of a shortage of skilled male soldiers available for duty in Iraq and is considering repealing the decade-old rule that prohibits women from being deployed alongside combat forces, according to Pentagon officials and military documents.
The army's 3rd Infantry Division has added scores of female soldiers to newly created "forward support companies" that provide maintenance, food service and other support services to infantry, armor, and Special Forces units that commonly engage in combat.
Army officials admit the changes will increasingly place women, who make up about 15 percent of the armed forces, in combat situations, but believe they are following federal law, which prohibits women soldiers from serving in units that engage in direct combat.
The army maintains that it has not changed the overall Pentagon policy regarding women in combat, which limits women to serving on surface ships and in attack aircraft. But internal army documents indicate the service is ignoring a 1994 regulation barring women from serving alongside units that conduct offensive operations.
The change made by the 3rd Infantry Division was prompted by a shortage of trained troops caused by the length of the Iraq war and has set off a quiet, but highly charged debate within the army over the role of women in the military.
Opponents to putting women in ground combat fear their presence on the front lines, even in a support role, will harm the cohesion and effectiveness of fighting units.
Others military specialists, however, contend that the U.S. experience in Iraq provides a powerful new argument for permitting women, who make up about 10 percent of the force there, to take on more combat roles because they have been shown to be as capable as men in handling the rigors of combat.
Women soldiers have found themselves in the line of fire more often in Iraq and Afghanistan than in any previous wars. Since the start of the Iraq war in March 2003, about 30 women have been killed, most of them in hostile action, according to official statistics. In one attack, Army Private Teresa Broadwell, 20, was awarded a Bronze Star for returning fire in Karbala in October.
A confidential army brief given to commanders last summer declared that there are "insufficient male soldiers with the needed skills‚ in the inventory to fill forward support companies." The paper, a copy of which was obtained by The Boston Globe, said that continuing to exclude women from support units that deploy jointly with combat troops would create "a long-term challenge," contending that the pool of male recruits may be "too small to sustain the force."

Women soldiers have found themselves in the line of fire more often in Iraq and Afghanistan than in any previous wars. Since the start of the Iraq war in March 2003, about 30 women have been killed, most of them in hostile action, according to official statistics. In one attack, Army Private Teresa Broadwell, 20, was awarded a Bronze Star for returning fire in Karbala in October.
A confidential army brief given to commanders last summer declared that there are "insufficient male soldiers with the needed skills‚ in the inventory to fill forward support companies." The paper, a copy of which was obtained by The Boston Globe, said that continuing to exclude women from support units that deploy jointly with combat troops would create "a long-term challenge," contending that the pool of male recruits may be "too small to sustain the force."

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Operation Support Our Troops:
Northlanders work to provide 'piece of home' to troops abroad
By: Kellie Houx, Assistant Editor January 20, 2005

Local Operation Support Our Troops coordinator Edie Prost
said sitting with the thank-you letters from soldiers in Iraq comforts her.

Edie Prost, Platte City, with two sons deployed to Iraq questioned what she could do while awaiting their return. When she discovered Operation Support Our Troops, a national movement to collect supplies and meet needs for soldiers abroad, Prost said she knew she found her calling. The group started as part of a parents group at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

"Operation Support Our Troops gives me an opportunity to give of myself and my resources to say thank you to the men and women serving in the current conflict," she said. "It is an opportunity to let them know they have not been forgotten and are loved by a grateful nation. All those who have contributed to our local effort, help us to demonstrate that our community cares and waits eagerly for their return to their families."

Prost said she knew her sons would give up many comforts to serve.
"The volunteers are eager to be helpful," she said. "We have an outlet, too."
Because the organization is connected to the military, Prost could not share the names of those being helped.  "We keep the names secure," she said. "We are always getting new names though as some soldiers return home and others are deployed."

Her son, Capt. Aric Prost with the 1st Battalion, 3rd Air Defense Artillery, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Ga., left Jan. 7. Her son Capt. Steve Prost, a chaplain with the 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery of the Army's 1st Cavalry Division in Fort Hood, Texas, is stationed in Baghdad. "We make sure what is going over is appropriate," she said.

Boxes line tables at the Platte City Community Center. On the first Thursday of each month, a group of volunteers gathers for a work day. United States Postal Service boxes are constructed and tubs are placed in front of the boxes. Prost said organization is key to insure soldiers get the right items. In early January, the group prepared the February boxes because Prost said the mail takes up to four weeks to reach the soldiers. Paper hearts and bags filled with candy and some Valentine's added to the boxes.

Boxes often include a personally written letter from an adult, a child's note or drawing, a phone card, a fly swatter, mouse or rat trap, reading or writing materials, a disposable camera, snacks, cookies, candy, toiletries, neck cooler and instructions, a plastic storage container, a drink mix container, drink mix, a funnel, light bulbs, sunscreen and lip balm.

Prost said banks and hair salons have donated Frisbees, balls and Beanie Babies.
"We try to put something fun into the boxes too," Prost said. "Other times, we send larger boxes with baseballs, softballs, soccer balls and such that units can use. Often they end up playing with the Iraqi children."

Diane Talley, Platte City, said her daughter's basement offers storage as volunteers collect donations from local churches, businesses and schools. Many groups have turned to making neck coolers. Others continue their work.

Bruce Mitchell, Kansas City-North, learned to sew in the Navy. He has made 303 neck coolers that work with water-absorbent crystals that when submerged in water, expand. As evaporation occurs, the water cools the body temperature.
"When I heard that a boy had collapsed with heat prostration over there, I knew we had to do something," he said. "If you can keep the carotid arteries cool, the body thinks it is tolerable."

Mitchell spent part of the January packing day filling 31 bags of candy. He and wife Reta Jo Mitchell, a Northland civic activist, also write letters. Bruce picks up 50 copies of Missouri Conservation every month to send.
"It is a little like being Santa Claus all year long," he said. "No matter what, our men and women want that touch of home." Prost said the group started last summer.

The local Veterans of Foreign Wars posts have helped. Shirley McClintock, District 3 president of the VFW Auxiliary said the auxiliary sold water at a booth during a couple Platte City summer events and sells magnets to help with postage.

"Donations to help with postage is one of our greatest needs," Prost said. "If we are mailing 12- to 15-pound boxes at $1.50 per pound and we are sending out 31 boxes, that can get expensive." McClintock's husband, George, who is with VFW Post 455, said the group also donates funeral detail money and Buddy Poppy funds for postage too.
"Then we just have general donations from our members," he said.

Ralph and Vada Lang, Kansas City-North, donate time because their son Steve serves as an Army warrant officer in Kuwait. Vada packaged panty liners and feminine pads together with a note saying that soldiers could line helmets with panty liners and use feminine pads as shoe cushions.  "It really surprises me what people use," she said. "I know the letters that are sent along to chaplains are distributed to those who get no mail. With a son there, I know I have to do whatever I can and get as many friends involved." Ralph went through checklists and distributed goods. "It's amazing to think about these simple things bringing happiness," he said.

Martha Cannon, Platte City, wrote letters.  "Shirley made an announcement at church and I have been here since October," she said. "I am doing a small part, but I also know that I am part of something larger with the national movement." Prost said she calls Camden Point Postmistress Barbara Hipps in advance before she brings 30 to 50 boxes monthly to the post office.  "We are going to be here as long as they are over there," she said.

Items needed: snacks (no pork allowed), beef jerky, packaged cookies, fragrance-free toiletries such as lip balm, crossword puzzle books and stationery, letters, international phone cards, disposable cameras, sanitizing wipes, lotions, antiperspirants, candy and gum, dry drink mixes, two-quart plastic drink containers, fly swatters and dust masks. To donate goods in Platte County: a drop box is at the Platte City Mid-Continent Public Library, 424 Main St., or City Hall. In Clay County, a box sits at the Antioch Mid-Continent Public Library and at Northland Neighborhoods.
©Sun-News of the Northland 2005

Family Remembers Fallen Soldier
By Amos Bridges
News-Leader staff

Marshfield, MO. February 26, 2005— Mid-day traffic halted Friday and drivers watched solemnly as the funeral procession carrying Spc. Justin B. Carter wound slowly along Missouri 38. More than 200 friends and family members attended services for the 21-year-old Mansfield soldier, and scores of cars joined the procession to Mount Pisgah Cemetery near Strafford.

Carter, who also went by Carter Misemer, died in an accident Feb. 16 at Forward Operating Base McKenzie, Iraq, just north of Baghdad. He was struck by an anti-armor weapon that discharged inside an armory. The unexpected loss was a shock for those who knew the gregarious young man, but the crowd gathered Friday seemed determined to remember him with smiles rather than tears.

"We're sad, and it hurts, but Justin was one of the happiest guys," said the Rev. Doug Isbill during the service at First Baptist Church in Marshfield. "He was a good time ... He had the tendency to make you feel like you should feel all the time."

Born in Wichita, Kan., to Bill Carter and Becky Carter Misemer, Justin Carter attended high school in Mansfield, where he lived with his mother and stepfather, Brett Misemer. He graduated in 2002, then enlisted in the Army later that year.

Carter's cousin, Rebecca Denney, also 21, remembered their years together in high school as she spoke at the service. Denney didn't share all the details of their teenage adventures — such as the Mansfield prom they never quite made it to — but as her father later said, details weren't necessary. "He was a little ornery, and everybody knew that," said Doug Denney, a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force. "He always loved to have fun ... and lived life to the fullest."

The life of the party wherever he went, Carter never ignored his family, Rebecca Denney said. At family gatherings, he made a point to talk to each person. "It was just the little things he did, to let you know that he cared." That loyalty and love was evident in Carter's final words in a Valentine's Day e-mail to his mother:
"Don't worry about me," the message said. "U know I will be Fine. Love you so much and I thank GOD every day for giving me the chance to be raised by the best mother on earth!"
To which Isbill added, as he read the note to those gathered by Carter's grave, "If he was here, I'm sure he'd add to that 'best dad, best family, and best friends...'"

After a final prayer, many in the crowd pulled out small bottles of soap and water and blew bubbles into the wind. Handed out earlier at the service, each bottle was accompanied by a note that read, in part: "A bubble is a simple thing, but gives much laughter and joy. Let us celebrate together, Justin's extraordinary life, by giving back some of that joy ..."

The family of Spc. Justin Carter gathers Friday at the Mount Pisgah Cemetery.
Carter, a 21-year-old soldier from Mansfield, died Feb. 16
in an armory accident at a base north of Baghdad, Iraq.
Bob Linder / News-Leader

Copyright © 2005, The Springfield News-Leader, a Gannett Company.

Cleaning Up the
Abu-Dashir Neighborhood
Iraq, March 12, 2005

Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment and 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division distributed soccer balls and other items to keep the children away from the work.


Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment and 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, teamed up with a local contractor to clean up the roads and repair a broken sewage pipe in Abu-Dashir March 9.

The broken pipe was reported by the Soldiers earlier in the week after it began to spread raw sewage to the village, causing significant health hazards for the neighborhood.

The local contractor specializes in water pipes and cleaned the drainage ditches on the road, temporarily cleaning the sewage until a long-term project to reinforce the sewage pipes can be completed.

News about the sewage work spread fast and within minutes, more than 60 children surrounded the work site. Soldiers distributed soccer balls and other items to keep the children away from the work.
Abu-Dashir is located in the Al Rasheed district of Iraq.
By 3rd Infantry Division PAO

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