RFS concludes convoy security mission
Photos and story by Sgt. Chad Menegay
13th Sustainment Command Public Affairs
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE DIAMONDBACK, Iraq — The convoy security mission for Regimental Fires Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) is winding down in Mosul, Iraq.
The RFS safely ran supply convoys on some of the more dangerous routes in Iraq. Soldiers received small arms fire on many occasions and had multiple encounters with roadside bombs. Many of the Soldiers will return home with Combat Action Badges.
“They came here to do a job, and they’ve done it well,” said 1st Lt. Orlando Canales, 3rd platoon leader for G Battery, RFS, 278th ACR. “We’re (3rd platoon) leaving here, thank God, with no casualties.”
Members of 2nd platoon, G Battery, RFS recently survived a improvised explosive device detonation on a mission traveling from Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq to COB Marez, Iraq.
“It was a big flash of light, and then everything went dark all of a sudden,” said Spc. Terry Harris, a Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle driver with RFS, and a Lynchburg, Tenn., native.
Harris said the blast blew out the two passenger-side tires.
“Everyone was responding except for my gunner, because he couldn’t hear,” Harris said. “He had a perforated eardrum in his right ear. It turns out he was okay, no open flesh wounds.”
Harris, who now temporarily wears a neck brace, said his unit immediately pulled 360-degree security while medics checked and recovered the injured.
“I feel more honorable to myself than I ever could imagine,” he said. “I’ve earned my freedom, and I’m doing it for the people of my country.”
Harris said his commanding officer taught him to keep his head on a swivel, which he cannot do right now with his neck brace.
He has been doing administrative work out of the headquarters since the roadside bomb encounter.
“I would love to get back behind the wheel and back out on the road,” Harris said. “This office work is just killing a field Soldier.”
RFS Soldiers have been hit by roadside bombs, but they have also sighted some before they detonated, and thereby likely prevented tragedies.
Spc. Daniel Stringer, an MRAP gunner with 3rd platoon, G Company, RFS, and a Carrolton, Ga., native, spotted a roadside bomb May 8 while traveling on Main Supply Route Tampa to COB Speicher.
“It’s a pretty nasty road; it’s dangerous,” he said.
He spotted a bush approximately 5-6 feet away from the road.
“It was growing the wrong way,” Stringer said.
He said he gave the command to stop the convoy and confirmed it was roadside bomb.
“I was doing my ‘5s and 25s’ and found another one about 15 feet closer to us on the other side of the road,” Stringer said.
He said that guys in his convoy were happy and proud of him.
“They said, ‘hey, thanks for saving our lives’,” Stringer said. “I’m the proudest person in the 278th, I believe.”
RFS Soldiers also credit their MRAPs and advanced equipment for saving lives.
“These MRAPs are some tough machines,” Canales said, “and actually doing a damn good job of protecting the Soldiers out there.”
Canales believes the roadside bomb explosion that struck a vehicle early in his platoon’s deployment forced the troops to “take the mission more seriously.”
Canales said a 155-millimeter artillery round was hidden in the median; he was the convoy commander that evening.
“When I first received the call, I got chills,” he said. “I asked ‘can you repeat that last transmission,’ and a real calm voice came over the radio and said ‘we’ve been hit with an IED, we’ve been hit.’ We rolled up on the site where the MRAP was down. We started to scan, started to establish 360-degree security, and while that was being done, we noticed there was another hot spot immediately to my three o’clock, maybe 10-20 meters, that was an immediate threat. So, we recovered the personnel in the downed vehicle and with all sensitive items accounted for, we then moved forward to provide security and waited for Explosive Ordnance Disposal.”
There were no serious injuries.
Canales said when he reflects on that night, he thinks of it as an eye opener.
“This group of guys came together,” he said. “They mastered our (pre-combat checks) and (pre-combat inspections) with a very methodical approach.”
Canales said his advice to Soldiers running convoys in Iraq is to not underestimate the enemy.
“The enemy has many faces,” Canales said. “They have a lot of tricks out there. Once you start to think that you know the enemy, they change their TTPs.”
A Soldier with A Battery, Regimental Fires Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), walks the tarmac of the Mosul Airfield June 9 at Contingency Operating Base Diamondback, Iraq. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Chad Menegay)
Soldiers with A Battery, Regimental Fires Squadron, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) assemble in front of the tarmac of the Mosul Airfield June 9 at Contingency Operating Base Diamondback, Iraq. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Chad Menegay)