Thursday, May 26, 2005

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

It has cooled down a little here in Forward Operation Base Kalsu. We are entering into the summer months, so it will not last long. The bug population has grown a significant amount. We are using our mosquito nets and bug repellent to keep us from being dinner for hungry insects and pesty sand fleas. Also we treat the floors, in the inside, and the surrounding outdoor area. It seems that we are fighting a war against parasites, in addition to insurgents.

We are also fighting a war against indirect fire. In the last two months we have had quite a few rocket and mortar attacks. Rockets are a threat but they are not as abundant as improvised explosive devices that are along the roads. Everyday we are gathering intelligence to help us crack down on the attacks.

This rotation 1st platoon is supporting a Special Forces group to train an Iraqi S.W.A.T. team. Second platoon is conducting convoy escorts to requesting units. Third platoon is providing personal security for the Deputy Brigade Commander in the southern part of the country. Fourth platoon is also performing personal security for the Brigade Commander in the central part of the country. Fifth platoon has arrived back to Kalsu from Taqaddum, Iraq, and are now performing force protection and quick reaction force for the base Kalsu.

SPC Ryan Stegall, a 4th platoon soldier, was supposed to graduate this May, but the war interfered. 4th platoon conducted a mock graduation for SPC Stegall this rotation. They conducted the mock graduation on the day that SPC Stegall should have graduated from Mississippi State University. The graduation was not authorized by the school but the student feels the relief of graduation all the same.

This article we have decided to do something a little different. We know that you look forward to hearing about what your soldiers are doing. In order to fully understand what is going on with the troops, we want you to get to know some of the soldiers. Periodically, we will interview a random soldier from the troop to give you a better idea of the people who make up Cavalry Troop.

Our first interviewee is SGT Reggie Polk from Water Valley. He attended school at Rust College in Holly Springs. After graduating from college, with a degree in English, he moved to Memphis, Tenn. Sometime after his move he obtained a job at Youth Villages in Memphis; there he works as a social worker. While working at Youth Villages; SGT Polk was activated in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom III. He was activated with Troop A 98th CAV out of Hernando. His original unit is HHC, 2-198th based in Senatobia.

The interview begins in the afternoon of another hot day. Things are starting to wind down and soldiers are starting to return from a good day’s work. I enter the canvas tent and sit down with SGT Polk who’s enjoying his off day. We greet each other and start the interview. The first question I ask is, “What is one thing that you miss about home?”

This is an easy question for him. He replies that he misses his family, especially his grandparents.

He goes on to say, “My family is quite large and I miss all of the family gatherings that we have together. I can hear my relatives now saying ‘pass the fish’ at one of the many cook-outs we have.” Next I ask, “What is one item that would make him feel more at home?” Sticking with his family he says, “A big picture of my family would be nice, so I can see them everyday.”

Next I ask, “As a maintenance sergeant, how does your skill help the troop in the missions they conduct?” He responds with “Despite popular belief, all of the vehicles here have extensive problems. The maintenance crew and I do whatever we can to keep the vehicles running because if the vehicles are down; the troop cannot complete its mission.”

I also ask “What are some things that you dislike about the deployment?” Jokingly he starts naming a laundry list of things. Next he says, “Seriously, I dislike the danger that we are subject to, especially the troops who conduct the missions. I understand that the missions must go on to provide the American and Iraqi people protection and continued freedom. The deployment helped me to meet quite a few influential people that will most likely become lifelong friends. Also I think that this experience will help me teach the children who I work with at home to become respectful law abiding citizens.”

SGT Polk is planning to continue his job at Youth Villages when he returns. Also, he would like to return to school and receive a master’s degree in psychology.

As I bring the interview to a close, I ask what he plans to do on his leave, which will be in a few months. His answer was, “I plan to stretch out my 6 foot, 6 inch body and rest. I also want to spend time with my family and friends at a big cook out.”

As I get ready to leave he asks to let everyone know that he thanks everyone for the support and prayers and hopes that they will continue.

Also he says that he wanted to let the children at Youth Villages know that “Mr. Polk will be home soon.”

Once again, that concludes all we have for this rotation. We hope that this interview will give everyone a better sense of the soldiers of Troop A and we expect to conduct more interviews in the future. Going along with SGT Polk, the whole troop would like to thank you for the letters and packages that are sent to us on an overwhelming basis.

We appreciate all the help and support we receive from all over the U.S. If you would like to send a package or just a letter of encouragement, our address is:

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

I will ensure that all received packages are distributed evenly and fairly. Some good ideas of what to send and what not to send can be obtained from www.military wives.com.

Your support helps us accomplish our ultimate goal of bringing all of our troops home safe and sound.

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


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