A Soldier’s Story

First Sgt. Robert Jennings

See also: In the Military

1st Lt. Nick Suhr, left, of Laguna Niguel, Calif., serves Thanksgiving dinner to Spc. Michael Elliott of Strathmore, Calif.

Life goes on
in spite of rebel efforts

THIS week, we continued our increased presence in the city, trying to deter our enemy from conducting operations. With coalition forces and the Iraqi army in control of most of Fallujah, the enemy that escaped the city is trying to rear his ugly head in our town.

We have been very successful at rounding up and destroying enemy terrorist cells within Kirkuk over the last few weeks. We will continue to gather intelligence and act on leads in order to either capture or kill our enemy.

21 Nov 1750 hours » Automatic fire breaks the night's silence. Reports come over the radio that a firefight has broken out just south of the patrol base. Police were dispatched and reported that a taxi tried to conduct a drive-by shooting on a man entering a building, but was engaged by the guards of the building and drove away.

This has been one of the more common tactics of late. With the success that we have had over the last few months, the enemy is counting success as living to attempt another attack, instead of actually hitting someone.

23 Nov 1200 hours » Today we conducted round two of our school supply handout to some of the local schools. We were able to deliver supplies to second shift students at all three Amu Shabi schools and one primary school in the village of Bajuwan. This time, we didn't have any car bombs or loud explosions to distract our mission. We just had good community relations with an ignored, poverty-stricken community.

23 Nov 1600 hours » We received a report that a police patrol discovered a roadside bomb and had the Iraqi bomb squad defuse it. The bomb was made of a 160 mm high explosive tank round with motorcycle battery initiator.

24 Nov 1042 hours » We received another report that a police patrol discovered a roadside bomb and the Iraqi bomb squad defused it. This is another sign that the training we are conducting is paying off. Our officers seem to be taking a larger role in protecting their neighborhoods; eight months ago, they would have called us to take care of it or just ignored it all together.

25 Nov 2000 hours » A barrage of gunfire is heard from the patrol base. Reports are coming in that a drive-by shooting just happened south of the patrol base. The ready squad mounts up on the Humvees and prepares to move out.

The police send a report that they are on the scene and conducting an investigation. An Iraqi National Guard patrol stops to help a motorist broken down on the side of the road. As they are assisting him, a car conducts a drive-by, killing one Iraqi soldier and the motorist and injuring one other Iraqi soldier.

This is one of the more frustrating things we deal with on a daily basis. On one hand, you have Iraqi people trying to come together as one community; on the other, you have a small population that is only trying to cause unrest. And it's the civilian population that is suffering the most.

Tonight we lost a fellow Iraqi soldier trying to make a difference and an innocent bystander for no apparent reason. Until we get rid of this small population of unrest, this country will continue to struggle.

God bless and aloha.


Iraqi way of life
fascinates Army rifleman

This week meet Spc. Zachary Robinson from Lincoln, Neb., who has been in the Army for two years. Robinson is an M-240B machine gunner and rifleman in 1st Platoon, 2nd Squad.


Zachary Robinson

When he found out he was deploying to Iraq, he says he was anxious and curious about the people. He said, "I was wondering about the people, how they live, and if we would be accepted for what we were doing. Now that we're here, I feel the majority of the people have accepted us."

He continued: "I was really surprised at how much broken English most of the people could speak. You can have a pretty good conversation if you're patient."

I asked Robinson where he saw Iraq in the future. He said: "As long as we are here, I think they will continue to improve. We need to continue to train the police, Iraqi national guard, and the new army. I think it's going to be a few years before we have withdrawn all the military from the country. Hopefully, the upcoming elections will go smoothly and eventually speed things up."

I asked Robinson what was one of the most intense things he's done, and he said: "We had just blown up a big cache of rockets and were heading back to the patrol base. I was the rear vehicle responsible for rear security. I heard four or five rounds from an AK-47 and started searching for targets. I saw the guy duck back into his car and noticed the car in front of him was dressed up like a wedding party. The whole convoy of vehicles pulled over as soon as they saw I was about to open up. I don't think he'll be firing his weapon around military convoys anymore."

I asked Robinson about what he feels is the most enjoyable thing he does. He said: "I love when our platoon has patrols. You can do a thousand patrols in this city and each one is different. The variety of patrolling this city is an adventure every day."

Robinson finished his interview by saying hello to his mother Christina in Tulsa, Okla., his father Richard, brothers Sean and Jason, and all his family and friends back in Lincoln: "We'll all be home before you know it."

1st Sgt. Robert Jennings is deployed in Iraq with 4,000 25 Infantry Division (Light) soldiers from Schofield Barracks. He writes a Sunday column for the Star-Bulletin that began Feb. 1, 2004. Jennings, a 20-year Army veteran, has been assigned to Fort Riley, Kan., Fort Campbell, Ky., Fort Lewis, Wash., and Camp Casey in South Korea. He is now on his second tour at Schofield Barracks. He has been deployed to Panama, Japan, Germany, Egypt and Thailand. As the first sergeant of Alpha Company, Jennings is in charge of 135 soldiers.

See the Columnists section for Jennings' earlier dispatches.



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