Friday, November 23, 2007

Alpha Company at Sedgwick

As a result of the success experienced here in Anbar province, our Soldiers' areas of operations have been relocated to more remote sites. Our Alpha company Soldiers who were at Joint Security Sites Warrior and Pathfinder have moved more than an hour away to JSS Sedgwick. It's dusty--although not as bad as Hawas (see last post)--but it's more roomy than their previous home, and they have internet, phones and showers (albeit wooden stalls). The area is quiet, and the nearby lake adds to the effect.

Captain Ralls and First Sergeant Gonzalez each have down-to-earth leadership styles. (CPT Ralls is pictured here in conversation with our commander, LTC Silverman.) Moving areas is something they took in stride, even though their new area of responsibility is extremely large. They share the site with Iraqi soldiers and a team of U.S. Soldiers responsible for training them. SSG Kelly is one of the platoon sergeants in Alpha company. I enjoy his candor when we discuss Soldier issues. Like most of our Soldiers, he has deployed many times. I can sense his focus on next spring, when we all will redeploy to join our families. He's pictured visiting with me in their relatively well-sourced outdoor gym.

SSG Smith, a mechanic attached in support of Alpha company, is a dear friend. I've mentioned him in previous posts because of his guitar playing skills and leadership in worship. (I am including a picture of him entering the container he's rigged to serve as an office/sleeping area. It's on the bed of a transport truck, so it looks like a camper.) Although I provide worship services each week when I visit, he leads his fellow Soldiers in Wednesday night bible studies and worship on Sundays. Nearly all who attended the four-month leadership seminar (May through August) have been assigned to one of our line companies out at the various joint security sites. As I am the only chaplain back here at Camp Blue Diamond, this fortuitous arrangement enables me to provide Sunday services here (and once at each site during the week) but these lay leaders lead Sunday services at their respective locations under my supervision. Each have their different gifts, so it is a joy to see them develop. For purposes of a worship community, we all wish we were together. But our mission being what it is, we were blessed to have the several months together to train and learn together.

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