Staff SGT Donald Wayne West, Jr., enlisted in the United States Army National Guard on September 11, 2001. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Company A of the 150th Combat Engineers served active duty Aug 29, 2004, until Dec 30, 2005. SSGT West returned to college in January, 2006. He married Lauren Ritchie June 9, 2006, at Seaside, Fla., and they have three children. SSGT West completed military service at Camp Minden, LA on Aug 23, 2009.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Day 43 - Heavy Metal

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Family members and friends crowded by the thousands onto the parade ground at Camp Shelby in December, saluting members of the 155th Brigade Combat Team as they completed training for deployment to Iraq. We support the Army's efforts to provide adequate equipment to protect our soldiers who 'face the enemies of the United States as watchmen on the walls of freedom.'

Maj. Gen. Harold Cross, Mississippi's adjutant general, said members of the 155th would have the best equipment and training available to carry out their mission.

"You'll have every vehicle 100 percent armored that rolls with you from Kuwait to Iraq," he told the assembled troops.

Lt. Gen. Steven Whitcomb, commander of Third U.S. Army, said in a news briefing, "I'm comfortable that [the vehicles] have adequate protection for their mission."

Level I armor is the protection put on at the factory. Known in military parlance as the up-armored Humvee, it has bulletproof glass in all windows and armor protection all around. There are about 6,600 of these Humvees now in Iraq.

Level II armor is a factory produced add-on package that provides protection for the windows, sides, front and back. The tops and bottoms of the vehicles are not armored. About 10,800 of these Humvees and trucks are in Iraq.

Level III armor consists of steel plates welded to the sides of vehicles. About 2,000 of these are in Iraq. The 3rd Infantry Division from Fort Stewart took 900 Humvees to Iraq with Level III armor that was provided by the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany.

Whitcomb said eventually all military wheeled vehicles in Iraq will have Level I or Level II armor.

Level III, he said, "is better than nothing but it's a bridge to get to the other stuff."

Two facilities in Kuwait and eight in Iraq are working around the clock to provide the additional armor.

(quoted from the Atlanta Journal Constitution, 2/25/05)