Lt. Col. Ryan Kuhn, from Clarks, Neb., deputy commander for the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, shakes hands with Juwad Kadnam al Shimari, president of the Wehida nahia council, at a transfer of authority ceremony, Feb. 10, at Combat Outpost Cleary, Iraq. The 13th Georgian Army Light Infantry Battalion assumed responsibility of COP Cleary and the Wehida area of operation from the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, which had operated in Wehida since April.
Story by Sgt. Natalie Rostek
Posted on 02.18.2008 at 02:08PM
Story and photos by Sgt. Natalie Rostek, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs Office
COMBAT OUTPOST CAHILL, Iraq – The 13th Georgian Light Infantry Battalion assumed responsibility for al Wehida from the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, in a transfer of authority ceremony, Feb. 10 ,at Combat Outpost Cleary.
Lt. Col. Jack Marr, from Minneapolis, commander of the 1-15th Inf. Regt. passed command of COP Cleary to Maj. David Sulkhanishvili, commander of the 13th Georgian LI Bn.
Capt. John Horning, from Houston, commander of Company C, 1-15th Inf. Regt. served as commander during the ceremony. Company C had worked in the al Wehida area since April.
Marr thanked leaders and representatives of al Wehida and the Mada’in Qada, the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team’s area of operation, who were present at the ceremony.
“Eleven months ago my Soldiers and I moved into this great city,” Marr said.
“From that very first day we have been welcomed as friends. Although we were a long way from our homes and families, your hospitality and generosity made us feel like we’d always lived here.”
Marr also expressed his pride for the accomplishments of the people of al Wehida.
“Over the past year we have watched as the good people of al Wehida have reclaimed their lives from the tyranny of terrorism,” he said. “You have replaced the fear people had, with hope for the future. Allow me to take this opportunity to compliment you for all your courage, your commitment and your dedication to making this city, this nahia and this country better.”
Partnered with members of the al Wehida council and other local officials, Company C completed several projects that Col. Wayne W. Grigsby, Jr., from Prince George’s County, Md., commander of the 3rd HBCT, highlighted in his speech.
“A new fire station has helped increased safety for local citizens,” Grigsby said. “A new health clinic has improved health care for area children. The al-Eslah School has enhanced opportunities for the next generation. A voice of the Mada’in radio station in Wehida has given the entire qada a new source of information.”
Grigsby said residents will soon see a new soccer stadium and improvements to the Wehida market.
“This is a tribute to the great work of Lt. Col. Jack Marr and the Dragon (1-15th Inf. Regt.) Soldiers,” Grigsby said, “but more so a tribute to the bravery, commitment and honor of the strong leaders, strong men of al Wehida. The honorable leaders of al Wehida, the men that have truly made this great day happen, are still here working towards that brighter future.”
Although the 1-15th Inf. Regt. is leaving the area, the 3rd HBCT will still be present. The 13th Georgian LI Bn. is currently attached to the brigade.
Also living on COP Cleary are members of Task Force Petro, the Georgian army liaison team from the 3rd HBCT, who will conduct missions with the Georgian army.
“Today it is my honor to introduce to you some new friends,” Marr said to the leaders of al Wehida. “The country of Georgia is a great friend of Iraq and the United States of America.”
“We are all working for peace and stability in Iraq,” Sulkhanishvili said through a translator. “I wish for all Soldiers, Georgian and American, to return home safely. God bless us all.”
The 13th Georgian LI Bn. is currently attached to the 3rd HBCT, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Benning, Ga. The 1-15th Inf. Regt. is assigned to the 3rd HBCT, 3rd Infantry Division and has been deployed in support of Operation Iraq Freedom since March.