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