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, April 28, 2005

Day 101 - High Tech Hello's

Guard Unit Gets High-Tech Help
Jackson, Miss.
The Associated Press

Officials say the Mississippi Army National Guard unit in Iraq is one of the first brigades to receive encrypted handheld radios designed to circumvent insurgents who monitor radio traffic.

Guard leaders have lauded the training and equipment available to the 155th Brigade Combat Team, which is made up of 3,500 Mississippi soldiers and others from Vermont and Arkansas.

Maj. Gen. Harold Cross, the state's adjutant general, says the radios will allow soldiers to communicate without the enemy being able to monitor their frequencies.

Soldiers say the secure radios will keep vital information from insurgents.

The 155th is assigned to the Second Marine Expeditionary Force and operates in the areas of Karbala, Najaf and Babil provinces of Iraq. The unit deployed from Camp Shelby in January.
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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Day 100 - Stormy Weather

STORMY WEATHER — A dust storm which originated near the Syrian-Jordanian border swept across Iraq's western desert April 26, 2005. U.S. Marine Corps weather forecasters stationed at Al Asad, Iraq, described the dust storm as a downburst. The storm passed over in about 45 minutes, leaving a heavy sheet of dust in its wake. Forecasters say the wall of dust may have reached 4,000 to 5,000 feet, based on the height of the clouds above it. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Gunnery Sgt. Shannon Arledge.

Here's a journal entry from SFC Kevin Kelly about soldiers cope with effects of sand storms:

This weather is driving us crazy. I didn't say it yesterday, but the thermometer on the porch read 112 degrees before the sand storm. When sitting in church and you get up to pray or sing, you can see all the sweat on the persons back sitting in front of you. Guess what the high was today? 72 degrees and sprinkled rain all day. We don't know what to expect day to day, we will probably have everyone sick soon if these changes keep going. One day a stopped up sandy nose and the next a runny nose from the cold. Oh well, I guess that is why so many of these people over here act so crazy. We all had to dig out of the sand today. I sleep underneath a piece of plywood that is over an old window hole. The wind blew sand in through the crack and I had about 1/4 inch of sand all over my pillow this morning when I woke up. Some of the tents were kind of torn up and knocked stuff around, but other than that, no real damage.

See SFC Kelly's (almost daily) journal at

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