Tuesday, April 24, 2007

VIDEO RELEASE: TF Vigilant guards Camp Victory, assist local community

To watch a short video broadcast about the 2nd BCT's Task Force Vigilant, please visit the following link:

Monday, April 23, 2007

Staff Sgt. Roman receives visitors

Stevie Nicks (below) of Fleetwood Mac and Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony Mahoney (above)of the 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) visit Staff Sgt. Roman at Walter Reed Army Medical Center recently.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Adapt or Die: Company-level counterinsurgency operations

By Lt. Col. John Valledor, Commander, 2nd Bn., 14th Inf. Reg't., 2nd BCT
A bright March moon provides near-perfect ambient light for the scout platoon about to launch on the waterborne raid of a lifetime. Each is crouched in low silhouette, embarked into four black rubber Zodiac boats on the eastern bank of Iraq’s Euphrates River.
For more than 45 minutes, the infantrymen of 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division wait in ghostly silence for the go-ahead call to commence their covert infiltration of Owesat Village on the far bank. All are fully aware that compromising their vulnerable position will make them easy prey for attacks by insurgents known to inhabit the village.
The impoverished tribal village sits on the opposite bank of the Euphrates, literally in the shadow of the large partially-constructed Russian Thermal Power Plant. Until recently, this power plant served as a sanctuary and rest stop for Al Qaeda terrorists funneling foreign fighters and material – a waypoint before the trip through the rat-lines into the heart of Iraq. There they will launch merciless attacks against the unsuspecting to gain headlines that fuel the division of American support for the war.
In late October, Soldiers of Task Force 2-14 forcefully expelled the former Abu Musab Al Zarqawi-inspired Sunni jihadists who represented the terrorist group Mujahidin Shura Council in a bold nighttime raid. Coalition forces then converted the large abandoned plant into a forward patrol base for a combined force of two U.S. and Iraqi army rifle companies. Since then, local insurgents sought refuge across the river, knowing that the combined Iraqi and U.S. forces living in the plant would be hard-put to cross its bridgeless banks, separated by 250 yards of deep, swift and muddy water.
Radical Islamists operating from across this seemingly impassable river obstacle continued their slow, grinding campaign of attrition warfare, aimed at wearing down coalition and Iraqi security forces, through incessant use of improvised explosive devices, IEDs, and sporadic mortar and Katyusha rocket attacks.
Alpha Company, living within the plant’s massive, concrete and rebar wire-lined infrastructure, has been dealing with these daily attacks, carefully expanding their local network of informants, waiting patiently for their moment to strike back.
The Zodiac boats, standing only inches above the river’s surface and straining with Soldiers laden with weapons and body armor, began their long trip upstream powered by quiet outboard motors. Fifty minutes into the journey, the platoon sergeant shut off the boat’s engines, silently drifting the shadowy serial of watercraft downstream to the clandestine landing area. From there, they began their combat foot patrol into the thick, knee-deep, muddy fields underneath date palm groves lining the riverbank as a screening force for Alpha Company, staging back at the plant.
The U.S. and Iraqi force of over 60 Soldiers await their comrades’ subsequent air assault into the heart of Owesat Village.
Hours later, two U.S. Army Blackhawk helicopters from a 1st Cavalry Division assault aviation battalion broke the nighttime silence and began a series of landings and take-offs from a pre-marked pick-up zone within the immense power plant compound.
They inserted the coalition forces and the mission-tailored combat enablers into two separate landing zones in Owesat Village.
Meanwhile, directly overhead, in the moonlit night, a joint force of Apache attack helicopters, U.S. Air Force fighter jets and unmanned aircraft systems provided the young company commander leading this combined raid with responsive thermal-vision-enabled, precision joint fires and early warning.
Landing in the middle of the night, the company commander began his targeted house-by-house search of over 30 Iraqi homes suspected of being bed-down sites for radical Islamists. Within each home, his night-vision-equipped Soldiers and partnered Iraqi Army Soldiers – jundis - gathered 50 suspected military-aged Iraqi males startled out of their slumber and moved them to a tactical holding area. They spent the next 26 hours systematically searching each house for Al Qaeda and other insurgent contraband and questioning the suspects for information of military value.
By midday, this force uncovered three hidden insurgent weapons caches containing an assortment of Soviet-era weapons, including Kalashnikov rifles and machine guns, rocket propelled grenade launchers, hand grenades, ammunition and IED components.
Tactical questioning by embedded interrogators and interpreters—terps - led the Soldiers and jundis to an inconspicuous auto garage containing several vehicles in various states of disassembly.
The vehicles’ altered registration denoted their intended purpose to the Iraqi jundis searching them. These altered vehicles, stolen from innocent Iraqis, revealed an insurgent-owned IED factory, part of a long-established terror assembly line connecting this farmstead as a waypoint in the Fallujah terror corridor. It is in Fallujah where final assembly occurs, converting the vehicles into third-world cruise missiles that are passed off to foreign fighters for deadly suicide attacks in Baghdad’s crowded markets.
Night returned to envelope Owesat Village as Alpha Company’s Soldiers began their concealed withdrawal back to their base in the plant. This time, a pair of Blackhawk helicopters lifted the scout screening force on the outskirts of the village into the air and back to the plant. Simultaneously, the company’s foot Soldiers shuttled with detainees in tow across the Euphrates on the same Zodiacs for a quicker return to base. Although similar means are used to withdraw the force, reversing the sequence of extraction served to confuse local insurgents suspected of closely scrutinizing the entire operation for coalition patterns.
What makes this operation stand out from the rest is that it was completely conceived from the bottom up. The lead planner was a young company commander in his mid-twenties on his second combat tour in Iraq. Unique is the fact that he assumed command of the rifle company while in theater, without having previously completed the Infantry Captain’s Career Course. Normally, company grade captains must complete their branch-specific education as part of their formal military progression.
Alpha Company learned that winning against the insurgents in Iraq’s ungoverned tribal lands requires patience, perseverance and skillful adaptation. In this case, the commander meticulously built a network of trusted local informants, each providing vital pieces of human intelligence, enabling the development of a complex information mosaic detailing the hierarchy of local direct action terror cells.
As he analyzed the patterns set by local insurgents as well as those set by his own unit, he realized that the enemy would recognize that a sizable coalition force could not mount a river crossing operation without telegraphing their intentions to local lookouts, compromising any chance of surprise. The commander chose a combined riverine and air assault operation expecting the enemy to react to one of the two methods of insertion but not both simultaneously. Local Sunni insurgents had not seen this innovative coalition attack method used previously and thus had not learned to counter it. The commander was able to employ a combination of conventional tactics in an unconventional manner to defeat an equally adaptive opponent.
Our Soldiers face a cunning and ruthless enemy that is constantly changing its tactics in order to survive. We, in turn, must assume a mindset of continual innovation if we are to win against this dynamic insurgency. Every company grade officer leading Soldiers in Iraq must adapt or die in this merciless environment. This war is truly all about survival of the fittest.
This exceptional operation consisted of difficult moving parts including two waterborne operations and night air assaults. In the months leading up to this deployment, this battalion never trained on either of these two intricate collective tasks. Again, the fact that this unique operation was completed in combat, at night, partnered with indigenous forces, and along Iraq’s complex and extensive network of waterways, canals, and irrigation ditches speaks volumes to the agility and versatility of our Soldiers as well as the extreme competency of their combat-tested junior leaders.
Success in Iraq’s counterinsurgency fight demands innovation and adaptation at the lowest level possible, by the very Soldiers involved in day-in and day-out contact with the insurgents. The sobering reality is that Iraq’s military component of the grand counterinsurgency strategy will be won or lost at company level by America’s new “greatest generation.”

TFV maintenance Soldiers known as ‘Jack of all trades’

By 1st Lt. Randall Cornelison
TFV, 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI)

VICTORY BASE COMPLEX, Iraq — Turning wrenches - it’s not the most glamorous job in the Army, however U.S. Army mechanics keep things running with a smile on their face.
Soldiers of Task Force Vigilant, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) out of Fort Drum, N.Y., work diligently at the Victory Base Complex, Iraq to keep Soldiers on the riding smoothly.
Working twenty-four hour operations from a large wooden motorpool, the Task Force’s maintenance section turns out about seventy jobs a week, ranging from simple annual inspections to replacing starters to repairing the cranking mechanism of the turrets of M1114s.
One noncommissioned officer spoke of the gratitude he had for his crew.
“They’re outstanding … I have a great crew,” said Sgt. Craig Johnson, the noncommissioned officer in charge of the prescribed load list platoon, TFV, and native of Reading, Penn.
Johnson went on to explain that in eight months the maintenance section has only had to “surrender” four vehicles to a higher echelon for issues they could not fix.
“No Soldier likes to surrender, and such a record shows these mechanics are no different” Johnson said.
Another Soldier, who was called to recover an M1114 after it slid into a canal, showed his dedication to his profession after wading through chest-deep water to properly recover a vehicle.
“I wanted to make sure we didn’t bend the tailgate or damage anything when we pulled it out,” sad Spc. Luis Santiago, a TFV all-wheeled mechanic and native of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Santiago was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for his courage and professionalism.
Yet, the Task Force’s maintenance section doesn’t limit their work to within the wire. The mechanics have been called out to recover disabled vehicles, place barriers for an Iraqi Army checkpoint in Iraqi Family Village, Iraq and deliver supplies to an Iraqi Police station.
Currently, the section is supporting a mission to make identification badges for the residents of Airport Village, Iraq which will increase the security of the village by restricting entrance of non-residents.
Finally, like many other Soldiers in Iraq, these mechanics have been called upon to perform other duties not related to their military occupational skill, but more to their identity as Soldiers.
An example of these other duties is serving as a tower guard in one of Camp Victory’s many towers.
“It was challenging,” explains Pfc. Jason Burke, a TFV all-wheeled mechanic and native of Long Beach, Calif. “Working on vehicles is fast paced but the problems are obvious. Tower duty requires you to be focused much longer periods of time and to pay attention in greater detail. We had to constantly watch the behavior of locals and for changes in the landscape of our fields of observation.”
In these other capacities they serve with the same dedication to duty as keeping the Task Force’s vehicles rolling, understanding every job is crucial.
One job at a time, one yard at a time, the mechanics of TFV are part of the success of the team.

Friends of the Wounded Commandos at WRAMC remind our wounded they are not forgotten

Fred Downs, Jr. – Downs visits amputees and speaks to them about their transition from their service to the VA system with special emphasis on Prosthetics.
Sgt. 1st Class Todd Sullivan – Sullivan is a former 4-31 platoon sergeant who called, sent cards and visited wounded Commando Soldiers
Cindy J. McGrew – McGrew provided care, leisure items and meals to Wounded Warriors.
Laura and Nikki Sauriol – The Sauriols worked with Cindy to provide care, leisure items and meals to Wounded Warriors.
Eugene Sullivan – Sullivan,a former Ranger, visits WRAMC regularly to check on the health and well being of the Soldiers.
R.J. Meade – Meade serves as a conduit between the various wards at WRAMC and the Wounded Warrior Project. The project provided backpacks filled with personal care items to medically evacuated Soldiers stateside.
John J. Farley III – Farley lost his leg, above the knee, during Vietnam who inspires and eases the minds of wounded Commandos just by his weekly presence at the Physical Therapy clinic at WRAMC.
Danny Soto – Soto uses his knowledge to regularly advise wounded Commandos of their entitlements and benefits.
Andrew Exum – Former 4-31 Polar Bear who is well known for regularly supporting the Wounded Warriors.
Monica Dillon – Dillon spends several nights each week passing out care items, food, books and blankets.
Peter Lancaster – Lancaster provides most wounded with their first rental wheelchair and later with a custom one.
Steve Springer and Mia Frink – Springer and Frink work tirelessly to provide quality case management to Commando amputees.
John P. Miska – Miska works daily to improve the quality of life of wounded Commando outpatients. He collects household goods for distribution, donates the use of his post’s Handicap- accessible bus and takes outpatients to off-post events.

Green Acres is the place to be

By Staff Sgt. Todd Phipps
1st Sqdrn., 89th Cav. Regt., 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI)

BAGHDAD – Since the fall of the Saddam Hussein’s regime, farmers’ access to veterinary care has been nearly non-existent; however, coalition troops are working to change the lack of veterinary care.
Residents of Abu Sheikan and Abu Hillan, dependent upon livestock as part of their livelihood, welcomed a veterinary assistance visit from Lt. Col. Neil Ahle, the 1st Cavalry Division’s veterinarian, and a joint C Troop, 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) and an Iraqi National Police (NP) patrol.
The VETCAP, dubbed Operation Green Acres, kicked-off in the early afternoon at the El Thawan Primary School. Both U.S. Soldiers and NPs assisted with all aspects of the process short of actually completing the examinations.
After an announcement in the area, a total of twenty five farmers arrived throughout the three-hour duration of the examinations. They brought a number of animals, ranging from single cows to herds of sheep.
The VETCAP was a welcomed event since farmers usually had to transport sick animals to Baghdad, which is at least a 45-minute drive.
After conducting examinations, Ahle dewormed 153 sheep and 16 cows. He also diagnosed several other injuries, including a cyst build-up on a cow’s shoulder and a parasitic infection that was causing a cow to lose hair on its flank.
When completed with a farmer’s livestock, Ahle talked extensively with each individual on health and care of the animals.
“Even though we were able to provide veterinary care to farmers who have not seen a vet in three years, the most important part of this event was getting the NP involved,” Ahle said of the VTCAP. “Getting the local nationals to see that they could trust the NPs was one of the important aspects of the operation.”
The VETCAP proved to be a success.
“We had a pretty good showing from the villages and it seemed like the LN were receptive to what we were trying to accomplish,” said 1st Lt. Andrew Kimes, the C Trp. platoon leader.
The 1-89 plans to conduct future VETCAPs in order to continue providing assistance to the LNs of the area.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Lt. Col. Valledor's interview on Channel 8

Lt. Col. John Valledor was interviewed by cable Channel 8 for the Northeast Region.
View the interview on the Department of Defense's Digital Video and Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS) at
this link.

10th Mtn. Div. Assoc. Members Wanted

WANTED: Members for the Fort Drum Chapter, National Association
of the 10th Mt. Div.

From Jan. to May 1945, the 10th Mt. Div. distinguished itself in combat (Mt. Belvedere, Riva Ridge and the Po Valley) and in peace keeping and stability operations (Northern Italy and Yugoslavia).

When the veterans of the 10th Mt. Div. returned home from the battlefields most went to school or work and began raising families. Only years later did they begin to look for their buddies. The National Association of the 10th Mt. was not formed until 1971.

In 2007, in Denver CO, the World War II 10th Mt. Div. Veterans will pass the leadership of the Association to us, the 10th Mt. Div. (Light). To keep it a viable organization we will need to have a minimum of 5,000 members.
Today's Mountain Soldiers are building upon the legacy of our WWII Veterans. They have added combat, peacekeeping and stability operations in Hurricane Andrew, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Horn of Africa and Iraq to the division's history. They and you deserve an association that fosters the camaraderie of Soldiers who bonded on the battlefield or shared the hazards of peace keeping and stability operations.
To that end I encourage you who are combat veterans to become members now and those of you who are not, to become members of our association upon your return from Iraq and Afghanistan. Application forms can be obtained on the 10th Mt. Div. Association Website: www.10thmtndivassoc.org or by contacting me at plummike@aol.com.

This is how the Fort Drum Chapter spends your dues: helped erect the Military Mountaineers Statue; erected the 9-11 Memorial; erected and keeps plaques current on Heroes Walk; supports local chapter visits to Walter Reed Army Medical Center to provide 10th Mt. Div. gifts to our wounded warriors; supports the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic; started and is building the 10th Mt. Div. (Light) scholarship fund; conducts reunions: provides awards to the Soldier and NCO of the year; and provides financial support for the "Mountain of Toys" annual Christmas event.

Michael T. Plummer
President, Fort Drum NY Chapter

WWII veteran recalls visit with Mountain Soldiers

A Visit to the United States Military Hospital at Landstuhl, Germany, 19 March 2007

As we descend from the train in Landstuhl (Anna Marie drags a huge trunk of gifts behind her) we see a handsome service woman in uniform waving us on – Sergeant First Class Wendy Werner, who will, in her own car, drive us to the Landstuhl Military Hospital. Already aware of Anna Marie's earlier visits, she will be our guide –“sponsor” it said on our admission papers—for the day’s visit.
Driving up into the forested hills of Landstuhl, we find an American community organized around a single purpose – to serve and heal the injured, the wounded, the sick service men and women brought in from embattled places, Iraq, Afghanistan, wherever they are. In modern, utilitarian-style buildings and grounds extended out along the wooded hillside, this American community—the hospital and living quarters – framed in the German forest. And, protected by German security guards who process our entry procedure.
My first impression, walking along the grounds and inside the hospital -- of people easy with each other in their various uniforms – was of entering a big family, at least a family-like community, at ease with itself. Whatever the roles they are engaged in, theirs is work whose purpose is large and unquestionable. And, they have been given the means –a spacious, equipped and modern hospital – to do it right.
Our “sponsor” can be noted here to represent the qualities of this hospital community. Having already completed a year’s tour as a medic in Iraq, Sergeant First Class Wendy Werner is now liaison officer in the hospital for the specialized 10th Mountain Soldiers . Sergeant Werner, young --in her early thirties-- guided us room by room, her rapport with each different bed-ridden soldier suggesting her likely future in a therapeutic capacity.

Then, coming to the purpose of our visit, Anna Marie's official relationship to the Mountain Soldiers (as “descendant”) has for several years been visiting this and other military hospitals at home and abroad, observing and visiting the wounded and sick to bring whatever comfort might be possible, and to bear witness that the world is not permitted to forget the servicemen’s sacrifice. On this occasion, as a surviving World War II veteran, I was invited to be part of this mission.
Also, on this occasion, we were bringing trunk-loads of gifts to distribute directly to the service people in their hospital rooms. In this instance, these gift donations had been organized by Democrats Abroad, from Americans living abroad as far away as New Delhi and Canada, and often reflecting the national cultures (India, Italy, etc.) of their current residences. (This gift distribution in Germany took advantage of the opportunity offered by the international meeting of overseas American Democrats in Heidelberg, March 15 -18. So generous were the donations that two-thirds of the gifts had to be left in Germany for later distribution!)
With “Sgt. Wendy” we went from room to room where servicemen and women from their beds greeted us in ways that showed they appreciated our visit, perhaps, sometimes even more than the gifts, though of course they were gratefully received. My function as a visiting veteran of World War II? Well, one guy from his bed said quite pointedly, “I’m here surviving, because you were there back then.” But the main point was for someone with first-hand military experience to be on hand to show empathy and comprehension beyond today’s world.
The bed-ridden men we visited, time after time, for the most part could be described as “trying to make the best of it,” little complaining: one fellow saying he would return to the front when eventually healed; another saying all he wanted was to get back to his family; one very tearfully grieving how his best friend, in action right beside him, had not survived; yet another telling us that his leg got crushed between two trucks on the very last day of his tour.
These sick and wounded service people are far from home and it is not difficult to discern their anxiety for the future, and they appreciate any spontaneous show of concern, respect and hopefulness, even in an unsolicited, “Hi, how d’y’feel?” But note, we couldn’t be there at all without our “sponsor” Sgt. Wendy and the special status of Anna Marie –maybe, maybe I’d be welcome as a vet – the military doesn’t want too many people wandering around its bailiwicks. But the hospital staff? “Welcome” they say with every gesture.
And, finally, we are confronted by a sad thoughtfulness, tempered by hopefulness – confronting our world that still demands such needless suffering and sacrifice, but hopefulness in seeing the courage and forbearance of the sick and the wounded and the devotion of the community of people ministering to them.

Beresford Hayward
World War II Veteran Air Force

Iraqi, U.S. Soldiers outfit schools

By Spc. Chris McCann
2nd BCT PAO, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) Public Affairs

AZ ZAIDON, Iraq — The children, wide-eyed at the sight of Iraqi soldiers in their schools, seemed a little frightened at first, but within moments, as the soldiers began handing out cookies and asking questions about the day’s lessons, they warmed up.
Iraqi soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division visited two schools with troops of the 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) and the military transition team from 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division March 29.
The visits, which provided much-needed school supplies like chalkboards and generators, also served to let the children and teachers see that the Iraqi troops serve the country and are available.
“Please give me your phone number,” Ta’if School headmaster Nafir Abdullah asked the Iraqi troops. “And don’t be a stranger. This school is always open to you, and we would love to have you help educate the children.”
Sgt. Richard Fulham, a native of Toms River, N.J., and a squad leader with Troop A, 1-89, distributed cookies from a box to several classes of youngsters.
“My mother-in-law made them for me – but I just had to give them to the kids,” he said. “I get too many cookies anyway.”
The children shouted and waved, competing for the troops’ attention and photographs before the teachers called them back to class.
The little assistance that was provided was well received.
“Most of the teachers here work without receiving a salary,” Abdullah explained. The school, while well-kept, is very poor. “There are plenty of terrorist attacks at night, but during the day it’s very safe. But we have no problems with the Iraqi or U.S. Soldiers coming – please feel free to come anytime.”
At the Al-Haafaththa school just up the road, the combined patrol again distributed much-needed goods and goodies to the children and teachers.
“We’re doing a humanitarian assistance operation here,” said Capt. Joshua Schneider, a native of Phoenix, Ariz., and the staff maneuver adviser to the Iraqi Army for MiTT 0632.
“We’ve brought generators, blackboards, book bags filled with school supplies like pens and pencils and notebook paper, and activity books for school.”
About 60 Iraqi soldiers came on the operation.
“The reception has been very good,” Schneider added. “The teachers and Iraqi soldiers are building stronger relationships, and that’s only going to help this area.”
“It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, helping the children,” said 1st Lt. Kevin Grilo, a native of Millington, N.J., and the executive officer for Troop A. “If we give them the ability to learn and get an education, they’re less vulnerable to other influences – like extremist views.”
Platoon leader 1st Lt. Adam Robison, a native of Columbus, Ohio, was also upbeat about the mission.
“Seeing the kids respond to us handing out toys and book bags is always great – they are so happy. It’s like we’re Santa Claus to them,” Robison said. “I think doing missions like this with the Iraqi soldiers allows people to see that they (the soldiers) care and that they’re starting to take responsibility for their country so they can start taking over.”

Commando Brigade's tour extended

By Col. Mike Kershaw,
Commander, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division

On April 11, 2007 Secretary Gates announced the tours of duty for active-duty Soldiers will be extended for up to 15 months. The news was difficult for Soldiers and their family members.
There are a number of reasons for the extension. Chief among them are the current surge of forces in Iraq, as well as the desire to give Soldiers in deploying units a minimum of 12 months at home before being redeployed. The Fort Drum installation and the 10th Mountain Division are enacting measures to help the families with the additional burden of having loved ones deployed in excess of a year and will provide support and information in the coming weeks to the Family Readiness Groups.
The extension of the Soldiers not only affects our families, but our friends in the local community as well. I would like to extend a special thanks to the residents of the greater Watertown area who have graciously supported Commando Brigade Soldiers since the beginning of the deployment. As I visit with our Soldiers in the small patrol bases and austere battle positions that dot the countryside of South Baghdad, I never fail to see some gift from home, whether a package, pictures or letters from some of our many support groups. It is often the only reminder of normalcy in this war torn land for the Soldiers of our Brigade Combat Team.
As the months pass it is my hope the community will continue to support our Soldiers and family members as it has before. This support means much to the deployed Soldiers and their family members. It reminds them that values like service and sacrifice are still valued in our country and that the citizens of our great nation have not forgotten their sacrifice in this difficult mission.
As we continue our mission in Iraq I hope that the community will continue to keep the Commando Brigade Combat Team and those we serve alongside in their thoughts and prayers. Thank you for your support.

Allons Battalion experiences real-life mass casualties

FORWARD OPERATING BASE MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq – When Soldiers train for combat treating mass casualties is often simulated, preparing them for the real deal.
Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment and the 210th Brigade Support Battalion who are attached to the 2-15, both of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) experienced a real-life mass casualty at the aid station on Forward Operating Base Mahmudiyah, Iraq April 8.
The Soldiers provided medical care to more than 26 Iraqis who were brought in for wounds suffered from terrorist attacks.
“I felt good that I was able to be at the site to help them (the Iraqis),” said Pfc. Lisa Dueker, a 210th BSB medic attached to 2-15 and native of Carbondale, Ill. “Helping them makes me feel like I am contributing … I know why I am here (in Iraq).”
Of the Iraqis treated were four children, one who suffered a gunshot wound to the lower abdomen.
“I have three children of my own and it makes me sad to see violence toward such innocent people,” said Capt. Damon Cudihy, a native of Marietta, Ga., who currently serves as the 2-15 surgeon. “Seeing these children hurt is indicative of the nature of evil that is going on here.”
As people were pouring into the aid station Soldiers from all over the FOB were there ready to lend a helping hand.
“I always help out when I can,” said Chaplain (Capt.) Rich West, the 2-15 chaplain and native of San Diego. “I am also here to console the Iraqis if they need it and let them know that everything is going to be okay.”
As West and other Soldiers worked diligently to aid the Iraqis, a medic spoke of what it was like to be there.
“We have always trained for this (a mass casualty), but I never expected it,” said Spc. Cecilia Morales, a 210th medic attached to 2-15 and native of San Diego. “The one thing that got to me was seeing the hurt children; the terrorists have no compassion for life.”
Dueker took a moment to explain why the Iraqis are being treated by the Americans.
“We realize that the local towns have limited medical care and cannot do what we can in terms of care,” she explained. “We don’t turn anyone away; if they do not receive the proper treatment they could die.”
Throughout the day the patients were seen for injuries ranging from shrapnel to burns and gunshot wounds.
“The patient that I was treating had a shrapnel wound in the back of her leg … you could see her bone,” Dueker said of a wounded Iraqi girl.
The injured girl’s mother wept as she spoke of the Americans.
“The Americans see that the Iraqis are injured and help,” said Lateefh Moder Salmon, a resident of Mahmudiyah. “I cannot believe what the terrorists have done … they hurt my daughter and the Americans are helping.”
After all patients were treated, the battalion commander commended them for their performance.
“We have a great aid station and Soldiers,” said Lt. Col. Bob Morschauser, the 2-15 commander and native of Fairless Hills, Penn. “They all pulled together and did an outstanding job.”
The following day Morschauser recognized each of the Soldiers with a battalion coin - a small token of appreciation for know that their work saved lives.

Iraqi NCOs bring, receive honor

MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq – When Saddam Hussein’s regime was in power the Iraqi army was run by only officers. It was considered disrespectful for Iraqi noncommissioned officers to wear their rank.
Since the fall of the regime, wearing the NCO rank has become a sign of pride and respect. And to honor the rank Iraqi NCOs attend the Iraqi Warrior Leader’s Course.
About 20 Iraqi soldiers from the 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division graduated from the WLC at the Iraqi army compound in Mahmudiyah, Iraq, Monday.
“It is a great thing seeing the IA take on the role of an NCO,” said Lt. Col. John Laganelli, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) deputy commanding officer and native of Worcester, Mass. “This is something new – they are seeing -- the link between NCOs and officers.”
During the graduation a senior American NCO spoke of what it was like to see the IA NCOs.
“The NCO Corps is the backbone of the Army,” said 1st Sgt. Henry Brown Sr., the acting 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd BCT command sergeant major and native of Georgetown, S.C. “It is kind of like the body – it needs a backbone to hold everything together. I am proud to be here today.”
The 17-day course, which has been improved by 2-15, is similar to the American WLC. It consists of subjects such as map reading, troop leading procedures, patrolling and searching techniques. The students also conduct physical fitness training twice a day.
“I am very tough on the students because I want them to be the best,” said Master Sgt. Wesam Muhammed al Shaheed, the senior WLC instructor. “I am teaching them so they will know what to do – there is no room for mistakes when you are fighting terrorists.”
Another instructor spoke of what it was like to attend the course when he went through it.
“The class is very important to the IA,” said Sgt. Akeel, a WLC instructor. “It teaches us what an NCO is supposed to do. We need this course to make the IA successful.”
And since the fall of the regime, Iraqi officers are now able to truly respect the NCO Corps.
“Seeing the Soldiers graduate from the WLC makes me very happy,” said Brig, Gen. Ali, the 4-6 IA commander. “We need these NCOs in the IA – they help out a lot.”
Although the IA WLC is ran by the Iraqis, the 2-15 will continue to assist with future classes.

Commando Brigade spouses make contributions to wounded Soldiers

Multi-National Division – Center PAO, By Staff Sgt. Angela McKinzie
2nd BCT, 10th Mountain PAO

CAMP STRIKER, Iraq – As Soldiers in Iraq are making a difference in the lives of Iraqis, family members are back home making a difference in a different, yet significant way.
Family members of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) have been working diligently to raise money for the Friends of the Commandos Fund, a fund that enables the 2nd BCT Rear Detachment command group to purchase items for the wounded Soldiers.
Recently, a group of 2nd BCT women gathered at the home of Alisa Mahoney, the 2nd BCT command sergeant major’s wife, to prepare 200 Asian meals as part of the fundraiser.
“It was a pretty ambitious undertaking,” Mrs. Mahoney said. “However, the hard work was such a minor issue because the mission is so important to the 2nd BCT.”
Knowing the amount of work involved in preparing the meals did not intimidate the family members. And to make sure everything was prepared just right, Nguyet Borja, the 10th Mountain Division command sergeant major’s wife, watched with a careful eye.
“Her expert Asian culinary skills were instrumental in the planning and the preparation of the meals,” Mahoney said of Borja. “She was the backbone and the head chef both in shopping, prepping the food and then cooking all the different items in the meal. We all followed her directions (in making this a success).”
They cooked 140 pounds of meat, 50 pounds of rice and made 1000 wontons. They began preparing the meals a day in advance and finished them the following day.
“After it was all over, we had a strong sense of teamwork and we had fun in the process,” Mrs. Mahoney said.
The meals consisted of wontons, bulgogi, cucumber kimchi and fried rice. And once they were ready, the Rear-D delivered the meals to several locations on Fort Drum, N.Y.
“I think it is admirable that families back home are continuing to take care of our wounded Soldiers,” said Lt. Col. John Laganelli, the 2nd BCT deputy commander. “Gestures like this make the Commando Brigade such a phenomenal unit to be a part of.”
With the money raised, wounded Soldiers who are at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., or Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, will receive a gym bag, athletic suit with snap-away pants, and a t-shirt and gym shorts with the 2nd BCT logo on them. In addition, the fund will provide gifts at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. In the future, the wounded Soldiers will also receive a 2nd BCT blanket.
Knowing the difference the Commando family members are making left them wanting to do more.
“You know it was a success when everyone wants to know when we are doing it again,” Mrs. Mahoney exclaimed.
Like Commando Soldiers who make a difference in Iraq, Commando family members make a difference on the home front.
“It is not just Soldiers taking care of Soldiers,” Laganelli said of the family members. “It is families taking care of Soldiers.”
Family members who participated in the fundraiser were Nguyet Borja, Michelle Kershaw, Alisa Mahoney, Amanda Trayah, Rosie Holmes and her son Frederick, Susan Harrison, Leah Jones, Sue Jones-Horny, Mary Proctor-Smith, Kaye Goldthorpe, Nicole Smith, Jana Haycock, Alexandra Grinston, Elaine Andrews and Mia Santarsiero.
For donations, contact 1st Sgt. Brian Byrd, the 2nd BCT Rear-D first sergeant, at brian.e.byrd@us.army.mil.

Lucky charms come in more than a box

2nd BCT, 10th Mountain PAO
Multi-National Division – Center PAO

BAGHDAD – In World War II, many Soldiers carried a rabbit foot believing that it brought them luck.
Today, Soldiers carry on the tradition of good luck charms during their time in Iraq.
Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), stuff anything from bouncy balls to bottle caps in their pockets believing such items will bring good luck to them.
While some may say carrying good luck charms is purely superstitious, Soldiers disagree.
“While I was out on a patrol our vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device and the truck flipped over … I was supposed to be dead,” said Pfc. Kyle James, a native of Seattle, Wash., who serves as a gunner with the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment. “During the incident, I was wearing a cross that my mother gave me around my neck and when I took my shirt off that evening the chain was broken, but I was okay,” James said of the cross he now carries in his earplug case. “I believe the cross is good luck.”
Like James, other Soldiers have their own reasons for carrying such items.
“I have a plastic bag I keep letters from my family,” said Spc. Jeromy LeVeck, a gunner with the personal security detachment of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd BCT, and native of Finelay, Ohio. “I read the letters before and after patrols. They remind me of why I’m in Iraq.”
As Soldiers spoke of their good luck charms, Staff Sgt. Davis Francis, also with the HHC, 2nd BCT personal security detachment, rubbed his fingers across a worn, black, metal bracelet with someone’s name inscribed on it.
“The bracelet reminds me of a fellow Soldier who was killed in 2005 from an IED,” the Junction City, Kan., native explained. “After he was killed, I ordered this bracelet with his name inscribed on it as a memorial to him.”
Francis went on to explain that he had been wearing the bracelet for two years.
“I never take the bracelet off,” Francis said as he rubbed the bracelet. “It bugs me if I have the bracelet off.”
As discussions continued regarding good luck charms, one Soldier stood up and pulled out a bent bottle cap from his pocket.
“I have had this bottle cap with me since the first memorial ceremony I had ever attended,” said Spc. Justin Rankin, the 4-31 Inf. armorer and native of Horseheads, N.Y. “Just before the memorial ceremony I bought a soda which had this top on it. I’ve had it with me ever since. It is my good luck charm.”
While many Soldiers have good luck charms they carry, where the charms are placed is just as important.
“I carry pictures of my wife and children in my left breast pocket,” said Sgt. Shane Courville, a native of Orange, Vt., who serves as a medic with HHC, 4-31 Inf. “They are carried there so they can always be next to my heart.”
Although good luck charms are often thought of as individual keepsakes, there are some Soldiers who have a good luck charm for their vehicles.
“We have a soccer ball we carry in the back of our truck,” said Spc. Brian Cole, a 2nd Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd BCT medic and native of Jacksonville, Fla. “It was the first soccer ball we were ever given to throw out to the Iraqi children, but we kept it for good luck. We make sure the ball is with us whenever we go on missions. It never leaves the truck.”
Just like the veterans of previous wars, Soldiers continue to carry a little bit of luck with them wherever they go.

Commando Brigade and Iraqi army render aid after car bombing

Multi-National Division – Center PAO

MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq — Coalition and Iraqi troops secured the area after a car bomb detonation near the south Baghdad city of Mahmudiyah, Sunday.
Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) and the 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division rendered aid to Iraqi local nationals after a car bomb detonated at a mechanic shop killing 17 Iraqis and injuring 26 others.
“Today was an evil attack and I as an Iraqi am very sad,” said Brig. Gen. Ali, the 4-6 IA commander. “However, the terrorists will not get away with this.”
The attack, which was coordinated just one day before the anniversary of Iraq’s liberation, was intended to disrupt the lives of the Iraqis.
Since the terrorist have seen us making so much progress they are trying to undermine what we have done by hurting their own people and discrediting our efforts,” said Lt. Col. Bob Morschauser, the 2-15 commander and native of Fairless Hills, Penn.
Within minutes of the detonation, U.S. and IA soldiers secured the site and rendered aid to the wounded.
“Today [the car bomb] was a disaster, but we were there helping our people … protecting them,” said Sgt. Mohammed Jouad Kazeen, a personal security detachment noncommissioned officer with the 4-6. “We will do what we can to oppress the terrorists and get them out of our country.”
During the incident a medic spoke of what it was like to treat the Iraqis.
“I really want to help the Iraqis and providing quality medical care is just one way that I feel I am contributing,” said Spc. James Buron, a medic with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2-15 and native of Phippsburg, Maine. “But the tough patients are children. Just a few weeks ago a child was changing the oil underneath a car when it exploded. We never found the child.”
Just steps away from where Buron was rendering medical aid an Iraqi child screamed in anguish. His father, brother and uncle were all killed from the detonation.
“It is very sad to see this,” said Abdali, an Iraqi local national. “We have not done anything to these people and yet they still hurt us. They are not human; they do not care about life.”
As Iraqi policemen, doctors and firefighters worked to clear the scene and render aid, Morschuaser spoke of what it was like to see the Iraqis helping their own.
“It is nice to see the progress here and seeing democracy beginning to bloom,” he said. “Just a few months ago the Iraqis could not even shop at the market, but now they are able to. We are headed in the right direction.”
With the progress the 2-15 and 4-6 IA soldiers have made, there leaves the terrorists little room for attacks.
“They are attacking the only areas where they can get to since we have taken so much away from them,” Morschauser said of the attack. “However, we cannot shut the entire city down to vehicular traffic.”
Morschauser went on to explain the security measures that have been implemented to stop the attacks.
“We spoke with the maintenance shop owners and told them to check any car that comes in for repairs,” he said. “Since they have nowhere else to attack, they are choosing these types of shops.”
Although the terrorists may have felt like they had a small victory from the attack, Ali disagrees.
“We will find these people who have done this and we will continue doing our jobs,” Ali said. “They are trying their best to stop progress, but they will not succeed.”
As Ali said those words, Morschauser agreed.
“We have been with the 4-6 IA for seven months now, and we have done everything together,” he commented. “We (Ali and my Soldiers) will continue to work as true partners to prevent attacks like this one.”
Although the 2-15 Soldiers are helping the IA stop the terrorists, the Iraqi people themselves are contributing to the effort.
“Iraqis have and will continue to give us tips of enemy activity in the area,” Morschauser commented. “They talk to us because they trust us. We have a different agenda than the terrorists.”
Just like the Americans, Marschauser commented, the Iraqis want a safe place to live and raise their families. This makes you feel terrible, he added, but also makes you realize how much we (the Americans) take for granted in our lives back in the states.”

Utica Radio Station Sends Soldiers a Taste of Home

Multi-National Division – Baghdad PAO

2nd Lt. Laura Clark
210th BSB, 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI)

CAMP STRIKER, Iraq — Soldiers deployed to various locations around the world may feel as if their hard work and dedication to fighting the War on Terrorism goes unnoticed by those back home.
Soldiers from the 210th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) were shown how much the U.S. citizens support them when they recently received a massive shipment of care packages.
The support, which came in many small packages, came from the Big Frog 104 FM Radio Station out of Utica, N.Y.
Each box overflowed with items ranging from magazines to assorted personal hygiene items.
One of the Soldiers took time to comment about the boxes received from the radio station.
“It’s cool, it boosts morale and it lets you know people out there care about you,” said Sgt. Albert Bartlett, a Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 210th BSB signal operations noncommissioned officer and native of Olive Branch, Ark. “And it doesn’t matter if it’s not your birthday or Christmas, everyone likes opening boxes.”
After unwrapping and marveling at the snacks and gifts sent, Soldiers then split all the items so that each company was able to return to their places of work and share the items with comrades.
“It’s magnificent that people took time out of their busy schedules back home to send us things we need,” said Pvt. Eboni Johnson, a Company B, 210th BSB supply clerk and native of Alexandria, La. “I thought that the boxes were a show of the amazing support from those at home. Each Soldier was excited and encouraged in some way by the acts of kindness evident in the care packages.”

Supply Support Soldiers keep missions moving

By Staff Sgt. Angela McKinzie
2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) Public Affairs

CAMP STRIKER, Iraq — In a yard, just minutes away from a tactical operations center, on Camp Striker, Iraq lies a secret – a secret that remains untold until it is visited.
Soldiers of the supply support activity, 210th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) work every day at the SSA yard to ensure the supply flow runs smoothly while in Iraq.
The Soldiers provide a variety of classes of supplies to include food, office, petroleum, barriers, repair parts and major end items.
Currently, the SSA provides service to about 150 customers and stocks 3,794 lines of separate parts supporting more units than just the 2nd BCT.
“I love to be able to support the customers here and out in sector,” Sgt. LeMarkisha Hill, the SSA stock control noncommissioned officer in charge and native of New York, N.Y. “We make sure supplies are available so Soldiers can continue their missions.”
Although the supply system may seem like a relatively easy job to the average person, the system is quite complex.
The SSA consists of several different stations that are manned by different Soldiers.
“It is hard to understand the SSA unless you have seen each part of it,” explained 1st Lt. Jay Schulz, a native of Kenosha, Wisc., who serves as a 210th BSB general support platoon leader.
The hub of SSA is known as the stock control section. This section is responsible for keeping accountability of the shipping, requisitioning, issuing and inventorying reports of all items.
“Each day we perform three different types of transactions, one in the morning, noon and the evening,” Hill said of the stock control section. “Often, customers can get items the same day if we have them on hand. We do a walk through to see if we have the items the customer may be looking for.”
The first of the SSA is the receiving station. Soldiers work nightlong to inventory incoming supplies and get the new items ready for the day-shift Soldiers.
“We have these Soldiers work at night to minimize the traffic at the SSA,” Schulz explained.
After the items are ordered and received they are placed in their appropriate places.
One place that the supplies are placed is known as the storage section, which consists of 50 large, connexes metal shipping containers of repair parts, 14 connexes of petroleum, oil and lubrication supplies and 20 additional smaller connexes of other repair parts. The Soldiers in this section work all day ensuring that each part is put in its proper location.
“You stay busy all day,” said Spc. Joel Reyes, a native of New York, N.Y., who serves as an SSA supply clerk. “We are constantly receiving and pushing out parts.”
And when supplies are broken or items, such as a vehicle that was too damaged to be fixed from an improvised explosive device, are no longer serviceable or there are simply excess items the SSA’s turn-in section takes care of getting rid of.
When the supplies are ready to be given to the customer the issuing section takes the reins and works with the units to make sure the customers get their supplies.
“As soon as we get the parts we notify the customers right away,” said Sgt. Luis Cribillero, the issuing section NCOIC and native of Queens, N.Y. “It is a demanding job and very long hours, but we will do anything to complete the mission.
Although many supplies come in small packages, there are others that require forklifts to move them. The movement control section, which contains the only forklifts in the 2nd BCT, is responsible for loading and downloading a variety of items.
“The palettes of water that you see near the trailers and the TOC are put there by Soldiers of the SSA’s movement control section,” Schulz said.
“We move anything from Hesco barriers to lumber for force protection,” said Sgt. Jean Canneus, the SSA movement control NCOIC and native of Boston, Mass.
As complex as the SSA’s operation may be the Soldiers, who are currently understaffed, continue to provide quality service to their customers.
“These Soldiers have performed way beyond my expectations,” said Chief Warrant Officer Julio Hall, the 210th BSB supply systems technician and native of Grafton, N.H. “These are the most outstanding group of Soldiers I have worked with.”

Golden Dragons Discover Cache Site, VBIED Production Site

2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) Public Affairs
Multi-National Division – Baghdad PAO

RUSHDI MULLAH, Iraq – Coalition forces detained three suspected terrorist, discovered three caches and seized a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device production site here March 28.
Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) participated in an operation intended to deny terrorist safe haven in the “Golden Dragon’s” area of operations.
The operation, which consisted of air-assault and river phases, proved to be successful when elements of 2-14 Inf. discovered a house that had a false wall. Behind the false wall was a large weapons cache.
In the cache were seven RPK medium machine guns, 10 AK-47s, 30 empty AK-47 magazines, 11 full AK-47 magazines, a semi-automatic rifle, 300 9mm rounds, three full and three empty G3 assault rifle magazines, 1,000 7.62mm rounds, 200 linked unknown rounds, 12.7mm caliber brass, an expended 155mm artillery canister, two .308 bolt action rifles, a mortar fuse and a U.S.-made submachine gun.
The two other caches that were discovered consisted of and IED trigger, eight AK-47 magazines, a bayonet, 100 AK-47 rounds, two full AK-47 magazines and a mortar sighting system.
Also, during the operation a VBIED production site was discovered in the same area. Three vehicles and miscellaneous parts were found that were in the process of being modified to be used as VBIEDs.
Three suspected terrorists were detained during the operation.
The contents of the cache and the VBIEDs were destroyed during a controlled detonation conducted by the explosive ordnance disposal team.
The detainees were held for further questioning.

Baghdad Eagles and Commandos find five weapons caches and detain 38 suspected terrorists

Multi-National Division – Baghdad PAO

By Staff Sgt. Angela McKinzie
2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) Public Affairs

MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq — Iraqi and Multi-National Division – Baghdad forces detained 38 suspected terrorists, and discovered an improvised explosive device and seized five weapons caches south of Baghdad March 27.
Soldiers of the 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division and the 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) participated in Operation Eagle Thunder III, an operation intended to deny terrorists safe haven within the southern region of Iraq.
Of the suspected terrorists detained during the operation two were wanted for ties to terrorism, five were carrying illegal weapons and four others were in a vehicle that contained an AK-47, four magazines and a hand grenade.
In the caches were anti-aircraft propaganda, an insurgent information booklet, two bags of homemade explosives, a rocket propelled grenade launcher with five rockets, a 122mm projectile, a propane tank and various small arms ammunition.
Later in the operation a command wire IED was discovered near the road near the al QaQaa weapons facility, southwest of Yusufiyah.
The detainees are being held for further questioning.
The contents of the cache were destroyed during a controlled detonation conducted by the explosive ordnance disposal team.

Repaired truck symbol of life, courage

By Spc. Chris McCann
2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) Public Affairs

CAMP STRIKER, Iraq — The truck has clearly been in Iraq for awhile. The hood is a dusty green against the sand-colored cab and trailer attachment, and the undercarriage shows some hard miles. But the engine purrs like a kitten, and the two Soldiers standing under its massive grille wear broad smiles and Army Commendation Medals.
The truck, a heavy equipment transport truck or HETT, is used by Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) to recover vehicles in combat areas, usually after they are damaged by improvised explosive devices. But on Jan. 31, this particular truck hit an IED. Shrapnel fragments damaged the engine, the fuel tanks and the transmission – along with almost everything else that made the truck run – and also tore through a Soldier’s arm.
Spc. David Shulda, a native of Crestville, Ill., and a mechanic with the 2nd BSTB, was sitting in the passenger’s seat when the IED exploded under the truck. He was bleeding heavily from his arm, and as soon as driver Spc. Shawn Meinholz brought the vehicle to a stop, fellow mechanic Spc. Steven Bodruk began treating Shulda, putting a tourniquet on his arm.
“I barely kept the truck out of a canal,” Meinholz, a native of Manchester, N.H., said. “I lost control of the steering and the brakes.”
A recovery team from Forward Operating Base Yusufiyah came out to bring the Soldiers to safety; Shulda was taken to a hospital immediately.
The truck was totaled, the Soldiers said.
“At that point, we thought it was too damaged to fix,” said Meinholz. “In fact, it was totaled. But we opted to fix it.”
For their engagement by hostile forces, Bodruk and Meinholz were awarded Combat Action Badges. The Army Commendation Medals were presented for the fact that the Soldiers saved a comrade’s life and then brought the truck back to fully-mission-capable status.
“They’re the hardest working guys we have,” said motor pool administrative specialist Sgt. Lucian Ledbetter, a native of Conway, Ark. “I knew they would get it done.”
Ledbetter himself had a hand in the repairs, ordering more than 100 pieces and parts that the mechanics needed, including the new engine, winches and fuel tanks.
“It’s simply outstanding, what they did,” said Capt. Jason Anderson, a native of Crete, Ill., and the commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd BSTB. “It was way above their official skill level. They put hundreds of man-hours into this truck.”
Some Soldiers thought that Bodruk and Meinholz wouldn’t be able to restore the truck.
“People in other units said they couldn’t do it,” said Ledbetter. “They said the HETT should just be coded out and a new one requisitioned. But inside the unit, everyone had full confidence in these guys. Everyone messed with them about it, but no one ever really thought they couldn’t get it done.”
For Bodruk and Meinholz, it was never a question.
“The battalion wouldn’t have any recovery assets if we didn’t fix it,” said Bodruk. “We do 75 percent of our missions with that truck.”
But it wasn’t just for the battalion’s mission that they poured their efforts into the truck.
“Shulda would’ve wanted it done,” Meinholz said. “If he were here, (the damage) wouldn’t have stopped him.”
Shulda, who was taken to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, does physical therapy as his arm is healing, and regularly e-mails his friends in the battalion, letting them know he’s regaining strength in his hand and arm. But he doesn’t yet know that the truck he was in that night is back on the road now.
“Even though this truck is together again, we still don’t have a Shulda,” Bodruk said. “And not just as a co-worker, but as a friend.”
“They did it because they were the ones in that truck that night,” Ledbetter said. “It’s more than a truck, to them – it’s a symbol of their survival.”

Soldiers celebrate women’s achievements

By Spc. Chris McCann
2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) Public Affairs

CAMP STRIKER, Iraq — Most Soldiers in today’s Army cannot really fathom the segregation that once was a part of Army or civilian life. Women, African-Americans and every other minority have been legally, if not always practically, on equal footing for at least a generation now.
But the integration of women into the armed forces didn’t come about until 1948, and there are still misconceptions and patterns that they must overcome. The Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) gathered to celebrate the progress of women, especially in the military, and to foster understanding during the Women’s History Month observance at Camp Striker, Iraq, March 23 at the dining facility.
“I spent the best part of my adult life in infantry units,” said 2nd BCT Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony Mahoney during a brief speech. “We never had females assigned. When I came to the 2nd BCT, suddenly there were females all over in my unit. Initially, it caused me much angst.
“But after two rotations with this BCT, I don’t see females and I don’t see males. I see Soldiers,” Mahoney said.
Spc. Jenna Maravillas, a native of Lake in the Hills, Ill., and an information systems operator-analyst with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd BCT, led off the ceremony by singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” She was followed by a slide show highlighting women who contributed greatly to history, such as Dolores Huerta, who founded the Union of Farm Workers, and Sacajawea, a Native American of the Shoshone tribe who guided explorers Lewis and Clark through the Rocky Mountains in 1803.
Spc. Christina Breeden, a native of Imperial Beach, Wash., and an administrative specialist with HHC, 2nd BCT, read an original poem she wrote in honor of the month before Command Sgt. Maj. Lucille Crutcher, the keynote speaker, began her address to the gathered Soldiers.
Crutcher, a native of Douglas, Ga., is the first woman to hold the position of command sergeant major of the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team.
“I’m very honored and very touched to participate in this,” said Crutcher, who joked that she was chosen because she’s the oldest female in the BCT. “Women are definitely breaking glass ceilings in the military. Women are serving in roles I’ve never seen in my 27 years in the service. It’s amazing. There are young (female) Soldiers on personal security detachments and all kinds of missions outside the wire.”
These observances highlight those kinds of accomplishments.
“It means a lot to have these kinds of celebrations – it’s an opportunity to get our story out,” Crutcher said. “It’s definitely needed. Until people can become gender-blind, we need observances like this.”
“We’re leaving a footprint in the military,” said Spc. Lailaan Anderson, a native of Deltona, Fla., and an information systems operator-analyst with the 2nd BSTB. “There’s always more we can do, but we’re making our mark and crossing barriers.”

Golden Dragons discover home-made explosives near Radwaniyah

Multi-National Division – Baghdad PAO

RADWANIYAH, Iraq — Coalition and Iraqi forces discovered a cache containing home-made explosives southwest of here March 25.
Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment “Golden Dragons,” 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) discovered the explosives, totaling 700 pounds, in potato sacks along a reed line during a combat patrol.
The contents of the cache were destroyed during a controlled detonation conducted by an explosive ordnance disposal team.

Polar Bears seize terrorists and weapons cache

2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) Public Affairs

RUSHDI MULLAH, Iraq — Coalition forces detained an 18 year-old terrorist and discovered a weapons cache along Route Malibu south of here March 24.
Scouts from the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment “Polar Bears,” 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) detained the terrorist and found the cache during a combat operation.
The scouts noticed two local national men emplacing an improvised explosive device along Route Malibu. The patrol engaged them with small arms fire.
One terrorist was wounded during the incident, both were captured.
The scouts then searched the area where they were emplacing the IED and found a cell phone, a shovel and copper wire.
The wounded terrorist was medically evacuated to Patrol Base Inchon for medical care.
Both are being held for further questioning.

Baghdad Eagles and Commandos find nine caches near Al QaQaa Weapons Facility

By Staff Sgt. Angela McKinzie
2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) Public Affairs

MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq — Iraqi and coalition forces detained 62 suspected terrorists, discovered four improvised explosive devices and found a massive weapons cache in the Mahmudiyah, Iraq area near the Al QaQaa Weapons Facility March 23.
Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, the 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), the 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment’s advisory team, also of the 2nd BCT detained the suspected terrorists and found the weapons cache during Operation Eagle Dive, an operation intended to disrupt anti-Iraqi forces within the 2-15 FA area of operations.
During the operation Soldiers discovered a series of small caches and consolidated it into one massive cache.
In the nine caches was a 120mm mortar tube with a base plate, five 82mm mortar tubes, a 82mm base plate, three 82mm tripods, a complete 60mm mortar system, a mortar bore brush, 30 boxes of mortar primers, 70 loose mortar fuses, two sniper rifles with scopes, nine 155mm projectiles, 122 82mm projectiles, a 105mm projectile, 122 82mm projectiles, 106 60mm projectiles, six rocket-propelled grenade-7 systems, an RPG scope, an RPG night scope, 55 RPG-7 rounds, seven RPG-9 rounds, 15 boxes of PKC ammunition, 18 AK-47s, 10 pounds of unknown explosives, 15 hand grenades, a partial 14.5mm projectile, a M-759 fuze, 15 complete sets of Iraqi Army uniforms, 20 feet of detonation cord, 24 blasting caps, three anti-aircraft platforms, two anti-aircraft barrels, 100 loose rounds, four acetylene tanks, three Motorola radios, a 8mm video tape, various medical supplies, various anti-Iraqi forces compact discs and religious paperwork.
“These caches are probably related to larger trafficking of arms throughout that area,” said Lt. Col. Frank Andrews, the 2nd BCT executive officer and native of Apex, N.C. “The IA uniforms found in the cache were likely to be used by the terrorist to intimidate local nationals in the area in an effort to discredit the Iraqi Army.”
The caches were destroyed during a controlled detonation conducted by an explosive ordnance disposal team.
Four improvised explosive devices were also discovered in the area along Route Jackson, one of the main routes leading into the Mahmudiyah area.
During the operation Soldiers discovered two bodies of local nationals who appeared to have been executed.
The 68 detainees were taken to Patrol Base Mahmudiyah, Iraq for further questioning.
“This operation highlighted the competence of the extremely capable 4th Brigade., 6th Iraqi Army Division, who planned and executed it (the operation) with support from their partnered unit, 2-15 FAR,” Andrews added.

Be of good cheer – a commentary from a family member

By Tom Mansur
Family member

The news that the 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment “Wolverines,” 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) will be extended in Iraq for up to three months is of course disappointing for all of us who hoped our Cavalry Soldiers will be home on time.
The notion that the unit could be extended has always been a possibility. Many units serving in Iraq before and now have had their tours lengthened according to the tactical situation and the readiness of units scheduled to follow. It is of course, quite a difficult task to man and schedule units so that they are trained, shipped and deployed into a combat theater. And, more importantly, the units have to be engaged and disengaged according to the tactical situation on the ground.
For the Wolverines, the tactical situation is greatly improved. The soldiers have, by any measure and all reports, served with honor, achieved steady progress and accomplished every mission. The work remains difficult but there remains no doubt that our Soldiers - our sons, our brothers, our husbands and wives- have been up to the task.
One of, if not the most important keys to the Wolverines' success has been their morale. After all, no unit can succeed without a positive outlook. There has been not any instance in the history of warfare where a unit was able to win victories on the battlefield without a belief in themselves and their cause. In every combat situation there is always doubt and fear and, to be sure, there is not a Soldier in the Wolverine squadron who would not prefer to be home. But, every Soldier there can be proud of the success they have achieved, the commitment they have made, and the daily striving they undertake with their fellow comrades.
The commitment and success of the wives and children of the Wolverines has been no less heartening. Either as a part of the family readiness groups or by individual charity, the spouses of the rear detachment Soldiers have stuck together. To be sure, there have been tough days, there have been challenges, and there have been upsets. With any organization there are always differing opinions, different styles and conflicting ideas but that is no different than with any organization.

The key with success on the home front is the same as success on the battlefield. We have to think we can win. As a wise sage once said, "The man who thinks he can and the man who thinks he can't are both right." Our success, our forbearance and our happiness as waiting families depends first and foremost on our willingness to be successful, be patient and be happy.
Yes, happiness is really a choice. It is something we decide to do, not merely something that happens to us. Even as I write this, I wonder if this is true. I am not so naïve as to believe that there have not been or will not be unhappy days, unhappy events. On the contrary, our unit has had losses, our spouses are lonely and our children long for order and calm in our families.
And perhaps the best way to achieve all of these conflicting challenges is simply decide to do so. Know that our unit has undertaken a worthy cause, its leaders strive for tactical excellence and the Soldiers are tough and heroic. They will be home soon. We certainly have reason to be of good cheer.

Tom Mansur is a retired soldier from Oklahoma who now works as an engineer. His wife Cindy is a cheerful Army wife.