News: Rededication of FOB Kutschbach
Story by Maj. Joel Anderson
KAPISA PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Forward Operating Base (FOB) Kutschbach, formerly known as Tagab, was renamed or rededicated in rightful memorial to Staff Sgt. Patrick F. Kutschbach almost four months ago.
Combat veterans who have served together share a very special bond and those who have fought together on the same patch of ground and lost one of their brothers-in-arms there have an even more special bond.
Such is the case for special forces soldiers from 1st Battalion, 10th
Special Forces Group (Airborne), of Stuttgart, Germany, serving as members of Combined Special Operations Task Force Ten (CSOTF-10) in eastern Afghanistan.
They were able to mark this past Veterans’ Day, 2012 in an especially memorable way…gathering to recognize the ultimate sacrifice of one of their own, Staff Sgt. Pat Kutschbach.
Kutschbach was killed during combat operations on November 10, 2007, just a short distance up the southern end of the Tagab Valley from the FOB, which as previously mentioned, was most recently known as FOB Tagab.
Although some people may not think that the name of an isolated and rocky scrap of land in a rugged mountain valley in eastern Afghanistan is a big deal, Capt. Flinton, U.S. Army, will
quickly tell you, to him and his soldiers, as well as many others who were fortunate enough to have served with Kutschbach and fought on this very spot, it is a very big deal indeed.
Back in November, on the day of the ceremony, Flinton himself opened the ceremony with Kutschbach’s impressive biography, recognized his surviving family members Flinton and concluded with the regimental motto of the Special Forces, “De Opresso Liber…To Free the Oppressed…”
Next, Lt. Col. Sean Berg, commander of 1st Bn., 10th SFG (A) opened his remarks where Flinton left off, “To free the oppressed! That is the regimental motto of the Special Forces and that is exactly what Pat was doing, just up the valley from here.”
“Pat and his team got here when this was still just Fire Base Pathfinder. They pulled in here with their Humvees facing out and took a knee. They didn’t have MRAPs, there weren’t any yet.
Eventually, in order to expand operational reach in their team’s sector, “Operation Fury II”, a 27-vehicle convoy was launched into the valley.
Kutschbach, riding in the trail vehicle was seriously wounded when the vehicle he was riding in was pummeled by a fusillade of insurgent RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade) and machine-gun fire. He was medevac-ed to BAF (Bagram Airfield), but died of his wounds.
Berg continued by saying, “there are guys who went to the Q-Course (Special Forces’ Qualification Course) with Pat…there are still guys, who when we’re sitting around the fire at night, still talk about Pat and how, when the chips were down, they always knew they could count on Pat.”
“We have very few, what I would consider sacred duties as leaders, but the most sacred duty we have is that we never leave a fallen comrade. That’s why, when we found out that we would be reassuming responsibility for this base, we knew we had to rededicate this spot to Pat,” Berg concluded.
Following Berg’s remarks, the formation was called to attention and the ‘Ballad of the Green Berets’ began to play over the base public address system.
The ceremony also included a special fly-over when two U.S. Air Force, F-16 Fighting Falcon jet fighters and two A-10 Warthog attack jets screamed overhead in tribute to Kutschbach.
Once the aircraft streaked out of sight and over the nearby mountain tops, a radio call went out and a three-round volley of 155mm, rocket-assisted projectile (RAP) rounds were also fired in tribute.
“It is very important for those of us who not only knew Staff Sgt. Kutschbach and served with him, but have also spent a lot of time out here in Kapisa, that his sacrifice not be forgotten,” Flinton said. “Most of all, we want his family to know, he will not be forgotten…he is definitely not forgotten.”
For soldiers serving in a combat zone, such as the Special Forces soldiers of TF-10 at FOB Kutschbach, the true meaning of Veterans’ Day is never be far from their minds and it never will be…especially since the ultimate sacrifice for freedom made by one of their own in the windswept Tagab valley in 2007 and the Forward Operating Base in Kapisa that will forever bear his name.
Therefore, in order to properly honor the memory and sacrifice of Staff Sgt. Pat Kutschbach, the soldiers of CSOTF-10 ask that the rededication and memorialization of FOB Kutschbach be properly recognized from this point on, once and for all.