News: TF White Devil Soldier displays competence under fire
Story by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston
FORWARD OPERATING BASE SPIN BOLDAK, Afghanistan - Training in the Army involves repetition, which offers its Soldiers a muscle-memory type of learning. This enables Soldiers to react appropriately in combat situations.
At Forward Operating Base Spin Boldak, Afghanistan, Pfc. Wesley Dimmick, a mortarman from Two Rivers, Wisconsin, embodies this concept. He serves in Mortar Platoon, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division.
Dimmick has an undeviating way when carrying out orders, his leaders said, which has given him an outstanding reputation amongst his leadership.
“My favorite thing about private Dimmick is that he executes without question,” said Capt. Alex Kearns, Dimmick’s platoon leader. “His work ethic, attention to detail, physical fitness and not being afraid to ask questions has allowed him to excel. If he doesn’t know something, he’ll find out.”
Dimmick’s platoon sergeant, Staff Sgt. Jeremy Costa, shed more light on Dimmick’s character.
“Pfc. Dimmick is a quiet professional. He’s always motivated, and very smart. He never does anything begrudgingly,” he said.
A mortarman in the Army has two roles: his first is infantry-based - understanding combat movements, tactics and competently operating a variety of belt-fed weapon systems; His second is to accurately shoot the Army’s array of mortar systems.
“My favorite part of my job is infantry, but I love shooting the 120’s [120mm mortars],” Dimmick said. “There’s nothing like watching the base plate settle and dust fly while dropping a 30-pound round down range.”
With love for his job, and competence as his guide, Dimmick’s skills have already been successfully battle-tested during his first year in the Army.
Kearns explained that Dimmick’s mortar platoon came under fire in late May as they were supporting the Afghan National Security Forces in disrupting an enemy home-made explosives cell in a cave in the remote mountains of Kandahar province. Upon approaching the cave, they immediately started taking small arms fire from within. Already in danger from exposure to bullets, the terrain also provided a precarious situation for Dimmick and his fellow mortarmen. The hillside on which they found themselves was slick rock with no foundation to provide a base for the mortar systems. Dimmick’s training kicked in and he boldly responded.
“Typically the mortar bipod will dig into the ground for stabilization, but they were on rocks,” Kearns said. “So instead of engaging with his M4 [rifle], which most would do, he stabilized the bipod by laying down and grabbing the legs in the middle of a firefight, which exposed him while the rest provided cover fire with their rifles. He did his job and made sure his weapon system was up and running.”
Costa, Dimmick’s platoon sergeant with HHC, 2nd Battalion, 504th PIR, 82nd Airborne Division, who was alongside Dimmick during the engagement, said Dimmick “was taking pretty effective rounds about eight feet all around him, and he didn’t budge. He held onto those bipod legs so the gunner could effectively shoot mortars into that cell.”
With bullets bouncing around him, Dimmick experienced a rush of adrenaline. Amid the excitement his reaction was calm and collected. His knowledge and training kicked in and he knew exactly what to do.
“I thought to myself, ‘Holy cow this is real.’ We had rounds hitting and ricocheting all around us… seconds felt like minutes, and minutes felt like hours… I didn’t feel fear though, cause I knew what to do, and my buddies had my back.”
Soldiers have to have confidence in one another to do what is needed to survive in such situations. Dimmick’s trust in his comrades comes from training and living in a very unique deployment environment with his platoon, he said.
“It’s like a brotherhood. You have their back and they have yours,” Dimmick said. “You’re very close to them; you live with them every single day. You know them, you trust them, and you know they’re going to do the right thing.”
He feels things go smoothly with his brotherhood of mortarmen, and that unit cohesion helps him to get through his deployment.
With his reliability as a Soldier, and his sound character, Dimmick is showing signs of a promising career in the military, Kearns said.
“I want to go to as many schools as I can, and to be the best at my job,” Dimmick said. “I want to work my way up to gunner, then from gunner to squad leader, and from squad leader to sergeant. Then, hopefully, I can go to Ranger school, and then [special forces] selection.”
Dimmick has an exceptional, fail-safe way of taking on life full force, and said he wants to do these things to prove to himself that he can do them.
“I think that life is supposed to be challenging, and if there’s something you don’t think you can do, you owe it to yourself to prove that you can.”