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.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Day 291 - Until

New jargon and military acronyms are floating around family chat rooms. Phrases like Reunion Briefing. Words like DEMOB (DEE-mobe, short for Demobilization.) It all means the same thing: Our troops are coming home!

According to the first official word we’ve gotten, some soldiers will be coming home as early as next month.

Others will not be returning at all, except in flag-draped coffins. Latest casualties include U.S. Army 1st Lt. Robert C. Oneto-Sikorski, 33, of Bay St. Louis, Miss., who died in Iskandariyah, on October 31, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his dismounted patrol. Oneto-Sikorski was assigned to the Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 155th Infantry, Biloxi, Miss. We send our thoughts and prayers to his family, themselves just recently evacuated to Memphis after they lost their home during hurricane Katrina.

On the same day our Mississippi soldier died, thousands of Iraqi soccer fans were treated to some intense action at the opening game in Najaf Soccer Stadium.

Newly rebuilt by the 155th Brigade Combat Team, the stadium hosted the action in a game which ended in a 1-1 tie. (US Army Photo by SFC Kevin W. Reeves, 155th Brigade Combat Team, Public Affairs NCO)

Around here, we keep the yellow ribbons perked up, praying the rest of our soldiers will maintain the focus necessary to stay safe until the last boot sets foot back on American soil.