News You Can Use: Jun. 29, 2004

   June 29, 2004, Volume 2,
Issue 8

Index of Articles

Note: Topics below are now bookmarked!
Click on the underlined topic below to link to the pages on that topic.

 

 

DEPLOYMENT

‘Red Arrows,’ Straight and True; Wisconsin
National Guard Unit Enjoys a Quiet Night Before Deployment Overseas

Guard Members Prepare For Action In
Afghanistan

Florida National Guard Company Mobilized
for 2nd Time

Beginning the Road To Iraq

Army Announces
Modularization Schedule Through FY07

 

BENEFITS

Effort
To Help Families Of Guardsmen, Reservists Pay The Bills Gains Steam

Legislators
Increase Benefits for National Guard Members

Free Child Care for Soldiers on Leave

 

GUARD IN IRAQ

Grit,
Optimism Lift Ceremony; Iraqi Guard Takes Over Base

 

HOMEFRONT: DEALING WITH DEPLOYMENT

National
Guard Families Deal With Deployments

 

TRIBUTE TO OUR FALLEN HEROES

`My Country Needs Me,’ Soldier Said

Patrick McCaffrey Joined the National
Guard In the Days After the Sept. 11, 2001, Terrorist Attacks.

GENERAL

Air Force Awards Colorado National Guard Soldiers

Firm’s Gift to Aid Military Families

ARA
helps Soldiers Switch To Active Duty

 

Websites:

 

National Guard Family
Program Online Communities for families and youth:

https://www.guardfamily.org/

http://www.guardfamilyyouth.org/

 

 

TRICARE website for information on health
benefits

http://www.tricare.osd.mil/

 

 

Civilian Employment Information (CEI) Program Registration for
Army and Air National Guard, Air Force, and Coast Guard Reserve

https://www.dmdc.osd.mil/appj/esgr/index.jsp (Note to those viewing this page in
Word or PDF format:
You must copy this address and paste it
into your browser’s address window.)

 

 

Cumulative roster of all
National Guard and Reserve who are currently on active duty

http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Mar2004/
d20040331ngr1.pdf

 

 

Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC)
contains links and information about schooling, distance education,
scholarships, and organizations devoted to the military family

http://www.militarychild.org/index.cfm

 

 

Militarystudent.org is a
website that helps military children with transition and deployment
issues.  It has some great features
for kids, parents, special needs families, school educators, and more—even
safe chat rooms for kids.

http://www.militarystudent.org

 

 

Disabled Soldiers Initiative (DS3)

This website provides information on the new DS3
program.  Through DS3, the Army
provides its most severely disabled Soldiers and their families with a system
of advocacy and follow-up.

http://www.armyds3.org

 

 

Have an article,
announcement, or website that you’d like to share with the National Guard
Family Program Community?  Send your
suggestions in an e-mail to
[email protected].

 

DEPLOYMENT

Back to Table of Contents

 

‘Red
Arrows,’ Straight and True; Wisconsin National Guard Unit Enjoys a Quiet Night
Before Deployment Overseas

 

Saint Paul Pioneer
Press

June 22, 2004

By Kevin
Harter

ST. Paul,
Minn.

There was no
flag-waving fanfare for the departing soldiers of the River Falls-based National
Guard
Company D, 1st Battalion 128th Infantry on Monday.

But that’s
exactly what the 66 Guard members wanted, said Capt. Michael P. Lindvall, 38,
a computer programmer from White Bear Lake.

“They
just wanted some time together,” said Lindvall of his charges, who
include at least five sets of brothers and a host of University of
Wisconsin-River Falls students.

“This
is a good group, and we’ve had good community support,” said Lindvall,
who will be leaving behind his wife, Lisa, and 3-year-old daughter, Abigail.

The
anti-armor company and five others make up the Eau Claire-based 1st
Battalion, which totals about 680 soldiers. They have been activated for up
to 18 months, and after training in Mississippi and California will go
overseas to one of several destinations, including Afghanistan or Iraq.

The
mobilization brings the number of Wisconsin Guard members and air personnel
on active duty to 1,380. Almost half of the Guard’s total force in the state
has served on active duty since Sept. 11, 2001.

If it is
deployed as expected, it will be the first time since World War II that a
Wisconsin Guard combat unit has served overseas. Known as the “Red
Arrow” Infantry Brigade, the Wisconsin Guard then saw combat for 654
consecutive days.

“Our
history goes back to the Civil War,” Lindvall said. “It’s a proud
history.”

Current
Guard members and several hundred family and friends gathered Monday in the National
Guard
Armory on Division Street in River Falls for quiet conversation and
dinner.

Sgt. Brian
Jorgensen, 25, an Afton, Minn., native now living in New Richmond, sat down
on a folding chair for a farewell dinner of hot dogs, scalloped potatoes,
watermelon, vanilla ice cream with strawberries and more.

He was
joined by several family members, including his dad, Greg, his wife, Tammy,
who is 9-months pregnant with their second child, and his daughter, Casey, 3.

“I
really feel honored to defend my country and be part of history,” said
Jorgensen, a carpenter, who will miss his sister’s wedding Saturday, and
unless his wife gives birth today, son Michael’s entrance into the world.

“It’s
breaking my heart that he won’t be here for that,” said his dad, Greg.
“But I’m also very proud.”

“I
believe God has a reason for everything,” said Tammy Jorgensen.
“And we’ve got a lot of family close, so that helps.”

Spc. Abraham
Garcia, 23, of St. Paul, sat at one of the cafeteria tables with his
girlfriend, Cassandra Wilke. Like most, he said he had so far kept a tight
rein on his emotions.

“It’s
like family here,” he said, scanning the surrounding tables. “I’m
excited and a little scared. I know a lot of people think it’s not the right
thing, but the president called us up, and it’s our duty.”

 

 

 

Guard
Members Prepare For Action In Afghanistan

Members of
the 62nd Troop Command will train Afghan soldiers in several military
occupations

Back to Table of Contents

Montgomery
(AL) Advertiser

June 19,
2004

By Johnny
Johnson

Montgomery,
Ala.

Members of
the Montgomery-based 62nd Troop Command at Fort Taylor Hardin Armory will
deploy Tuesday to train Afghanistan’s newly formed army and offer relief to
American troops.

“They’re
taking their alert very seriously and they’re diligently preparing for the
task at hand,” said Brig. Gen. Gary Quick, commander of the 62nd.

“As
always, the 62nd Troop Command and the Alabama Army National Guard are
honored to be able to contribute to the war on terror,” Quick said.
“Morale is extremely high.”

“It’s a
positive reflection on Alabama that our soldiers are involved in a task force
to train Afghanistan soldiers,” said Sgt. Martin Dyson, public affairs
spokesman for the Alabama National Guard. “I’m certain we’ll give them
the best training possible.

“We’re
sending over instructors in several different areas, such as medical
equipment repair and motor vehicles. Some have been instructors before.
Generally, those who will train in Afghanistan are mid-level to senior NCOs,
staff sergeants and so on.”

Formation of
an Afghan army is expected to reduce the strain on American troops serving in
the mountainous nation where the ruling Taliban regime and Osama bin Laden’s
Al Qaeda militants were ousted by U.S. and allied forces.

“By
training the Afghanistan army, it’s helping to augment the U.S. military
forces there in Afghanistan,” said Lt. Col. Bob Horton, public affairs
officer for the Alabama National Guard. “The purpose is to provide
stability in Afghanistan by helping the country to establish a viable and
effective military force. We’ll provide leadership training, task training,
with the objective of helping the Afghan army become a more effective and
efficient military force.”

In all, 32
members of the Alabama Army National Guard will deploy as part of a 225-troop
unit culled from 18 states. A deployment ceremony for the Montgomery-based
troops will be held at 3 p.m. Tuesday at the Fort Taylor Hardin Armory.

The unit,
serving as Task Force Phoenix, will mobilize under the direction of the 76th
Infantry Brigade of Indiana.

According to
Horton, the Army National Guard identified the training need in Afghanistan
and chose specific bases around the country that were equipped with special
training programs. Once those bases were announced, the Alabama National
Guard chose individual soldiers who were qualified to participate in training
an Afghan Army.

Members of
the Alabama Guard will form two teams of 16 and will report to Camp
Atterbury, Ind., for 45 to 60 days of specialized training before leaving for
Afghanistan. Each team has different specialties.

“It is
indicative of the capabilities that the Alabama National Guard can provide
the national Army,” Horton said.

The
Afghanistan Army was created in 2002 and went through 10 weeks of basic
combat skills training in Kabul with U.S. Army Special Forces.

“These
are professionals who are very capable of carrying out their mission,”
Dyson said. “It’s a great honor that Alabama is involved in a program
like this.”

 

 

 

 

Florida
National Guard Company Mobilized for 2nd Time

Back to Table of Contents

Associated
Press

June
24, 2004

Marianna,
Fla.

The Florida National
Guard’s
144th Transportation Company was mobilized for the second time
since fighting began in Iraq, less than a year after being released from
active duty.

About 130
truck drivers and crews from the company will soon begin training in Fort
Bragg, N.C., before going to Iraq later this summer.

It is the
first Florida National Guard unit to be called up twice during the
conflict in Iraq.

Last year,
the unit spent four months on active duty in Fort Stewart, Ga., before being
released in July. They were never sent overseas.

In May,
soldiers received recall notices.

“It was
a shocker,” said Callie Johnson, of Miami, whose husband William Johnson
serves in the company. “I thought it could be possible again, but you
really don’t think it will happen.”

Authorities
said they recognize the apprehension many soldiers feel.

“It is
a difficult situation, difficult for their families, but we are confident
they are going to do well,” said Assistant Adjutant General Michael
Fleming. “They were called because they are well trained and the Army
needs them.”

 

 

 

Beginning the Road To Iraq

Back to Table of Contents

Chattanooga Times Free Press
(Tennessee)

June 26, 2004 Saturday

By Edward Lee Pitts; Staff Writer

Brian Culberson made a final farewell
request after long embraces with each of the more than a dozen family members
and friends surrounding him Friday in the still-dark morning.

“Thank you all for coming. I’m
going to talk with Steph alone for a while now,” he told them through
tears.

Then Sgt. Culberson of Cleveland,
Tenn., took his wife Stephanie by the hand and walked away to a quiet spot
outside the National Guard Armory.

Hundreds of similar goodbyes occurred
at dawn Friday here and in other Southeast Tennessee towns as area guardsmen
began an 18-month journey with the active Army that ultimately will lead them
to Iraq.

The 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment’s
deployment officially is scheduled for 545 days, according to military
documents. About 3,000 guardsmen from the 278th are involved in the largest
Tennessee Guard mobilization since World War II.

There are now 3,601 state guardsmen on
active duty out of about 14,000, according to Tennessee Military Department
spokesman Randy Harris. Of that total, 813 are deployed outside the United
States, he said.

But the 278th is not the nation’s
largest Guard mobilization, as there are now several units deploying in
excess of 4,000 guardsmen, according to Maj. John Toniolli with the National
Guard.

The 278th, the state’s largest National
Guard
unit, is one of the handful of units being mobilized in a different
configuration than they usually operate, Maj. Toniolli said. The brigade,
trained to take Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles into combat, will
rely on lighter-armored vehicles in Iraq.

Col. W. Mark Hart, squadron commander
of 278th troops in this region, said the next several months of training in
Mississippi and California will be crucial, as the regiment must learn
peacekeeping tactics.

“A lot of the training we had
previously done was directed toward the shock-and-awe-type operation,”
he said. “This is more of a security and support operation where the
battlefield is not front and rear and there are no clear lines of good and
bad.”

The departing guardsmen represent area
auto mechanics, carpenters, construction workers, city employees, salesmen,
schoolteachers and plant managers.

“We just know them as Joe
Citizens,” said McMinn County Mayor John Gentry, whose superintendent of
schools, John Forgety, has left with the 278th. “We don’t picture them
as GI Joes. This war is now personal for this county.”

Facing a long road ahead, a number of
the 100 to 150 soldiers leaving with the Athens, Tenn., unit said it was a
relief finally to begin the deployment after weeks of intense preparation and
anxiety.

Besides working long hours at the
Armory, the guardsmen spent time this week unloading personal items, such as
cars, they no longer will need. Capt. Reid Brock said he is trying to sell
his 1999 Nissan pickup truck.

“If it is going to be sitting for
18 months, you might as well get rid of it and pay some bills,” he said.

About 60 military vehicles left the
Athens Armory before linking up with convoys from similar 278th units based
in the Tennessee cities of Cleveland, Sweetwater, Lenoir City, Maryville,
Dayton, Harriman and Sevierville.

Police cars and fire trucks blared
their sirens as they escorted the vehicles out onto the highway where more
people braved the rain, lining streets to catch a glimpse of the guardsmen.
Oversized American flags, yellow ribbons and banners of support hung from
cars and interstate overpasses all the way through Chattanooga.

Supporters of the guardsmen gathered at
Interstate 75’s Exit 20 near Cleveland, where parts of the traveling 278th
convoy stopped for more goodbyes. The crowd included families, co-workers,
Vietnam veterans and area firefighters and emergency service workers.

“We want them to know we’re taking
care of home while they’re taking care of us,” said Capt. Stephen
McGuffey of the Bradley County Fire Department, who was there to show support
for fellow firefighter Jody Baxter.

And while support for the troops was
high among those who gathered along Decatur Pike, some wondered what the
situation in Iraq would hold for American troops after the changeover of
power next week. On Wednesday, U.S. officials will transfer power to an Iraqi
interim government.

“It’s a scary situation,”
said Sue Dauber. “It’s a new transition, and the insurgents will try to
take over the new government. But hopefully by the time our troops arrive, it
will be better.”

Daniel Green, a Vietnam veteran, said
memories came flooding back after watching members of the Cleveland unit pass
along the U.S. 64 bypass.

“When I came home from Vietnam, we
didn’t get all this. We came home as individuals,” Mr. Green said.
“I don’t want these guys to go through what we went through.”

Before departure, family members
huddled under umbrellas in a light drizzle to watch the Athens unit’s final
formation. Many relatives tried to hide their tear-streaked faces from their
uniformed loved ones.

But Diane Ownby could not keep her eyes
off her only son, Michael.

“I had to see his daddy go to
Vietnam, and now I’m seeing him off,” she said. “It’s just real
hard.”

After the formation broke, children ran
to be with their fathers as they walked to their military vehicles to begin
the trip to Mississippi.

Seven-year-old Reese McCroskey, wearing
a plastic top hat adorned with stars and stripes, lost his battle to stifle
tears and buried his head in the chest of his father, Sgt. Jeff McCroskey.

“They are putting on a good
front,” said Kathy, Sgt. McCroskey’s wife, about her son and daughter,
Deidra. “But when you talk about it they get real emotional.”

Once inside the trucks and Humvees,
soldiers continued their goodbyes as mothers and wives reached through the
windows to touch the guardsmen one last time.

Despite the painful separation from
family, Sgt. Culberson, 27, said going to Iraq is the right thing to do.

“Everybody’s nervous, but it is
also our time,” Sgt. Culberson said of his first deployment after nine
years in the National Guard. “Those guys over there have been
there long enough.”

Sgt. Culberson said that since members
of the unit have combat experience in Vietnam and the first Gulf War, he is
not worried about the 278th’s ability to handle insurgent attacks in Iraq.

Mrs. Culberson said her husband is most
worried that their 16-month-old son, Ty, will forget about his father.

“But we are going to show him a
lot of pictures and videos to remind him,” she said.

The last vehicle left the armory before
7 a.m., and remaining family members, many with American flags tucked in
their back pockets, slowly walked to their cars.

Staff writers Beth Rucker, Ron Clayton
and Randall Higgins contributed to this story.

 

 

 

 

Army Announces Modularization
Schedule Through FY07

Back to Table of Contents

By Joe Burlas

Washington
(Army News Service, June 24, 2004) -- Now that the 3rd Infantry Division out
of Fort Stewart, Ga., has reset into the first modular combat force -- growing
from three brigade combat teams to four -- the Army is readying to modularize
other divisions that will be reconstituting after operations in Operations
Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.


Speaking on background to
members of the Pentagon press corps June 22, a senior Army official announced
the schedule to convert the nine other divisions to modular brigade-plus
sized units of action through fiscal year 2007.

The 101st Airborne
Division, based at Fort Campbell, Ky., will convert this fiscal year. In
FY05, the 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo., and the 10th Mountain
Division, Fort Drum, N.Y., will reset into a modular force. In FY06, the 1st
Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas, the 25th Infantry Division, Schofield
Barracks, Hawaii, and the 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C., will
convert.

Pending
funding and approval by the Department of Defense, the Army plans to
modularize the remaining three divisions -- the 2nd Infantry Division, South
Korea; First Infantry Division, Wurzburg, Germany; and the First Armored
Division, Wiesbaden, Germany -- in FY07.

Funding has already been
secured for the first seven division conversions, including the 3rd Infantry
Division, through the Army’s operation account and emergency supplemental
bill passed by Congress.

The Army National Guard
will also modularize its brigade combat teams into more robust units of
action, starting with three brigades next year, the senior Army official
said. An addition six National Guard brigade conversions are planned
each year FY06-10. The FY07-10 National Guard modularization schedule
is also pending DoD approval and appropriate funding.

The modularization will
rely heavily on the Training and Doctrine Command as modularization will
impact some 100,000 positions, many requiring Soldiers in less needed Cold
War formations like field artillery and air defense brigades to retrain for
positions in more demand today. That demand is for more infantrymen, military
police, civil affairs specialists and truck drivers, the official said.

The
official called the Army’s resetting and restructuring efforts the most
massive change the Army has seen in 50 years, but will ultimately create an
Army with a deeper pool of units to deploy for the global war on terror. That
deeper pool could eventually mean shorter unit deployments -- six or nine
months rotations, he said.

This is about resetting the
Army for continuous operations, not contingency operations, the official
said. In addition to moving artillery, military intelligence and other combat
support/combat service support assets normally found at division or above
level down to units of action, modularization also beefs up the number of
combat troops compared to most Cold War structured brigades.

"We have a plan and
we're moving out," the official said, referring to the Army Campaign
Plan that has established strategic guidance, priorities and goals for
transforming the Army into a more effective and efficient force in the global
war of terrorism.

 

 

 

BENEFITS

Back to Table of Contents

 

Effort To Help Families Of Guardsmen,
Reservists Pay The Bills Gains Steam

 

European Stars and Stripes

June 24, 2004

By Patrick Dickson

Washington

A movement to get all 50 states to
enact financial aid measures for Guardsmen and reservists called to active
duty got a boost Wednesday when one of its key proponents testified before
Congress.

Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn was among
the first to propose a “Military Family Relief Trust Fund” which was signed
into law in February 2003.

Since then the state “has paid out $1.3
million to 2,500 families — so far,” Quinn said in a Tuesday telephone
interview.

With more than 150,000 Guard and
Reserve members activated in the war on terrorism, the House Committee on
Veterans held the hearing to examine federal laws protecting those service
members’ legal, financial and job rights while they are away and when they
return.

In addition to any federal efforts, 13
states are pursuing legislation [see sidebar].

Quinn and others want
laws such as those that would prevent schools from charging out-of-district
rates for children who have moved in with caregivers when a parent, perhaps a
single parent, is called up.

He also is pursuing a public education
campaign, citing abuses by employers who are unaware of the law, or unwilling
to follow it.

“We want to make sure shop foremen,
line supervisors and others understand that when one of their employees is
called up, when they come back, they have a job” or are not otherwise
penalized, Quinn said.

He cited the town of Rockton, Ill.,
which has terminated Spc. Jeremiah Johnson of the 333rd Military Police Co.,
serving in Iraq.

“They intend to test the law,” Quinn
said. “We’ve called the mayor, the City Council, the police chief … we’ve
asked them repeatedly to comply with state and federal law,” he said. The
Illinois attorney general has filed suit on behalf of Johnson.

But the focus is on the trust funds,
Quinn said.

“You’re always going to have a
situation where [a deploying reservist’s] pay is reduced. Our concept in
Illinois is that this is a token of appreciation,” he said. “Anyone can apply
for a $500 grant, and if there’s a hardship — your gas is turned off, you’re
defaulting on the mortgage — then we can give you as much as $2,000.”

Quinn quotes Abraham Lincoln’s second
inaugural address when pushing legislation: “[L]et us strive on … to care for
him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and orphan.”

Service members and concerned citizens
can go to www.operationhomefront.org for more information.

 

 

 

Legislators Increase Benefits for
National Guard Members

Back to Table of Contents

Associated Press

June 24, 2004

Albany, N.Y.

Legislation that increases the pay for National
Guard
troops and increases their other benefits will soon become law in
New York state. The Assembly on Tuesday passed the Patriot Plan II, which
increases the income for New York military personnel on active duty from $100
to $125 a day, while exempting their pay from state taxes for their service
in the war on terrorism. It also extends tuition benefits to veterans of the
conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The state Senate has already passed the legislation, which only needs
Gov. George Pataki’s signature to become law.

“Those who choose to serve in the
military sacrifice a great deal, as do members of their families,” said
Assemblyman Jeff Brown, an Onondaga County Republican and a captain in the
174th Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard. “Today, with this
agreement, we are increasing the level of support for military personnel and
helping them fulfill their obligations at home as well as overseas.”

Pataki, Senate Majority Leader Joseph
Bruno and other Republican lawmakers first announced the measure in March.

“We’re unclear why it took so long
for the Assembly to act,” said Todd Alhart, a Pataki spokesman.
“We’re relieved they finally did. This is the single most important
measure they could pass to support our brave citizen soldiers and their
families and recognize the sacrifices they are making to protect our
freedom.”

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and
fellow Democrats, in a news release announcing the bill’s passage, also took
credit for the law, which expands the 2003 Patriot Plan. That bill made it
illegal to deny someone a job, mortgage or lease because they are in the
military and could be called to service.

According to a 2002 adjutant general’s
report, there were 24,000 members of New York’s Guard and militia forces.

In March the 42nd Infantry Division was
notified that about 1,000 of its soldiers would be called to active duty
later this year. Known as the “Rainbow Division,” the 42nd was
created in World War I from elite guard units across the country.

At the same time, about 115 members of
the 107th Air Refueling Wing based in Niagara Falls were deployed to Turkey
to help fight the war on terror. It marked the third time the New York Air
National Guard
unit has been activated since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

 

 

 

Free Child Care for Soldiers on Leave

Back to Table of Contents

The Denver Post

June 24, 2004

Soldiers from the Army Reserve and Army
National Guard who are home on a two-week leave from Iraq and
Afghanistan may take advantage of free child care through volunteer
providers.

Colorado joined other states across the
nation in Operation Child Care to give soldiers time to take care of family
business or spend time with their spouses.

Lt. Gov. Jane Norton launched the
program Wednesday in Colorado. So far, 218 licensed child-care providers have
volunteered.

The child-care providers have been
asked to provide a minimum of four hours of service.

Reserve and National Guard
soldiers home on leave should call 800-424-2246 or visit
www.childcareaware.org. The program is not available for active- duty troops
or other military branches.

 

 

 



 

GUARD IN IRAQ

Back to Table of Contents

 

Grit, Optimism Lift Ceremony; Iraqi Guard
Takes Over Base

 

The News & Observer (Raleigh, North
Carolina)

June 27, 2004 Sunday Final Edition

By Demorris
Lee, Staff Writer

KHANAQIN, Iraq– Iraqi Talib Jisim
proudly wore a cap he received from a U. S. Army lieutenant on Saturday.

Jisim, a lieutenant in the Iraqi National
Guard,
said the desert-colored hat with a single bar in the center was a
symbol that in just a few days Iraqis will be in charge of their destiny.

“It’s a sign of cooperation and
brotherhood with American soldiers,” Jisim said through a translator as
the dust and the heat of a 100-degree day danced around his face.
“Wearing it reminds me of our aim. We share the same aim of cooperating
and freedom.”

U.S. Army dignitaries and Iraqi
officials looked on Saturday as Capt. Sean Moser of the N.C. National
Guard’s
30th Heavy Separate Brigade began the transfer of security
responsibility for the Diyala Province to the Iraqi troops with a symbolic
gesture.

Moser, a Clayton resident and member of
the 30th’s Bravo Company, 1st Battalion 252nd Armored Regiment, removed the
company’s flag from in front of a building at an old Iraqi army base.

It was the first time a U.S.-led
coalition unit had ceded security responsibilities to an Iraqi force.

Capt. Bandar Ali Murad of the Iraqi National
Guard’s
206th Battalion replaced the Americans’ flag with the Iraqis’
purple company flag. The base, with a few skeletal brick buildings, had
become the Guard’s Forward Operating Base Wyatt for its mission in the mostly
Kurdish area of Khanaqin in northeastern Iraq.

Now the base, with the help of U.S.
dollars, will become home of the Iraqi National Guard in the area.

“This is an important day in
Iraq,” said Lt. Col. Gary Thompson of Sanford, N.C., the 252nd’s company
commander. “It’s the start of a new Iraq. I’m proud and privileged to be
here for the transfer of authority from the coalition to the Iraq National
Guard.

Also attending the ceremony were Gen.
John R.S. Batiste, commanding general of the Army’s First Infantry Division
(the 30th is attached to that army division in Iraq), and Gen. Dan Hickman,
commander of the 30th Brigade.

“Today is a symbol of the future,”
Batiste said. “Over time, there will be more and more ceremonies like
this, where we transfer security of Iraq to Iraqi forces.”

About $2.3 million will be spent to
upgrade the base for the Iraqis. It will be home to two Iraq guard units with
198 men each. The improvements will include barracks, classroom space and a
mess hall.

“We still need the coalition
forces’ assistance, but this a very important first mission,” said Lt.
Col. Ali Kaki, commander of the Iraq guard’s 206th Battalion. “But now
we will have to make our own decisions, and being in charge of the base will
help us more.”

Security issues

A key component of Iraq sovereignty
will be the country’s ability to provide security and to police itself.

The 30th Heavy Separate Bridge has been
instrumental in the training of the Iraqi guard units set to have authority
throughout Diyala Province. The Iraqis were trained individually for about
two weeks, usually by an Army drill sergeant from Fort Sill, Okla., or from
Fort Benning, Ga.

Members of the N.C. Guard’s 252nd
Regiment provided three to four weeks of platoon and squad training. The
North Carolina Guardsmen have trained the Iraqis in everything from weapons
maintenance to conducting proper checkpoints to how to administer emergency
first aid.

More than 1,400 Iraqi National
Guardsmen in Diyala have completed the training and are now getting
on-the-job training patrolling with the U.S military. There are about 300
more in boot camp in Tikrit.

Hickman said many of the Iraqis are
former military men and are learning quickly.

“In some ways,” he said,
“they are better prepared in that they understand the language and the
terrain and they don’t have to operate with an interpreter, whereas one of my
soldiers has to work with an interpreter, and that’s an impediment at times.

“There is value in having those
skills, and they are learning the teamwork and combat skills to go with that
every day.”

Coalition forces have spent millions on
the area’s infrastructure to help the Iraq force, said Capt. Michael Verdi, the
training supervisor from the 1-113th Field Artillery Battery out of
Charlotte.

Verdi has been teaching the Iraq
guardsmen how to manage the security forces’ logistics. He said a lot of new
equipment has been bought for a new army. This includes thousands of AK-47
weapons, which have been distributed throughout the country; 800 new 9 mm
Glock pistols and ammunition; trucks; radios; and flak jackets. The Iraqis’
forces also have new uniforms and boots.

Verdi said the 30th alone spent $30,000
for computers, traffic cones, refrigerators, fire extinguisher, digital
cameras and backpacks. The results of the coalition dollars could be seen
Saturday as Iraq guardsmen sported new blue Motorola radios, new
desert-colored uniforms and gleaming new AK-47s.

One Iraq guardsman tapped his knuckles
on the bulletproof flak jacket he was wearing and, in broken English, said
with a smile: “New, from the U.S.”

Last week, down at Forward Operating
Base Caldwell, Capt. Robert Boyette was beaming after members of the Iraq
guard at a checkpoint discovered a load of weapons concealed by onions in a
pickup truck. Artillery rounds, tank rounds and mortar rounds were
discovered.

“I’m pretty surprised, and I
didn’t think they would come together this quick,” said Boyette, a
resident of Dunn who is the 30th Brigade’s coordinator with the Iraq guard.
“They grasped it pretty well, and I’m glad to see it happen. They worked
hard for a long time. It’s like watching a baby walk for the first
time.”

While there is enthusiasm over the
progress, some are still skeptical about the area’s future. Maysam Taha, 26,
who has been working as a translator for U.S. forces, is concerned about what
will happen once coalition forces leave the area.

“It’s not a very easy thing for a
country to lose its government,” Taha, said. “We can’t feel
stability. It’s going to take at least three, four, five years for that to
happen. Right now, I’m not very optimistic about our future.”

Capt. Robert Steele, of the 252nd, has
worked with Iraq’s new soldiers and said the men are ready for the challenge.
The fact that they are risking their lives to be a part of the nation’s new National
Guard
is proof of dedication, he said, adding that many have already been
tested in battle.

“They fought a nearly 10-year war
with Iran,” said Steele, a Raleigh police officer from Wake Forest.
“They are not new to the environment, and this is their home town, they
are ready to try and protect their area.”

 

 

 

HOMEFRONT:
DEALING WITH DEPLOYMENT

Back to Table of Contents

 


National Guard Families Deal With
Deployments

 

Fayetteville (NC)
Observer
June 24, 2004

By Venita Jenkins

Pembroke, N.C.

Nearly a month after Jessie Locklear’s
father deployed to Iraq, Jessie lost her desire to go to school or to
participate in her favorite sports.

Jessie, who is 11, stayed in her room
for about a week. She became withdrawn. She didn’t want to go outside or get
dressed.

Her mother, Tonya Locklear, became
concerned and took Jessie to a doctor.

“She had a mild form of depression
because of her daddy being gone,” Locklear said. “She was not
motivated, and she was sleeping more. That was not Jessie.”

Tonya Locklear’s husband, Gary, works for the U.S. Postal Service in
Laurinburg. He is also a member of the 1st Battalion, 120th Infantry
Regiment, of the Army National Guard. His unit was activated in September and
left for Iraq on Feb. 29.

Locklear said she and her three
daughters were not prepared for her husband’s one-year deployment.

It is the first time that Locklear’s
duties with the National Guard have taken him away for an extended
period of time. For the past three years, his Guard duties involved one
weekend a month and two weeks in the summer.

“It has been hard on all of
us,” Tonya Locklear said.

Locklear is an assistant principal in
Hoke County. She has assumed many of the responsibilities usually handled by
her husband – such as paying the bills and maintaining the house – in
addition to raising their daughters: Jessie, 14-year-old Skyler and
17-year-old Whitney.

Locklear, who is 35, said the stress of
keeping the family stable is sometimes too much.

She said she gets support from friends,
family and other wives whose husbands are members of the National Guard.

“All the wives have kind of leaned
on each other to get through this,” she said.

There are support groups for families
of National Guardsmen at Fort Bragg, which is about 50 miles from the
Locklears’ home in Pembroke. Because of the distance, Locklear said it isn’t
always practical for her to take advantage of the support groups.

“With my schedule and the girls’
activities, I stay busy,” she said.

Locklear said she has also experienced
bouts of depression. She tried to deal with it by staying busy and buying a
Harley- Davidson motorcycle and a puppy.

But at night, she said, she still
worries about her husband. She recalled a particularly bad dream in which her
husband came back in a coffin.

“In my mind, in a sense, I feel
like he is going over there, and he is not going to come home,” Locklear
said. “I know I shouldn’t think that way. He tells me in his letters
that he is not worried about anything. He knows he is coming home.”

Jack Crain is a psychologist and the
employee assistance program coordinator at Southeastern Regional Medical
Center in Lumberton. The program provides counseling for hospital employees
and their families.

Reservists and guardsmen are in a
unique situation, Crain said.

“People in active duty are
constantly training for war. They know what to expect,” he said.
“It’s a little different for folks who are in the Reserves or National
Guard. Although they are very patriotic, they don’t join thinking they are
going to end up in the desert thousands of miles away from home fighting a
war.

“I am not sure the family of
reservists or guardsmen have the same preparation for the person being
gone,” Crain said. ” … There is a rush to get people over there and
the preparation is not comparable to those who are active military.”

Home for graduation

Gary Locklear, who is 38, returned home
this spring to attend Whitney’s high school graduation May 28. He spent two
weeks doing chores around the house and eating steak.

The visit has lifted the spirits of
Tonya Locklear and her daughters.

The day before Gary Locklear was
scheduled to return to Iraq, the family sat down for brunch in their dining
room and talked about Locklear’s deployment.

“I didn’t know how well Tonya
would do while I was gone,” Gary Locklear said. “But she did pretty
good. She is doing a lot of the things I couldn’t get her to do before.”

Locklear said his wife failed to
mention the stress she was under during their telephone conversations and in
her e-mails.

“She didn’t want me to
worry,” Gary Locklear said. “I didn’t know how rough things had
gotten until I came home. Things will be changing once I come back.”

Gary Locklear, who left June 12 to
return to Iraq, said there is a need for a local community support group.

“There are a lot of women here
whose husbands are deployed that could get together,” he said.
“They need to start one right here.”

Crain, the psychologist, agreed.

“When there is a
loss, usually depression arises,” Crain said. “This is quote
‘normal.’ And to get through this, you need support groups. Some,
unfortunately, turn to chemicals – drugs and alcohol – to help them through
this.”

The North Carolina Army National
Guard
provides assistance to families that are having difficulties while
their loved ones are deployed. There are Family Assistance Centers throughout
the state, including one on East Mountain Drive in Fayetteville.

“The National Guard is
unique. We don’t have large installations. With the Family Assistance
Centers, we go to families,” said Spc. Robert Jordan, a spokesman for
the National Guard. “These centers have professional staff who know
everyone in the community to assist families. Also, they are there to listen.
These are citizen soldiers. They have jobs, family, churches and civic
organizations that they are members of. They put all that down and picked up
arms.”

The centers have an informal network to
help families with basic needs such as baby-sitting or doing repairs around
the home, Jordan said. There is also a special fund to help with emergency
needs such as food and electricity.

“Mowing someone’s lawn, doing
their taxes or letting them know you have an empty slot at a day-care center
goes a long way,” he said. “These are things people in their
communities can do that could really make a difference in the families’
lives. They are your friends, family and neighbors.”

Tonya Locklear now receives monthly
packets with information about pay, legal assistance, and programs and
services provided by the National Guard.

Some of the wives in Robeson County
have started holding their own support meetings, she said.

“We are within a 10-mile radius of
each other. I think that will help. We may not be getting all the information
that we need, but at least we are there for one another,” she said.
” … We sometimes have to rely on each other for support.”

For more information about services
provided by the Family Assistance Center, call the center at (910) 672-5143.

 

 

TRIBUTE TO OUR FALLEN
HEROS

Back to Table of Contents

 

`My Country Needs Me,’ Soldier Said

 

Chicago Tribune

June 22, 2004

By Sean D. Hamill

Sgt. Sherwood Baker’s parents, longtime
peace activists in Philadelphia where he grew up, let him know seven years
ago that they weren’t happy he was joining the Army National Guard.

His wife, who also doesn’t support the
war in Iraq, had tried to get him to leave the Guard when his first, six-year
stint was up.

But through it all, Baker “had his
own mind,” his wife, Debra, said, never revealing his feelings about the
war to anyone in the family.

“He only said: `My country needs
me. This is what I have to do,'” his wife said.

Baker, 30, of Plymouth, Penn., died
April 26, in Baghdad while providing site security during inspection of a
suspected chemical weapons plant. He was assigned to the Army National
Guard’s
Company B, 2nd Battalion, 103rd Armor Regiment, from Tamaqua, Pa.

Baker, a caseworker who worked with
mentally challenged adults, joined the Guard in 1997 after helping with flood
preparations.

Even if he never said how he felt about
the war, Baker, a gentle man, held the same general beliefs about peace as
his family.

“He believed in being a citizen in
a democracy,” his mother, Celeste Zappala, said. “It’s part of what
we’re trying to do–carry that belief.”

Most likely to succeed: Darral Brooks
still doesn’t know how his son, Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Cory
Brooks, 32, died in Iraq.

The Army said it is still investigating
his death April 24 in Baghdad and the family has been told only that it was a
“non-combat related injury.”

“He was my only son,” said
Brooks, a rancher in Philip, S.D. “He was the greatest kid I ever
knew.”

Cory Brooks was assigned to the Army National
Guard’s
153rd Engineer Battalion from Wagner, S.D., a unit that disarms
mines and bombs.

He quarterbacked the Philip High School
football team, was a shooting guard on the basketball team and played
shortstop on the baseball team. His senior year, Brooks was named “Most
Likely to Succeed.”

And, after nearly non-stop college work
and holding down jobs as a carpenter and legal assistant, he was succeeding.

He received a bachelor’s degree in
psychology, and in December 2000 Brooks received a law degree and a master’s
in administration, all from the University of South Dakota Law School in
Vermillion.

Brooks had decided to move home to
become a small-town lawyer, his father said.

 

 

 

Patrick McCaffrey Joined the National Guard In the
Days After the Sept. 11, 2001, Terrorist Attacks.

Back to Table of Contents

Contra Costa
Times (Walnut Creek, CA)

June 24, 2004

Bay Area Native Dies

Tracy, Calif.

McCaffrey, a
native of the Bay Area who now lives in Tracy, was killed Tuesday, along with
a member of his unit from Riverside, while they were patrolling in Iraq.

“I’m
really proud of him,” his wife, Silvia McCaffrey, told the Tracy Press.
“He was a hero to me, and I guess all my family.”

McCaffrey, a
34-year-old Army Specialist, and Army Second Lieutenant Andre Tyson were
ambushed by enemy forces near the city of Balad, located 85 miles north of
Baghdad, according to a California National Guard news release
Wednesday.

Both
soldiers were members of the Alpha Company, 579th Engineer Battalion based in
Petaluma.

“This
is the hardest time in my life,” Nadia McCaffrey said about losing her
son. Nadia runs a support organization for people at the end of their lives.

McCaffrey’s
family said he was training Iraqis to become military police before he died.

“He was
absolutely inadequately trained and equipped,” family friend Elizabeth
Drowne told the Tracy Press. “I think this is just a tragic waste of a
young man’s life.”

McCaffrey
was born in Santa Clara. He was married and had a son in Silicon Valley
before moving away with his second wife about four years ago. His first son,
Patrick Jr., lives with his mother.

Tyson went
to elementary and junior high school in Los Angeles and attended Santa Maria
High School in Santa Maria from 1984 to 1988, joining the Army a few years
later.

 

 

 

 

GENERAL

Back to Table of Contents

 

Air Force Awards Colorado National Guard
Soldiers

 

Associated Press

June 24, 2004

Colorado Springs,
Colo.

Its rare when the Air Force recognizes
Army soldiers for their service, but that’s exactly what happened at the Air
Force Academy on Tuesday. Currently, there are 27 soldiers from the Colorado
National Guard
working at the Academy. The soldiers have been manning the
gates, and supporting the security forces at there since 2002.

As Air Force Lt. Col. Kit Lambert
explains, the soldiers have now earned the right to wear an Air Force badge
on their uniforms. “This represents a period of time spent supporting
security forces. In addition, they qualified as certified Air Force entry
controllers for Air Force installations,” Lambert said.

The badge can be given to any non Air
Force military personnel who demonstrate exceptional skills and honorable
service. The National Guards’ tour at the Academy ends in November.

 

 

 

Firm’s Gift
to Aid Military Families

Back to Table of Contents

June
24, 2004

By Emily Ann
Brown

A company
announced Wednesday that it would donate $1.25 million to the Veterans of
Foreign Wars to help service members and their families with unexpected
financial needs.

Vermont
American, which makes power tool accessories, said it would donate the money
over five years for the VFW’s Unmet Needs Program. The partnership was
announced outside the VFW national headquarters at 406 W. 34th St.

The program
will help pay for daily financial burdens such as vehicle and appliance
repairs, and more critical expenses such as medical fees for more than
700,000 active-duty military families, said Ron Browning, VFW assistant
adjutant general. The help is needed, Browning said, because nearly half of
military families earn less than $20,000 a year in basic military pay.

The VFW
assists all veterans and their families in obtaining veterans’ entitlements
and other services. It also assists active-duty members in the National
Guard
and Reserves.

Gary and
Tammy Fugate of Moberly, Mo., are the first family in the nation to receive
aid from the program for medical needs. Gary Fugate, a 27-year National
Guard
reservist, needed help paying for a seven-day trip to the Mayo
Clinic in Rochester, Minn., for his wife.

Three years
ago, Tammy Fugate, 45, had a stroke. Her health problems worsened. She later
had two more strokes, three heart attacks and neurological complications, she
said.

After being
referred to the program by a friend, the couple received a phone call one day
later from an Unmet Needs staff member assuring that financial help was on
its way.

Her
insurance covers hospital fees, but Unmet Needs has agreed to pay for airfare,
hotels, food and a rental car.

To reach
Emily Ann Brown, call (816) 234-4899 or send e-mail to [email protected]

 

 

 

ARA helps Soldiers Switch
To Active Duty

 


By Pfc. Chris Stump

Bagram
Air Base, Afghanistan (Army News Service June 24, 2004) --Service to country,
a steady pay check, college benefits or retirement at a young age; whatever
the reason for choosing to go on active duty, many Army Reserve and National
Guard
Soldiers are taking advantage of an easy route to become a fulltime
Solider. And the career counselors of the U.S. Army Reserve Affairs Office
supply aid for the transition.

Soldiers who begin the
switch while still deployed with the assistance of a reserve affairs NCO,
Soldiers must complete an application packet. The packet includes information
such as time in service, rank, grade and other personal information that is
essential for enlisting in the Army.

To convert from the
reserves a deployed Soldier must have more than 30 days left on his or her
deployment, but less than 90 days when requesting a transfer to active duty,
said Master Sgt. Greg Jacobs, Army Reserve Affairs retention NCO.

The change to active duty
is actually made once the Soldier redeploys and then separates from his or
her unit, he said. Once the Soldier separates, he goes on leave as an active
duty Soldier with PCS orders to report to an active-duty unit. Soldiers may
start their packets before the 60-day window, but they cannot submit them
until they hit their 90-day mark.

The
packet is not difficult to fill out, Jacobs said, but anyone wishing to make
the switch to active duty is advised to start the paperwork as soon as
possible. This gives the reserve affairs NCOs more of an opportunity to
assist the Soldiers, without having to rush through the process.

“We are here to help the
Soldiers any way we can,” he said. “From filling out the packet, to linking
them with active duty career counselors, we will do whatever we can.”

After the application is
completed, it is sent to active duty career counselors who verify
information, like rank and time in service, and send the packet on to the
Army Human Resources Command in Alexandria, Va. for approval.

Upon final approval at
Alexandria, the Army begins the process of finding an opening for the
Soldier, he said.

All ranks and military
occupational specialties are eligible to leave the Army Reserve and National
Guard
to transfer to the active Army, but there must be a slot open for
the Soldier, he said.

“Depending
on the needs of the Army, some Soldiers may need to reclass,” said Jacobs.

Because of the differences
in jobs and positions available between the reserve and active duty
components, a handful of Soldiers might lose rank or have to reclassify into
another MOS, he added, but for the most part, Soldiers retain their rank and
job in transitioning to the active component.

In addition, many are also
eligible for bonuses for making the switch. Bonus eligibility applies to
those Soldiers who reclass to join active duty.

“The enlistment bonuses are
paid by the active Army component,” said Jacobs. “In some instances, Soldiers
may qualify for whatever bonus the Army has available.”

Often these bonuses also
depend on the length of an enlistment. According to Jacobs, an enlistment
contract can range anywhere from two to six years.

“How long your enlistment
has to be is usually determined by your MOS,” Jacobs said. “Critical
shortages can affect the length of an enlistment, as well as the training you
are receiving if you reclass.”

An example is military intelligence,
because this field is considered to have a critical shortage, combined with
training time and cost, many Soldiers are required to enlist for five years.

While
bonuses are a great incentive to joining the military, they aren’t the only
reason people switch to active duty, said Jacobs. Many Soldiers simply find
they enjoy the active Army experience of service.

“Some Soldiers come on
active duty for a deployment and realize they like the active Army and decide
to stay,” he said. “Others may have jobs that won’t be available when they
redeploy.”

Others just like the steady
paycheck or career benefits, he added.

“There are great career
benefits,” said Staff Sgt. Jack O’Neal, 320th Psychological Operations
Company, who plans on making the transition after his tour here.

One of those benefits is
being able to retire at an early age, he said.

“And they have 100-percent
(college) tuition reimbursement while you’re on active duty,” he said.

Regardless of the reason a
Soldier wants to go active, the Army Reserve Affairs office is here to help,
said Jacobs.

“The Soldier must be
willing to take the time to put together the packet,” he said. “The legwork
is done by the Soldier, but we will do whatever we can for him.”

For more information on
switching to active duty, contact the Army Reserve Affairs office at
(800)-874-8451.

                                                                    
End                           
Back to Table of Contents