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.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Day 165 - Hands Across the Sand

Today, we join other Milbloggers who have adopted the practice of using Sunday posts for good news.

Australian blogger Arthur Chrenkoff highlights Lt. Col. Bern Krueger, a Marine who has been flying helicopters along the Euphrates for the past few months. Recently. Krueger wrote back to the people of his hometown:
I don't see what you see on the news. . . . As I travel hundreds of miles each night, I don't see the violence that you see in the media. Sure, it exists, and is very real to those near it. But it is sporadic, unorganized, and often isolated. It is not everywhere. There are not great pillars of smoke peppering the landscape. There are no riots or mass panic sweeping through the towns. There are no fiery infernos burning houses and schools to the ground, no barrages of mortar fire raining destruction upon the communities, and no raging mobs displaying hate or screaming anti-American propaganda. Sure, it is out there. But it is in small pockets, concentrated in small areas. Overall the country is quiet, silently and eagerly trying to repair an infrastructure damaged by war and neglect and trying to return to some sort of normalcy not seen in decades.

Soldiers with the 155th Brigade Combat Team who work in civilian life as farmers are developing common bonds to communicate with Iraqi tribes by offering new ideas to improve small farming communities.

Other soldiers are working to improve a water shortage caused by a system that rations water to villages in six-hour spurts. After six hours the water is cut off and another farm gets to use it.

"Sometimes their six hours is during the middle of the night, but they can't work on their farms at night for fear that they might be mistaken for insurgents setting out mortars and launching them at the bases," says Staff Sgt. Adam Corley. "They were wondering if our Army Corps of Engineers could fix their water problem."

Perhaps nothing says Good News better than this photo essay of 155th soldiers on Civilian Affairs missions.

On the other hand, let's hear it for the bunch who found this insurgent hideout as big as nine American football fields!