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GWOT hot wash, straight from the wire

Welcome to The Sandbox, a forum for service members who have served or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, returned vets, spouses and caregivers. The Sandbox's focus is not on policy and partisanship (go to our Blowback page for that), but on the unclassified details of deployment -- the everyday, the extraordinary, the wonderful, the messed-up, the absurd. All correspondence is read, and as much as possible is posted, lightly edited. If you know someone who is deployed who might have something to say, please tell them about us. To submit a post click here.

A DAY FOR SMOKE |

January 23, 2007

A DAY FOR SMOKE
Name: 1SG Troy Steward
Posting date: 1/23/07
Stationed in: Sharana, Afghanistan
Hometown: Amherst, NY
Milblog url: www.bouhammer.com

The cold continues and so do the combat missions. We are still doing multiple missions every week, not letting ourselves or the ANA take a break. For the last couple of days we had a mission a day going out. It has been pretty quiet here enemy-wise, so that keeps them quick and boring. It is not that way everywhere in this country, and there is no doubt the bad guys are still here and not wintering over in Pakistan. There have been several attacks the last few days reported in the news, and some of these have been in our area of operation (AOR).Framed_steward_artiller_2

However, yesterday Mouse, Smoke, and myself all were part of a mission to Gardez, somewhere I have not been since June. When I first got to country, I was stationed there for the first few weeks until my team moved to Orgun-E. Now we were going up there to let Smoke participate in a very special ceremony and be bestowed a great honor. He is an Artillery guy, and seeing that our ANA, whom he mentored, were the first in the Afghan Army to fire howitzers in combat at the enemy, he has accomplished a lot. Our Corps HQ held a special ceremony inducting him into the Order of St. Barbara. This is a special recognition for those in the Army and Marine Corps that make great contributions to the Artillery branch.Framed_steward_smoke_2

Smoke has been in over 18 years  and spent his whole military career in the Artillery performing a variety of functions. This tour was the icing on the cake, as he put in many personal hours and dedicated himself to learning the Russian Artillery Principles, maintenance, and gun system mechanics of the Russian-made D30 122mm Howitzer. After he self-studied and became an expert, he then trained the ANA to a level that allowed them to receive target data, compute information that translated it into gun data, and fire the weapon at the enemy in combat.

Infantry is what I have been all my career and as with many things in the military, there are rivalries between all the combat-arms branches, like Infantry and Artillery. I have never been a big fan of that branch and don’t consider it as vital as Infantry to the military, but I have a new-found respect for guys like Smoke. He and Scooter (who used to be on our team) have made tremendous progress with these ANA and it is only because of them that Afghanistan can say it has fired artillery in combat. I consider them both friends and hope I can always stay in contact with them both. Scooter was in charge of the ceremony in Gardez, so I also got to visit with him while we were there.

This was our reason for going up there and staying the night, and I am glad I was able to participate and watch him receive such an honor. Of course any time we go out of the wire it is a mission, and we have to keep our wits about us. There is always danger from the enemy and this time of year there is danger from the ice and snow covered roads. Lucky for us, everything was quiet and non-eventful.

Until next time...

Comments

Congrats Smoke! Nice to hear about a special day in the midst of everything else! God Bless, stay safe!

Troy,
Nice piece. My boyfriend, who has been in Iraq now for 11 months, has been with an artillary unit with the NG for years. When he volunteered for this tour he was sent with an infantry unit. He was estatic to be sent with the infantry, and it has been a great experience. But, in times of war, every branch comes together and should never be underestimated, because you never know when the knowledge held by any one individual will make all the difference in the world.
Thanks for the story, and for your service. I hold a deep respect for every soldier doing their part, no matter what branch, title, or rank they hold!

Congrats to our men at war!

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