Thursday, April 14, 2005

Leading From The Front: A Troop 98th Cavalry Operation Iraqi Freedom

Alpha-Troop, 98th Cavalry: your neighbors, friends, and family on the frontlines in Iraq.

The weather is getting warmer each day as we finish out the Iraqi winter and begin the hot months of spring and summer. The bad news is it could get as hot as 120F or more. The good news is that there is plenty of bottled water to keep us hydrated and every tent is air conditioned to keep us cool.

Our own 4th Platoon has struck gold with finding a satellite internet service provider for their tent! Just like any satellite service, it comes and goes with the weather, but it’s much better than waiting in line at the many sites the military provides. SFC Harold Taylor is to blame for this wonderful time-consuming amenity. We’re hoping to have our other platoons’ tents connected to the World Wide Web as soon as possible.

New to the Troop is an MP — Military Police — platoon. This platoon is from New Albany. They joined our family earlier this month and we are excited to have them. The MPs were attached to us so we could assist each other in our missions in Iraq, since we are both conducting very similar missions.

We have sent several soldiers from our unit to Kuwait to learn how to fly unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs. The one they trained on is called a Raven. These remote controlled aircraft have color and night-vision cameras capable of flying over 5 kilometers on a single battery charge. They are used to observe and collect information regarding the many different routes our convoys might take, and even search for roadside bombs called Improvised Explosive Devices — IEDs. The training was held in Kuwait so the soldiers had some time away from Iraq. This vehicle is a great asset to the troop and the brigade.

First Platoon has been on a support mission for quite some time now; supporting an Iraqi SWAT team. First Platoon helps train the SWAT team along with a small Special Forces group. On a typical mission the SWAT team will perform raids on certain buildings looking for insurgents. They also run the small detainee that holds the insurgents captured in the raids. Second and Fifth Platoon have been trading places lately. One will perform Force Protection, ensuring that the base camp is secure, while the other escorts convoys to various locations around Iraq. They rotate every two weeks. Fourth Platoon is on a PSD – Personal Security Detail - for the Brigade Commander. Like the secret service to the President, they provide heightened security wherever he goes. Third Platoon is on a PSD mission as well, for the Deputy Brigade Commander in the southern part of the country. Headquarters Platoon provides support to all of the platoons ensuring communications, logistics, supplies, mission planning, and many other tasks that help our missions complete successfully. The Mortar Platoon remains on alert in Karbala.

There have been a few promotions this month. Both SGT Benjamin Wills, and SGT Benjamin Estes have recently promoted from Specialist, to the new rank of Sergeants. They’ve worked hard to get where they are today and have shown they have the skills it takes to Lead from the Front.

SPC Lucas Marion is our January Soldier of the Month, and SGT Chester Striplin is February’s. Soldier of the Month is our way of recognizing soldiers that stand out above the rest. As an incentive to strive towards excellence, the Soldier of the Month is awarded a Troop Coin, and two days off from normal duties. Congratulations to SPC Marion and SGT Striplin.

Congratulations are in order for SPC O’Neal, SPC Colley. They are both proud fathers of baby girls and can’t wait to get home and hold their bundles of joy for the first time. We would also like to correct a mistake we made in the last article. SPC Jimmy Martindale and his wife gave birth to a son, not a daughter as previously reported – our apologies.

Speaking of home, we’ll soon be able to send soldiers home for a two week period of leave, starting in April and ending in November. Our soldiers will fly into the U.S. to spend time with family and friends before returning to Iraq to finish out the tour. The Troop will be able to send 10 to 15 soldiers home a month.

Care packages are currently flowing in steadily, and we appreciate every single one of them. If you would like to contribute to the soldiers by sending a package of goodies or to just write us a letter to give us your support, please do so. Our address is:

SPC Miller, Davlon
ATTN: Any Soldier!
NC24/HQ/A/98 CAV/ 155 BCT
A.P.O. AE 09325

Some good ideas of what to send and what not to send can be obtained from

That’s all we have to report this month. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers on our behalf. We are doing all we can to get each and every soldier home safe and sound. That is our number one mission.

SPC John Colley and SPC Davlon Miller
Military Correspondents
A/98 Cavalry, 155 BCT

Roger Wicker visits injured MS soldiers

Members of 155th Guard Brigade are recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center

U.S. Rep. Roger Wicker spent Friday morning at Walter Reed Army Medical Center with Mississippi National Guardsmen being treated for wounds suffered in Iraq.

The Congressman, accompanied by his wife Gayle, also visited with family members of Specialists William E. Brooks of Southaven and David Yancy of Ripley at the hospital in Washington. Yancy was undergoing surgery Friday to repair extensive injuries. Brooks remains unconscious after losing both legs and suffering other wounds. The two soldiers are part of the 155th Brigade Combat Team from Mississippi. They were injured when an improvised explosive device destroyed their Humvee March 29 near Baghdad.

The Wickers also met with Sgt. Ellis Martin of Summit and Martin’s wife, Stephanie. Martin was wounded on March 2.

“I wanted to share with them the gratitude we feel in Mississippi and across the nation for their service to our country,” Rep. Wicker said. “Members of the 155th are our neighbors, friends, and relatives who have made huge sacrifices to defend our freedom. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with all of them,” he said.

Wicker said the families of the wounded soldiers expressed appreciation for the outpouring of support they have received from across the nation and especially from Mississippians.

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