Lava rolls in support of Wrangler Brigade

Story and Photos by Sgt. Tracy Ellingsen
311th Sustainment Command Public Affairs Office

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait — The Alpha Battery Soldiers were anxious to get on the road. They decided to forgo dinner and instead eat the midnight meal served at the next base they were going to. After all, it was their first convoy escort mission up to Iraq that they would be performing without the watchful eye of their predecessors.

Not only was this the first CET mission for Alpha Battery, but it was the first for the 29th Infantry Brigade Combat team in support of the 4th Sustainment Brigade based at Fort Hood, Texas, since arriving in theater.

“I’m very proud right now,” said Capt. Timothy Spencer, their company commander. “It was a long process coming here and I’m glad to be doing the mission we trained to do.”

The Hawaii based National Guard unit is now poised to conduct convoy escort missions, as well as other security operations, throughout Iraq and Kuwait, in support of the Wrangler Brigade. In a few months leaving for another mission may feel a little routine for the teams, but departing for the brigade’s first mission was anything but.

Before heading out the Soldiers posed for pictures while standing in front of and on top of one of their Humvees. At 5 p.m. sharp the familiar bugle sounds of retreat began to play. There, in the sunset, the Soldiers saluted the flag – a tradition that is performed at U.S. military bases throughout the world – not knowing where they might be watching the flag go down over the next week.

This wouldn’t be the first trip to Iraq for the Alpha Battery Soldiers; the previously traveled on a training mission with Wrangler security force battalions,
With only a short amount of overlap time between the two units, there was only enough time for one of these training missions, but the Alpha Battery Soldiers got some unexpected training while traversing the roads of Iraq.

“They got hit on their first convoy,” said Spencer, referring to a small arms attack the unit encountered. “First time out and they already saw action.

For this mission both the company commander and first sergeant were on hand to check and double check the equipment and safety measures the Soldiers take each and every time before heading out on the road.

The commander of the convoy escort team, 2nd Lt. Bingham Tuisamatalele, gathered the Soldiers in a huddle for a prayer, and then they packed their gear in the vehicles and headed down the road, a cloud of dust trailing.

Spencer looked on with an obvious sense of pride and likened watching their departure to watching one’s children leave for the first day of school.

“I have a lot of confidence in them,” he said. “They trained hard.”

 

Alpha Battery, 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team
A gunner with Alpha Battery, 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, a National Guard unit out of Hawaii, conducts his final checks on his crew-served weapon before departing on their first convoy escort mission with the 4th Sustainment Brigade.