Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Greetings everyone. I got this email today announcing the upcoming release of the Baker Boys: Inside The Surge and I wanted to share.

At last!

It's been a long time coming, but I am very excited to alert the Baker Boys extended family that the entire documentary series is finally becoming available on DVD. There are two release dates -- on January 4th, it begins a two month exclusive run at over 600 AAFES stores at military bases around the world. Then, on March 15th, the DVD becomes available to the general public at all the places you normally shop for DVDs, such as Amazon, Netflix, Walmart, etc.

As each of these dates approaches, there will be promotional events surrounding the film's release. Among them is a premiere screening at Fort Benning, GA on Saturday, January 8th. More details to come on that event as it takes shape, and on others as they follow.

Please share the news about the release, have friends register at the website for more information, and help us to make sure the movie is as widely viewed and discussed as possible. This is our opportunity to put the movie to work to help inform people about the choices and sacrifices that every soldier makes when he or she boards a plane to go serve our country in some other part of the world.

Thank you for your support and participation... and patience!


Kern Konwiser

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

At Home...At Last!

Safe at last! It was such a thrill to get that much awaited phone call last night that Nick was back on American soil. We laughed that the last two deployments, he was first in and last out. I told him they just like him so much over there that they can't get enough of him and they definitely don't want to let him go. After a slight delay in Kuwait, Nick arrived home safely last night. Praise be to God!

Welcome Home and thanks for your dedicated service!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Transfer of Authority

It's starting to feel like reality...they're COMING HOME! Praise be to God! Many have already arrived but as normal, Nick was chosen to "turn the lights" out. The nervous butterflies are back and the wait is on.

The Squadron colors are cased during the Tranfer of Autohority ceremony at COB Delta, Iraq. The ceremony marked the offical transfer of authority for the battle space from 3-1 Cavalry and elements of 3AAB to the Seconad Squadron of the 3ACR.

Click here to watch ceremony

A Final Mission With Lasting Impact

Capt. Andrew Hubbard, 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, smiles as shoes donated by Brookstone School in Columbus, Ga., are distributed to Iraqi children in Babil province, Sept. 16. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Johnathan Roland)

Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs
Story by Pfc. Erik Anderson

BABIL PROVINCE, Iraq – As soldiers of the 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division prepared to leave the five provinces in southern Iraq they have been responsible for, there was still one last mission to complete.

In coordination with supporters at Brookstone School in Columbus, Ga., Phenix City, Ala., and Fort Benning, Ga., the soldiers dropped off donated shoes to the children of Iraq.

“There is nothing better than seeing the look on a child’s face when you give them something they need,” said 1st Lt. Jonathan Roland, 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment. “Even though we don’t speak the same language, you can see the excitement.”

The project, in coordination with the Babil Provincial Reconstruction Team, started with a modest goal.

“It is an idea based on the partnership between Brookstone School and two local Iraqi schools,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Boston, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd AAB. “When we started, Cindy Sparks [Brookstone School] estimated 50 to 70 pairs of shoes would be donated, but through the efforts of our supporters in the tri-city area and Brookstone School, nearly 1,000 pairs of shoes were donated.”

During this deployment, 3rd AAB executed an advise and assist mission while working closely with the Iraqi people.

“For the brigade, it is another example of our enduring partnership,” said Boston. “This project takes it one step further; it shows the enduring partnership that exists between Americans and Iraqis.”

The partnership started by the 3rd AAB will continue with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment.

“The children of Iraq are the future,” said Boston. “Our commitment begins with them.”

Thursday, September 16, 2010

3rd Brigade Soldiers Return to Fort Benning From Iraq

About 300 soldiers return home from Iraq

Spc. Xavier Valles was greeted by a dozen balloons. Spc. Chana Patterson was greeted by about a dozen relatives.

The two were among approximately 300 U.S. soldiers returning to Fort Benning from Iraq Tuesday evening.

They are members of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, that has been deployed for a year.

Six hundred members returned in August. Two more groups are expected to fly into Lawson Army Airfield by the end of this week bringing the September total to 750.

“It’s great to be back,” said Valles, whose wife, Joalice, and two young children greeted him.

“I made sure to get some Boston Red Sox balloons,” Joalice Valles said. “He’s from Boston.”

The time away has been difficult. The couple’s youngest child was 6 weeks old when he left.

“This is very emotional,” she said.

Patterson of Tuskegee, Ala., was overwhelmed to see her large welcoming committee in Freedom Hall.

“My mother, aunts, uncles, nephews and nieces,” she said. “Super.”

Fidel DeJesus of New York began cheering before his daughter, Spc. Rebecca DeJesus, entered the room. The Puerto Rican native, a small American flag sticking out from his cap, pumped his fist into the air when he saw his daughter depart the airplane.

“I’ve been this nervous for a year,” he said, holding his hands wide apart. “Now, I’m this nervous,” he said, bringing his hands practically together.

DeJesus, his wife, Libia, and daughter, Teresa, made the 20-hour drive from New York to greet Rebecca.

“We’re all very proud. She is serving her country and that’s what she wants to do,” Dejesus said. “Rebecca came home for a short visit six months ago but my mother had passed and I didn’t get to see her. It’s been a very long year.”

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Outstanding Accomplishment

Congratulations to Nick on his recent Bronze Star Medal. Another example of a true American Hero. You should be so proud of your many accomplishments which are an example of your true dedication. Another job well done!!!

As the tour is winding down, it is no suprise to me that the dedication and commitment is still as strong as ever. Our Soldiers have done an outstanding job and should all be proud that they have made a difference in so many lives. Thanks for your many sacrifices! We can't wait until you are all home safely!

U.S. Army Individual Decorations
Chapter 3, Army Regulation 600-8-22
(Military Awards)

The Bronze Star Medal was established by Executive Order 9419, 4 February
1944 (superseded by Executive Order 11046, 24 August 1962).

The Bronze Star Medal is awarded to any person who, while serving in any
capacity in or with the Army of the United States after 6 December 1941,
distinguished himself or herself by heroic or meritorious achievement or
service, not involving participation in aerial flight, in connection with
military operations against an armed enemy; or while engaged in military
operations involving conflict with an opposing armed force in which the United
States is not a belligerent party.

Awards may be made for acts of heroism, performed under circumstances
described above, which are of lesser degree than required for the award of the
Silver Star.

The Bronze Star Medal may be awarded for meritorious achievement or
meritorious service.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Operation New Dawn In Iraq

I see light at the end of the tunnel! Counting the days until Nick's safe return home!!! God bless all our Soldiers!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Iraq Bombs Target Security Forces

Iraq bombs target security forces

Suicide bombers kill at least 62 people and injure more than 250 in a string of coordinated attacks on Iraqi security forces.

This is too close for comfort. I hope the next few weeks fly by. We continue to pray for our unselfish Soldiers safe retun home!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

USD-S Transfers Three Bases in Babil, Wasit

Story by Spc. Samuel Soza

CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE DELTA, Iraq – During several ceremonies in Babil and Wasit provinces, July 25, U.S. forces handed over three bases to the Iraqi government – Contingency Operating Post Zulu, Patrol Base Mahawil, and Camp Shaheen.

These additions raise the number of U.S. bases closed or transferred in United States Division-South to 13 since February, with nine more scheduled to close before Sept. 1.
All of the transfers were completed with the signing of documents by Samir al-Haddad, the receivership secretariat for the Government of Iraq, and the respective former base commanders.

Capt. Ryan Pless, commander of Troop B, 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, signed for COP Zulu.

“We’ve been conducting retrograde operations for the last two to three months,” the Plant City, Fla., native said. “A lot of troopers have put in a lot of long hours and cleaned the place up; made it represent our high standards, so we could turn it over to the Government of Iraq in the best quality of shape we can.”

COP Zulu has been in operation since just before the surge of U.S. forces in 2007. The 3rd Sqdn., 1st Cav. Regt. has been working with three battalions of 32nd Brigade, 8th Iraqi Army Division for the past 10 months, Pless said.

Moments after signing for COP Zulu, Mr. Haddad and his staff walked to Camp Shaheen, a small post adjacent to COP Zulu and home to a unit of U.S. Special Forces, and signed the official documents there as well.

Capt. Michael Washburn, commander of Company A, 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, signed over PB Mahawil.

The fair-market value of the property at Mahawil transferred by 2nd Bn., 69th Armor Regt. came to more than $500,000 according to the documents.

Company A has been at PB Mahawil since October 2009, working with the Iraqi Army’s 2nd Battalion, 31st Brigade, 8th IA Div., commanded by Col. Muhammad Khudair Saloom. They will continue to work with the 2nd Bn, 31st Bde. from Contingency Operating Site Kalsu, including special training and advising with nightly patrols, until they return to the U.S. with the rest of their battalion later this year.

The 3rd Sqdn., 1st Cav. Regt. and 2nd Bn., 69th Armor Regt. are elements of 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.

“Our partnership has been very good,” said Washburn, a Yorktown, Va., native. “Myself and Col. Saloom have a great understanding of what needs to be accomplished and we agree on the final outcomes and how to get there.”

“We look forward to keeping working with them until our stay is done here [in Babil province],” Washburn said.

Lt. Col. Chris Kennedy, commander of 3rd Sqdn., 1st Cav. Regt., felt similarly about his Soldiers and their mission in Wasit province.

“Today’s a great day for the Iraqi army,” said Kennedy, a native of Fort Benning, Ga. “It’s the natural progression as we move to an advise and assist mission [and] assist them in the fight. It doesn’t mean our mission is ended here. We will continue to train with them throughout the province.”

Monday, July 26, 2010

Carrying on the Legacy of Audie Murphy

Staff Sgt. Nhiem Chau, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, is congratulated by Sgt. Maj. Rick Hairston, operations sergeant major for 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, after being named to the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club July 8 at Contingency Operating Site Kalsu, Iraq.

By Pfc. Erik Anderson

COS KALSU, Iraq – The original Sergeant Audie Murphy Club began at Fort Hood, Texas, in 1986. The group recognizes noncommissioned officers who have displayed the integrity, professionalism and commitment exemplified by Audie L. Murphy. In 1994, the SAMC spread throughout the Army, with individual commands performing the selection process for their own NCOs.

Ten soldiers currently deployed to Iraq with the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division met at Contingency Operating Site Kalsu July 8 to vie for membership in the club.

The morning started out with a physical fitness test, followed by a land navigation course spanning across COS Kalsu that had the SAMC hopefuls performing common team leader tasks and firing their weapons.

For the potential members, the day marked an end to their rigorous preparation.

“I had 16 days to get things in order, and luckily, most of my soldier's information was updated so I had just a few things to fix,” said Staff Sgt. Nhiem Chau, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd HBCT. “I spent most of my time studying different regulations that most NCOs neglect or did not pay much attention to.”

Chau and the other competitors were sponsored by senior leaders in their quest for membership.

“First Sgt. (Jerimiah) Gan, Sgt. 1st Class (Matthew) Delisle, and myself conducted mock boards every day leading up to the actual date of the board,” said Sgt. 1st Class Oracio Pena, Jr., 1st Bn., 15th Inf. Regt. “We quizzed all nine individuals (from the battalion) on situational questions and questions referring to Audie Murphy and his life to ensure they knew every bit of information about Audie Murphy.”

For current members like Pena, membership is more than a medal to be worn around the neck

“Being a member of one of the most prestigious clubs is an honor,” Pena said. “It means that people expect more of me, and I am always up for the challenge no matter what.”
Each candidate faced a board comprised of senior NCOs asking situational questions as the final part of the selection process.

“To be honest, the entire board was intimidating but not difficult,” Chau said. “The questions that were asked are based on experience as a leader and how you would respond to different situations.”

When the dust had settled and the questions were answered, three staff sergeants from 1st Bn., 15th Inf. Regt., Audie Murphy’s former unit, were inducted.

“The benefit of knowing that when a VIP comes into a military post, and they ask for an escort, they look to the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club to provide a member due to the professionalism that comes from the club,” Pena said. “It is a great honor and a privilege to be a member.”

Chau, one of the newest Sergeant Audie Murphy Club members, wasn’t sure he was up for the challenges of the board.

“Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Moore, my battalion sergeant major, was the one that put me up to it, and I am glad that he did,” Chau said. “He somehow knew that I would do well and instilled the confidence in me.”

The Return

After months of looking forward to spending R&R having fun and relaxing, the return is always one of the saddest and most depressing timesof the deployment. It was so nice being able to pick up the phone and send a quick text message to Nick or just call and say "What's going on?".

I remember what a tough time it was for Chris when he went back after his R&R. However, it is so nice to see the two recent redeployment messags. The timing was great and it assures us that the end is definitely in sight!

I pray that Nick has a smooth transition from R&R to his daily routine back in Iraq. It's always tough for us to say goodbye but I always try to remember how hard it must be on the Soldier. It constantly amazes me of the positive attitude these guys have and how you NEVER hear them complain or be negative...a lesson I think we could all learn from them. We have so many things to be grateful for and reasons to be positive but instead, many times people are negative and constantly's too hot outside, I don't get paid enough and on and on. Our Soldiers have legitimate reasons to complain about their conditions, atmosphere and sacrifices however they are upbeat and positive all the time. Maybe we should try to be more like our Soldiers...positive, appreciative, accepting, sacrificing, never compaining...Let's stop and remember how hard our troops are fighting for us to be able to enjoy our lives!!!

Redeployment Message #2

Dear Friends and Family,

The process for letting family members know of their Soldier’s return will work as follows: deployed Soldiers will need to provide the names and contact information of the family members they want the rear detachment to contact. Units will then input this data into the E-Army Family Messaging System. Once the data is in the system, and it is time for the Soldier to leave theater, the rear detachment at Fort Benning will work off of flight manifests to send a message to you (via phone, e-mail, or text – depending on the contact information provided by the Soldier) through the E-Army Family Messaging System with information on the Soldier's return flight. The system will also provide contact information to family members on how to get in touch with the rear detachment for any questions. The Battalion will ensure positive contact with family members through the system. Updates will also be sent this way with reminders to check the Fort Stewart Flight update for changes. If a Soldier’s information is not put into the system, or the contact information is incorrect, then the rear detachment at Fort Benning will call everyone personally like previous deployments.

Contact through the system will occur when the Soldier has arrived at his/her final location before leaving theater, and again when his/her plane has left theater and is en route to Fort Benning. Notification will also be made if there are any changes in the scheduled arrival of the flight to Fort Benning.

Due to constant changes in flight scheduling, and a need to maintain operational security, the rear detachment at Fort Benning will not be able to answer questions about flights prior to the flights taking off. Rear detachment will only be able to answer questions about Soldiers who have been officially manifested. Deployed Soldiers will be unable to give you an exact departure date.

Please let us know if you have any concerns that have yet to be answered.

We are all looking forward to being home and we know you are too. It’s not long now!


Redeployment Message

Dear Friends and Family,

The Sledgehammer PAO team is happy to be announcing some details on the unit’s upcoming redeployment. So we’ll just get right to it.

No doubt you are probably all aware of President Obama’s order to have no more than 50,000 advise and assist troops in Iraq by Sept. 1. This targeted mission required strength will allow the 3rd Brigade to maintain its partnership and support requirements, while requiring some Sledgehammer Soldiers to redeploy early. As part of the U.S. Forces drawdown, the 3rd Brigade has been ordered by the United States Division South Commander, MG Brooks, to send approximately 600 Soldiers home early to meet that strength requirement.

The Battalion Commanders and the Brigade Commander are the sole approval authorities on deciding which Soldiers to send. Mission priorities are the most important aspect for the Commander when making these decisions. Critical missions in Iraq may prevent some Soldiers from being able to leave early while critical missions at Fort Benning will require that some Soldiers do leave early. The next priority the Commander looks at when determining which Soldiers to send are those who have orders to PCS (permanent change of station), or ETS (end of time in service) before February, 2011. After that, Soldiers attending military schools, with start dates before October are considered. Last in the order of priority are Soldiers who made the 3rd Brigade football team or combatives team. Less than 10 percent of the Soldiers are those who are on the football team or combatives team. With approximately 600 slots to fill we anticipate that a good majority of the Soldiers who fall into any of these four categories will be going home early. However, it is very important to note that the mission in Iraq, and the support requirements at Fort Benning take precedence; this means that even if a Soldier falls into one of these four categories, it does not guarantee them leaving early. The majority of the Soldiers who do not fall into any of these categories will be returning as part of the main body flights.

Soldiers redeploying early are scheduled to arrive at Fort Benning starting the second week of August through the end of August. The main body flights are scheduled to arrive throughout September. The last main body flight is scheduled to arrive the first week in October.

Thank you, and SLEDGEHAMMER

What is a Cavalry Scout?

Commentary by Spc. David Dyer, 3-1 Cav Public Affairs Liaison

CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE DELTA, Iraq – I was reading an old copy of “Armor” magazine the other day and came across an article titled, “What is a Cavalryman?” that was written in 1969.
The similarities and differences between the Dragoon’s (cavalrymen) from over forty years ago and those of today kept finding a way into my thoughts. I finally decided to lay them to rest by writing a short reply to that article that highlights the Cavalry Scout of today. I hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

What is a Cavalry Scout?

Somewhere between the apple-cheeked innocence of the Armor School and the urbane worldliness of the veteran, we find a delightful creature known as a Cavalry Scout.
Cavalrymen come in assorted shapes and conditions; mostly in "peak condition". You find them everywhere, but mostly riding through "Indian Country" on Bradley Fighting Vehicles, Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles, Humvees, Stryker Vehicles, and UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopters.
Local merchants love them; the enemy hates them; the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team staff tolerates them; new platoon leaders frustrate them; infantrymen ignore them; and the combat medics protect them.
A cavalry scout is confusion with profanity on his tongue; experience with three deployments under his belt; imagination with a slice of C4 explosive in his mouth; and faith with body armor on his back.
A cavalry scout has the appetite of a shark in a feeding frenzy, the energy of a nuclear reactor, the curiosity of an old maid, the enthusiasm of a kid in an ice cream plant, the lungs of an umpire, and the shyness of a bull elephant in the mating season.
He likes women, beer, ice cream, Maxim magazine, e-mails from home, surf and turf dinners, energy drinks, mid-tour leave, hot showers, video games, and hot chow.
He isn't much for dust storms, rocket propelled grenades, AK-47 assault rifles, improvised explosive devices, spit and polish, broken torsion bars, MRE’s (meals ready to eat), powdered eggs, the enemy, walking, or waiting in line.
No one else is so early in the chow line, or so often at the beverage cooler. When you want him he's somewhere in the area. When you don't, he's hovering over your desk with 117 reasons why he should be promoted or be allowed to go on rest and recovery.
No one else can cram into one fighting vehicle, a double basic load of ammunition, 10 cases of MRE’s, two rolls of barbed wire, 14 shaped charges, a portable TV, one chaise lounge, three coolers, five cartons of cigarettes, an empty tool bag, six I-Pods, three heavy machineguns, an X-Box, and a pair of fuzzy dice for luck.
A cavalry scout is a shameless scrounger and ruthless forager. If an object will make his life more comfortable, or make him more mission capable, he will find the means to obtain it. Do not ask where he got the swimming pool and the two extra 25mm barrels for your Bradley. You don’t want to know.
A cavalry scout is a fabulous creature. You can frustrate his desires, but you can't frustrate his drive. You can top his jokes, but you can't top his combat record. He's your conscience, your shadow, your second set of eyes, your psychiatrist, and your despair. But when the chips are down and the bullets ricochet off your track, he's your pride and joy, your fair-haired boy; a slashing, hard-charging bundle of nerves and sheer guts.
When you return from three days of hard fighting, trudge wearily through the dust to your cot, and finally settle down with a hot cup of coffee, he can bring tears to your eyes with those tender, sympathetic, and understanding words, "Gee, I sure am sorry about your gun truck, sir, but we were just trying to beat the tanks to the fuel point ......".

Friday, July 23, 2010

Assassin Troopers Orient on Their Objective

Spc. Nicholas Leuthauser from Brighton, Colo., and serving with Troop A, 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division assists in unloading equipment prior to map reading training conducted at Al-Taan, Iraq, July 13.

Story by: Sgt. David Dyer

COL SHOCKER, Iraq – Soldiers from Troop A, 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division have it all mapped out when it comes to performing the advise and assist mission.

On a recent visit to Al-Taan on the Iraq-Iran border July 13, the Assassin Troopers trained their Iraqi partners on the finer points of map-reading.

“We are moving forward with a training program that will assist them in improving current skill levels and developing new skill sets,” said 1st Lt. Frederick Do, a West Covina, Calif., native.

Sgt. Shawn McClellon of Lorain, Ohio, led the map-reading class with the assistance of an interpreter. Most of the students were junior officers or noncommissioned officers from several of the outlying posts and border forts who will pass on the knowledge gained to their subordinates.

“The skills we pass along today will lay the foundation for future and more advanced training later,” McClellon said. “Every piece of information or new skill that we can pass along only helps to improve the security and stability in this region.”

A pair of enlisted cavalrymen shared new skills with their counterparts on the roof of the fort. The troopers had set up a Long-Range Advance Scout Surveillance System and were helping the DBE agents learn its uses.

The LRAS3 enables Army scouts to conduct 24-hour reconnaissance and surveillance missions, remaining outside threat acquisition and engagement ranges.

“The device is extremely useful in helping them [DBE] with their mission of interdicting smuggling operations along the border” said Spc. Nicholas Leuthauser from Brighton, Colo.

Leuthauser spoke on how smuggling operations are counter to the stability and sovereignty of Iraq.

“If we can assist the DBE in stopping just one [smuggler], it helps,” he said.

It was well into the night before the training was over and the cavalrymen of Assassin Troop loaded their vehicles and prepared for the trip back to COL Shocker. The Soldiers and their DBE partners looked forward to the next visit with a desire to build upon the relationship of training and trust in the future.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sledgehammers Fight to Represent Brigade

Courtesy Story

CONTINGENCY OPERATING STATION KALSU, Iraq – The 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division held a brigade-wide combatives tournament at Contingency Operating Station Kalsu that ended, July 10.

Fighters representing each of the brigade’s five battalions came together for two days of competition to determine who would go on to represent the “Sledgehammers” in the All-Army Combatives Tournament later this year.

“It’s unreal to me,” said Spc. Sarah Lanphear, 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd HBCT. “I just started combatives in March. It really means a lot that I have achieved so much in such a short time.”

Winners of the tournament earned a plaque and a coin from brigade commander, Col. Peter Jones. They will continue their training at Fort Benning, Ga., in preparation for the All-Army tournament.

“We have had support from the brigade,” said Sgt. Seth Mendel, 3rd BSTB, “but to compete successfully at the All-Army level, it takes an incredible amount of personal dedication.”

The fighters said they are ready to work on improving their abilities.

“I need to work on my stand-up game,” said Lanphear. “Right now I’m really looking forward to working on my boxing skills.”

For Lanphear, winning is not all about brute strength.

“Some people might think that because I’m smaller, I might not be a very good fighter,” said Lanphear, “but I think it’s interesting that it doesn’t matter what size you are; it’s all about your heart.”

Lanphear credits more than heart for her success.

“Staff Sgt. [James] Vincent has been an incredible mentor to me,” she said. “He has really made it his goal to help me succeed, and Sgt. [Craig] Obeso, who calls himself my manager, has been my number one support channel. He pushed me and reminded me how much I like this sport.”

For Mendel, it is a chance to become a student again.

“I will be refining every aspect of my game,” he said. “It will be nice to have someone at a higher level train me and point out where I am weak so I can improve.”

Entering the All-Army ring is a natural progression for Mendel.

“What helped me was a long history of interest in martial arts and fighting, anything to do with combat,” he said.

As one of the brigade’s combatives instructors, Mendel trains fellow Soldiers in the Army Combatives Program.

“All that it takes to make every Soldier a hardcore fighter, something they can be proud of, is an instructor that has a passion for fighting,” he said.

Although he won his weight class at the brigade tournament, Pfc. Jeremy Myers, 3rd BSTB, is not satisfied.

“I wouldn’t call myself a success yet,” he said. “I can call myself a success after I win the All-Army tournament.”

While some identify coaches and friends as their driving force, Myers fights for someone else.

“I fight for everyone that says I shouldn’t be here,” he said. “I win for them.”

Thursday, June 17, 2010

'Sledgehammers' Celebrate the Army's Birthday

Maj. David Guthrie, the executive officer of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, speaks to Soldiers during the brigade's celebration of the U.S. Army's 235th birthday at the dining facility at Contingency Operating Site Kalsu, Iraq, June 14. Guthrie, a native of Hampton, Va., reminded the Soldiers in attendance of their great heritage and praised them for their service.

Story by Sgt. Ben Hutto,

COS KALSU, Iraq – Soldiers assigned to the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division celebrated the U.S. Army’s 235th birthday June 14 at COS Kalsu.

Soldiers enjoyed one another’s company after a few words from the 3rd Bde. executive officer Maj. David Guthrie.

“It is truly humbling to be a part of this great Army that has defended our nation for the last 235 years,” said Guthrie. “For the last 235 years, Soldiers like you, whose names may not go into the history books with names like Washington, Alan York, Audie Murphy, Patton, Abrams, Powell and Petraeus, have served our country with distinction.”

Soldiers sang the national anthem and Army Song before the brigade’s oldest Soldier, Command Sgt. Maj. Tydious McCray of the 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, cut the brigade’s Army birthday cake with a bayonet and served the first piece to the brigade’s youngest Soldier, Pfc. Joshua Rhodes, a Soldier assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Brigade Special Troops Battalion.

“Being the oldest Soldier in the brigade means I’m a blessed person,” said McCray, a native of Columbus, Ga. “Being able to connect with the youngest Soldier and pass along that symbolic knowledge was a great thing. The Army is the greatest organization in the world, in my opinion. As a group, you will not find a more balanced group of individuals from so many different backgrounds working so seamlessly alongside one another.”

Moving Forward

Commentary by Sgt. Ben Hutto
3rd HBCT Public Affairs Office

CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE KALSU, Iraq – As Soldiers, we’ve trained ourselves to ignore discomfort and keep working. If it is 100 degrees outside, we drink water and sweat though a mission. If it is freezing outside, we add more layers of clothing, put on gloves and grit our teeth when the wind kicks up around us. When we pull a muscle, most Soldiers I know hold off going to sick call to avoid getting a medical profile.

To put it simply, Soldiers find a way to keep moving forward.

What happens when the discomfort isn’t physical? What happens when there is pain that can’t be healed physically?

The battalions of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division held Memorial Day remembrance services at each of their bases Sept. 31 and there were quite a few looks of discomfort and pain at the one I attended.

I saw Soldiers struggling to keep tears from following. I saw senior leaders hold their fingers to their temples as they remembered fallen friends and leaders. I heard the catch in a speaker’s voice as he called out the names of one of his Soldiers he lost last deployment. As the 21 gun salute rang out and Taps was played, I saw more than a few heads bow a little lower.

Speaking for myself, a knot formed in my throat as I started picturing faces with the names I heard being called out.

The enormity of this understanding will always be hard for me to comprehend, but the importance of these Soldiers sacrifice does provide me with a reason to keep moving forward.

Our comrade’s death wasn’t given to provide us a reason to quit. It was given in service of something greater than ourselves.

We hear this all the time at memorial services, but when you think about the quality of our lives back in the United States it is something worth dying for.

Our families don’t worry about improvised explosive devices when they drive to work. A political debate doesn’t spark a car bombing at a busy strip mall. We don’t worry about security during our national elections. Our children go to functioning schools. We do not worry about days of having to go without electricity.

In short, we live in a country that, far and away, has more opportunities, security and a better quality of life than many of the countries we are attempting to help across the world.

People serve in the Army for a variety of reasons, but whatever their reason, what they accomplish in the Army makes the world a better place.

Our fallen Soldiers are perhaps the most powerful reminder of the sacrifices that are required to live in a peaceful world.

No one plans to die for freedom, but Soldiers set themselves on the front line knowing full well that it is a possibility. Memorial Day is meant to honor those us that met that unfortunate possibility so others wouldn’t have to.

We owe our fallen brothers and sisters many things for their sacrifice.

We owe them our thanks for serving, despite the danger; we owe them the honor of not forgetting what they gave up to keep our country safe; and we owe it to them to keep moving forward and finish accomplishing the mission they died for.

It is a lot to live up to, but Memorial Day reminds us that there are higher costs; not soon to be forgotten by me or any other Soldier.

Monday, June 7, 2010

A Smile is Worth A Million Bucks!

It is so nice to see Nick enjoying a little fun time with one of the "goodies" in his latest care package. It is so much fun going shopping and putting packages together for the guys and when you know it brings a smile to their faces, it is a feeling like no other.

BSTB Soldiers Compete in Best Squad Competition

Spc. Ronald Yeager, a Soldier assigned to Headquarters Troop, 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, helps hook a tow bar up to a broken vehicle during the battalion's best squad competition at Contingency Operating Site Kalsu, Iraq, May 28. Yeager's squad bested three other companies' squads during the two-day competition.

Story by Spc. Ben Hutto

COS KALSU, Iraq –Soldiers assigned to the Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division competed in their battalion's best squad competition at Contingency Operating Site Kalsu, May 28 and 29.

Four teams assigned to each of the battalion's four companies sent a squad of seven Soldiers to compete in the two-day event.

Squads completed an Army Physical Fitness Test, competed in a ruck march, negotiated an obstacle course, battled in Army combatives matches, and conducted mock media interviews. Participants also completed a reflexive fire range, a vehicle maintenance competition, a mock improvised explosive device lane, and a game show-style Army knowledge competition.

Headquarters Troop was the eventual winner of the competition by a slim margin.
"The competition was really challenging," said Spc. Jeremy Driskel, an infantryman assigned to HHT, 3rd BSTB. "To be honest, I underestimated it. It was hard, but I really enjoyed it."

The competition was an idea Command Sgt. Maj. Antonio Jones, the senior noncommissioned officer of 3rd BSTB, brought with him when the 3rd HBCT deployed to Iraq in October.

"It was one of the first things I wanted to do when I got to Iraq," said Jones. "After seeing the brigade's best squad competition and the division's Soldier of the Month board, I got some more ideas. The whole point of this competition was to have a tough, realistic training event in a fun-type setting. We wanted to push our Soldiers and force them to dig deep."

Jones, a native of Lynchburg, Va., also wanted to use the competition to build camaraderie in his battalion and to see where his companies were in their technical proficiencies.

"The competition has given me an opportunity adjust and tailor our training to fix issues we saw during the competition," he said. "It was just a great event all the way around."
Driskel, a native of Cummings, Ga., said he was extremely pleased with how his team came together.

"Honestly, we were all thrown together at the last minute, but everyone was so motivated," he said. "I like working with people like that. We just kept each other going and picked each other up."

Jones is planning another competition when his unit gets back to Fort Benning, Ga., and hopes the event will help motivate his Soldiers to be as technically proficient and mentally tough as they can be.

"It was a great event, and I appreciate all the Soldiers who took part," he said. "I think everyone was a winner. Winning, to me, was to see that everyone performed the common tasks and demonstrated that they were proficient in their jobs."

Art Fair Held at COS Kalsu

Pfc. David Smith, a computer networks specialist assigned to Headquarters Troop, Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division surveys paintings for sale at an art fair at Contingency Operating Site Kalsu, Iraq, June 2 and 3. Artists in Babil province, where COS Kalsu is located, held a two-day art fair to sell their works and share their culture with U.S. Soldiers.

By Sgt. Ben Hutto

CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE KALSU, Iraq – Local artists displayed their work as part of an art fair in the Contingency Operating Site Kalsu dining facility, June 2 and 3.

Paintings by 15 artists from the Babil province were put on display and offered for sale.

"The art is beautiful," said Spc. David Holcombe, a generator mechanic assigned to Headquarters Company, 203rd Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. "I thought the people around here were mostly farmers. I didn't know they had so many creative artists."

The event was put together by the 1411th Civil Affairs Company.

"We wanted to bring a little cultural experience to the [base]," said Capt. Kristen Brockman, the commander of the 1411th CA Company. "The artists in this area have a tough time selling their works to locals in the area, so this is an economic development project for them."

In order to attract Soldiers, the artists kept their products affordable. Pieces ranged in price from 30 to 50 dollars.

"We felt this was a good opportunity for the Soldiers here to carry home something meaningful," said Brockman, a native of Jackson, N.J. "I think a lot of the art speaks so well about the environment here. The art really captures what the people of this area are like."

Many of the artists whose work was represented at the event were happy so many Soldiers were interested in their work.

"So far, we have sold between 65 or 70 pieces," said Ali Ghason, a local artist. "We are very happy. This was our only outlet to express ourselves and show what we can do."

Ghason was happy that American Soldiers would be taking his work back to the United States with them.

"We hope our art is a good reflection of our culture to the U.S. people," he said.
For Holcomb, a native of Leominster, Mass., the piece he purchased is a good way to remember the two deployments he served in Iraq.

"It is something to keep from Iraq to say I was there," he said. "It will look really nice in my work room back home. Who knows? Some day it may be worth something."

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day Prayer

"Dear Father, I pray that You will protect the lives of the men and women of our armed forces….Command Your angels concerning them to guard them in all their ways. Surround them on all sides, and let no weapon formed against them prosper. Let no harm befall them, no disaster come near their tent. Satisfy them with long... life and show them Your salvation. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

History of Memorial Day

On May 5, 1866, the residents of Waterloo held the first complete, community-wide observance of Memorial Day. They dedicated the entire day to honoring the Civil War dead in a solemn and patriotic manner. Throughout the village, flags, draped in mourning, flew at half mast. Ladies prepared wreaths and bouquets for each veteran's grave. Businesses closed, and veterans, civic organizations and townspeople marched to the strains of martial music to the village cemeteries. There, with reverent prayers and patriotic ceremonies, the tradition of Memorial Day was born.

Henry C. Welles, a prominent citizen, first proposed the idea for a day completely devoted to honoring the Civil War dead. General John B. Murray, the Seneca County Clerk, who had commanded the 148th New York Infantry Regiment in the war, quickly advanced the thought and marshaled community support. Since that year, Waterloo has annually observed Memorial Day. New York, in 1873, became the first state to proclaim Memorial Day, or Decoration Day, as it was originally called, a public holiday.

In May, 1966, a joint resolution by the United States Congress and a proclamation by President Lyndon B. Johnson officially recognized Waterloo as the birthplace of Memorial Day.

Memorial Day was originally known as "Decoration Day" because it was a time set aside to honor the nation's Civil War dead by decorating their graves. It was instituted in 1868 to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers and has since grown to honor all those who have given their lives in services to their country.

Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on May 5, 1868 by General John Logan and was first observed on May 30, 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. The first state to officially recognize the holiday was New York in 1873. By 1890 it was recognized by all of the northern states.

Take Time To Remember

On this Memorial Day 2010 it is with great pride that I say "Thank you" to all our Military Soldiers and especially to the families of those whose loved ones have given the ultimate sacrifice of their life. Our military is the most dedicated and giving organization in America. I know of no other organization that its members are willing to give their live for the cause. Because of their many sacrifices, we are able to enjoy our freedom!

It saddens me that on this Memorial Day many people have forgotten the reason for the "holiday". Many think of it as a day off work...or a day to catch a great sale...or a day to get together with family and friends and grill...but many forget that it is a day to honor those that have sacrificed their lives so we CAN enjoy all those wonderful things.
Take a few minutes out of the day to stop and say a prayer for all those families who have to cope daily with the fact that their loved one gave their live for us. And stop and remember the thousands of Soldiers that are currently serving so unselfishly.

I am forever grateful to our wonderful organization like no other!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

3rd HBCT Leadership Team Speaks With Soldiers

Col. Pete Jones, commander of 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, speaks with the Soldiers of the Brigade Special Troops Battalion during a question-and-answer session at Contingency Operating Location Kalsu, May 11, 2010. Jones and 3rd HBCT Command Sgt. Maj. James Pearson used the session to dispel rumors, answer questions and highlight the brigade's accomplishments during their current deployment.

By Sgt. Ben Hutto
3rd HBCT, 3rd Inf Div PAO

CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE KALSU, Iraq – The commander and command sergeant major of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, held a question-and-answer session with the Brigade Special Troops Battalion at Contingency Operating Site Kalsu, May 11, 2010, to connect more directly with their troops.

During the session, Col. Pete Jones and Command Sgt. Maj. James Pearson highlighted the brigade's current mission and accomplishments, explained their concerns about vehicular safety, asked team leaders to focus on combat drills and shared the brigade's projected plans for redeployment.

The leaders congratulated the BSTB Soldiers for all the hard work they have done in supporting the Iraqi people and helping train their security forces.

Jones praised the brigade's role in helping millions of Iraqi people celebrate the religious holidays, Ashura and Arba'een. He also credited the brigade for helping create a secure environment that enabled 9 million Iraqi citizens to vote in the March 7 national elections.

Despite the brigade's success, Jones stressed that his Soldiers continue to remain vigilant. He pointed to the eight recent bombings in Babil and Najaf provinces that targeted Iraqi security forces and civilians as proof that insurgents are still actively trying to undo progress in Iraq.

"While the threat target-level is low, this is still a dangerous place," he said. "We need to remain ready and not get complacent."

Pearson told his non-commissioned officers to continue to enforce the standards of the brigade.

"We need leaders to constantly practice their emergency procedures and rehearse battle drills," he said. "If you are an NCO, you need to take every opportunity to train your Soldiers. You are in charge of training the Army's future leaders. It is your responsibility. It's one of the reasons you were promoted and I expect you to do it."

Jones and Pearson placed emphasis on accident prevention during the session. Both leaders stressed that accidents, especially vehicular accidents, are preventable.

Pearson cited Soldiers driving too fast and choosing not to wear seatbelts as his primary concerns.

"Everyone is a safety officer," said Jones. "Everyone is responsible for ensuring that discipline and safety standards are met. Discipline is what this unit is known for, and discipline is what will get us home."

Jones also sent a very stern message to the battalion about the brigade's notification process for family members of dead or injured Soldiers.

"I abhor cutting the Internet and phones because I know many of you have set up a rhythm when it comes to contacting your loved ones back home," he said. "Unfortunately, some people do not have the discipline to wait for a chaplain and a uniformed officer to deliver the news to our families the correct way."

"Well, you are hearing this directly from me," he continued, "any Soldier caught sending that information home without permission from me will be subject to [punishment under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice]."

Jones explained that a family hearing about misfortune over Facebook or the Internet is wrong and he, as a commander, is prepared to take a firm stand to keep it from happening.

"There is no gray area on this issue," he said. "As a leader, I have an obligation to inform the families of our dead and injured Soldiers. Allow me to do that. I take this responsibility very seriously, and so should you."

Jones and Pearson also addressed redeployment and what it will mean to the brigade's Soldiers and their families. Jones dispelled rumors that the brigade will be leaving Iraq earlier than expected.

"We are still set to go home by the end of September," said Jones.

Jones is planning one extended block leave for Soldiers after redeployment; rather than two shorter block leaves. The plan still needs to be approved by the 3rd Inf. Div. leadership, however.

"Whatever happens when we get back, Col. Jones and I are proud of each and every one of you," said Pearson. "When you get back, be proud of what you've done. Tell your story to the people back home. Tell our story to your family and friends. You've all done a lot.

"You volunteered to join the Army during a time of war," he said. "You agreed to leave your friends and families to come over here. It is something you can look back on years from now and take pride."

Cav Unit Changes Commanders

Capt. Travis Trammell, former commander of A Troop, 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, from Campti, La., Lt. Col. Chris Kennedy, squadron commander, and Capt. John Dickson, incoming troop commander, from Livonia, Michigan, face the troop formation during the change of command ceremony at Contingency Operating Site Shocker, Iraq, May 8.
Capt. Nicholas James, commander of Troop C, 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, gives Capt. Travis Trammell, former A Troop, 3rd Sqdn., 1st Cav. Regt. commander, a farewell handshake after a change of command ceremony at Contingency Operating Site Shocker, Iraq, May 8.

Capt. Travis Trammell, outgoing commander, A Troop, 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, from Campti, La., passes the troop guidon to squadron commander, Lt. Col. Chris Kennedy, during a change of command ceremony at Contingency Operating Site Shocker, Iraq, May 8.

For Our Troops

For Our Troops

FOR OUR TROOPS (both past and present, but particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan at present)

Though I don't know your name
And I have never seen your face
I shed tears for you.

Though my memories don't contain a time
We shared together
I miss you.

Though we are not related
You are in my thoughts.

When I'm eating, or taking a shower, or doing housework,
I think of you, knowing how much you wish you could be at home,
Your stomach full, doing mundane chores such as cleaning your house,
Clean from a fresh shower.

Though you are at terrible risk, and perhaps may not survive,
You are NEVER ALONE, and will always be alive
If only in our spirits, hopes and memories, our dreams for your future.

There are MILLIONS of people praying for you tonight
And throughout the day.

Praying for your safely and return as a whole person
In mind, body and spirit.

We are crying because we know. We know you are scared, and lonely.
And that you'd give anything to see your family, to hug you mother, father.
Your child, sister, brother, aunt, uncle.

To be showered with love and comfort,
Instead of sand and shrapnel.

We long for you too, with an ache so desperate as to make us insane.
To touch your face, see your smile; share your laughter and your tears.

We love you so much soldiers, you cannot know. You cannot fathom the swelling of pride in our chest as we think of you.
Of your courage and your sacrifice, the hope that you can come home soon.

And those that have returned, we have not forgotten you; you are in our prayers,
That you may recover from your experience and be healed.

No matter what anyone says, not matter the reason you are there,
You are a UNITED STATES SOLDIER, and you make us PROUD!!
Every day for that beautiful flag, for our great fortune to be Americans.

There are no politics, no scandals, no mistakes, NOTHING, which can diminish the sentiment we have for you.
And even as democracy permits free speech, as it should, which some may use to make judgments or cast aspersions,
Remember always, we know you'd rather be on the couch debating it with us than spending your days trying just to stay alive.

Let no "freedom of speech' EVER make you doubt the American people's faith in and love for you.
We are PROUD!

I've never met you, but I want you to know that I love you.
I'm praying for you.
I honor you.
I'm waiting for your return.

On this Memorial Day, 2010, and every day,
Please know that you are being though of.
GOD BLESS YOU and keep you until the day we can celebrate face to face.

© 2007 Brooke O'Neill Emery

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Students Graduate From Team Leaders Course

Story by: Sgt. Ben Hutto

COS KALSU, Iraq – Thirty-one students assigned to the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division graduated from the 3rd HBCT's Team Leader Course at Contingency Operating Site Kalsu, May 8.

The two-week course taught the graduates vehicle maintenance and recovery, combat casualty care, casualty evacuation procedures, a variety of weapon systems, several different radio systems, demolitions for use in urban environments, and how to run small arms ranges.

"The class was a lot of fun," said Spc. Anthony Blake, a native of Columbia, Mo., assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd HBCT.

"A lot of the noncommissioned officers I spoke to about the class said they had to learn a lot of the stuff we went over in class on their own after they got promoted. I think that will help me when I get promoted."

The class, which was geared to junior NCO's and Soldiers, provided formal instruction on the proper way to lead Soldiers according to Army field manuals and regulations.

"The class provided a great opportunity for these future and current noncommissioned officers to work and train together with Soldiers from other units within the brigade," said Staff Sgt. Robert Lively, one of the course's instructors.

Lively, a native of Natchez, Miss., assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, BSTB, 3rd HBCT, said that the graduates of the class learned to work together as a team and grew through the shared experience.

"I'm still a ways from getting promoted to sergeant, but this class has helped me a lot," said Pfc. Casey Brecker, a native of Philadelphia assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment.

"I know when it is time for me to go to the board and get promoted; this course will have set me up for success. We learned how to lead from the front during our time here. It is something I've always thought a good leader should do and this course just reaffirmed that for me."

Remembering a Fallen Comrade

Pfc. Ronald Simpson, Company A, 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, remembers his fallen comrade, Sgt. Anthony O'Neal Magee, Company A, during a memorial service May 8, 2010, at Contingency Operating Site Kalsu, Iraq. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Natalie Hedrick)

By Staff Sgt. Natalie Hedrick

COS KALSU, Iraq – Soldiers of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, gathered at the chapel at Contingency Operating Site Kalsu May 8, 2010, to remember their fallen comrade, Sgt. Anthony O'Neal Magee from Hattiesburg, Miss.

Magee, Company A, 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd HBCT, survived three days before passing away, April 27, from wounds suffered during an indirect fire attack on COS Kalsu.
According to Col. Robert Ashe, commander of 2nd Bn., 69th AR, after being wounded, Magee was moved to safety by another injured Soldier. Immediately, other Soldiers came to help, using the shirts off their backs as bandages.

Tireless efforts were taken to save his life at the COS Kalsu aid station, the hospital in Balad, Iraq, and finally the hospital in Germany where he passed. Magee's final act was to serve as an organ donor.

At the memorial service, Ashe said the actions of all involved gave Magee's family time to say their final goodbyes. He is survived by his wife Courtney, his son Kameron, and his parents, Tony and Patricia Davis.

Two of his many friends, Spc. Bryan Hammers and Pfc. Ronald Simpson, brought the spirit of Magee alive as they took the audience through a journey of his life as they knew him.

"He would not have wanted me to stand here today and dwell on the negativity of the situation," Hammers said. "If Magee were here today, I guarantee you his exact words would be, 'Quit crying about it; life's too short.'"

Simpson further confirmed Magee's upbeat and hearted spirit.

"Anthony Magee would not want us to sit here and mourn over his death," he said. "He would rather see us celebrate the life he lived. If it were up to him, he'd have a 48-hour party."

The room broke out in laughter as his two comrades described special moments they shared with their friend.

"Magee's favorite thing to do was get into a combatives match with someone…heck, anyone," Hammers said. "I can still hear him as I'm sure many of you have heard him say before, 'Keep talking. Say something. I'll ball you up.'"

The audience nodded as Simpson illustrated scenes almost all of them had witnessed.
"What I remember about Sgt. Magee is frequently catching him flexing his muscles," he said. "You would be sitting at the computer and just randomly out of nowhere he's sneaking up behind you trying to put you in a head lock."

Hammers reminded the audience of Magee's love for life and intolerance for negativity.
"He was one of those people that you just wanted to be around," he said, "always positive and never minded lending a hand. No matter what the situation, his response was, 'I got you man.'"

As a Soldier, Capt. Timothy Sikora, Company A commander, remembered Magee as a dedicated company supply sergeant.

"If he had the supplies, he gave them to his fellow Soldiers all the way down to the last one out of his pocket," he said.

Ashe remembered Magee as a Soldier whose impact on those around him was far-reaching. With a contagious smile and the attitude to live every day to the fullest, he was a guy who others sought out in hard times for a quick pick-up.

While Magee's spirit lingered in the aisles of the chapel and in the hearts of those he influenced, Simpson took a moment to talk to his fallen friend.

"We love you," he said. "We miss you. Rest in peace brother."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Velvet Hammer

A velvet hammer is sent when there is a loss in the the brigade. Peace be with the families of our fallen Soldiers. God bless our troops!

On the 30th of April , I was notified that HHC 2-69 AR suffered the loss of a Soldier. The next of kin has been notified. This Soldier died at Landstuhl Hospital as a result of wounds sustained on 24 April at Kalsu, Iraq. I ask you for your prayers for this Sledgehammer Soldier's family.

Tom Woodie
Rear Detachment Commander
3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division
Fort Benning, GA

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

HAMMER - hardships, hearts & heroes - Episodes 16

The top squads from every battalion met at COS Kalsu to vie for top squad honors. Follow along in HAMMER - hardships, hearts & heroes, Episode 16. Episode music courtesy Skillet

Monday, April 26, 2010

HAMMER - hardships, hearts & heroes - Episodes 15

Episode 15 of HAMMER follows along as NCO's of the Sledgehammer Brigade vie for membership in the exclusive Sergeant Audie Murphy Club

Sledgehammer - Halfway Home!

Sledgehammer Squads Square-off

Soldiers representing 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, start out on a five-mile march April 15, during the best-squad competition at Contingency Operating Site Kalsu, Iraq. The competition tested the teamwork and physical abilities of teams representing the Sledgehammer Brigade's six battalions.

Story by Pfc. Erik Anderson

COS KALSU, Iraq – Squads representing each of the six battalions that make up the 3rd Heavy Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division met at Contingency Operating Site Kalsu, April 15, to compete in a two-day event designed to test their strength and teamwork.

The first day represented traditional warrior tasks and drills with a surprise road-march to end the day. The following day, Soldiers squared-off in non-traditional events that brought some fun to the competition.

"Being in a combat zone, it is very important these Soldiers operate as a squad," said Sgt. Maj. Rick Hairston, 3rd HBCT. "The squad as a group is much stronger than any one individual can be."

Warrior tasks on the first day were completed in body armor, as if the squads were on patrol in the streets of Iraq.

The first event was a road march to an obstacle where teams carried a stretcher loaded with a simulated body weight. Teams traversed three trailers with the stretcher through a lane that required them to work together.

"It took teamwork, a lot of teamwork," said Spc. Derrick Hodges, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 203rd Brigade Support Battalion. "Running with the flak vests on, that is something new. You have to be ready."

Squads flipped two, 500-pound military tires end-over-end for 80 meters before moving on to a grenade-throwing station. The next task was a weapons assembly station, where they were given a pile of parts and assembled working firearms while timed for points.

"Teamwork is important because it is what combat is based on," said Spc. William Johnson, 203rd BSB. "Without your battle buddy to your left or to your right, you're no good."

Moving to the next obstacle, squads were presented with a standard resupply point, consisting of water cans, pre-packaged meals and ammunition. The task was to move the supplies over a six-foot-tall wall, carry them across a water-filled ditch, and deliver them to a waiting military vehicle.

"If they don't have leadership directing them, they won't accomplish it that quick," said Hairston. "But if they work towards the same goal, and understand what each other's strengths and weaknesses are, they will be able to move quicker."

After the supplies were loaded onto the truck, squads moved to the COS Kalsu pistol range and were awarded points based on accuracy.

Following the range, teams were given a much-needed rest until the next event, a five-mile road march.

During the march, teams pushed a disabled humvee and carried a loaded stretcher the final 100 meters.

"We are trying to make them work as a squad," said Hairston. "Making the leadership think about what they are going to do and how they are going to plan the attack to do the next event."

The second day of competition had the participants tossing horseshoes, shooting hoops, throwing footballs, and trying to hit a barrel with a softball after some very dizzying bat maneuvers, to earn points for their squads.

"It's basically teamwork," said Johnson. "You start as a team and it's up to the team whether you are close-knit enough to actually finish as a team."

After the dust settled and the points were tallied, the squad representing 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment took top-squad bragging rights.

"I'm really proud of my guys," said Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Moore, 1st Bn., 15th Inf. Regt. "They worked hard and they deserve it."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Helping Deployed Soldiers Maintain Bonds

Chaplain (Capt.) Bruce Duty, Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, reads a love poem to his wife back home in Fort Benning, Ga., during an internet communications event held at Contingency Operating Site Kalsu, Iraq, Feb. 14. The 3rd HBCT has held several events and relationship-building classes to help its deployed Soldiers and their spouses strengthen their marriages.
Story by Spc. Ben Hutto

COS KALSU, Iraq -- The 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division is helping married Soldiers improve their relationships with their spouses during their current mission in Iraq.

The 3rd HBCT mental health assessment, given three months into the brigade's current deployment, determined that marital stress was a main concern of the brigade's Soldiers.

"Strong Bonds marriage retreats, Family Life [program], and counselors are all examples of the support systems available to our married Soldiers to help them and their spouses during and after our deployment," said Col. Pete Jones, the commander of the 3rd HBCT. "We are near the mid-point of this deployment and our marriage retreats were designed to introduce techniques that maintain and build relationships."

In addition to counseling and retreats, the 3rd HBCT has sponsored the "Fireproof Your Marriage" peer study, a religious study based on the Christian film and held events via the Internet to help provide Soldiers more options to improve their marriage and stay connected with their spouses.

"A stable home life allows our Soldiers to focus on their mission and not be looking over their shoulder on what is going on back home," said Jones. "A Soldier with an unstable marriage will not have his mind on the mission. I think our leaders understand that a Soldier with a strong home life is a combat multiplier for the brigade."

Jones acknowledged that his Soldiers do have stressors that can affect their marriage. Being away from their families for a year, working long hours and having to be away when problems happen back home can be extremely difficult on a relationship.

"Being in the Army can pose difficulties for a marriage, but that doesn't mean those challenges are insurmountable," said Chaplain (Capt.) Bruce Duty, with the Brigade Special Troops Battalion. "It just means spouses need to invest more time and effort into 'battle proofing' their relationships."

Duty explained that people can have difficulty working on their marriages when they are separated by time and distance, but it is possible.

"It is more difficult when one half of the relationship is back home," Duty said. "It takes two individuals to make a marriage work; however, it does require an individual effort on each partner's part."

"I think that Soldiers and their spouses can use this time for personal reflection and start building good habits that can continue when they are reunited," he said.

Duty and Capt. Gina Wright, the 3rd HBCT's social worker, sponsored the six-week "Fireproof Your Marriage" peer study. It focused on strengthening a couple's marriage by using a Christian view as a base.

Wright recognized the group may not be for every Soldier, but said that she thinks it could be used as a springboard for more events. She frequently deals with Soldiers who have concerns about their marriage and hopes more of them will take advantage of services the brigade offers.

"I see it every day," she said. "If we, as a brigade, don't put out opportunities for couples to get help; we are not making a difference. I'm hoping that events like the Fireproof Your Marriage series will snowball into more opportunities and programs for married couples to improve their marriages."

While offering more programs and services to couples is a good start, Jones pointed out that they go to waste if Soldiers and their spouses don't use them.

"We can provide these resources, but it is ultimately up to the families to use them and communicate their needs to make it successful," he said. "Like any Army program, funds are set aside for it to be used. If they are not used, those same funds may not be there the next time around."

During his 22 years in the Army, Sgt. 1st Class Danny Waldrip, an operations noncommissioned officer in the 3rd HBCT, has been through a divorce. He encourages Soldiers to use the programs available to help their marriages.

"No matter how strong your marriage is, it can never be too strong," he said. "I would encourage any Soldier to take advantage of the opportunities the Army has provided us. Marriage counselors and seminars out in real world cost money. The fact that we, as Soldiers, have free access to them is a really good thing."

Waldrip encourages Soldiers to go into marriage with a serious mind-set.

"When you get married, you need to go into it with the mentality that it will not fail," he said. "The Soldier mentality you have about your military career needs to be infused in your marriage or it will not work...The words 'them' and 'they' cause divisions in a marriage. When you get married there should be no more 'you' and 'me'. It should be about 'we' and 'us'."

Waldrip knows first-hand how hard the time requirements of being Soldier can be on a marriage.
"An old football saying says that if you are the first one to practice and the last one to leave; you will be a good football player," he said. "With our job as Soldiers, we will always be the first one in the door and the last to leave. That isn't easy on a marriage. To be honest, cross-country truck drivers spend more time at home than we do... That being said, your marriage should never be something that takes a back seat to other things."

Duty agrees with Waldrip's assessment.

"In the Army, you get awards and accolades for doing well," said Duty. "In a marriage, doing well is expected. You won't get an award, but you will have the satisfaction of being in a good marriage and that should mean significantly more."

U.S. Army Conducts Board With Iraqi Counterparts

Pfc. John Young, Battery A, 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, of Marion, Ind., reports to the presidents of the board, Command Sgt. Maj. Mark A. Aaron, 1st Bn., 10th FAR, and Command Sgt. Maj. Abas Abad Al Hussain, 8th Iraqi Army Motorized Transportation Regiment, March 6, at Contingency Operating Base Delta, Iraq

By Sgt. Matthew Hayes

CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE DELTA, Iraq -- Boards, in which a Soldier stands before a group of senior leaders and is examined for technical and general proficiency, are a common experience in the Army, but it is not so often that Soldiers have the opportunity to be examined by leadership from a host nation.

The Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, had just such an opportunity March 6, at Contingency Operating Base Delta.

Command Sgt. Maj. Mark A. Aaron, 1st Bn. command sergeant major, took his seat as the president of the battalion Non-commissioned Officer and Soldier of the Quarter boards that day with the usual first sergeants from the battalion to his left. On his right, however, was his Iraqi counterpart.

Command Sgt. Maj. Abas Abad Al Hussain, 8th Iraqi Army Motorized Transportation Regt., was an honorary guest and served as co-president for the prestigious board.

The board began like many other boards, with the participants reciting various military creeds, conducting facing movements, and reciting their biographies. Soldiers were asked questions about the military by members of the board, starting with Abas. His questions addressed topics such as the chain of command.

A military board is something that every non-commissioned officer must experience to obtain the rank of sergeant. The traditions of the NCO Corps run deep in the U.S. Army and these traditions are being passed on to the Iraqi NCO Corps. Every NCO from the newest sergeant to the command sergeant major of the Army has experienced a board at some time in their career.

U.S. Forces are now advising and assisting Iraq to become a self sustaining nation.

Geospatial Specialists Put Troops on the Map

Pfc. Scott Brayan, a geospatial analyst assigned to the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, pulls a map off a plotter in his office at Contingency Operating Site Kalsu, Iraq, March 30. Since arriving to Iraq, Brayan and his section have produced 4,000 maps for the brigade.

Story by Spc. Ben Hutto

COS KALSU, Iraq -- The Soldiers of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, know exactly where they are in the world thanks to the hard work and dedication of the brigade's geospatial section.

The five-Soldier section works around-the-clock to keep up with Contingency Operating Site Kalsu's map needs.

"Our section provides real-time geospatial projects that allow the brigade to see anywhere on earth at any time," said Staff Sgt. Randall Williams, the non-commissioned officer in charge of the section. "More specifically, we provide terrain analysis to help enable reconstruction efforts in our area of operations."

Using overhead satellites, the group deciphers the cluttered topographical images and turns them into workable maps. Their job, however, is much more intricate than just producing images. They also interpret what they see on these images and pass that operational information on to the 3rd HBCT's leadership.

"We've put out about 4,000 maps and 200 special projects so far," said Williams, a native of Deer River, Minn. "The biggest accomplishment for our section was, within six weeks of arriving in country, finding four weapons caches. That's 3,500 rounds that were seized because we did our job."

To add to his challenge, Williams is also working on training three of his Soldiers, who recently graduated from Advanced Individual Training. Still, they are responding positively to the challenge of learning on the fly, according to Williams.

"They are learning very fast," Williams said. "The challenge for me is finding the proper balance of battlefield operations and training. It requires me to double-check the quality of all the maps we do, but they do a great job. They still have a lot to learn, but they are coming along nicely."

Pfc. Scott Brayan, one of the newer Soldiers, said the training they have received in country builds well on their previous training.

"The training we received at AIT was solid, but it didn't prepare us for our job out in the field," said Brayan, a native of Inglewood, Calif. "We learned the basics there, but what we do out here is on a different level. I've learned a lot just by watching Sergeant Williams work."

According to Brayan and Spc. Nick Palmer, a native of Rochester, N.Y., part of what makes their jobs so difficult is the complex nature of the tools they employ to read what is on the earth's surface and how it could affect the brigade.

"I learn new things every day," said Brayan. "This is not an easy job. We use lot of in-depth programs. Most days we barely tap into 10 percent of what our programs can do. They are so complex."

Keeping those systems running smoothly is just as important, said Palmer.

"There are so many intricate machines that we have to work with," said Spc. Nick Palmer, a native of Rochester, N.Y. "If a plotter doesn't work, we can't print maps. If the computer doesn't work, we can't make maps. We constantly have to maintain and service our equipment. The dust, the heat, puts wear and tear on them."

Despite the busy nature of their jobs and the lack of experience in the section, they have performed their jobs well.

During the March 7 Iraqi national elections, the section produced more than 300 maps in a two-week span without Williams there.

"I was on leave, but I'm very proud of how they stepped up and accomplished the mission," he said. "A lot of our Soldiers are still learning their jobs and to see them work at that high a level is encouraging."

"I work with a great team," Brayan said. "Everyone has a great personality. We are a tight-knit group."

Williams agrees with his Soldiers assessment, but has his own opinions on why they get along so well.

"The operation tempo doesn't allow us to murder one another," Williams said. "We are too busy."

As the 3rd HBCT's deployment prepares to finish its mission in Iraq, Williams knows that he and his Soldiers will have even more work to complete, but he is confident they will finish strong.

"The more they get trained, the easier the work will become," he said. "I'm very happy with the direction we are going in. We'll be OK."

Friday, April 16, 2010

I'm A Soldier's Mom


I'm a Soldier’s Mom ~ but do not weep for me
I'm waiting and praying
I'm on pins & needles
I toss and turn all night
He's my last thought before I
finally fall asleep at night
my first when I wake each morning

I'm a Soldier’s Mom - but do not weep for me
I hear his words, see his face and his posture as he says
"Mom, I'm ready to go
I'm prepared to go
It's my job to go
I'll volunteer to go
I need to get my mind set to go"

I'm a Soldier's Mom ~ but do not weep for me
For you
For our children
and our children's children
For our Country
For their Country

I'm a Soldier's Mom ~ but do not weep for me
I'm proud of my son's
Inner strength
I'm proud to be an American
I'm proud to be Free

Yes ~ I'm a Soldier's Mom ~ but do not weep for me!!!

HAMMER - hardships, hearts & heroes - Episodes 11, 12, 13 & 14

Join 1-10 FA as they honor the patron Saint of Field Artillery, no matter where they are.
Episode 12 highlights the Military Police at COB Delta and their experience working with their partners in the Iraqi Police Force.
Episode 13 of HAMMER highlights the Advise & Assist experience of troopers from Commanche Troop, 3-1 Cav., at COB Delta, Iraq.
Col. Peter Jones and many of the Sledgehammer Brigade's company commanders joined Iraqi leaders at the Iran-Iraq border for a tour and a history lesson about the conflict between the neighboring countries.
Pay close attention at 2:30 - Nick makes an appearance!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bumping Into Friends

It's always nice to bump into good friends but it's especially nice when you're out in the middle of the desert! Nick recently hooked up with buddy Will Garvin and had a few laughs to break the tension.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Looking Good...

Looking good...enjoying life and just doing what he does!!! It absolutely amazes me the mentality of our Soldiers...they are simply doing their job. Nick NEVER complains about the job, the conditions,'s all good. In fact, he says the living conditions are really good compared to the last deployment. We tease him now and tell him he's got a room at the Hilton!

If I ever start to have a bad day, I try to stop and think about Nick and Chris when he was deployed and how positive their attitude is/was. If ANYBODY has the right to have a bad day, it would be our Soldiers but it's quite the opposite. The positive attitude and great outlook I'm sure is part of the reason they are so successful. They have trained both mentally and physically for their job and as a result they do it quite well! Thanks for being such great role models to all of us! I wish EVERYONE could have the great attitude that Nick and Steven and the majority of our Troops have! Great job guys!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Another Sad Day

Sunday was another sad day, as another very dear friend deployed. Sgt. Steven Boer, left Sunday for his third tour in Iraq. When we talked on Saturday, he was in good spirits and just as Nick and Chris would always say, he said he is simply doing his job.

I first met Steven and Kim in March 2007 when we met at Ft. Benning to see Chris and Nick off for their first deployment. I felt as if I had known them for years because Chris and Nick spoke so highly of them. Steven was an inspiration to Chris and the two of them had many good times while stationed together at Ft. Benning. It meant a lot that Steven and Kim took time out to drive in from Kentucky to see the boys off and it was a great opportunity for us to get to know them and see the reason that Nick and Chris were so close to them. It was no surprise that we had an instant friendship that has continued throught the years.

Now Footprints will also follow Steven, as well as Nick on their deployments. As always, let's keep these guys as well as all our Troops in our prayers. Thanks for everything you guys have give for US!

The latest report is that Steven has arrived safely in Kuwait and is doing great. Keep up the great work guys! We love ya'll!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

HAMMER - hardships, hearts & heroes - Episodes 9 & 10

Episode 9 shows the mission of Crusader Company,
1-15 Inf. Regt. on COS Crusader, in Najaf Province.
Episode 10 features some of the many 3rd HBCT company command staff,
talking about where we have been, where we are, and where we are headed.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

"A Soldier Died Today"

He was getting old and paunchy
And his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion,
Telling stories of the past.

Of a war that he once fought in
And the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies;
They were heroes, every one.

And 'tho sometimes to his neighbors
His tales became a joke,
All his buddies listened quietly
For they knew where of he spoke.
But we'll hear his tales no longer,
For ol' Bob has passed away,
And the world's a little poorer
For a Soldier died today.

He won't be mourned by many,
Just his children and his wife.
For he lived an ordinary,
Very quiet sort of life.
He held a job and raised a family,
Going quietly on his way;
And the world won't note his passing,
'Tho a Soldier died today.

When politicians leave this earth,
Their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing,
And proclaim that they were great.
Papers tell of their life stories
From the time that they were young
But the passing of a Soldier
Goes unnoticed, and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution
To the welfare of our land,
Some jerk who breaks his promise
And cons his fellow man?

Or the ordinary fellow
Who in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his country
And offers up his life?

The politician's stipend
And the style in which he lives,
Are often disproportionate,
To the service that he gives.

While the ordinary Soldier,
Who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal
And perhaps a pension, small.
It's so easy to forget them,
For it is so many times
That our Bobs and Jims and Johnnys,
Went to battle, but we know,

It is not the politicians
With their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom
That our country now enjoys.
Should you find yourself in danger,
With your enemies at hand,
Would you really want some cop-out,
With his ever waffling stand?

Or would you want a Soldier--
His home, his country, his kin,
Just a common Soldier,
Who would fight until the end.

He was just a common Soldier,
And his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us
We may need his like again.
For when countries are in conflict,
We find the Soldier's part
Is to clean up all the troubles
That the politicians start..

If we cannot do him honor
While he's here to hear the praise,
Then at least let's give him homage
At the ending of his days.

Perhaps just a simple headline
In the paper that might say:

Author unknown.