Dear Interested Reader,
Nov. 11: 'Today we remember.' EOD tech loves his job at COP Talukan. Marines join U.K. partners for Remembrance Day ceremony. CF mark Remembrance Day at New Kabul compound. 'America's Bn.' celebrates 236th Marine Corps birthday.
Iraq: Ironhorse recognizes sacrifices of Soldiers at COS Echo.
Nov. 11: ‘Today We Remember’
NATO Training Mission Afghanistan
A Canadian service member, places a red poppy flower on a wreath in honor of Remembrance Day at Camp Eggers, Kabul. More than 200 military and civilian members, assigned to NATO Training Mission (NTM) - Afghanistan gathered to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the line of duty.
KABUL – Nov. 11 marks a significant point in history honored as Veterans Day in America, and Remembrance Day for the Commonwealth and other European countries. During the ceremony, personnel honored those who lost their lives, with a moment of silence before placing a wreath at the foot of each country involved in World War I. The poem “In Flanders Field,” written by Canadian physician John McRae, was read and illustrated the significance of bravery.
“We don’t remember the bombast or the propaganda, or the neatly marked maps of the generals, or the treaties signed by the diplomats. We remember the heroism of those who served selflessly for others,” said Guest Speaker NTM-A Cmdr. Lt. Gen. Daniel Bolger.
Bolger went on to emphasize the importance of each service member’s decision to serve – both past and present. “This was the first time that I've had the opportunity to stand side-by-side with so many service members from other countries,” said AF Tech. Sgt. Christopher Craig. “I was inspired by the fact that, in the past, we were at war with some of these countries, and now we stand here serving together. It gives me hope for the future. The ceremony also gave me a chance to think about all of those who came before me, especially my grandfather who served in 3 wars.”
On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, the armistice to end World War I was signed. Today, Remembrance and Veterans Day offers a time each year to offer thanks to veterans, and for service members to reflect on their service to the nation.
“To the end, men and some women stood and fought … for king, for country, but mostly for each other. Because, when it comes right down to it, soldiers fight and die for each other - for their mates. That is real courage, and its worthy of remembrance. So today, we remember,” said Bolger.
Coalition service members stand during the Remembrance Day ceremony.
U.S. and coalition service members salute during the Remembrance Day ceremony
Blackanthem Military News
EOD Tech Loves his Job at COP Talukan
Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Lindsey Kibler
Asked to pose for a picture, AF Staff Sgt. Brandon Chism, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) tech with the 466th Air Expeditionary Sqdn, gave a toothy grin. "That smile shows his whole personality. He's a ham," said Chism's team leader, AF Staff Sgt. James "Fitz" Fitzgerald, 466th AES. Chism's team serves under the 1st Stryker BCT, 25th ID, and is responsible for clearing IEDs around COP Talukan, in southern Afghanistan.
COMBAT OUTPOST TALUKAN -- If you ask AF Staff Sgt. Brandon Chism how he likes his job, he'll jokingly tell you "it's a blast!" The Ga., native joined the AF in 2004 as a missile maintainer, but his heart was always in EOD. "I've always wanted to be EOD, but after joining the AF they told me I couldn‟t change my job, because I was already locked into another job. I just had to wait," he explained.
After his initial contract was up in 2009, he was allowed to change jobs and he joined EOD. After a year of technical training at Eglin AF Base in Florida, Chism emerged an EOD tech. "I was ready to do this, but I knew that outside of school there was still a lot I had to learn. I'm a staff sgt., but I lacked the field experience most techs at my rank already had," said Chism.
Soon enough he would get his chance. In late 2011, Chism deployed for the first time and found himself part of a 3-man EOD team with the 466th AES. COP Talukan is located in southern Afghanistan's Kandahar prov., a hotbed for IEDs.
Chism's team has recently started training their counterparts with the Afghan National Civil Order Police (NCOP). "We're working on certifying them, so they have the proficiency to do this on their own without hurting themselves," he explained.
In order to certify them, his team works closely with the ANCOP, providing training at least once a week using a training area on the COP. The area resembles the type of terrain that would be seen on missions, and is laden with mock IEDs. The goal is for the ANCOP EOD techs to walk the area using their tools to detect, mark and disarm all explosives they find. Recently, Chism has begun taking the lead on training the ANCOP. "Every day is a chance to learn," Chism said, "which is essential in such a technical career field."
"The goal is turn all of the training over to Chism, because he has done so great with it," said AF Staff Sgt. James "Fitz" Fitzgerald, EOD team leader. "He's highly motivated and has been an open sleeve for info - he takes everything in, but still asks those 'how' and 'why' questions, which is important for a tech to do."
"It's not as bad as it seems, but I can't wait to get home. As soon as I do, I'm definitely going to have some cheeseburgers. It's all about cheeseburgers," he joked. After months of handling IEDs, he certainly deserves those cheeseburgers.
AF Staff Sgt. Brandon Chism talks with and mentors ANCOP Sgt. Nasrullah Sharif, also an EOD tech, Oct. 23.
Capt. John Oliver (right), cmdr. of Co A, 3rd Bn, 21st Inf Regt, 1st Stryker BCT, 25th ID, places the 25th ID patch on the right shoulder of AF Staff Sgt. Brandon Chism, Oct. 23. The wearing of the "combat patch" is an Army tradition, and awarded to those directly serving in combat with a specific unit. Although the AF doesn't carry this tradition, Oliver said he wanted to present Chism with the patch, because "he's part of the family."
Marines Join UK Partners for Remembrance Day Ceremony
Story and photos by Cpl. Meredith Brown
The memorial at Camp Bastion, Helmand prov., honors British service members killed in action during OEF. A ceremony honoring the U.K. national holiday, Remembrance Day, was held, Nov. 11 honoring all those who have given their lives, during conflicts beginning with World War I.
CAMP BASTION – “This is our annual event to remember all the fallen soldiers, comrades, from the Great World War I all the way up to the recent conflicts,” said WO1 Darren Edkins, Garrison sgt. maj. for Camp Bastion. A 2-minute moment of silence was held in remembrance of the roughly 20 million people who died in World War I, and for those who have died in following conflicts.
Wreaths were also placed at a memorial at the center of the formation, by distinguished guests, including new UK Secretary of State for Defence, the Right Honorable Phillip Hammond. For many of the troops in formation, the setting of the ceremony kept the significance of the occasion fresh.
“Being out here brings it a little more to home, and because only last week we were here in this same spot at a service remembering our fallen comrade who was killed in action last week,” said Edkins. “So, to actually come together again this week, on this day, at this time to do the same, it just makes you think about a lot more, because actually being out here, we're actually remembering people that we ourselves, within our own units right now, that have actually fallen in battle.”
“It's very significant for me because I have thoroughly enjoyed the partnership that I’ve had, especially with the British chaplains here at Bastion," said Capt. Steve Brown, chaplain for RC- SW. “I’m happy to be a part of a ceremony honoring their war dead. It made me proud to be a part of it.”
(From left to right): Right Honorable Phillip Hammond, Secretary of State for Defense, Amb. Simon Gass, NATO Senior Civilian Rep in Afghanistan, Catherine Royle, Charge’ d’Affaires for the British Embassy in Kabul, and top officials from each British branch of service lay wreaths at the base of the memorial.
After a Remembrance Day ceremony, different units in attendance laid wreaths to remember the fallen.
Coalition Forces Mark Remembrance Day at New Kabul Compound
Story and photos by Erika Stetson
Navy Lt. Debra Fredricks, a nurse with the Canadian Health Services Advisory Team at the New Kabul Compound, participates with dozens of U.S., Canadian and Greek troops, gathered for a Canadian-led Remembrance Day ceremony at the facility, Nov. 11.
KABUL – The ceremony is an international observance that honors fallen military members, similar to Veterans Day in the U.S. “This is a solemn day,” said Canadian navy Capt. Rebecca Patterson, the compound’s senior Canadian health services adviser. “It’s a true act of remembrance.”
About 15 Canadians, 20 Americans and a dozen Greek troops participated. They included, along with Patterson; Army Maj. Gen. William Rapp, Deputy Cmdr.-Support for U.S. Forces-Afghanistan; and the org.’s top enlisted official, Command Sgt. Maj. Ronnie Curry.
The ceremony included a minute of silence, a reading from the poem “In Flanders Field,” a wreath laying, and the playing of the Canadian national anthem and the Royal Anthem. Patterson called the event a way to link the sacrifices of the past with present missions and future goals. “We’re willing to sacrifice for freedom because it’s that important,” she said.
Army Maj. Gen. William Rapp and Command Sgt. Maj. Ronnie Curry participate.
Warrant Officer Terry Auld, acting sgt. maj., and Navy Capt. Rebecca Patterson, the team's senior advisor, carry a wreath.
‘America’s Battalion’ celebrates 236th Marine Corps Birthday
Story and photos by Cpl. Reece Lodder
The commanding officers and sgts. maj. of 1st Bn, 3rd Marine Regt, and 3rd Bn, 3rd Marine Regt., serve birthday cake to their Marines and sailors, while celebrating the Marine Corps' 236th birthday, Nov. 10. The bns. celebrated the birthday together, following the recent arrival of "America's Battalion" in Garmsir.
GARMSIR DISTRICT, Helmand province — For the second year in a row, “America’s Battalion” celebrated the Marine Corps birthday in Helmand prov. Within the confines of COPs and PBs, they celebrated their 236th birthday in camouflage utilities. Though their attire was less formal than the iconic dress blue and white uniforms, they wore to an early birthday ball in Waikiki, Hawaii, Oct. 7, honoring their heritage in combat, afforded the battalion perspective for the months ahead.
Lt. Col. Matthew Palma, 3/3’s commanding officer, said the birthday celebration allowed “America’s Battalion” to remember the sacrifices of previous generations of Marines, and realize the commitment now required of them. “We’re ready to take Garmsir to the final step of transition back to ANSF, and to bring Afghanistan one step closer to accepting responsibility for its own security and future,” Palma said.
At the bn. HQ, Sgt. Thomas Settle, Jump Plt sgt., HSC, 3/3, and other Marines were wished a happy birthday with a steak and lobster dinner. They topped off the festivities with a cake cutting ceremony, hosted by 1/3 and attended by both bns. “Celebrating our birthday at the beginning of this deployment is a boost of morale and motivation, before starting our job in Garmsir,” said Settle, 29, from Va. “It’s our turn to make a difference now.”
Settle, the recipient of 2 Purple Hearts, is on his 3rd combat deployment. This deployment is the 3rd for his 5-year-old daughter and the 1st for his 2-year-old son. He said that milestones like the birthday help keep him focused, which is essential for enduring the long separation from his family. Despite the hardship, he stands resolute in the knowledge that his efforts far from home are making a difference.
“When this country is running on its own, we’ll look back and know we contributed to its success,” Settle said. “My kids will come back from school and say, ‘Daddy, I learned about what you did in Afghanistan at school today.’”
Marine Sgt. Maj. Dwight Jones, 1st Bn, 3rd Marine Regt sgt. maj. from Ill., and a formation of Marines and sailors from 1/3 and 3rd Bn, 3rd Marine Regt, watch the Commandant of the Marine Corps’ birthday message, while celebrating the Marine Corps’ 236th birthday.
Ironhorse Recognize Sacrifices of Soldiers
Story by Spc. Bailey Jester
COS ECHO – To some, Nov. 11 is just another day; but, to 24.9 million American veterans and families it holds a much stronger meaning. “We spend today remembering the soldiers through the centuries who have come together to fight for a common cause,” said the command sgt. maj. of the 1st Bn, 82nd FAR, 1st Bde, 1st Cav Div, Command Sgt. Maj. Jim Cabrera. “They’ve defended America when our borders, our people, and our way of life have been threatened.”
“All over the nation today, Americans are gathering together to remember and pay tribute to our veterans,” Cabrera added. “It’s because of men and women like you that we can wake up each morning on free land. Today we honor our veterans.”
Although Ironhorse Soldiers are unable to spend this Veteran’s Day with their families and loved ones, they took the time to honor all veterans, with the ‘family’ they made here. “Today is a special day of remembrance – a day first dedicated to the memory of the loved and lost as Armistice Day in 1919,” began the cmdr. of the Dragon Bn., Lt. Col. Edmond Brown. “So on this special day, while in contact with the enemy on foreign soil in the defense of freedom, we assemble together.”
Soldiers not only go above and beyond the call of duty, but so do families. “Whenever troops have been called to action and deployed in support of a mission, they leave behind their spouses, children, parents and all of their loved ones,” Cabrera continued.
Despite the adversity facing our veterans today, they will always have the support of their nation. “God bless the nation’s veterans all around the world. And God bless the USA – where, because of our soldiers today, and the veteran soldiers of yesterday – we are still: the land of the free…home of the brave,” Cabrera concluded.