News: Bayonets remember and honor their fallen: Words of wisdom bestowed upon new-entry soldiers
Story by Sgt. Richard Wrigley
FORT STEWART, Ga. - “If you guys have your cigars, go ahead and light them up,” instructed 1st Sgt. Scott Collum, of Hinesville, Ga., senior enlisted adviser of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.
Past and present soldiers of Company B “Bayonets,” 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, along with other members of the Spartan Brigade, gathered to remember their fallen comrades here at the Warriors Walk, Sept. 20, the one-year anniversary of when Sgt. Jason Swindle was killed in action.
“Unfortunately, on 20 September, 2012, while sitting in a truck pulling security not more than 300-400 meters away from our ‘safe-zone’ Sgt. Swindle’s truck was hit with a Rocket Propelled Grenade,” related Collum.
Collum explained how everyone at their forward operating base heard the explosion, as it was so close, but when the call came over the radio, the report was that they there was only wounded. After hearing this he headed over to the Aid Station to see his soldiers when they arrived. When he met up with the truck’s crew he found out things were not as they had been reported.
“When I saw [Swindle] on the stretcher I buckled - I took a knee because I wasn’t prepared for that, I should have expected KIA, but I was told it was just wounded. I was not prepared,” Collum said.
Many used this time to speak about the fallen, remembering their lives, their actions in combat, and the men they were. They also shared other experiences of battle, and lessons they learned from them, in order to better prepare the soldiers who were there and had not yet had the chance to experience combat for what may come.
“I had known Sgt. Swindle for years, when you saw that red hair you knew he was around. He was a big dude, a great dad, a loving husband, and he was gone in an instant,” Collum said.
Staff Sgt. Eddie Adams, a platoon sergeant within the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, 2nd ABCT, served with the Bayonets during 1-64th AR’s last deployment, and he spoke about another comrade that was lost in battle. Cpl. Bryant Luxmore, who was killed by enemy small-arms fire June 10, 2012, while conducting security operations in Panjwai, Afghanistan.
“Luxmore was just a damn good dude all the way around. It took about six other good dudes just to fill his shoes - he did everything in our platoon,” Adams reminisced.
Collum then went on to show those in attendance another fallen soldier, a friend of his, 1st Lt. Robert Collins, who was killed in action during their deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2009-10, when his Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle was hit by a improvised explosive device while on patrol.
“Let me tell you about Lt. Collins - he was the All-American child. His parents were retired lieutenant colonels, he was the captain of the football team, he was homecoming king, and his girlfriend was homecoming queen. He graduated west point and came here to be a platoon leader … he was an awesome dude, a great guy,” Collum related.
When Collum was told that the patrol had been hit, he and others raced out to secure the area, yet Collins had already been medically evacuated. Collum was reassured though that Collins was good, and that he was even talking. Relieved by this, Collum returned to his base only to find out that Collins had not made it, Collum explained.
“I was just like - I lost it. I took it for granted, once again I was not prepared,” said Collum.
It was clear that the message Collum wanted to impart upon the soldiers in attendance of the memorial, seasoned veterans and newcomers to the Army alike, was to be prepared.
“Here is what I learned: Always be prepared,” Collum said.
“If your supposed to have 210 rounds you take 210 rounds, not 209, because these guys will tell you, that one bullet makes a difference ... When you go to the range treat it as if it is really combat, because the zero of your M4 Rifle is probably the most important thing you have out there, because when you are shooting at the enemy, he is shooting back,” said Collum.
However when all was said and done, it was clear that the message the first sergeant was trying to impart was not just about being prepared to fight.
The message was also that you need to be prepared for the possibility of loosing your fellow soldier, you need to be prepared to continue the fight when that happens, and you need to be prepared to remember them.
This work, Bayonets remember and honor their fallen: Words of wisdom bestowed upon new-entry soldiers, by SSG Richard Wrigley, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.