Rakkasans develop proactive approach

by 1st Lt. Alex Gephart, 3rd Brigade Combat Team | Posted: Thursday, May 9, 2013 6:00 pm

1_3_187KHOWST PROVINCE, Afghanistan – After an active nine-month deployment to eastern Afghanistan, Soldiers assigned to 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, known as the “Iron Rakkasans,” are preparing for redeployment and the transition to life back on American soil and with their Families.

“Our Soldiers have worked hard and fought heroically, but one of the most stressful parts of deployment for Soldiers and Families can be adjusting to life at home,” said Capt. Erik Alfsen, the battalion chaplain.

“We want to do everything we can to prepare them for some of the changes they’re about to experience.”

To help Soldiers and Families, the “Iron Rakkasans” put together 10 training events for Soldiers in Afghanistan.

The rear detachment chaplain also coordinated several training opportunities for Families back home.

518c0fc8d36e4.imageSoldiers from 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, take reintegration surveys on Forward Operating Base Salerno.

The goal of the training is to prepare and equip Soldiers and their Families to have successful reunions, mitigate the risks and challenges created by extended separations and provide them with resources needed to overcome any obstacles.

“This training is extremely relevant and important,” said Capt. Dean Tallant, company commander of C Company, 3-187th Inf. Regt.

“We want to do everything we can to get out in front of problems before they happen.”

Soldiers discussed the effects of operational stress, suicide prevention and tips for strengthening relationships.

“Our goal for this event wasn’t just to check the block,” Alfsen said.

“We wanted to discuss important issues in an engaging way in hopes of impacting the way Soldiers make decisions post-deployment.”

By taking a proactive stance, the Iron Rakkasans look forward to a smooth transition to life at home.

Bastogne NCO, Soldier of Quarter selected

by Spc. Margaret Taylor, 129th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Nine U.S. Army Soldiers competed in the Combined Task Force Bastogne Soldier and NCO of the Quarter Competition at Forward Operating Base Fenty, Afghanistan, Friday.

Four sergeants faced a board of six sergeants major to compete for the Non-Commissioned Officer of the Quarter title while five junior enlisted Soldiers competed for Soldier of the Quarter.

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The board orally tested each Soldier’s knowledge of a wide range of subjects, including military history and law, current events, weapons handling and first-aid. Soldiers were also judged based on their military bearing, their unit’s recommendation and how they expressed themselves in an essay.

Command Sergeant Major Victor Fernandez, 1st Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, of San Antonio, Texas, and the president of the board, said the purpose of the competition is fourfold.

“First, it helps foster mentorship within the unit,” he said. “Second, it helps individual growth and development; third, it helps maintain the heritage and tradition of the Army and fourth, it allows us to pick the best of the best.”

Sergeant Daren Rodman, Bravo team leader, Bushmaster Company, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st BCT, 101st Airborne Div., of Ellicott City, Md., won the NCO of the Quarter title.

Specialist James Jolly, satellite transportable terminal operator, Charlie Co., 1st STB, 1st BCT, 101st Abn. Div., of Hoehne, Colo., won the Soldier of the Quarter title.

Both Rodman and Jolly have competed in multiple boards.

“Every Soldier wants to know how they’re doing,” Jolly said. “At this competition, you get reassurance that you’re where you need to be.”

Rodman and Jolly, representing TF Bastogne’s nearley 4,000 Soldiers, will have the opportunity to compete in the Soldier and NCO of the Quarter competition at the division level later this year.

Slain Eagle returns to Fort Campbell with full honors

150px-327InfRegtDUIOWENSBORO, Ky. — The body of a Fort Campbell soldier slain in Afghanistan returned to his hometown of Owensboro Thursday to a crowd of hundreds waving flags and waiting to give him a hero’s send off.

Sgt. Michael Christopher Cable died March 27 in eastern Afghanistan after a teenager stabbed him from behind. The 26-year-old native of Philpot was due to return home from combat in June.

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The Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer reported ( http://bit.ly/ZceRDL) that 137 bikers from at least five organizations followed police and military personnel from the airport to the funeral home.

1iBCtJ.AuSt.79Visitation will be from 2 to 8 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday. Services will be at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Burial will follow in Rosehill Cemetery.

Cable was assigned to First Battalion, 327th Infantry, 1st Brigade Combat Team in the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell.

City and county officials joined military personnel and family members waiting on the tarmac beside the hangars at MidAmerica Jet on Thursday. A six-man honor guard from Fort Campbell marched to the plane, lifted the flag-draped casket and carried it slowly to the hearse. And, on Friday, Gov. Steve Beshear ordered flags at all state offices lowered to half-staff on Saturday in honor of Cable.

The family had asked people to wear green and hundreds of them did. Green was Cable’s favorite color – the color of his beloved Green Bay Packers football team and the Army, where he was a career soldier.

Among those at the airport was Mollie Stephen, wearing a bright yellow Cheesehead hat, a signature of the Packers Nation.

“We’ve been loyal Packers fans for a lifetime,” she said. “I wanted to wear it today for him.”

A large American flag was suspended over the street in front of Owensboro Municipal Utilities.

“It was awesome. We expected a lot of people, but it was overpowering. It was so much easier to deal with the pain with all this support,” said Cable’s older brother, Raymond Johnston. “You felt like you were in a parade, not a funeral. It was fabulous. We talked about it all day long. We’d cry a little and then somebody would mention something about the parade.”

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1st Brigade Combat Team Taskmasters train in Afghanistan

150px-327InfRegtDUIJalalabad Airfield, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Soldiers from 426th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division recently conducted crew-served weapons training March 20th, outside Forward Operating Base Mehtar Lam, Afghanistan.

The Soldiers fired their M249 Squad Automatic Weapons, MK-48 machine guns, M2 .50 caliber machine guns and MK-19 automatic grenade launchers. They even trained on vehicle recovery while at the range.

“The key task was to go out there and get the Soldier familiarized with each different type of weapon system: the MK-19, the .50 cal., the MK-48 and the M249,” said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Latham, a platoon sergeant for Company A, 426th BSB and native to Columbus, MS.

The mission involved linking up with Soldiers from 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division at FOB Mehtar Lam before being escorted to the range.

“They provided security for us and we let some of their guys get in on the training as well. It went pretty good,” said Latham. “Two different companies; it was just teamwork coexisting together.”

“Whether it’s units that are part of the 426th BSB, or guys that are 4-1 Cav who are in a totally different province, totally different mission than us but we are still able to work together,” said U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Joshua Dunleavy, a patrol leader for Company A, 426th BSB and native to Cleveland, Ohio.

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Dunleavy mentioned that the noncommissioned officers and range safeties did a good job helping the Soldiers with the weapon systems and familiarization.

“I think overall, beyond it being a training event and a familiarization for those guys with the weapons, I think it was a leadership opportunity for some of those NCOs,” said Dunleavy.

The platoon was made up of a variety of Soldiers with different mission occupational specialties, including motor transport operators, petroleum supply specialists, water treatment specialists and combat medics from Company C, 426th BSB, with a total of 25 Soldiers firing.

After they finished firing, the Soldiers then broke into two teams to conduct training on vehicle recovery.

Both teams had to connect tow bars to the simulated downed vehicle, then maneuver another vehicle to connect the other end of their tow bar to complete the training.

“I think the mission went well,” said Dunleavy. “Obviously, with it being the Soldier’s first time out there, there were some issues for some of the guys had who never shot it before.”

Dunleavy stated that he has plans for his Soldiers to be able to conduct more training at different levels to keep them ready for anything.

“Now that we’ve done this kind of familiarization, we can kind of start working toward that next level kind of stuff as far as working in gunners going down more, medics moving back and forth between the vehicles; and its just an opportunity for us to reach out and touch other units,” said Dunleavy.

After all the training was completed the Soldiers climbed back into their vehicles and drove back to Jalalabad Airfield to complete their mission and conduct an After Action Review.

“I think everybody did a great job for their first time being out there, especially behind the MK-19,” said Latham. “I know most of my guys are familiar with the M249 and .50 cal., but it was overall a good experience.”

Fall From Grace – Doc’s Corner

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What General Petraeus did was of course wrong. But he has never lied, he has admitted his wrong-doings and taken responsibility for his actions.

I don’t claim to know him, but I have had the privilege of speaking with him a few times, have photographed him for publications (e.g. at the Kinnard funeral) and have studied his career, especially when he commanded the 101st.

Personally, I still respect him greatly. And I also feel he deserves our understanding and especially our forgiveness.