07 August 2009

‘The Bullet Magnet’ is back in the fight in Afghanistan

Via Starts and Stripes

LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Staff Sgt. Brandon Camacho was in a "pissing contest" with the enemy. He shot one guy, then another popped up.

He threw a grenade, but it bounced off the man and exploded in a ditch.

As the squad leader then zigzagged through a field, he felt someone tug at his shirt sleeve. Hours later, after the firefight, he’d discover that a bullet had whizzed right through it, narrowly missing his bicep. It tore a hole through his 10th Mountain Division patch and through a pack of cigarettes in his arm pocket, destroying all but one.

"So I pulled it out and had myself a cigarette," Camacho says, holding the patch over his arm. Then he lifts the patch to expose a scar. It’s not from that bullet in April, but from another one a month later, earning the 22-year-old his fourth Purple Heart for wounds in a war he just won’t quit.

Struck by shrapnel during heavy mortar bombardment in Iraq in 2003, Camacho has since been grazed by one bullet, hit in the shoulder with a tracer round and finally, in June, shot in the arm. His men call him "The Bullet Magnet" and joke that since all his injuries have been on his left side, if they just stand to his right, they’ll be fine.

The most Purple Hearts received by one person is eight, according to various sources, but receiving four remains a rare occurrence.

A soldier’s soldier with a penchant for military history, Camacho has risen from private to staff sergeant with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team’s Company B, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, through three deployments and four combat wounds. He’s been shot, mortared, came within seconds of being struck by a rocket-propelled grenade. He’s watched colleagues die.

“He’s the most experienced guy I know,” said Sgt. Daniel Hernandez, 23, of Odessa, Texas, who is in Camacho’s squad. “He can take any bad situation and use it in our favor. If we could fight this war and pick a dream team, I’d pick him.”

Camacho dreams of digging his toes in the sand and sipping a drink by the ocean in his native Saipan, in the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory. And while he toys with the idea of getting out next year, he’s still in awe of the U.S. Army.

“I remember when I was a private. I’d look at my squad leader and think, ‘Look at him. He’s a staff sergeant. No one can touch these guys.’ Now I think, ‘God, I am the same,’ ” he says.

He recites the names of the men who didn’t make it: Maj. Douglas Sloan, the company commander with a great sense of humor they used to call “Lunch Box” because he was always looking for snacks, killed by a bomb in Wygal Valley, Afghanistan, on Oct. 31, 2006; Pfc. Alex Oceguera, who was killed with Sloan in the blast; Sgt. Russell Durgin, who died on June 13, 2006, in Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, when his unit took small-arms fire; and Sgt. Brandon Adams, Camacho’s first roommate at Fort Drum, who taught him how to clean his boots and was killed in Iraq. Adams died of injuries sustained Feb. 16, 2004, when a grenade exploded as he was clearing a house in Fallujah.

“You meet the best people in the world in the Army,” Camacho says.

His first combat wound came in 2003, when his Army base near Fallujah came under mortar fire. Shrapnel was screaming into flesh and lit the tents on fire.

While Camacho was running to the bunker, a shard of burning metal struck just above his left knee, and a rocket hit the structure. He headed for another bunker but fell. Sgt. Ryan Haskins, who is deployed with him again now in Afghanistan, picked him up and pulled him to safety.

It was a singed flesh wound and Camacho was back in his unit two weeks later.

The son of a Saipan-born father and a American-born mother, and grandson of a U.S. Navy World War II veteran, Camacho grew up understanding what it is to be an American in a bigger world. His uncle is a command sergeant major with the 101st Airborne Division.

He was born in Saipan but moved to the States as a teen, joining the Army at 18, straight out of high school. It was shortly after 9/11, and he knew he’d be going to war.

He knows he’s fighting “on the right side of this war,” and takes his responsibility for his men seriously.

His uncle yelled at him for being the guy on point.

“He said I shouldn’t be doing that anymore,” Camacho says.

He smiles.

“They tell me I need to go back to basic training and practice IMT (individual movement technique) a lot more,” he says. “A lot of people say I am unlucky. But I think I am pretty damn lucky.”

He notes wryly that everyone in his platoon who has gotten hit has been in his squad. But even they trust Camacho to lead them through battle.

“The way he trained us back in Drum, I don’t want to be with no one else,” said Spc. Devin Johnson, of Chester, S.C., who was hit with bullet fragments in both legs in May when insurgents fired at the turret of a truck where he was gunning. “If something happens, we know what to do.”

Camacho’s second and third Purple Hearts came during his next deployment in Afghanistan’s northeastern Nuristan province. He had just come off a tough year back home. His father suffered a stroke and his grandfather died.

In July 2006, a bullet grazed his fingers as he pulled himself over a rock while chasing the enemy. He was hit again in April 2007, this time with a tracer round, after their deployment got extended beyond March. Both times, he finished the fight before realizing he was wounded. And both times, he was back to work within weeks.

Finally, in June 2007, Camacho went home, two more Purple Hearts in hand.

When it came time to redeploy this year, Camacho was assigned a recruiting job, which would have kept him out of harm’s way.

But the soldier was having none of it. He was thrilled when a captain intervened to get him back to the front lines.

Last May, Camacho, now a squad leader, and his men were chasing insurgents through tall grass in Afghanistan’s Logar province when a gunman jumped up and sprayed gunfire. Camacho reached back to get a magazine and felt like he’d been hit in the shoulder with a baseball bat. He was bleeding heavily. His arm froze up. But he kept firing until he got too dizzy and stumbled out to mounted units in trucks.

Camacho got his fourth Purple Heart and a two-week leave to go back home.

When he returned in July, the men greeted him warmly.

The next day, 1st Lt. Scott Davis, Camacho’s platoon leader, was talking to villagers at a girls school in the province’s Charkh District when shots rang out. Camacho was already at the forward position, where his men were returning fire from behind an orchard wall.

When the exchange was over, the men slid down behind the wall, smoking cigarettes as the adrenaline subsided.

“Welcome back, Sergeant,” one of the men called to Camacho.

“Right back in the game, huh, Sergeant?” said another.

Then Hernandez chimed in.

“‘The Bullet Magnet’ is back!”

1st Brigade NCO aids local police

Via Fort Drum Mountaineer

Officer Larry Jobson, a part-time police officer for the villages of Brownville, Glen Park and Dexter, thanks Staff Sgt. Peter Conklin, an infantryman assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, for his help in apprehending a suspect who attempted to flee after a routine traffic stop in Brownville. Conklin received recognition from village and Jefferson County officials, as well as his command for his actions. Photo by Staff Sgt. John Queen

Village of Brownville officials honored a 10th Mountain Division (LI) noncommissioned officer July 16 for his quick actions in assisting law enforcement officials when a routine traffic stop went awry and a suspect tried to escape.
Staff Sgt. Peter Conklin, an infantryman assigned to 1st Brigade Combat Team’s 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, was presented a letter of appreciation by the mayor on behalf of the village board and a certificate of recognition from the Jefferson County Board of Legislators.
In addition, Conklin was awarded the Army Commendation Medal by the command of 2-22 Infantry.
The incident happened last May while Conklin and his wife Shanan were driving home after work. Officer Larry Jobson, a part-time police officer for the villages of Brownville, Glen Park and Dexter, had stopped a motorist on Pike Street in Brownville for a minor traffic violation.
While conducting a standard background check, Jobson heard over his radio that the motorist had a suspended license. Jobson then attempted to take the individual into custody.
According to Jobson, the suspect became argumentative and began fighting with him.
“I was able to back off and call for assistance,” Jobson recalled.
As the scene was unfolding, Conklin was turning onto Pike Street.
“When I looked down street, I saw Officer Jobson was having an altercation with a young man (who) was being belligerent – yelling, screaming, pushing him, shoving him,” Conklin explained.
After they had driven past Jobson and the suspect, Conklin told his wife he was going to stop and give the officer a hand.
By the time Conklin was able to turn around and head back, another officer from a nearby village had arrived to assist Jobson.
As he drove past a second time, Conklin saw the two officers with the suspect and everything appeared to be under control.
“Both officers had him on the hood of the car, and the guy had his arms up over the hood,” he said.
Thinking the situation was in hand, Conklin again turned his vehicle around to head home. As he completed the turn, however, the suspect was able to knock both police officers off their feet and was running in Conklin’s direction.
“When we turned around, the guy threw an elbow back into Officer Jobson, sending him to the ground, and then shoved the other officer away and took off running (toward) our vehicle,” Conklin said.
Conklin stopped his car, got out and confronted the suspect. “I said, ‘hey, just stop. You’re caught. You’re not going anywhere.’”
The suspect yelled “get out of my way G.I. Joe” and began shouting obscenities at Conklin and physically threatening him.
“I don’t think so,” the infantryman shot back.
“He tried to throw a blow at me,” Conklin said. “I got behind him and put him in an ‘arm bar’ and held him until the police got there.”
“He was able to hold on to him and maintain control of him until the other officer and I were able to join him,” Jobson added. “The three of us were able to take him down and take him into custody.”
What the fleeing suspect did not know is Conklin has trained for more than 30 years in the martial arts. “I have a couple of different black belts, and I carry myself a little differently,” he said.
Jobson, who retired a year and a half ago after serving more than 26 years as an undersheriff, explained that people normally stand by and watch when an incident like this happens.
“Very rarely do you see someone jump in and help out,” Jobson said. “In this case, he jumped into action. He was a great help to the community.”
“I can still remember when I got up,” Jobson said. “I was thinking to myself ‘there is no way I’m going to catch him, and we’re going to have to do a search.’”
“When I saw Conklin coming across the street, a smile came across my face and I thought maybe this isn’t over yet,” he added. “It turned ugly in a hurry, and thanks to him, it ended quickly.”
He explained that the tri-village area is usually quiet and peaceful.
“Most people in this community do not resist us,” he said. “They don’t cause any problems. This was a strange situation.”
“I don’t think what I did was all that special or anything like that,” Conklin said humbly. “That’s just the kind of person I am.”
After serving 23 years in the Army, Conklin is preparing to retire. He plans to settle down in Brownville.

New housing available, Outside the wire

Via Outside the wire, Watertown Daily Times

526 new homes available for soldiers at Fort Drum

FORT DRUM — An additional 526 new homes are available for soldiers and families on post. Fort Drum Mountain Community Homes has completed construction in the Rhicard Hills community. The company, which constructs and operates the private housing, has built 934 units since 2005 and has 465 to finish by the end of 2011.

The 2,270 units that were built in the 1980s will be renovated. The housing will accommodate 36 percent of Fort Drum soldiers and families, and the company said it has spent approximately $183 million with local businesses and contractors.

Outside the wire

I think I might make this a weekly post to talk about the community surrounding Fort Drum. Everyone I’ve talked to about this topic (and it’s quite a long list) usually uses the same word or phrase to describe the relationship: Unique and one of a kind.

In June I was asked to contribute to a special section the paper dedicated to examining the community partnership. At one point when writing, I thought to myself “I’ve heard the same thing in every interview, how am I going to write this?”

That’s when it hit me. That’s what I would write. I would just reiterate everything that I had been told. I think some of the best interviews I’ve had were for that section of the paper. I got a chance to ask all the brigade commanders, garrison commander and commanding general what they loved so much about being stationed at Fort Drum. It was something they loved to talk about, so it made the conversation great.

When I first got here in June 2008, I was told that the relationship between Fort Drum and the community was different than at any other Army installation in the world. I figured that it was something that people just say. But that’s totally not true. The people most directly involved on the military and community side of the wire, are so dedicated and passionate about working with one another they don’t even take credit for their accomplisments.

Col. Jerome Penner, the former medical commander at Fort Drum, just left for a new post at Fort Lewis, Wash. When I asked him what he was most proud of during his two years here, he said “I can’t say me, I have to say we.” He said he couldn’t have done it without his staff on Fort Drum and the community network with the Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization and the several large hospitals in the region.

Maj. Gen. Michael L. Oates, the commanding general, said the same thing. I interviewed him for the last time about a week ago. We talked about his deployment to Iraq and his two and a half years as commander of Fort Drum. When asked the same question, he said “I didn’t do any of this alone. I had a great garrison commander and a great network or people.”

What do you think? Is the north country “the warmest place you’ll ever live,” like Col. David B. Haight, the commander of the 3rd Brigade, says it is?

USA MEDDAC welcomes new commander

Via Fort Drum Mountaineer

Col. Bertram C. Providence accepts the U.S. Army Medical Department Activity guidon from Maj. Gen. Carla G. Hawley-Bowland, signifying his assumption of command Friday, as Col. Jerome Penner III, outgoing commander looks on at right. Photo by Glenn Wagner

The U.S. Army Medical Department Activity changed leaders Friday during a ceremony at Fort Drum’s Sexton Field. Military and civilian men and women of the Army Medical Department participated in a change of command farewell to Col. Jerome Penner III, outgoing commander, and an official welcome to Col. Bertram C. Providence, incoming commander.

Commander of troops for the ceremony was Lt. Col. Alejandro Lopez-Duke, MEDDAC chief of staff and deputy commander for administration. Reviewing officer was Maj. Gen. Carla G. Hawley-Bowland, commander, North Atlantic Regional Medical Command.
Following a sequence of events that included formation of troops, honors, colors advance, honors to the nation and the change of command itself, Hawley-Bowland and Penner and Providence made remarks.

Hawley-Bowland recognized MEDDAC Soldiers and civilians for the “quality, compassionate medical care they provide every day,” and highlighted the Army Medical Department challenges under which Penner served.

“Col. Jerry Penner has commanded the Army Medical Department Activity at Fort Drum for the past two years with great distinction,” she said. “This has been a very critical period in the history of the Army Medical Department. Besides taking care of Soldiers and their Families, we have been extremely visible to, and held accountable by, the American people, who demand the best in health care and support for wounded warriors.”

Hawley-Bowland outlined Penner’s accomplishments, which included expanded health care capacity through newly opened or improved facilities on and post off; enhanced partnerships with the Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization and northern New York health care provider partners; establishing and operating “one of the Army’s most effective warrior transition units”; combining five behavioral health facilities into one convenient location; and spearheading ongoing construction efforts to better meet health care needs of 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers and Families.

The general then welcomed Providence.

“You bring with you an impressive resume of challenging and varied assignments as an AMEDD leader,” she said. “I know you’re up to the challenge of building upon the accomplishment of this great team. We all expect the current high tempo to continue, and we’re all committed to sustained excellence in warrior care here at Fort Drum. The North Atlantic Regional Medical Command and I pledge our full support.”

Penner spoke next. He thanked the NARMC, division, garrison and MEDDAC command for its support; Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization and community medical partners for their vital role in making the unique Fort Drum medical model “work to benefit our military children, spouses and Soldiers,” and recognized MEDDAC Soldiers and civilian staff, as well as 3-85 Mountain Infantry warriors in transition.

“You (who) live and work in the North Country have made this the best assignment the Penners have experienced in 27 years,” he said in an emotional close. “Thank you for embracing us and allowing us to be part of your greater Fort Drum Family. Although we move on to a much bigger challenge, there is no way any place could be better.”

Following Penner’s remarks, Providence began his with a warm welcome to distinguished guests, visitors, members of MEDDAC, Family Members who traveled great distance to attend, and the Watertown and Fort Drum community.

“I am well aware that Col. Penner has left me with a very difficult act to follow,” he said. “I am very well aware of how highly he is regarded by you.
“I hope you will find me open to ideas and willing to learn. I, as the newcomer, must learn from you who know the area, its people and culture. Together, I hope we will achieve whatever is demanded of us. I hope that my experiences will enrich yours and that together we continue to make this the finest MEDDAC in the Army.

“To achieve our goal, we must always place the needs of the patients first,” he continued. “We are here to serve the Soldiers and their Family Members. … We must act as one team. … We must continue to strengthen our partnership with the local medical community to improve health care for all, and we must remember that quality is a race without a finish line. We must continue to improve.”

Providence received a bachelor of science in chemistry from St. John’s University, Queens; a doctor of medicine degree from the Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, Md.; a master’s degree in business administration - health care from George Washington University, Washington, D.C.; and a master’s degree in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pa. The Brooklyn, N.Y., native entered the Army in 1987 as an ROTC Distinguished Military Graduate from St. John’s University.

He is fellowship trained in total joint replacement surgery, board certified in Orthopedic surgery, and board eligible in orthopedic sports medicine. Providence is a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. He is a member of the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons; Society of Military Orthopedic Surgeons; Association of Military Surgeons of the United States; Orthopedic Trauma Association; and the American College of Physician Executives. He is an assistant professor of surgery at the Uniformed Services University.

His past assignments include flight surgeon, Multinational Force and Observers, Sinai, Egypt; chief, Orthopedic Surgery Service, Fort Bragg, N.C.; staff orthopedic surgeon, Tripler Army Medical Center, Hawaii; 2nd Infantry Division Surgeon, South Korea; and chief, Orthopedic Surgery Service, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C. Providence most recently served as staff orthopedic surgeon and North Atlantic Regional Medical Command orthopedic consultant at the newly created Walter Reed National Medical Center, Bethesda, Md.

He deployed to Mindinow, Philippines, with the Joint Special Forces Task Force and to Bagram, Afghanistan, with Medical Task Force-44, both in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Providence’s awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Services Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Joint Services Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Flight Surgeon Badge, Expert Field Medical Badge, Parachutist Badge, Order of Military Medical Merit and various service and campaign awards.

23rd MP Company Soldiers deploy to Iraq

Via Ft Drum Mountaineer

Capt. Nirav B. Patel, left, 23rd Military Police Company commander, and 1st Sgt. Timothy Watts case the unit's colors during a deployment ceremony Friday at Magrath Sports Center. Photo by Glenn Wagner

Family and friends gave more than 200 Fort Drum Soldiers a proper send-off last week as they prepare to deploy to Iraq.

The 23rd Military Police Company held a deployment ceremony Friday in Magrath Sports Center in preparation for a tour of duty that will see the North Country’s finest conduct detainee operations in Iraq.

“We are ready and we are trained to do what is asked of us,” said Pfc. Chase Bauer, Headquarters Platoon, 23rd MP Company, about his first deployment. “I am a little nervous, but hopefully we will all come back safe to our Families. Our leaders have prepared us, and now all we have to do is our job.”

The company’s mission will be to assist and train Iraqi police on how to process, transport and care for incarcerated individuals.

Wishing them a safe deployment is a leader the Soldiers know well.

“It has been interesting, sometimes challenging, watching this unit develop over time,” said Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Nelden, 91st Military Police Battalion commander.
“The shortage of officers and senior noncommissioned officers during their buildup did not stop this unit from doing what had to be done.

“This will be a challenging mission, but one the unit has specifically trained for,” he added. “You are trained and ready for this deployment.”

The company’s leader joined in reassuring Families that their Soldiers are trained and prepared for the mission at hand and thanking the Family Members for their support.

“Together, we will be successful in any mission assigned to us during our deployment,” said Capt. Nirav B. Patel, 23rd MP Company commander. “While the Soldiers put countless hours into training for deployment, their spouses and significant others stood by the unit and their Soldier, providing superb support. Without the support of the Family Members, the unit could not be as successful as it is today.

“I thank all the Family Members for their continued support and dedication to the unit,” he added.

After the ceremony, Soldiers were released to be with Families and friends. Before leaving, they talked about how they can’t wait to come home.

“We are trained and prepared for what lies ahead,” said Spec. Bradley Muse, 3rd Platoon. “I am a little nervous, but once we get there and start doing our job, we will be fine. We are well-trained to accomplish our mission and come home to our Families.”

The unit relocated from Fort Bragg, N.C., to Fort Drum after its last deployment to Iraq in 2008. Seventeen Soldiers moved from Fort Bragg in May 2008 to re-establish the unit at Fort Drum.

Martin soldier stops at home on road to recovery

From NWTN Today

A SOLDIER’S GIFT – PFC Lindell Scott Pleasant of Martin treats 7-year-old J.T. White of Martin (left) to an airplane and a camoflauge hat with his name embroidered on the back during a trip home last week.

Although he might not consider himself a hero, in the eyes of others, U.S. Army Private First Class Lindell Scott Pleasant of Martin is a humble young man that feels he is just doing what he took an oath to do by serving the United States military.

Pleasant returned home for a brief stay last week in Martin to visit family and friends before heading back to Fort Drum, N.Y. with his wife, Jessica.
He spoke of the war in the Middle East with a strong spirit while he sported a cane that partly told his tale.

Pleasant suffered significant injury to his knees, right shoulder and left ankle when his vehicle struck an IED in Afghanistan during a route clearance in May of this year. The Martin soldier spent several weeks at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C. before coming back to his hometown.

When he returns to his station in New York, Pleasant will undergo surgery to repair his shoulder and shattered ankle and have both knees replaced.

He said he will never be 100 percent physically, but that does not deter him from wanting to remain in the Armed Forces.

“I’m aggravated that I won’t be going back over there (Afghanistan),” Pleasant said. He added that life in the Middle East was everything that he had expected it to be from the training he was given by the U.S. Army.

“Nothing is routine, of course. Every day, you just fly by the seat of your pants. It does teach you to respect what you had on the home front,” Pleasant shared.
He said the landscape in Afghanistan is just as one would picture and the terrain allows military personnel to seek unconventional methods of comfort.

“When it rains, we would all strip down and grab our ammo cans and soap to take a shower. We would wash with one can and rinse with the other,” Pleasant said.

“There are no showers, no electricity and no running water. You are out in the middle of nowhere, eating three MRE’s every day and sleeping with one eye open,” he added.

With little or no frequent communication from home, Pleasant said receiving mail in the desert was something that would “make their day.”

“A lot of troops just need encouragement. Morale is pretty good, the sergeants don’t let you get down. There is a lot of loneliness. I missed the face-to-face conversations with my wife. Mail is essential. If you got something in the mail, you carry it with you everywhere you go until it just falls apart,” Pleasant added.
He received letters from second-graders at South Fulton Elementary School while he was deployed to Afghanistan.

“That was one of the best feelings, I can’t describe how much that meant to me,” the Martin soldier said.

Pleasant is considering re-enlisting in the Army in October. He hopes to be transferred to Ft. Campbell, Ky.

“I am going to stand behind him 100 percent no matter what he wants to do,” the Army wife said.

On the home front, Jessica said deployment took its toll while she spent her days thinking about what her husband’s doing and wondering if he’s o.k.

“I didn’t watch the news and I dealt with the deployment by myself. I didn’t know what to expect with the first deployment and I spent a lot of time by the phone,” she added.

“It’s not about money and it’s not about respect. I joined the Army because of the flag of the United States of America – our flag and what it stands for in this country,” Pleasant added.

He is the son of Lindell and Joy Pleasant of Martin.

Fort Drum welcomes new deputy commander

Fort Drum welcomes new deputy commander

FORT DRUM — The 10th Mountain Division welcomed in a new deputy commander for operations this week. Col. Jeffrey L. Bannister replaced Brig. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan on Tuesday. Gen. Buchanan was given a post at the U.S. Army Reserve Command, Fort McPherson, Ga., and was stationed there earlier this month.

Col. Bannister has deployed to Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan and has served in several battalion and brigade leadership positions since entering the Army in 1984. Before coming to Fort Drum, he was the commander of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colo.

A collective sacrifice that is still made by individuals

From the Watertown Daily Times:

A collective sacrifice that is still made by individuals

AUG. 5, 2009: A Fort Drum soldier was killed in battle the other day. Or was it the week before? Maybe I have him confused with another soldier who died with his three buddies during an explosion. Or was it just two other soldiers?

And so it goes. The U.S. is losing soldiers at such a rapid clip in Afghanistan that names and faces of 10th Mountain Division soldiers are flashing by us, giving little time to reflect on the collective sacrifice being made by these individuals.

ED: Edited out several paragraphs for brevity

Some soldiers die in a firefight. Some die in a vehicle that is blown up. Should one get more attention than the other? The father of one dead 10th Mountain Division soldier was recently called by President Obama who said his son will be a Medal of Honor recipient. Was that soldier’s death more significant than another? His late son would likely say, “I was just doing my job. I know others who did things just as important and courageous. Why me? Why not them?”

How do you give equal attention to the death of each 10th Mountain Division soldier?

I often review our previous stories and look for balance, tone and perspective. And no matter what we produced on the deaths of Fort Drum soldiers, I know it was not enough.

Our reporters work to ensure these are not unknown soldiers, even if they were not know to anyone in our community. But in the end these soldiers, who gave the last full measure of devotion, are never known enough.

Honoring those fallen before us.

As I am just starting this site, I can think of no post that can be more fitting than the one that reminds us of our brothers and sisters who have been called upon to give the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
This link is to the Fort Drum Public Affairs site, which has a list of of service members assigned to Fort Drum who have died during the current operations.

As of August 4th 2009, There have been 109 casualties in Iraq, 73 casualties in Afghanistan, and 13 during training at Fort Drum.

Additions to this list will be added as new and separate posts as I am made aware of the names and locations.
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