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Tag: iraq


Lewis-McChord soldier killed in noncombat-related incident in Iraq

From News Tribune reporter Stacey Mulick:

A 29-year-old soldier from Joint Base Lewis-McChord has died in Iraq in a noncombat-related incident, the Department of Defense announced this morning.

Spc. Christopher W. Opat of Spencer, Iowa, died Tuesday in Baquah, Iraq. Opat had been assigned to the 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.

No other details about the incident were immediately released.


Friends remember soldier’s smile, tenacity

Photo by Joe Barrentine/The News Tribune

Pfc. Erin McLyman wanted to return to Iraq. A broken neck couldn’t stop her.

The Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier suffered the injury during leave earlier this year. She told her commanders in the 296th Brigade Support Battalion she planned come back as quickly as she could.

Against the odds, McLyman rejoined her comrades on Feb. 14.

And less than a month later, an indirect-fire round killed the 26-year-old Eugene, Ore., native.

“It is no secret that she quite easily could have parlayed her circumstance to personal advantage,” Lt. Col. Elisabeth Crooks said Wednesday during McLyman’s memorial service at Lewis-McChord. “But Pfc. McLyman’s sense of duty and loyalty to her team drove her back to theater to stand beside Arrowhead soldiers in combat, once again.”

Crooks, who was reading comments made by battalion commander Lt. Col. Hayden Hungerford during a memorial service earlier this month in Iraq, didn’t give the date or events that led to McLyman’s injury. But Crooks talked of an extensive recovery period and said there was initially little hope McLyman would be medically cleared to return to combat.
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Local links, March 31

I’m back from a few days off. If you haven’t read it, check out my Sunday stories about the Stryker vehicle. In the main story, I covered a bit of the history and what folks across the military (from joes to generals) and Congress think about the vehicle today. In a sidebar, I wrote about future modifications to the vehicles. And you should check out the print edition: It’s got plenty of cool graphics, a box descrbing the 10 variants and a timeline of the Strykers vis-à-vis Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Other local links:

Military spouses

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Federal Way soldier dies in Iraq

A soldier from Federal Way has been killed in Iraq, though few details about her death have been released.

The body of Spc. Erin L. McLyman arrived at Dover Air Force Base, Del., aboard a military aircraft early Monday morning. The identification of McLyman was released by the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Center at Dover Air Force Base, Del.

The Pentagon has yet to release more details about McLyman. Such a release, which often trails the initial notification from Dover by up to a day, includes age, unit, service history and more details about the fatal incident.


Mission complete, I Corps comes home

Photo by Drew Perine/The News Tribune

Give credit to the soldiers of I Corps: They know how to arrive in style.

A C-17 Globemaster III aircraft landed on Gray Army Airfield at Joint Base Lewis-McChord on Sunday afternoon. The 50 soldiers filed onto the flight line, uncased the unit colors and stood in formation by a nearby hangar. Families watched a live video feed inside and erupted as the doors opened.

The soldiers marched inside. The corps command attached the Iraq battle streamer. Speeches followed. Lt. Gen. Charles Jacoby, at times unable to contain a wide smile, at last turned to the formation and dismissed the soldiers.

With that, I Corps’ first official combat deployment since the Korean War came to an end.

“A year ago, you said farewell to us and we left on a difficult journey, all of us committed to this great effort,” Jacoby, the corps commander, said during a brief speech. “It was a worthy mission during a historical time.”
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Local links, March 9

Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited Joint Base Lewis-McChord troops in southern Afghanistan yesterday ahead of a planned operation to take back parts of Kandahar province.

He spoke with soldiers from 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment at Forward Operating Base Frontenac. From the AP story:

“You all have had a very tough time,” especially at the start of the tour, Gates told members of the 800-soldier unit. “You came into an area totally controlled by the Taliban. You fought for a critical battle space, you bled for it and now you own it.”

He told the troops that as the

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4th Brigade deputy commander: ‘The will of the people triumphed’

The bombs began erupting around Baghdad shortly before the polls opened, and explosions rang out every five minutes by mid-morning.

But throughout western Baghdad province, an area overseen by Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldiers, tens of thousands of Iraqis defied the violence and cast their ballots in the second parliamentary election since the American-led invasion.

The last bomb exploded by 11:30 a.m. And the 21 platoon-sized quick reaction forces from 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division standing by in the event of an attack never received a call for help.

“The (bombers) tried to spread the perception that Baghdad was under siege,” deputy brigade commander Lt. Col. Darron Wright said Monday. “They failed in their attempt to intimidate the voters.”
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Lewis-McChord troops prepare for election

(This story will run in Sunday’s News Tribune)

American troops should be out of sight from polling places today as Iraqis elect a parliament for the second time since the fall of Saddam Hussein. But Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldiers are working behind the scenes throughout the country.

From Baghdad to Basra to Diyala, many of the 12,000 troops from Lewis-McChord have trained Iraqi soldiers to secure today’s polling. They will also provide support and remain on call to intervene in any attacks.

For many troops, the vast majority of whom arrived in Iraq last year, today’s election is the climactic event of their 12-month deployment.

And for ordinary Iraqis, the election represents a pivotal moment in the nation’s post-invasion history. Much remained unknown as the country went to the polls: Would there be violence? Would the Sunnis, who largely boycotted the 2005 election, vote en masse? Would Nouri al-Maliki remain the prime minister? And if not, how will his successor view the presence of American troops?

“If they are secure, legit, credible elections, and the people come out and vote – and there’s every indication right now they’re going to vote across all sectors of society – and then that government is seated, that’s a huge step forward for Iraq,” Brig. Gen. Peter Bayer, the I Corps chief of staff, said in an interview in February.

I Corps and its roughly 1,000 soldiers are in the midst of returning home to Lewis-McChord, although the headquarters is still officially in charge of day-to-day U.S. military operations in Iraq for the election.

The Americans will provide assistance to Iraqi security forces in areas of expertise where the latter is lacking, such as aerial reconnaissance, intelligence analysis, close-air support, explosive ordnance disposal and medical evacuation.

U.S. troops are positioned throughout the country, far enough from polling sites so Iraqi civilians won’t notice but close enough to respond to an attack.

Such an intervention, Lewis-McChord officials stress, can only happen at the request of the Iraqi military.

“We’re not to be seen, but we’re not to be on bases either,” said Lt. Col. Darron Wright, deputy commander of 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division – a Stryker brigade deployed to western Baghdad.

Col. Steven Bullimore, commander of 17th Fires Brigade in southern Iraq, put it this way: “Be ready, stand by and stay out of the way.”

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