FOB Tacoma

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Archives: March 2008


Anniversary slide show

Joe Barrentine, our multimedia producer, put together a slide show of photos by our guys and some from the wire services to go with our anniversary package.


A captain’s hard choice

A friend passes along this piece from Sunday’s Washington Post, written by a captain at Fort Lewis.

I know a lot of guys in this fellow’s situation. We are asking a lot of them. I can also understand, though, why the Army would want to hold off on making the "pause" available until after a guy has spent his time in command. It’s such a crucible, and in my 20+ years of covering the news I have yet to find a position that places as much responsibility on the shoulders of people in their late 20s/early 30s,

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A Fort Lewis & Washington timeline of the Iraq war

I wanted to post an unedited version of the Iraq war timeline that I put together for our fifth anniversary coverage in Wednesday’s paper. Newshole being what it is, only so much of it got in.

I apologize that the entries are not sprinkled with links; had I thought of this sooner, I’d have done that.

&bull January 2003: The buildup begins. About 1,200 soldiers from Fort Lewis get the word they are bound for the Middle East. Hundreds more National Guard and reservists also begin mobilizing to deploy, or replace soon-to-be deployed service members at Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base. A Coast Guard port security unit from Tacoma is also called up for duty in the Persian Gulf.

&bull Early February: The Army loads the 62nd Medical Brigade and the 555th Engineer Brigade’s trucks, Humvees and helicopters aboard cargo ships at the Port of Tacoma. No protesters are there – that will change with later load-outs and returns.

&bull Early March: While some troops wait at Fort Lewis, others get the word to go quick, including the truckdrivers of the 513th Transportation Company and the combat engineers of the 864th Engineer Battalion. The 47th Combat Support Hospital opens in Kuwait. The 40th Transportation Company arrives to haul gas for the invasion forces.

&bull March 19:
The war begins. Units from the 864th break the berm at the Iraq-Kuwait border to make way for the 3rd Infantry Division’s lead elements.

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More comments on the 5th anniversary

Thanks to all the folks who responded to our invitation. We had intended to run some of them in the paper, but someone *cough, cough* couldn’t keep his Iraq war timeline to a manageable length, and we ran out of room.

Ah, but that’s old school. We got the web. So here are those others who sent me their thoughts via e-mail. Thank you all for sharing.

A mother’s nightmare. This is how I describe my son’s two deployments to Iraq. I do not like to watch the news, because it upsets me so much.
When I wake in the morning the first thing I do is turn on the computer to see if he has e-mailed, even if it’s a forward, just to know that he is safe. Then I can go on with my day.
I go to Mass every Sunday, and I light candles for my son. Have a few priests that I know keeping him in their prayers, hoping they have more of an influence than me.
I know that this is what he wants to do, and it’s his job, but I will not rest until he is stateside.
Every month since he has been in Iraq, a few family members and his sisters and I make up a love package and we take turns sending it to him, to share with his fellow soldiers. He is never forgotten. At Christmas, each item was individually gift-wrapped.
His picture was made into an ornament and hung in our county courthouse on a special tree made for the soldiers.
Soon my prayers will be answered and he will be back at Fort Lewis, where he is stationed.
I even quit smoking in August, so I can see him retire from the military.
I cry alot, but there are so many other mothers, who have lost their children at war, so I am not alone. I try not to cry when my son calls me, but it’s so hard. I do cry after we hang up. If I miss a call from him I feel terrible. His messages are still on the answering machine, and I play them once in a while just to hear his voice.
How has the war affected me, you ask? It has taken a piece of my heart. I want my son to come home. It’s been a long 18 months!
Thanks for listening!
Harriet Schaeffer, Pottsville, Pa.
mother of CWO4 Bernard Milyo, Jr., FOB Warhorse, Iraq.

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That lockdown Saturday at McChord

I’m on Reader Rep duty this week so won’t be posting much, unless things slow down (%@*!*&# TV listings!!!).

Anyway, if you were stuck in that lockdown Saturday afternoon at McChord Air Force Base, here’s what happened:

Sometime after 1 p.m. a Pierce Transit bus came to the main gate on a regular run. Nobody on board but the driver. Routine security check, unattended backpack. Eeek! Shut down the gate. Call the bomb squad to check it out. Bag removed safely, negative findings, gate reopened by about 2:30 p.m. “You can never be too sure with these things,”

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Busy time for protests against the war

Which stands to reason, given the anniversary coming up Wednesday.

Iraq Veterans Against the War is holding its Winter Soldiers event through the weekend in Silver Spring, Md. You can follow the statements on a live blog or watch and/or listen via streaming video or audio or by satellite broadcast. Details here. There’s a viewing party 7-9 pm today at 808 N. Union Ave. in Tacoma.

Meantime, you all have probably seen the back-and-forth in the blogosphere about what is supposed to be a demonstration Saturday afternoon at the military recruiting

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We want your thoughts about the 5th anniversary of the Iraq war

With the Iraq war’s fifth anniversary coming up next Wednesday, we’re putting together local material to go with a package of wire-service stories to mark the milestone.

It’s been a time of great anxiety and change for service members and their families at Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base, at the Washington National Guard, and for anyone else who has had someone they care about in harm’s way.

We’d like to invite readers to share their stories about the anniversary. How has the Iraq war changed your life?

Feel free to post in the comments

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School of hard knocks?

Spotted this alma mater on the back of a proud alumnus’ SUV out at Fort Lewis this past weekend. Lt. Col. William Palmer of the Washington National Guard developed an attachment to the place when he was there with an armor task force for the January 2005 elections.