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.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Body of fallen Fort Benning Sgt. Lakeshia Bailey, a Columbus Native, Comes Home

Family members of Sgt. Lakeshia M. Bailey bow their heads as the fallen soldier’s casket is carried under the honor guard sabres on the tarmac at Freedom Hall on Friday. Bailey, who was with the 203rd Brigade Support Battalion, died March 8 from injuries sustained in a non-combat-related vehicle rollover north of Al Kut.


The flag-draped casket containing the body of fallen U.S. Army Sgt. Lakeshia M. Bailey returned Monday afternoon to Fort Benning.

Bailey, 23, of Columbus, and Sgt. Aaron M. Arthur, 25, of Lake City, S.C., died March 8 north of Al Kut, Iraq, of injuries sustained during a non-combat-related vehicle rollover, according to the Department of Defense. Both soldiers were heavy vehicle drivers assigned to the 203rd Brigade Support Battalion, attached to the 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.

Bailey’s coffin was met by more than 300 soldiers with the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team’s rear detachment unit who came to Lawson Army Airfield at noon to salute their fallen comrade.

They joined several grieving members of Bailey’s family, who held each other and sobbed as a team of six uniformed pallbearers wearing white gloves carried the casket from a small, chartered plane, under an honor guard saber arch and to a waiting hearse. The gray hearse rolled slowly from the wind-swept tarmac near Freedom Hall through a saluting corridor of 3rd Brigade soldiers. Eleven representatives from the Patriot Guard were also on hand to help escort Bailey from the airfield to Sconiers Funeral Home in Columbus.

Bailey entered the Army in February 2006 and arrived for duty at Fort Benning in June 2006.

A 2004 graduate of Spencer High School, she excelled in math and enjoyed cosmetology and home economics. In a recent interview with the Ledger-Enquirer, her younger sister, Candace Bailey, described her as “real goofy” with a contagious smile and an active social life.

Her platoon sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Randolph, said Bailey had a gift for lifting the spirits of her fellow soldiers.

“I basically watched her grow up in the military,” Randolph said moments before the plane carrying her casket landed on post. “She was more than a soldier to me. She was like one of my kids. She was like my daughter. She always was cheerful. It’s like I got an empty spot in my heart because I’ve been in the Army 17 1/2 years and I never lost a soldier.”

A memorial for Bailey and Arthur took place Friday in Iraq. Speaking from Forward Operating Base Kalsu in Iraq during a video teleconferencing session Monday morning, 3rd Brigade Commander Col. Peter Jones offered his condolences to the families.

“In the coming days, they and their families will remain in our thoughts and our prayers,” Jones said.

Funeral services for Sgt. Lakeshia Bailey are scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Follow Me Chapel on post.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Troopers Have Towering Presence on Border

Col. Paul English, left, goes over tower emplacement sites with 1st Lt. Frederick Do while inspecting a tower site on the Iraq-Iran Border Feb. 25. The towers are being emplaced to help the Iraqi Department of Border Enforcement crack down on illegal smuggling.
Story by Cody Harding

COL SHOCKER, Iraq – The Iraqi Department of Border Enforcement, the Government of Iraq's primary force for border security and the interdiction of smuggling, continues to keep an eye on the border with Iran.

They pursue and catch smugglers who attempt to cross the border with weapons, drugs or other means of harming the Iraqi people.

With help from A Troop, 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, the Iraqi border guards of 3rd Battalion, 7th Brigade, Department of Border Enforcement, have added a new watchtower along Iraq's border with Iran. The new tower will help trained observers crack down on smuggling and reduce the presence of insurgents.

Sgt. Steven Glatfelter, a non-commissioned officer with 1st Platoon "Assassin" Troop, said that working with the Iraqi DBE is a good mission for the unit.

"It's like working with any Iraqis," he said. "There's challenges like language, but they're eager to learn and they like working with us. They're very friendly and engaging."

The two-story tower, emplaced on the boundary between the 7th Brigade and 8th Brigade of the DBE, was placed in the area due to intelligence suggesting the area to be a possible smuggling route, said Capt. Travis Trammell, Assassin Troop commander.

The experience of working with the DBE is a new one for Assassin Troop, who have worked with the Iraqi Police and Army in the past, but not with the DBE, said Trammell.

"The tactics and techniques of the DBE are somewhat foreign to the troops", he said. "But it has given them an opportunity to learn and they've enjoyed it. It's an interesting setup that the DBE have and it's something to see."

Glatfelter, who is from Kinsers, Pa., said that he has seen substantial improvement in the border guards since his two previous tours in Iraq in 2005 and 2007.

"First time we were here, they were just following our lead", he said. "It was a fledgling military force we were working with, and now they run the show. We are here now as an advise and assist brigade and that's what we're doing."

Cavalry Works With, Assists Border Guards

Soldiers from Troop A, 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment emplace an Unattended Ground Sensor during a nighttime operation Feb. 25. The sensors allow the Iraqi Department of Border Enforcement to track potential smugglers and their routes, making sure their illegal cargo does not enter Iraq.

Story by Cody Harding

WASIT PROVINCE, Iraq – The border between Iraq and Iran is heavily guarded, with numerous forts on both sides. However, illegal weapons and other dangerous items are still carried into Iraq by smugglers who supply extremists fighting against the Iraqi government.

The Iraqi Department of Border Enforcement is tasked with dealing with security and interdicting smuggling along the border. With the national elections approaching, its job becomes even more important to the security of the voters across the country.

With tactical and technological assistance from A Troop, 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, the DBE's 3rd Battalion, 7th Brigade keeps a watch on the border with Iran in Wasit Province.

Spc. Paul Gauthier, a Cavalry Scout with "Assassin" Troop, said that working with the Iraqis is vital in protecting the border with Iran.

"There's been talk of a lot of smuggling," he said. "So we're working with the Iraqis to try to minimize and cut down on all of the corruption and smuggling that's going on."

First Lt. Allan Keefer, A Troop, has patrolled the area several times and said that the Iraqi border guards in the area have been willing to train themselves and work with A Troop.

"They're well trained; we've had a lot of previous MiT [Military Transition] Teams and U.S Border Enforcement agents here," said Keefer. "So they're trained on the individual tasks well. We're working with them now so they can do their collective tasks."

Gauthier, a Honey Brook, Pa. native, said that working with the Iraqis on stopping smuggling has been a great experience.

"They're great to get along with," said Gauthier. "They're easy to talk to, they're willing to learn, and it's been going great so far."

Keefer, from Mercersburg, Pa., shared similar sentiments.

"The Iraqis that are working on the border are getting better every day," he said. "Their capabilities aren't quite where ours are, but they're using what they have and they're doing a good job with it. Of course they can always get better."

"We've denied a lot of terrain to the smugglers by dismounted patrols and different systems we use," Keefer said. "And we've done that all with the Iraqis."

Exercising the Rght to Vote

Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Natalie Hedrick
3rd HBCT Public Affairs Office

CONTINGENCY OPERATING STATION ECHO, Iraq – They are the second National Elections held since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and voters have taken advantage of their freedom in full force.

Citizens from the five provinces of Babil, Karbala, Diwaniyah, Najaf and Wasit, visited one of over 3,000 polling sites Mar. 7 to cast their vote in an elections that military leaders are saying represents legitimacy, stability, and freedom of choice.

“The significance of these elections,” according to Maj. Mike Anders, Mid-Euphrates Operations Center Project Officer, “is that they will determine who will be in power when the Americans are gone.”

The MEOC is the monitoring station for operations and intelligence assets for the five provinces under the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division’s operational environment.

“By the time the 3rd [HBCT] pulls out, the new government will be seated,” he added. “This is a key time for the Iraqi Government to stand on their own, to work beyond the different sects, and to survive as a nation politically.”

“We are leaving making this truly their elections,” said Maj. Charles Hiter, 3rd HBCT intelligence officer. “This is their new government.”

Compared to the first National Elections held in 2005, candidates were now able to advertise and campaign, Anders said.

“Last elections they did not have a very good turnout probably because of the lack of campaigning,” he said. “They had a closed list so voters didn’t know who was running for what.”

These past elections, voters were able to see what candidate was running for what position.

Hiter explained visiting the polling sites has been a family social event for many Iraqi voters despite the lingering threat from the still present extremist organizations.

“Extremist organizations are challenging a stable and successful Iraq ultimately striving for a more anti-western nation,” he said. “They are protesting the western values and democracy, but people went to vote in the elections so the terrorists have failed.”

According to Lt. Gen. Othman Ali Farhood al Ghanimi, commander of the 8th Iraqi Army Division, the volume of voters increased throughout the day. He believes citizens waited through the morning to assess the security situation. When they realized it was safe, they visited the polling sites.

“The Iraqi people previously did not have the freedom to do this,” Anders said. “Now they are doing it in the face of the enemy.”

Col. Peter Jones, commander of the 3rd HBCT said the events March 7 are just the beginning. The end will come in the months following the elections when the new government is seated and starts to function. Jones believes this will open a new window of opportunity for the provincial government to step up and meet the needs of its citizens.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Singer Entertains Troops on Small Base in Iraq

Former Pussycat Doll Kaya Jones sings "Happy Birthday" to 1st Sgt. John Langs, Company C, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, during her performance for the troops assigned to Contingency Operating Station Endeavor, Iraq, Feb. 24. Before her performance, Jones met and talked with Soldiers at the base dining facility during lunch.

Story by Spc. Ben Hutto

CONTINGENCY OPERATING STATION ENDEAVOR, Iraq – Former Pussycat Doll, Kaya Jones entertained the Soldiers assigned to Contingency Operating Station Endeavor, Iraq, Feb. 24.

Jones and her dance team danced and sang for an appreciative audience for over an hour, before signing autographs and posing for pictures with their audience.

"We love you," said Jones. "We miss you back home. We thank you for what you are doing out here."

Jones also gave away free music from her new album and spent time interacting with the troops at the COS Endeavor dining facility during lunch.

"It was a pleasure to perform for all of you guys," said Jones.

Soldiers cheered throughout the show, encouraging the singer and talking her into an encore.

"It was fun to get a break, hang out and cut loose a little bit," said Spc. Dillon Fisher, Company C, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division. "She was very talented."

Fisher was one of three Soldiers who got to compete in a dance-off on stage with Jones's dance team.

"Even though I didn't win, I think everyone knows who was the best dancer up there," said Fisher with a smile. "I'm not saying I was robbed, but I have no idea how I didn't win."

Basketball and Ballots: Soldiers Reflect on National Elections During Downtime

Pfc. Matthew Mischler, Scout Platoon medic, Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, keeps the ball away from Staff Sgt. Jordan Cox, also Scout Platoon, during a pick-up game, March 6, 2010, at Contingency Operating Station Echo, Iraq. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Natalie Hedrick, 3rd HBCT, 3rd Inf. Div.)

By Staff Sgt. Natalie Hedrick
3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division

CONTINGENCY OPERATING STATION ECHO, Iraq – Soldiers do many things to prepare for missions, but as important to the success of the mission as all the planning, the moments spent not thinking about the mission can be just as essential. Leading up to the March 7, 2010, national elections in Iraq, some 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Soldiers took some time to relax and reflect.

Trading their combat boots for sneakers, Soldiers of the Scout Platoon, Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd HBCT, gathered March 6 at Contingency Operating Station Echo to let off steam on the basketball court.

They weren't thinking about the mission at that point. They weren't thinking about the elections that were going to happen just on the other side of the barriers that separate COS Echo from Iraq and all its culture.

"It's good to be in shape," said Spc. Andrew Cook, a scout in the unit. "It's good cardio and it's fun to run around and get crazy."

"It helps keep our morale up," added Spc. Robert Flanagan, also in the platoon. "It keeps our mind off of being here. We are doing something a little different than our mission."

The mission, which expands beyond their platoon to the entire 3rd HBCT, is to advise and assist the Iraqi security forces who protect and serve the people of Iraq. The brigade is responsible for assisting in five provinces across southern Iraq. The scout platoon operates in the province of Diwaniyah.

In the last few months, the ISF has held center court.

"We try to stay out of their way," Cook said.

"We just let them handle their business," Flanagan added. "We pretty much just keep a lookout and help them if they need help."

"We can tell we are part of something important even though we don't really see it," said Pfc. Matthew Mischler, the platoon medic.

The next day, Soldiers across Iraq would be supporting the ISF in keeping the national elections safe for voters. These would be the first elections since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in which the Iraqi government and ISF were completely in the lead.

"It's gonna be cool when my kids are in school and they come home and say they are learning about Iraq," said Pfc. Julian Smith, another scout in the platoon. "I could tell them that I was a part of that. I will have stories to tell."

The scouts took a moment to put themselves in the shoes of the local citizens. In their own words, they talked of pride, hope and freedom.

"I would be happy that these elections are taking place," Flanagan said. "That means we are pulling away from U.S. forces and running our own show."

"I would be proud," Cook said. "It would mean the U.S. would be on their way out of the country. The Iraqi people have been through a lot and for them to be able to vote for who they want to run their country is great."

"I would have a sense of national pride," Mischner said.

After a pause, the scouts continued to reflect on the elections.

"Hopefully they will choose the right people to make the right decisions for this country," Flanagan said.

He added that, if he were part of the ISF, he would be confident in his unit but would also question whether things might start to revert back to the way they were once U.S. forces left the country.

Although they could speculate what it would be like to be citizens of Iraq, they aren't. They are U.S. Soldiers, part of the 1st Bn., 15th Inf. Regt. They remain focused on their mission.

"There is so much going on and all of the units play such a crucial part," Mischler said. "We have been really lucky we haven't seen anything serious. The combat medic badge is good and all, but if I never get it, I'll be happy."

So, until their next mission, the scout platoon will play basketball, getting away from the stresses of the deployment but never forgetting why they're in Iraq.

And while they're in Iraq, the Soldiers remember that loved ones are the key players in their lives .

"Laura, I love you," Cook added for his wife back home. "I miss you."

Tuesday, March 9, 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 8th of March, I was notified that G/203rd (FSC/1-10 FA) suffered the loss of two Soldiers. The next of kin has been notified. These Soldiers died in a vehicle accident near Al Kut, Iraq while supporting operations. I ask you for your prayers for these Sledgehammer Soldiers' families.

Tom Woodie
Rear Detachment Commander
3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division

Friday, March 5, 2010

HAMMER - hardships, hearts & heroes - Episodes 8

Episode 8 highlights relationships that go beyond military duty. As US Soldiers advise and assist their Iraqi counterparts, the bonds they form go beyond working relationships and they become friends.

Monday, March 1, 2010

HAMMER - hardships, hearts & heroes - Episodes 3 - 7

During the fall of 2009, the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team. 3rd Infantry Division, deployed for their fourth tour in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. From the spearhead to the surge, the Sledgehammer Brigade has seen sweeping change in their mission. This is their story.
Episode four features troops of 1-10 FA from FOB Delta. Follow along as we bring you the advise and assist mission from inside the Sledgehammer Brigade.
Out on the streets of Al Kut, Iraq, with the Sledgehammer Brigade. Follow
Hardships, hearts & heroes - Episode six shows what Soldiers on COS Kalsu are doing during their time off.
Episode 7 is all about the Soldiers providing food and the occasion treat to the Sledgehammer Soldier deployed across southern Iraq.