By Army Sgt. Allison Churchill
Special to American Forces Press Service
June 11, 2009 - Soldiers in 41st Fires Brigade and around this forward operating base took time June 5 to consider safety as the brigade's deployment nears its end. The day's events included a crew safety inspection for the unit's mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles and Humvees, a fun run, safety briefings, an awards ceremony and a talent show.
"This was not a reaction to bad things happening, but actually proactive preventive fires," said Army Col. Dick Francey, commander of the brigade and the base. "At the 12-month mark, I felt it was a good mark to take a deliberate assault on complacency."
During the vehicle inspections, crews were judged on a point scale on their roll-over drills, weapons clearance procedures, proper gear storage, vehicle readiness and a written test. The judges said they noticed good weapons clearing habits among the crews.
"They've got that down," said Army Sgt. Maj. Robert Norvell, 2nd Battalion, 20th Artillery Regiment operations.
The MRAP and Humvee crew from the brigade's 589th Brigade Support Battalion took first place in their categories.
"From the get-go, 589th BSB has been at the forefront," said Army Spc. Brandon Stringfield of Palestine, Texas, personal security detachment, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 589th BSB. "We have great [standard operating procedures], and our companies work really well with each other."
Various safety-related awards were given. Army Spc. Cole Brown of 1-77th Field Artillery Regiment was recognized for being the first man to finish the 3K Safety Stand-down Run, and Army Spc. Rachel Penney of Company B, 589th BSB, earned first place among the female runners.
Francey and Army Command Sgt. Maj. Kelvin Hughes presented Battery A, 1-77th FA Regiment, and Battery C, 1-21st FA Regiment, with the Brigade Commander's Safety of Excellence Award for being free of Class A, B and C ground accidents and preventing the loss of resources for the second quarter of fiscal 2009. The batteries of 2-20th FA Regiment and companies of 589th BSB and Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 41st Fires Brigade, received the Commanding General's Organization Safety of Excellence Award, awarded by the now- redeployed 10th Mountain Division command group, Army Maj. Gen. Michael Oates and Army Command Sgt. Maj. James Redmore.
One Soldier, Spc. Nathan Alford of Weatherford, Texas, received the U.S. Army Guardian Award, awarded by Army Brig. Gen. William Wolf and the U.S. Army Safety Center, for saving a mother and her baby during a car accident. Alford was on leave at the time and minimized the effect of the mother's injuries.
Army Cpl. Jon O'Brien of Boston, 772nd Military Police Company, won the talent contest.
(Army Sgt. Allison Churchill serves with the 41st Fires Brigade.)