1st Battalion 22nd Infantry

 

BREAKING NEWS

 

March - 2003

 

Some 4th ID troops waiting to deploy are really roughing it

March 12, 2003

By Kevin J. Dwyer

Killeen Daily Herald

 



FORT HOOD — More than seven weeks after the orders came down for the 4th Infantry Division to deploy, its soldiers Tuesday still were waiting to leave Fort Hood.

Many of these soldiers, the ones who live on post in the barracks, have spent the past few weeks learning to appreciate the simpler life. A life devoid of televisions, computers, civilian clothes and everything else that makes a barracks room home.

A life that soldiers of decades past would easily recognize.

"We packed up our stuff two weeks ago and the movers came and took all our household goods," said Cpl. Joseph Torres, 22,
1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment.

"I have nothing in my room except for two sets of civilian clothes, and a pillow and a sheet to sleep with," Torres said. "Say you've got only two pairs of (civilian) clothes; you're having to wash them every other day."

Most, if not all, of the soldiers in the 4th ID expected to be overseas by now. However, because of ongoing diplomatic issues with the Turkish government, virtually every piece of equipment the division owns is waiting aboard ships in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

"It hasn't been too bad for me," said Pfc. Gregory Turner, 23,
1-22 Infantry. "I was able to keep my Xbox and my TV. Everybody just comes to my room and plays games."

Although the rest of his possessions were packed up two weeks ago, Turner said, when he leaves his team leader will let him store the electronic gear at his house.

"My drawers are empty except for some poly pros (thermal underwear), and the wall locker is empty except for some uniforms, and all of that is going into the duffel," Turner said. "It's not bad at all. Maybe it would be if I didn't have my TV and my Xbox..."

For Torres, though, storing his things was a little more complex.

Married last month, Torres decided to store his things with his wife, who is still living in Odessa.

"It's only four hours there and four hours back," Torres said.

Although the soldiers living in the barracks have said farewell to their stereos, televisions and game systems, most of them who own cars still have them. Lt. Col. Mark Woempner,
1-22 Infantry commander, said that all the paperwork to store the cars has been finished, and all the soldiers will have to do is bring them to the storage lot.

Torres said that once he leaves, his wife will come to Fort Hood, pick up the car, and drive it home. Turner though, had a different solution to the problem of what to do with his car: he sold it.

"It had a blown head gasket anyway," Turner said with a grin. "So I just got rid of it."

With many of the modern pleasures gone from their lives, the soldiers have been creative in finding new — and old — ways of passing the time.

"We're starting up a bowling team," Torres said, adding that the sport is a great way to bond with his teammates. "What do you do when you go bowling? We have a two-beer limit and we talk and bowl and it's fun."

Getting into the spirit of the game, Torres said, he and many of his friends have gone out and bought their own balls. "I haven't named it yet," he said.

While the bowling has been fun and a decent pastime, not having his things has been a problem, said Torres, who served with the 2nd Ranger Battalion in Afghanistan last year.

"So many people have stalled their lives with this deployment," Torres said. "My wife is starting to question if we're ever going."

Contact Kevin J. Dwyer at kjdwyer@kdhnews.com

 

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Soldiers furnish care for children

 

March 16, 2003

BY KEVIN J. DWYER
Herald Staff Writer

FORT HOOD — After flying from California to Killeen in January to help her son get everything squared away before deploying, Donna Mitchell headed home Thursday without seeing her son off.

"I feel like I'm living two different lives," Mitchell said. "I have a husband I love and miss in California, and I have a son and granddaughter I love here."

Because of continuing delays in the deployment of Task Force Ironhorse, Mitchell left for Austin Thursday afternoon to fly home to Ridgecrest, Calif.

"We've managed," said Pfc. Robert Barron, 30, Mitchell's son. "Being a single dad, it's helped to have somebody."

Barron shares custody of his nearly 3-year-old daughter, Andromeda, with his ex-wife. To help out her son if he deploys, Mitchell said, she plans to come right back and then split her time between Texas and California.

Mitchell said Andromeda will stay with her mother during the deployment. However, when Mitchell is in Texas, she will take care of her son's daughter.

"If he was going to be gone a year, that was my plan," Mitchell said. "But I don't know whether I should stay or go. It's really been a hardship mentally and physically."

Barron, who is assigned to the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, has had to create a family care plan that outlines how Andromeda will be taken care of while he is deployed.

"While I'm gone, my mother has my rights to custody," Barron said.

The creation and maintenance of a family care plan, said one Army official, is an ironclad requirement for single parents and dual-military couples. If a soldiers neglects their plan, they can be discharged from the service.

For Sgt. Melisa Morris, 33, the plan involves moving her son, T.J., 9, and daughter Kiara, 1, to San Antonio to stay with her aunt. Morris' husband, Sgt. Tharon Morris, 33, deployed Feb. 18 with the 1st Cavalry Division's 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment.

"I can always pick up the phone and call her for anything," Morris said of her aunt in San Antonio.

Morris said she and her husband, who have been married for almost 10 years, have been ready for a deployment like this since her son was first born. Although they have never been deployed at the same time, Morris said, during her marriage she has been assigned to South Korea and Bosnia.

"Out of the entire time we've been married, we've spent three anniversaries together," Morris said. "I guess this will be another one."

According to Department of Defense figures, the number of single parents across the military has nearly doubled since the end of the Persian Gulf War from 47,685 in 1992 to almost 90,000 today.

"It gives you an assurance that your family will be taken care of while you're gone," Barron said of the family care plan. "And it also gives the Army an assurance because they have a responsibility for you."

With his father already overseas, Morris said she worries about putting too much on her son's plate.

"Even though he's going to be with my aunt, he's going to feel more responsible for his sister," Morris said. "It's pretty hard with him because he's old enough to understand everything that's going on, but he's been adapting pretty well."

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4th Infantry Division still in limbo; military police battalion set to deploy

By Kevin J. Dwyer

Killeen Daily Herald

March 18, 2003

 

As conflicting reports about the deployment of the 4th Infantry Division swirled around Fort Hood Monday, post officials announced the 720th Military Police Battalion will be heading overseas later today.

The destination of the 720th MP Battalion — which has about 300 soldiers — is the U.S. Central Command area in Southwest and Central Asia.

Prior to departing the post, the unit will conduct a farewell ceremony with family and friends at the post's Gauntlet Field at 1 p.m.

Lt. Col. Dan Baggio, III Corps and Fort Hood public affairs officer, said that other units from the post could follow the 720th MPs during the remainder of the week. Baggio would not say if any of those units were from the 4th ID or other elements of Task Force Ironhorse.

The departure of TF Ironhorse has been in limbo for several weeks because of problems securing permission from the Turkish government to base troops in that country. One rumor making the rounds Monday, said the 4th ID would not be deploying for up to 30 days.

The 4th ID was quick to downplay the report.

"I have not heard anything of that nature," Lt. Col. Bill MacDonald, 4th ID public affairs officer. "To me there's nothing that has changed from yesterday. There's not been a meeting or anything like that."

On Jan. 20, more than 12,500 4th ID soldiers received their deployment orders. This was followed March 3 with the announcement that the 1st Cavalry Division's 17,000 soldiers had also been ordered to deploy.

Since the beginning of the year, more than 1,200 soldiers have deployed from Fort Hood.

Monday, Turkey's top political and military leaders called on the government to take urgent action to allow in U.S. troops.

The announcement came at the end of a meeting that included the leaders of Turkey's new government, President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, and top generals.

The United States has repeatedly called on Turkey's government to quickly resubmit to parliament a resolution that would allow the deployment of some 62,000 U.S. soldiers for an invasion of the majority Kurdish northern Iraq if there is a war.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Sunday that Washington has not given up on Turkey as a springboard for American forces in a war against Iraq even though the Turkish parliament so far has rejected the idea.

Powell said new Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will resubmit the proposal to parliament but the timing was uncertain.

"We're waiting to hear what the decision-makers tell us," MacDonald said. "As far as we know, we'll deploy. Nothing's changed since we got our deployment orders and we'll deploy to the CENTCOM area of operations at some point in the future when somebody tells us where we need to go."



Contact Kevin J. Dwyer at kjdwyer@kdhnews.com

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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Pentagon abandons Turkey deployment plan; 4th ID redirected to Persian Gulf

The Associated Press---March 23, 2003



WASHINGTON (AP)--After weeks of waiting off Turkey's coast, dozens of U.S. ships carrying weaponry for the Army's 4th Infantry Division have been redirected to the Persian Gulf, two U.S. defense officials said Saturday. The decision ends U.S. hopes of using Turkish bases to move heavy armored forces into northern Iraq, where Bush administration officials fear conflict between Turkish forces and Iraqi Kurds. About 40 ships carrying the division's weaponry and equipment were to begin moving through the Suez Canal on Sunday, one of the officials said. Both spoke on condition of anonymity.

The 4th Infantry's soldiers, who remained at Fort Hood, Texas, after their weaponry and equipment went to the Mediterranean last month, are likely to go to Kuwait, the officials said. It also was possible that they could enter Iraq directly through the Gulf port of Umm Qasr, now under the control of British and U.S. Marines after clashes Friday with Iraqi forces.

The original plan had the entire division of about 17,500 soldiers heading to Turkey, along with some Army troops based in Germany. It was not immediately clear if the full division would go to Kuwait. The redirected cargo ships are to begin arriving off the coast of Kuwait about March 30, one official said. All the ships would arrive by about April 10. From Kuwait they could move into Iraq to serve as reinforcements if the ground war lasts more than several weeks, or as occupation forces after the Iraqi government's collapse.

The Army already had hundreds of troops into southern Turkey to facilitate the possible use of bases there as a staging area for the 4th Infantry, but Turkey's parliament refused to grant access. Turkey also has been off-limits so far for U.S. aircraft flying missions into Iraq from aircraft carriers in the eastern Mediterranean, officials said Saturday. As an alternative for securing northern Iraq with the tanks and other heavy armor of the 4th Infantry, U.S. special operations forces are now in the area and other conventional forces may join them, officials have said. Northern Iraq is a particularly sensitive area because of the autonomous Kurdish region and the potential for Kurdish conflict with Turkish forces.

There were Friday that Turkish soldiers in armored personnel carriers had rolled into northern Iraq near where the borders of Turkey, Iraq and Iran converge. But the Turkish military on Saturday denied it. The reports had said 1,000 Turkish commandos had crossed the border. The United States has no evidence of Turkish movements or new any new incursions in northern Iraq, a senior Bush administration official said.

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Fort Hood troops to ship out next week


Associated Press FORT HOOD —March 23, 2003

Ending weeks of frustrating indecision, about 12,500 soldiers in the Army's 4th Infantry Division stationed here are expected to begin shipping out to the Persian Gulf next week after the United States abandoned efforts to send them into northern Iraq through Turkey, U.S. defense and Army officials said Saturday.

The division, considered the Army's most lethal and deployable heavy division, is the first major element to move out from Fort Hood, the nation's largest military post. Two defense officials said Saturday that dozens of U.S. ships carrying weaponry for the division have been redirected from their holding position off Turkey's coast to the Persian Gulf.

Soldiers, many irritated that Turkey's indecision kept them from opening a northern front into Iraq, said the news was both relieving and sobering. "It's like, OK, at last," said Maj. Josslyn Aberle, a public affairs officer for the division. "The decision has been made, the speculating is over, the waiting is over, the wondering is over. Now it's time to do our jobs." Staff Sgt. John Garfield, 31, said he wasn't sure how to react to the news. "We've been sitting around for two plus months, not knowing," Garfield said after spending the morning getting outfitted with his desert camouflage uniform. "But I guess when it comes right down to it nobody wants to go. I'm in no hurry to go and get shot at."

About 40 ships carrying the division's weaponry and equipment were to begin moving through the Suez Canal on Sunday, one of the defense officials said. Both spoke on condition of anonymity. The 4th Infantry's soldiers are likely to go to Kuwait, the officials said. It also was possible that they could enter Iraq directly through the Gulf port of Umm Qasr, now under the control of British and U.S. Marines after clashes Friday with Iraqi forces.

The original plan had the entire division of about 17,500 soldiers from Fort Hood and other installations heading to Turkey, along with some Army troops based in Germany. It was not immediately clear if the full division would go to Kuwait.

 

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Dionne Searcey of Newsday is 'imbedded' with 1-22 Infantry of 4ID - here is her report in today's Newsday:

In Texas, House-to-House Combat Drills

By Dionne Searcey
Staff Correspondent

March 24, 2003, 8:41 PM EST

Fort Hood, Texas -- Infantrymen armed with shiny black machine guns burst into a warehouse, pointing their weapons in every direction and scouring the seemingly empty area for anything amiss.

An enemy wielding a gun pops out from behind a door, and the troops quickly pounce, forcing him to the ground. Squad members storm a stairway, gingerly stepping over a trip wire laid by the opposition. Upstairs, another enemy fighter tries to attack but is quickly captured.

Such training exercises could become reality in upcoming days for the 4th Infantry Division, which is deploying throughout this week to enter Iraq through its southern border. This mechanized division, the Army's first digitized unit, was slated to open a northern front through Turkey, but the Turkish government balked at those plans, and U.S. military officials switched strategies late last week. Ships loaded with the division's equipment, which for weeks had been waiting in the waters off Turkey, are moving south, military officials said.

The extra time in Texas has allowed units such as the
1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, to tailor drills to prepare for combat in the streets of cities such as Baghdad. Military analysts suggest President Saddam Hussein might decide urban warfare is his best hope for surviving an attack by a high-tech, overwhelming military force.

Commanders here know that even small villages could offer hiding places for enemies.

"If you look at the map, it looks like a big desert out there,” Lt. Col. Mark Woempner said, but in reality, there are bunches of villages that have hundreds of buildings.”

So across the division and in a mock town atop a scrubby hill where brown hawks circle overhead, troops have practiced securing stores and houses, as well as rehearsing procedures for capturing enemy prisoners of war.

For some exercises, soldiers fanned out through the fake town, which contains tunnels, gas stations, apartment buildings, several burned-out buses and a watchtower. Arabic writing covers a sign on a building once labeled "museum.” Others practiced in an empty warehouse in the division's motor pool.

Sgt. 1st Class Kelly Lucas, who was in charge of critiquing some groups, reminded troops to scan rooms for hidden doorways and obscure corners.

"Remember, you're not going to be in some perfect house with 10-by-12 rooms,” Lucas told one squad. To another squad, Lucas focused on pushing soldiers to sweep the room more quickly.

"What's your mission, soldier?” Lucas shouted.

To secure the room, the soldier answered.

"What other word did I use?” Lucas said.

"Expeditiously, sir!” the soldier said.

And in an instant, two prisoners of war were sprawled across the concrete floor as other soldiers pointed their guns in every possible direction, and the drill was over.

Copyright 2003 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission
www.newsday.com

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4th ID troops to begin deploying this week


By Kevin J. Dwyer

Killeen Daily Herald

March 26, 2003



Preparations continued at Fort Hood on Tuesday as the post geared up to deploy Task Force Ironhorse to Iraq.

Fourth Infantry Division officials confirmed that the lead elements of the 12,500-soldier task force would be leaving the post by the end of the week.

"As people have seen in the media, the 4th Infantry Division decision has been made," said Lt. Gen. Tom Metz, commanding general of III Corps and Fort Hood. "They won't go through Turkey; they'll go in a different route in the area of responsibility."

The task force is made up of about 300 company-sized units and more than 33,000 soldiers drawn from several different posts throughout the United States.

The overall timetable of the troop movement, Metz said, is still not being announced to the public for security reasons. Metz added that the 1st Cavalry Division, which received its deployment orders March 5, continues to train and is also ready to deploy if needed.

Metz also said that in addition to the deployment of the 4th ID, several thousand other Fort Hood troops currently are deployed overseas.

"What a lot of people in our community don't understand is that we also have a significant majority of the 13th Corps Support Command that is either deployed or on deployment orders," Metz said. "Those smaller units don't get as big attention, but they are critical to the overall effort."

With the exodus of 4th ID troops this week — and perhaps the 1st Cav sometime in the future — dozens of buses have been chartered to ferry troops about post and to Robert Gray Army Airfield, said Fort Hood spokesman Cecil Green.

"We have to be able to move reserves from North Fort Hood to main post and we have to be able to move 4th ID," Green said.

Green was unable to say just how many buses the Army has chartered for the next few weeks.

Fifteen Greyhound buses were parked at Motel 6 on U.S. Highway 190 and seven buses at the Hallmark Inn on Stan Schlueter Loop Tuesday. According to one of the Greyhound bus drivers, the buses were here to "move the troops" for the next week.

Late Tuesday afternoon the buses entered the post and were staged at the manifest site at Abrams Field House.

The 4th ID announced it will conduct a flag casing ceremony Thursday at 10 a.m. During the ceremony, a special "Old Glory" American flag will be presented to Maj. Gen. Raymond Odierno, commanding general of the 4th ID, to mark the division's deployment to the U.S. Central Command area.

"Whenever a unit moves locations we case our colors and take them with us," said Maj. Josslyn Aberle, 4th ID deputy public affairs officer, about the ceremony. "It's a great morale booster for everyone and its an opportunity for our commanding general to talk to the soldiers and families."

"Old Glory" will remain cased and safeguarded by the 4th ID until it is passed to another military organization now serving as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

One dignitary scheduled to attend the event, Aberle said, is Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Metz said that when TF Ironhorse arrives at its destination, the biggest task for the soldiers will be getting their gear ready to march north.

"The first challenge I think they'll face is their equipment," Metz said. "Some of their equipment has been at sea for almost two months. Those harsh conditions, even though the equipment hasn't been moved, will still take its toll on that equipment."

"That equipment has to be brought off those ships and prepared for combat. We know how to do that, but that will be a challenge because it is not often that equipment stays at sea that long."

Once the division heads north toward the combat zone, Metz said, they will have to be prepared to join the fight.

"They will roll in just as the 3rd Infantry Division is now and be required to fight a combined arms fight," Metz said. "Not only combined arms within the United States Army, but it's a combined arms across the Department of Defense."

Metz said his impressions of the past week's fighting in Iraq is very positive.

"As a student of this profession, I understand the complexity at which we are conducting this campaign," Metz said.

Metz said his thoughts are with Chief Warrant Officers Ronald Young Jr., and David Williams and their families following the Fort Hood soldiers' capture Monday in Iraq.

Young and Williams, assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division, were taken prisoner after their AH-64D Apache Longbow attack helicopter was forced down south of Baghdad.

The general did, however, have a word of caution to members of the media covering the story of the captured aviators.

"I'm very proud of the strength our families have shown," Metz said. "I'm very proud of the interest the media has shown in (the families), but we must be careful with the information we let flow, because that information can be used in a negative way by the Iraqi regime and possibly harm our soldiers."

Contact Kevin J. Dwyer at kjdwyer@kdhnews.com

 

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March 27, 2003

4th Infantry Division soldiers search stores for last-minute necessities

BY KEVIN J. DWYER
Herald Staff Writer

With their deployment just days away, many 4th Infantry Division soldiers were running around town Wednesday to pick up some last-minute items before heading overseas.

"I'm trying to get a large ruck (backpack) because the issue one I have can't fit everything," said Spc. Tyrel Boothby, of the 4th ID's DIVARTY. "It's not required, but it's better if you have more room."

Boothby, and the other 12,500 soldiers in the 4th ID at Fort Hood, received their deployment orders in January and have been waiting to deploy for almost two months.

Getting the pack together, Boothby said, was the last of the myriad of details he had to finish before being ready to go. However, finding all the pieces — at a reasonable price — took a little doing.

"I went to the mall and the place there wanted 100 bucks for one and it was all faded looking," Boothby said.

After striking out at the mall, Boothby said, he visited two surplus stores where he found the pack, frame, straps and pads for about $75.

"Now I don't have to carry my MREs in my cargo pockets," Boothby said.

With the more than 12,000 soldiers at Fort Hood, the 4th ID is the largest element of Task Force Ironhorse. When it is fully formed, TF Ironhorse will consist of more than 30,000 soldiers drawn from installations across the United States.

Tuesday, Lt. Gen. Tom Metz, commanding general of III Corps and Fort Hood, acknowledged that the force would not be going into Iraq through Turkey as originally planned. The ships carrying the division's equipment, which were in a holding pattern off the Turkish coast for almost a month, are now headed to the Persian Gulf to unload their cargo.

"By the end of this week the lead elements of the task force will be in theater," said Maj. Josslyn Aberle, 4th ID deputy public affairs officer. "When it arrives, the task force is prepared for any mission from peacekeeping to all-out combat."

Spc. Joseph Avila and Spc. Julio Llompart, both of the 204th Forward Support Battalion, were in town in search of boonie hats and patches for their desert utilities.

"The boonie covers are one of the things that's hardest to find," Avila said as he left a surplus store empty-handed.

"You want to maintain uniformity and if they say, 'Put your boonie cap on,' you don't want to be the only guy standing there in a kevlar," Llompart said.

Other items the two soldiers were looking for, Avila said, would make life in the desert a little more bearable.

"Baby wipes, underwear and socks, the basic stuff," Avila said.

Another detail the 4th ID was putting the finishing touches on was its color-casing ceremony, which takes place at 10 a.m. today.

"It's a chance to say goodbye and a chance for the families and the community to come out one last time," Aberle said.

Gov. Rick Perry's office confirmed Wednesday afternoon that the governor would be attending the ceremony to meet with the troops.

During the ceremony, a special "Old Glory" American flag will be presented to Maj. Gen. Raymond Odierno, commanding general of the 4th ID, to mark the division's deployment to the U.S. Central Command area.

"Old Glory" will remain cased and safeguarded by the 4th ID until it is passed to another military organization now serving as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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Preparing for Battle
Thousands from 4th Division deployed to Gulf

By Dionne Searcey
STAFF CORRESPONDENT

March 28, 2003


Fort Hood, Texas - Hundreds of soldiers marched across the grass, the pants' legs of their desert camouflage uniforms quietly swooshing until they came to a stop. An Army band played "Battle Hymn of the Republic," and small cannons fired several rounds, leaving puffy clouds to drift eastward.

"Our soldiers roar for freedom. We're fit for any test," the audience sang at a bon voyage ceremony for the 12,500 soldiers who are about to fly to the Kuwait desert. "The mighty 4th Division, America's best."

As the soldiers prepare to join the battle in Iraq, all eyes are on this heavily mechanized division with its computerized M1 Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles. The military has spent millions to outfit its machinery with the most high-tech battle-positioning gear available. Its soldiers can tell in an instant the location of every allied and enemy vehicle. This war will mark the first time the equipment, installed in 1995 to cut down on friendly-fire incidents, has been tested in combat.

"That's where the armed forces are going - we're going digitized," said Maj. Amy Hannah, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Army. "And the 4th Infantry Division is the most prolific of all of them with the high-tech gear it has."

Commanders know this is a chance for the division, which hasn't been to battle since Vietnam, to make a name for itself. They hope its logo of four ivy leaves will become as notorious as the screaming eagles of the 101st Airborne or the yellow blanket of the 1st Cavalry.

So far, the division is off to a sputtering start. It was supposed to lead the military operation, punching through the Turkish border with Iraq to open a northern front for the war. But the Turkish government balked, leaving the division's 14,000 pieces of equipment on ships in the Mediterranean and troops waiting in Texas.

"If this division had been available from day one of the war, it would have been a good test case," said Patrick Garrett, a senior fellow with GlobalSecurity.org, a military research organization. "Now there's still sort of a question mark as to what the 4th ID is going to be able to do."

Once there, soldiers will check for glitches in the equipment, which has been exposed to salty sea air for two months. It could take a week to prep the vehicles for war. Still, military experts say the division's role could be pivotal as its three maneuver brigades, a combat aviation brigade, artillery and support command might move into Baghdad or provide relief.

"Every soldier in this task force is highly trained, motivated and equipped to prepare for any situation," said Maj. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the division commander.

This is a division that likes to call itself the Army's most lethal. It has sent troops to train in Kuwait and to guard suspected Taliban members in Cuba. But few have fought in combat. Left behind during the Gulf War, some soldiers started calling it the go-nowhere division.

Even its fierce battles in Vietnam received little attention. The division's infantry soldiers were often positioned near the hills of Cambodia while the media focused on Saigon, said Bob Babcock, the division's former official historian and author of "War Stories: Utah Beach to Pleiku."

During World War II, a political spat with France kept the division from earning the country's famed Croix de Guerre, or War Cross, for bravery in combat although its soldiers helped liberate that country. In World War I, the division entered the battlefield late but suffered 10,000 losses.

"The 4th Division has done a hell of a job between World War I, World War II and Vietnam. It has a damn good record," Babcock said. "But it's never gotten much publicity."

Officers like 1st Lt. Charles Peters, in charge of a Bravo Company platoon, want to change that. "It's our chance to show the world what we're made of," said Peters, 23, of St. Cloud, Minn. Still, he will stay focused on his mission. "I'm not worried about putting us on the map," he said, "but helping the war effort."

Copyright 2003 Newsday, Inc. Reprinted with permission
www.newsday.com

 

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March 28, 2003

4th Infantry begins overseas move

By Kevin J. Dwyer


Killeen Daily Herald FORT HOOD — One by one Thursday morning, the colors of the Task Force Ironhorse were cased by their commanders as the units prepared to deploy overseas in the coming weeks.

“The Ironhorse has been summoned, and we will answer that calling,” said Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno, 4th Infantry Division commander. “It is not a calling we answer for money, easy work or glory. “But rather it’s a calling from deep within our hearts to protect you, our families and each other. It is the calling for the love of a country, defending our way of life for the next generation of Americans.”

Starting with the right of the formation with the
1st Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, and ending with the colors of the 4th ID, all of the unit colors in the task force were rolled and cased. When the units reach their destination in Southwest Asia, the colors will be unfurled. Odierno, the commanding general of TF Ironhorse, said the massed colors on the 4th Infantry Division’s parade field represent the more than 30,000 soldiers of the task force.

At the core of TF Ironhorse are the 12,500 4th ID soldiers from Fort Hood. The coming deployment will be the 4th ID’s first combat deployment since the division served in Vietnam. According to a III Corps official, about 500 soldiers deployed from the post Thursday as part of the advance party of the task force. The remainder of the division is expected to begin deploying from the post beginning this weekend.

“Each and every soldier has voluntarily raised his right hand and took and oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” Odierno said. “I admire them for their bravery and courage and I am humbled to serve in their ranks.”

Attending the ceremony were Gov. Rick Perry, and Gen. Larry Ellis, commanding general of U.S. Forces Command. Each of the deploying units was represented on Cameron Field, and surrounding the parade field — standing shoulder-to-shoulder — were the rest of the division’s soldiers. And beside the TF Ironhorse soldiers were their families. Many of these soldiers said that after the two-month delay the division has suffered through, they are not only ready, but eager to deploy.

“It’s scary, but it’s something I’ve got to do,” said Pfc. Anna Leritte of the 404th Division Aviation Support Battalion. “I joined to be a mechanic, but I’m a soldier first.” Holding her company’s guidon before the ceremony, Leritte said one thing that will get her through the deployment is the trust she has in her noncommissioned officers. “If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t know what I was getting myself into, but I’m ready,” Leritte said.

Odierno reminded his soldiers that their “brothers and sisters” from the 3rd Infantry Division, 101st Airborne Division, 82nd Airborne Division, 1st United Kingdom Armored Division, 1st Marine Division and — as late as last night — the 173rd Airborne Brigade, were already engaged in combat. “They are all selflessly risking their lives for our common defense, some have already made the ultimate sacrifice and we owe our freedom to them,” Odierno said. “Others are in captivity of a brutal and repressive regime. Please remember them and their families in your thoughts and prayers.”

After watching the news coverage of the fighting in Iraq for more than a week, Sgt. Robert Canine said the ceremony means that his unit will be in the fight soon. The reports from the front have also brought forth other feelings. “Sometimes it angers you the way they fight and the way they treat the POWs,” said Canine, a Bradley fighting vehicle gunner with
1-22 Infantry. “I think everybody in our battalion is ready to get over there and help our brothers in the 3rd ID out.”

Odierno told his soldiers the conflict they are about to join is not about religion, oil or politics, but rather a war to ensure America’s freedom and to maintain its way of life for future generations. “Ladies and gentlemen, we have a nonnegotiable contract with the people of America to fight and win our nation’s wars,” Odierno said. “We pray for peace and do not wish for war, but we train to fight in order to protect our families, each other, and our country. Our cause is right and resolve is unwavering.”

Watching from the wings with his 22-month-old son, Peter, on his shoulder was 1st Lt. John Boland. Beside him was his wife, Susanna, who will give birth to the couple’s second child in May. “It’s very tough,” Boland said of leaving his family behind. “I always imagined I’d be here for the birth of all my children. At the same time, I’m very proud I get to do what I’ve trained to do for a long time.” Susanna said that while she is a “little worried,” she is proud her husband is deploying to help the Iraqi people. “We’re pretty well set up,” Susanna said of her preparations for the deployment. “I explain to people back home that the community here is very supportive, so there’s no need to worry.”

Very soon, Odierno said, TF Ironhorse will link up with its equipment and be ready for combat. “The full combat power of the task force will come to bear quickly and decisively upon an enemy that has no idea of the combined arms hammer that is getting ready to strike him,” Odierno said.

“Almost 60 years ago our colors liberated Paris from the grips of a vile and tyrannical rule,” Odierno said. “Once again we have been called upon, and I assure you the magnificent soldiers of this powerful task force will continue the long, proud legacy of the Ironhorse Division.”

Contact Kevin J. Dwyer at kjdwyer@kdhnews.com

 

**********************

March 30, 2003

4th ID troops make final preparations

By Kevin J. Dwyer
Killeen Daily Herald


FORT HOOD — It's hard to believe the soldiers lounging in the bleachers at Abrams Field House Saturday had just said goodbye to their families and were now waiting to board planes headed to southwest Asia.

With the painful farewells less than an hour behind them, the soldiers of Task Force Ironhorse were eating, laughing, playing video games, and watching college basketball on big-screen televisions.

"My girlfriend was boo-hooing at the farewell," said Sgt. Rodney Buffaloe, of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Infantry Division Support Command.

Buffaloe and friend, Sgt. Derry Evans, were two of the about 300 soldiers from HHC DISCOM and the 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, killing time at the Abrams manifest site before their flight out of Robert Gray Army Airfield.

"My momma, three of my sisters and two of my girlfriends came from Louisiana to say goodbye," Evans said half jokingly, but he confirmed that at least his mother and sisters were at the post for the farewell.

"It's a little more relaxed here," Evans said of the manifest site.

The first thing the soldiers do at the manifest site is weigh in while carrying all their equipment, so the crew of the aircraft have an accurate count of the weight they will be carrying. Because of packs, rifles, body armor, pistols and other equipment the soldiers carry, most tip the scale with at least an extra 100 pounds.

Since the deployment of the 4th ID's 12,500 soldiers began late last week, about 3,500 soldiers have passed through the manifest site at Abrams. Since January, about 7,000 Fort Hood soldiers from all the post's major commands have deployed overseas.

After the weigh-in and check-in, the soldiers are free to move about the site. They can, among other things, get a quick meal, pick up the religious text of their choice, or make a last call home with the free phone cards each of them is issued.

Spc. Jose Romero and Spc. Alonso Ortiz put their time to good use with a game of rummy using a new deck of cards Romero broke out. Both soldiers are mechanics with Alpha Troop, 1-10 Cav.

"When we go to the field we burn up a lot of cards," Romero said as he discarded an ace of spades.

Since his wife went home to California, Romero said, he moved into the barracks with Ortiz.

"I said my goodbyes about a month ago and on the phone," Romero said. "This is what we're trained for. I want to see how good our skills are out there. I know how good we are in the motor pool, but I want to see how we do out there."

The squadron commander, Lt. Col. Ted Martin, said his troopers' first jobs when they get overseas will be to account for everyone, issue ammunition, and then get their equipment off the ship it has been on for almost two months.

Despite the length of time his M1A2 Abrams tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles and OH-58D Kiowa Warrior scout helicopters have be afloat, Martin said he is confident the gear will be ready for his soldiers.

"The aircraft have been shrink wrapped by professionals and my equipment went aboard in pristine condition," Martin said.

Martin said that since the Army's cavalry community is small and very tight knit, he has received valuable information from the 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, now in Iraq. Prior to taking command of 1-10 Cav, Martin said, he served as the operations officer and executive officer of 3-7 Cav.

"I have a lot of friends in that unit right now," Martin said. "We've been able to keep the soldiers informed of the changes in tactics the enemy's been using, so we now have a big advantage."

As for reports that the soldiers of TF Ironhorse might just be used for security and mop-up work in Iraq, Martin had his own opinions on that subject.

"To me, it looks like they're sending us over there to deliver the knockout punch," Martin said.


Contact Kevin J. Dwyer at
kjdwyer@kdhnews.com

 


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