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, September 25, 2005

Day 249 - Good News Sunday

Good news was close as prayer the last 24 hours.

Wayne was online and available for Instant Message conversation last night, just after we returned from the Arts Cooperative Team’s First Annual Adirondack Chair Exhibit and Auction.

Apparently, his last few days have been pretty uneventful. Temporarily loaned out to another Forward Operating Base, Wayne and his crew were scheduled for a week of work. When they arrived, the group they were sent to assist was not yet ready for them to begin the project.

To pass the time, the men have been ‘sleeping and watching a previous season of the television hit series, “24.” ‘

Today, however, turned out to be more than a ‘catch up’ day for Wayne et al. I found out why when the phone rang at 6:00 this morning.

“We were in a convoy headed down this road when we saw what looked like an IED (Improvised Explosive Device). After we called the ordinance team, we pulled over and set up roadblocks. In the mean time, I talked with some multi-lingual guys from South Africa who worked for a security company in the area. The IED turned out to be a huge contraption made of seven 155mm-mortar rounds daisy-chained together! The good news is we saw it before somebody ran over it. Thank God, everybody’s OK.”

In a similar instance, New York artist Steve Mumford shares this close call from his Baghdad Journal:
After a minute someone shouts "cease fire!" and I follow Sanchez, and Specialists Angel Lugo and Victor Ramirez as they race down the side of the plot of land where the firing came from. We jump a short chain link fence, cross a turnip field, and we're in a large grove of date palms. There's no one here, just lots of broken palm branches and a dead cat, hit with a round from someone's M16. We find a hastily constructed blind, a piece of sheet metal covered in freshly cut palm leaves, and reconstruct a possible getaway route to the river.

Amazingly, no one has been hurt in the lead humvee, even though terrible shards of metal from the 155-mortar round are lying about. The vehicle is the only reinforced "up-armor" humvee Bravo Company has.

A box wrapped in plastic and tape is found in one of the fields near where the IED went off, and soon the explosives team arrives, and sends a robot with a video camera to take a look and then retrieve it. It's a phone handset. Our jammer didn't work.
Stories like these are common, but never commonplace.

Meet Joey, and share this soldier’s courageous road to recovery since his vehicle ran over an anti-tank mine daisy-chained to two 155-mortar rounds last October.

Today’s good news: I’m still a blue star mom.