Project Water Flow: Bringing Fresh Water to Iraqis

A Tribute to Military Mothers Serving in Iraq

Supply, Maintenance Taught to Iraqi Army Troops

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Volume I, Issue 13

“Telling the MND-Baghdad Story”

Monday, May 28, 2007

(U.S. Army photo)

Iraqi Army troops conduct a dismounted patrol through a southwestern Baghdad neighborhood May 6 as part of Operation Dragon Fire West. The clearing operation of the Rashid District of the Iraqi capital began May 2.

Iraqi, U.S. Security Forces Focused on Rashid District
By Master Sgt. Dave Larsen 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq –The addition of two brigades to Baghdad over the past several months has had a positive impact, according to the Multi-National Division – Baghdad commanding general. “It makes a huge difference, not only for our forces but for the Iraqi forces, as well,” said Maj. Gen. Joseph F. Fil Jr., commander of MND-B and the 1st Cavalry Division. “It gives us the ability to provide a combined presence across the city.” Clearing operations set the stage for a permanent presence by coalition and Iraqi security forces. “There were areas before where, essentially, we didn’t have troops to provide to them,” Fil said. “While we’re not in every single neighborhood and on every single street corner, we are in every single security district with enough force to make a difference.” Clearing operations in West Rashid began last week by Iraqi security forces and elements of the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division based out of Fort Lewis, Wash., and the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division from Fort Riley, Kan. The operation underway in the Rashid District has been dubbed Operation Dragon Fire West. It kicked off May 2, See

(Photo by Sgt. Mike Pryor, 2nd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. Public Affairs)

Army Chicks
Westminster, Mass., native, Sgt. Trevor Stacy, a paratrooper with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, plays with a chick he found in the backyard of a house he was searching while on patrol in east Baghdad's Sha'ab neighborhood May 12.

Rashid Page 3

Council Delivers Food to 200 Families
By Spc. Alexis Harrison 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs BAGDHAD – A little more than two years ago, the Qadisiya Neighborhood Advisory Council began working with troops from the 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment in hopes of making improvements to their neighborhood. After the artillery regiment from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division left, the counsel continued its efforts in rebuilding and improving the quality of life for its residents. Earlier this year, in March, the "Red Dragons" got the message they'd be assuming responsibility for that very same neighborhood they watched flourish a couple years ago. Although the commanders, troops and times had changed, the relationship between the Soldiers and community leaders has stood the test of time. Capt. Don Cherry, commander of Battery A, 3-82 FA noted that although his troops enjoy working with the locals and civic leaders, the neighborhood council has shown the ability to take care of business on its own. "They are on the forefront of what a [Neighborhood Advisory Council] should be," said Cherry, a native of Bolivar, See
(Photo by Spc. Alexis Harrison, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

Hungry Page 3

Eager residents of Baghdad’s Qadisiya neighborhood wait in line for a bag full of rice, flour, oil and other basic food items during a humanitarian mission organized by the Qadisiya Neighborhood Advisory Council May 8.

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Pegasus 6 Sends
Maj. Gen. Joseph F. Fil, Jr.
sacrifices that we continue to push for peace. Since mid-February, MND-B has been the tip of the spear for the new security plan for Baghdad, called Operation Fardh AlQanoon (“enforcing the law”). We have seen marked improvements in some areas of the Iraqi capital and hope to see continued progress toward eventual peace and prosperity in Iraq. In the greater Global War on Terrorism, Iraq is the centerpiece, just as Baghdad remains the lynch pin of the fight for freedom here. Our stand against extremists, against terrorism, here in the Iraqi capital is paramount to ending threats against our homeland, as well, and providing a stable and secure future for the free people’s of the world. We are meeting the enemy each day, though he often cowers away from direct confrontation. We are uncovering the safe houses, finding the weapons caches and capturing or killing those who would cause harm to innocent people attempting to move on with their lives. We are making a difference. You are making a difference. To you, the Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors and Marines serving within MND-B, I can only say on this day “Thank you.” You are an inspiration to a new generation of Americans. You are truly the standard bearers of freedom, understanding the full meaning of the words sacrifice, honor and commitment. All of us have given to this conflict, this fight in the name of freedom. It is the daily display of valor, provided by all of you, that keeps our resolve firm, our commitment clear and the prospects of peace alive in this land. Some gave all. For the fallen heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom, their friends, families and loved ones, a grateful nation mourns

May 28, 2007

Memorial Day – Reflections on the Fallen
We come from the home of the brave. Every day the members of Multi-National Division – Baghdad prove their valor against a violent foe determined to keep this country in chaos. Providing peace and self-determination for our Iraqi brothers and sisters is a noble calling; and every member of this command has answered the call to arms nobly. Today children will place small American flags at the grave sites of our fallen all across our country. Flags will be flown at half-mast at American homes and at our government and military facilities. On Memorial Day, America pauses, wipes a tear and prays for peace. Like no other American national holiday, Memorial Day touches our military family to its core. We have seen far too many memorials here in Iraq for our fallen; Soldiers who gave their lives for their country, their unit and their fellow Soldiers. We’ve all seen the Kevlar helmet, the weapon, the boots arranged just so, and the identification tags hanging down; all laid out with loving care to honor a Soldier who has given the last full measure of devotion to the nation. As a commander, I have seen far too many of these displays, and I carry each Soldier, each face, each life cut short in my heart each day. On Memorial Day, our nation sets aside time to remember. None of us can come to Iraq, face the horrors of war, the uncommon valor of the common Soldier, or the tragedy of their loss and not be changed by the experience. We live in a time of war, and it is through our
Commanding General: Maj. Gen. Joseph F. Fil, Jr. Public Affairs Officer: Lt. Col. Scott Bleichwehl Command Information Supervisor: Master Sgt. Dave Larsen Print NCOIC: Sgt. Michael Garrett Editor: Sgt. Nicole Kojetin Contributing Writers: Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim, Sgt. 1st Class Robert Timmons, Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Conner, Sgt. 1st Class Rick Emert, Sgt. Jon Cupp, Sgt. Mike Pryor, Sgt. Robert Yde, Sgt. Robert Strain, Spc. Alexis Harrison, Spc. Nathan Hoskins, Spc. Shea Butler, Spc. L.B. Edgar, Spc. Ryan Stroud, Spc. Jeffrey Ledesma, Spc. Alexis Harrison, Spc. Courtney Marulli, Pfc. William Hatton, Pfc. Benjamin Gable, Pfc. Ben Fox, Pfc. Nathaniel Smith
Contact Crossed Sabers at VOIP 2424093, or DSN 318-847-1855 or e-mail or
Crossed Sabers is an authorized publication for members of the U.S. Army. Contents of Crossed Sabers are not necessarily official views of, or endorsed by, the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, Department of the Army or the First Cavalry Division. All editorial content of Crossed Sabers is prepared, edited, provided and approved by the 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs Office and posted on the First Team website at

with you today. Memorial Day has taken on a new meaning for most of us in uniform. We will never look at it as a day off to barbecue again. Today, and every Memorial Day hereafter, we will remember the courage of our brothers and sisters in arms. How can we forget? The secret of Happiness is Freedom, and the secret of Freedom, Courage. - Thucydides, Ancient Greek Historian, Author (460 – 395 B.C.)

Senator Visits East Baghdad
U.S. Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma discusses issues and a laugh with Lt. Col. Carl Alex, commander of 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment during a visit to a east Baghdad marketplace May 14. Inhofe was in Iraq to visit U.S. troops and assess the progress of the surge.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. W. Wayne Marlow, 2nd IBCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Public Affairs Office)

May 28, 2007


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Brigade News Briefs
Retired Iraqi General Rescued
By Major Kirk Luedeke, 4th IBCT, 1st Inf. Div. Public Affairs Officer BAGHDAD – Iraqi Security Forces, acting on a tip from a resident, rescued a retired Iraqi Army general from kidnappers in a southwestern Baghdad neighborhood May 15. Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division, a Kurdish battalion, found the man, a retired Sunni brigadier general, who resides in the Rashid District, after his captures beat him and threatened to kill him. The retired Iraqi general, whose name is being withheld for security reasons, told his rescuers he was taking his car to a repair shop when armed men in masks blocked his passage. The assailants pulled him from his vehicle and took him to an abandoned house. Once there, they began to beat him with cables and tortured him for several hours. The individual claims to have heard his kidnappers discuss murdering him and disposing of his remains when, a short while later, shots rang out in the courtyard and the kidnappers fled the scene. Iraqi Army troops entered the house and took the man to the nearest clinic, where he was treated for contusions and lacerations. The kidnappers, who are suspected of being part of a Shia insurgent cell, escaped with the general’s car, money and cell phone, but he was grateful for his life. “For the rest of my life,” the general said while receiving medical treatment, “I will not forget what the Kurdish did for me.” The incident is under investigation.

(U.S. Army photos)

Iraqi children from a southwestern Baghdad neighborhood crowd in on Soldiers from Company B, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, to get a photo taken May 6. The Soldiers are taking part in Operation Dragon Fire West. The clearing operation kicked off May 2 in Baghdad’s Rashid District.

Iraqi & Coalition Forces Focused Southern Baghdad
From Page 1 and netted 22 detainees and 11 caches in the first four days of the operation. Besides the main effort in the Rashid District, there were 28 combined operations, at company level or higher, conducted in and around Baghdad from April 29 through May 6. In these combined ventures with Iraqi security forces, 47 caches were seized, an increase of 10 from the week prior. Among the weapons and ammunition taken off the streets were 113 mortar rounds, 35 rocket-propelled grenade rounds, 58 AK-47 assault rifles and more than 6,000 rounds of small arms ammunition Besides seizing weapons and ammunition, the security operations have netted 123 insurgent suspects. “Many of the suspects are picked up during targeted operations, thanks to tips from the local populace,” said Maj. Kirk Luedeke, spokesperson and public affairs officer for the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. “The key to continuing success is the permanent presence of security forces in Baghdad neighborhoods – both Iraqi and coalition, patrolling the city’s streets.” Iraqi security forces and Soldiers from the MND – B surpassed the quarter-million-mark for total security patrols in and around Baghdad since Operation Fardh Al-Qanoon began in the Iraqi capital in mid-February. More than 264,000 security patrols have been conducted thus far. Deliberate efforts to target bomb-making cells have been a priority for MND-B, with a focus on dismantling the networks which produce them. Several cell leaders have been recently detained, believed responsible for deadly explosively-formed projectile bomb attacks. The daily presence of security forces on Baghdad streets continues to show progress, Fil said. “I think we’re making good progress,” he said. “Are we as far as we want to be? I would always want to go farther and faster, but we’re on track.”

(Photo by Sgt. Nathan Miller, 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment)

Soldiers from Company A, 1st Battalion, 325th Air Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division discovered a cache of materials used to fabricate explosively-formed projectile improvised explosive devices in the Kadamiyah neighborhood in northwestern Baghdad May 15.

Coalition Forces Discover EFP Caches
BAGHDAD – Coalition Forces found two explosivelyformed projectile improvised explosive device cache sites in the Kadamiyah neighborhood in northwestern Baghdad May 15. Soldiers from Company A, 1st Battalion, 325th Air Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, found one cache site which had a completely assembled EFP, a Dragonov rifle with scope and a Kevlar helmet. While investigating the site, a tip from an Iraqi citizen led the Coalition Forces to a second cache site. At the second site, Soldiers discovered nine copper plates with tubes, a key component of the EFP, with rolls of wire, cells phones and other miscellaneous improvised explosive devicemaking materials. Also at the second location were 150 rocket-propelled grenade propellants, several homemade explosives, three antitank mines, two flash initiators, an anti-personnel mine, a submachine gun, rifle scope and a gas mask.

Soldiers from Company B, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, walk through the street in southwestern Baghdad May 6.

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May 28, 2007

(U.S. Army photo)

Maj. Joseph Johnson, the brigade surgeon with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, stabilizes an Iraqi boy as his mother watches at the Muleskinner Clinic at Camp Taji, Iraq, May 9.

Soldiers Help Heal 3-Year-Old Iraqi boy
By Spc. Jeffrey Ledesma 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs CAMP TAJI, Iraq – Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers provided healthcare to a badly burned Iraqi boy in northern Baghdad May 9. Elements of 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas, were conducting operations near the town of Muhammad al’Abbas when they were approached by a local woman requesting medical aid for her three-year-old son. Second-degree burns caused during an accident involving hot water two days prior covered the child’s face, head, shoulders, chest and arms. Although the medic on the scene attempted to help, due to the extent of the injuries, the child was evacuated to the Muleskinner Clinic ran by Company C, 115th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, where he was treated and stabilized. Maj. Joseph Johnson, a native of Miami, the brigade surgeon with 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, said when the child arrived he was in no immediate danger, but quickly started fluid resuscitation and pain medication to ease the boy’s suffering. After dressing the burns and stabilized the boy was transferred to the Coalition Military Assistance Training Team (CMATT) clinic. The CMATT clinic is manned by a 54-person Iraqi medical staff and two Iraqi physicians. Coalition forces provide assistance and mentoring to the Iraqi staff there. Soldiers with the Iraqi Army will later transfer the child to the Kadamiyah Hospital where he will continue his recovery.
(Photo by Spc. Alexis Harrison, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

A determined young boy from Baghdad’s Qadisiya neighborhood carries a bag full of groceries after a humanitarian food drop organized by the Neighborhood Advisory Council May 8.

Advisory Council Delivers Food to Families
From Page 1 Tenn. "These have been their projects that they've made happen. We just try to help any way we can." The differences can alarm you if you go into some of the neighborhoods of Qadisiya. Bushes are neatly trimmed. Markets bustle with the hum of trading and bartering. Scores of children come out of functioning schools to safely walk home. This, Cherry said, is all thanks to the tireless efforts the neighborhood council has put back into its community. The council organized a food drop for those in need of a little victual assistance May 8. What's more amazing than giving food out to more than 200 families is the fact that the council members hand-delivered the vouchers to families they knew could use the help. They handed out vouchers good for basic food items like sugar, flour, oil, rice and tea. Udai Jalal, the deputy chairman of the council, said that being a life-long resident of the neighborhood has helped him and his fellow council members in every way possible. He said that knowing families by name and having such good relations with them has made helping them and identifying problems so much more easy. This wasn't the first time a food drop had been organized and executed by the council. Just a few weeks ago they distributed food to more than 150 families. Cherry said that since they'd began working with the council members, short-term goals like small repairs and humanitarian efforts have all been achieved. Now, he said, is the time to start looking into long-term projects like standing up a health clinic for the residents and sustaining essential services like trash removal, water and electricity. "The battery is definitely motivated on this mission – getting to help and interact with people," Cherry said. "[The council] does appreciate the fact that we kind of stay in the background and let them create self-sustainment."

Honoring Our Fallen Heroes
Cpl. Matthew Alexander, Co. A, 5-20 IN, 3rd BCT, 2nd Inf. Div. 1st Lt. Andrew Bacevich, Troop D, 3-8 Cav, 3rd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Cpl. Jason Beadles, 887 Eng. Co., 20th Eng. Bn., 1169th Eng. Grp. Pfc. Kyle Bohrnsen, Co. C, 2-12 IN, 2nd BCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Spc. John Borbonus, Troop B, 1-40 Cav, 4th BCT, 25th Inf. Div. Spc. Brian Botello, Troop A, 3-61 Cav, 2nd BCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Cpl. Anthony Bradshaw, Co. A, 5-20 IN, 3rd BCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Staff Sgt. Jerry Burge, Co. E, 2-8 Cav, 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Sgt. William Bushnell, HHT, 2-12 Cav, 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Spc. Jay Cajimat, Co. A, 2-16 IN, 4th BCT, 1st Inf. Div. Spc. Ryan Dallam, HHC, 1-18 IN, 2nd BCT, 1st Inf. Div. Sgt. Mario DeLeon, Co. A, 1-18 IN, 2nd BCT, 1st Inf. Div. Spc. Robert Dixon, Troop A, 1-4 Cav, 4th BCT, 1st Inf. Div. Spc. John Flores, HHC, 1-18 IN, 2nd BCT, 1st Inf. Div. Spc. Michael Frank, HHC, 1-504th PIR, 2nd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. Spc. Walter Freeman Jr., HHC, 2-12 IN, 2nd BCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Spc. Daniel Fuentes, Co. D, 1-28 IN, 4th BCT, 1st Inf. Div. Sgt. Alexander Funcheon, Troop A, 3-61 Cav, 2nd BCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Pfc. Aaron Gautier, Co. D, 2-23 IN, 4th BCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Spc. Aaron Genevie, Troop B, 1-4 Cav, 4th BCT, 1st Inf. Div. Staff Sgt. Felix Gonzalez-Iraheta, HHC, 1-18 IN, 2nd BCT, 1st Inf. Div. Pfc. Larry Guyton, Troop B, 1-5 Cav, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Staff Sgt. Christopher Hamlin, Troop B, 1-5 Cav, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Pfc. Jonathan Hamm, Co. B, 2-23 IN, 4th BCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Sgt. Jason Harkins, Co. A, 5-20 IN, 3rd BCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Staff Sgt. Marlon Harper, HHC, 1-8 Cav, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Spc. Nicholas Hartge, Co. C, 1-26 IN, 2nd BCT, 1st Inf. Div. Pfc. Brian Holden, Battery A, 2-17 FA, 2nd BCT, 2nd Inf. Div. 1st Lt. Ryan Jones, Co. A, 4th BSTB, 4th BCT, 1st Inf. Div. Sgt. Adam Kennedy, HHC, 4th BCT, 25th Inf. Div. Staff Sgt. Chris Kiernan, Troop D, 1-5 Cav, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Pfc. Richard Langenbrunner, Co. C, 2-69 AR, 3rd BCT, 3rd Inf. Div. Sgt. Joel Lewis, Co. A, 5-20 IN, 3rd BCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Cpl. James Lindsey, Co. C, 3-509th PIR, 4th BCT, 25th Inf. Div. Pvt. (2) Damian Lopez Rodriguez, HHC, 1-18 IN, 2nd BCT, 1st Inf. Div. Staff Sgt. Jay Martin, Troop A, 3-61 Cav, 2nd BCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Staff Sgt. Virgil Martinez, Battery D, 1-7 FA, 2nd BCT, 1st Inf. Div. Spc. Jason Morales, Co. D, 1-28 IN, 4th BCT, 1st Inf. Div. 1st Lt. Phillip Neel, Troop E, 3-8 Cav, 3rd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. 1st Lt. Gwilym Newman, Troop D, 2-8 Cav, 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Cpl. Dan Nguyen, HHC, 1-12 Cav, 3rd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Spc. Christopher North, Troop A, 1-4 Cav, 4th BCT, 1st Inf. Div. Cpl. Wade Oglesby, Battery C, 1-37 FA, 3rd BCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Capt. Anthony Palermo, HHC, 1-18 IN, 2nd BCT, 1st Inf. Div. Spc. Jerome Potter, Troop A, 1-8 Cav, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Cpl. Michael Pursel, Co. A, 5-20 IN, 3rd BCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Cpl. Cody Putman,Troop B, 1-40 Cav, 4th BCT, 25th Inf. Div. Cpl. Michael Rojas, Battery C, 1-37 FA, 3rd BCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Staff Sgt. Vincenzo Romeo, Co. A, 5-20 IN, 3rd BCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Pfc. Anthony Sausto, Co. A, 1-38 IN, 4th BCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Sgt. Raymond Sevaaetasi, Co. F, 15th BSB, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Sgt. Todd Singleton, Troop A, 2-5 Cav, 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Pfc. Michael Slater, Co. A, 407th BSB, 2nd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. Pfc. Katie Soenksen, 410th MP, 92nd MP Bn., 89th MP Bde. Spc. Ismael Solorio, Battery A, 2-17 FA, 2nd BCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Cpl. Clifford Spohn III, Co. B, 3-509th PIR, 4th BCT, 25th Inf. Div. Pfc. Lucas Starcevich, Co. C, 1-18 IN, 2nd BCT, 1st Inf. Div. Spc. Astor Sunsin Pineda, Co. A, 4th BSTB, 4th BCT, 1st Inf. Div. Sgt. Norman Tollett, Co. C, 1-504th PIR, 2nd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. Sgt. Jason Vaughn, Co. A, 5-20 IN, 3rd BCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Pfc. Steven Walberg, HHT, 1-4 Cav, 4th BCT, 1st Inf. Div. Pfc. Brett Walton, Battery A, 2-17 FA, 2nd BCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Sgt. Andrew Weiss, Troop A, 1-5 Cav, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Staff Sgt. Jesse Williams, Co. B, 5-20 IN, 3rd BCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Sgt. Thomas Wright, 46th MP Co., 759th MP Bn., 89th MP Bde.

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(Photo by Sgt. Rachel Ahner, 982nd Combat Camera Company)

An Iraqi Army troop with 3rd Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division, gathers up munitions for clearing at a metal scrap yard in Mushada, Iraq May 12.

Iraqi Army Engineers Clear Old Munitions
By Spc. Jeffrey Ledesma 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs CAMP TAJI, Iraq – Iraqi troops with the Engineer Company of the 3rd Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division, led a mission to clear munitions from a scrap yard in Mushada, Iraq May 12. The Iraqi Army’s newest engineer company teamed up with their Coalition partners, Company E, 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, to remove ordnance from the scrap yard, where it was readily available to insurgents to use to fabricate improvised explosive devices. The Iraqi engineers were critical to the operations, because they provided the heavy equipment necessary to remove the munitions. “The removal of the ordnance from this scrap yard will reduce the number of IEDs the brigade will see in its area, increasing the security to the Iraqi Security Forces, Coalition Forces, and the Iraqi people living in the area”, said Capt. John Burrescia, commander of Company E, 2-8 Cavalry. “It is great to work with others from your profession on missions like this one,” added the Dickinson, Texas native. “The Iraqis were very professional in their duties.”

(Photo by Sgt. Rachel Ahner, 982nd Combat Camera Company)

A local contractor from Tarmiyah carries a glass pane for a window to load up for shipment at a warehouse in northern Baghdad May 2. The windows will be used in the construction of several small-town schools north of the Iraqi capital.

Soldiers, Iraqis Build Schools, Trust
By Spc. Jeffrey Ledesma 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs CAMP TAJI, Iraq – Despite recent insurgent attacks, Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers assisted in continuing the construction of several schools north of Baghdad May 2. Soldiers with 2nd “Stallion” Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, escorted local contractors who transported in boxes of tiles, doors, windows, bathroom fixtures, ceiling fans and other building supplies for use in the construction of several schools in two small towns north of the Iraqi capital, Tarmiyah and Musada. One school being constructed is the Huda Girls’ School in Tarmiyah which was targeted by Al-Qaeda extremists in the area twice in the past month using improvised explosive devices. In the most recent attempt by insurgents to cease further construction, Stallion Soldiers discovered five artillery shells, two large explosive-filled propane tanks and numerous projectiles emplaced in and around the all girls’ school. According to the executive officer of the battalion, Maj. Robert Rodriguez, from Santa Fe, N.M., MultiNational Division – Baghdad troops will continue to develop projects such as these, despite Al Qaeda’s attempts to stop them, to show the people of Iraq the Coalition’s commitment to a better Iraq and its people’s well-being. “It is ironic that on the same day terrorists were planning to blow up the school, the Soldiers of 2-8 Cav., along with local leaders, were making plans to deliver more school construction supplies,” Rodriguez said. “Together with the Iraqi people, the U.S. military makes Iraq a more secure, stable place one day at a time.” Rodriguez said his unit remains committed to making Iraq a better, safer place to live, despite the terrorists’ efforts to stop them. “You have Al Qaeda trying to influence even the opening of schools,” he said. “We won't be deterred in our task to help these people. I think it sends a powerful message to the world.”

Take care of your brothers in arms...

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May 28, 2007

Chaplain Puts Hope in Soldier’s Hearts
By Spc. Jeffrey Ledesma 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs CAMP TAJI, Iraq – Because of insurgents’ hatred and desire to cause harm and chaos in the Iraqi capital, when Soldiers roll outside of the wire there is an unspoken possibility that some of them might not come back in the same shape, or in the worse case scenario, come back at all. Chaplain (Capt.) Bruce Wagner, the battalion chaplain of the 115th Brigade Support Battalion, gives his ‘Muleskinner’ Soldiers hope and a sense of ease before they head out on missions beyond the walls that surround their base camp with a prayer. In the pre-dawn darkness only shattered by the dim lights of the vehicles set to convoy onto the dangerous routes of northern Baghdad, Soldiers huddle closely in full battle rattle. With 40 pounds of gear weighing down their shoulders, they bow their heads to the words of their chaplain before venturing into the unknown of a war zone. “I want to give them hope, and praying with them that gives them that hope,” said Wagner, a Cullman, Ala., native. “That gives them a secure feeling to be able to roll into some really bad situations.” But if Wagner is unable to see his troopers off because of other chaplain duties he makes sure someone else is – enter the chaplain’s assistant, Spc. Anthony Perez. For this young chaplain’s assistant, a native of Sioux City, Iowa, seeing off his comrades before deliver supplies and take care of those guys out there. “I remind them that the reason they roll in the safety they roll out in, is because of the units like 2-8 (Cavalry Regiment), 1-7 (Cavalry Regiment), 2-5 (Cavalry Regiment) and 1-37 (Field Artillery) are risking themselves to give us the security,” Wagner said. “We are rolling with the security and safety because there are Soldiers out there every day putting their lives on the line, and as we’ve already experienced, losing their lives as well.” So before his logistical convoys head out of the safe embrace of the base camp, Wagner reminds his Soldiers of those lives lost and their sacrifice at each convoy prayer. “Oftentimes, Soldiers in a combat zone are faced with the reality that they don’t have as much control over their own death, dying, destiny and future and have voiced their desire for that sense of security and peace prayer brings,” said Wagner. “Soldiers have laid their lives down for their country, whether we agree or disagree with the conflict here or why it came about, as Soldiers, the willingness to get out there knowing that people are shooting at you is inspirational.” Although sometimes getting up and working at odd hours of the day can be a bit tiring, Perez said he focuses on the fact that these Soldiers might possibly make the ultimate sacrifice. That’s puts things into proper perspective, he said. He can sacrifice a couple hours of sleep here and there.

(Photo by Spc. Jeffrey Ledesma, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs)

Soldiers with Company A, 115th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division out of Fort Hood, Texas, gather together around Chaplain (Capt.) Bruce Wagner, their battalion chaplain, for a prayer before they head outside the wire on the morning of May 8. they head out the wire is not just his job; it’s a responsibility he takes very personally. “I have a friend in 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, whose life was spared when an EFP (explosively-formed projectile) bounced on the ground before hitting his tank,” said Perez. “He gives praise to God for his life and the fact of reading Psalm 23 before heading out of the wire.” His friend received his purple heart in December. The 115th BSB has been fortunate to not have lost anyone to a combatrelated death, but they remain aware of the possibilities that lurk around corners and behind walls every time they roll out the gate. “I am very cognizant of the fact that when you go outside the wire it’s a dangerous place and they need to be spiritually ready to meet that potential lost of life,” said Wagner. “It still amazes me that even when there’s fear involved, a young man or young woman will put their lives at risk to

Talks Continue Teamwork
Col. Allaa Abid Alhasan Hanon Ali, the commander of Boob Al Sham Iraqi Police Station, and Bradenton, Fla., native Lt. Col. Kenneth Kamper, the commander of the 1st Battalion, 37th Field Artillery Regiment, talk during an Iraqi police conference at Camp Taji, Iraq, May 2. During the conference, several Iraqi police leaders were recognized for their distinguished service.

(Photo by Sgt. Raymond Kokel, 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

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Sgt. Booker Woods, a native of Memphis, Tenn., and a water treatment specialist from Company A, 115th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, out of Fort Hood, Texas, gets help from an Iraqi Soldier with the Logistics Battalion, 9th Iraqi Army Division in restarting a generator after Detroit native Pfc. Carlos Smith refuels the it during a humanitarian mission to repair a water pipe at the Karkh Water Treatment Plant in northern Baghdad May 2.

(Photos by Spc. Jeffrey Ledesma, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

Baltimore native Pfc. John Winkel assist Detroit native Pfc. Carlos Smith, both water treatment specialists with Company A, 115th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, in placing a filter onto a hose during a humanitarian mission to repair a water pipe at the Karkh Water Treatment Plant May 2.

Project “Water Flow” Returning Fresh Water to Iraqis
By Spc. Jeffrey Ledesma 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs CAMP TAJI, Iraq – Water, water, everywhere and not a drop to spare at a water treatment plant. That is what the Soldiers of Company A, 115th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, found when they arrived at an access water point for the Karkh Water Treatment Plant in Tarmiyah, Iraq. Although the Soldiers were successful in initiating repairs on a badly leaking pipe May 2, there is more work to do to stop the estimated 280,000 gallons of fresh water leaking daily. As the sun slowly started to show itself on the Iraqi capital’s horizon, Soldiers unloaded heavy generators and pumps, and numerous lengths of tubes and hoses at the water plant. Project Water Flow was underway. After determining how to set up their equipment to best execute the mission, the Soldiers learned it was going to be a very long day. They started pumping at the rate of approximately 800 gallons of water a minute, but the terrain and the security barriers at the site forced the water being drained off by the pumps back into the flooded facility. New Orleans native Sgt. Shawnna Saulsberry said the water started to form up right between a concrete wall and security barriers and then began to flow back onto the compound. After a few small adjustments of the hose, they continued to pump water out of the pump house for a couple of hours, which looked more like a deep sea holding tank for dolphins. Drain the area would require at least 12 hours of pumping. Sgt. Booker Woods of Memphis, Tenn., and a water treatment specialist from the unit, said with the water level halfway down the 12-foot-deep water-filled holding area, gravity started to make it more difficult to continue pumping water as fast as it was overflowing. “Frustrated with the fact that water was flowing into the building faster than it was being pumped out, the Iraqi Soldiers are going to be shutting the water off to expedite the repair mission more effectively,” said Lt. Col. Tyler Osenbaugh, the commander of the 115th BSB. “It will take about three days to get the water shut off and give plenty of time to provide information concerning the temporary shutoff to the surrounding area.” Once they shut the water off, they’ll be able to pump the water out more quickly and repair the leaky pipe by applying farmer’s clamps designed to slow leaks down and the sealant to prevent the leakage. A native of Toledo, Ohio, Osenbaugh said this is a bandaid solution until they are able to get engineers to complete the repair the proper way by splitting the pipes and replacing the seal which is causing the leak. Some Soldiers hope that humanitarian efforts like this one will make Iraq seem less of a war zone. “You’re kind of helping out people and they’re appreciating what we’re doing, said Detroit native Pfc. Carlos Smith, a 22-year-old with the unit. “Right now, we might not see the appreciation of the people, but when we do missions like this we get together with the Iraqi Army and everyone is working together. It doesn’t seem so much like war than it does peace keeping.” Every mission supports the Iraqi people one way or another, Smith explained. Whether he’s assisting in the repair of the water treatment plant or assisting in the ration distribution of Liquid Propane Gas (LPG), the main fuel used for cooking in this part of Iraq, it helps out the community. So everything he does is for the Iraqi population. “If I get shot today or blown up tomorrow, I am doing it for these people,” Smith added. Iraqi Chief Warrant Officer Naser with the Logistics Battalion, 9th Iraqi Army Division, said he hopes all the people will be happy with the progress made in the country and hopefully they will know that Iraqi and U.S. forces are working together to make life better. “Missions like this show that we actually do care about helping the people of Iraq get back on their feet,” said Woods. “(Although) it’s just a small part, it’s kind of a small part of a big puzzle and each little piece falls into its place to become this bigger puzzle. Though it might take a little while, the puzzle is working towards completion where Iraqis can take care of themselves. “ Woods said even after getting the pipe fixed, if he doesn’t get a handshake or a wave, he’ll be fine knowing he has done his job as a Soldier. Osenbaugh estimated about 280,000 gallons of water a day is leaking out of the Karkh Water Treatment Facility. When the pipes are repaired that water will then be given back to the people of the area, which is growing increasingly important as the temperatures continue to rise heading in the summer months.

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Black Jack

May 28, 2007

(Photos by Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

Spc. Christopher Petticrew, of Tampa, Fla., monitors the radio traffic during Charlie Rock’s clearing mission on Haifa Street in central Baghdad May 8. The street has been patrolled by several units from the 2nd “Black Jack” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division since the brigade arrived in Baghdad in November. Now, it is being patrolled by the men of Company C “Charlie Rock,” 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment.

‘Charlie Rock’ Given New Battle Space, New Mission
By Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs BAGHDAD – Due to the current security plan, the last few months has transformed Haifa Street into one of the safer Baghdad districts for Coalition Forces to patrol. It’s been patrolled by several units from the 2nd “Black Jack” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division since the brigade arrived in Baghdad in November. Now, it is being patrolled by the men of Company C “Charlie Rock,” 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division out of Fort Lewis, Wash. currently assigned to the Black Jack Brigade. Charlie Rock is a part of Task Force 1-14, 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, and the Haifa Street district has become their third area of operation during their 11-months in Iraq. Many of the Charlie Rock troops have mixed feelings about their new battle space. “The new battle space is bittersweet,” said Sgt. 1st Class Eric Evans, a platoon sergeant from Puyallup, Wash. “The rest of 5-20 is in Bacubah getting and …taking a beating while we are here.” While most of Charlie Rock Soldiers say they are happy that they have finally gotten into a safer area of operations, they are also a little saddened because they will take a break from the “action.” “I mean, we are not getting shot at or blown up. It’s safe here, but nothing happens either,” Evans admitted. Aside from wanting to go be with their brethren up north, Charlie Rock Soldiers such as Staff Sgt. Ernest Pablo, of Barrigada, Guam, said he likes the Haifa Street area better than the other places they’ve seen. “In the last place we had, it was hard to see the fruits of our labor; there was a lot of sectarian violence,” he said. “In this AO, the IP (Iraqi Police) and the IA (Iraqi Army) work well together.” That working relationship has allowed for Charlie Rock Soldiers to conduct their new set of missions with greater ease, such as a clearing operation through the high-rise apartment complexes in the area. The Soldiers went from floor-to-floor and door-todoor passing out survey sheets with questions about what types of essential services the residents had and didn’t have. “We’re passing out surveys to the residents about what type of essential services they need … such as working toilets, electricity …” said 1st Lt. Stephen Harnsberger, of Kingston, Tenn. Even as the violence has subsided in this once troubled central Baghdad neighborhood, many of the apartments are still empty. The Soldiers left the surveys on the doors. According to Staff Sgt. Stephen Rine, of Grand Rapids, Mich., the surveys would be passed up to their task force headquarters to start the essential service projects in the Black Jack Brigade’s larger on-going project with the Karkh District Advisory Council known as “The Haifa Street Project,” which addresses essentialservice issues.

Sgt. Travis Smith, of Tacoma, Wash., tells a resident how to fill out the survey during a clearing mission in Baghdad May 8.

May 28, 2007

Black Jack

Page 9

Military Transition Team Sends New Iraqi Troops Through ‘Lions Academy’
By Sgt. Robert Yde 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs BAGHDAD – As the Iraqi Army continues to try to increase its number of soldiers, many new troops can find themselves out conducting missions within just days of graduating from their three-week basic training program. Unlike an established army, which can sustain itself while waiting for new soldiers to undergo months of training, the Iraqi Army must integrate most of its new soldiers into the unit and combat operations almost immediately. This leaves little time for new recruits to undergo additional training with their units, and most skills and tasks have to be learned and refined with on-the-job training. To help a new group of Iraqi soldiers assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 5th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division prepare for their transition from trainee to a soldier working out in sector daily, members of the 3-5-6th IA’s Military Transition Team conducted some additional training on essential skills during what they called the “Lions Academy” May 13 and 14. “This is just to focus on those essential pieces that they’re going to need when they go out,” 1st Lt. Morton Ellison, a MiTT member and native of Fresno, Calif., explained of the idea behind the academy. Almost 300 brand new privates attended the two-day training, which focused on room clearing procedures during the first day and traffic control points on the second. “All these soldiers are right out of basic training, and we’re going to help them with clearing rooms, training on (tactical control points,) searching vehicles, searching people and just try to give them the confidence to go out there because they go straight from basic training out onto the battlefield,” said one of the trainers, Sgt. Anthony Rubio. Twenty rooms were set up, and the Iraqi soldiers were broken down into groups of about 15 and given their own room to train in. On hand in each room, was an Iraqi noncommissioned officer, who conducted the training and an American NCO to offer tips and advice. “This is just a way for us to come out and show them our experiences and teach them some tricks of the trade and teach them how we do things and get them on a higher level than they are right now,” Rubio of Laredo, Texas explained. Although the soldiers are fresh out of basic training and have no real-life experience, Rubio said they showed up to the Lions Academy well-trained and proficient, which benefits both the trainers and the trainees. “I think the job they’re doing there in basic training is obviously a good job,” he said. “They didn’t need too much work, and we can show them more advanced tips with-

(Photos by Sgt. Robert Yde, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

New Iraqi Army troops are led up stairs by Sgt. Kenneth Swartwood (left) and Staff Sgt. Jay Mayhle during ‘Lions Academy’ training May 13. The academy provided the recent Iraqi Army basic trainee graduates with some additional training. The training was conducted by Iraqi Army noncommissioned officers and members of the 3-5-6th IA’s MiTT, part of the 2nd BCT, 1st Cavalry Division. out having to deal with a lot of the basics. It helps us and it helps them and they’re doing real well.” Ellison agreed, saying that throughout the training, the new privates seemed very motivated and professional. “They’re all very well prepared to go out into sector,” Ellison explained. “So what we’ve seen so far is guys who already know what they’re doing and they’re able to just refine the techniques – room clearing in particular.” After conducting training on the basics of room clearing, the trainers added some various scenarios that the soldiers may face while out in sector, which is where they will find themselves in the coming days. “We also have advanced rooms that we’ve set up with more specific events such as weapon caches, injured civilians or civilians on the battlefield and insurgents, so they can react to them, as well,” explained Ellison. The additional training was very helpful according to one Iraqi private, who said he learned a lot and is excited about his is new career as a soldier. While this was the first time that the MiTT has conducted this type of formal additional training for brand new Iraqi soldiers, 1st Sgt. Joseph McFarlane of Traverse

Sgt. David Brown watches as new Iraqi Soldiers with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division practice entering a building at the ‘Lions Academy’ May 13. The academy was conducted by the 3-5-6 IA’s MiTT, part of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, and provided Iraqi soldiers fresh out of basic training with some additional training before they head out into sector with their new unit. City, Mich. said that it is something his team has wanted to do for awhile. McFarlane said hopes that they will be able to continue offering the Lions Academy to each ‘’new group of Iraqi troops who are assigned to the 3-5-6th IA.

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Black Jack

May 28, 2007

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

Maj. Chip Daniels (left), the team chief for the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion’s Infrastructure Coordination Element from Palmyra, Pa., and Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Seidel, talk about which buildings need to be worked on during an assessment of Baghdad’s Haifa Street April 4.

Plan in Motion to Restore Haifa Street
By Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs BAGHDAD – During a press conference with Iraqi media members, Col. Bryan Roberts addressed issues concerning the revitalization of the Haifa Street area in Baghdad’s Karkh District with a project called, simply, the “Haifa Street Project.” Once described by some as “hell on earth,” Roberts, the commander of the 1st Cavalry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, wanted to help change that image and restore the once-affluent and culturally-rich Baghdad district through a series of public works. “It’s an initiative, in cooperation with local leaders, to improve security, essential services and economic opportunities in Karkh,” he said. “This exciting project will provide a way ahead to the secure, stable and prosperous neighborhoods that Iraqis want and deserve.” The initiative sent the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion’s Infrastructure Coordination Element into action. Although they have already been working with the Karkh District Advisory Council and neighborhood leaders since the brigade’s arrival to Baghdad on essential service-type issues such as sewer, trash, and electricity, the ICE is now focusing on patching up the scars inflicted by fierce fighting there. “The goal of this project is to make Haifa Street a safer, cleaner and better place to live, work and enjoy in the center of Baghdad,” Roberts said. “The Haifa Street Project will be a visible sign of progress that all Iraqis can be proud of and other districts will emulate.’ According to Roberts, the project has three distinctive parts. Part one will be projects that demonstrate visible signs of change and a return to normalcy. “(It will clean up) buildings damaged by fighting, streets littered with destroyed cars, anti-Iraqi graffiti, closed parks and playgrounds aren’t part of a living city,” he said. Part two will concentrate on improving the essential services. “We have started assessments and working with local leaders to repair these systems,” Roberts said. “All residents of Karkh deserve a healthy, sanitary and safe environment, and we are dedicated to helping (to make) this happen when and where we can.” The third and final part of the operation deals with security operations. “Karkh is patrolled day and night,” Robert said. “Coalition and Iraqi forces have forged a strong partnership dedicated to fighting those who would kill innocent Iraqi men, women and children.” Iraqi Police commander, Col. Baha, whose department watches over Karkh, noted that since their constant presence in the area began, violent crime has nearly ceased in the area -- dropping from more than 50 murder cases in January to only a single case in March. As a direct result of the increased security, Baha said markets are rapidly reopening, children are going back to school and many of the families who fled out of fear have started coming back to their homes. Staff Sgt. Sean Clark, an ICE member and a Schenectady, N.Y., native, said he and his team have spent a lot of time walking the streets of Karkh in the past few months. He said seeing some of the architecture was like that of Bourbon Street in New Orleans. “It’s not bad,’” he commented on some of the historical buildings. According to 1st Lt. William Pendleton, of Anaheim, Calif., this project will be the first major expenditure on war damage. “Most of it focuses on neglect – 40 years of neglect – direct results of combat,” Pendleton said. “The scope [of this project] is huge. Working on the apartments will be the scope of the project.” Pendleton, who can view Haifa Street from their balcony on Forward Operating Base Prosperity in Baghdad’s center, said he remembers when he and his team watched as coalition gun ships lit up the Baghdad skies a few months ago to push out extremists. “It’s just amazing there now,” he said of the atmosphere of safety on Haifa Street today. “We were out there for three hours and not a single gunshot or explosion (was heard).” Most of the safety, in large part, is due to the partnership between the coalition forces and Iraqi Police – providing a constant presence within the Karkh District. There are currently 29 different renovation projects in various stages of planning and execution, valued at more than $6.3 million. “If you see this place now, think about what it will look like in six months,” said Maj. Chip Daniels, the chief of the ICE team Palmyra, Pa. “You all are a part of history,” he told his team after an assessment mission. “You should be proud to tell your families you are a part of this.”

May 28, 2007

Grey Wolf
the quietest places in Diyala. During the massive, nine-day assault dubbed “Turki Bowl II,” which concluded Jan. 13, about 100 insurgents were killed and 54 were detained for suspected involvement in terrorist activities in the area. The operation, led by the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, from Fort Bragg, N.C.,

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Balad Ruz Safer Four Months After Major Operation
By Sgt. Armando Monroig 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment BALAD RUZ, Iraq -- Four months after U.S. troops and their Iraqi Army counterparts launched a massive military operation in the villages Turki, Hamoud and 30 Tamuz, what was once an insurgent safe haven is now considered one of yielded weapons caches containing more than 1,100 Katyusha rockets, 1,500 rocket-propelled grenades, 500 mortars and a variety of materials used to make roadside bombs, called Improvised Explosive Devises. The area is now considered under control by Iraqi and Coalition Forces, which has established a joint patrol base in Turki to maintain a constant presence there. “It’s quiet. Four months before the operation, I saw the shooting of (local leaders), many IEDs, the road was dangerous,” said 1st Lt. Ali, a company commander in 3rd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division. “Now, it is safe. No terrorists are in this area, because the Iraqi Army and U.S. Army always patrol together.” Ali and his soldiers share the responsibility of running the patrol base with their U.S. counterparts, who confirm a decrease in the level of violence in the area. “Since we’ve been out here after Turki Bowl II, things have been pretty quiet,” said Sgt. Brandon Herron, from Troop B, 5-73 Cav. Regt. “With all the IA check points in the area, the incidences of IEDs have cut down dramatically. “We’ve pretty much rooted out all of the enemy in the area. They’ve either fled, been captured or are lying low. I think having the IA and our presence out here has made a huge difference in the security of this area,” Herron said. Despite the improved security in the Balad Ruz area, Staff Sgt. Donald McElroy said there’s still a possibility that his unit will find more insurgents while patrolling the canals and villages assaulted by coalition forces in January. “I believe that those who weren’t killed, detained, and were lucky enough to get out of here, still come back,” said McElroy, also from Troop B. “That’s why we continue to patrol, because you never know.” “Before Turki Bowl, (local residents) did not trust the coalition forces in the area,” said 2nd Lt. Jeremy Dionida, platoon leader for Recon Platoon, 5-73rd Cav. “Now with them telling us where the IEDs and (anti-tank) mines are, that’s a good indication that they put a lot of trust in us.”

(Photo by Sgt. Armando Monroig, 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Soldiers from the 5th Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, from Fort Bragg, N.C., and soldiers from the 5th Iraqi Army Division conduct a search of a village near Balad Ruz, Iraq, April 28.

Iraqi, U.S. Soldiers Look for Insurgents and Weapons Caches
Multi-National Division – North PAO BAQOUBA, Iraq – U.S. troops and Iraqi soldiers hunted for al-Qaida in Iraq operatives as they moved through the outskirts of Baqouba, Iraq, May 6. During the operation, members of 4th Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division, and Soldiers from Troop B, 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash., focused on the villages of Abu Karuum and Abu Fa’ad, where they believed persons with ties to the terrorist organization were located. Four men suspected of conducting terrorist activities were detained, while Coalition Forces discovered a weapons cache containing rocket-propelled grenades and mortar rounds. “Today’s mission was basically to go out to these outlying villages, talk to people, and make sure al-Qaida is not in that area controlling the population,” said 1st Lt. Andrew Kennedy, platoon leader for 2nd Platoon, Troop B. The mission, which was conducted three miles southeast of Baqouba, was the next step for the troop after their sweep of the Buhriz neighborhood last month with 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, where they encountered heavy resistance from both al-Qaida in Iraq operatives and local insurcooperation of those who live in the area. Soldiers from the Troop B refer to Buhriz as an example of how their presence can make a difference. “When we first got here, Buhriz was completely under al-Qaida control. Men weren’t allowed to smoke. No one was allowed to play soccer. Kids weren’t allowed to go to school,” said Kennedy. “Our first day, we were in a 12-hour firefight,” said Sgt. William Taylor, from Troop B. “It was pretty much a hot bed for (alQaida in Iraq).” Following the latest military operations there, life in Buhriz is better, said Taylor. “They opened up all the shops. The (Iraqi Security Forces) create their own checkpoints. (Local residents) help secure the neighborhoods,” he said. It’s a victory they hope to expand upon as Iraqi and U.S. forces continue to clear the area to ensure al-Qaida in Iraq does not regain a foothold in places like Buhriz, Abu Karuum and Abu Fa’ad, said Kennedy. “We’re real proud of what we’ve done. I feel that we’ve helped out the people a lot,” said Pfc. Robert Turner, also from Troop B. “Before, no one was out in the streets when we first came,” he said. “Nobody wanted to come out. Everybody was too scared. People are actually willing to stand up now. You don’t see that all the time.”

(Photo by Sgt. Armando Monroig, 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

A soldier from 4th Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division provides security during a patrol in Abu Karuum, a small farming community three miles southeast of Baqouba, Iraq, May 6. The operation was a joint effort by the Iraqi soldiers and U.S. Soldiers of Troop B, 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, from Fort Lewis, Wash., to locate weapons caches and clear the town of insurgents. gents. Coalition Forces suspected that terrorists in Buhriz had sought refuge in the outlying villages as clearing operations began there. “We searched every house in (Abu Karuum and Abu Fa’ad,) and made sure there were no (terrorists) in the villages,” Kennedy said. Coalition forces aim to keep it that way through their security efforts and with the

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May 28, 2007

(Photo by Cpl. John Androski, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment)

Another Day for Action
An Iraqi soldier from 2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, exits a Bradley Fighting Vehicle during a joint raid in the Ameriyah District of the Iraqi Capital with members of 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, which operates in Baghdad attached to the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. During this April 15 operation, the joint Iraqi and U.S. force uncovered two AK-47 assault rifles, one rocket-propelled grenade launcher and two RPG rockets. The Iraqi Army troops also detained eight insurgent suspects, disrupting insurgent activity in the Ameriyah District.

400 Patients Treated in Hurriyah
By Sgt. Juan Santiago 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment BAGHDAD – Members of the Iraqi Ministry of Health along with Soldiers from Multi-National Division Baghdad, conducted a joint medical operation on May 8, to provide needed medical attention to the people in the western neighborhood of Hurriyah. The Iraqi Ministry of Health spearheaded the operation with four physicians providing medical attention to patients. Coalition Forces also provided two Army surgeons, a physician’s assistant and nearly a dozen medics to help screen and process all of the patients. This is the second operation in two months that the Ministry of Health has worked side-by-side with the paratroopers of 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. In addition to providing immunization shots for the local children, the medical providers screened more than 400 patients, treating everything from minor bumps and bruises to severe illnesses and mental disabilities. The medical team also donated boxes of medical supplies to the Hurriyah Clinic #2 to augment the clinic’s pharmaceutical stock. As the patients left the clinic, children were handed toys, t-shirts, Iraqi flags, school supplies and personal hygiene items. Their parents were handed blankets, vitamins for their children, boxes of perishable goods and a brochure with information on how to contact Coalition Forces to provide tips on terrorist activity. Paratroopers from Company A, 1-325th AIR provided security for the duration of the operation; conducting crowd control, traffic control and over-watch security while members of Company E, 1-325th AIR provided transportation and helped establish support infrastructure. As the day came to an end, the residents showed their appreciation for the care they had been given, all thanking the Ministry of Health and Coalition Force healthcare providers.

(Photo by Sgt. Juan Santiago, 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment)

Staff Sgt. Larry Metcalf holds an Iraqi child while Pfc. Willie Green gives her an immunization during a medical assistance mission in Baghdad’s Hurriyah neighborhood May 8. The Soldiers are members of 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, which teamed up with Iraqi Ministry of Health physicians to treat more than 400 patients.

May 28, 2007


Page 13

Brigade News Briefs

(Photo by Command Sgt. Maj. David Martel, 2nd BCT, 1st Inf. Div.)

Col. J.B. Burton, commander of 2nd “Dagger” Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, presents Chesapeake, Va., native Lt. Col. Gregory D. Gadson with the Big Red One combat patch during a ceremony honoring the combat veterans of the 2nd “Proud Americans” Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment at Camp Liberty, Iraq April 20.

“Proud Americans” Earn Combat Patches
By 1st Lt. Charles Bloomfield 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment BAGHDAD – “Nearly 65 years ago, the first ‘Proud Americans’ earned their combat patch while participating in Operation Torch, America’s introduction into World War II’s European theater of operations,” Lt. Col. Gregory D. Gadson, commander of the Proud Americans of 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment during their combat patch ceremony April 20. “As history would record, the Proud Americans were thrust into battle in an infantry role as the attacking enemy forced the Proud Americans to destroy their guns. Again, our nation has asked the Proud Americans to serve as Infantrymen in ‘The Greatest Brigade Combat Team Ever Formed’ – the [2nd] Dagger Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division.” Soldiers who serve in a hostile area for at least 30 days are authorized to wear their unit’s patch on the right sleeve of the Army Combat Uniform. Gadson’s battalion is a traditional light artillery unit, now serving in an untraditional role. The ‘Proud Americans’ conduct mounted and dismounted patrols daily and have not fired artillery since their days at Ft Riley, Kan.

(Photos by 1st Lt. Matthew Neyland, 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment)

Soldiers from 1st Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, spread out HESCO barriers to block a hole in the outer wall at a school in the Baghdad neighborhood of Hateen. The Soldiers also coordinated to remove the rubble at the base of the wall.

School Wall Repaired in Hateen
By 1st Lt. Charles Bloomfield 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment BAGHDAD – Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldiers teamed up with Iraqi Army troops to repair a school in the Hateen neighborhood of the Iraqi capital May 3. While using a bulldozer to clean up piles of trash around the school, the Iraqi Army accidentally knocked down part of the outer wall around the school. Soldiers from Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, linked up with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, to deliver temporary barriers in order to block up the hole. The emplacements, called HESCO barriers, are collapsible wire mesh containers with a heavy duty plastic liner. Filled with sand or dirt, a 24-inch-thick HESCO barrier will stop rifle bullets and shell fragments. The Iraqi Army also brought in a team to clear the debris and rubble from the fallen wall. “We are very concerned for the safety of the children (because of the hole in the wall) and we are very grateful for the help,” the school master told 1st Lt. Matthew Neyland, a native of San Antonio. “It shows a lot of progress to see the Iraqi Army taking an active role in bettering the community,” said Neyland. Before Neyland departed, the school master mentioned that they also needed help to fix the windows of the school. The windows were blown out by an improvised explosive device detonation the week prior. Despite the work that remains, Neyland said repairing the hole in the wall is a great achievement and will help protect the teachers and the children from possible

Cache Found Near JSS Torch

A Soldier from Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, hits fists with a local schoolboy in front of a wall that was repaired by MultiNational Division – Baghdad Soldiers and Iraqi Army troops. harm. “The school master thanked me, repeatedly, and the children were very happy to see us,” Neyland said. “It’s great to see the kids interacting with the Soldiers.”

(Photo by 1st Lt. Charles Bloomfield, 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment)

Forty-six 57mm mortar rounds were found at a cache site by Iraqi security forces near Joint Security Station Torch are laid out for inventory May 9. Although they had detonation cord attached, the rounds lacked the timers that could make them into roadside bombs. Timers were found in another cache at the same location a week prior.

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May 28, 2007

(Photo by Spc. Karly Cooper, 15th SB, Public Affairs)

Taking a Break from the Iraqi Heat
Sgt. Zachary Weishett, a driver for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 15th Sustainment Brigade takes a moment to relax while he enjoys the coolness of the pool. The grand opening of the Taji pool took place on May 6 for Soldiers throughout the forward operating base.

Support Unit Keeps Wheels Turning in Baghdad
By Sgt. Amanda Solitario 210th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment CAMP STRIKER, Iraq— When servicemembers leave the base, they want the assurance that their vehicle is going to get them to their destination and not falter on the streets of Iraq. Not only will vehicle maintenance issues put the breaks on missions, but it also compromises the safety of troops out on the road, said Staff Sgt. Matthew Hendrix, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the maintenance team. Working hard to avoid these potential perils, the Soldiers of the 598th Maintenance Company, 68th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, keep wheels turning and missions rolling in the Baghdad area. “Our job here, as close as I can put it, is we are firefighters,” said Spc. Mark Hammack, a power generation repairer with the 598th Main. Co. “We put out fires on vehicles with maintenance issues.” The Maintenance Support Team, comprised of Soldiers from the active duty Fort Benning, Ga. Unit, provides direct support level maintenance to servicemembers in the Baghdad area. Hendrix, from Fort Myers, Fla., said support at this level involves complex vehicle repairs that individual units cannot take care of themselves. The MST certainly has their regular customers, but with all the convoys passing through Baghdad, they see new faces everyday, said Sgt. Derrick Inabinet, a shop foreman with the 598th from Casey, S.C. “Anybody that comes around, we help them out,” he said. Hendrix said the unit has even expanded their services to Iraqi soldiers and the Military Transition Teams that work with them, so long as the MST has the parts on hand. He said the MITT usually has very little maintenance support and are appreciative of the help. At times, the Soldiers in the 598th meet their customers working straight through the night. “We fight fires all day until the fires are out,” Hammack, from Borden, Ind., said. He said different jobs have a different precedence level, which dictates how quickly something must get done. Prioritizing is especially important when there are several vehicles in the yard and only a small team to tackle the workload. Hammock said there is never a shortage of work for the MST, and they have completed hundreds of jobs since their arrival. “In the three short months we’ve been here, I’ve worked on more equipment than I have in my whole career,” he said. The MST takes their mission very seriously, Hendrix said. The Soldiers are always ready to shift into high gear and get the job done. Ignoring the heat and fatigue, the mechanics keep turning the wrench, because they know someone is counting on them for that piece of equipment. “The way we try to put it in our heads is that if we can’t be out there fighting battles everyday, at least we are helping the guys who are,” Hammack said. “If we can’t keep them rolling the overall battle will never be won.” Hendrix said the sense of true accomplishment comes when a Soldier tells him and his team thank you for their work. “It is good to know that what we do here makes a difference and that it means something,” he said. With the recent three-month extension of some troops, the MST said they are not sure if it applies to them, but they will keep a positive attitude all the same. They have a job to do that affects the welfare of thousands of servicemembers, Hammack said. “We all joined the military for the same reasons, and we all know the mission is always changing,” he said.

(Photo by Sgt. Amanda Solitario, 210th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Spc. Jose Azcarate, a Soldier with the 598th Maintenance Company from Fort Benning, Ga., makes a few more adjustments before finishing maintenance on a HEMTT M984 Wrecker engine. halfway performing mini house calls. The unit has a sevenman team always on call and ready to fly directly to the aid of a servicemember with a vehicle in need of repair. Since their arrival in mid-February, the team has answered that call five times to various areas of the country, Inabinet said. Grabbing their toolboxes and hygiene kits, they jump into a chopper and go. The crew said they stay there until the mission is finished. “We get on a Blackhawk or a plane, fly out, and whatever the mission is, we get it completed,” Inabinet said. “It is a different experience. You really don’t know what to expect. All you know is that you have a mission to accomplish.” While some of the unit is away, back at the yard teams plug through all the jobs until the motor pool is empty. With unconventional hours, the Soldiers often find themselves

May 28, 2007


Page 15

Iraqi Army Receives M-16, M-4 Rifles
By Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Conner 15th SB Public Affairs CAMP TAJI, Iraq – At the start of May, Iraqi Army recruits at the Regional Training Center here began receiving new M-16 and M-4 rifles. The Iraqi government made the decision to crossover from standard AK-47 assault rifles to the American rifles as part of the reshaping of their military and security forces. Under the program, Coalition Military Assistance Training Teams issue enlisted IA troops the M-16A4, while officers receive the M-4. With 200 basic training recruits per rotation, CMATT officials estimate that 1600 IA soldiers will receive the new weapons by the end of May. According to Lt. Col. Walter Easter, Military Transition Team commander and senior advisor to the RTC, the exchange is as much a symbol of the new IA as it is an upgrade to the individual soldier’s capabilities. “The M-16 has long been considered the world’s best rifle,” Easter said. “There’s a high percentage of [Iraqi Army recruits] who can shoot more accurately than we expected just because of the better weapon system that they have.” The weapon exchange is just the first step in a five-day program of instruction for the Iraqis. However, new rifles are not handed out in a one-for-one swap. Coalition Forces assign each IA recruit a weapon using a high-tech, biometric issue system. Verified against a master list and having tuned in his old rifle, the IA soldier and his new M-16 continue on to one of ten biometric stations, where he is finger printed, undergoes a digital retinal scan and is photographed with the M16’s serial number. Officials then transfer the information to a database in Baghdad, to ensure accountability and to prevent the weapon from ending up in the wrong hands. “We are very excited about it,” said a 9th Iraqi Army Division second lieutenant, whose name is withheld to protect his identity. “We have been hearing about getting the new weapons for some time and finally they are here.” U.S. Department of Defense civilian contractors provide hands-on instruction modeled after the same training American troops receive. Familiar box drills, sight picture

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Conner, 15th SB, Public Affairs)

Iraqi Army recruits looks through the sights of their new M-16A4 during box drill training at the Taji RTC rifle range. The training helps recruits attain the proper sight picture through the unfamiliar rear sight aperture and front sight post of the M-16. One of the biggest challenges for IA soldiers to make is the adjustment between the sighting systems of the old AK-47 assault rifle and the American made M-16. training and live-fire weapon zeroing provide consistent and effective basic marksmanship skills. It does a number of things for the basic IA soldier, said George Conrad, an assistant team leader providing the primary marksmanship instruction. The better weapon system puts the IA forces in sync with coalition troops and it builds their confidence. Conrad said they have all seen change and new equipment at the higher echelons, but now, the soldier in the dirt has something new, something tangible, in his hands. “It’s a sign of hope that things are changing,” he said. “It’s something that needed to be done.” Easter said that training at the Taji RTC would continue at the company-size level, with program augmentation at Besimaya Range later this summer for IA battalions.

Unit Receives Streamer For First Deployment
By Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Conner 15th SB Public Affairs CAMP TAJI, Iraq – Maj. Gen. Joseph F. Fil Jr. Multi-National Division - Baghdad and 1st Cavalry Division commander, presented the Soldiers and leaders of the 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) with the Meritorious Unit Citation battle streamer in a May 10 ceremony held here. The recognition came as a result of the brigade’s 2004 to 2005 deployment to Iraq. During that time, and prior to Army force modularization, the 15th SB fell under the 1st Cavalry Division as the Division Support Command. As the support troopers, the unit set a series of firsts for the greater Baghdad area of operations. Establishing a support base on Camp Taji, “Wagonmaster” Soldiers provided a critical link between supply areas in Balad and combat units in Baghdad, Fil said. “[They] consolidated logistical services and for a full year provided perfect support to the “First Team’s” seven brigades,” he said. Col. Aundre Piggee, 15th SB commander, acknowledged that the successes and traditions of the old Division Support Command set the tempo for his unit’s continuing support and sustainment mission to the Multi-National Division Baghdad area. “Our Soldiers continue to set the standard for excellence and professionalism, providing outstanding logistics support to all 96,000 Soldiers that make up the coalition forces in Baghdad,” he said.

(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Conner, 15th SB, Public Affairs)

Col. Aundre Piggee (left), 15th Sustainment Brigade commander, along with Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Joseph (center), 15th SB command sergeant major, and Maj. Gen. Joseph F. Fil Jr., 1st Cavalry Division commander, attach a Meritorious Unit Citation battle streamer to the brigade’s colors during a May 10 ceremony on Camp Taji. Fil presented the award as a result of the 15th SB’s last deployment in 2004, when they were organized as 1st Cav. Div., Division Support Command.

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A Tribute to M
young Iraqi children and have somewhat of a motherly role while in the combat zone. “This is my first time I’ve been deployed and it’s only my second Mothers Day,” said Hartstein. The Rockville, Md. native, has a two year old daughter and a husband waiting patiently for her back home. There have been many firsts that she has had to miss since coming on deployment. As a way to keep in close connection with her loved ones, she attempts to do a video conference once a week. “On Mother’s Day we will talk through the computer as we normally do hopefully we can video conference. We try to video conference a few times a week if possible it keeps us close. I sing songs and we do the hand motions together,” she said. Using a web cam helps close the vast distance between the family and creates a sense of normalcy, in turn strengthening the mother child bond. Though she is missing out on some key parts of her daughter’s life, one thing rings true: motherhood lasts a lifetime and deployment is temporary. “There are several other moms here, we talk about our children often. Mother’s Day will be hard, but everyday away from your child is hard; especially birthdays and holidays. My daughter’s second birthday is in July and I am really sad about missing it,” said Hartstein. Mothers Day is also way to honor her mother and sister. Her mother often travels across the country to visit them in San Antonio, Texas, laden with age appropriate toys for hours in playful learning. “Everyday I get a letter and a photo of my two year old daughter from my mother- in-law, capturing her eating a new food, or putting on her shoes or something about her day,” she said. According to Hartstein, motherhood is the greatest gift. “My family is wonderful, the way they love Jacqueline; relishing her every word, activity and expression as I would, then tirelessly [relaying] details to me.”

There’s No Place Like Home
Spc. Karly Cooper 15th SB, Public Affairs CAMP TAJI, Iraq – Everyday spent in Iraq means one day closer to going home. While we have Soldiers who anticipate going home to their mothers, many females are waiting for the day that they can pick back up on being mom to their children. Maj. Bonnie Hartstein, brigade surgeon for the Headquarters and Headquarters company, 15th Brigade Troops Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) practices emergency medicine as well as pediatrics. This allows her to aid

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(Background pic

(Courtesy photo)

Maj. Bonnie Hartstein, brigade surgeon for HHC, 15th Brigade Troops Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, smiles between her daughter Jacqueline Shweiki (right) and Gal Shweiki while she finishes up her deployment.

A Mother’s Day Away: Deployed Moms Stay in Touch
By Staff Sgt. W. Wayne Marlow 2nd IBCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Public Affairs FORWARD OPERATING BASE LOYALTY, Iraq Spc. Latoya Roberts spent this Mother’s Day away from her 1-year-old son, but she’s doing everything she can to shorten the distance. “I have pictures of him everywhere and I talk to him on the webcam every weekend,” she said. “He gets so excited; he points at the camera and blows kisses.” Roberts, a human resources specialist from Anniston, Ala., who serves with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, had to leave 21-month-old X’Zavier in October. “It’s hard,” she concedes. “It’s terrible.” But the weekly webcam contact keeps her fresh in X’Zavier’s mind and gives her the impetus to drive on. Last Mother’s Day, she went out to dinner with her then 9-month-old son. This time, they were brought together by the webcam. It’s certainly not the same, but just seeing and hearing him will help, she said. Before deploying, she explained it as best she could to a 1-year-old. “I said, ‘I’m going to be gone, but I love you, and I wouldn’t leave if I didn’t have to,’” Roberts recalled. While she waits to be reunited with X’Zavier, Roberts is content with photos and memories. “I would pick him up from daycare and he would smile and run toward me,” she said. “It’s quite a feeling just knowing you have that person’s life in your hands and you’re responsible for them.” The hardest part of being away from her son is “just his smile and his laughing, and being able to see him grow up.” He seems to coping relatively well with his mother gone. “He’s still a happy-go-lucky kid,” Roberts said. X’Zavier is staying with his father in Georgia during the deployment, and Roberts said he has developed some hobbies. “He watches lots of cartoons or anything with real vivid colors,” she said. “And he likes to dance.” Like Roberts, Staff Sgt. Constance Woods clearly remembers her last Mother’s Day. She received handmade cards from her children and also enjoyed breakfast in bed. This year, she will have to settlhade for a telephone chat with Phillip Jr., 8, and Brianna, 5. But both Woods

(Photo by Staff Sgt. W. Wayne Marlow, 2nd IBCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Public Affairs)

Spc. Latoya Roberts watches her son via webcam during one of her weekly “visits” with her 1-yearold son, X’Zavier. She keeps her son’s picture, “her motivation,” near her desk in the personnel office at Forward Operating Base Loyalty as her motivation.

and her childr “It’ll be h said Woods, a HHC, 2nd IB them on the p are always in since the last As she p easier for her “I just to or seven mon leave at the e Her son, unit has been really get the they will be s “I call at she shoots he tell him to tel Brianna w as well as no work, is the t “And bo been gone,” W With Wo cles, watching “They’re the circumsta which is not n Woods s would be and While s Mother’s Day “I’ll mak Mother’s Day

Military Moms
By Sgt. Michael Garrett 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq – All over the United States children sleep safely in their beds. Their mothers tuck them in at night, maybe say a little prayer, and then it’s off to never-never land. Those children sleep safely because their mothers have made sure there are no monsters under the bed, or no boogie men in the closet. Another group of children sleep in their beds at night, halfway around the world in Iraq, protected, in part, by mothers who are not their own. Many mothers in the military are sacrificing time way from their own children this Mother’s Day to make a safer place in the world for other little ones. “In my shop alone, there are three mothers that are spending this special day away from our children and husbands,” said Sgt. 1st Class Suree Valenzuela, a senior logistician for the Division Special Troops Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division. But knowing that she is missing Mother’s Day to help the effort to bring peace to Iraqi children, makes the time spent away from her family worth it, she said. “I strongly believe that making this a peaceful country for all the children is worth it, because they deserve it more than anyone,” said Valenzuela, a native of Waco, Texas. “Most, if not all, of the children in Iraq do not know how it would feel to have a peaceful country, and be able to play outside with their parents, family and friends without living in danger.” Even though she believes strongly in what she is here to do, nothing can totally take away a mother’s feeling that she is missing a special part of her children’s lives. “Right now, it is baseball season, and just this past Saturday, Fabian, my oldest, pitched a no-hitter in the first game,” Valenzuela said. “And on the first pitch of the game, he hit an in-field home run. That is so exciting and I am so sorry that I missed it.” But, Fabian isn’t the only one racking up stats on the diamond that can make mom proud. “For Xavier, my youngest, he pitched his first game ever. He did so

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Mom Fights for Future of All Children
well and when he told me about the game on the phone, he was so excited,” Valenzuela recalled. “He said, ‘Mom, I struck five people out, threw six people out and caught a couple of pop-fly balls!’ I told him that he was awesome, and that I was so proud of him.” In addition to being able to talk on the phone, Valenzuela is able to stay in contact with her family through instant messengers and webcams. “I have internet in my room here in Iraq and every morning is my time,” she said. “I always look forward to chatting with them and seeing them through (the) webcam, it makes my day so much brighter.” The 15-year Army veteran said she wishes all deployed mothers could be able to talk to their children on Mother’s Day without interruption. When a face to face meeting isn’t possible, she said a video teleconference is the next best thing. “Since we cannot be able to actually visit in person, we could still be able to cherish laughter, smiling faces and stories that we could cherish for the rest of our lives, knowing where we are, and in the circumstances that we cannot just get on a plane and go home,” Valenzuela said. But the children in Iraq are not the only ones Valenzuela works for – there are two very good reasons living with her husband of nearly 13 years, Mario, back at Fort Hood. “My children come first in my life, and I would do anything in the world for them that I possibly could to make them happy,” she said. “With me over here fighting this Global War on Terrorism, if that is what it takes, for me to be away from them, so that they do not have to be faced with it, then I am glad that I am here.” Well into her second tour in Iraq, Valenzuela said this Mother’s Day reinforces the reasons she is a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. “All mothers, regardless of where they are from, should be able to spend precious time with their children without fear or danger,” she said. “The love between mother and children is unconditional and no one could ever take that away.” Hopefully, when Valenzuela has long been gone from this country, young children here will be able to sleep peacefully at night, knowing there are no more boogie men in the streets of Iraq.

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ren are making the best of it. hard to be away from them and not be there,” an automations noncommissioned officer for BCT. “But they seem OK when I talk with phone. They’re happy to hear from me and n a rush to tell me exactly what they’ve done time I talked to them.” prepared to deploy, Woods tried making it children by breaking the deployment in half. old them I had to go on a deployment for six nths because I knew I was coming back on end of March,” she said. Woods added, “kind of understands” that the n extended, although “my daughter doesn’t e idea yet.” But however long they’re apart, staying in touch. t least once a week,” Wood said. Also, when er daily Instant Message to her husband, “I ll them I love them and miss them.” will start school in the fall and missing this, ot being able to help Phillip with his hometoughest part of being away. th have grown about four inches since I’ve Wood said. oods away, her children stay busy riding bicyg movies, and playing sports. e as happy as two young kids can be (under ances),” she said. “They get quiet sometimes, normal for them.” said motherhood is “everything I thought it d more.” she’s sad to be away from her children on y, she’s keeping a positive attitude. ke it through it,” she said. “I’ll live to see next y.”

(Courtesy photo)

Sgt. 1st Class Suree Valenzuela, a senior logistician for the Division Special Troops Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division spends the last moments at Fort Hood with her sons, Fabian (right), age 12, and Xavier, age 9, before her deployment last October.

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May 28, 2007

(Photos by Spc. Nathan Hoskins, 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

Dayton, Tenn., native Pfc. William King and Glendale, Ariz., native Spc. Brian Lenhart, both UH-60 Black Hawk repairers and crew chiefs for Company D, 3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, stand on top of a Black Hawk helicopter while rigging the Unit Maintenance Aerial Recovery Kit to its main rotor hub in Camp Taji, Iraq. They practice hooking up the UMARK at least a week prior to an aircraft being airlifted to ensure they cover all aspects of the mission.

Hanging on By a String:

Air Cav Troops Ready Helicopter for Haul
By Spc. Nathan Hoskins 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs CAMP TAJI, Iraq – When a Soldier gets injured on the battlefield and needs immediate medical attention, the unit calls in a medical evacuation helicopter to quickly transport them to a medical facility. This is almost the exact same method used when one of 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division’s helicopters is damaged and needs special attention. When one of 3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment’s UH-60 Black Hawks was downed April 5, the repairs and parts needed were beyond what they had at Camp Taji. The aircraft needed to be transported to another forward operating base with the necessary equipment in order to be repaired, said New Orleans native Staff Sgt. Quang Nguyen, noncommissioned officer in charge of quality control for Company D, 3-227th. Instead of hauling the aircraft on the back of a trailer to get it to another FOB for repairs – and putting more Soldiers out on the streets – it was sling-loaded underneath a CH-47 Chinook helicopter, Nguyen said. When something is sling-loaded, it is hung by a system of ropes called the Unit Maintenance Aerial Recovery Kit, said Lynchburg, Va., native Chief Warrant Officer 2 Donald Chambers, the aviation maintenance technician for Co. D. “It’s the fastest and most expedient way that we can move our aircraft out of an area faster without waiting for ground transportation,” he said. Having that expensive aerial asset hanging hundreds of feet off the ground, it is imperative that Soldiers be detail-oriented when rigging the lines up, said Chambers. “(Paying attention to detail) is the difference between a successful airlift and a disastrous one,” he said. “If the load is off center or it sways too much for the CH-47 to handle, they do have authorization to cut the load.” That is why Co. D’s Soldiers go through a dry run before actually doing the real deal, said Nguyen. “We’ll normally start practicing a week before the actual

New Orleans native Staff Sgt. Quang Nguyen (right), noncommissioned officer in charge of quality control for Company D, 3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, gives a refresher course May 8 on how to join ropes together on the Unit Maintenance Aerial Recovery Kit. Dayton, Tenn., native Pfc. William King (left), a UH-60 Black Hawk crew chief for Co. D, and Glendale, Ariz., native Spc. Brian Lenhart, also a Black Hawk crew chief for Co. D, listen and watch the demonstration. mission just to get reacquainted with the equipment,” he said. Along with the dry run, before the aircraft can be lifted off the ground, all the rigging has to be checked by multiple people, including the air crew, to ensure a safe airlift, Nguyen added. With 13,000 to 14,000 pounds hanging at the end of that braided rope, these missions are nothing to be lax about, he said. Once the aircraft is airborne and on its way to its new home, the team who hooked it up feels a sense of achievement. “It’s a weird feeling,” Nguyen said. “It’s a feeling of accomplishment to see it hanging there.”

May 28, 2007


Page 19

(Photo by Master Sgt. Winston S. Churchill, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade)

Night Moves
Two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters prepare to load passengers May 3 at Camp Taji, Iraq. The Black Hawks from 3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, transport Soldiers 24 hours a day to the various forward operating bases in the Multi-National Division-Baghdad area of operation.

Titanium Bracelets a Daily Reminder of Aviation Heroes
By Spc. Nathan Hoskins 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs CAMP TAJI, Iraq – When most Soldiers receive recognition for acting gallantly in battle, many respond with “I was just doing my job.” Some don’t get that chance. While many gave their lives to help a country become stable, none should ever be forgotten. And that is the hope of the family and unit of Chief Warrant Officer 4 Keith Yoakum, one of four AH-64D Longbow Apache Helicopter pilots from the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, who have sacrificed everything for the safety of others. On Feb. 2, 2007, Yoakum and his co-pilot, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jason DeFrenn, both of Company A, 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, began taking fire from enemy on the ground. Their wingmen, in another aircraft, were getting hit as well. But instead of heading to safety, Yoakum and DeFrenn stayed in the fight to help protect their wingmen, said close friend, Van Buren, Ark., native Chief Warrant Officer 4 Chris Elkins, a fellow pilot and the production control officer for Company D, 1-227th Aviation. About a month after Yoakum perished in battle, his twin brother Kevin Yoakum, decided to memorialize him with a killed in action bracelet, said Yoakum’s commander, Thomasville, Ga., native Capt. Lee Robinson, commander of the Company A “Avengers,” 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment. “I had talked to Keith about the bracelets before he deployed; I gave him information to get one honoring his friend,” said Kevin, who resides in Enterprise, Ala. Keith’s friend, a fellow Apache pilot had been killed in action April 1, 2006. “I think we were both in agreement that the bracelet is a great way to honor the fallen.” Although Keith felt the bracelets were a relevant and significant way to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, those who knew him well felt he would have made fun of the idea of one being made for him, said Elkins. “His personal opinion would be that he didn’t deserve [to be memorialized], but he’s touched every one of us,” Elkins said. “It’s the least we can do for somebody that gave the time that he’s given to everyone of us.” Yoakum made a significant impact in every life he touched, said his usual co-pilot, Palisade, Col., native Chief tance of never forgetting the sacrifices made by Soldiers in combat, he said. “Our country wouldn’t be what it is if it wasn’t for people standing up and fighting for it,” Carbone said. “All of us, even me, owe everything we enjoy to guys like that.” “He didn’t have to come here. He had already been accepted to go fly for the Golden Knights [the Army’s parachute team] which is obviously a cherry assignment for anybody to do,” Robinson said. “But he turned it down. The reason he did was because he felt he was needed out here.” “Keith had told me that he needed to be there, that just having his Apache in the air over the guys on the ground made all the difference in the world,” his brother said. “Someone has to be there to watch over those kids. He thought that protecting the ground guys was worth the risk.” Even though Soldiers wear the bracelets with solemn pride and respect, it still is a daily reminder of friends lost, partners forever gone … mentors never to return, said Carbone. “Some of the fondest memories I have of my life are flying with [Keith] out here. It was a great experience,” said Carbone, choking back tears. “As far as the bracelets go, they look nice, but I hate looking at it. I wear it for [Yoakum and DeFrenn]. I wear it for them, because – even though it hurts to look at – it’s a reminder of their friendship.” Yoakum and Defrenn are heroes to those who knew them. Although they are gone, they will not be forgotten, Elkins said. “The issue of whether they’re heroes or not – they are absolutely heroes,” said Elkins. “[People] owe their freedom and the things they sometimes take for granted every day, to these two and those who passed before them. They were absolutely wonderful Americans.” “They lived extraordinary lives and the way that he died was no surprise, because that’s just the kind of people both of these guys were,” said Robinson. “You won’t find finer people anywhere in the country. It’s a shame that sometimes our country’s best have to give it all to keep going what we have going, but they were ready to make that sacrifice.” The Avengers continue to fly 24-hour operations throughout Baghdad, providing critical combat support to coalition forces.

(Photo by Spc. Nathan Hoskins, 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Chris Elkins (left), an AH64D Apache helicopter pilot and production control officer for Company D, 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, and native Capt. Lee Robinson, commander of Company A, 1-227th, wear titanium bracelets dedicated to pilots Chief Warrant Officer 4 Keith Yoakum and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jason DeFrenn who were both killed in battle Feb. 2. Warrant Officer 2 Brian Carbone, a pilot for the Avengers. “Keith was my mentor, my teacher and my really good friend,” Carbone said. “He was the hardest working man I ever saw, and his passion for the job and being a pilot and flying was contagious. It affected everyone around him.” Originally, Kevin made the bracelets for himself, his siblings, his parents and Keith’s family. But he then decided to send the design to Keith’s longtime friend Elkins. The company who made the bracelets, provided Keith’s wife and two daughter’s their bracelets for free, said Kevin. The bracelets, made of titanium, have the pilot’s names and the date they gave their lives, along with an Apache helicopter on one side of the names and the crossed sabers on the other, said Robinson. Once Elkins got the design, he spread the word throughout 1-227th and the 1st “Warrior” Air Cavalry Brigade and soon numerous orders were taken, Robinson said. Kevin wanted anyone who knew and loved Keith to have the opportunity to wear the bracelet. It signifies the impor-

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(between the Iraqi and American forces), and a difference in the way soldiers are treated,” Tallal said. “Because we served in a dictatorship, our soldiers were abused and treated poorly. We look at (American) technicians who work on the aircraft, and I was surprised to learn that many of them have college degrees.” Both Tallal, and the commander of the Iraqi Air Force, Brig. Gen. Sati, said that Iraqi forces have had to adapt to U.S. military procedures after years of training under British techniques. “We are learning the American ideology and adapt ourselves to their systems,” Sati said, through a translator. “Right now, we have two problems. First, we have found that we were in darkness for a long time. We were not able to participate in the evolving technology of the last 25 to 30 years. “The second problem is that we have followed the British military system from the late 1920s until the United States (military) came to Iraq” and the Air Force personnel had to learn U.S. airspace and communication procedures, he said. Although issues like these came to light during the day’s events, the day was really about the two nations’ troops spending some time getting to know each other – or getting to know each other better, in some cases. Dabney said he often shares items that he receives in care packages with his Iraqi counterparts and visits them every few weeks. “I just go over sometimes and talk to them and see if everything is OK, if there is anything I can do for them,” he said. “Sometimes, we just sit around and drink tea and chit chat.” Partnership events like this and continued training will eventually lead to the day when the Iraqi Air Force takes on the aviation mission in Iraq, Dabney said. “The ultimate goal is that they pick up the whole mission, and it’s rocking along pretty well,” he said. “Last time we were here, they had no aircraft. They had maybe five pilots here, a couple of mechanics – this was two and a half years ago. Now, they have 15-20 (UH-1) Hueys and some MI-17s. There has been huge progress just in the last six months.”

May 28, 2007

Aviators Show Partnership
By Sgt. 1st Class Rick Emert 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs CAMP TAJI, Iraq – Iraqi Air Force personnel and Soldiers and leaders of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, shared a day of partnership here with a static display of aircraft and a couple of social events May 5. The day began with a static display in which pilots and maintenance Soldiers from 1st ACB explained the capabilities of the aircraft in the brigade’s inventory: the AH-64D Apache, the UH-60 Black Hawk, the CH-47 Chinook and an unmanned aerial vehicle. The event also included a formal dinner followed by a casual smoker. Although there was no joint training, it was a day of bonding for the Iraqi and American troops and marked the first time the Iraqi aviators had visited the U.S. side of Camp Taji. “It was wonderful,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Victor Dabney, a native of Camden, S.C., and the standardization officer for 1st ACB. “I wish we could do more, spend more time together. It’s always better to get to know one another. We realize we have a lot in common in the things we like and dislike. You find a common ground and you build on that. You also find areas that may be sensitive and that you should stay away from.” Iraqi Air Force leaders said they valued the interaction with their American counterparts from the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade and the Coalition Air Force Transition Team, which conducts training missions with the Iraqi Air Force. “God bless the United States; they came to help us,” said Iraqi Air Force Lt. Col. Tallal through a translator. For security reasons, the Iraqi Air Force leaders are not fully identified. “The United States is the top country as far as technology goes. We are trying to learn this technology. We would love to be able to (train with the U.S. forces) every time we meet, and we are thankful for this partnership.” Tallal spoke of the cultural differences and a difference in liberties afforded to troops in the two countries’ militaries. “There are many cultural differences

(Photo by Spc. Nathan Hoskins, 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

Trained Eyes Scan Skies
(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Rick Emert, 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

Pilots from the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade explain the capabilities of an AH-64D Apache May 5 to members of the Iraqi Air Force.

Winter Haven, Fla., native Spc. Eric Wong, a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crew chief for Company A, 2nd “Lobos” Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, stays alert while flying on the outskirts of Baghdad, Iraq April 20. Wong must keep an eye out for enemy fire and other dangers to the aircraft so that the crew can complete the mission safely and successfully.

May28, 2007


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(Photo by Pfc. Nathaniel Smith, 4th IBCT, 1st Inf. Div. Public Affairs)

Kicking Off Soccer Season
Harker Height, Texas native Col. Ricky Gibbs, commander of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, gives an Iraqi girl a soccer ball in the Rashid District of southern Baghdad May 3 as part of Operation Dragon Fire.

‘Warrior’ Platoon Takes Fight to the Enemy
By Sgt. 1st Class Robert Timmons 4th IBCT, 1st Inf. Div. Public Affairs BAGHDAD – The Soldiers always try to detain the suspect if possible. But, when it is not possible or the insurgent displays hostile intent, they will shoot to kill. On the night of May 10, Soldiers from Fort Carson, Colo., caught three terrorists in the act of placing roadside bombs. The terrorists attempted to flee, but the troops engaged them, killing two. Everyday since January, the “Warriors” of 2nd Platoon, Company B, 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division, operating with the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, regularly patrol the streets of a small portion of southwestern Baghdad aiming to get improvised explosive device emplacers off the streets. “We have discovered 50 IEDs and killed or captured 15 insurgents who, there is no question in our minds, are bad guys,” said Staff Sgt. Travis Platt, the unit’s platoon sergeant. “We own our area of operation with no questions.” Platt said the 15 were discovered with detonation devices in their possession or were caught putting the roadside bombs into holes. Discovering the IEDs before they hurt anyone is a top priority to the platoon. “(It) makes me feel good, makes my men feel good to take these IEDs off the streets,” said the Southrider, N.J. native. “Because if we don’t find them, they going to either blow you up …or kill somebody or hurt somebody; or all (the insurgents) are going to do is take them out and put them someplace else and somebody else is going to get hurt. “Personally, it feels good for me and the men of the platoon.” To get the IEDs off the streets, Platt said his platoon’s techniques and tactics continually evolve in the face of IED threats. “Our team leaders come up to me with suggestions about how to do things,” said the 7-year veteran who has served in the Old Guard at Fort Myer, Va., in Korea and at Fort Carson, Colo. With the overall goal of getting all explosive devices off the street, it would be better to detain the suspect, he said. “If we can detain him, we can ask him where he got the trigger, got the command wire …” he said. Putting his troops on the street is the key to winning the battle against IEDs, he said. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “You (just have to) go out there.” As for leadership, Platt said you must lead from the front. “All the noncommissioned officers in my platoon lead from the front – its not something I have to enforce,” he said. Part of his platoon’s success comes partly from taking IEDs off the street and partly from their absolute willingness to push the fight to the enemy’s doorstep. “(When) we hear gunfire, we go to it,” he said emphatically. “We hear explosions and we head right to them to investigate. We have to be diligent to take the IEDs off the street.” Soldiers of the platoon are highly motivated and take pride in knowing they are making a difference in their small portion of the city. “All of 2nd Platoon, all the Soldiers enjoy doing this,” he said about hunting the enemy. “They are happy to take the fight to the enemy. They are proud to be here. I have not heard one single Soldier say, ‘I hate it in Iraq.’ They are proud to be Americans and be in the Army.”

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Strike Force

May 28, 2007

Zafaraniya District Youth Have a Place to Grow
By Spc. Courtney Marulli 2nd IBCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Public Affairs FORWARD OPERATING BASE LOYALTY, Iraq – After months of renovations and hard work, the youth center in the Zafaraniya neighborhood of Baghdad’s Karadah District opened its doors to the public May 2, giving Iraqi youth a safe place to call their own. This project encompassed months of planning and hard work and more than half a million dollars went into the renovations. The modern youth center is bright pink, a vibrant color reflecting the attitude of those operating it. The place will serve as a fun haven for children and young adults. It has come a long way from the run-down building it once was. “The local government is extremely excited about opening of the youth center,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jimmy E. Smith, the civil and military operations noncommissioned officer for 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. “They want to start over and train the youth at soccer, who may one day train at the Olympic level.” Smith, of Tucson, Ariz., said the center offers a variety of classes in drama, art and workshops for women where they can learn special skills such as sewing and computer use. Sports programs are also offered for soccer, boxing, weightlifting and martial arts, Smith added. The center has come a long way. Before the renovations, the building was falling apart, wires stuck out and soccer fields were flooded with sewage. No one used the center and more than a dozen interfor providing them with the budget to help get the center running again. The United States provided the equipment that had been looted during the war. Muhammad said the next step is to get the fields groomed for soccer and to build a swimming pool. He said he also wants to incorporate more activities for girls and young women, and to eventually create a marathon of Zafaraniya. “It’s very important for Baghdad,” he said. The entire renovation process went well, Smith said, as contractors and local agencies fixed things they saw that needed to be done. “There was a lot of interaction with the contractor and local agencies and they worked together to make it complete,” Smith said. He said the local Iraqis seemed pretty motivated to be out working on the youth center. The contractor the coalition forces used to complete the project had approximately 100 employees, with at least 80 percent of the work force coming from the local area, Jacobs said. It gave residents work while making improvements to their neighborhood. “It was a community effort,” Jacobs said. Smith said it was important to get the youth center open so they could provide the Iraqi youth with different choices, allowing them the opportunity to get away from situations where they may get involved violence. “We may have the next bodybuilding champion come out of that gym,” Smith said, “because they had a positive source for their energy.”

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Bronco Suzuki, 2nd IBCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Public Affairs Office)

A young Iraqi art student practices his skills in the newly-renovated youth center in the Zafaraniya neighborhood in eastern Baghdad May 2. nally displaced families had moved in. Those families tapped into the sewage and water lines, which flooded the soccer fields. Prior to 2003, the youth center was the second largest youth facility in Baghdad, said 1st Lt. Robyn M. Jacobs, the civil and military operations officer for 2-17th Field Artillery. Jacobs, a native of Colorado Springs, Colo., said the project was taken over from the previous unit. The renovation project was nominated by the neighborhood and district councils and brought to the attention of coalition forces as a priority. Dr. Muhammad, the Zafaraniya District Advisory Council chair, said this is the only youth center in the area. The district has 72 schools. Muhammad thanked the United States

East Baghdad Preschool Children Get Needed Check-ups
By Staff Sgt. W. Wayne Marlow 2nd IBCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Public Affairs FORWARD OPERATING BASE RUSTAMIYAH, Iraq — Soldiers with the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, enter a Baghdad preschool May 2, and at first glance, they frighten the youngsters. The helmets and full gear give the Soldiers an otherworldly look, an appearance multiplied by the dark eye protection. But then the glasses come off, followed by the helmets. They are replaced by coloring books and stuffed animals. Slowly, the frowns are replaced with smiles. When candy is passed around, the transformation is complete. Convinced the Soldiers are the good guys, the children cheerfully line up for the man with a thermometer and stethoscope. "We're doing a medical needs analysis," explained 2nd Lt. Ryan Wood of Salt Lake City, a medical services officer for 2-16th. "When we did a walk through Baghdad, we identified certain schools and clinics where we could come back and do a needs analysis." One of the reasons this preschool was chosen was the presence of special-needs children. Although U.S. personnel will do the analysis, any follow-ups will be done by Iraqis. "We're bringing IPs (Iraqi police) with us, and their medics," Wood said. "They are going to be taking the lead. We will help with the diagnosis, but our main role is to help them figure out what they can do to help their own people. here to make their lives better and to get them the supplies and skills to do their jobs." Wood said the Iraqis have limited resources when it comes to dealing with special-needs children, so part of the U.S. assistance will be to better acquaint them with tools to do the job. For instance, they will seek out Arabic language pamphlets or make sure they know what assets are available at Medical City. "We want to be able to streamline the process...and get information in their hands,” Wood said. First, though, it must be determined what the children’s medical needs are. “They do a really basic look at the kids to identify trends or problems so the administrators can let the parents know if anything is wrong," Wood said. Maj. Albert delaGarza, the 2-16 battalion surgeon from Los Angeles, oversaw the analysis. "There had been concerns expressed about a couple of kids," he said. "We came to see if coalition forces could offer assistance." He said one of the children was likely autistic, while another probably suffered some malnutrition. So, delaGarza advised the preschool directors about what course to follow, and he will try to get more information to them on how to deal with the issues. While the day will help make a difference in the children's lives, they weren't the only ones impacted. "For two hours, we can sit down with some kids and figure out what their needs are,” Wood said. "These are the missions that everyone loves to go on.”

(Photo by Staff Sgt. W. Wayne Marlow, 2nd IBCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Public Affairs)

Children at a Baghdad preschool take turns being given a medical check-up May 2. Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment and Iraqi police medics conducted a medical needs analysis to learn if any of the children had health issues. Right now, they're pretty limited in their medical assets. We want to offer them a venue to use their skills while under supervision." Getting out in the community can pay big dividends, according to Wood. "There are two things we hope to transmit to the people," he said. "Number one, IP medics are taking an interest in the well-being of everyday Iraqis. Number two, Americans are

May 28, 2007

Strike Force
Company B, 2nd Brigade Support Battalion, comes down to help the 1-9 IA MiTT teach maintenance. His most recent lesson has been teaching the Iraqis how to replace parts for a brake system that was destroyed, and how to fix a crushed oil pan. Antoine, of Loreauville, La., said he was apprehensive about teaching the Iraqis, at first, not knowing what to expect. But, he said, they have been eager students who ask important questions. With the aid of an interpreter, Antoine has answered those questions but has also been kept on his toes as he has learned things from the Iraqis as well as passing on knowledge to them. “It’s been smooth because a lot of them are eager to learn,” he said. Antoine said it’s important not to push the American way of doing things on them, but to show them a different way of doing things and allowing them to feel comfortable with the process. “They combine their way with the coalition forces way,” he said. How they do it isn’t the issue as Antoine is only concerned about them doing it the right way and in somewhat of an efficient manner. “Then the mission is complete,” he said. Antoine said he will take a humvee and purposefully create a few problems with it. Then he will bring the Iraqis in and see how long it takes them to find the problem. “It makes me feel good as it doesn’t take them long to find a problem,” he said. One valuable aspect of working side-by-side with the Iraqis, Antoine said, is that is has allowed him to see their way of thinking and how they would approach a problem and solve it. Since they are used to not having anything, Antoine said the Iraqi’s go to great lengths to fix maintenance issues without replacing parts. This has allowed Antoine to learn some tricks from them. Still, he’s shown them that with a proper system in place, they can order more parts and fix a vehicle more quickly. Capt. Shawn M. O’Brien, the maintenance advisor for the 1-9th IA Logistics Battalion MiTT, said Antoine has been a big help to the Iraqi Army as he let’s them do things their way but makes sure they are doing it correctly. O’Brien, of Orlando, Fla., said one of the challenges has been the officers and senior noncommissioned officers in the

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Supply, Maintenance Taught to Iraqi Army Troops
By Spc. Courtney Marulli 2nd BCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Public Affairs FORWARD OPERATING BASE RUSTAMIYAH, Iraq – Training Iraqi Army troops in warfare is important, but so is teaching them skills such as supply operations and maintenance to ensure they can keep their vehicles running and parts coming in. The 1st Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division’s Military Transition Team along with help from members of the 2nd Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, are teaching Iraqi Army troops to become self-sustaining in all areas of military training. Many members of the Iraqi Army have been in the military for more than two decades and are now learning a different way of doing things. The vehicles they drove before were Russian-made and they adopted their organization structure from the British. Coalition forces are now giving the Iraqi Army a new organizational structure and vehicles. The fresh knowledge mixed with what they have always done is becoming the Iraqi Army’s standard way of doing things. Maj. Mondrey O. McLaurin, the team chief of the 1-9th IA Logistics Battalion MiTT, said the pace at which he wants the Iraqis to learn at hasn’t been as fast as he’d like. Some of this is due to having to build relationships first. The Maxton/Laurinburg, N.C., native said Iraqis aren’t willing to learn from coalition forces until they have built a trusting relationship with them. Despite the slow start, McLaurin said he’s seen nothing but progress. “Right now, we’re doing a lot of establishing stuff so the next team can come in and focus on shop operations, versus establishing a motor pool,” he said. “They’ll still have to come in and establish relationships.” It will take a few rotations of other military transition teams before everything is fully functional, he said. Being hands-on when showing the Iraqis how to do things is very important because it’s the difference between taking an on-line course versus sitting in the class, McLaurin said. The focus has been on maintenance because it’s very hands-on and is the 1-9th IA’s biggest issue, McLaurin said. They know how to order parts, but they need to learn how to fix their equipment. McLaurin said his brigade has helped out a lot by providing subject matter experts. Staff Sgt. Theo K. Antoine, the shop foreman for Iraqi Army who are used to doing work based on relationships and not necessarily paperwork. “It’s been tough, but they’re coming along,” he said. The older Iraqi Army members have a base knowledge to work with, but are having to relearn most things, whereas, the new soldiers coming in are picking up everything very quickly, O’Brien said. “Hopefully we’ll set them up for success, so they can become a self-sustaining Army,” he said. O’Brien said his hope for the Iraqi Army members is that one day they’ll be appreciated the way American Soldiers are appreciated and be able to walk down the street or go home in uniform. “They are at risk everyday,” he said. Lt. Col. Edin, the maintenance company commander for the 1-9th IA, has been in the Iraqi Army for 24 years and has always had maintenance as his specialty. However, the humvee is something new to him as he is used to working on armored vehicles and tanks. Edin said learning from the coalition forces has been very successful as they have taught the Iraqi Army ways to make maintenance better and improve the overall ability of the force. Getting used to the new system is something he and others will just have to adapt to, Edin said. He said he’s been in the army a long time and you just have to get used to change. In the old Army, Edin explained, senior noncommissioned officers had to spend three years in a specialty school before they could earn their rank and become a subject matter expert, like a maintenance NCO. Since they have all of that prior knowledge, with a few adjustments he said they will be experts in the new system in no time. Chief Warrant Officer Badry, the maintenance supervisor for the 1-9th IA Logistics Battalion, has been in the army for 34 years and said it shouldn’t be a problem for him to pick up on the new techniques. Pvt. Saab, who has been in the Iraqi Army for two years, said he hasn’t had any problems learning the new techniques. Saab said this was his first class on the humvee and he likes the vehicle. He said he wants to become a vehicle electrician. “I got a little bit of expertise from civilian life and am looking forward to a class on it,” he said of learning to be an electrician. He hopes to incorporate what he learns in the Iraqi Army into a civilian career later. “If you love something; love to learn it,” he said, “you will learn real quick.”

(Photo by Spc. Courtney Marulli, 2nd BCT, 2nd Inf. Div. Public Affairs)

Staff Sgt. Theo K. Antoine, of Loreauville, La., shows an Iraqi Army soldier how to remove the oil pan from a humvee. Antoine, the shop foreman for Company B, 2nd Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, works with the 1st Brigade, 9th Iraqi Army Division’s Military Transition Team to help Iraqi Army members learn proper maintenance procedures.

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May 28, 2007

Spreading out the contents of a suitcase found in an insurgent’s home in the western Rashid District of Baghdad, Soldier’s with 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, evaluate military clothing and papers during Operation Arrowhead Strike 10 in support of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division’s Operation Dragon Fire West May 10.

(Photos by Sgt. Nicole Kojetin, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

Soldiers with Company C, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment search a palm grove in Baghdad’s West Rashid District May 10. The Soldiers spent the day searching for weapons caches and insurgents.

Too Hot for Mission?

Stryker Troops Keep Clearing West Rashid
By Sgt. Nicole Kojetin 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs BAGHDAD – “Ugh! It’s real hot. It’s like being in an oven,” said Spc. Erik Gonzalez from Sun Valley, Texas May 10 in a brief pause from guzzling water. He was tucked under a little tree taking advantage the small amount of shade, not caring that he was kneeling right next to a thorn bush. Gonzalez and his comrades from Company C, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division were on hour five of a clearing operation in Baghdad’s western Rashid District and were trying to take a break from the sun. “(You have to) drink a lot of water and put water on your body to keep yourself cool,” Gonzales said. “It doesn’t really work that well, though.” Their eyes were focused searching for any threats, but no one could deny the constant pressure of the 100-degree weather, especially since they are on the last day of Operation Arrowhead Strike 10 in support of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division’s Operation Dragon Fire West and were all pouring sweat. “Let’s go!” someone yells in the distance. Gonzales sighs and pours some more cool water down the collar of his body armor and moves out. “Did you go into a coma last night?” a Soldier asked in passing as he walked. “I know I did. I will tonight, too. It sucks out here.” All of them would rather be operating in the palm groves, where they started their day, as the trudge across the field with the sun on their backs. “It’s actually a lot cooler because you are walking in the shade all day,” said Capt. Isaac Torres, the commander of the Comanche Company. “It is just a lot of intensive searching because of how hot it is inside. Torres knows first-hand how bad it is. He is in the same boat. “The guys are physically and mentally done at 12 p.m. in these temperatures. After that, I tell them to take a lot of breaks and to take your time,” he said. “Towards the end of the day yesterday, we had contact and were maneuvering on someone and almost had two guys fall into heat exhaustion.” The Soldier’s won’t stop until the mission is done, though, leaving no drawer unopened or leaf unturned. In the middle of the afternoon, an hour prior to the scheduled time to go home, they receive the word that there is a “bad guy” in the area and the current operation comes to a screeching halt. The Soldiers wait patiently in their “green ovens” for their moment to strike. When they get the word, the sun is forgotten and Soldiers sprint from house to house searching a four block area until they find the man they are looking for with some of his associates. Cheers echo of the desolate street as the sweat covered Soldiers learn they got their man. “We did really well. It was a combined effort,” said Torres. “We would have knocked off a few hours ago if it wasn’t for these guys,” said Col. Steve Townsend, the 3rd SBCT commander from Griffen, Ga., as he pointed at the flexcuffed insurgents. “I am very proud of my Soldiers today … they were so determined to not let this guy get away.” With a renewed sense of purpose and a new disregard of the heat, his Soldiers asked, “What’s next?” With a big smile, Torres replies, “We are going home.” And after 13 hours of searching, they headed back to Camp Liberty for a much-needed break.

Pfc. Francisco Mendoza, Company C, 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, scans a street in a southwest area of the Baghdad for insurgents during Operation Arrowhead Strike 10 in support the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division’s Operation Dragon Fire West May 10. with metal detectors and poles in the ground and having to clear little by little.” Lt. Col. Fred Johnson, the deputy commander of the brigade originally from Centralia Ill., asked Torres what he could do to help when he was checking on his Soldiers. “Keep pushing the purchases of the (air conditioning) for the vehicles. We currently only have four vehicles with A/C right now,” Torres said. The Soldiers jokingly call the Strykers the green “oven”

May 28, 2007


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(Photo by Sgt. Mike Pryor, 2nd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. Public Affairs)

A Day at the Market
Capt. Will Canda has a friendly debate with the owner of a tobacco shop in an open air market in the Sha'ab neighborhood of Baghdad May 7. Canda, a Westcliffe, Colo., native, commands Company B, 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

Airborne Sergeant’s Journey Leads Him from Africa to U.S. to Iraq
By Sgt. Mike Pryor 2nd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. Public Affairs BAGHDAD – When Sgt. Abdou Cham was a young boy growing up in the town of Banjul in the West African country of the Gambia, people thought he was a little strange. While the other boys were playing soccer, Cham could be found with his head buried in a book about military history. “I’ve always been fascinated with the military,” Cham said. “The idea of people sacrificing themselves for what they believe in, it always appealed to me.” Today, the little boy who read books about Soldiers has grown up to be one. Cham, 27, is a team leader with the 82nd Airborne Division on his third deployment to Iraq. His unit, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, arrived in January. They are based at Coalition Outpost Callahan in the eastern Baghdad Sha’ab neighborhood. Inside the COP, propped up on his bunk with a miniDVD player resting on his chest, Cham doesn’t seem any different than the other paratroopers in the room. But few had to travel as far as Cham did to accomplish the goal. Cham’s journey began in Banjul, where he said he had a happy childhood. His father was an accountant and his mother owned her own business. They weren’t rich, but comfortable. In school, Cham did well until he got to high school. That’s when he discovered girls, and, he said, “I dropped everything.” Still, his marks were good enough to earn an advancedlevel diploma. At that point, Cham decided to continue his education in America. In 1999, he moved to Gaithersburg, Md., where he had relatives, and began attending college. It was where he met his wife. They now have two young children. For the next several years, Cham went to school and managed a restaurant. With all the obligation of work, school ranks. He made sergeant in less than three years, and hopes to be promoted again before this deployment is over. Cham’s background gives him a unique perspective. He is one of relatively few Muslims in his unit. His home country, Gambia, is 80 percent Muslim and children generally begin learning the Koran when they are young, Cham said. He took Arabic lessons up until high school. Now that he’s in Iraq, he said, he wishes he had studied harder. Even though his Arabic is shaky, being a Muslim can still create a connection with the local people, Cham said. Sometimes, after the company raids a house in the middle of the night, he’s the only one who can calm the inhabitants. “I tell them, I’m a Muslim just like you,” he said. “No one is going to hurt you.” Once, in Mosul, an Iraqi policeman who Cham was patrolling with gave him a copy of the Koran, tucking it into his body armor for safekeeping. It’s still there, on its third deployment. Cham said he tries to correct the bad impressions some people have of his religion. Cham himself gets angry when he hears about insurgents killing innocent people in the name of Allah. “I sometimes get (mad) because these people give a very bad image to Muslims all over the world,” he said. “Real Muslims believe in peace.” But in most ways, Cham is no different than the other paratroopers. He laughs at the same jokes, shares the same hardships and sweats in the Baghdad heat the same as the rest. It’s that sense of brotherhood that Cham said he appreciates most about Army life. “You may not even like somebody, but if he goes down you would go through a hail of bullets to get him back,” he said. “That really amazes me.” Cham said being a Soldier has more than lived up to the expectations he had when he was a little boy, sitting in the shade in Banjul reading books about war.

(Photo by Sgt. Mike Pryor, 2nd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. Public Affairs)

Sgt. Abdou Cham, of Gaithersburg, Md., is a team leader with Company C, 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment. Here, he provides security while on patrol in the Iraqi Capital’s Adhamiyah District Feb. 9. and family, he saw his chance to become a Soldier slipping away. In 2004, Cham decided he couldn’t wait any longer to pursue his dream. With his wife’s blessing, he went down to the recruiting office and filled out the paperwork to become a Soldier. “When I called home to tell my folks I had joined, no one was surprised,” he said. Cham’s immediate family knew how strongly he felt about being a Soldier, but others were shocked that he would enlist during a time of war. “Coming from Africa, people thought this wasn’t my war,” he said. “But America has given me a lot, so this was just my way of giving back.” It wasn’t long before Cham was deployed to Iraq, first to Mosul in December 2004 and then to Tal Afar in the autumn of 2006. During that time, Cham rose quickly through the

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May 28, 2007

A “Paradigm Shift” in Al Beida: Lieutenant Listens
By Sgt. Mike Pryor 2nd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. Public Affairs BAGHDAD - 1st Lt. Larry Graham had come to talk about power generators, but the members of the Ur Neighborhood Council had something else on their minds. The previous morning, Graham’s unit had arrested the father of one of the council members. The council was angry. “We don’t want you here. We need engineers. Electricians. We don’t need killers,” one of the members began the meeting by saying. Some of the other U.S. officers in the room bristled, and tried to change the subject. But Graham told the man to continue. “If that’s what he wants to talk about, tell him we are here to listen,” Graham told his interpreter. “The wind could blow this away tomorrow,” he said, holding up the meeting’s planned agenda. “We are here to build relationships.” As the war in Iraq continues, there is a consensus that military successes alone will not be enough to achieve victory. Progress on the battlefield must be matched by political progress. That idea has led American commanders on the ground to focus on building up local government institutions like neighborhood councils. The job often falls to young officers like Graham. Graham, of Springfield, Mo., is the fire support officer for Company D, 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment. Since February, the unit has been based at an outpost in Al Beida, a neighborhood just a stone’s throw from Sadr City, in Baghdad’s Adhamiyah District. In those two months, Graham has worked hard to build up the neighborhood councils in Al Beida and Ur. His goal is to get the councils to the point where they can identhe funds to complete the projects. The labor was provided by a local contractor. “They’re small projects, but they’re important,” said Graham. “The small things show they can manage larger things.” After a brief ribbon cutting ceremony at the school, Graham and the NAC members moved to the soccer field, where a throng of children was waiting. Word had gotten out. The site of the new soccer field had previously been a dump, said Ayad Hassan, a NAC member who helped oversee the project. “The children had no place to play,” Hassan said. Now there was a level playing field, benches, and new goalposts. The gate to the field was locked. On the other side of it, a hundred gleaming, white soccer balls were strewn across the field. After a little boy snipped the ceremonial ribbon, the gate was thrown open and the crowd of kids poured through like a dam bursting. The stampede kicked up a cloud of dust that obscured the view. Then from out of the dust, a young boy emerged clutching a soccer ball tight to his chest, and a smile spread ear to ear. Graham said the success of projects like the school gate and the soccer field will lead people in the community to rely more on the NAC for solutions to their problems. “The community has really started to buy into it,” Graham said. “They’re seeing results and they’re like, ‘Oh, the system does work.’ So they’re asking for more projects and they’re going to get more projects.” As the children ran happily amuck on the soccer field, Hassan and Abu Raad, the contractor who built the field, shook hands. They were proud of what they had accomplished. “This is the first step,” Hassan said. “One day, I hope that my area will be better than any area in the world.”

(Photo by Sgt. Mike Pryor, 2nd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. Public Affairs)

Abu Ra'ad, a contractor, and 1st Lt. Larry Graham of Springfield, Mo., a fire support officer with Company D, 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, shake hands at the grand opening of a new soccer field in the Al Beida neighborhood of Baghdad’s Adhamiyah District April 21. tify problems and implement solutions at the grass-roots level, he said. “What we’re trying to achieve is a paradigm shift,” said Graham. “We want to show (the people) that in spite of the bad people living in this area, they can still move forward, they can still accomplish their goals.” He attends council meeting regularly, and spends much of his day on his mobile phone, smoothing over problems. One evening Graham was behind his desk when he got a call from one of the council members. The man was trying to back out of attending an upcoming meeting. “What’s wrong?” Graham asked patiently. “Is there something I should know?” The man confessed that he was scared of being attacked if he went to the meeting. Graham assured him that security would be tight. The man agreed to come. Graham, 28 and boyish-looking, makes a good ambassador. The son of missionary parents who spent much of his childhood in Latin America and Europe, he has a talent for cross-cultural communication. He also has experience working with local government bodies, having served on the neighborhood advisory council in Springfield. Graham’s goal is not to solve the community’s problems, but to empower the NAC to come up with solutions itself, he said. “We’re here to be the grease that makes it work smoothly,” he said. Graham’s work with the Al Beida NAC has so far led to the completion of two projects. On April 21, the NAC dedicated a new soccer field and a new gate on a local girls’ school. Graham helped the NAC apply for

Troopers on the Search
Spc. Zachry King, a Jacksonville, Fla., native and a paratrooper with Company B, 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, provides security from a balcony for his fellow Soldiers during a cordon and knock operation in the Al Beida neighborhood of the Iraqi capital’s Adhamiyah District April 28.

(Photo by Sgt. Mike Pryor, 2nd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. Public Affairs)

May 28, 2007


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There When You Need Them

Medics Come to the Rescue After Rocket Attack
By Sgt. Mike Pryor 2nd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. Public Affairs COP CALLAHAN, Baghdad – The rocket attack occured at 6:30 in the morning. Spc. Ian Paat was in bed, sleeping, when the first explosion jarred him awake. “It was as loud as anything I’ve heard,” said Paat, a medic from North Hollywood, Calif. Paat and his bunk mate and fellow medic, Pfc. Paul Jordan, of Atlanta, flew out of their bunks and immediately grabbed their medical aid bags. As they moved in the direction of the blast, they heard shouting. Paat led the way, with Jordan a few steps behind. Out in the hall, it was chaos. Smoke and dust filled the air. Coalition Outpost Callahan had been hit by a barrage of rockets, and several had penetrated the walls. In the next room, a beam of sunlight was shining through a hole that a rocket had punched through the wall. Beneath it, two paratroopers were lying on the ground. Paat began treating the first casualty. Jordan arrived moments later. He saw a crowd hovering around the other wounded paratrooper, shouting for a medic. As Jordan pushed forward, he saw that the paratrooper had severe leg wounds. It was the moment every medic spends his career preparing for, while hoping it never comes. A fellow soldier’s life was on the line. Jordan, 23, on his first deployment and a medic for only six months, had never seen such a severe injury. But he didn’t hesitate to act. “I just went back to my training. The only thing I saw was the injury. I just focused on what I had to do to treat it, and put everything else out of my mind” Jordan said. The attack on May 1 wounded four paratroopers - one severely - but thanks to the quick reactions of Jordan, Paat and the other medics from Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, no lives were lost. “I couldn’t have been prouder about the way the medics performed,” said battalion surgeon Capt. Naveed Naz, of Potomac, Md. “They definitely saved the day.” Everyone who reacted to the crisis, from the first responders, to the treatment team, to the pilots who evacuated the wounded, contributed to saving the critically wounded paratrooper’s life, said San Luis Obispo, Calif. native 1st Lt. Francis Ciccini, the medical platoon leader for the battalion. “They did everything right,” Ciccinni said. “And doing everything right that day definitely saved his life.” At the scene of the impact, Jordan immediately went to work trying to stop the casualty’s bleeding. Paat rushed over to help. Together, they applied tourniquets to both the wounded paratrooper’s legs. As Paat and Jordan worked furiously to stabilize the patient, two floors beneath them, treatment team leader Sgt. Phillip Saavedra, from Whittier, Calif., was readying the aid station to receive casualties. He had rushed there as soon as he heard the blast, not knowing what to expect. Then the first casualty arrived, carried there on Spc. Daniel Welter’s back. A rocket that hit on the third floor had sprayed shrapnel around the wounded paratroopers’ eyes. Welter, a platoon medic from Monticello, Iowa, picked up the temporarily blinded Soldier and carried him piggy-back style to the aid station. As Saavedra was laying him on an examining table, another wounded paratrooper was brought in. Both casualties had relatively minor wounds. Saavedra breathed a sigh of relief. He had feared there might be worse injuries. But just then, the paratrooper with the serious leg wounds was brought in. As soon as he saw who it was, Saavedra’s heart dropped. The wounded paratrooper was a friend of his. Saavedra had to fight to keep his emotions in check as he began treating his wounds. “It sucks working on your friends,” he said. “You can’t let it get to you. You’ve got to just block it out.” The medevac helicopters were already on their way. Saavedra’s job was to keep the patients stable until the birds arrived. He and his team worked around the wounded paratroopers, giving them fluids and drugs and talking to keep them from going into shock. From inside the aid station, the medics could hear the helicopters landing. The birds hadn’t even settled on the ground as the medics were on the move, rushing out to the landing zone with the patients on litters. Within a half hour of the start of the attack, all the wounded had been loaded onto helicopters and evacuated for further treatment. “That was probably the quickest that we’ve ever treated and evacuated someone out of here,” Ciccini said. As soon as the helicopters were in the air, all the emotions Jordan had been blocking out started to hit him. “I just felt so bad. I knew there was nothing more I could have done, but . . . I wanted to make sure everyone went home alive and in one piece,” Jordan said. “He’s alive, but I’d feel a whole lot better if he was whole.” Despite Jordan’s doubts, Ciccini said the performance of the medics was exceptional that day. “The medical platoon is kind of like a spare tire,” he said. “Sometimes it’s in the way, but when you need it, you expect it to work. And the guys were working that day.”

(Photo by Sgt. Mike Pryor, 2nd BCT, 82nd Abn. Div. Public Affairs)

Sgt. Phillip Saavedra (left), from Whittier, Calif. native, checks the vital signs of a patient in the medical aid station at Coalition Outpost Callahan May 4.

Page 28

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May 28, 2007

(Photos by Sgt. Robert Strain, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs)

1st Cavalry Division Soldiers carry the casket of Staff Sgt. Christopher Kiernan, a First Team Soldier who was killed in Iraq May 6, past the division’s honor guard at Robert Gray Army Airfield May 14. Kiernan is the first Fort Hood Soldier killed in action to have his remains returned to the airfield at Fort Hood.

Cav Soldier's Remains Returned to Fort Hood for Burial
By Amanda Kim Stairrett Killeen Daily Herald WEST FORT HOOD, Texas – "God, you were supposed to take care of him!" The pain in Donna Kiernan's voice pierced the silence at Robert Gray Army Airfield on Monday afternoon as a flagdraped casket containing her husband's body was carried to a waiting hearse. "You're my hero, Christopher," she yelled between mournful wails. "I love you!" "I'm so angry!" Staff Sgt. Christopher S. Kiernan was killed by a sniper on May 6 in Baghdad. The 37-year-old served with the 1st Cavalry Division's 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team. He joined the military in March 1990 as an armor crewmember. He served tours during Desert Storm and later, Bosnia, where he earned a Purple Heart, and in Haiti and Somalia. Chris deployed in 2004 to Iraq, where he earned a Bronze Star. He had been with the battalion since September 2005, and deployed with it to Iraq in October 2006. Chris is the first Fort Hood Soldier killed in action whose remains were flown directly to Fort Hood. Before a January policy change, Texas Soldiers' remains were Chris wrote. Donna went on to say that American Soldiers need help and without additional troop support, more "will pay with their blood and their lives." Chris did just that, she said, and the Soldiers in his unit were hurting. She knows many who are on their second and third deployments, and the ones who are in Iraq are exhausted and fatigued. Chris' death means it's time for politicians to stop taking vacations and get to work, Donna said adamantly. They need to work 18-hour days, sleep four hours and then go back out for another day like the soldiers are doing in Iraq, she added. During training, the "gloves are off," Donna said, but in battle the Soldiers are held back and "must be proper while the cowardly so-called insurgents use their religious mosque to hide out and build weapon caches. "The insurgents are upgrading their weapons and experience," she said. "They want to kill American Soldiers." She put responsibility on the Iraqi people, saying it is time for them to be held accountable for meeting deadlines set by the American government. "It's time for the Iraqis to take charge of their own country and take responsibility if they fail to meet the deadlines they are supposed to meet," she said.

Fire trucks from Fort Hood’s fire department render the fireman’s salute to the aircraft carrying the casket of Staff Sgt. Christopher Kiernan, a 1st Cavalry Division Soldier who was killed by small arms fire in Iraq May 6. Kiernan’s remains arrived at Robert Gray Army Airfield May 14. flown from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to Dallas or Austin. Now remains will be flown to a regional airport with 5,000 feet of runway nearest the family's home, said Lee Price, chief of Fort Hood's Casualty Assistance Center. The Kiernans lived in Killeen. The change will ensure that families will have to travel less and that complete honors are provided for each Soldier, Price said. Before her husband's remains arrived on Monday, Donna read an e-mail Chris sent her shortly before his death, titled "The past six months in Baghdad." In it, he talked about the situation in Iraq and policies proposed by lawmakers. He slammed elected officials for passing a bill that provided a timeline for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. He asked his wife to forward it to everyone they knew, but asked it not be passed on to members of the media because his words would be misconstrued. He also wrote about the people of Iraq and how the troops must build their trust. He said the withdrawal timeline tells these people that the Americans are leaving and never coming back. "These people will never forgive us,"

May 28, 2007

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Page 29

(Photo by Sgt. Robert Strain, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

Pick Me! Pick Me!
Col. Larry Phelps, the 1st Cavalry Division’s rear detachment commander, answers questions from elementary school students May 11 at Lakewood Elementary School in Belton, Texas. The questions ranged from the Army’s uniform to what the division is doing in Iraq.

First Team Soldiers, Families Discuss Coping With Deployment
By Sgt. Robert Strain 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs FORT HOOD, Texas – On most Saturdays, most of the 1st Cavalry Division’s rear detachment Soldiers are off, enjoying the weekend. But on May 5, more than 200 First Team troopers and family members gathered at the Phantom Warrior Center here for a Mid-Tour Deployment Pulse Check seminar. The pulse check seminar was an opportunity for families to find out about tools and resources, such as Army Community Service and Military One Source, to help them cope with the stress of deployment and redeployment. Since the deployment began in September, the rear detachment Soldiers and families have dealt with many types of issues together, including bad financial situations, births of more than 600 babies, visiting wounded Soldiers in medical facilities across the country and suffering together over fallen troopers, said Col. Larry Phelps, the division’s rear detachment commander. He explained that the day’s focus was on three areas – the emotional, the physical and the spiritual aspects – and that the rear detachment command wanted the spouses to recharge, learn a little more about new programs and provide feedback on what the leadership can do for the families during the remainder of the deployment. “We wanted to give you some tools, we wanted to take your pulse a little bit,” Phelps said, speaking to the attendees. The day’s guest speakers included a psychotherapist, a medical doctor and a pastor. Each gave insight into their portion of the three focus and stress relief techniques. Sims also gave advice to the Soldiers and families on what to do to in order to make the transition smoother when their Soldier comes home. Things such as taking time to listen and talk, slowly making adjustments, expecting things to change and most of all, being patient will help make the reunion easier and less stressful, he said. The important thing, according to Sims, is to never be afraid to ask for help. Dr. Dave Roever, a pastor and Vietnam War veteran, was the day’s final speaker. He covered the spiritual aspect of human relationships. Roever, who was severely wounded and disfigured when a white phosphorous grenade exploded next to him in Vietnam, discussed his personal experiences coping with his injury and the effects it has had on his life. All three speakers referred to the “triangle of life” with its three sides: emotional, physical and spiritual, telling the seminar attendees that in order to maintain a strong structure, all three sides must be working together properly. “There’s a spiritual side of mankind, and I tapped in to that spiritual side, and I found a cause that was beyond emotion. I found a cause that was beyond physical. I found something worth living for and it would change my life,” Roever said. “The spiritual side of Dave Roever had to take over when the physical and emotional could not sustain me.” Roever said that not everyone’s spiritual needs are the same, and nobody can decide another person’s needs. “Nobody can write the spiritual demands upon your life but you,” he said.

(Photo by Sgt. Robert Strain, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

Mark Gorkin, a psychotherapist and motivational humorist, talks to Soldiers and families of the 1st Cavalry Division’s rear detachment during a MidTour Deployment Pulse Check May 5 at Fort Hood’s Phantom Warrior Center. areas and how deployment and reunion can affect each one. Mark Gorkin, a psychotherapist and motivational humorist, discussed healthy ways to express emotions, such as anger, and how to avoid burnout. Gorkin explained that it is often nice people who burnout, because it is more difficult for them to say “no.” The seminar’s next speaker Dr. (Maj.) W. Bryan Sims, the officer in charge of the Family Medicine Residency Center at Fort Hood’s Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center, discussed the physical signs of stress as well as relaxation

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Sports & Leisure

May 28, 2007

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Cav Teens Cheer on Round Rock Express
By Sgt. Cheryl Cox 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs ROUND ROCK, Texas – With rally towels and baseball gloves in hand, First Team Family Members cheer on the members of the Round Rock Express baseball team during their game at Dell Diamond Field May 12. At least once a quarter, the Teen Family Readiness Group puts together an event for those military kids aren’t kids anymore, but aren’t yet adults. “The Teen FRG really hits home for me,” explained Col. Larry Phelps, the 1st Cavalry Division (rear) commander, during the final inning of the game. “I noticed during my past deployments that my deployments had a greater impact on my teens than my little guy.” In seeing this first hand, Phelps knew that with this deployment it was important to do something special for this age group. “All these kids are missing their parents right now,” he continued, “But doing stuff like this gives them a chance to come together and do something fun, while giving their currently single parent a night off.” One of the teens who especially enjoyed the game was Paul Livengood, son of Command Sgt. Maj. Tim Livengood of 15th Personnel Support Battalion, who spent most of the three hour game trying to catch a foul ball. “I really like baseball, so this is great for me,” he said. “But it’s just fun to come out here support the moms and dads in events like this. Plus, it gets your mind off the fact that your parent is gone for little while.” And that is what it is really all about – if only for a little while – forgetting that your parent is in a combat zone. Each time the Teen FRG gets together they try to do something different for the kids. “So far we have taken the kids roller skating, to a rodeo and now to a baseball game,” said Sgt. 1st Class Shannan Shipman, the FRG liaison. “We aren’t sure what the next event will be yet, but so far the kids have really enjoyed all the events.” With the summer coming on fast, the FRG is looking to plan an event for all three age ranges of kids – little kids,

(Photo by Sgt. Cheryl Cox, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs)

First Team family members flip rally towels above their heads during a Round Rock Express game May 12. The teenage chilren of deployed 1st Cavalry Division Soldiers enjoyed the game as part of the Teen Family Readiness Group program. tweens and teens. “The best way I have found to get ideas for the next event is to talk to the kids,” said Phelps. “So on our way back to Fort Hood, we will talk to the kids and find out what kinds of ideas they have for what they would like to do next.”

Coast Guard Saving Lives While Battling Mother Nature
As I was walking back to my home away from home last evening with the movie “The Guardian” in my cargo pocket, I was already formulating my movie review. The Touchtone Entertainment flick’s jacket was ugly. One of the main characters, Jake, is being played by Ashton Kutcher, and although he has a pretty face, he has yet to impress me. The leading role is played by Kevin Costner, and (this will probably make some of you mad) the last movie of his I watched and loved was “Dances with Wolves.” Lets face it, in any movie he is in, he is the same character. If his character doesn’t fit in the movie, it just doesn’t work. Perhaps the cloudy day had infested my thoughts, or I am just tired of being here, but I just wasn’t interested in this one. But as promised, I needed to watch a “guy movie.” (Insert dramatic sigh here.) Anyway, the movie opens with Randall, Costner’s character, rescuing a married couple from the ocean. The husband is panicking

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and dragging his wife under the water. (Insert bad word of choice here.) Randall is trying to rescue the woman first because it is his policy to rescue the weakest swimmer first. Yeah, that didn’t work. The husband basically pulls his wife out of the rescue basket in order to save himself. (Put another one in here, too.) Randall ends up clocking the husband in the face. This is the first taste of Randall’s personality we see. Randall is a rescue swimmer for the U.S. Coast Guard and he takes great pride in plucking doomed fishermen out of the Alaskan waters. The effects are pretty good

in the rescue scenes. The waves are beating the heck out of these guys, and you watch plenty of ships sink. Randall likes his job a little too much. In fact, he has let everything else fall to the wayside. His family life has fallen off the deep end. His wife has given up on their relationship and has filed for a divorce. But Randall can’t give up the swim. That is, until his team, including his best friend, perishes on a mission. Then he wasn’t given a choice. He had to take a break. Racked with grief and guilt, he gets sent to the school house to train up the new bucks. This is where I actually started to get sucked in, despite my previously sour mood. Jake is a cocky, young brute with something to prove. So you have the old guy, who has rescued a countless amount of people, and refuses to say how many he has saved. Then you have the new buck who cares only about himself and wants to break every record Randall has ever made. It makes for some

interesting chemistry. It also was fun watching the swimmer wannabes get beat up in training. It takes me back to my training days where we were always getting screamed at and always doing push-ups. Except in the move, it seemed like they never got past 25 and most of their hazing occurred in a swimming pool. They also brought in a not-so-believable love plot in there, probably solely for the female viewer’s benefit, but I didn’t buy it. The movie wasn’t great, but it was better than expected. I should know better than to judge a book by its cover, or a movie, for that matter. It wasn’t as good as an Army or Marine action film, but I do think they did the Coast Guard justice. I am sure some folks walked out of the movie theater saying, “I want to do that.” Of course, you have to be able to swim first. I prefer dry land. (Two out of five stars!)

May 28, 2007

Sports & Leisure

Page 31

A Soldier’s Perspective

Nearly Naked for a Goal
By Maj. Kevin Inglin 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq – I stood in my underwear in front of hundreds of people here May 5. That’s something I never thought would happen, unless perhaps I lost some kind of bet. But the above-stated condition was done of my own volition, a decision made under no conditions of duress and one seemingly arrived at while I was of sound mind. So, what would possess me, at the age of 36, to decide that baring most of my body in front of a large group of people was a good idea? Because four months ago I told myself I would do it. I’ve long been a proponent of setting goals, outlining a plan to achieve the goals, and completing the work necessary to accomplish those goals. Mind you, my stated goal was not to stand in front of people in my underwear, but to compete in the U.S. Forces-Iraq Bodybuilding Championships held at Camp Liberty. The idea of me competing in a bodybuilding competition was something not only entirely foreign to me; it was a goal that brought a great deal of trepidation. The thought of me, a real life “98-pound weakling” as a freshman in high school, competing in a bodybuilding contest was about as an absurd an idea that I quite possibly have ever had. I was also well-aware that the idea would reasonably be expected to bring a good deal of needling from peers, not to mention make the Soldiers whom I command think their boss may have a screw or two loose. Maintaining the mantra that many a great innovators were laughed at on their way to creating genius (see Edison and the incandescent light bulb), this goal of mine was much more about having the personal courage to do something I knew would be outside of my comfort zone than in actually winning the competition. Afraid or not, I decided in January that I would compete. This brings us back to me in my underwear in front of hundreds of people. The show brought the fear to light that I had expected. In the early pre-judging round, my legs were shaking nearly uncontrollably as I stood on stage; first with my group of five competitors in my division, then individually as I had to pose at center stage for 60 seconds. Shaking legs and all, I managed to make it through the morning session in front of all of those people and ultimately realized that my fear of doing the show was probably exaggerated; it actually wasn’t that bad. We returned later in the afternoon to do a second round of posing, as I took the stage for the evening session with my group, the leg shaking was not an issue. My confidence was growing, and as I took the stage for my 90-second routine set to music, I found myself actually somewhat enjoying the event. I never worried about how I would finish in the contest. Following through on a stated objective was winning enough. Though, I am not ashamed to have claimed a third-place showing in the light-heavyweight division, leg shakes and all. The completion of the competition brought to a close four months of 5 a.m. wakeups to go to the gym, four months of me questioning my own sanity, and four months of working every day to overcome selfdoubt and believe in myself and in what I was doing. It also brought me a great deal of confidence and pride in having accomplished what I set out to do. I highly recommend to all to do the same. Regardless of what people think of your ideas or what your personal goals are, if you have something you want to accomplish, set the objective, come up with a plan, and go for it. You are the key in determining if you will succeed. There’s another show in October and before I left the contest other competitors were already asking me if I would be taking part. While my intent was never truly to become a bodybuilder, having completed this show, the idea of doing it again in October isn’t nearly as frightening to me as it was back in January. In fact, having learned quite a bit about the sport, I could actually use the experience I’ve gained to my advantage. Maybe I will compete again, only this time I’ll be past the goal of just completing the show in my underwear. I might just have to set a goal to win.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Mary Rose, 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

(Left to right) Sgt. Gordon Wesley, the winner of the men’s heavy weight event; Sgt. George Figueroa the winner of the light-heavy weight event; Department of Defense employee Marcon Haynes, the winner of the middle weight event; and Sgt. 1st Class Demetrial Houston, the winner of the men’s light-weight event and the men’s overall competition. The U.S. Forces – Iraq Bodybuilding Championships were held at the 1st Cavalry Division Headquarters’ Morale Welfare and Recreation tent at Camp Liberty, Iraq, May 5.

Bodybuilding Earns Soldier Pro Card
By Staff Sgt. Mary Rose 7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq – Training and fitness are a big part of the U.S. Army’s way of life. Making sure Soldiers are able to complete 18-hour, and sometimes longer, missions while wearing up to 70 pounds of gear is essential to survival in Iraq. But some Soldiers currently deployed to Baghdad have taken these elements to the next level and stood as an example to their peers, of what hard work and dedication looks like. Twenty-six bodybuilders, currently serving in Iraq, got the opportunity to show off the many hours they spend in the gym at the U.S. Forces-Iraq Bodybuilding Championships held here May 5. The competition was comprised to six events; women’s figure, women’s bodybuilders, men’s light weight, men’s middle weight, men’s light-heavy weight, and men’s heavy weight. There was also a professional bodybuilder membership card given to the top male contestant. The first place winners won $100 donated gift certificates from Hessen Tactical, lifting belts from PowerTec and all who participated received their perspective trophies, medals from World Natural Bodybuilding Federation (WNBF), wrist straps from Schiek Sports and ATP Pro Wrist Straps and Certificate’s of Achievement from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. The first place winners of each event are: • Sgt. Shawn Mackey, a 33-year-old native of New Bern, N.C for the women’s bodybuilder event; • Sgt. 1st Class Demetrial Houston, a 38-yearold Dallas native, for the men’s light weight event; • Marcon Haynes, a civilian contractor and a 32-year-old hailing from Tampa, Fla., for the men’s middle weight event; • Sgt. George Figueroa, a 23-year-old native of Wayne, N.J., for the men’s light-heavy weight event; • Sgt. Wesley Gordon, a native of Jackson, Mich, for the men’s heavy weight event; and • Capt. Carrie Parker, a 38-year-old San Antonio native, for the women’s figure event. Houston, who is with the Division Special Troops Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, won the overall competition and earned his professional natural bodybuilding membership card, which will be issued by the International Natural Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation. “It’s a life style,” he said of bodybuilding. Houston competed and won his first competition 10 years ago in Seoul, Korea, and has been involved with natural bodybuilding ever since. Being involved with the sport of bodybuilding also helps him train his Soldiers. “It’s a good sport,” said Houston who is also a Tae Bo instructor. “Physical fitness is a major part in the Army’s obligation right now.” The man behind the competition, 1st Sgt. Woody B. Carter, 57th Signal Company, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, has been an enthusiast and involved with natural bodybuilding most of his life. “I just want to get out there and promote natural bodybuilding,” he said. With several months left in Carter’s deployment to Baghdad, this isn’t the last bodybuilding competition for him to organize. Carter, a native of Pensacola, Fla., is now preparing for the next bodybuilding show, the Baghdad Classic, Bodybuilding and Fitness Competition, which is set for Sept. 22. Both Houston and Carter are eager to train those who want to participate in the upcoming event in September. Houston decided to help others achieve their goals instead of competing in the next competition and explained how difficult it is to train “mentally and physically” here in Baghdad. “It makes me feel great to be able to help Soldiers attain a goal and teach them the proper, natural way to meet their goals,” Carter said. Though Carter arranged the event, he received a generous amount of support from many outside organizations to make the competition run flawlessly. U.S. Forces-Iraq Bodybuilding Championships sponsors included World Natural Bodybuilding Federation (WNBF), International Natural Bodybuilding and Fitness (INBF) Federation, Hessen Tactical, Cytosport, Integrated Sports Science (ISS), PROSOURCE, PROMAX, PowerTec, Schiek Sports, ATP-Pro Wrist Strap.

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May 28, 2007

Black Jack’s Best Box at Union III Smoker
By Spc. Alexis Harrison 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs FORWARD OPERATING BASE UNION III, Iraq – For several nights, members of the 2nd “Black Jack” Brigade Combat Team and attached units punched it out to see who would come out victorious in the first-ever Black Jack Boxing Smoker. Days and weeks of training and toughness turned out to be the main factors in the championship fight night May 14. Aside from the grudge matches that pitted friend upon friend or friendly rivals against one another, the championship night showcased the best of the best in the brigade. The championship night proved to be one of the largest and loudest turn outs they had so far, said 1st Lt. Garret Holt, the battalion adjutant with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment. The dim lighting above the ring and the plume of cigar smoke by the dozens of connoisseurs in the audience brought you back to a time early last century when boxing smokers were popular, and fighting wasn't about fame of fortune but about the pride of winning. Though all the Soldiers fighting had hopes of winning, only a handful would be crowned champion in their respective weight classes. In the featherweight class, Spc. David Flores from 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment beat Sgt. Raymond Robinson, also of 5-20th Inf. In the lightweight class, Sgt. David Murray from 4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment beat Spc. Timothy Dunbar. In the welterweight class, Spc. Chris Thomas was basically uncontested in the final bout because Capt. John Verdugo, 4-9th Cavalry's chaplain, went on leave the day of the fight. Spc. Joseph Riqueros from 3-82nd Field Artillery defeated Spc. Josh Hentbrook in three rounds for the middleweight crown. Spc. Armondo Montemayor of 3-82nd FA, pummeled Spc. Sebastian Hentbrook into submission before the final bell rung to claim the light-heavyweight title. In the mid-heavyweight division, Spc. Jerrick Cruz from 5-20th Inf. and Spc. Jason Taylor from the 15th Brigade Support Battalion lit up the crowd in a match that went all the way, with Cruz coming out on top. Spc. Lance Taffa from Company C, 5-20th Inf., defeated fellow "Charlie Rocker" Spc. Terrian Regester for the heavyweight crown. In the super-heavyweight final, Pfc. Randall Dane from

(Photo by Sgt. Robert Yde, 2nd BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public Affairs)

Staff Sgt. Charles Crawford (left) with Company C, 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, tries to avoid a punch from Sgt. Chad Wright with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, during the “Black Jack Boxing Fight Night Tournament” May 5. 3-82nd FA edged Sgt. Shea Hawkins of 5-20th Inf. for the title after three rounds. In the women’s lightweight division, Spc. Paula Cossio of the 15th BSB and Sgt. Natasha Johnson had the crowd pumped up for their match that went the distance with Cossio coming out on top. In the women’s middleweight division, Spc. Kate Galloway from 4-9th Cavalry defeated Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Sanchez of the 15th BSB for the title. Spc. Timothy Dunbar, with help from several other Soldiers, helped construct the ring. He was not only one of the organizers of the event; he fought in the championship bout for the lightweight class. He admitted to giving it his all, but came away with a strong second-place finish. He said he didn't train or prepare for the fight. He wants to come back next time to better organize the event and make it even more exciting for the spectators and fighters. “Next time, we hope to have an even bigger show," Dunbar said. "It opened the door for a lot more contestants. They saw the competition level and I think it showed them that they can compete in it.” Although the competition was fierce at times, many knew that it was a good way to build camaraderie and break up the daily routine. "It's not a typical Friday or Saturday night for me," Holt said. "You feel like you get out of Iraq for a moment." Along with the championships were the grudge matches. These didn't hold any weight as far as the actual tournament or standings, but they served as a channel for two people to go head-to-head to punch out a friendly rivalry or as one person remarked: 'just beat the snot out of each other.' After all the fighting was done, the brigade commander, Col Bryan Roberts, and Command Sgt. Maj. Lames Lee were joined by several battalion commanders and sergeants major to deliver certificates to everyone who fought. Those who made it to the final round were awarded gold medals for first place and silver for second. "I think people will be talking about this for a long time to come," Holt remarked.

Trash Talking: Talk the Talk, but also Walk the Walk
I love me some me!” No, that’s not Shakespeare, that’s T.O. Terrell Owens, one of the greatest talkers of our time. Talking trash is why I love sports. I love the “me first” players, the showmen and the ones that tell you before the game you can’t stop them, and then prove it on the field or court. I have always loved them. Athletes from “Prime Time” Deion Sanders of yesteryear to Floyd Mayweather today make the sports world a lot more interesting. I was lucky enough to grow up watching Mike Tyson in his prime. Mike Tyson wasn’t part of the event, he was the event. He let everyone know he was unbeatable and there was nothing they could do about it. He is still to this day one of my favorite athletes of all time. And for the record, when I watch reruns of the Mike Tyson versus Buster Douglas fight, I still think maybe this time he wins. Growing up in Atlanta, I had the opportunity to see the greatest defensive player in National Football League history -- Deion

Trigger Pull
Pfc. Benjamin Gable

Sanders. He alone was worth the price of season tickets. “Prime Time” knew he played on a terrible team, the Atlanta Falcons. But he didn’t care. He cared about “me.” Anytime he returned a kick or intercepted a pass, he had a chance to take it all the way, and usually did. That wasn’t enough, though. Once in the end zone, he put on a show. He danced and celebrated. He didn’t care about penalties for excess celebration; he cared about the show. When asked why he was such a poor tackler, he quipped, “It’s a business decision.” He didn’t need to tackle. He was “Prime Time.” Terrell Owens has picked up where

Deion left off. T.O. is the biggest talker in the NFL today. His antics are the stuff of legend. He has grabbed pom-poms from a cheerleader after scoring a touchdown and cheered for himself; kept a Sharpie in his sock to autograph a football after scoring a touchdown; and, my favorite, “ice skated” all over the star in Texas Stadium during a game against the Dallas Cowboys. How could you not love that? I just recently watched a television special that followed Floyd Mayweather months before his championship bout versus Oscar De La Hoya. You want to talk about a talker? That guy is one of the best. Mayweather knows he can back it up, and he lets it go. Growing up, I always had older guys to play against in sports. They taught me how to play physical, smart and, best of all, how to talk major smack. The best talker I have ever known is next on my list. Two words: Scott Beck. For those of us who are either lucky or

unlucky enough to know him, those two words can literally start a fight. He is one of my closest friends, and can he talk. This is a guy that came up in a place we affectionately call, “the Holler.” Let’s just say it’s not the wealthiest neighborhood you have ever seen. While I wouldn’t step on the basketball court unless I had the best gear, Scott would show up in a work shirt, cut-off blue jean shorts, (with a wallet full of change, and a comb) and a pair of “shandals.” (That’s half shoe, half sandal). But he could play, and he could talk. He let everyone in the gym know when he scored. He has been kicked out of countless men’s league games for talking smack. He is the guy that stands at half-court and says “I’m open!” then gets mad if you don’t give him the ball. All of these guys have made sports so much more interesting and fun to watch for me. There are only a select few who can talk it and back it up. I’m always looking for that next superstar who can talk all day long and then dominate his sport. They are the reason I watch.