"The Department of Defense announced today the death of five soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died in An Najaf, Iraq, on Jan. 5, when an improvised explosive device detonated near their HMMWV during convoy operations. The soldiers were assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas
Maj. William F. Hecker, III, 37, of St. Louis, Mo.
Capt. Christopher P. Petty, 33, of Vienna, Va.
Sgt. 1st Class Stephen J. White, 39, of Talladega, Ala.
Sgt. Johnny J. Peralez, Jr., 25, of Kingsville, Texas.
Pvt. Robbie M. Mariano, 21, of Stockton, Calif.
Let’s all pray and give our support to the families and friends of these 4ID Soldiers."
Volume 2, Number 12 – 1-7-06
It has been a difficult three days in Iraq since my last update. Eleven Soldiers and Marines were killed in Iraq on Thursday, 5 January, along with many Iraqi citizens. Five of the Soldiers killed were assigned to 4ID, the other six were not part of the 4ID.
DoD Identifies Army Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the death of five soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died in An Najaf, Iraq, on Jan. 5, when an improvised explosive device detonated near their HMMWV during convoy operations. The soldiers were assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas
Maj. William F. Hecker, III, 37, of St. Louis, Mo.
Capt. Christopher P. Petty, 33, of Vienna, Va.
Sgt. 1st Class Stephen J. White, 39, of Talladega, Ala.
Sgt. Johnny J. Peralez, Jr., 25, of Kingsville, Texas.
Pvt. Robbie M. Mariano, 21, of Stockton, Calif.
Let’s all pray and give our support to the families and friends of these 4ID Soldiers.
(Corpus Christi) Area man, 25, killed in Iraq
Army sergeant played in Falfurrias HS band
By MARI SAUGIER – Corpus Christi Caller Times
January 7, 2006
Army Sgt. Johnny Joe Peralez, a 1998 graduate of Falfurrias High School, died in An Najaf, Iraq, on Thursday, a family spokeswoman said. He was 25.
Copyright 2006, Caller.com. All Rights Reserved
Peralez, who played the alto saxophone in the Falfurrias High School band, was a combat medic in the 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood. He would have turned 26 in February.
Peralez was one of five soldiers killed when a roadside bomb exploded near their vehicle during convoy operations…
By the time you read this, the Transfer of Responsibility has most likely already taken place. I will have more details about the ceremony in the next update but didn’t want to wait for that story to hit the news before getting this update out.
Military Prepares for Transfer
American Forces Press Service
|WASHINGTON, Jan. 6, 2006 – Two Army divisions are preparing for a transfer of responsibility in Baghdad tomorrow (Saturday)…
The 3rd Infantry Division will turn over authority for Multinational Division Baghdad to the 4th Infantry Division.
Army Maj. Gen. William Webster Jr., 3rd ID commander, will case the "Marne" Division’s colors during the transfer ceremony, and Maj. Gen. J.D. Thurman, 4th ID commander, will uncase the "Ironhorse" Division’s colors.
‘Warhorse Brigade’ grieves loss
FOB Kalsu, Iraq, January 04, 2006 11:10
Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, mourned the death of two Soldiers in a memorial ceremony Dec. 29.
The memorial honored Pvt. Joshua Morberg, 20, from Sparks, Nev., and Spc. Lance Sage, 26, from Hempstead, N.Y., who were killed by improvised explosive devices during combat operations Dec. 27.
Their deaths mark the brigade’s first loss since its arrival in Iraq in early December.
With the intent to the disrupt terrorist activity in the area of operation, the battalion’s Soldiers carried on the mission alongside their Iraqi partners in spite of the setback, said Lt. Col. James Howard, commander, 2-8 Inf.
"We continued to clear our objectives and then began an orderly exfiltration. This is exactly how we will handle our loss of two fine men and how we will pay tribute to them," Howard said. "We will continue the mission, committed to our objectives and to our end state, without wavering."
The Soldiers shared many outstanding qualities, said Capt. Ralph Overland, commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2-8 Inf. "They were the best our country has to offer. They always gave 100 percent without a complaint. They were tough. They were disciplined. And most of all, they lifted our spirits in the darkest of days," Overland said.
Overland described Morberg as a Soldier who loved being a scout and who was always positive about what he was doing and where he was going. His (Morberg’s) teammates liked him because he was a good listener, easy going, and had a great sense of humor, but most of all "because he cared for them."
The company commander described Sage as very smart, especially with computers. He said that he liked imitating people, especially Sgt. 1st Class Michael Mancuso, scout platoon sergeant, HHC, 2-8 Inf. But after his time in the HHC training room, the "first sergeant and I sent him back to the scouts because we knew he needed them as much as they needed him for this mission."
"We did not lose Sage and Morberg. They will be with us throughout our mission. They will give us strength, and they will watch over us."
Overland said the best way to honor Sage, Morberg and their families is to pick each other up and to accomplish "this complex mission together as a team. We owe that to them."
By Sgt. Jorge Gomez
2nd BCT PAO, 4ID
We have three very good and very informative unit reports in this update. I would recommend that all of you read them all as you can pick up a better view of what the entire 4ID is doing. Also, tidbits of information included for one unit very likely is important to you and your unit as well.
1-67 AR "Dealers" Update – 4 Jan 06
HQ, 1-67 AR
In the Field
FOB Iskandariyah, Iraq
04 January 2006
Dealer Families and Friends:
It is with great sadness that I begin this battalion update with the news that the Dealers suffered the loss of two of our own on the 28th of December. Specialist Aaron Forbes of E Company and one of the company’s Iraqi interpreters, Eto, were killed in an IED attack on their patrol at 1900 hours along a route in our area of operations. (Two Soldiers) were wounded in the attack and have since returned to Fort Hood where they are recovering from their wounds.
The battalion held a memorial service at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Iskandariyah on the 2nd of January. Brigadier General Halverson, the Assistant Division Commander for Support, Colonel Tully, Warhorse Brigade Commander and Command Sergeant Major King, Warhorse 7, and all of the battalion commanders in the brigade attended along with many friends of the battalion. We were also honored to have two cousins of Eto attend the ceremony. We displayed the traditional rifle with bayonet point down and a Kevlar helmet set on the butt stock. Two pairs of desert boots were placed on the black platform and photos of Aaron and Eto along with the American and Iraqi flags were prominent. Sergeant Webster from Eliminator gave a moving tribute to his friend and fellow Sapper which was followed by the senior interpreter’s spoken words eulogizing Eto.
Captain Jamie Sturm, Eliminator 6, spoke words of comfort and inspiration and I followed with a short speech about the sacrifice of good men in pursuit of a good cause and the need to pick ourselves up to continue the mission. The ceremony ended with the playing of taps by a bugler flown in with the General, the firing of volleys, and the playing of Amazing Grace on bagpipes as each Soldier present filed by and saluted their fallen comrades. The next day CSM Barnett and I were also able to attend Eto’s funeral near Hillah and express the battalion’s condolences on his loss.
Sadly, Aaron was on his second tour in Iraq and was one of the "old hands" in Eliminator. We miss him greatly and are sadly, more steeled to our mission here. All the Dealers have Aaron’s family in our thoughts and prayers.
I would like to thank all of you who have kept the Forbes family and the Dealer family in your thoughts and prayers this past week. Your support has been widely felt and very much appreciated. I would like to especially thank all of the Family Readiness Group volunteers who made the very difficult phone calls to family members to notify them of the casualty in the battalion. The purpose of these calls is to share the information with the families of the battalion before it is disseminated through the media or through the rumor mill. This ensures that families receive the information first-hand and are not frightened when they hear something from a neighbor or on the nightly news…
The battalion conducted a "relief in place" on the 30th of December, replacing the 1st Battalion of the 155th Infantry Regiment of the Mississippi National Guard so they could return home after a year in Iraq. LTC John Rhodes and CSM Marlow of the "Mississippi Rifles" made great progress in this area of operations and left us in an area that is steadily improving. Our task is to capitalize on the inertia they generated and to keep working to improve the situation here.
On a much lighter note, the battalion celebrated Christmas with a turkey and ham dinner and Fury hosted a New Year’s Eve Party… The battalion was inundated with packages from friends and families, and much of what was received was shared.
The companies are very busy. Every day, each company is out of the FOB operating in its Area. Carnivore has rolled out and is living in the desert for the next two weeks or so conducting continuous operations in support of the mission. Archangel is working very closely with the Iraqi Police in Hamiya and Jurf as Sakhr. Bushmaster is operating in and around Karbala, and Dog is active in the city of Musayyib. Eliminator continues to patrol east of the Euphrates. Fury conducts daily logistics runs to companies outside the wire and conducts patrols to logistics bases in the Division’s area of operations. Hellcat is consumed with running the FOB and increasing force protection while medics, mortars and scouts continue their specialized missions. (Editors note from Bob: It is common for company sized units to adopt a nickname – and in many cases, you can take the first letter of the nickname and be pretty confident it is the letter associated with the company – such as Dog is most likely D/1-67 AR).
Life on the FOB continues to improve. The contractor-run Dining Facility is currently being set up and should serve its first meal in mid-January. We have been visited by a number of FOB assessment teams from Division and Corps and have been assured that additional resources will be committed to improving FOB Iskandariyah.
The battalion continues to press the enemy and is operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can be proud of your Dealer who is working long and hard to support the Iraqi people, the Iraqi Police, the Iraqi Army and each other.
Thank you for your continued support of the Dealer family.
LTC Pat Donahoe, Dealer 6
Update from 4ID STB (Special Troops Battalion) – 4 Jan 06
. The soldiers of the 4th Infantry Division’s Special Troops Battalion have been doing a great job transitioning from our counterparts in the 3rd Infantry Division’s STB. We are a few days away from our Transfer of Authority, but already performing many of the critical functions in support of the mission here. We have a new addition to the Battalion – A Company, 1-22 Infantry, 1st Brigade Combat Team, from
is now attached and performing security missions for the Battalion. Now on for some news from the companies…
Headquarters and Headquarters Company “Innkeepers” have completed their transition to
and all is moving along nicely. The Soldiers are doing a tremendous job learning and replacing the 3ID STB. Quality of life here in
is much better than what we experienced in
. They are all living in trailers (no more tents) with real beds and linen. There are also two gyms available for their use with a variety of aerobics classes available. There is a couple of phone centers available to call back to the States. Internet connectivity should become more available once 3ID departs. The Dining Facility section has been doing a great job assuming duties in the Dining Facility. The Transportation Section has been engaged daily running bus missions to the military side of
. The Fuelers are making daily fuel runs in support of the Division Headquarters. The Medics are operating an Aide Station full time as well as supporting the Personnel Security Detachments. The Maintenance section has a never-ending mission with all of the vehicles we brought with us and those that were left back here for us. And as always, the Battalion Staff and Company Headquarters are working tirelessly every day to ensure all missions are well planned and executed…
The Division Troops Company, over the past two weeks, has been conducting transition training with our counterparts in the 3rd Infantry Division staff. They have been knee-deep in learning about our areas of responsibility (
and the surrounding communities). As you see the Division Troops Company soldiers next to their 3rd Infantry Division counterparts, you can feel confident in the knowledge that we are thoroughly trained and ready to execute our mission when we assume full responsibility from the 3rd Infantry Division. Moving on to simpler things, DTC’s soldiers have been settling into their new homes here on
. Their living accommodations are comfortable, with air conditioning, electricity, and all the other amenities which you would not normally expect in a deployed theater. Mail is beginning to flow regularly, with the standing up of the company mail room. Our dining facility, the soon to be renamed “Rock of the Marne Oasis,” is outstanding. The quality of food served at this establishment has exceeded not only our expectations and our best hopes as well, with varied cuisine that fits any taste. Still, with all of these amenities, our soldiers deeply miss their loved ones…
All of Alpha Company (Signal Company) has now safely arrived in
. The Company has successfully completed its Transfer of Authority (TOA) with 3rd Signal Company, 3ID, and is currently providing the primary means of data and voice communications to the 4th Infantry Division Headquarters. Their Electronic Maintenance Facility is fully operational and has begun operations; and the Cable Platoon has already started numerous projects to improve connectivity on the Forward Operating Base. Alpha Company Soldiers conducted the TOA professionally, and with great success. Morale is high, and everyone is looking forward to completing the mission in the year ahead. Part of the high morale is also due to the motivation provided by our Division Band. Here are a few words about the best Band in the Army…
The 4ID Band has landed safely and is ready to accomplish the given tasks that have been directed by the Division. They started by performing a holiday season concert for the troops in
, topping it off with a televised Fox News New Year’s Eve performance. Although the upcoming year will have many endeavors, the spirits and moral of the Soldiers is extremely high and they are ready to face the challenges. The Soldiers of the 4ID Band are the most talented musicians our Band Commander has served with in his almost 20 years of military service. Now for our Intel update from Delta Company…
D Company (Intelligence Company) Soldiers are doing great things and remain focused on the mission at hand – providing the division with accurate, timely, and targetable intelligence. Although I am not at liberty to tell you what your husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and friends have been doing, I can tell you that you should be extremely proud of their accomplishments, achievements and continued outstanding performance. Now I’d like to introduce the 363rd Military Public Affairs Detachment, a unit that I mentioned briefly in an FRG note from
The 363rd is an Army Reserve Public Affairs unit attached to the Division Public Affairs shop. They have 18 members here at
with two more on the way. The unit’s home is located in
but they have members assigned from many other Reserve units in
. One of their missions here is to support the Division Commander by publishing his newspaper, “THE IVY LEAF,” it will be posted on the 4ID website for all of you to check out. They will also be producing the popular “Shout Outs” and many other news video productions for you to see back at home. They are proud to be part of the Iron Horse Division. Steadfast and Loyal!! Next up is a new unit that became attached to the Special Troops Battalion just recently…
We welcomed A Company, 1-22 Infantry over the last week. The Gators of A Company (Editor’s Note: in this case, they call themselves the Alpha Gators, thus the connection of the name to A/1-22 IN), are proud to be serving alongside their comrades in the 4th Infantry Division’s Special Troops Battalion. They have been quickly integrated into the battalion and already feel like a part of the team. The company is based at
with the rest of the STB. Along their journey, they made a stop in
for a couple of weeks to work on some things that will help to ensure their success throughout our deployment. They spent numerous days preparing their Bradley Fighting Vehicles, improving their marksmanship on small arms ranges, and training on the missions they are sure to encounter many times over the next year. Throughout it all, the soldiers of Alpha Company have maintained high morale and the focus that is required to stay safe and healthy. A few of the Soldiers have experienced the bothersome coughs and congestion that are common when moving to a new region of the world, but it’s nothing that some common medications can’t remedy.
That’s all for this note. As you can read, we have a big and diverse team to accomplish our very big and very diverse mission. I want to thank all of you for the support you are giving us. The mail and Email has been flowing. Many soldiers had packages that got here to
before they arrived. Please continue to look after one another… Please continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers, just as we are keeping you in ours.
Sincerely, LTC John Baker
Deep Strike Tribune (2-20 FA) – January 2006
From the Battalion Commander
Greetings from surprisingly cold
! Despite the preconceived notions that many have of the climate here in
, fortunately we arrived here at a time of year other than when the thermometer reads well above 100 degrees on a daily basis. Although it was difficult leaving loved ones behind – a task even more difficult during the holiday season – the Soldiers of Task Force Deep Strike deployed and arrived here in
over a period of little over a week. Everyone arrived safely, and we were able to conduct some training and receive our equipment in
before “crossing the berm” and deploying to forward operating locations in
. As the commander of this great organization, perhaps the thing that best struck me as we deployed was the commitment, motivation and focus of our Soldiers. Furthermore, I was struck by the support and understanding of the families and loved ones we left behind as we deployed. I could not be prouder to be associated with the great men and women that comprise Task Force Deep Strike; and likewise I could not be humbled more than I am in appreciation of the sacrifices that our families make while we answer the call to duty.
To the spouses, the children, the parents, the brothers and sisters, the aunts and uncles, and others reading this – know that your loved one is the best trained and equipped that they possibly could be. While it’s true that there is no shortage of “bad guys” in this country, rest assured that we have the upper hand and that the training, proficiency and sheer will demonstrated by your loved one will serve them well over the course of the year we are here.
The task force (what the battalion is called with the integration of the forward support company into our ranks) is deployed principally to two locations in
. The Alpha Battery Renegades, to include some Soldiers attached from Headquarters Battery, and C/589th FSC (now known as 67th FSC) are located in the western part of
. The remainder of the task force is deployed to the northern part of
. Given the different environments, missions assigned, and different units being supported by our Soldiers each of our batteries or companies lives in different conditions and will have vastly different experiences in terms of quality of life as well as ability for frequent communication back home. Currently Alpha Battery is operating in a much more austere location, with vastly different living conditions and less frequent access to amenities (such as regular Internet, e-mail, or telephone use) than the rest of the battalion. This is not because the Renegades are being punished – but is simply because that’s the state of affairs in this war-torn country. Rest assured that we’re doing everything we can to upgrade and improve the location Alpha Battery occupies – but also realize that they have a tough, yet important mission to accomplish in winning this fight we’re engaged in. Likewise, understand that we may find ourselves moving to different locations from where we are currently located during some point throughout our time here as we ensure we are located in the best positions to accomplish our mission.
I tell you this because each Soldier is going to have a different experience over here. Some Soldiers will be able to phone or e-mail home more frequently than others. Some Soldiers will have “better” living conditions than others. None of it is intentional, or because we care more about some Soldiers than others – it’s simply a fact of the situation here in
. CSM Morrisey probably best summed it up when listening to a group of Soldiers talk about how one place is “better” than another when he said “whether you’re at this camp or that camp it doesn’t matter…you’re still in Iraq”! (In other words…no matter the living conditions, or access to modern amenities, we’re all still away from you – our loved ones).
So…what can you do to support your Soldier? While some may say “send cookies”, or “send toothpaste”, I’d say skip those two – the food in the mess hall is in ample supply and readily available, and there’s more tubes of toothpaste, dental floss, and shaving cream floating around than you can shake a stick at. What you can really do is to stay in touch – whether by e-mail, letter, or phone calls your Soldier makes back home. Nothing makes our day brighter than that contact from friends and loved ones. Getting a letter, opening an e-mail, or seeing a picture goes a long way to boosting a Soldier’s morale. Likewise, tell your loved one over here to drop a note back to you as well. While some might not say it outwardly, we all know that those of you on the home front need the support and encouragement as well – for we’re in this together…
Listed below are a few items I’m passing on to either ask for your support, to brag about, or simply to keep you abreast of change:
Operational Security and Prohibitions. Just a brief reminder that there are certain things you should not discuss with your Soldier while we’re over here. Discussing over the telephone or via e-mail such things as when we move locations, where we’re moving to, routes we’re taking, or facets of the operations that we’re undertaking all violate operational security (OPSEC). Discussions of this nature could result in your loved one facing disciplinary issue… but more importantly, these types of discussions put all of us at risk, as there’s a capable threat out there waiting to exploit this information and use it against us. Some family members have asked about cell phones. Again, to reiterate things – our Soldiers are not allowed to possess a cell phone over here, so please don’t mail them one in hopes it will make communication easier. (Editor’s note from Bob: I have added the emphasis here – it applies to all units, not just to 2-20 FA – OPSEC is critical to us all – and personal cell phones are prohibited).
…Unit Redesignation. As part of the Army’s reorganization efforts, our forward support company has received a new name. The unit once known as C/589th Forward Support Company is now known as the 67th Forward Support Company (67th FSC). For a brief time it appeared that the unit was going to be redesignated the 575th Forward Support Company, but that was brief-lived. Regardless of the name, however, we’ve still got the same great Soldiers and we’ll still call ‘em “Crazy Horse”.
In closing, thanks for your support and understanding, and let me brag one more time when I say that you ought to be proud of your Soldier – for he or she truly epitomizes the greatness of our nation. You’ve got every reason to be proud of your Soldier… I know I am.
LTC Mark Johnson
January 06, 2006
SPARKS, Nev. (AP) – A Sparks soldier was remembered as a fun-loving and curious youth who gave his life to protect his comrades.
About 250 people crammed into the Sparks Christian Fellowship church on Thursday to remember and say farewell to Army Pvt. Joshua Michael Morberg, who was killed in Iraq on Dec. 27.
"Private Joshua Michael Morberg’s last words to his fellow soldiers were ‘I’ve got your back,’" said Lt. Col. William Roherer, a chaplain with the Nevada Army National Guard. "A terrorist didn’t take his life. Private Morberg gave it to save others."
Family members, former teachers and friends recalled how Morberg enjoyed trying and learning new things, and always had questions.
Growing up, he learned to play the violin. As a student at Reed High School in Sparks, Morberg learned to speak Japanese.
"I called him ‘Scooter,’" said his uncle, Leslie Plasschaert, who took Morberg fishing during summer vacations in Minnesota.
"As we rowed along, he would sing and hum," Plasschaert said. "He would ask, ‘Where do fish go in the winter? What are scales made of? How far can fish see?’"
Morberg’s best friend, Mikaal Zaidi, recalled with fondness his friend’s shortcomings.
"The only reason I never had a radio was because of Josh," Zaidi said as he spoke at the service. "He’d take it apart and never quite put it back together again.
"He enjoyed life, his family and friends most of all," Zaidi said. Even with all these memories to remind me, I will always miss him."
Morberg, 20, joined the Army shortly after graduating from Washoe High in 2004. He had been in Iraq for about a week when he was killed.
Morberg was a combat scout in the 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division, based at Fort Hood, Texas.
Morberg was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
He was the 16th Nevadan to have died in Iraq since the war started in 2003.
"I just hope people realize how lucky we are," Victoria Morberg, Joshua’s mother, told the Reno Gazette-Journal after the funeral.
"My son and many others have given their lives so we can have what we have here."
Panamanian family buries Soldier killed in Iraq
PANAMA CITY, Panama — His voice cracking with grief, Jose Santos bid farewell Friday to his son, saying he was proud of the Panamanian-born U.S. Soldier who was killed last month in Iraq.
U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Isaias E. Santos, 28, died Dec. 26 in a helicopter accident in Baghdad. Santos was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Hood, Texas.
"I know my son did not live in vain," said Jose Santos, holding back tears during the U.S. military funeral at the Corozal cemetery in front of the Panama Canal.
Jose Santos, who served for the United States during the Vietnam War, wore a U.S. military uniform at the ceremony.
"When we gave our son to the Army, we did it with love," he said. "He asked for the support of his father and mother, and we gave it to him with love."
Isaias Santos joined the U.S. army in 1995 after graduating from high school in Panama City. He was sent to Iraq in November.
He received numerous medals during his military career, among them a medal for Service in the Global War Against Terror. After his death, he was honored with the Bronze Star.
"The people of the United States are eternally grateful to Isaias for having offered his life to defend the world against terrorism," U.S. ambassador to Panama William A. Eaton said at Friday’s service.
Brigadier Gen. Purl Keen, who also attended the funeral, said Santos was a leader among his fellow Soldiers and was considered one of the best young helicopter pilots in his brigade.
"He was an exceptional warrior, picked by his commander to fly with the best and in the most important missions," Keen said.
Friends remembered Isaias as a young, energetic man with a great sense of humor.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Family, friends, say farewell to Sparks soldier
What Our Families Are Hearing From Our Soldiers in Iraq:
1) Here’s a portion of an email my husband (4-42FA, 1BCT)
sent out to family and friends this morning (1-4-06). It’s hard to believe how much has changed since his first deployment. Last time around it was four months before he was able to take a shower and now, if he had time, he could probably bathe multiple times in one day! I know that this isn’t the case for everyone and some Soldiers are still roughing it. I hope there are buffets and television in the near future for them as well!
Finally up north – home for the next year. Things are still pretty busy as we transition into full ops. Got a nice room. It’s about 12 x 25 feet, all mine, with a bed, wall locker, night stand, chair, plywood table (found it dumpster diving), and a TV I bought cheap. We get 7 channels of AFN (Armed Forces Network) so if I’m ever able to be in my room, I can watch it. GO PSU! Saw the beginning of the 4th quarter and the highlights. AWESOME! Some of us may be getting up at 3am to watch UT (GO HORNS). Food here is great, full buffets of anything you could want. And a PX that would match any small Wal-Mart in the States. It’s amazing how this place has changed over two years. It’s going to be hard to get soldiers to go home and "prepare for war". I can hear it now, "Why do we have to go to the field? War isn’t like this. Over there we had food, pizza, Burger King, Cinnabon, and a nice room. I don’t even have that at Ft. Hood." Oh well, I appreciate that they are making it livable here for them. I will have regular e-mail here now also. Should be able to check it every day or two.
2) I have had several emails from my husband, B/2-77 FA, 4BCT
. He said they are already busy going out on missions with their 3rd ID counterparts to learn the ropes before the TOA (transfer of authority). They are really excited about their mission. He said Iraq has changed a lot compared to when he was there the last time when he was attached as an FSO with 1-22 IN in Tikrit. He said it was almost like visiting a resort (I don’t know if I would go that far), but he said the facilities were great! The following is an excerpt from an email he had sent to us.
So far we have been doing what the army calls a "right seat ride" meaning we drive around for a week with the guys who have been doing this for the last year and they show us the ropes. Next, we move into the "left seat ride" where we drive around for a week and we are in charge with other Battalion acting as advisors. When that is done, the 3rd ID gets to redeploy home and we are on our own. I really don’t see any issues as of right now. The Soldiers we are replacing are true professionals and they are doing a great job training us. We did our own bit of training while we were at home station and that training seems to have been spot on with our mission. The Soldiers morale is up and the living conditions are ten times better than what I had last time I was here.
3) Bob, My son is not in Iraq this time around but if you have the space sometime I would like to say a few words to those that do have loved ones deployed. I want them to know they are in our thoughts and prayers and we will always be indebted to the men and women that are serving to keep us safe. I would also like to let anyone that does not know what a great help you are at a time when a loved one is deployed. There were numerous times I felt so desperate when my son was deployed, I was a helpless mom not knowing what to do, I just asked Bob’s opinion. If you did not have the answer (you did not play a guessing game with me, THANK YOU) you did all you could to get the answer for me. Your kindness was one of the things that helped me remain sane at a difficult time and I know in my heart you will do that this time for those that you are in contact with. I would also like to let these wonderful people know they have an opportunity to make new friends that will be life long friends and will understand what they are going through. To all the Soldiers, their loved ones, and to Bob, my prayers will be for you always and I say a very special thank you for your sacrifice.
4) I’m writing to you from Iraq (1-67 AR) to say thanks! My wife has told me about the super job you are doing back home to keep our families up to date and I just wanted to let you know that it is much appreciated and gives us peace of mind out here that at least someone is trying to keep our family back home connected. Things here are going well. The accommodations aren’t like those of a 5 star hotel but I have a place to sleep, food to eat and am proud to share my space with those willing to put their lives on the line for my family and yours back home. Like back in the old days we all really look forward to letter’s and packages from home so tell everyone to keep them coming! Feel free to use this for one of your newsletters… I will try and keep you posted on life in the sand box, but right now there’s nothing to complain about… ok well there is, but you don’t hear me griping around this place… we’re all thankful to be ALIVE so we don’t mind the rest. Give my best to everyone back home and tell them not to worry much, we’re some of the toughest people around, we’re American Soldiers! HOOAH!
5) Forwarded by a reader from his 3ID friend: I am leaving with the 3rd Infantry Division from
Baghdad. The 4th Infantry Division will take over the Multi-National Division (Baghdad) or MND-B in the near future. This process is called a Relief in Place or RIP. The military has a language of its own and we can rattle off sentences without words and be understood by each other. The other thing we do is turn these acronyms into verbs. So RIP becomes a verb in a sentence like – “the 3ID is ripping with the 4ID. This is funny when you are talking to fellow Soldiers and someone who is not familiar with what you are saying kinda laughs.
6) My husband is with 3-67 AR (Scout platoon), and I’ve actually heard from him a few times this week. He received the two care packages that I sent just last week! He said that the pillow and Advil that I sent will probably get the most use. My parents cleaned out the Hickory Farms kiosk at the mall (everything 50% off) and I’m including beef sausage and cheese in every care package. I also found a great service at shutterfly.com. For $13, you can put together a 20-page mini photo album, complete with captions. The pictures are printed right onto the page, so they’re not bulky. I’m making a monthly album for my husband with the newest pictures of our infant son. I don’t know specifics about what they’re doing over there, but it doesn’t sound especially safe. The accommodations do seem to be quite wonderful – 4 big meals a day, hot showers, and internet access! Thank you so much for these emails – I look forward to receiving your updates!
7) I know this is late for the email but Dec 31 was my 1st anniversary. My husband serves in C/1-12IN and I didn’t get a phone call from him due to the blackout. At first I didn’t even know there was one until I found out but it was a very hard night for me. I managed to get through it though but I hope I don’t have to go through another New Years Eve/Anniversary alone. (Editor’s Note: I include this to remind you that sometimes when your Soldier doesn’t contact you on a special day, it is totally out of the control of the Soldier).
8) Well, thanks to today’s technology I was able to see my husband today (1-7-06) (A/1-22 IN). This morning around 6 am I received a message on my phone saying he was IM’ing me. I woke up got on line and was able to talk to him and see him with web cam. I told him he was too smart for his own good. He said he is doing good. He blew me kisses and everything. I love technology!!
A Few Words from Bob
1) I don’t like this part of my job – an update with more death and funeral notices than anything else. But, we have to take the bad with the good and I’ll continue to search for good news while reporting the inevitable sad things that we all need to know about.
As we’ve said before, and as we very likely will have to say again, we have to remember that our Soldiers and our family members have the most important job in the world today and there is a level of danger associated with it. We have to continue to band together and provide our unwavering support to our Soldiers as they continue to complete the mission that has been given to them. As we grieve for those who made the ultimate sacrifice, we must remain strong and positive for the living.
2) A positive thing happened yesterday for me. I spent the entire day at the Atlanta airport working for the USO. We worked with troops coming in from Iraq and Afghanistan on R&R, those going back at the end of their R&R, and even got to help some wide eyed recruits who were on their way to Fort Benning to begin their Basic Training. I talked to lots of Soldiers and Marines and had a great time with those great Americans. It’s an honor to be able to talk to everyone from a two star general who was passing through the airport on his way to a meeting at FORSCOM through all the ranks down to a PFC returning to Iraq after R&R.
I only saw one 4ID combat patch (a female Soldier who served with 4ID at Camp Speicher in last deployment) but expect I’ll start seeing a lot more 4ID people on future volunteer days with the USO. Our 4ID troops will start their R&R process in the next weeks and months. I especially enjoyed talking to two 173rd Airborne Soldiers who were part of TF Ironhorse on the last deployment and had participated in the airborne assault into Bashur Airfield in northern Iraq in late March 2003. They were both proud of the combat jump star on their Airborne wings. The 173rd is now serving in Afghanistan.
All the troops I talked to are positive and proud of what they are accomplishing. They believe in their mission and were ready to return to it without any regrets. I also spent some time with a retired two star general friend who is on the USO board of directors – a 4ID vet who served as G-3, 2-8 IN CO, 2BCT CO, and 4ID Chief of Staff during his two tours in Vietnam. He shares my pride in what the current 4ID vets are accomplishing and sends his best wishes to all our Soldiers and families.
If you ever have a chance to go to the Atlanta or Dallas airports to volunteer with the USO to greet troops coming and going from R&R, I’d highly recommend it – you’ll love the experience and get even better insight into the quality of our troops.
All in all, yesterday was a positive day – until I got home and saw the DoD notice of our 4ID casualties.
That completes this update. After a couple of days recovering from my college football watching (and I’m happy with most of the results except for UGA losing), I’m ready to watch the pro football wildcard games today while keeping my eyes open for new news to report on the 4ID in Iraq. Next update will most likely come out on Monday or Tuesday.
Have a good weekend.