FOB FALCON, Iraq " A Multi-National Division-Baghdad Soldier embodied the true meaning of the warrior spirit and noncommissioned officer leadership Tuesday after sustaining injuries during combat operations in Hawh Rajab, a town in South Baghdad.
Staff Sgt. Michell Caldwell, scout, Troop A, 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, with the help of Soldiers from his Troop, re-enlisted hours after a gun battle and moments before being airlifted to Germany for treatment of his wounds.
Caldwell was on patrol with his platoon when they surprised a group of terrorists preparing to attack a nearby check point. The Soldiers came under intense automatic weapons fire from both sides of the road at ranges as close as five meters.
As the senior scout, Caldwell proceeded in re-directing his Soldiers to engaging the source of the fire. During the battle, Caldwell was shot through both forearms. He continued to fight through the ambush as the platoon maintained suppressing fire, destroying many of the enemy forces, and allowing Caldwell to be evacuated to FOB Falcon.
Later in the day, after he was transported by air to the 10th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad, Lt. Col. James Love, commander, 1-10 Cav, Capt. Jon Bodenhamer, commander, Troop A, and members of his platoon visited Caldwell following surgery. Though groggy from the anesthesia, like all good scouts, he remained alert.
After relating the experience to Love, Caldwell simply said, "Sir, I was supposed to re-enlist today. I want to re-enlist before I leave."
The day before the patrol, Caldwell coordinated with the squadron re-enlistment NCO to sign up for another 6 years of service.
Soldiers from the 10th CSH jumped at the chance to help out a soldier in need. Noting that this was his first re-enlistment in the intensive care ward, Sgt. 1st Class Jason Koutsalas, career counselor, 10th CSH, sprang into action and prepared the re-enlistment.
Later that evening, as doctors were preparing Caldwell to be loaded on a stretcher and begin his journey out of Iraq, his commander, first sergeant and platoon arrived. Members of the platoon hung the American flag over his bed and propped Caldwell up.
Unable to raise his right arm due to multiple fractures, 1st Sgt. David Yost signed the paperwork on Caldwell's behalf and Bodenhamer administered the oath as the platoon stood at attention before him.
Moments later, Caldwell was on his way, first to Germany and later the U.S., for surgery and rehabilitation. Though he will likely not re-join the unit in Iraq, doctors said he should be fine with a couple of operations and a few weeks of physical therapy.
"I am proud to have been able to make Staff Sgt. Caldwell's re-enlistment possible," said Koutsalas. "It is all about taking care of Soldiers."
Without question, this was an occasion that no one in Apache Troop will ever forget, said Bodenhamer. A happy ending to a difficult day in Iraq " a great soldier on his way home, with the promise of recovery, re-enlisted to continue his service to the nation and his well-deserved bonus in his pocket.
|Date Posted:||06.15.2006 15:43|
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