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Home | Tag Archives: 1st Armored Division

Tag Archives: 1st Armored Division

A Soldier’s journey: Texas-based National Guard Soldier turns his life around

For Sgt. James Green, his path to the U.S. Army could be described as a rocky one.

He was born in San Angelo, Texas as a “military brat,” being the son of an Air Force tech sergeant. During his formative years his family bounced around between various places, including several stateside and overseas locations such as Maryland, Texas, Washington, Hawaii, and Japan. His family finally settled in El Paso, Texas following the completion of his father’s term of service in the U.S. Air Force.

Green describes his early life as “chaotic, and unstable.” “As soon as I would make a good friend, I’d have to leave,” he said.

This is an unfortunate fact of life for many military children, but Green had other issues to deal with as well – the eventual divorce of his parents and some extremely challenging anger issues. His mom thought his anger stemmed from the divorce, but Green says there were other concerns beyond the surface.

“I was angry and I was diagnosed with ADHD [Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder]. I had a ton of energy and nowhere to put it,” he said. “I was a very destructive child; I was hard to deal with as a child.”

Green went through years of medication and therapy for his ADHD and anger issues, none of which seemed to help. One day he decided to stop taking the medication out of frustration and found other outlets to deal with his ADHD. Unfortunately, he states he turned to “illegal” means to deal with his issues.

Juvenile delinquency followed, with various forays into theft, drugs, and other illicit behavior. Green got a wake-up call, however, when he got arrested. The arrest was for a minor offense, but it was enough to make him want to turn his life around. He felt military service would help him find structure in his life, so he enlisted as a Soldier in the Texas Army National Guard in 2003 as a cable systems installer-maintainer and deployed to Iraq within a year of his enlistment.

During Green’s first deployment to Iraq, he gained additional clarity and focus through dealing with difficult circumstances. Green’s combat deployment to Iraq was harsh and violent. He was awarded an Army Commendation Medal with Valor device for his actions when his guard tower was attacked by a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) and small arms fire.

In a different incident, some Iraqi children were killed by a roadside IED that was intended to target him and his fellow Soldiers. The attack took place in a location where Green had been interacting with those same children the day before during a combat patrol, and the lone surviving child came to the gate of his unit’s outpost after the tragedy to inform him of what happened.

“It was at that point that all the anger I had been holding on to, all that energy was gone. It was a completely reality-shattering moment for me, and everything changed in my life,” said Green.

Green has since deployed three more times with the Texas Army National Guard: two more tours in Iraq, and he is currently deployed to Afghanistan, where he is an invaluable member of the communications section during his assignment at Task Force-Southeast, based in Southeastern Afghanistan. He assists with everything computer-related and keeps communications running smoothly throughout the task force as the help desk administrator.

Green is a proud member of the 1st Armored Division’s Mobile Command Post Operational Detachment, known as the 1AD MCP-OD, a relatively new Texas Army National Guard unit that is a company-level element for the 1st Armored Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, based at Fort Bliss, Texas.

Sgt. James Green, native of El Paso, Texas, assigned to the 1st Armored Division Mobile Command Post Operational Detachment (1AD MCP-OD), Texas Army National Guard, kisses his wife Hannah on their wedding day, May 12, 2017. Green’s journey into the U.S. Army has been filled with challenges, but he values the lessons the Army has given him. | Photo Courtesy of Sgt. James Green

1AD MCP-OD Soldiers work side-by-side with the division’s active duty Soldiers, providing essential skillsets needed during major training exercises and frequent deployments. It is a rare opportunity for a National Guard Soldier to work so closely intermingled with the active component.

“I really enjoy a lot of facets of it,” Green said. “We have a lot more reach and a lot more opportunity to do the jobs that we originally signed up to do.” Green also enjoys the MCP-OD’s frequent opportunities for training missions and overseas deployments.

In addition to his military achievements, Green has educational goals as well. He currently holds an Associate’s Degree in Information Systems & Security from Western Technical Institute, and aspires to earn both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s Degree in Cyber Security and Information Assurance in the future.

He hopes to re-class his military occupational specialty (MOS) to 35 series, Intelligence, and hopes to get the opportunity to work within the Department of Defense in the future. As for his Texas Army National Guard career, Green plans to take full advantage of the unique opportunities afforded by his unit, saying “This MCP-OD will keep me until my military retirement.”

Author: Sgt. Karen Lawshae  – 1st Armored Division 

Regulars Battalion honors memory of fallen alongside former Prisoner of War

FORT BLISS, Texas – “Ask yourself…Where would I be? What would my life be like; were it not for our veterans who have stepped up for us all time and time again over the course of this Nation’s history…”

Each December on National Wreaths Across America Day, our mission to Remember, Honor and Teach is carried out by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery, as well as at more than 1,600 additional locations in all 50 U.S. states, at sea and abroad.

Soldiers and leaders from 4th Battalion “Regulars”, 6th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team “Bulldog”, 1st Armored Division, participated in the Wreaths Across America Memorial Ceremony at Fort Bliss National Cemetery, Dec. 14.

“Today is a wonderful example of partnership with Fort Bliss and the local El Paso community to honor our veterans and honor our fallen,” said Lt. Col. Colin Mahle, native of Sacramento, California, commander of 4th Bn., 6th Inf. Regt., 3rd ABCT, 1st AD. “A number of great organizations here today that I’m very happy to see: the local Boy Scouts (chapter), a number of volunteers from across Fort Bliss and El Paso, and other veterans’ organizations such as the Freedom Riders.”

Mahle was joined by Command Sgt. Maj. Lamont Holmes, native of Beaufort, South Carolina, senior enlisted advisor for 4th Bn., 6th Inf. Regt., 3rd ABCT, 1st AD, and a number of other Soldiers from his organization of whom participated as members of the Color Guard and Honor Guard teams during the ceremony.

“When we got the invitation to come out and to support this event, I was all for it,” said Holmes. “I think it’s important for our junior Soldiers to see some of the veterans that have come before us, who paved the way for us, and to come out and honor their sacrifice. These veterans who are resting in peace here in this cemetery, today, have paved the way for our service.”

Retired Army Spc. Joseph Hudson, currently residing in Alamogordo, New Mexico, member of the Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Club, and former Prisoner of War during Operation Iraqi Freedom, laid the wreath at the Fort Bliss National Cemetery Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Monument during the ceremony and does so because it’s a good way to promote awareness and show veterans and their families they are not alone.

“It gives them (veterans) hope to understand what other people went through,” said Hudson. “We’re not alone in our experiences we go through in war. We are not alone… We are not alone… And it’s great our Vietnam veterans have reached out so much to younger generations to thank them for their service and to provide an open hand saying, ‘We understand. We understand what you went through.’ And it’s wonderful that older generation veterans do not forget about us.”

Hudson openly recounted his story during the interview.

On March 23, 2003, Hudson’s unit, the 507th Maintenance Company, 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade, stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, came under attack during the Battle of Nasiriyah, Iraq, in day four of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Eleven Soldiers were killed in action, and a total of eight were taken as prisoners of war.

Two died in captivity, Jessica Lynch was rescued on April 1, and Hudson and four others were rescued on April 13.

“It’s good to talk about it,” Hudson exclaimed. “And that’s one thing I encourage young veterans to do. Talk about what you went through because there are people out there who still care.”

Author: Maj. Anthony Clas  – 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division Public Affairs

Gallery+Story: Bulldog Brigade stress systems during Command Post Exercise

“The main command post is a facility containing the majority of the staff designed to control current operations, conduct detailed analysis, and plan future operations.” That’s the definition provided by Department of the Army, in FM 3-96 Brigade Combat Team.

Soldiers with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team “Bulldog”, 1st Armored Division, are conducting a Command Post Exercise at Fort Bliss, from December 9-13.

“We’re here putting up all the equipment (required for the command post) to get it operational,” said Spc. Ricardo Cantu, native of Rock Island, Illinois, cavalry scout and radiotelephone operator for the operations section with HHC, 3rd ABCT, 1st AD. “My responsibility is to relay information (received from subordinate units) to the battle captains and NCOs (non-commissioned officers) to help paint the picture (in the battle space).”

If you cannot sustain systems in a field environment, it’s not a valid system.

“The purpose of the command post is to push out the commander guidance to all the battalions, be able to run our operations, and get the complete the mission,” said Sgt. Jose Osollo, native of Las Cruces, New Mexico, infantryman and assistant operations non-commissioned officer in charge of operations for HHC, 3rd ABCT, 1st AD. “We will also receive information (from the subordinate battalions), and disseminate it to members of the staff, so everyone is on the same page.”

Brigade staff personnel operating within the command post represent each of the warfighting functions of whom work collectively to maintain operations, analyze information collected from subordinate elements, and generate a common operating picture for the commander to make informed decisions during contingency or combat operations.

“We are the backbone that runs the brigade essentially,” said Capt. Caleb Pittman, native of Memphis, Tennessee, infantryman and assistant operations officer with HHC, 3rd ABCT, 1st AD. “After we receive information, we analyze it, then push out the resources they (subordinate units) need; whether that’s fire support, UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems), or any sustainment support they need as well.”

The Bulldog Brigade CPX will culminate with validating the different framework configurations that may be required to operate effectively in different areas of operation, at any time, to fight and win in any domain.

Author: Maj. Anthony Clas – 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division Public Affairs

2nd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 3rd ABCT commemorates 69th Burning of the Colors Ceremony

FORT BLISS – The mood was somber as the 2nd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division’s unit colors were set alight on the Bulldog Field, Fort Bliss, December 5th, in remembrance of the Soldiers who lost their lives in the Battle of Kunu-Ri during the Korean War.

This is the 69th Anniversary of the burning of colors, a tradition that the 3rd Brigade Combat Team honors every year.

“We are here this evening to recognize the service of the battalion and it’s soldiers in the most desperate times 69 years ago,” said Lt. Col. Jeremiah J. Willis, commander of the 2nd BEB.

In the late fall of 1950, the 2nd BEB was attached to the 2nd Infantry Division. During the battle, the battalion was instructed to hold down Kunu-Ri, a small Korean town, defending the right and rear flanks of the retreating Eighth Army.

The engineer battalion was the only unit standing protecting the rear flank. The Chinese Soldiers overran the ridgeline and U.S. troops withdrew.

“The battalion committed itself and fought to the end with courage, honor and determination to preserve the 2nd Engineer [Battalion]

A Soldier with the 2nd Engineer Battalion, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, sets fire to the colors during the 69th annual Burning of the Colors ceremony, Dec. 5th, on Bulldog field, Fort Bliss. | U.S. Army photo by: Pfc. Autumn Rogers

and it’s RoK allies,” said Willis.

Realizing that they were being overrun by the Chinese, battalion commander Lt. Col. Alarich Zacherle ordered the men to burn the battalion colors so it would not be used as a Chinese trophy. The battalion reached friendly lines after 18 hours of combat.

Starting with 977 brave men, the battalion was down to only 266 by the end of the battle. The selfless service and sacrifice of the brave soldiers that served with Zacherle, stands as a patriotic reminder of honor, heroism, and making the ultimate sacrifice in dire times.

“Remember those who came before us, they were us and we are them,” Willis said. “We must remain steady to complete our assigned mission in a moments notice. We must remain focused on the awesome responsibility we have to each other, our families and our country; for we too may be asked one day to make a similar sacrifice.”

Author: Pfc. Autumn Rogers – 24th Theater Public Affairs Support Element

Meet the Gallardos: Younger sister outranks older sister on deployment

Imagine being the younger sister, in a traditional Mexican house, where your older sister is the boss while mom works a night job. Now imagine, many years later, you outrank your older sister. Let payback begin.

Meet the Gallardo sisters, Master Sgt. Eliana Y. Gallardo, operations noncommissioned officer in charge, and Capt. Carla J. Gallardo, operations officer, 1st Armored Division Sustainment Brigade Resolute Sustainment Support Brigade, (1AD RSSB), who are now deployed together to Afghanistan supporting Operation Resolute Support.

They were born in Mexico but raised in Stockton, Calif., from 1990 to 2001. Both have been in the Army for over 11 years, but this is their first opportunity to serve together. Deploying with a sibling is not uncommon but a younger sister outranking the older sister, there has to be some karma in that.

“Being from a traditional Mexican family, the older siblings take care of the younger siblings,” said Carla. “With our mom working at night, that left the job for the older sisters to act as mom for the younger kids. We didn’t form a bond until later in life as she (Eliana) was very mean to me growing up, very bossy.”

They were raised with strong Mexican culture. Both parents worked to provide a better life for their six children. Their father worked as a farmer during the day and their mom worked a night job to make ends meet. The Gallardo sisters are five years apart in age and while they are close today, this was not the case growing up.

“My job was to take care of Carla and our youngest sister Eunice,” said Eliana. “Did I enjoy the power? What big sister doesn’t?”

During the early years, their relationship was more of a “mother/daughter” dynamic. This proved to be impactful when Carla watched her older sister Eliana graduate high school and join the Army.

“Everyone was still at home and never left; that was our culture,” said Eliana. “I just wanted to get away and see the world. I had no idea Carla would follow in my footsteps many years later.”

Carla did carve her own path. After high school, she decided to go to college first and become the first in her family to graduate with a college degree. After graduation, she was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Army and with that, the power shifted.

“I decided I wanted to be the first in my family to graduate college and then join the military as an officer,” said Carla. “The thought did cross my mind many times that one day Eliana might have to salute me and do what I say.”

Today they laugh about the older sister saluting the younger, but military customs and courtesies do not distinguish or give credit for being the older sister. Enlisted must pay respect to the officer ranks by rendering a salute and using “Sir” and “Ma’am.”

“I remember saluting her for the first time,” said Eliana. It was in Fort Bragg and I just thought, oh, I can’t believe years ago I changed her diaper and now I’m saluting her. It was one of the proudest moments of my life.”

When they are not deployed , they live two blocks away from each other outside Fort Bliss, Texas where they are both stationed. They have formed a bond through the years as the age difference became less relevant and the thing they have most in common, their Army careers, helped solidify their friendship.

“We live two blocks away from each other which is pretty cool,” said Eliana. “We do a lot of things together, hiking, CrossFit, running and we love binge watching Game of Thrones.”

The deployment for the 1AD RSSB to support operations in Afghanistan meant both sisters would have to leave Texas to support their unit. Deployments for Soldiers are nothing new but deploying with a sister brings some unique benefits for the Gallardo sisters.

“I love being deployed with my sister; I can have conversations about military stuff and she understands,” said Eliana. “With other family members, that don’t serve, it’s more difficult because they don’t know the culture. She understands the burdens you sometimes have in the military.”

“Having a family member here, a friend, to experience everything that is going on in real time is amazing,” said Carla. “It’s also nice having each other during holidays when it can sometimes be lonely.”

Both sisters work in the logistics field which puts them right in the middle of the action for this deployment. The mission for the 1AD RSSB is to provide logistical support and sustainment for warfighters operating in Afghanistan. Support includes, but is not limited to, all classes of supplies, equipment, maintenance, transportation and anything else a warfighter needs to conduct combat operations. Sustainment brigade’s also coordinate how the supplies are delivered; airdrops, convoy’s, helicopters and boats.

“For 18 years I have been perfecting my trade as a logistician,” said Eliana. “To have the opportunity to use those skills for a mission that relies completely on logistics is rewarding.”

The Gallardo’s said they are appreciative of the support they’ve received from the leadership of the 1AD RSSB and said they were grateful for the opportunity to serve on this deployment together.

Author: Sgt. Briaira Tolbert – 1st Armored Division Sustainment Brigade

Regulars Battalion masters the fundamentals during squad live-fire exercise

FORT BLISS, Texas – “Cover me while I move! I got you covered battle buddy!”

Soldiers with Company A, 4th Battalion “Regulars”, 6th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team,1st Armored Division, conducted squad live-fire exercises to refine tactics, techniques and procedures, and build a more ready and lethal force at Fort Bliss, October 7-18.

“We are mechanized (Infantry), and we have Bradleys (M2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles) at our disposal, but they can only go so far,” said 1st Lt. Sean Murphy, native of Orange County, California, platoon leader for Company A, 4th Bn., 6th Inf. Regt., 3rd ABCT, 1st AD.

“At that last 50 meters of fight our dismounts (light infantry Soldiers) will have to get out of the Bradley and engage the enemy. That’s what they’re practicing, refining, and mastering out here.”

Some of the maneuver training included reacting to an ambush, setting up support by fire positions, while maintaining contact and engaging the enemy.

“I like how in depth this training is,” said Sgt. Taylor Tracy, native of Salt Lake City, Utah, team Leader in Company A, 4th Bn., 6th Inf. Regt., 3rd ABCT, 1st AD. “This range gives leaders control of how things would actually be done, and it gives us freedom of maneuver to train as we fight.”

Repetition increases a team’s situational understanding of the tactics they’ll use making them a more lethal force when facing an enemy in combat.

“Mastery of the fundamentals is the same in any environment,” said Capt. Travis Edwards, native of Spring Hill, Kansas, commander of Company A, 4th Bn., 6th Inf. Regt., 3rd ABCT, 1st AD.

“We are assessing marksmanship in field conditions, fire distribution, fire commands, and synchronization of fires and that is applicable to whatever operational environment these Soldiers will go to.”

Author: Maj. Anthony Clas  – 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division Public Affairs

Iron Supporter receives El Paso County Commissioner’s Award

Fort Bliss is El Paso and El Paso is Fort Bliss, a motto well known by members of the El Paso community.

Sgt. Ryan Soares, mortuary affairs specialist with 123rd Support Battalion “Iron Support”, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, received the El Paso County Commissioner’s Award in El Paso, Texas, Oct. 7.

“It’s an honor to receive this award from the county commissioner because I read in his biography that he’s a veteran himself,” said Soares.

Carl Robinson, commissioner of El Paso County Commission Precinct 4, also a U.S. Army veteran with 25 years of service, presented Sgt. Soares with a plaque and American Flag to recognize him for his hard work and achievements over the past year.

“Fort Bliss has been a part of our community for decades,” said Robinson. “Soldiers at Fort Bliss have been outstanding, and provide many different resources in our community… mainly their presence.”

Sgt. Soares stated what made the event even more memorable was being able to share this moment with his family.

“My wife has motivated me and supported me 100 percent,” said Soares. “Everything I do is for my wife, my daughter, and my family.”

Author: Maj. Anthony Clas – 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division Public

1st Armored Division NIA Chapter Hosts Awards Ceremony

FORT BLISS, Texas — Why is the sky blue? Ask any Soldier serving in an infantry capacity and you’ll surely get your answer.

Soldiers from 4th Battalion “Regulars”, 6th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division: Capt. Gregory Gaines, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Aaron Smith, 1st Sgt. Moises Arreola, 1st Sgt. Christian Beyer; and Sgt. 1st Class Jeff Howerton, G3 Operations for 1st Armored Division, were inducted into the Order of Saint Maurice; and Mrs. Christy Beyer, family readiness group leader for 4th Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, was awarded the Shield of Sparta during the 1st Armored Division National Infantry Association Awards Ceremony at Fort Bliss, Texas, Sept. 12.

“It’s important to have a professional organization to honor infantrymen and non-infantrymen today is something special,” said Lt. Col. Colin Mahle, native of Sacramento, California, commander of 4th Battalion “Regulars”, 6th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, and president of the 1st Armored Division National Infantry Association Chapter. “To echo what Maj. Gen. Patrick Matlock said, ‘the framework of any world-class maneuver formation is world-class infantrymen.'”

The Order of Saint Maurice and the Shield of Sparta are awarded by the National Infantry Association and the U.S. Army’s Chief of Infantry. This is to recognize the significant contributions made by Infantrymen, Infantry supporters, and spouses.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Aaron Smith, native of Boulder, Colorado, maintenance technician with 4th Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 3rd ABCT, 1st AD, prides himself on his 19 years, of 24 years of service, supporting infantry and armor units.

“I think any infantryman, or, armor individual cannot do their job without sustained readiness being a focus at some point,” said Smith. “It’s a combined effort on all levels. We need infantrymen to do what they do best, but they cannot do their job without me or my mechanics making sure they have the platform to maneuver them onto the battlefield. It’s a collective balance of skills and relationships.”

When Chief Warrant Officer 3 Smith was asked how it felt to be inducted into the Order of Saint Maurice? He responded with the following sentiment.

“I can’t even describe it, I’m humbled by it because supporting them (infantry units) for so many years, I never would’ve imagined this was even an option for me,” said Smith. “But to have an infantry command recognize me for my support, it means more than any award I’ve ever received so far.”

Author:  Maj. Anthony Clas  – 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division Public Affairs

Combat team receives first tanks following armor conversion

FORT BLISS, Texas – Soldiers with 6th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, received their first M1A2 SEP V2 Abrams Main Battle Tanks August 21.

Fourteen tanks arrived as part of the 1st ABCT conversion from a Stryker brigade to the Army’s sixteenth armored brigade combat team June 20.

Ready First Brigade was chosen based on a military value analysis (MVA) of Fort Bliss demonstrating efficiency and effectiveness in aspects such as training facilities, land for maneuvering, deployment infrastructure, and quality of life for Soldiers and families.

The division will now be made up of three armored brigade combat teams and meet the Army’s intent of having a more lethal and capable force better able to overmatch any potential near-peer adversaries.

“Now we have the ability to decisively engage the enemy whenever our scout troops come into contact with them,” said 1st Lt. Daniel

Serrano, troop executive officer with 6-1 CAV. “This gives the squadron a lot more firepower as opposed to (before with) the Strykers.”

The entire training and certification process will be supervised by an Abrams Operator-New Equipment Training team from the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command. The process will give the armor crewmen both classroom and hands-on training before testing the tanks on a field during a gunnery live-fire exercise this year.

Soldiers with 6th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, conduct preventive maintenance checks and services on newly acquired M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tanks at Fort Bliss, Texas, Aug. 22. | U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Kris Bonet

“Every tank has an OPNET instructor on it and they are taking them (the Soldiers) through that training,” said David McLelland, an OPNET instructors. “They are being instructed on the correct way to do safety checks on the driver, commander, loader and gunner crew compartment stations. And then we get them ready for gunnery.”

Pvt. Jacob Valenzuela, an armor crewman with 6-1 CAV, was one of various Soldiers who waited eagerly for the arrival of the tanks. He graduated one-station unit training and arrived at his unit back in February.

“Before the tanks arrived, I was learning the concepts of tactical movement and patrolling,” said Valenzuela. “After six months, it was surreal to see everything come to fruition; seeing it all come together. I feel satisfied.”

The Ready First Brigade is also expecting to receive Bradley Fighting Vehicles, Paladin artillery systems and the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) as part of the conversion later this year.

Author: Staff Sgt. Kris Bonet – 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division

Soldiers with 6th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, conduct preventive maintenance checks and services on newly acquired M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tanks at Fort Bliss, Texas, Aug. 22. | U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Kris Bonet

Ft. Bliss’ Bulldog Brigade Retains the Best while in South Korea

CAMP HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea – “Giving all I got. I ain’t never going to stop. Army changed my life…” Lyrics to the “Giving All I Got” U.S. Army Recruiter Anthem plays on as 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team “Bulldog”, 1st Armored Division (Rotational), 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-U.S. Combined Division, exceeds their retention expectations while forward deployed to the Republic of Korea for a nine-month rotation.

The 3ABCT, 1AD deployed to the Korean Peninsula and has been conducting combined training with their ROK Army allies since September 2018 to provide 2ID/ROK-US Combined Division with fully trained units for an increased overall readiness posture and still managed to exceed the Army retention standard.

“First of all, I would like to say that our Soldiers out here (Republic of Korea) were very motivated, and pure readiness played a factor in our retention program,” said Command Sgt. Major Michael Oliver, native of Detroit, Michigan and senior enlisted advisor to 3ABCT, 1AD. “We were the first brigade to close out our mission from the three large brigades in 1st Armored Division – Strike, Ready, and us Bulldogs.”

Bulldog Brigade has conducted more than 230 training and cultural events, in terms of combined training exercises to increase interoperability; as well as community partnership activities to further strengthen the ROK-US alliance throughout their deployment. However, meeting retention goals did not come without its challenges.

“We exceeded what we were supposed to for the first half (of the fiscal year), but it was definitely one of the more challenging missions I’ve ever had because we began with a huge disadvantage,” said Master Sgt. Nicholas Thompson, native of Las Cruces, New Mexico and career counselor for 3ABCT, 1AD.

“When the mission started on October 1st, Main Body 1 (first deployment flight from home station to Korea) was leaving, so we really didn’t even start retention actions until mid-November, almost December.”

Bonuses, duty station and assignments of choice are some of the incentives offered to Soldiers by career counselors to entice retention, however, career counselors at each unit also have to take other aspects into consideration that may impact a Soldiers decision to re-enlist.

“What is making the soldiers disgruntled? What is the problem? Are they being taken care of as far as their finances go?” he said. “We get involved in their personal stuff. We’ll even have spouses call and ask questions because it’s their career too. There’s a lot involved.”

Unit career counselors also have to consider the quality of individuals they are able to retain because continuation of service is not guaranteed. Military service is regarded as a privilege, not a right, due to the responsibility, risk, and high-operational tempo each service member will be required to face during their tour of duty.

“I believe serving in the Army is a privilege and we should only retain the best of the best in the military,” said Oliver. “We’re glad to have Soldiers serve, and we appreciate all of those who want to stay, but this is a hard job and we need the best for the Army from our American society.”

Author: Maj. Anthony Clas  – 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division Public Affairs  

Fort Bliss officer receives prestigious award

Field Artillery Capt. Christopher M. Dixon, an officer assigned to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment in the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team stationed at Fort Bliss, was recently selected as the winner of the prestigious Edmund L. Gruber Award for 2018.

Named after former Brig. Gen. l Edmund L. Gruber, a decorated artillery officer who penned and composed the official Army Song, only one field artillery Soldier is selected for this prominent award every year by the Fires Center of Excellence in Fort Sill, Ok. The award recognizes “superb individual thought, innovation and overall excellence that results in significant contributions to or the enhancement of the Field Artillery’s war fighting capabilities.”

Capt. Dixon served as a battalion fire direction officer for his unit, bringing about innovation through the development and implementation of new firing techniques for the M777 howitzer while at the National Training Center Rotation 19-01 last autumn. In addition, Capt. Dixon was also directly responsible for playing a major role in the betterment of his unit and development of his subordinates.

He designed a physically challenging test that was implemented by his unit which produced measurable data of the physical readiness of soldiers in the battalion. He also designed and implemented a junior officer certification program for use in his unit that ensured professionalism and competence in new leaders.

Capt. Dixon said winning the Gruber Award was a great honor but stated he couldn’t have achieved this accomplishment alone.

“This is an individual recognition, but artillery is always a team fight, a culmination of the efforts of many individuals. Without a combined team effort as a unit every day to accomplish the mission, none of us would be able to achieve anything.”

Capt. Dixon, who is currently serving as a battery commander in 2-3 FA, also said his main priority during his time as fire direction officer was to help the battalion fight its battles and accomplish its mission.

“Every day, I just focused on my job,” he said.

Author: 1st Lt. Paul Wissmiller


1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team Converts to Armored Brigade

After almost two decades of conducting counterinsurgency and stability operations, the Army is pivoting its strategic focus to countering the threat of near-peer adversaries.

Part of its strategy is to add more firepower and protection to its force with the addition of a 16th armored brigade combat team.

On June 20, the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team (Ready First Brigade) of the 1st Armored Division conducted a ceremony at Fort Bliss, Texas to officially convert the brigade into the Army’s newest armored brigade combat team.

Distinguished guests from the Fort Bliss and El Paso community watched two of the brigade’s infantry regiments convert into armor regiments. Guests also took part in a large social event for the brigade’s members and families, alumni of the new armor regiments, and members of the El Paso community.

Last September, the Army directed the Ready First Brigade, to convert to an armored brigade. Since then, the brigade turned in more than 300 Stryker vehicles and is expected to begin receiving Abrams tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, Paladin artillery systems, and the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) this summer.

“Today’s conversion ceremony represented a significant change for the 1st Armored Division as our 1st Brigade Combat Team will now be manned and equipped to accomplish Army-assigned missions which require armor assets,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Cobb, 1st Armored Division. “The soldier formation representing the newly minted 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team looked strong as ever standing and marching on the Ready First parade field as veterans and local community members witnessed this historic event. I am truly proud of our Ready First soldiers who represent America’s Tank Division.”

The focus of the conversion ceremony was to commemorate the approximately 80 years of brigade history while also celebrating this significant moment. The brigade commander, Col. Michael J. Trotter, was the keynote speaker for the ceremony.

“Today is a celebration that’s important not just to the Ready First Combat Team, the 1st Armored Division, but perhaps more importantly, our Army and our nation,” Trotter said. “We are celebrating this conversion from a Stryker brigade combat team to an armored brigade combat team but make no mistake about it, this is about enhancing our strategic readiness and our strategic lethality. We now stand on the cusp of 2020 and we face evolving threats to this great nation. As we have always done, we adapt to face those threats to our democracy no matter where they may come from. Today we face threats from near-peer adversaries that are more real today than at any time since the 1980s.”

In conjunction with the conversion of the brigade, 3rd Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment (Rifles) redesignated as 4th Battalion, 70th Armor Regiment (Thunderbolts) and 4th Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment (Buffaloes) redesignated as 2nd Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment (Iron Dukes). The historic 41st and 17th infantry regiments can both trace their lineage back to the Civil War, while the 37th and 70th armor regiments trace their origins back to the beginning of America’s tank force.

The brigade will participate in new equipment training, which will take approximately a year to fully develop its armor capabilities in preparation for future contingency missions.

The addition of a third armored brigade combat team marks the first time that all of the division’s maneuver brigades are armored-based since the division resided in Germany circa 2008. Having similar formations within the division greatly enhances efficiencies in personnel and equipment support across the division.

Fort Bliss was chosen as the site of the Army’s 16th armored brigade because it is the most efficient and effective installation based on a military value analysis (MVA) of such aspects as existing maneuver land, training facilities, deployment infrastructure, and quality of life for Soldiers and families.

Author: Maj. Brett Lea – 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division

U.S. Army Chaplain and Powerlifter uses his faith to uplift himself

Going above and beyond is what a Soldier is known for and why it is such a respected profession in the US.

For Chaplain (Capt.) Bryan Kimble, the desire to serve in the military came from his father who once served on active duty in the same battalion Kimble is assigned to today: The 1st Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment, part of the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division.

“I grew up with such a strong love and appreciation for those who serve our Republic, and later I found out that many in my family served- in fact over a dozen in our nation’s War for Independence,” said Kimble. “As I continued to pray for those serving, I felt God working on my heart to serve the nation and our Soldiers, and I rose my right hand to swear in.”

This “Bandit Shepard”, however, is not your ordinary chaplain. His passion for weightlifting allowed him to represent the “Bandits” during the 2019 Natural Athlete Strength Association Texas Championship in the MPF (Military, Police, and Firefighter) and Masters-Pure division of 198 lbs. weight class for both Power Sports and Unequipped Push Pull.

“Power Sports is strict curls, bench press and deadlift,” explained Kimble. “It is raw- no support equipment but a 4-inch belt. Unequipped Push Pull is a bench press and deadlift- also raw.”

Both divisions require drug free lifters; MPF with three years of being drug free and Masters-Pure, a lifetime.

Chaplain (Capt.) Bryan Kimble, chaplain for 1st Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment | . (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Felicia Jagdatt)

Overall, he placed first in each of these divisions for his weight class: first overall (based off coefficient) for Power Sports, and forth for the Push-Pull event.

In this process, he also set six Texas state records – four in Power Sports and two in Push/Pull. He is now on the National Top 250 Rankings at 22nd for Power Sports and 34th for the Push/Pull event.

To complete such a feat comes from a strong support system that he has found in his faith and his “best-half,” Jessica.

“They give me strength and motivation to get up to hit the gym at 5 a.m. prior to unit physical training.”

Kimble had to go through many obstacles to get to the level of competitor he is today.  He had to undergo surgery for severe migraines in 2017, which led to an extreme recovery phase.

“The medical professionals would not allow me to complete more than four reps, let alone compete,” he said. “I had to gradually take time after the surgery to recover and start working towards completing a one-mile run again.”

He knew, due to his faith, that he would recover and be able to pursue his passion through hard work and continued dedication.

He urges Soldiers to also go after their passion and offers his story to help them see the positive in down times.

“Make sure you are doing it all for the right reasons,” warns Kimble. “Learn proper techniques prior to pushing yourself and stay away from short cuts such as performance enhancing drugs. Overall, never accept defeat. If you fail, then learn and adapt but never accept it as a defeat.”

Author: Staff Sgt. Felicia Jagdatt – 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division 

1st Armored Soldiers work together to save a battle buddy’s life

CAMP HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea – Combat medics, trained to provide care at a moment’s notice, demonstrated their technical competence as they performed lifesaving steps to a battle buddy clinging to life.

“I poked my head in (the room) and I saw him on his back,” said Sgt. Justin Shove, combat medic specialist and Marysville, Washington native, 4th Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment “Regulars,” 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division (Rotational).

Shove ran into his suitemate’s room and witnessed Cpl. Michael Decoeur, Crawfordville, Florida, combat medic specialist, 4-6 Inf. Regt., unconscious, eyes wide open, his skin turning blue and gasping for air at Camp Humphreys, Republic of Korea, Feb. 20. Decoeur was having a heart attack.

“His body was compensating for the fact that his heart stopped,” said Shove.

Shove checked Decoeur’s pulse and noticed his heart rate was weak, but steady. He contacted Sgt. Juan Ramos, Phoenix, Arizona native, platoon sergeant, 4th Bn. 6th Inf. Regt., who called 911 to send emergency medical services to the barracks.

Shove then left the room and banged on Spc. Joel Galavez, 4-6 Inf. Regt. combat medic specialist and San Jacinto, California native, screaming his name, then returned to Decoeur’s side to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Ramos soon arrived and the three medics provided CPR in shifts until EMS arrived at the scene.

“The EMS personnel kind of worked around us,” said Ramos, 4-6 Inf. Regt. “They could tell we knew what we were doing. We kept performing CPR until the emergency medical technicians had to take Deceour to the hospital.”

Decoeur was transferred to Hallym University Sacred Heart Hospital in Dongtan in critical condition. He was later medically evacuated to Tripler Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii for advanced care and rehabilitation.

Decoeur’s teammates credit constant training and the high state of readiness enforced throughout the brigade for their actions on that day.

“It was really no time to be scared,” said Ramos. “We saw what we needed to do and luckily we had a positive outcome to where he has the best chance to make a full recovery.”

Decoeur’s status has since improved.

“When your leadership says, ‘you gain muscle memory by doing it over and over again,’ it’s true,” said Ramos. “I was surprised at how fast it comes back to you when you are put in a situation that actually requires the knowledge.”

Author: Sgt. Alon Humphrey  – 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division Public Affairs

Dakota Family ‘Leads the Way’ as Staff Sgt. Earns Ranger Tab

“Rangers Lead the Way!” The U.S. Army Ranger motto symbolizes its unique mission set; the ability to deploy forces within 18 hours of notification.

One of the requirements to be an Army Ranger is to complete the grueling 61-day Ranger School at Fort Benning, Georgia. This arduous task requires training and support from loved ones.

Staff Sgt. Austin Forby, cavalry scout, 2nd Squadron, 13th Cavalry Regiment “Dakota,” 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division (Rotational), graduated from Ranger Class 04-19 at Fort Benning, Georgia, April 5. His wife, Emily, and son, Kason, were there to see him earn the highly-coveted Ranger Tab.

“Without a strong family support network I would have never made it through Ranger School,” said Forby. “The letters I received from my family and friends really helped push me through the hard times.”

The Forby family comes from the small town of Benton, Illinois, which continued to support them throughout Cole’s military service and multiple deployments.

“I, along with different family members and community members at home wrote him over 100 letters,” said Emily Forby, who is also the family readiness group leader for Troop A, 2-13th Cav. Regt. “We come from a small town that really supports Cole in everything he does.”

Cole is preparing to join the rest of 2-13th Cav. Regt. forward in the Republic of Korea assigned to the 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-U.S. Combined Division in the coming weeks.

Emily and Kason will continue to support their troop as he goes forward along with the rest of his support network from back home, who kept him going through Ranger School.

“After I made some posts on Facebook about Austin being at Ranger School, I had lots of people ask for his address so they could write him,” she said. “Our hometown is amazing with support.”

Graduates and cadre members of Ranger School Class 04-19 gather for a class photo at Fort Benning, Georgia, April 5, 2019. Ranger School is a 61-day combat leadership school designed to test the physical and mental toughness of Soldiers who volunteered to join the elite ranks of U.S. Army Rangers or who have desired to master the fundamentals of small-unit tactics. (U.S. Army photo courtesy of Emily Forby)

Author: Maj. Anthony Clas  – 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division Public Affairs 

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