SHOR TEPAH – “Thank you for this,” said Mohammad Qul, a principal at a school for boys. He paused, “and we are so sorry for her,” he added. The “her” Qul referred to was the mother of fallen Marine Capt. Matthew Freeman. Teachers stood around him holding new school supplies. Three microscopes drew the most excitement – a 300% increase in the school’s stock.
According to the project’s website, Freeman called his mother 2 days before he was killed in action in Afghanistan, and said, “Mom, the kids would rather have pens and paper more than anything, even food and water. Would you please start a collection and send them to me?” His family saw to his wish.As they entered the school’s courtyard, C Co Soldiers were greeted by applause from children who waited in rows. Quiet, grateful and visibly awestricken, students filed by as soldiers, who couldn’t contain their smiles, handed out pens, pencils and paper. The reserved composure of the students gave way to laughter only after the soldiers, in full body armor, started tossing a pink flying disc. “It’s definitely a feel good thing,” said Sgt. 1st Class Eric Fontaine, a R.I. native, now the 40th Engr Bn NCO-in-charge of civil affairs. Orgs. like the Richmond Hill, Ga.- based Freeman Project provide items not covered by larger, U.S.-funded infrastructure projects. Missions like the one in Shor Tepah not only provide immediate assistance to recipients, but also allow soldiers to interact with Afghan citizens and govt officials. "Face-to-face events build a much needed rapport with people U.S. service members are trying to help," Fontaine said. “You can’t just show up and be respected,” Fontaine said. “It has to be something earned or deserved, or that precedes you.” Fontaine coordinated missions to give supplies to students in each of the bn’s 5 districts of responsibility. Although long-term benefits lie in missions for charity, the direct impact on the student can't be ignored. Qul said, "one pencil or pen can last a student 2 to 3 months, and glue twice as long."After presenting supplies to Qul and his teachers, 1st Lt. Zachary Weigelt told the faculty about Freeman and his family.
He held a picture of the Marine. “I’d like to have the family come here, so we can thank them and the kids can thank them,” Qul said to Weigelt. “One day, we'll have peace, and they can come to Afghanistan and visit.”
A student catches a flying disc from an Army soldier.
Pvt. Amanda Parker, a Kan. native, now a mechanic with C Co, hands a pencil to a student.
(From front), Army Staff Sgt. Vincent Adams, a N.Y. native, Spc. Patrick Riley, a N.H. native, and Pvt. Amanda Parker, hand out pencils and pens, and big smiles, to students.
Sgt. Aloysius Goodshield, a squad leader, and a S.D. native, hands a pen to a student.
Marines Continue Operation Eastern Storm
FOB DELARAM II — Op Eastern Storm continues to secure Route 611 from Sangin’s District Center to the Kajaki Dam.
Marines from Regimental Combat Team (RCT) 8 and ANSF with the 215th Corps, ANA are participating in this op.
Securing this route opens a vital corridor for local citizens, Afghan govt officials, and merchants, to transit rapidly between several districts, giving residents a freedom of movement they haven’t experienced in more than a decade. Route 611 branches north off of Highway 1, also known as Ring Road, a major paved road encircling the nation.
The op is still ongoing, yet it signifies an end to the Taliban’s ability to operate freely in Helmand prov. Coalition and ANSF forces have met with little enemy resistance, as engagements with insurgents have been limited to the discovery of IEDs, and small-arms firefights. “The overwhelming force of Afghan soldiers, police and U.S. Marines continues to push the insurgency out of the region,” said Brig. Gen. Lewis Craparotta, cmdr., TF Leatherneck.For more information concerning Task Force Leatherneck operations, contact Major Bradley Gordon, Task Force Leatherneck public affairs officer at bradley.gordon@ afg.usmc.mil.
An AUP patrolman and Marines patrol through a creek adjacent to the Helmand River. Patrols sometimes must ford through water during ops in the area.
Ohio Reserve Marines Support Combat Operations in Helmand
FOB NOLAY -- Many of the familiar trappings of life are half a world away from the small base nestled atop a hill on the outskirts of the Sangin Valley, but a handful of the Buckeye State’s own, who are based, here have found echoes of home in each other. Ohio natives Keeton, Bolander, Kaethow and Roos are Marine Corps reservists, who've spent the last 3 months shoulder-to-shoulder supporting combat ops in Helmand prov.The rush of war has drawn the quartet closer, but other familiarities existed among them long before their boots touched down in Afghanistan. Their parent unit, with which they perform their monthly drills together, is MP Co Charlie, based in Dayton, Ohio. “It’s great being out here with these guys,” said LCpl. Adam Roos, a married father of one daughter. “To be able to talk about home and our families, and get to know the guys you drill with back home is nice. It makes us that much tighter,” he said.Cpls. Ryan Kaethow and Joshua Keeton are also married with children. “We’d spend time together on drill weekends, and our wives still talk now that we're gone,” said Kaethow, who drives the lead truck for his platoon’s security team within the company. “There’s a closeness.”This closeness is, in part, rooted in another combat zone. The men chewed some of the same dirt during a deployment in support of OIF, when they were activated in 2009. They returned home in January 2010. A year ago, each of them was nearly settled back into their respective post-deployment lives as college students, restaurant mgrs., and tree trimmers, when the opportunity for active service came knocking once again. Though they had been home for barely a year, all 3 men, along with security team leader Sgt. Thomas Bolander, volunteered to head to Afghanistan. The Marines are currently tasked with daily missions, escorting resupply convoys throughout their AO. On occasion, they complete multiple trips in one day. The pace is a grueling one, but in the end, they all agree that their time and effort, factor into a greater purpose. “It’s all about support,” said Kaethow, as he explained how critical it is to ensure the riflemen have what they need to continue the fight. “We fuel their ops.”The 4, along with the rest of CLB-6, still have a few months to go before they head back stateside. Though the busy schedule before them occupies nearly every minute of every waking hour, Ohio is never far from their minds. "I just miss being at home with my family, friends, and my dog," said Bolander. Kaethow’s daughter, now 2-years-old, was born while he was in Iraq. He looks forward to spending time with her and his wife. “We keep up in e-mails and pictures, but I’ve missed a lot of developments,” he said. “I just want to watch her grow up.”The unit is currently fighting its way through the Upper Sangin Valley of Northern Helmand prov. “It’s an honor to be part of CLB-6, and to do our part to support 1/6,” said Bolander. Kelley, who serves as a vehicle cmdr. and navigator, added, “By the time we left Iraq, things were winding down, but here it’s fast paced … a lot more activity. It’s great to be a part of something so big. I’m proud to hit both wars of my generation.”
Cpl. Joshua Kelley serves as a vehicle cmdr. and navigator
Sgt. Thomas Bolander is a security team leader.
Cpl. Ryan Kaethow drives the lead truck for his platoon’s security team.
LCpl. Adam Roos serves as a machine gunner.
PRT Physician’s Assistant Treats Patients at COP Herrera
PAKTYA PROVINCE -- Trauma is an unfortunate reality of war, but military medical teams provide care to service members and the local population, increasing their chances to return home safely to their loved ones. “I worked with the medics on COP Herrera during training for this deployment, then again when I was on another mission,” McGarvey said. “When I heard they were going to be without a physician's asst., I saw an opportunity to help out and fill in the vacancy.”Herrera is one of the leading COPs in Paktya prov., for treating trauma cases. Since July, the medical team has treated 25 life-threatening traumas, countless burns, and several broken bones and cuts. “The experience and knowledge that Capt. McGarvey brought has helped us become a better aid station,” said Army Sgt. John Lowe, from Okla., the NCO-in -charge of the 1st Bn, 279th Inf Regt aid station. “He has taught us advanced medical techniques, and how to improve our ops.” During McGarvey’s stay, the team treated their worst burn patient to date, when a 1-year-old boy with severe burns over 50% of his body was brought in for treatment at the clinic. “During that trauma, Capt. McGarvey ensured that we provided the correct medicines, and the proper amounts at the right time,” Lowe said. “With his knowledge and experience we were able to stabilize the patient after 3 hours, so he could be transported to a higher level care facility.”“It was a great opportunity to work with and learn from, this medical team,” McGarvey said. “Their experience and medical knowledge clearly exceeds that of their peers and I’d love to work with them again.”
KUNDUZ PROVINCE -- In Aliabad district, a combined Afghan and coalition SecFor detained 2 suspected insurgents, during an op in search of a Taliban leader, yesterday. The leader coordinates attacks with other insurgent leaders in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
HELMAND PROVINCE -- A combined Afghan and coalition SecFor detained multiple suspected insurgents, during an op in search of a Taliban leader in Marjah district, yesterday. The leader distributes and directs the placement of various victim-initiated IEDs. While securing the building, a female child was wounded. The SecFor provided initial treatment at the scene, and then transported the child to a coalition medical facility for further care.
KHOST PROVINCE — A combined Afghan and coalition SecFor captured a Haqqani network leader in Sabari district, Oct. 25. The leader distributed roadside bombs and coordinated attacks against Afghan forces in the area. Multiple suspected insurgent were also detained.
----- In Sperah district, a combined Afghan and coalition SecFor detained a suspected insurgent, during an op in search of a Haqqani network leader, yesterday. The leader places roadside bombs and plans small arms attacks in the Sperah district center.
WARDAK PROVINCE -- A combined Afghan and coalition SecFor captured a Taliban leader during a security op in Sayyidabad district, yesterday. The leader is responsible for the movement of fighters and abductions of Afghan govt officials. Two additional suspected insurgents were detained.
Superchargers Working to Score A+
Courtesy Story and photo by 4th Sust. Brigade
AL ASAD AIR BASE – Capt. Mark Williams and Pfc. Rashaad McMannen, an info systems specialist with the 189th CSSB, seized an opportunity to expand their knowledge, and attended a civilian industry A+ certification prep class at Baghdad Signal University. Soldiers need to be proficient in a myriad of different tasks that enable them to perform their duties in support of the mission, especially when deployed to a combat zone.Along with being proficient at basic soldiering skills, a specialized group of Soldiers within the 189th CSSB also provide automations and network support to the bn., and its supported units. These signal Soldiers have already received the highest quality of industry training from the Army School of Info Technology (IT) for their Military Occupational Specialty training. But, as the IT field continues to grow and change, so must a Soldier’s skill set.“CompTIA is one of the main certification authorities for IT professionals,” Williams said. “They're commonly known as the voice of the world's IT industry. As a non-profit trade assn., advancing the global interests of IT professionals and companies, they focus on 4 main areas: education, certification, advocacy and philanthropy.” The class that Williams and McMannen attended concentrated on preparing them to take and pass the CompTIA A+ certification exam upon redeployment. This certification is coveted, because it provides the credentials to expand administrative rights and capabilities, which normally lead to expanding careers. CompTIA A+ certification validates foundation-level knowledge and skills necessary for a career in personal computer support. Two exams are necessary to be certified: the CompTIA A+ Essentials and CompTIA A+ Practical Application tests.“While working in the IT field, it’s important to demonstrate your knowledge of how computers work, and how to troubleshoot problems,” McMannen said. “The A+ certification prep course gave me a better foundation for understanding how computers work. The class provided a good starting point for achieving my certification.”Williams has a background in general mgt., and sought the opportunity to attend the class in order to broaden his knowledge about the way computer systems operate. “I had minimal computer experience before joining the Army and becoming a signal officer.” Williams said. “The A+ class further helped me understand how a computer is put together, and how the different components work with one another, transforming what looks like just a box into a tool that has come to mean so much to our society.” Once soldiers obtain the CompTIA A+ certification, they'll be industry-certified with the credentials to access various types of computer hardware and software, and to hold positions in various types of orgs., as systems administrators.
"This A+ certification is seen as a spring board to other, more specialized certifications that could further enhance their careers and marketability," Williams said.