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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Pensacola native gives up spatula, earns combat award

Staff Sgt. Christopher Blackwell, native of Pensacola , Fla. , a member of the Command Security Detachment, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Task Force Lightning, stands in front of his containerized housing unit on Forward Operating Base Warhorse. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Paul J. Harris, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office, Sept. 24, 2006)

September 27, 2006
SR# 092606-150

by Pfc. Paul J. Harris
3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office

BAQUBAH, Iraq (September 27, 2006) -- Iraq has sand but not the type Staff Sgt. Christopher Blackwell, cook, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Task Force Lightning, was used to growing up in Pensacola, Fla.

His time spent hanging out at the beach are some of the fondest memories he has of his hometown and Iraqi sand is a far cry from what he remembers.

Blackwell left his hometown to join the Army to pursue one of his other passions: cooking. He cooked for his fellow Soldiers in Operation Iraqi Freedom I when he was with 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment and thought he was going to be cooking again when his unit from Fort Carson, Colo., was getting ready to deploy in 2005.

For this tour he was selected to be apart of the Striker Brigade’s command security detachment, responsible for protecting and mobilizing Col. Brian Jones, commander, 3rd HBCT.

“It was a pretty easy transition because being a cook with 1-8 we used to train out of our military occupational specialty,” Blackwell said.

The training he received would soon be put to the test upon his return to Iraq. On a recent dismounted patrol in downtown Baqubah with elements from 5th Iraqi Army Division and 1-68 Combined Arms Battalion, 3rd HBCT, Blackwell and his fellow Soldiers came under small arms fire from insurgents.
With adrenalin pumping and his heart racing Blackwell maneuvered to a rooftop to return fire and provide protection for Jones. For Blackwell, this was a new experience because in OIF I he had only received indirect fire such as mortars and rockets from the enemy.

As the result of Blackwell’s and his fellow teammates performance Jones recommended they receive the Combat Action Badge for actions on contact with the enemy.

Though the events of the day were scary they were not the most frightening experience Blackwell has encountered during his recent deployment. While patrolling in a Humvee, the vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb.

“I was in shock,” Blackwell said. “It took a good 10 to 15 seconds to figure out what just happened. We immediately hit the gas and tried to go out of the kill zone and the fire suppression system was going off making it hard to breathe and see.”

Blackwell and the rest of the Humvee crewmembers survived the explosion with barely a physical scratch and some shaken nerves.

“In my opinion the upgraded armor saved some lives in that truck,” he said.

With his second deployment ready to come to a close, Blackwell has seen changes since his first deployment. Some of those changes are good like the upgrades in armor and the improvement in the Iraqi police and Iraqi Army and some bad like the increase in sectarian violence.

As a result he is looking forward to returning to his wife Michelle and three children in Fort Carson and doing a little cooking southern style.

“Seafood Jumbo is my specialty,” the Pensacola native said with a grin.

Staff Sgt. Christopher Blackwell, native of Pensacola , Fla. , a member of the Command Security Detachment, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Task Force Lightning, listens to a Soldier from 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, explain the area around the jail in downtown Baqubah, Iraq. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Paul J. Harris, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs Office, Dec. 27, 2005)

Terrorist Bomb Expert Captured in Afghanistan; 10 Taliban Rebels Killed

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27, 2006 – Afghan and coalition forces captured a known makeshift bomb expert and terrorist cell leader today during an operation south of Asadabad, U.S. military officials reported.

The terrorist was the leader of a cell that planned bomb attacks against Afghan and coalition forces in the Konar region. He was also responsible for placing bombs in various locations in the Pech Valley region.

Intelligence indicated that the terrorist was planning to attack coalition and Afghan security forces in the immediate future, officials said.

“This improvised explosive device builder posed an imminent threat to the safety of not only coalition and Afghan forces, but to the local population,” said Air Force Lt. Col. John Paradis, a coalition spokesman. “This is a positive development in that a key terrorist facilitator has been detained, his actions thwarted and his future plans disrupted. Today’s operation sends a strong message to the extremists. We will continue to pursue these enemies of Afghanistan.”

The operation ended without incident, and no injuries were reported, officials said.

Elsewhere in Afghanistan, coalition forces killed 10 Taliban rebels in Paktika province while conducting offensive operations during Operation Mountain Fury on Sept. 25.

Coalition forces spotted 15 extremists operating in the Sharan district and engaged with ground forces and attack helicopters. Five of the extremists broke contact and fled.

“Operation Mountain Fury continues to pressure the enemy to eliminate their ability to coerce and intimidate the Afghan people,” said Army Lt. Col. Paul Fitzpatrick, a coalition spokesman. “We will continue to take the fight to the enemy and destroy them, if necessary, to ensure security here in Paktika and elsewhere.”

In a separate incident in Khost province, a suicide bomber apparently wearing an explosive vest attacked an Afghan National Army vehicle patrol near their encampment. A U.S. soldier received minor injuries, and two vehicles were damaged. The suicide bomber died in the attack.

In other news from Afghanistan, Kapisa province governor, Abdul Satar Murad, will hold a groundbreaking ceremony for a major road project Sept. 28. The ceremony is in support of the first phase of the recent $3 million road contract provided by the Bagram provincial reconstruction team. The road, when completed, will extend 62 kilometers in length and connect all districts of Kapisa province and make Kapisa the only province in Afghanistan with roads connecting all districts with Kabul.

"This will be the first time that people will be able to travel to all the districts across the province, bringing commerce, security and stability to the region," said Army Maj. Donald Johnson, director of civil-military operations for the Bagram PRT. "Our goal is to aid in making them more self-sufficient and a future partner in the international arena."

Finally, about 70 Afghan and American leaders and experts from around Afghanistan are attending the first national field artillery conference at Kabul Military Training Center this week. The conference is modeled on similar U.S. conferences to facilitate discussion and help units operate using standard procedures.

The culmination event of the conference is a live-fire exercise conducted by the Afghan National Army tomorrow. They will fire Russian Howitzers, large artillery guns and mortars. The live-fire exercise is meant to demonstrate “what right looks like,” officials said.

Compiled from Combined Forces Command Afghanistan news releases.)

Related Site:
Combined Forces Command Afghanistan

Pacific Ocean (Sept. 26, 2006) – Maj. James Erwin assigned to the "Death Rattlers" of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron Three Two Three (VMFA-323) stands by his aircraft prior to flight operations aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). Stennis and embarked Carrier Air Wing Nine (CVW-9) are conducting Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX). U.S Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Johnnie Robbins

British Forces Kill Escaped al-Qaida Terrorist

By Multi-National Force-Iraq

BAGHDAD, Sept. 27, 2006 — British forces in Iraq say they have killed a leading al-Qaida terrorist who escaped from a U.S. prison in Afghanistan last year.

UK military spokesman Maj. Charlie Burbridge said al-Farouq, whom he called a "very, very significant man," had been tracked across Iraq to the southern city of Basra, according to a report by the BBC.

Burbridge said about 200 troops surrounded a home in the city after careful surveillance. Al-Farouq was killed after a gun battle erupted.

The spokesman said there was apparently no one else in the building and there were no further casualties.

The BBC noted al-Farouq was born to Iraqi parents in Kuwait in 1971, and is believed to have joined al-Qaida in the early 1990s, training in Afghanistan.

The report said he became one of Osama bin Laden's top lieutenants in south-east Asia and is believed to have been planning bomb attacks on US embassies there when he was arrested in 2002.

According to a report in the Guardian, a police officer in Basra said al-Farouq entered Iraq three months ago under the name Mahmoud Ahmed and was known to be a bomb-making expert.

"We had information that a terrorist of considerable significance was hiding in Basra. As a result of that information we conducted an operation in an attempt to arrest him," Burbridge said, according to the Guardian.

"During the attempted arrest, Omar Farouq was killed, which is regrettable because we wanted to arrest him."

SCHOOL VISIT — A U.S. soldier gives a soccer ball to a child in the Shaab district of Baghdad, Iraq, Sept. 24, 2006. U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class David Hoffman

In Today's News - Thursday, September 28, 2006

Quote of the Day
"I say to you: that we are in a battle,
and that more than half of this battle
is taking place in the battlefield of the media..."
-- Ayman al-Zawahiri

News of Note
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Iraqi Police Find 40 Tortured Bodies
Quarter million Iraqis flee sectarian violence
Poll: Iraqis back attacks on U.S. troops
Heralded Iraq Police Academy a Disaster

Operation Enduring Freedom
NATO takeover - Video
Germany urges Afghanistan strategy shift
NATO must speed up deployment: UK
Militant attacks up in Afghan border area

Homeland Security / War on Terror
Musharraf, Karzai Avoid Hand Shake
Bush urges key allies to cooperate
Senate Likely to OK Detainee Interrogation Bill

Troops on Trial
Oregon woman faces Army AWOL charges

Other Military News
GOP Blocks Defense, Homeland Bills
Overhauled Eisenhower Prepares for Deployment

Mid-East Ceasefire / Israel at War
Olmert hopes to meet Abbas in coming day

Worldwide Wackos
Iran and EU Resume Nuclear Talks in Germany
Diplomacy on Iran
US to Wait a Few Weeks on Iran Move
Iran, EU fail to reach a deal in Berlin

Homegrown Moonbats
Carter: US in More Danger of Terrorism

Politics / Government
FOX News Chief: Clinton Had 'Wild Overreaction'
Giuliani defends Clinton on anti-terror
Bush approval rating rises
HP scandal takes center stage at House hearing
Twin Cities to host 2008 GOP convention

In the Courts
New U.S. top court term has abortion, race cases

U.N. News
U.N. front-runner denies he's too weak

Media in the Media
Photographer's Detention Cited in Debate

Mother Nature
6.7 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Near Samoa
Sprawling Calif. Wildfires Draw Closer to Homes
Ninth Tropical Depression of 2006 forms
Firefighters in Calif. brace for winds

Cops: Teen Got 3-Year-Old Sister Drunk
New York trans fat ban: Life-saver or Orwellian?
Law student thief caught in getaway cab
Here comes the bride ... and her new baby
Chinese miffed by lewd Japanese computer game
Finger length linked to female sporting potential
Maggie the sea lion paints for fish

Other News of Note
Colorado School Closes After Deadly Standoff
Police investigate possible sex abuse by shooter
Students, Parents Spend Anxious Hours During Siege
Student details Colo. school shooting
Colorado school a scene of fear
Mars rover reaches rim of deep crater

Fox News
Third Bag of Tainted Spinach Linked to Calif. Plant
Chicago Girl in Coma After Dental Visit Dies
Stocks to Watch: Hewlett-Packard and Accenture
Most of No Child Left Behind Lawsuit Dismissed

Reuters: Top News
Zambia challenger praises Mugabe as polls open
Hungary govt set to survive local election losses
Two-thirds of Japanese support new PM Abe: polls - Video
Nepal rebels slam government as peace talks delayed
Microsoft unveils Xbox HD-DVD price, games partner
Hospital emergency rooms overcrowded: report
Supermodel Campbell threatened with arrest in NY
Sheen set to become highest-paid sitcom star
NVIDIA shares fall after downgrade
UK's Royal & Sun offloads U.S. unit, shares up
Oil steadies near $63 after surge - Video
Gold regains $600 on firm oil prices
Stock futures rise; Dow record eyed - Video
Reuters Summits: Venture Capital
Private equity hungry for tech
Video: Firms looking to Eastern Europe
Comment: Oil bears and bulls
Ideas & Screening: Rush Enterprises
Ford Europe on track for 2006 profit: exec
MySpace may be worth $15 billion
Renault, GM seek to bridge differences: Ghosn
Fed sees inflation easing, Lacker unconvinced
GM says may boost exports from Europe

AP World News
HP general counsel Ann Baskins resigns
Pathologist: Drug combo killed Smith son
Pujols' homer stops St. Louis skid
Owens says he didn't attempt suicide
Ancient pet cemeteries found in Peru
FCC to study ads, kids' weight for link
Maglev trains offer high speed, big cost
Lawyers seek to dismiss Karr porn case
Obituaries in the news
3rd Gotti Jr. trial ends in mistrial
Writer behind JT LeRoy comes clean
Inmate in landmark case charged again
Marine Corps Searches for Fastest Units
In Tribal Pakistan, an Uneasy Quiet

CENTCOM: News Releases




Newsmaker Profile: Col. Eugene V. "Gene" Bonventre - podcast
Command working to meet the warfighter's needs with focused efforts - podcast
Command seeking information from industry on access management

Department of Defense
National Intelligence Estimate on Terrorism Threat Released - Story
For Top News Visit DefenseLink

Weapons Cache Found Near Kathamayan Mosque - Story
Deployed 'Doc' Mends Bodies and Minds in Iraq - Story
MP Brigade Takes Charge of Detainee Operations - Story

Troopers Have New Mission in Southern Iraq
Caldwell: Iraq's Transformation is Subtle
Soldiers, Marines Help Upgrade Iraqi Police Station
Giambastiani Focuses on IEDs in Afghanistan

Harriers Complete Combat Runs in Afghanistan
Coalition Routs Taliban, Extremists in Ghazni
10th Mountain Division Soldiers Thwart Extremists

Renewal In Iraq
Iraq: Security, Stability
Fact Sheet: Progress and Work Ahead
Report: Strategy for Victory in Iraq
Iraq Daily Update
This Week in Iraq
Multinational Force Iraq
State Dept. Weekly Iraq Report (PDF)
'Boots on the Ground' Audio Archive
Weekly Reconstruction Report (PDF)
Iraq Reconstruction

Afghanistan Update

Fact Sheet: Budget Request
Fact Sheet: War on Terror
Fact Sheet: Terror Plots Disrupted
Waging and Winning the War on Terror
Terrorism Timeline
Terrorism Knowledge Base

Officials Identify Casualties - Story

Al Azamiyah Al Basrah Al Hillah Al Karkh Al Kazimiyah Al Kut
An Nasiriyah Baghdad Baqubah Mosul Najaf Nineveh Tall Kayf

Bost/Laskar Ghurian Herat Kabul


National Hurricane Center

Today in History
1066 - William the Conqueror lands in England.
1542 - Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo discovers California.
1781 - The Siege of Yorktown, the last battle of the Revolutionary War, begins.
1787 - Congress sends the Constitution to state legislatures for their approval.
1850 - Flogging is abolished in the U.S. Navy and on merchant vessels.
1906 - U.S. troops reoccupy Cuba, staying until 1909.
1912 - The Kiche Maru sinks off Japan, killing 1,000.
1914 - German forces move into Antwerp, Belgium.
1922 - Mussolini marches on Rome.
1924 - Two U.S. Army planes end their around-the-world flight where they began - in Seattle - after 57 stops.
1928 - Juan de la Cierva makes the first helicopter flight over the English Channel.
1937 - In Oregon, FDR dedicates the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River.
1939 - A Soviet-German treaty settles on the 4th partition of Poland, and gives Lithuania to the U.S.S.R.
1944 - At the Battle of Arnhem, in the Netherlands, the Germans defeat the British airborne.
1958 - Guinea votes for independence from France.
1959 - The Explorer VI reveals an intense radiation belt around the Earth.
1961 - Syria withdraws from the United Arab Republic; USN Commander Forrest S. Petersen takes the X-15 to 30,720 m.
1965 - Jack McKay in reaches 90 km in the X-15; Lava flows kill at least 350 in the Phillipines.
1967 - Walter Washington is elected as the first mayor of Washington, DC.
1972 - Japan & and Communist China agree to re-establish diplomatic relations.
1978 - The Israeli Knesset endorses the Camp David accord.
1982 - The first reports appear of death from cyanide-laced Tylenol capsules; NASA launches Intelsat-V.
1985 - NASA launches Intelsat-VA.
1990 - Marvin Gaye gets a star on Hollywood's walk of fame.

551 BC - Confucius (as celebrated in Taiwan)
106 BC - Pompey (Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus), Roman warrior
1852 - Henri Moissan, French chemist, isolated fluorine, Nobel Prize winner (1906)
1856 - Edward Thompson, U.S. archeologist who explored Mayan ruins
1880 - Ralph Edward Flanders, (Sen-VT)
1901 - William S. Paley, CBS founder / chairman
1902 - Ed Sullivan, TV variety show host/gossip columnist (Ed Sullivan Show)
1933 - Madeleine M. Kunin (Gov-VT), first Jewish governor of Vermont
1934 - Brigitte Bardot, French-born starlet (And God Created Women)
1940 - Alexander S. Ivanchenkov, cosmonaut (Soyuz 29, T-6)
1948 - Phil Hartman, comedian (SNL)

1833 - Lemuel Haynes, Revolutionary War veteran
1953 - Edwin P. Hubble, astronomer / designer of telescopes
1957 - Albert Ascoli, Italian developer of anti-tuberculosis vaccine
1964 - Harpo Marx, comedian (Marx Bros)
1970 - Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser (replaced by Anwar Sadat)
1978 - Pope John Paul I, found dead after only 33 days as Pope
1989 - Ferdinand Marcos, deposed president of the Phillipines
1991 - Miles Davis, jazz musician

Reported Missing in Action
Garwood, Robert R., USMC (IN); released March, 1979 - subsequent court-martial for collaboration and assault of a fellow POW

Brasher, Jimmy M., US Army (TX); OV1B shot down (pilot, w/Pittman); KIA, body not recovered

Pittman, Robert E., US Army (FL); OV1B shot down (observer, w/Brasher); KIA, body not recovered

Taylor, Danny G., US Army SF (MO); KIA, body not recovered

Graham, Gilbert J., USNR (CA); PBR 100 hit by rocket fire (forward gunner), KIA, body not recovered

Musetti, Joseph T., Jr., USN (ME); PBR 100 hit by rocket fire (boat captain), KIA, body not recovered

Dixon, David L., USN (OR); Killed in fire on LCM 006, body not recovered

Halpin, David P., USN (NY); Killed in fire on LCM 006, body not recovered