War on Terrorism

Monday, April 18, 2011

Live from Iraq

By Capt. Randall Ramm
Detachment Commander, C Company, 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment
Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs

Operations may be drawing down here in Iraq, but nearly 600 Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers remain on duty, including the 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment — and while bases may be closing and U.S. and coalition forces departing, our mission continues.

Our small unit of about 30 Soldiers spent months training in Wisconsin before heading to Fort Hood, Texas to join the rest of the C Company, 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation, from Lincoln, Neb.  From there we went to Kuwait to finish up our training, and finally to our respective bases in Iraq.

About 30 days ago 80-90 degree temps welcomed us to our new home for the next 10 months or so.  Here in Iraq our unit operates from four different locations.

Some Company C and D Soldiers live at Camp Speicher. Our Medevac compound and maintenance hangar is located tucked away from everyone else and has everything a soldier needs — living areas, work areas, shoppette, gym and dining facility are all a short walk away from each other. The folks in Company C have been busy with medical transport missions and training flights. Of all the sites where our Soldiers are located, Camp Speicher is the busiest in regards to flying medical missions.

Many of the Company C Soldiers at Mosul live and work in a building just off the airport. They have running water and flush toilets in the building, which is a great convenience. Other Soldiers live in metal containerized housing units, or CHUs, which are decent quarters but lack plumbing — Soldiers there use separate latrine and shower facilities nearby. The unit we replaced there has left and we are into a routine and ready for the months ahead. Northern Iraq is pretty quiet these days, but we stay sharp by conducting regular training missions.

The Soldiers stationed at Kirkuk spent February training with the outgoing unit, and now have assumed the medevac support mission. Living quarters here are large steel trailers divided into four equal 10 by 10 rooms, complete with Internet, TV, heat and AC, flushing toilets and hot showers. Soldiers there have also begun adding personal touches to their living quarters. So far the mission load has been low, which means things are calm. This part of the country seems very safe and is actually quite beautiful — there is lots of vegetation, and mountains about 50 miles away that make for a wonderful view on clear days.

We also have some Company C and Company D Soldiers stationed at Forward Operating Base Sykes near Tal Afar. They have been busy improving their base. The days are long, but they get by with friendship, fun and hard work.

Know that we are all very proud of the work we are doing here, but we also want you to know how much we miss you and appreciate your support. What’s going on back in the Badger State?

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