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Monday, April 23, 2007

Conn. Guard Soldiers Reflect on Year in Afghanistan

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Richard Rafferty jokingly haggles with a local Afghan boy over the price of a pack of biscuits March 26, 2007, in the city of Gardez, Afghanistan. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Matthew Clifton

Events of 9/11 compel Marine to enlist in Army National Guard.

By U.S. Army Sgt. Matthew Clifton
22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

FORWARD OPERATING BASE GARDEZ, Afghanistan, April 23, 2007 — Whether serving on active duty, Army Reserve or Army National Guard, deployments have become all but inevitable for soldiers in the U.S. Army.

"[The enemy] doesn’t care if you’re in the National Guard or if you’re not on a combat mission." -- U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Richard Rafferty
Some troops have seen more years in Iraq or Afghanistan than they have seen at their home station, while some soldiers are going through their first deployment in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Regardless if a soldier is on their first or fourth deployment, war does not discriminate between them.

The soldiers of 1st Battalion, 102nd Infantry Regiment, Connecticut National Guard are weeks away from completing their first tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Alpha Company arrived at Forward Operating Base Gardez April 18, 2006, and was immediately put to work, said Army Sgt. John Julian, team leader, 1st Platoon, Company A.

Although this deployment is Julian’s first, he is no stranger to serving overseas for the military. Having spent eight years in the Marine Corps working with aircraft, Julian has seen duty in Japan, Australia, Alaska and Egypt.

Fort Worth, Texas, however, is one station he remembers above them all. This is where Julian was during the Sept. 11th attacks on the World Trade Center.

“I was pulling an ejection seat out of an F-16 fighter jet when the whole base went on lock down,” he said. “I was so [angry] something like that could happen on our own soil and immediately my thoughts went to my grandfather who enlisted in the infantry after the attack on Pearl Harbor.”

Immediately after the base was locked down, Julian remembers loading the same jet with live ordnance.

Julian tried to change jobs and join the infantry, but the Marine Corps wouldn’t allow him because of how much money they had spent training him to work with aircraft.

“When my service in the Corps was over, I went to the Army to see if they would let me join an infantry unit,” Julian explained. “I was able to join the [Conn. Natl. Guard] and then we came to Afghanistan.”

Julian has no regrets about what he did and plans on re-enlisting in the Marines when he gets back to the U.S.

“I’m happy with what I did here,” he continued. “I served my country for a year and I enjoy life in the military.”

No doubt there were some good times for Julian and his comrades, but those good times were not without some very hard ones.

Alpha Company was attached to a provincial reconstruction team upon arriving at Forward Operating Base Gardez. A PRT’s mission is to facilitate the development of their assigned provinces through projects like the building of roads, schools and medical clinics.

However, the mission of Company A is to provide security for these troops when they go out to conduct reconstruction missions and the enemy could care less why a Soldier is outside the wire.

“[The enemy] doesn’t care if you’re in the National Guard or if you’re not on a combat mission,” said Army Staff Sgt. Richard Rafferty, team leader, 1st Platoon, Company A. “We get attacked just like anyone else does.”

This was most apparent on Nov. 2, 2006, when Rafferty, Julian and their brothers in 1st Platoon were out on a seemingly normal mission.

“We were out by the Pakistan border when we got tasked to take on an additional side mission,” Rafferty said. “We were ambushed with rocket propelled grenades and small arms fire on both sides of the convoy.”

One of the platoon’s two crew serve weapons was disabled along with the Humvee it was attached to. The weapon’s gunner was severely injured along with the driver, Rafferty said.

“We returned fire until [the enemy] broke contact, then we immediately gave aid to the wounded,” he continued. “Luckily no one was fatally injured, and only one of our guys couldn’t come back to duty.”

Thinking back on the multiple attacks Company A has endured while deployed, Rafferty and Julian still keep a positive attitude.

“When you get to see things like schools and orphanages being built it really feels rewarding,” Julian said. “Knowing that the locals are driving out the insurgents and coming to us for help is the main reason we are here.”

Rafferty recollects the lack of any paved roads in their area when Company A. first deployed. Now there are roads spanning much of the province he has helped protect and improve.

First Platoon’s last mission was to provide security for a groundbreaking ceremony in the city of Salam Khail.

Now the only thing standing between them and a completed deployment where every soldier made it home is a convoy to Bagram Airfield to catch a plane out of the country, headed straight for the United States, their families and normal life.

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In Today's News - Monday, April 23, 2007

Quote of the Day

News of Note
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Iraq withdrawal push
U.S. envoy urges Iraq leaders to heal rifts
Baghdad wall sparks confusion, divisions
Video: Protest over Baghdad wall
Iraqi PM Al-Maliki Challenges U.S. Over Baghdad Wall
Iraqi film on war wins rave reviews in Baghdad
Suicide bombings around Iraq kill 46

Operation Enduring Freedom
200 Taliban fighters surrounded

Homeland Security / War on Terror / Hamas-Hezbollah Happenings
Al Qaeda in Iraq Plans 'Large' Attack? VIDEO
Palestinian interior minister may leave post

Fallen Heroes
Blue Angels mourn pilot who crashed

Other Military News
Soldier Raises Flag on Equal Honors
RAW DATA: Full Text of Soldier's Letter
Coast Guard Makes Record Coke Bust - VIDEO
VA Allows Wiccan Symbol on Headstones

Worldwide Wackos
Iran rejects suspension
Ahmadinejad dampens hopes of EU-Iran progress
Iran may be holding ex-FBI agent, U.S. official says

Politics / Government
'Odd Man Out' - Reid: Bush is wrong, Congress will show the way - VIDEO
TRANSCRIPT: Full Text of Sen. Reid's Comments
Boris Yeltsin Dies at 76 - PHOTOS - VIDEO - FAST FACTS
Yeltsin's legacy - Video
Pictures: His life in photos
Key facts about Yeltsin
A reporter remembers - Audio slideshow
A flawed leader
Yeltsin known for gaffes, off-color jokes
Gonzales Vows to Remain Attorney General
U.S. food safety strained by imports
Rep. Millender-McDonald dies of cancer
McGreevey's wife tells all in new book

In the Courts / Crime and Punishment / Law and Order
Texas Cops Search for Gunman After 2 Killed
PHOTOS: Virginia Tech Back to Class - STORY
Sex Offender Not Guilty of 'Dungeon' Rapes
Nurse guilty of dismembering husband
Two killed at Houston apartment complex
Educators: Troubled students common

Adventures in Political Correctness
Hip-hop exec wants curse words removed

U.N. News
New U.S. ambassador to U.N. starts job

Media in the Media / Bloggers in the News / Watching the Web
YouTube: It's Cheaper Than a Shrink VIDEO
Man gets 5,000 calls for YouTube posting
Time Warner customers get Wi-Fi hotspots

Science / Medicine / Technology
China experts identify cancer-preventing gene type
Studies line up on Parkinson's and pesticides link

Mother Nature
Shark Bites Boy, 12, Along Florida Coast
Boy's Remains Found in Crocodile's Stomach
Texans Pick Up After Storms - PHOTOS
Residents located after Texas storm
Web site tracks people's pet peeves

11-Year-Old Stops Sick Mom's Lurching Van
Teachers "purify" students with cow urine
See loins in the fountain...

Other News of Note
School Bus Crash (Woolwich, NJ)
Rwandan denies role in Belgian peacekeeper murders

Fox News
Report: More Tests Show Landis Was Doping
Barclays to Acquire ABN Amro for $91 Billion
It's Still a Man's World on Payday, Study Says
NEWS IN PICTURES: Ancient Chariot
Shot-Put Pioneer Parry O'Brien Dies at 75

Reuters: Top News
Yar'Adua named winner of poll "charade" (Nigeria)
Sarkozy, Royal reach out to centrist voters
Gay marriage evil, abortion terrorism: Vatican
RIM to roll out "virtual BlackBerry" software
"God of War II" tops March U.S. video game chart
Use of private sleuths rising in UK divorces: report
Thai architect crafts construction site furniture
Oil climbs above $67 after Nigeria poll
Cure for Pfizer topic of investor debate
Bausch & Lomb stock jumps on buyout rumor: traders
Indexes fall on oil, mortgage concerns
Hasbro wallops expectations with Spider-Man's help
BarCap to maintain growth pace
Consumer confidence seen lower
Barclays agrees to buy ABN for $91 billion - Video
AstraZeneca to buy MedImmune for $15 billion
Spending boosted by home equity loans: Greenspan
Best Buy to sell HD Radio in all U.S. stores
Bank of America to buy ABN's LaSalle
GM's Lutz says mortgage 'meltdown' hits auto sales

AP World News
Social Security depletion date extended
Letterman to appear on Regis' talk show
Ali shows fancy footwork on 'Dancing'
'The Producers' brings down the curtain
Warriors stun Mavericks in NBA opener
Poll: Is President Bush in Denial?
Blog: Target Practice in Afghanistan
Def Tech: A Step Forward for the JSF
Sarah Smiley Interviews 'The Bachelor'
Web's Best Military Equipment Guide
Opinion: Terror's Lobbyist
The New Warfighter's Forum

CENTCOM: News Releases

Deputy Under Secretary of Defense meets with USJFCOM - podcast
Command seeking market research from industry and academia on integrated, Web-based capability - podcast
Download the requirements for submission Joint Individual Augmentee Training Program goes online - podcast
USJFCOM to co-host 2007 industry symposium - podcast

Bush: Troops Will Give Iraqis 'Breathing Space' - Story
U.S., Russia to Form Group on Missile Defense - Story
Gates in Russia to Discuss Missile Defense - Story
Chairman Pleased with Afghan Training Center - Story
Top Official: Success Ultimately Up to Iraqis - Story
Changes in Anbar, Afghanistan Good Signs - Story

More Headline News
VoTech Grads to Pour Into Iraqi Labor Pool
Gates Expresses Condolences on Death of Yeltsin
Officials Condemn Assassination in Fallujah
New Strategy Focuses on Providing Joint Security

Military News
Blue Angel Jet Crashes at Beaufort Air Show
‘The War Tapes’ Offers Look at Operation Iraqi Freedom
Military Runners Conquer Boston Marathon

War on Terror
Coalition Kills, Detains Terrorists - Story
Taliban Leader Killed in Air Strike
Iraqi Police Stop Suicide Bomber
Afghan, Coalition Forces Kill Two

America Supports You
Wounded Warriors Play Golf - Story
Group Sends Packages to Troops
Gridiron Greats Visit Iraq
Communities Prepare for Walks
Groups’ Monkeys Offer Support

Service Integration Vital to Change
Joint Force Ops Industry Symposium

Face of Defense
Coincidence Connects Friends - Story
Soldier Embraces Iraq Duty
Airman Awarded Bronze Star
Iraqis Appreciate U.S. Military

Defense Secretary in Russia To Discuss Missile Defense - Story

Soldiers Make an Impact on Iraqi Communities - Story
Iraqi Soldiers Get Ready to Lead Combat Patrols - Story
Civil Affairs Teams Enhance Life in Uganda - Story

Baghdad Primary School to Hold 900 Students
Sailors Return from Middle East Deployment
Anaconda's First-ever Chef Competition Sizzles
New Iraqi Military Intelligence Academy Opens
Community Improves, Al Kumait School Reopens
Cargo Teams Move to Improve Customer Service
'Bandido Charlie' Secures Western Iraq
Soldiers Support Iraqis with Help From Home
Seabees Build Modular Protected Billeting

Coalition Forces Train Afghan National Police
Turkey Partners with U.S. in War on Terrorism
Security Team Trains Humanitarian De-miners
First Permanent Customs Building Opens

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
'Boots on the Ground' Audio Archive
Weekly Reconstruction Report (PDF)
Iraq Reconstruction

Afghanistan Update

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

Bost/Laskar Ghurian Herat Kabul Qandahar

Ansbach Aschaffenburg Berlin Berlin-Tempelhof Berlin/Schonefeld Bremerhaven
Darmstadt Frankfurt Frankfurt/Main Freiburg/Breisgau Garmisch
Garmisch-Partenkirchen Geilenkirchen Gelnhausen Giessen Kitzingen
Hanau Am Main Heidelberg Mainz Mannheim Nurnberg Stuttgart Trier
Wiesbaden Wurzburg


Agana Agana Heights Agat Andersen AFB Asan Barrigada

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

Kadena Air Base Okinawa Tokyo Yokohama


Yep, it's Monday

Not sure what was up with the site earlier this morning, but it appears to finally be (somewhat) functional again...I will have posts up later.

Gotta love Mondays.