B Company helps with rebuilding in Iraq

Thursday, May 27, 2004

By Sgt. Justin Dietiker

Soldiers from the Perryville and Jackson armories set out on a one-year deployment to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom. They were given their orders in November and were told to report to active duty just a few days after New Year's Day.

They headed for Fort Riley, Kan., to begin their mobilization process and train up their soldier skills.

They fought the bitter, cold weather and pushed through the ice and snow for about a month to get the training complete.

There were countless tasks that needed to be trained on, and the days were long and the time for sleep seemed short.

After all the paper work, medical exams and training were complete, they got the order to head to the theater of operations.

They arrived in Kuwait in February. They did not know how long they would be there, but it was one step closer to being able to put the years of annual training and the focused training from the past month into play.

After a week or so, groups of the soldiers started filtering to the area of operations designated for the 1140th Engineer Battalion.

They were not there long before the missions started rolling in.

Some soldiers were tasked with the mission of helping train the new Iraqi military, a task that was not taken lightly by any of those soldiers helping support that mission.

The language barrier was a little hard at first, but with the help of local interpreters it was overcome with ease.

Other soldiers were tasked with convoy security missions. These missions never get easy for the simple fact that you never know if there is an ambush or an improvised explosive device, called an IED, placed along the road.

The insurgents are also known to blend in with the civilian population requiring the soldiers to always have their heads on a swivel as they pass through a populated area.

The heavy-equipment operators see their fair share of missions as they are constantly tasked with road repairs and upgrading the force protection in our area of operation. They haul dirt and gravel to fix the roads that Saddam and his regime ignored for so long.

Some of the soldiers are doing patrol missions to assist the Iraqi police in keeping law and order in an area that seems to be more populated by a lawless bunch of bandits than the good citizens.

Daily they find weapons hidden by insurgents and stop the hijacking of government contractor trucks.

The maintenance section of the unit is under constant pressure to get vehicles fixed as fast as it can so missions can be accomplished across the board. The section endures the extreme heat and blowing dust to keep vehicles in top condition.

Other soldiers destroy weapons and ammunition that are confiscated from insurgents or found in hidden places across the country.

For many of these soldiers, this is their first real-world deployment, and they are taking the bull by the horns. They get to see firsthand the effects that Saddam had on the local population.

The people over here are poor and have very little. The soldiers give the children water and food when they can. It makes you feel good when you see the smile on their faces.

Some soldiers relax by watching movies, television and playing video games. Others lift weights and run to stay in top physical condition. Others play basketball and softball in leagues put together by the soldiers themselves.

As Bravo Company members work to help the Iraqi people, they get the satisfaction of knowing they have done their part and have worked as hard as they can to get the job done.

Sgt. Justin Dietiker is with B Company of the 1140th Engineer Battalion in Iraq.

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