13 July 2006

B36 News - 13 July 2006

A short personal story leads today's news. Today marks the Eight Month-aversary of my deployment. Every day is one more closer to being back with my family, but this one is a bit "more specialer" than most.

See you again soon sweetie and son!

And now, the good news from Iraq:
Even Our Cooks Kick Butt
This Soldier got into the Army not knowing what he wanted to do. When he was talking to his recruiter he found out that being a cook carried with it a $13,000 signing bonus. Fresh out of high school, he became an Army cook with $13k in his pocket.
When he deployed with his unit he started volunteering for missions and was quickly scooped up by the sniper section. Yeah, even our cooks can whoop on a terrorist in their off time.
(full story posted in comments)

Muthanna Transferred
I'm guessing this is the first you've heard of it unless you've read some of my previous posts. Security responsibility for the province of Muthanna in Iraq has been transferred to the governer of the province who will oversee the Iraqi Security Forces therein. Coalition troops will stand by in rural areas to lend a hand if the governer asks for it, but will otherwise not get involved. One down, 17 to go.

Please help spread the word about this one, it's really important!

National Reconcilliation
Between 15 and 20 insurgent groups are reportely nearing a cease-fire with the Government of Iraq. PM Maliki's national reconcilliation plan of reaching out to embrace these insurgent groups has been moving forward despite political wrangling. Getting bad guys to quit fighting by talking is better than by shooting them so don't think anyone's being a surrender monkey here.

Dunt Dunt Dunt, Another One Bites The Dust
Man, I can't get enough of this stuff! Here we have yet ANOTHER story about ISF rocking terrorists worlds. Note that this is Baghdad, and Coalition Forces just watched. This means that ISF is starting to run the show in Baghdad. Think how this relates to the current sectarian violence. If you just got a new boss, wouldn't you want to figure out what would be overlooked and what wouldn't. The ISF just has to let the people know that they won't overlook revenge killings.
The 5 part series that I've been working on called Winning in Iraq is nearing completion. I expect to be able to publish the first part on Monday morning. It's tempting to publish the whole thing all at once, but I think it will have more impact if I space it out and let people to digest what I've written before feeding them the next course. Don't expect anything too lengthy, I tried to keep it short and to the point. Stay tuned.


Blogger bandit.three.six said...

by Pfc. Paul J. Harris

BALAD, Iraq -- Imagine for four years you did a job you did not want to do. You went to work each day dreading every minute of it. The only solace you received is that on the weekends, you were in a beautiful place next to the mountains and it offered some of the best and most fertile hunting ground in the U.S. That is how Spc. Christopher George, food preparation specialist, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 29th Field Artillery, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Task Force Band of Brothers, saw it.

He chose to come in the army at 17 with the condition of placing him in Alaska or Colorado. He was offered Colorado and his next question to the recruiter was ‘which job offer has the best bonus.’ At that time cooks were being offered $13,000 enlistment bonuses and to someone fresh out of high school from Red Bluff, Calif., that was a lot of money.

George became a cook, but he also knew he could shoot, scoring expert on nearly every M-16 qualification range he attended.

George was deployed in 2003 with 3rd Bn., 29th FA, and at this time is when he met Staff Sgt. Justin Widhalm, Task Force Pacesetter sniper NCOIC, HHB, 3rd Bn., 29th FA, who saw George as more than just a cook.

I saw him every morning at breakfast, Widhalm said. After finishing his shift he would always volunteer to go out on raids or patrols.

“I like that type of person, whatever you throw at them they take the ball and run,” Widhalm said.

Widhalm believed George had the right tools to be on the sniper team from many years George spent hunting in Northern California.

“I know every free second he has back out in the rear he spends in the bush out hunting,” Widhalm said. “He could sneak up on anybody and being a sniper is basically being a hunter.”

When a sniper position during this deployment opened up Widhalm nominated George to join the team. Even though George had good hunting skills he had to learn the finer points of becoming a sniper.

George was sent to Contingency Operating Base Speicher for an 11 day sniper course taught by instructors from the U.S. It was not long after George joined the sniper team that his new skills were put to the test.

On the morning of April 1, 2006, two sniper teams including George were inserted in a field to observe a route that had seen a tremendous amount of insurgent activity. The two teams put themselves into positions so they could not be seen during the daylight and they waited.

As soon as the sun came up a bunch of trucks pulled in front of their position to start excavating dirt, George said. Shortly after they arrived they were brandishing AK-47 rifles.

It was the rifles that tipped the teams off that they were not just simple farmers. However, they did not show any hostile acts towards any convoys or helicopters that would pass by and would hide their weapons at the sight of coalition forces. George has since speculated they were preparing a combination of an improvised explosive device attack and ambush.

At 3:30 p.m. sniper team two decided to rotate men off the observation scope and that is when they were spotted by the insurgents who immediately opened fire on their position 500 meters away from where George and the rest of sniper team were positioned.

As other insurgents moved to fire upon sniper team two George engaged the enemy with M-249 squad automatic weapon and sniper team one began to receive fire from the front side, right side and the rear. George positioned himself at the base of a tree in an irrigation ditch.

“Rounds were hitting the tree and limbs were falling, George said. “The sound of rounds passing overhead is like a huge beehive.”

Two insurgents tried to jump in a car and speed away; George shot at the car and disabled it. At the same time another car tried to move on their position from the rear, Widhalm turned around and shot one of the insurgents in the forehead with his sniper rifle while the other occupants fled.

After the shooting stopped George wounded two insurgents with Widhalm killing one. The remaining attackers were detained. Upon returning to Logistical Support Area Anaconda the two teams gave their debriefing and spoke with the chaplain to see how they were coping with the situation.

“I replay the incident all the time,” George said. “I think there is always something I could do better.”

After speaking with the chaplain George was directed to call a family member and tell them about the fire fight he had been involved in.

“I chose to call my dad, because I knew my wife would freak out and want details,” George said.

George’s father served with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) in Viet Nam as a long range reconnaissance patrol Soldier and was severely wounded and lost his leg.

When George spoke to his father he immediately told him he was OK after being in a fire fight and to call his wife Desiree in Colorado Springs, Colo. for him. He father called his wife and explained what happened but waited until the end of the conversation to tell her that his son was ok.

“She was freaking out until the end,” George amusingly recalled.
For their actions on April 1 George and his sniper teammates received the Army Commendation Medal with Valor July 1.

“It’s great, it’s an honor, you don’t see v devices everywhere, that means something,” he said.

George is on the promotion list to make sergeant and is always looking to add promotion points. The medal is a great honor but has also increased his chances of getting promoted.

George is no longer viewed as just a cook filling a job by his peers; he and his team are now looked upon as a valuable asset to the battalion.

“It is a tremendous honor to serve with Soldiers of this caliber,” said Sgt. 1st Class Craig Collins, Personal Security Detachment platoon sergeant, HHB, 3rd Bn., 29th FA. “I am very confident they can perform a sniper mission in this area. They have proven what they can do and plan to the smallest detail.”

All detainees taken that day, even the ones that shot at U.S. forces were released. George is not fearful should he come across their path again.

“Guys on my team know how to handle themselves as I do, George said. “If anything happens we are gonna prevail. We are the greatest Army in the world.”

Anonymous Anonymous said...

give George a hug and
a thumbs up from
someone in minnesota!
AND of course my smiley

andrea/summer pj's

and as always bandit..
thanks buddy!!!!and your

Anonymous Mblake said...

Another great story. Keep it up, Ben; we back here in the States need to hear this stuff!


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