Mulawi Rahman, a Shigal elder and shura member, spoke of Shigal Valley’s proud history of resisting the enemies of Afghanistan. He pledged the support of the people of Shigal to the govt. “This road will bring the people of the valley closer to the govt. We must stand beside our govt for security and for the future.”The PRT cmdr., Navy Cmdr. Brian Goss delivered most of his speech in the native Pashto, spoken by the majority of Kunar residents. “Shigal represents progress in Afghanistan,” he said. After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, PRT engineers traveled to the end of the new road to conduct a site-survey, and determine the required actions for continuing construction beyond the Monay Bridge and deeper into the valley. Goss cited the security concerns which plagued the road project at the beginning of construction in August 2008. He said it was the will of the people which forced out the insurgents and kept the project going. “The future of Afghanistan is built on the will of its people,” he said.
AF Lt. Col. Neil Stockfleth briefed Eikenberry on the ADT’s reforestation, agricultural education, and veterinary projects. “I was glad to see him out here showing support for some of our efforts, in what we might call a less-developed prov. like Kunar,” Stockfleth said.The U. S. Dept of Ag’s advisor to the ADT, Willard “Bud” Garrett, works closely with Stockfleth. According to Garrett, the ADT’s work compliments USDA’s efforts in Afghanistan. “The way I view USDA is that we’re a partner with anyone that’s connected with agriculture,” Garrett said. “The ADT has done some remarkable things, and what I try to do is provide some cohesiveness to some of the programs, and some continuity.” Stockfleth emphasized the importance of Garrett’s role, and noted that the Iowa ADT is being replaced by the Illinois NG’s 1-14th ADT in just a few days. Both teams are confident the good work Eikenberry witnessed June 1, will continue seamlessly during the transfer or authority, ensuring that Kunar will continue to receive and build upon the great agricultural work and guidance they have received over the last year.
"Every week an invitation is extended to all TF Duke bs to send their Soldiers for a much-needed break from the rigors and stress of combat," said 1st Sgt. Kerry Crudup, the 1st sgt for HHC. “Sometimes the op tempo out there means they can’t spare any personnel, and they have to say ‘sorry, not this week,’” Crudup said. “But, they’re happy to send people if the mission dictates they can.”
Upon arriving at Salerno, Soldiers are given a briefing and a pamphlet with the FOB rules. They're also given a tour of the FOB, which includes the Post Exchange, the finance office, the gym, the dining facility and other amenities. For Cpl. Joshua Hill, an MP with HHC, the PX was one of his first stops. Carrying a list of supplies his buddies asked for, he’ll be stocking up for himself and his friends before returning to COP Saberi. “It’s pretty nice they have things like this to help out Soldiers who need it,” he added.Spc. Jeffrey Hopkins, with Co B, STB, also from COP Saberi, said that he’s looking forward to calling friends and family back home. “Some Soldiers don’t even leave the room, and spend their time sleeping,” said Crudup. “They just enjoy the tranquility.”One of the amenities that Spc. Harold Badillo, an MP with HHC, based at COP Bak was looking forward to most was having a hot meal 3 times a day. Because Bak does not have a full dining facility, Soldiers there get a hot breakfast and dinner, but can only get Meals-Ready-To-Eat or snacks at other times. Since Bak has no laundry facilities, and Soldiers have to send their dirty clothes to Salerno to be washed, the visit was a good chance to catch up on his laundry, Badillo added. “It’s good to know the higher-ups understand we need this,” Badillo said.
By 1st Lt. Jason Sweeney
The 8-229 ARB Flying Tigers and its Apaches are currently attached to the 40th CAB, which is on a yearlong deployment to Iraq in support of OND. The brigade is performing full-spectrum aviation ops in the country, and the 8-229 is its attack arm.
Capt. Dennis McNamara served 12 years in the active-duty Army, before taking a full-time position at Fort Knox with the 8-229. After 11 years with the unit, he moved to California to take a job with the Boeing Corp., while switching over to a Reserve unit based out of Los Alamitos, Calif.
Dennis was at home when he learned that his son and daughter were deploying to Iraq with his old unit. "I couldn't see both my children deploying and leaving me at home," he said. He called the unit's cmdr., Lt. Col. James Posey, and asked to rejoin the 8-229 for the deployment.
"Dennis McNamara and I have worked together for several years, so I considered it an honor to have his children serving in my command, and I welcomed his return to the unit," Posey said. "When the chance presented itself for him to deploy with us, I was a little concerned with having over half the family in my unit, in a combat zone, and all flying the same aircraft! We quickly decided they could not fly together while here, but at least they could all serve in the same area together." Capt. Dennis McNamara has been flying Apaches for over 20 years now. He served in Op Desert Storm and in OIF, but for his 2 kids, this deployment was their first.
Elizabeth is a plt. leader in her bn. She said her father knows a thing or two about leadership. Her father had been a warrant officer in the 8-229, when he was made a co. cmdr. due to a vacancy. He did such a good job of it, that at age 44 he was offered a direct commission, and became a 2nd lt right at the time Elizabeth was completing ROTC at the University of Kentucky.
With Elizabeth now in a command position, her father offers her advice and gives her critiques on her leadership style. They often talk while eating together at the dining facility, or while hanging out when off duty.
"Elizabeth, at 4, told me that she would fly Apaches when she grew up," he said. "At the time, women weren't allowed to fly Apaches, so I encouraged her, but didn't really think that would happen. Most 4 year olds don't pick their career, but she stuck with it and here we are." Elizabeth said that some of her earliest memories are of Apaches, and the pilots who fly them. "I remember going out to the airfield, guys playing volleyball, watching the parties at the gazebos. I knew for a long time that I was going to join the Army, but the one thing I wanted to do with it was fly attack helicopters. If we were going to go to combat, I wanted to be the one in the sky with the gun."
Brendon, on the other hand, didn't know until his late teens that the Army was for him. Shortly after graduating from high school, he sat down with his father and they discussed his future. After some fatherly advice, Brendon decided to enlist in the Army Reserves, and became an Apache crew chief. He did that for a few years before he submitted a flight packet, and was accepted into flight school at Fort Rucker, Ala. He completed flight training in Sept., just in time to make it onto the deployment to Iraq.
What does he like about flying the Apache? "It's nice having big guns in the sky," he said. Brendon said many find it amusing to have a father, daughter and son in the same unit, but he said he feels lucky to have family here to fall back on. Brendon was born at Fort Rucker, so in a sense he was born to fly. As for Elizabeth, not only is she a pilot from a family of pilots, she married a pilot, too.
"My dad always told me to stay away from Apache pilots," she said. But, she didn't listen to that bit of advice and married Capt. Brian Schlesier, who is currently flying Apaches in Afghanistan. All three said that the real story about their deployment is wife and mom Cindy back home. "My wife's the one who has all the stress," Dennis said. "We have the fun of flying. I tease her all the time, because she used to complain that I would deploy and leave her with all the kids, so now I say I took the kids with me."
For Dad, nearing the end of his Army career, and getting the chance to deploy with his children, he said it's been a great privilege. "I can't stop being a father, but I try to be a mentor and give advice. But sometimes as a father, you have to step back and it's hard. I'm definitely honored that they followed me into this, so I'm conscious of always trying to set the right example. I have tremendous faith in both of them. They're very good at what they do. They're very professional and they get the job done."
Chief Warrant Officer Brendon McNamara.
Photos by Spc. Sara Wakai