Skip to comments.The soldier who sat next to President Bush on Thanksgiving speaks again. (FR exclusive)GNFI alert
Posted on 12/26/2003 8:55:43 PM PST by TheErnFormerlyKnownAsBig
Hey to all,
Well, what a year it has been, not what I would call boring to say the least. I wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I am sorry that I will not be able to spend it with you all but the war and the mission goes on. A good day for us is a boring day and no one gets hurt, but that's not very often. Our Christmas Day will probably bring a somewhat good meal and then back to missions there are no holidays here. We will conduct patrols and guard our sector. Which has not been a quiet one at all, but no where in this country really is. But we don't want sympathy we chose this as our jobs, we sacrifice everyday for the freedom that you all endure. We will do our jobs to the fullest and make this country proud the American fighting soldiers will not be broken or ever give in. That is why we are the best and continue to live on that tradition. We all remember the tragedy that happened on 9/11 and will bring that fight to them as long as they continue. Our main concern is that you all are safe from the terrorist's and if it takes us fighting them here and keeping them out of the U.S. then bring it on.
We all remember the veterans and families that have sacrificed or paid the ultimate price for freedom. They are my heroes and why this country is free today so my troops and I thank you for the privilege to serve your freedom. On Christmas Day all we ask is that you say a prayer for all the servicemen and women that are involved with the fight against terrorism. We will stand our post and let no one take that away. Yes, it is hard to be away from loved ones and friends on these days but hopefully it will better for us and our children. Don't get me wrong I would rather be with my wife right now preparing for Christmas and putting ornaments on the tree, but it won't happen this year. She is also my hero for dealing with this whole thing. But soon the time will come that I am home again, wow what a year it has been. Well, you all take care and enjoy your day just remember the troops real far away.
It is funny my guys call me the old man, 33 and I am old compared to these guys, but my maturity is long beyond those years. If you have ever served in the service you will understand, my job is harder then most every other out there in the civilian community. I ask my guys to do things that could get them hurt or worse. But they are great they give a 100% everyday and never give up, they hail from all over and most are married with kids. They are very proud and have done wonderful things over here we lead the way and prove how good we are everyday. But it has not come without sacrifice, I lost two close friends and have had 4 wounded in my platoon. The battalion has also lost four other soldiers and has taken about 40 wounded if not more. I ask that you say a prayer for their families and loved ones on this holiday for they will be minus a father, son, husband and friend. I will never forget them and fight everyday to make sure their sacrifice was not for nothing. Well, the year in summary:
We started preparing to come over as early as Nov of last year, we have not had a day off since the new year started. We got alerted in late Feb that we would leave on March 5 to come here. We left FT. Riley and arrived in Kuwait on the 7th. 10 days later we were preparing for a full assault against the Iraqi Army with the 3rd INF Div. My platoon (Third PLT) was selected to lead the Battalion Task force of 800 men on the attack from Kuwait to Baghdad. We made the assault North and moved 22 hours a day along the desert sand, thru bad weather, sand storms you couldn't see your hand in front of your face, but we pushed on. We would not be stopped, One thing I am really good at is navigation which is really difficult in the desert not much to go on as land mark, only one reason we were selected. Plus we shot expert on quals with our tanks and were the best in tactics.
We faced our first enemy in As Sammawah, then in An Nasiraya it was to easy so we knew there was more facing us. We entered the town on AN Najaf and were re assigned to the 101st Airborne Div. I love them guys, wish I could have stayed with them. We would fight the rest of the war with them, they needed tank support to clear all the cites that 3rd ID bypassed enroute to Baghdad. Not something tankers are trained for close city fighting but we adapted so quick it was great. Our first big fight came in AN Najaf and lasted two days straight until we had pushed the enemy out of the city enough to bring in more forces. I would receive an award for valorous actions during this battle and another, I will not allow soldiers to be hurt if I can help it. 11 lives were saved on an action that I made.
We continued our fight north to a town called Karbala and took that city over in two days of fighting. We were in contact the whole way from AN Najaf to Karbala. Still in the lead my guys fought with speed and accuracy taking out every enemy in our path. In Karbala we took down the huge Saddam statue that was all over the news. You could see my tank in some of the pictures. These were some rough fights but we came out with no one hurt. Had a tank hit a land mine and one roll almost all the way over in a canal network. Both were repaired in 12 hours then continued the fight. No one was hurt the tank did its job.
We then made the attack North towards Al Hillah and Al Kilaf which brought on more fighting. I made a bold decision in Al Hillah we were getting fired on from every direction. I advanced my Tank section at heavily defended area and opened up with everything I had which allowed the advance of more forces and the rest of my platoon to bypass the area and secure the other side. In the end the enemy was defeated no lives were lost and no injuries. Well the enemy, they didn't make it home for dinner. For this action and the other I would receive a Bronze Star with Valour only given for actions above and beyond the call of duty. Well, that is only brief summary of the battles. We then made our advance towards Baghdad where we are still today. We hit Baghdad on 11 Apr 03, my Birthday, what a present securing southern Baghdad. We would stay there for about 14 days holding a vital intersection for forces moving North. Then we made our last movement to Western Baghdad where we have been for the last 7 months, in a town called (censored by bigern), a hot spot for a long time. We secured the area to the North of BIAP (the airport). That would be our final resting place for 2,500 KM advance north. What a trip not what I call a vacation tour. But we joked that it was our desert tour of lovely Iraq. Since we have been here attacks are normal and life is crazy, but we continue on. We have helped the Iraqis build new schools, repair others, I used to transport money for the bank to get it restarted to downtown Baghdad, it's like driving in New York City but worse they don't know how to drive here. Well, they don't know how to drive there either. So the Bank got started and in total I transported about 10 million dollars US worth back and forth with not a single incident. We have captured plenty of bad guys and seized an immense amount of weapons. The capture of Saddam has brought more attacks but they will give up soon. It's about 75 days and we will be home hopefully and this year and a half will be over. I have been lucky to work with great guys and I have trained them well. I can't even go into all the great jobs that we have done. Just the other day I saved the lives of a lot of people as a car bomb went off at an Iraq Police department. The first one only wounded a few people but they had brought a second one in, myself and one of my tank commanders shot the second car bomber and he never got it off. So many lives were saved that day. Well, life on the home front hasn't been easy for Wendy either, a year is a long time to be away and the not knowing of what is going on I know is hard. But I love her dedication and support that she has given me to do this job. If wasn't for hers and all the support of family and friends I could not do this job. Thank you. It will be a happy day to come home and hold her in my arms again. Then to see all the family and friends. I had the great pleasure and honor to meet the President which was really cool. Got to talk to him one on one. I was selected among a lot of people. I guess I do this job pretty good. Well, I hope you all have had a great year and good luck in the next one. Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New year! Love Brad
Kinda reads like a movie script.
Please extend my family's deepest and most sincere thanks to Brad and his fellow soldiers. His report brought tears of pride to my eyes. I wish I could be there to help, but at 50 YO, I can only lend my support in other ways. I AM PROUD, BY GOD!
You're darned right you do, Brad. Thank you!
Cal, could you do the honors? This thread deserves special attention and I have to leave. Thank you!
Thanks for the ping, SAM!
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