Once more into the breach


POSTED: Saturday, October 04, 2008




”;I definitely see progress. The government of Iraq is doing better, and the Iraqi security force also is doing better and the population is turning away from terrorist activities.”;

Lt. Col. Jerry Turner
Operations officer, 3rd Brigade



Three generations of the Leonguerrero family from Guam stood proudly on Schofield Barracks Sill Field parade grounds yesterday as 4,500 soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division prepared to leave for another combat tour in northern Iraq.






        Commander: Maj. Gen. Robert Caslen


Size: As big as Ohio


Troops: 20,000


Jurisdiction: Four Iraqi provinces—Ninewa (1), Salah ad Din (2), Diyala (3), and Kirkuk (6). Coordinates with three Kurdish-controlled provinces: Dahouk (4), Irbil (5) and Sulaymaniyah (7)


Combat Brigades: Three—3rd Bronco Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division (Hawaii); 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division (Texas); and 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division (Alaska)


Aviation: 10th Combat Aviation Brigade (New York)


Source: 25th Infantry Division



Their commanding general, Maj. Gen. Robert Caslen, acknowledged that at least 40 percent of the soldiers in his 3rd Brigade Combat Team returned home from Iraq just 12 months ago, and another third of his soldiers have been to Iraq in other deployments.

Spc. Henry Leonguerrero Jr., assigned to the 3rd Brigade's 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry, is among the few soldiers who will be going to Iraq for the first time.

His father, Henry Leonguerrero Sr., said his son enlisted last year after graduating from the University of Guam. The elder Leonguerrero served in the Navy during the Vietnam War and was a hospital corpsman with the 2nd Marine Division in Da Nang.

He admitted that he was concerned and worried about his son.

“;I was just hoping that the Army doesn't send him to Afghanistan,”; said the elder Leonguerrero as he carried his 2-year-old grandson, Henry III, “;because it's more dangerous there.”;

Lt. Col. Jerry Turner, 40, will be making his fourth Iraqi combat tour. His first one was in 2003 as a troop commander in Baghdad, and he was with the 3rd Brigade when it made its first trip to Iraq in August 2006.

“;I definitely see progress,”; said Turner, 40, who is now the 3rd Brigade's operations officer. “;The government of Iraq is doing better, and the Iraqi security force also is doing better and the population is turning away from terrorist activities.”;


;[Preview]  4,500 Schofield Soldiers Deploy To Iraq

  Hawaii's largest and most famous army unit are on their way to join 'Operation Iraqi Freedom.' 


Watch  ]





Caslen will command three combat brigades—including the 3,500 soldiers of the 3rd Brigade from Schofield Barracks—as the head of Multi-National Division-North, an area the size of Ohio.

Caslen told reporters that during the upcoming 12-month tour, 25th Division soldiers will be experiencing “;a whole series of transitions,”; beginning with the election of a new U.S. president in November, the Iraqi provincial elections that will take place in January and the scheduled Iraqi presidential elections just before the Tropic Lightning soldiers leave late next year.

In addressing the departing soldiers, Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, the Army commander in the Pacific, said they will enter circumstances different from what they saw during their last tour. “;The situation is much improved,”; said Mixon, who commanded the 25th Division during the 2006-2007 deployment, “;but it is not resolved.”;