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Story by Staff Sgt. Mark BurrellSmall RSS Icon

Guardians of the gates Master Sgt. Mark Burrell

Spc. Brandon Barefield (left background), a Waco, Texas, native, and combat medic, mans the turret gun as Sgt. Mathew Wallace (right foreground), the sergeant of the guard from Florence, Texas, also originally a combat medic, gets a closer look at a suspicious object from an entry control point, May 14. Both Soldiers are assigned to A Troop, 1st Squadron, 124th Cavalry Regiment, 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. Barefield, who has been in the Army for over five years and is on his second deployment to Baghdad, takes his job seriously. "I'm just watching my land and securing the Victory Base Complex," said Barefield.

VICTORY BASE COMPLEX, Iraq — Soldiers can work out, train and plan and analyze combat missions inside of Victory Base Complex without worrying about donning their heavy body armor and carrying loaded weapons. That's because they're protected day and night by the vigilant troops of the 56th Infantry Brigade Combat Team manning the entry control points throughout VBC.

"This job has the highest level of importance," said Cpl. John Wiley, a cavalry scout from Bruceville Eddy, Texas, assigned to A Troop "Apache", 1st Squadron, 124th Cavalry Regiment, 56th IBCT. "There are Soldiers [safely] asleep right now in their racks that work night shift because we're out here doing our job. It's very important that we do it correctly."

Each day under the beating Iraqi sun, the Soldiers check all personnel and vehicles entering their ECP, added Wiley.

"We check every single thing coming into our ECP," said Wiley. "I've been here long enough to know who's who and I know if there's a new driver or something and I'll take a little bit more interest."

The Texas National Guard Soldiers have been doing this job here for almost six months and are as detailed and proficient as they come, added sergeant of the guard, Sgt. Mathew Wallace, assigned to Apache Troop.

"We're looking for anything that doesn't look right on an ID card or a vehicle," added Wallace, a Florence, Texas, native. Then the Apache Troop Soldiers take appropriate actions to handle the situation, he said.

"I know what's supposed to go through and what's not," explained Wiley. "We've always got 360 security, so we know what's going on at all times."

The guardians of VBC know that the smallest mistake or act of complacency can mean disaster for their battle buddies inside the wire, added Wiley.

Though these stalwart Soldiers all have many different military occupational specialties and come from different walks of life, they are performing a tough job with a high level of competence, explained Wallace, a combat medic.

"Being a medic is preventive medicine and the best way to prevent injuries is out here protecting our guys," Wallace said. "I'm just an infantryman until somebody gets hurt."

With the dependable and ever-ready Soldiers of the 56th IBCT manning the ECPs here, Soldiers inside VBC can continue to re-energize and prepare for upcoming combat missions in relative safety.


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Spc. Brandon Barefield (left background), a Waco, Texas,...

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This work, Guardians of the gates, by MSG Mark Burrell, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.

Date Taken:05.15.2009

Date Posted:05.15.2009 11:21

Location:BAGHDAD, IQGlobe

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