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A Soldier’s Story

First Sgt. Robert Jennings

Sunday, June 6, 2004


See also: In the Military

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COURTESY FIRST SGT. ROBERT JENNINGS
Purple Hearts were awarded in a ceremony last week to six Alpha Company soldiers that were injured in an ambush on May 2.




6 soldiers earn
Purple Hearts for attack


An "information angel" report: Spc. Charles Woolwine has moved to an outpatient house on the Walter Reed Army Medical Center campus and seems to be learning how to do things on his own. As expected, he is working extra hard in occupational and physical therapies. His mother asks that concentrated prayers continue, as they have helped immensely over the last five weeks.

Spc. Juan Hernandez has been transferred and is settling in Fort Bliss, Texas. Pfc. Corey Ferguson has begun his physical therapy at Tripler Army Medical Center on Oahu. There is no change to the status of Spc. Joseph Salinas.

The week began by awarding the Purple Heart to the six soldiers that were injured on May 2 but returned to duty. Even though no soldier will ever forget the losses of May 2, this gives a little closure to the whole incident.

The soldiers were awarded their medals by Lt. Col. Mark Dewhurst, battalion commander, at the Alpha Company patrol base.

30 May, 1400 hours >> A report of a large cache has been reported. Staff Sgt. Robert Ryder, platoon sergeant for 1st Platoon, leads a mounted patrol to the area.

Again we have taken weapons from the enemy. This is the fifth large cache we have been able to recover. Ryder said the local population had gathered this cached ordinance from various parts of the village.

Mortar rounds, artillery rounds, rockets, land mines and a surface-to-air missile were all recovered from this cache. Of course, the surface-to-air missile and artillery rounds were the most important finds.

After the ordinance was loaded, Ryder said the people looked overjoyed. One mother told an interpreter: "This stuff was removed to protect the children. Our homes are livable again."

2 June, O-dark 30 hours >> A series of large explosions rock the Alpha Company patrol base. You can hear glass shattering and hitting the ground throughout the neighborhood.

Immediately, leaders' voices throughout the patrol base are barking commands, and soldiers don their gear and head to their designated fighting positions. From the roof, we could see fireballs going into the sky. First reports on the radio were that some explosives on the air base were ignited when a grass fire caught an ammo bunker.

Then a second thundering explosion rocks us again. Seeing this one makes it a whole lot less stressful. The explosions are coming from about 3,000 meters away, but still have the power to blow out windows in the neighborhood.

Our neighbors are in the street looking up to our roof for explanations. We call down to the interpreters and they start explaining to the neighbors.

My initial battle damage assessment to the patrol base: 15 windows blown and 125 minor heart attacks.

Next week I will be giving an update on Ms. Israa Talib. For those of you who are regular readers, she is our small-business loan experiment.

God bless and aloha.


Soldiers' Addresses

I have updated the addresses for the injured soldiers, if you would like to write them a letter of encouragement.

Spc. Charles Woolwine and Spc. Joseph Salinas
Walter Reed Army Medical Center
Malogne House, Room 433
6900 Georgia Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20307-5001

Pfc. Corey Ferguson
A CO 1-21 IN BN
Schofield Barracks, HI 96857

Spc. Juan Hernandez
No address available.


Soldier finds satisfaction
in giving aid

This week I am featuring Spc. Joseph Crugnale from Las Vegas, Nev. He is the company commander's senior radio telephone operator and has been in the Army for two years.


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Joseph Crugnale: Senior radio telephone operator has been in Army for two years


Crugnale is in charge of the company's communication equipment and accompanies the commander on almost every combat mission.

"I believe we are helping the people here do what they couldn't for themselves before we got here," he said. "I think they are on the right track to developing a country that not only the rest of the world can be proud of, but the people of Iraq can be proud of."

I asked him what the most intense part of the deployment has been.

He said: "It has to be this week, when the explosions on the airfield rocked our patrol base. I thought we had been hit by a rocket or something. I was stunned for about four or five seconds."

I asked what the most satisfying part has been and he said: "We gave this little boy some clothes. We noticed he had been wearing the same thing for a few weeks; he even had women's sandals on. "After we gave him the clothes, he seemed so grateful and had this huge smile on his face."

When asked about home, he said: "I want to say hi to my sister Martine in Stoughton, Wis., my aunts Robin Nordstrom and Jennifer Whitman, and my uncles John and Lauren Nordstrom and Scott Whitman in Las Vegas. I also want to say hello to my uncle Frank and aunt Mara in Loxahatchee, Fla. Things are going well, time is flying, and I should be home before you know it."


First Sgt. Robert Jennings

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