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Archives: March 2008


Bad Voodoo’s Fort Lewis connection

Tuesday night’s Frontline, “Bad Voodoo’s War,” on PBS, features a former 3rd Brigade soldier, Sgt. 1st Class Toby Nunn. He is a first-tour Arrowhead vet who is now back in Iraq with a California National Guard unit. (That’s him on the link.)

One of his former soldiers told me, “He’s a great friend and probably the best NCO that I worked with during my 5.5 years in the Army.”

Nunn also wrote a book, “Northern Disclosure,” which I regret to say I haven’t read yet. More about him here.

(Hat tip:


Tanker nominated to be Fort Lewis No. 2

Catching up, a new deputy commanding general for Fort Lewis was among the general officer announcements by the Pentagon earlier this week.

To wit:

Col. Peter C. Bayer Jr., who has been selected to promoted to brigadier general, deputy commander/assistant commandant, U.S. Army Armor Center and Fort Knox, Fort Knox, Ky., to chief of staff, I Corps and Fort Lewis, Fort Lewis, Wash.

Bayer – bio here – was the G3 at 3rd ID for the opening of the Iraq war and later commanded the 11th ACR from Fort Irwin on its tour in northern

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14th Engineers heading back to the box

Combat artist Patrick Haskett painted this great piece depicting the 14th Engineer Battalion’s demolition of a hotel in downtown Tikrit in 2003.

Fort Lewis’ 14th Engineer Battalion is heading back to Iraq for the third time. Deployment ceremony is this afternoon at North Fort.

They were there at the beginning, and again from November 2005 to October 2006.

More from the ceremony this afternoon.

UPDATE: Here’s the story I’m sending to my editor in a second.

One of the Army’s most decorated engineer units is on its way back to Iraq for a third tour.

The 14th Combat Engineer Battalion shivvered through a deployment ceremony Thursday at Fort Lewis. In a couple weeks the 500-plus soldiers will board planes for the Middle East, and soon after that they’ll be crossing north from Kuwait to forward operating bases in Kirkuk and Tikrit, officials said.

"Most of the soldiers here will only dream about cool weather like this in July," said their commander, Lt. Col. Pete Helmlinger, as his braced in formation against the chill made worse by a biting wind.

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Another murder court-martial in the home stretch

Another murder trial is nearing its conclusion at Fort Lewis, this time, in the case of an Army sergeant accused of killing another soldier’s wife two years ago in her home on post.

Attorneys expect to make their closing arguments as soon tomorrow morning in the court-martial of Sgt. Godfrey J. Hurley, accused of premeditated murder in the March 11, 2006 slaying of Lisa Nossett.

Nossett, 28, was found dead in her home in the post’s Old Hillside housing area. She lived there with her two daughters while her husband, Staff Sgt. Christopher Nossett, was serving an unaccompanied tour in South Korea.

Lawyers were making slow progress Tuesday in a court-martial that began March 17 before an Army judge, Lt. Col. John Head. An eight-member panel that includes two colonels is hearing the case.

Hurley, 40, faces life imprisonment if he is convicted. The 16-year Army veteran is assigned to the 62nd Chemical Company and has been stationed at Fort Lewis since December 2002.

There has been a steady succession of murder cases at Fort Lewis the past two years:

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“The other” rollover

Staff Sgt. William Rose and Brett Moore finally got their medals Monday four years after their heroic actions outside Samarra. They saved five other guys from a Stryker that wound up upside down in nine feet of water near Samarra.

You can read the Army narrative to go along with the awards here for Rose and here for Moore.

As I mentioned in my story in Tuesday’s paper, they not only saved lives, they probably saved their commanders and the Army from a considerable amount of heat. With the brigade already reeling from

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Benefits for the ones the soldiers leave behind

We ran the New York Times story Friday about the death benefit that is paid to spouses and relatives of U.S. service members killed in Afghanistan and Iraq — a very difficult subject. (NYT version here.)

One reader in Yelm sent an anonymous letter to our editor that I think might reflect how others felt about the story. Our letters folks don’t run anonymous letters but they forwarded it to me:

Concerning “They coped with a loss – and then with a gain”, this article upset me very much!

The article gives the impression that

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Dubik’s successor named

The Pentagon on Friday announced that Maj. Gen. Frank Helmick has been nominated to succeed Lt. Gen. Jim Dubik as commander of the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq. That’s the effort to train and equip Iraq’s security forces.

No word on the timing; the guess here is that it will be a bit before Helmick’s promotion to lieutenant general and nomination are confirmed in the Senate, and then he’ll go over and shadow Dubik for a while to learn the job. (Dubik’s nomination was announced in January 2007, and he started work in Iraq in May.)

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81st Brigade gets its mob order

The mobilization order that they’ve been waiting for has come for the Washington National Guard’s 81st Brigade Combat Team, the Guard announced Wednesday.

No surprises. The mobilization follows the alert order the brigade got last October. The 81st will go on active-duty in mid-August, do its pre-deployment training at Fort McCoy, Wis., and then head to Kuwait and on into Iraq.

The DoD’s current policy for mobilization of National Guard and reserve units will have them on no more than 12 months active duty, from the time they’re mobilized to the time they come home

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