A Vet Remembers

 

November 6, 2019

It was almost the end of my 12-hour shift when the call came in. As soon as you heard the voices on the radio, you knew something was different, and something was terribly wrong. I was the S2 (military intelligence) battle captain in our TOC (tactical operating center). I was in charge of all things that involved military intelligence for our current operations. So, the Battle Major hollered for me to send our UAV's (unmanned Ariel vehicles) to where our guys were being attacked. While this was happening, more calls were coming in, and our TOC started to get busier with a lot of higher-ranking officers. Seven soldiers from D Company of 4-31 Infantry and one Iraqi soldier had come under attack. Their patrol was watching a route known for their IEDs (improvised explosive devices), Route Malibu. When their attackers detonated IEDs, cut the concertina wire, and threw grenades at their Humvees, the attack was in full motion. Amongst this battle, five of the eight soldiers were killed, and three were kidnapped. That night changed so many lives.


You see, we went into the most dangerous place in Iraq, known as the Triangle of Death. Our Commander developed what were called Concerned Citizens, and we were succeeding. We knew we were making a difference. After seven months, we were told we were being extended. So, our 12-month deployment would now be 15 months. We had lost a lot of good soldiers, as any war has. But this radio call was something a lot of us were never expecting.

Knowing we had three soldiers missing, our first priority was to find them and find them as soon as possible. Our 12-hour shifts were now 15-hour shifts, and no one cared, we just wanted to find our guys.

At the time, as we knew it, we knew Spc. Alex Jiminez, Pfc. Byron Fouty, and Pvt. Joseph Anzack Jr. were missing. Thousands of troops were dispatched with help from Special Operations Forces as well as 3rd Infantry Division and 1st Cavalry Division. After what seemed forever, unit forces discovered the body of Anzack in the Euphrates River, 11 days later. Months went by in effort after effort to find the other two soldiers. But our time in Iraq had come to an end, and we were replaced by another unit. They continued those search efforts for us. 8 months after we left, our unit got a call from the Department of Defense saying our guy's bodies had been found and were coming home so families could finally have closure.

What you haven't heard are the amazing things our unit did over there, the lives that were changed, the schools that were built. But most importantly, roads were opened, families could move back home where they finally felt safe again. I will forever admire all the soldiers on the ground that made these happen. These are the heroes of the military. We did lose a lot of lives, and the tragic deaths of Fouty, Jiminez, and Anzack will never be forgotten. And on Veteran's, we remember them. We remember them every day. So, on this Veteran's Day, please take a moment of silence for all Veterans who sacrificed so much for this country. Thank you.

 
 

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