BAY CHOPAN, Afghanistan - The remaining Soldiers of Company D, 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment welcomed their replacements with a warm reception at Firebase Baylough June 30.

Members of Company D, 1-4 Infantry Battalion, also known as Team Dragon, will finally return to Hohenfels, Germany after spending more than seven months deployed to Zabul Province.

The infantry battalion has maintained a deployed company team under operational control of a Romanian battalion in Regional Command-South, operating in Zabul Province, Afghanistan, since July 2006.

Less than three hours after Company C, also known as Team Cherokee, arrived, anti-coalition forces did as well, sparking a four-hour firefight. None of the 1-4 Infantry Battalion soldiers or their Romanian Battalion counterparts were injured.

Another attack was expected at dusk, following reports by Afghan National Security Force personnel of small-arms fire north of the base. By then, Team Cherokee Soldiers had been briefed on base defense procedures.

Baylough, a heavily fortified firebase in southeast Afghanistan\'s Zabul Province, is a prime target for the Taliban and anti-coalition forces. Attacks are common during times when new companies take over responsibility for missions in the region.

"Lo and behold, the Taliban came through in carrying out their threat of attacking the base," said 1st Lt. Anthony Williams, who has led Delta Company's 3rd platoon for the last six months.

The Afghan National Police identified sparks of small-arms fire from a mountain more than a kilometer to the north, while enemy mortar fire from the area fell well short of the base.

While one team finished their defensive fire procedures at the fortified "Rock Guard" position, Afghan Security Guards watched from their own post. Another group of Soldiers took three Humvees to the base's landing zone, where they encountered enemy fire from a mountain known as "Machine Gun Hill."

Sgt. Michael Lawrence, 3rd Platoon, Team Cherokee, spoke with his three team members from a high ground observation point.

"Did you hear that whistling sound'" Lawrence asked. "Now, those were bullet rounds flying over us."

The defenders quickly halted the threat of the enemy reaching the heart of the firebase. Enemy forces kept their distance, but continued to attack from several angles. Soldiers from the Rock Guard and Afghan Security Guard positions responded with heavy arms fire to threats from the west and south.

Meanwhile, Soldiers in two Humvees, covered by heavy automatic weapons fire from members of the Afghan Security Group, reached the base of the mountain. Pfc. Jeffery Paulson from the 3rd platoon of Company C, 1-4 Infantry Battalion fired .50-caliber rounds from his mounted position.

Williams and his newly arrived platoon leader, 1st Lt. Robbie Murray, radioed for close air support. Minutes later, a U.S. Air Force B-1 bomber dropped a 500-pound bomb on the enemy's position.

Murray said his team's mission is dangerous, but it's also pretty exciting.

"You come into a situation like this, you're definitely nervous," Murray agreed. "The Team Dragon guys really helped by training us once we arrived, and within three or four hours we had our first contact."

"There's no better way to get training than hands-on training; showing someone how to do something, other than merely telling them," Williams said.

A U.S. Marine Corps AV-8 Harrier fighter shot missiles to the north, stifling the enemy's threats for the rest of the night. Fighting ended around 11 p.m. after another 500-pound bomb was dropped.

Pvt. John Wright, a rifleman in Company C's first squad, said he had been anxious to see what his first deployment would be like. He seemed impressed by the day's display of air power.

"I'm glad they're on our side," Wright said of the American fighter pilots. "This is a serious wake-up call for lots of people today."

Capt. Terry L. Howell, Team Cherokee commander, joined 3rd platoon for his first visit to the area and engaged the enemy alongside his Soldiers. Howell said the platoon did extremely well, and that he has complete confidence in the troops' ability to fight enemy forces.

"The Soldiers did exactly what they were trained to do, by seeking cover and eliminating the anti-coalition forces," Howell said after the engagement.

It was Murray's first experience leading a platoon-level operation. The lieutenant said it was a valuable lesson.

"We're focused now and ready to go," he said. "This is probably the best way for young Soldiers to acquaint themselves into the war zone."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16