Saturday, March 22, 2008
Now that we have ceased combat operations and turned over our battle space to incoming units, we are gathered together here at Camp Ramadi. Over the past 15 months, we have been spread out--so the nearly 900 Soldiers of our battalion is something we haven't witnessed since before we left Fort Stewart back in the winter of 2006. Now that everyone's returned from their respective areas of operation, it's a little over whelming to see everyone together in one place. As companies began sending their Soldiers in, we had a battalion formation with just over half of our Soldiers present. The Commander addressed a few issues relating to the turning in of vehicles and equipment. I am including a few pictures here of that early evening formation--as the sun was descending into the dusty horizon. To be sure, every Soldier dreads formations--especially if they are long. That being said, there is still an element of pride to experiencing what it means to be a part of something much larger than yourself. Hardship, boredom, and even grief can be forgotten in the moment a unit sounds off with it's motto: ours is "Speed and Power!"
Another aspect of our imminent return is award ceremonies. Soldiers and leaders receive medals for their combat service and valorous acts. We had a good handful of young men receive the Bronze Star and Army Commendation Medals with Valor. SFC Rodriguez was awarded the Silver Star. Several received the Purple Heart and Combat Infantry and Combat Action Badges. Although it would be great to receive these medals in the company of our families and friends back home--our reintegration training and leave schedule precludes us from making the needed time. LTC Silverman is pictured here presenting the Bronze Star to SSG Saechow and offering our battalion's OIF V coin to SSG Weston and the Soldiers of Charlie Company 2-7 Infantry, who were attached to us the entire deployment.