FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dec. 25, 2006
Santa Delivers to Baqubah
By Maj. Raul E. Marquez
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs
BAQUBAH, Iraq -- Today began like every other day; Soldiers woke up, took care of their personal hygiene, conducted their shift change brief, and went to eat breakfast or began working.
But this was no ordinary day, and the Soldiers from 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, assigned to Task Force Blue at the Governance Center in Baqubah, Iraq, knew that. Today is Christmas, and by the looks of it, Santa did not get shot on his way to the GC!
“We got presents from family, friends, and new friends now,” said Capt. Jason K. Lindegren, supply officer for Task Force Blue, and a native of Alvada, Colo. “I also got a little Soldier figurine that will go with me in every mission from my children; I got gloves that are fire retardant that I can wear on missions; I even got a little Soldier ducky from my in-laws.”
Capt. John Baumann, assistant operations officer for Task Force Blue, a native of Valparaiso, Indiana, and Lindegren’s roommate, said his family sent him sheets for his bed, and his aunt and uncle from Guam sent him gifts and snacks.
Lindegren and Baumann were not the exception this Christmas at the GC. Every Soldier assigned to the GC received a care package sent through an organization called Soldiers Angels, by the Redwood, Calif., Civil Air Patrol, and delivered earlier this morning by Sgt 1st Class David D. McDaniels, Task Force Blue first sergeant, and a native of Spokane, Wash.
McDaniels spread Christmas cheer not only to the Soldiers at the GC, but also to the Iraqi Army Soldiers and Police officers working at the numerous checkpoints guarding the GC.
He said he delivered some thermoses with tea to the IA and IP officers who have been roughing it up to keep the GC safe.
McDaniels, whose family is currently spending Christmas in Disney, Fla., said that under the circumstances, this is the place he would rather spend such an important day -- with his Task Force Blue family.
According to McDaniels, this Christmas is different than his prior deployments because he is assigned to a small compound with such a small amount of personnel rather than a larger base.
He said being here has also allowed him to get closer to every Soldier, since they have to do everything themselves, even during Christmas, unlike on a big Forward Operating Base, where the Morale Welfare and Recreation personnel take care of all the days activities.
“As the Task Force first sergeant, it is my job to try to make this day a special date for the Soldiers,” he said. “To make sure they are not messed with, that they are allowed to do what they want to do. If they want to come and play volley ball, they can do it — they don’t have to though.”
As part of today’s festivities, the dining facility prepared a feast for the Soldiers here; there was turkey, roast beef, glazed ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing — all the food and fixings the Soldiers are accustomed to eating at home, but this time served by the officers and NCOs of Task Force Blue.
Additionally, the movie “A Christmas Story,” was playing throughout the meal.
“It was really good to have the leadership working together to serve and make this a special day for the Soldiers,” said Sgt. Alvin Ponce de Leon, supply sergeant for Task Force Blue, and a native of Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico. “It’s not like the type of Christmas I usually celebrate at home with my wife and kids, but it is still a good Christmas.”
Ponce de Leon’s Christmas presents from his parents and his wife included typical “Puerto Rican” products, candy, and good coffee.
As expressed by most of the Soldiers assigned to the Governance Center – while it wasn’t Christmas at home, this was a good Christmas with their Army family.
*****************************1st Sgt. Walter Sims, Troop C, 6-9 Armored Reconnaissance Squadron, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division first sergeant, poses in a Santa hat he received in the mail, while two other Soldiers open presents in the background. With Christmas closing in, the packages have produced more Christmas lights, trees, and Santa hats than the troop knows what to do with. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Timothy Lawrence, 6-9 Armored Reconnaissance Squadron, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dec. 22, 2006
By 1st Lt. Patrick Stallings
6-9 Armored Reconnaissance Squadron, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division
Holiday Cheer Warms ‘Cold Steel’
MUQDADIYAH, Iraq (Dec. 22, 2006) -- On an early Friday morning, Pfc. Jesse Gonzalez prepared his truck at Forward Operating Base Normandy to go out on patrol, and even though he was about to spend the next several hours in harm’s way, he couldn’t help but smile before he left.
“Fridays and Mondays are the best,” said Gonzalez, Troop C, 6-9 Armored Reconnaissance Squadron, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division.
“We get back from patrol and get to dig through the packages that friends and family send, read the letters they write and share a few laughs about the patrol,” said Gonzalez, a Beaverdam, Wis. native.
“It’s amazing what mail can do for a Soldier,” said 1st Sgt. Walter Sims, who is responsible for the well-being and morale of the Troop C “Cold Steel” Soldiers. “When you come back from a tough mission, it can just turn your day around to find a package with your name on it.”
The Army mail network manages to push an enormous amount of care and concern packages every week. Soldiers receive care packages and letters from friends, family, and even strangers who want to support them.
“The news from home can be tough sometimes,” said 1st Lt. Timothy Lawrence, the Cold Steel executive officer.
“Whenever (my wife) writes me, I feel how worried she really is about every one of us over here, but it’s really important to hold the same piece of paper in my hand that she wrote on,” said Lawrence, a native of Walterville, Md. “It brings a piece of her over here to me.”
Spc. Zachary Kramer, native to Watertown, Wis., said, “I’ve received a few letters and packages from home, but I’ve also been surprised by the generosity of programs such as Operation Interdependence, Operation Support our Troops, and others. They showed me how much the people back home are concerned about us.”
When Troop C received authority over their sector in October, one of the first things they realized was the need for school supplies for the children in the area.
Capt. Kevin Bradley, commander of Cold Steel, posted a message requesting school supplies on the Family Readiness Group Web site.
“The response from our families was immediate; we couldn’t believe how many notebooks, pens, pencils, and other school supplies we received,” said Bradley, a native of Straferd, NJ.
“We couldn’t give the supplies away fast enough to the children in our area of operations,” he said.
The smiles of the children in Diyala showed how significant receiving these supplies really was. Families and friends of Cold Steel showed concerned they were about the troop’s mission.
Recently, the packages have contained more merriment than ever. With Christmas closing in, the packages have produced more Christmas lights, trees, and Santa hats than the troop knows what to do with.Soldiers from the 6-9 Armored Reconnaissance Squadron, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division show off the mail they received at Forward Operating Base Normandy. “It’s amazing what mail can do for a Soldier,” said 1st Sgt. Walter Sims, who is responsible for the well-being and morale of the Troop C “Cold Steel” Soldiers. “When you come back from a tough mission, it can just turn your day around to find a package with your name on it.” (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Timothy Lawrence, 6-9 Armored Reconnaissance Squadron, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division)
It’s almost impossible to look anywhere in the “Steel Palace”, the Troop C command post, and not see some hint of the holidays.
1st Lt. Anthony Von Plinsky, from Columbia, SC, said, “It really adds something to being over here. Even though we can’t be with our families, we’ve got each other and we’re making some memories together.”
“We all wish we could be together with our loved ones, but we have a different kind of family while we’re over here, and we make the best of what we’ve got, every day,” he said.
As the Soldiers of Cold Steel get ready to celebrate the holidays, they send their heartfelt thanks to everyone who has played a part in making this holiday season as close to home as possible.An Iraqi boy holds up a notebook he received from Soldiers of the 6-9 Armored Reconnaissance Squadron, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. After realizing the need for school supplies in the local area, the Soldiers’ families sent supplies to be delivered throughout the Diyala province’s schools. (U.S. Army photo by 1st Lt. Timothy Lawrence, 6-9 Armored Reconnaissance Squadron, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division)