News: Skipping the St. Patty's Celebration
Story by Sgt. David Bruce
CAMP ATTERBURY JOINT MANEUVER TRAINING CENTER, Ind.—The Boston Irish punk rock band the Dropkick Murphys blared out of computer speakers as Soldiers of the 2-107th Cavalry Squadron clean weapons. This is the closest these Soldiers got to celebrating St. Patrick's Day. Unlike most Americans that celebrate the saint that drove snakes out of Ireland, these Soldiers are just happy to be back in America. B and C Troops of the 2-107th Cavalry Squadron just returned from a deployment to Iraq.
The Ohio Army National Guard unit was deployed from June of last year to March of this year to Camp Taji, Iraq, with the 155th Brigade Combat Team, about 21 miles south of Baghdad. While in country they performed combat logistics patrols, known colloquially as convoy security according to Sgt. Juan Rios Gray, a scout with B Troop 2-107th Cavalry Squadron.
"I was the truck commander of the rear truck while providing convoy security," said Gray. "This was my second tour. Compared to my last one this one was pretty easy going."
Gray had deployed once already to Iraq, the first time in 2005.
"This was a fairly smooth deployment, it was quick. There was a steady pace of missions and nothing too stressful," said Gray.
Gray's future plans now that the mission is over is to move to Champaign, Ill., and start a new life with new opportunities.
Like Gray and many others of the 2-107th, Sgt. Jeremy Vannorsdall, of B Troop, has been to Iraq prior to this recent deployment.
"I was there in 2006 and 2007," said Vannorsdall. "This was different from the first time Vannorsdall said. "This time things have gotten a lot better [in Iraq)]. There was not a lot of action."
For Spc. Ryan Drake of B Troop, however, it was his first deployment.
"For a first deployment, you're pretty nervous because it's Iraq. But once we got there and got situated, it wasn't that bad," said Drake.
Now that he is back, Drake said he is already looking forward to his next deployment. "I volunteered to go with this unit. My unit will start to pre-mobilize in 2011 for Afghanistan."
For right now, though, Drake is just happy to be back.
"It's great. I love the smell. All you ever smell [in Iraq] is fire. They burn everything," said Drake, referring to trash. "When I get home, I'm going on vacation with my fiancée, and just get back to life before I have to leave again," he said.
Capt. Christopher Schond, commander of C Troop 2-107th Cavalry Squadron is no stranger to deployments having been deployed to Bosnia, Jordan and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Like Drake, though, this was the first combat deployment for C Troop.
"We conducted over 400 convoy security missions, traveling in excess of 250,000 miles while escorting over $3 billion in military technology, government property and commodities," said Schond.
"Now that I'm home, I hope to enjoy as much time with my wife and children as possible," said Schond.
So while the rest of the country celebrates St. Patrick's Day by wearing green, this group of Citizen-Soldiers will be putting the green away for a while.