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.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Day 158 - Messages from 155th Commanding Officers

Earlier this week, we received this video from General Augustus Collins.

Today, we received this message from another 155th Commander:

To the Families and Friends of the 1-155th IN BN (Mississippi

This week, LTC Mohammed (local Iraqi Army Commander) and myself visited with many citizens, business owners, and local officials in the city of Musayyib.

We met initially with LTC Ahmed (Iraqi Police Chief), the Mayor, and the City Council. The local officials, LTC Mohammed, and myself walked through the downtown area visiting with the local citizens and many business owners. LTC Mohammed addressed a group of employees and customers at the local bank and telecommunications center. He told the group that Iraqis should always be grateful to the Americans for removing Saddam from power.

He also told them that Iraqis must take advantage of this opportunity and that they must work together to make the area safe. It was important for the citizens to see their local officials walking side-by-side with Americans. This demonstrates our relationship with the Iraqis, and these officials provide a good example for their citizens to follow.

The fact that these officials and business owners wanted to be seen in public with Americans is a significant event. Six months ago, most officials in this area did not want to be viewed as cooperating with Americans in fear of the insurgents. This event proves that progress is moving forward. It may not be as fast as some would like, but we are taking steps in the right direction.

The security in Musayyib has dramatically improved since January. There were many insurgents residing around the Musayyib area. Today, most of these insurgents have either been captured or left the area. A lot of credit goes to LTC Ahmed and his police force. His police department has done a remarkable job under other-than- ideal conditions. They have suffered several casualties from the insurgents but have remained firm in their pursuit of security. In working with any organization, there are issues, but overall we have had a good relationship with the Musayyib Police Department and are proud of their accomplishments.

Our Mortar Platoon and 2nd Platoon, B Battery, 2/114 Field Artillery Battalion provide us with outstanding indirect fire support. We average about two indirect fire missions a week. Most are illumination missions, which support our nighttime operations.

Our first enemy mortar attack occurred in mid February. Our artillery platoon responded to the attack by firing back with their own indirect fire mission in record time. We let the insurgents know that if they shoot mortars at us, we will quickly respond with overwhelming firepower. Since then, our base camp has had only one other mortar attack.

Fortunately, we had a patrol nearby who captured the two responsible insurgents. Our mortar and artillery platoons train constantly to improve their skills and speed. These soldiers are highly trained and extremely proficient. They love nothing more than making a big boom. They are the major reason why our base camp has experienced minimum mortar and rocket attacks. The insurgents clearly understand the consequences if they choose to attack using one of these methods. The mortar and artillery platoon are an essential part of our Task Force, and we are fortunate to serve with such dedicated soldiers.

Almost fifty percent of our soldiers have had the opportunity to take leave so far. Soldiers will continue to leave periodically throughout each month until the end of October. I do not see an issue with our leave plan, and we are committed to ensure every soldier has this opportunity.

Thank you again for your continued support.

1-155th IN BN, 155th BCT
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