FORT LEWIS, Wash. (I Corps release) – A memorial service for Master Sgt. Robb G. Needham will be held Saturday, Sept. 30, at 1:00 p.m. at the Main Post Chapel.
Needham, 51, serving on active duty with the Army Reserve’s 1st Battalion, 356th Regiment (Logistical Support), 4th Brigade, 91st Division, will be remembered by family members, friends, soldiers and the Fort Lewis community.
Needham, of Vancouver, Wash., died Sept. 20, in Baghdad, of injuries sustained during a combat operation when his patrol came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire.
Cpl. Casey L. Mellen, 21, of Huachuca City, Ariz., died on Sept. 25 in Balad, Iraq, of injuries suffered when his mounted patrol came in contact with enemy forces using small arms fire during combat operations in Mosul, Iraq. Mellen was assigned to the 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division (Stryker Brigade Combat Team), Fort Lewis, Wash.
Here's David's first person account of a major battle...
By David Hardt
One of things that I enjoy about being in the infantry is the unpredictability of what will occur during your day or night mission. Now granted there are days like the last couple, discluding the firefight we got in, when life can be rough and extremely straight out boring. I always say, it takes a certain something to be infantry men these days. I see it similar to being firefighters. In our case, we go straight into the firefight as the firefighter would go into the burning house; personally, I would
rather dodge bullets, but I digress. When bullets are flying at you, something just comes over you, almost like a mischievous young boy feeling. Now for almost two days straight the platoon has been in some fierce firefights and everyone I have spoken with pretty much heard the whizzing of bullets through the air even some coming dangerously close to them dinging of the side armor.
No longer are patrols just regular, go out take a peek at the city, dismount here and there, ask some questions, shake some hands and make some friends. No things are getting ugly. We leave the FOB and make are way out to our designated AO, for the life of me I couldn’t even tell you the name of the AO or better yet spell it, but what does it matter, I am in Baghdad. Due to the Muslim holiday, Ramadan, things have picked up. We make our way down the road and everything seems normal, kids out, and people driving around like mad men and occasionally crashing into each other when they see us coming, but all that is normal.
As we drove down the street, an Iraq national waves us down, we stop, curious but still cautionary. You always have your guard up, because at anytime all hell can be unleashed. The squad leader yells back at the interpreter, “Ha what’s this guys saying”?
The terp gets in the hatch and starts making sense of this whole thing. Well after 20 seconds, the squad leader tells us that someone just been murdered at a house. Second squad dismounted, leaving third squad to pull security. I jump into the hatch, not falling on my butt this time and started scanning the area. After a while of standing up in the hatch, explosion and smoke filled the air not far from our position. The word came over the radio that one of the humvee patrols had been hit by IED, no one was injured.
The thing about having IED, mortars and gun fire everyday, you sometimes become unfazed by them. The one thing that still fazes me is the whizzing of bullets close by, that is a wicked sound. As we waited for the squad to rap up their investigation, another explosion rocked near by, this time the road filled with cars. It was obvious that the insurgents were up to no good. After a good 30 minutes second squad made there way back to the truck, I jumped down out of the hatch so that the squad leader could do his thing. I ask the squad leader SSG Rine, what happened.
He quickly briefed me, “Uh, A guy in a car drove up to guy while he was out side his house, he told him to get in, and he didn’t. The person in the car got pissed, jumped out of the car, pulled a pistol out and threatened the old man. The person standing on the sidewalk went to defend himself, while doing that he managed to get the gun. When he got the gun he tried to take off, as he did, he threw the pistol away, for some odd reason and then some how tripped over some trash and fell, as he tried to flee for his life. The guy that he took the weapon from got up, took the gun and shoot him in the head”
I looked at him puzzled “Ok why didn’t he shoot the guy when he took the gun?”
SSG Rine answered sarcastically “I know I would, but better yet, why throw the gun”. I laughed and sat back and tried to make sense of things.
As we continued the patrol I was not really sure where we were or what was going on because I was in the troop compartment along with 10 other men, it was a packed house. The reason for this, our trucks ramp had an hydraulic issue, as well as an engine problem, so we had to do what we had to do.
We came to stop shortly into the patrol in the middle of a open soccer field, the reason I knew this because the RWS was scanning and I identified the familiar soccer post on the screen. SSG Rine got down from his hatch and told us what was going on. Second squad was going to conduct a presence walking patrol, nothing big and out of the abnormal. The ramp dropped and all of them went running out, as if they had done thousands of times before. I jumped in the hatch and started scanning the big open field. In Iraq there our so many shanty houses that are barley standing. Spc Murray expressed his disbelief out loud, “How the hell do these people live like this, I couldn’t do it”. I answer him over the roar of the Stryker engine, “Bro it is easy to live like that when you have never lived any other…………BOOM…. BOOM., AK 47 as well as explosions followed by American forces firing back…rocked the blue sky…...before I could finish all hell had broken out. Every once in while you will hear some action going on in someone else’s AO, and you just ignore it and worry about what is going on in your area, but that changed quickly when the first of many bullets came whizzing by our heads.
I looked back and got Sgt Lawrence to make sure that I was not loosing my marbles and hearing things, he did not even have to look at me; I could tell he could hear and see the same thing. Boom…Bang…..zip. It seemed like who ever was firing at the other American forces saw us and started to unleash. The truck spun around quickly trying to get a better picture of what was going on.
Zip…Ding…..Whiz. That is when things started to make a turn. I think we would have taken off toward the fight but we had second and first squad on the ground walking around, so our first responsibility was to gather up the men. As we waited the AK 47, fire became increasingly closer and louder. We could see rounds splashing all around in the dirt. The radio was screaming fervent instructions, I really did not get the whole instruction, just to find second squad and go to the fight. We drove due south for a little while, meanwhile the VC was trying to radio up to SSG Rine, they needed to make their way to the truck, no answer…
As we drove down the road looking for 2nd squad, the whizzing of rounds overhead could still be heard. In the distance I saw what looked like a bunch of people running, I pointed it out to the VC…we stepped on the gas and made our way over to there position. 2nd squad just happen to be all the way down the road, so they had to bound all the way back 300 meters or so, meanwhile getting shot at and bullets whizzing over them.
Now that the squad was accounted for we now made are trip across the open field dodging everything from trash houses and those little whizzing sounds over head. Everyone in the truck was pumped. “Lets get some,” one of the guys said,
Everyone concurred and started getting excited. I still think it is funny that we get pumped about going into a firefight, were we all know that at any given time things may go black. As we hit the corner the insurgents opened up, but the 203 from Sgt Lawrence put that guy to rest…….boom….followed by the ringing of Spc. Murray with the saw. Then silence. “It was like a cheering squad in the troop compartment. A couple minute later, the silence ended. Wow…shit…..RPGS…….booom. That is when the whole arsenal of the infantry let loose, the 240, 50 cal, Mark 19, Saw, and the faithful M-4.
The bullets could be heard hitting things all around. On the radio I could hear something about reaper four getting hit by some rounds, but all personal were good, and they were still in the fight. The best part was to come.
The gun fire came to halt, it seemed like everyone came to the conclusion that with all that firing some one had to be dead, well that wasn’t the case. The word came over the radio that the apaches were about to unleash some good old American whoop butt. I could see some guys prepping their cameras, but by the time they got them out it was too late…….boom……….then a big cheer from the guys in the hatch. I know one thing when it comes to blowing up stuff, men become little kids…we love it and live for it.
After awhile the word came over the radio, we won of course. The bad guys lost….1 guy went to see Allah and one being carefully and professionally taken care of by medics. See even if want to kill the bad guys and they happen to live we take care of them, there’s a saying,” One insurgents alive with info is better than him dead”.
After it was all said and done, we all came out alive and well and of course happy that we could be productive again in the war on terror. One minute you can walking and joking around and the next minute you can be fighting for your life and those around you, this place is no joke and what you don’t hear in the news I will make sure you know that the men on the front lines are kicking butt and taken names
2-3 Inf. Reg Establish Positive Community Relationship and Accomplish Mission
by Pfc. Bryanna Poulin
25th ID Div PAO
MOSUL, Iraq (September 16, 2006)-- In a territory of roadside bombs, undetected enemies and other dangers, U.S. and Iraqi Soldiers executed a dismounted patrol in Mosul, Iraq Sept.12.
With battle plan in place, 1st Platoon, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Inf. Division, was responsible for keeping the surrounding perimeter secure, while establishing a presence with the community in an effort to acquire information on recent terrorist attacks.
The battalion partnered with the IA to conduct interviews within the city which will become the IA responsibility when they take over security for this area of Mosul.
“The IA is responsible for preparing mission details and together we execute the mission,” stated Staff Sgt. Brian Ross, squad leader, Co. C, 2 Bn., 3 Inf. Reg. “They coordinate mission intelligence and establish our role, which is to provide security.”
Moving quickly and efficiently, Soldiers of 1st platoon secured the area, monitored the town and reported any suspicious activity.
The joint mission was to seek out information on recent terrorist attacks against CF and develop possible information sources for current activities.
“With the assistance of an interpreter, we spoke to the local populace on anti-Iraqi force activity because typically they are the first ones to have knowledge of any incidents that happen in that area,” said 1st Lt. Jordan Garett, executive officer, Co. C, 2 Bn.,3 Inf. Reg.
“Our main intent was to follow up on a prior operation we conducted with Civil Affairs,” noted 1st Lt. Stephen Smith, platoon leader, Co. C, 2nd, 3rd Inf. Reg. “As well as gaining information on a recent terrorist attack against an Iraqi man and develop sources from family members.”
At first, family members were hesitant to provide information, but eventually cooperated and provided sources.
“When we first spoke with the family they were tentative in discussing anything with us,” Smith noted. “A combination of being fed up with terrorism and angry over a family member being executed, they responded with useful information we were looking for.”
“Overall the mission was accomplished, we had expectations that the family might not have been willing to cooperate with us about AIF activity but because of combined efforts between all the troops we succeeded in what we came out to do,” Smith concluded.
Spec. Suzanne Swift, who claimed she was AWOL due to harrassment and abuse within her unit, was charged today for missing movement and absent without leave.
The Fort Lewis news release stated Swift's complaints regarding abuse were fully investigated, concluding that one allegation was substantiated against a fellow soldier.
Swift is a military police officer with the 42nd MP Brigade.