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, January 05, 2006

155th Brigade Combat Team: 2005 in Review

A few days ago, the 155th Brigade Combat Team transferred authority of their area of operations in Iraq to the 2nd BCT, 4th Infantry Division from Ft. Hood, TX during a ceremony held at their headquarters in Forward Operating Base Kalsu, Iraq. The 4th ID is the same unit responsible for the capture of Saddam Hussein on December 13, 2003.

Formal transfer of authority signifies the 155th has completed their role in Operation Iraqi Freedom III. For these nearly 4000 soldiers, including Wayne, the fighting is over.

During their deployment, the 155th BCT was responsible for operations in the provinces of An Najaf, Karbala, North Babil and Eastern Al Anbar.

Our soldiers helped to stabilize security in the north Babil area, better known as the "Throat of Baghdad,” part of the former "Triangle of Death". It was here they performed some of the most difficult combat operations. As a result of the success of the 155th BCT, this area is showing great signs of progress:
* Over 1500 terrorists captured
• More than 28,000 weapons seized, and
• Over 18,000 pounds of munitions, including 8,000 pounds of explosives, destroyed.
The 155th was a major supporter during Iraq’s first three free and democratic elections.
• In January 2005 Iraq voted on their first provincial government.
• In October, the constitutional referendum passed with astounding numbers of Iraqi’s turning out to vote.
• The December parliamentary election showed remarkable numbers at the polling stations. In the three provinces where the 155th BCT responsible for security, voter turnout topped 83 percent.
The 155th BCT worked with the new Iraqi government, mentoring them and teaching them the ways of freedom and democracy.
* Provincial Reconstruction Development Committees were developed in Najaf and Karbala. These committees comprise Coalition Force Soldiers and members of the Department of State, who worked with the local governments to prioritize reconstruction efforts to better meet the needs of the people of the area.
• Due to the 155th BCT’s active involvement in local communities, almost $100 million was committed to projects to improve electricity, sanitation, healthcare and education for the Iraqi citizens.
Under supervision of the 155th BCT, the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) made tremendous strides in competence and professionalism. Ultimately, Coalition Forces ultimately played a support role in the security of Najaf and Karbala, assisting the ISF only when needed. The citizens of these provinces can now be confident that their security forces will continue to protect them as they have done for the past year.

For the next 90 days, soldiers will reunite with their families and their communities. The Brigade will resume their “Weekend Warrior” drills in May.

(Information courtesy of SFC Kevin R. Reeves.)