USD-C ‘Dagger’ brigade leaders visit Soldiers during holiday season
BAGHDAD—Col. Paul Calvert (center), commander of 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division – Center, recognizes Staff Sgt. Richard Cripps (right), with Company D, 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor Regiment, 2nd AAB, 1st Inf. Div. and a Doylestown, Pa., native, Dec. 25 for outstanding service at Joint Security Station Al Rasheed, Iraq. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Daniel Stoutamire, 2nd AAB, 1st Inf. Div., USD-C)
Story by: Sgt. Daniel Stoutamire
2HBCT PUBLIC AFFAIRS
Story and photos by Spc. Daniel Stoutamire
2nd AAB, 1st Inf. Div., USD-C
BAGHDAD—For many Soldiers deployed far from the comforts of home and the loving embrace of Family, Christmastime can be difficult to bear.
To help alleviate feelings of homesickness and loneliness among the Soldiers under their command, as well as recognize their hard work and achievements, Col. Paul Calvert, commander of 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division – Center, and Command Sgt. Maj. Rodney Lewis, command sergeant major of 2nd AAB, 1st Inf. Div., traveled throughout the brigade's area of operations Dec. 24 – 25, visiting some of the more remote joint security stations and combat outposts at which their Soldiers are working.
"It's hard for anybody to make the transition to being away from home and Family and that sense of normalcy that you have back in the states," Calvert said. "Command Sgt. Maj. Lewis and I have taken the opportunity to get around to every location where our Soldiers are throughout Baghdad province and wish them a Merry Christmas, and just take some time to talk with them and make sure they're doing all right."
The command team of Calvert and Lewis, along with Maj. Charles Paul, chaplain with 2nd AAB, 1st Inf. Div., traveled to Joint Security Station Loyalty, Combat Outpost Falcon and Camp Taji on Christmas Eve. The next day, they visited Soldiers at Forward Operating Base Hammer, Joint Security Station Al Rasheed, Joint Security Station Deason and Joint Security Station Nasir Wa Salam.
All of the locations had festive decorations in the dining facilities and in many of the offices, as Soldiers and leaders took it upon themselves to make their living and working spaces a little more like home.
For many of the Soldiers with the brigade, it is their first time being away from their Family for the holidays. For those Soldiers, it is important to lean on their friends who have gone through this before, Lewis said.
"There are Soldiers they can turn to that have experienced this, who know how to deal with some of these things, who understand the sacrifices the Families go through and how to deal with that, both as a Soldier and a Family member," he said.
Calvert agreed, emphasizing that the bond between Soldiers can help them get each other through Christmas in Iraq.
"(Younger Soldiers) need to reach out to those more experienced Soldiers and rally around them and understand that, while they have a physical separation from their Families, they have a professional Family all around them," he said.
Pfc. Stephanie Cuepo, a medic with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd AAB, 1st Inf. Div. and a Roseville, Calif., native, is spending her first Christmas overseas.
"(My battle buddies) are always there for me when I go through tough times," she said. "Even though they're mostly guys, they always do their best to relate."
Another reason Calvert and Lewis circulated on Christmas was to recognize Soldiers nominated by their leadership for outstanding performance. At each stop, they handed out coins and spoke individually with each Soldier so recognized.
"I'm proud to see what they're doing, their achievements and accomplishments, the way they're interacting with each other, with our Iraqi partners, how they act in a professional manner," Lewis said. "It's amazing to see these young Soldiers, and how they are adapting and overcoming."
Calvert had some advice for Soldiers during the holiday season and beyond, and praised his Soldiers' resourcefulness.
"Stay focused," Calvert said. "Stay diligent in how you approach the mission, take care of the guys on your left and right. They'll have a bad day every now and then and so will you, and then they will take care of you. It's a manner in which Soldiers stay resilient. Soldiers can make Christmas out of anything."