Hotel Company, 1-161 Infantry Soldiers' maiden voyage to Scania.
April 8, 2009
CONVOY SUPPORT CENTER SCANIA - "You see the lights up ahead' That's Scania," said Sgt. 1st Class Elwin Farnsworth to an obviously impatient and haggard crew. The long seven-hour drive to Scania was wearing on the Soldiers as they pulled into the gate in time to see the sun rise over the familiar T-walls that surround this fortified "truck stop".
Farnsworth, the Hotel Company, 1st Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment, convoy commander known as Hustler 21 is no stranger to the war in Iraq. A veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom II, he has seen his share of combat and has seen the evolution of this conflict for the better.
"Back in 2004, the Iraqis seemed to be totally dependant on U.S. and Coalition forces, and the insurgency was out to kill the American Soldiers. Now, you see more electricity and sewer improvements, the Iraqi Police and Iraqi Army seemed to be better equipped and the whole infrastructure has improved," said Farnsworth. "Iraq has so much potential. Iraq has all of the natural resources, the historical sites, warm weather and overall good natured people. I just hope they can get it together. It's the improvements in the quality of life for the Iraqi people I see that makes me feel better and reassures me that all of our sacrifice is worth it. It makes me proud to be here."
Many of the Co. H Soldiers hadn't been to Scania before and had little idea what to expect. This 24-hour operation in the middle of the Iraq desert is bustling with military and contractor trucks as far as the eye could see and would boggle the mind of even the most experienced logistician. Once vehicles were parked, the crews headed for the temporary overnight tents for a daylight slumber and recovery for the trip home.
As dusk approached, the familiar sound of engines and pungent diesel exhaust filled the evening air. The convoy security vehicles took their places in the order of march and the waiting began.
The lead scout, Sgt. Brodie Moberly and his crew moved to the head of the column and waited for the order to depart. Moberly, a veteran of Afghanistan and two previous tours in Iraq volunteered for this tour. "I saw the flier in the armory back in Montana where I'm from and my buddies and I put together a squad to join the 1-161."
Moberly had just come off active duty and wanted to try civilian life for a change. But after a couple of years, he decided to return to active duty and deploy with the task force.
"I always wanted to be a Soldier ever since I was a little kid and I couldn't imagine doing anything else with my life," Moberly said. Upon his arrival in Iraq, he volunteered to be the lead scout for his platoon where he said he could have the most impact on the success of the platoon mission.
The convoy moved out just after sunset on the long road back to Baghdad. Minutes later, a contract driver started waving his hand and giving the thumbs down to signal that something was wrong. The tanker truck broke down and needed a recovery vehicle for the truck and its tank trailer. Within minutes, three convoy security vehicles arrived at the scene and took up positions to protect the KBR recovery efforts. Not more than 25 minutes had elapsed when the convoy started pushing forward again. The training on recovery battle drills paid off.
Earlier that evening, Moberly talked about what made him favor the military over civilian life.
"In civilian life, there is nothing more to life than to serve your own needs," Moberly said. "But life here is different. It gives me a sense of something higher than myself (and) of being a part of something greater. Whether it's defending my country or giving the Iraqis a better life, I can say I had a hand in that and that is what makes me proud, knowing I can look in the mirror and say to myself I made a difference in the world."
Farnsworth, who postponed retirement to deploy, plans on returning to his construction business in Tacoma, Wash., and enjoying life with his wife and four sons. Farnsworth doesn't plan on deploying again, but knows he can't let his fellow Soldiers down if the call comes again. Moberly said he plans to return to his guard unit in Billings, Mont., and join them for their year-long deployment to Afghanistan.