FOB Tacoma

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Archives: Nov. 2008

Nov.
29th

‘We want the soldiers to know that they’re not forgotten’

A cardboard moving box holding cans of shaving cream sat on the table in the garage, jammed next to hundreds of disposable razors and toothbrushes. Inside the house, other boxes held bags of trail mix, Xbox games, batteries and candy. Walking among the mass of supplies and volunteers could be difficult at times.

"My house has been overrun," said Susan Allen, the volunteer coordinator for Operation Homefront Washington. "The only place where there’s not Christmas stuff is our bedrooms and bathrooms on the second floor."

But 20 volunteers steadily sorted through the stacks of donated goods Saturday at Allen’s Yelm home and stuffed them into stockings destined for wounded soldiers at Fort Lewis. They wore Santa hats – trimmed with white stars against a blue background, like the American flag – as they filled the stockings with DVDs, disposable cameras, pudding cups and playing cards.

The 875 stockings will be delivered Friday to members of the Warrior Transition Battalion, a unit of soldiers with complex medical issues that helps them prepare for a return to their military careers or civilian life.

The donations came from both large corporations and individuals and in the form of supplies and money, Allen said. During a trip to the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Lacey last month, members of the nonprofit filled 10 shopping carts with stocking stuffers.

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Nov.
28th

Troops agreement clears Iraqi parliament

It got lost in the stories about the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, the warm-hearted Thanksgiving pieces and the previews of the frenzied Black Friday crowds, but the approval in the Iraqi parliament of a status of forces agreement between Baghdad and Washington could should have a major impact for tens of thousands of soldiers at Fort Lewis.


American soldiers will withdraw from cities and towns by June 30, 2009 — shortly before the 3rd and 5th Stryker Brigades are set to arrive in Iraq – and all troops will be gone by the start of 2012.


The

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Nov.
26th

Working up that Thanksgiving appetite


Members of the 593rd Sustainment Brigade’s 80th Ordnance Battalion played in a all-day long “ultimate football” tournament at Fort Lewis. Photo by Dean J. Koepfler.

Nov.
26th

A bond that spans time, plates of turkey and stuffing

Gordon Hold is an 81-year-old Army veteran who was stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Dudley Bang-Ura is a 36-year-old Fort Lewis soldier who is preparing for his first deployment next year.

Over plates of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pie, the two shared stories. Hold earned an airborne rating. Bang-Ura has yet to jump from an airplane. Hold drove trucks. Bang-Ura is a medic specializing in preventative medicine.

Forty-five years might separate the two, but they hit it off Wednesday during a Thanksgiving meal for soldiers and residents of a Tacoma retirement home.

"We’re getting to know each other. And he’s telling me a lot about jumping (from an airplane)," said Bang-Ura, a Tacoma resident assigned to the 227th Company, 62nd Medical Brigade. "I’m starting to get some inspiration."

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Nov.
26th

Stryker brigades adopting FCS technology

Here’s a cool story from the Army Times: The Pennsylvania National Guard’s 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team will deploy to Iraq with 15 unmanned aerial vehicles.


No word if the two Fort Lewis-based Stryker brigades set to deploy next year will use similar UAVs, but the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment of the 3-2 Strykers recently trained with another component of the Future Combat Systems: The small unmanned ground vehicle, or SUGV (right).


The robot can be sent into buildings, around corners or into bunkers to check for enemies. One

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Nov.
25th

Geren: An injury is an injury, the Army believes

The Los Angeles Times has a story today about a regulation change that narrowed the definition of a combat-related disability, which is drastically affecting the benefits thousands of veterans receive.


The Pentagon says it’s following Congress’ orders when it passed a “wounded warrior” law in January. But the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee told the paper that the narrower definition was not the intent.


Secretary of the Army Pete Geren was at Fort Lewis earlier today, and I asked him about it. Here’s what he said.


"In the Army, our approach is

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Nov.
25th

War’s lasting effects on a ‘soldier’s general’

Carter Ham is known as a “soldier’s general”, the guys at Fort Lewis say. Cares about his guys. Sees soldiers as people, not pins on a tactical map.


I talked with one senior enlisted soldier today – don’t want to use his name because we were just chatting and I’m not sure he knew I might use his anecdote – who got hurt pretty badly in Iraq. As he was being evacuated, Ham had tears in his eyes. The general promised the soldier he would get the best care the Army could provide.


He’s a riser: Ham arrived

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