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    4-9 relaxes as 49 re-enlist

    4-9 relaxes as 49 re-enlist

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Luisito Brooks | Flames leap dramatically into the air in front of the 49 Soldiers assigned to 4th...... read more read more



    Story by Spc. Luisito Brooks 

    4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division

    JOINT SECURITY STATION NASIR WA SALAM, Iraq — It's not every day Soldiers in a deployed environment, or any environment for that matter, get to take a whole day off to enjoy athletic recreation and team building.

    The "Manchu's", Soldiers of the 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, celebrated "Manchu Day", a day filled with spirited competition, concluding with a mass re-enlistment of 49 Soldiers, April 9.

    "We wanted to have a special day not only for the Manchu Soldiers who wanted to re-enlist but also for the battalion," said Sgt. Maj. Lee Baleme, the operations sergeant major for 4th Bn., 9th Inf. Reg. "The purpose of Manchu Day is to build esprit de corps among the Soldiers," he said, adding that even with as many of the Soldiers as possible having the day off, the unit still maintained force protection, a quick response force and security on the base.

    Organizing an event of this scale took a lot of planning in order to ensure its smooth success.
    "Manchu Day has been in planning for about three months," said Baleme, a San Diego native. "We just started putting ideas together, and before we knew it everyone was on board."

    An organizational day for the unit had originally been planned as a chance to play some games and blow off some steam. But, as Sgt. 1st Class Danny Davis, a career counselor for the battalion explained, a discussion with the battalion commander on how to complete the unit's annual retention mission took the event even further.

    "We were just trying to come up with an idea of how we could have a big campaign toward closing that out, and through our conversation we came up with [doing] 49 re-enlistments by April 9th," he said, adding that the battalion actually exceeded their goal of 97 re-enlistments for the year, and has had 106 Soldiers re-enlist so far.

    And while the re-enlistment ceremony played a large part in the day's festivities, the Manchu's spent the bulk of the day competing in various activities, including a warrior skills competition, an Iron Man challenge, basketball, football, horseshoes, volleyball and video game tournaments.
    "I saw guys with smiles on their faces and that's what matters," said Baleme. "Everyone one was enjoying the sports and there wasn't any fighting, but (instead) a good competitive spirit."

    For Spc. Codey Clay, an administrative assistant with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, the event that stood out for him was the warrior skills competition.

    The competition involved six-man teams from across the battalion not only racing around the battalion's area, but also being tested on the assembly and disassembly of weapons, radio communication skills, a 25-question written test, foreign weapons and vehicle identification, first aid, vehicle recovery, and a stress shot.

    "I was so tired after we finished," said Clay, a Corpus Christi, Texas, native. "I wanted to prove that the guys in the [admin section] are just as tactical and technical as the other guys."

    Everyone was really pushing themselves and that motivated everyone else, he added, saying that while his group placed second in the shooting competition, he was very proud of his team, even though they didn't win first place.

    As the sun disappeared below the horizon and the competitions came to a close, the unit gathered around a steel fire-pit, crafted in the form of the Manchu's crest.

    Lt. Col. Mark Bieger, the Manchu's commander, called the formation to attention and the pit was lit, sending sparks and billowing smoke into the dark sky.

    "This day is for all you Soldiers here," said Bieger. "For the 49 Soldiers that re-enlisted today, it is an honor serving with you."

    As the flames climbed higher against the backdrop of an American flag and Stryker vehicles, the brigade commander, Col. John Norris, administered the oath of enlistment to the 49 re-enlisting Soldiers.

    "My favorite part of the day was when the fire-pit was lit during the re-enlistment ceremony in front of the flag," said 1st Lt. Robert Hockman, the fires support officer with Company C, from San Antonio. "That image will remain in my mind forever."



    Date Taken: 04.16.2010
    Date Posted: 04.16.2010 09:06
    Story ID: 48222

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