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    Texas native goes from thick of fighting to rebuilding Sadr City

    Texas Native Goes From Thick of Fighting to Rebuilding Sadr City

    Photo By Sgt. Zachary Mott | Staff Sgt. Matthew Radcliffe, a Spring, Texas, native, provides security for a member...... read more read more

    By Sgt. Jerry Saslav
    3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division

    FORWARD OPERATING BASE WAR EAGLE, Iraq – "When we first got here, I would have never expected any of the stuff to happen, never expected it to happen, so it teaches you to prepare for anything," said Staff Sgt. Matthew Radcliffe, a native of Spring, Texas.

    This is Radcliffe's second tour in Iraq. He is a military policeman by trade, but during this tour he has been involved in everything from direct fire engagements with the enemy to escorting reconstruction teams across northern Baghdad.

    "He is not the type of guy to bang his own gong. He's very talented, and I think he probably doesn't think what he did is extraordinary because he's probably been successful his whole life," said Lt. Col. Michael Pemrick, the deputy commanding officer of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Multi-National Division – Baghdad.

    In the past nine months, Radcliffe, who now serves as a squad leader with the Military Police Platoon, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Special Troops Battalion, 3rd BCT, 4th Inf. Div., has, by his own account, performed more than 200 combat patrols in and around Sadr City and conducted various missions from detainee backhaul to direct fire engagements with the enemy.

    He is currently providing security for the embedded Provincial Reconstruction Team responsible for rebuilding governmental services in Iraq. He provided security for civil affairs teams and worked with Iraqi security forces in the Sadr City and Adhamiyah Districts of Baghdad. Radcliffe served on Pemrick's personal security detachment until recently when he took over his duties as a squad leader.

    "He was the lead truck in my PSD. Not only was he competent in moving us around the battlefield safely, he's also a very good dismounted leader and led his men through many situations that were hazardous with no issues," said Pemrick.

    In late March, special groups criminals violated the Muqtada al Sadr-ordered cease fire. It was decided that the Iraqi army, with MND-B forces assistance, would move into Sadr City to help quash the uprising.

    "The mission here for United States Forces, of course, is to try and pass the torch to the Iraqi forces, try to get them trained up, get them to learn how to do their job better. Part of the way we do that is by leading by example," said Radcliffe.

    As the IA conducted its initial push into Sadr City, among the MND-B forces present were Pemrick and his PSD team.

    "The IA was conducting the push and we were there to supervise," said Radcliffe.

    They ended up doing more than supervising.

    "There were a couple of times when the IA were trying to take Phase Line Gold; we were dismounted with them and Sgt. Radcliffe was our point guy. He was up with the point IA guys. There's IED's [improvised explosive devices} going off, RPGs [rocket propelled grenades] and small arms fire, general confusion, it was dark, he never faltered," said Pemrick, a native of Greenwich, N.Y.

    "A lot of that was morale boosting and helping them out along the way," said Radcliffe.

    "He gained the trust of many of the IA Soldiers, who got to work with him, and they drew confidence from his example. As he moved forward, they would move forward with him. He was a key member of that whole situation," said Pemrick.

    Radcliffe received the Army Commendation Medal with Valor for his actions in Sadr City.

    "Us [U.S. troops] pushing forward with them has given the IA a lot of confidence in their abilities," said Radcliffe.

    This teamwork has paid off.

    "It [the IA's confidence in their abilities] helps them conduct the raids that they're doing up north of the wall. A lot of the stuff that they are doing on their own are because of those events in Sadr City," said Radcliffe.

    The IA's confidence in their abilities and taking the lead on missions is a welcome sight for Radcliffe.

    "It's like you've been training a football team for a while. You see them in practice; you've helped them in their drills in order to become an effective football team. You're the coach on the sidelines, and you get to see them play their first game and they win," said Radcliffe.

    Radcliffe then moved on to providing security for the civil affairs teams and embedded Provincial Reconstruction Teams, who are working with the Iraqi government to help rebuild the country. These teams head out into cities and town to see what needs to be fixed, built or rebuilt. They would decide what would help the community and hire a contractor. The teams would regularly stop by to check on the projects progress.

    One project was a school.

    "We were there for the initial check ... when the school was falling apart at the seams. Then we get to go back to the schools reopening. To see the difference that's been made, that part is really cool," said Radcliffe.

    This gave Radcliffe a chance to see Iraq slowly being rebuilt. It also sent him back into Sadr City.

    "That's probably the most surreal portion for me," said Radcliffe. "Six months ago, they were fighting us. They were trying to kill us. Now you go through the area, people have their shops open; they're going back to school.

    "They're rebuilding the buildings, talking to the people on the street ... nothing but happiness from them. They're happy that we're there, that we're putting generators and lights in the neighborhood. They're happy for the security – progress is all about progress."

    And for Radcliffe, who entered the Army four years ago as a private first class, that progress is a welcome sight.

    "All these things that the Iraqi government is doing, the Iraqi army, it shows progress,"said Radcliffe, "and that's what's ultimately going to get us out of here."

    Radcliffe's leadership ability is also a welcome sight to those he works with.

    "He's a future sergeant major, a future [officer candidate school] guy. He will not stay long as a staff sergeant, nor should he," said Pemrick.



    Date Taken: 09.18.2008
    Date Posted: 09.18.2008 07:44
    Story ID: 23799
    Location: BAGHDAD, IQ 

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