Red Bulls continue to arrive in Basra
May 5, 2009
BASRA, Iraq (Army News Service, May 5, 2009) -- Soldiers wearing the Red Bull patch of the 34th Infantry Division continue to arrive at Contingency Operation Base Basra from Kuwait.
The 34th ID will replace the 10th Mountain Division and assume command of Multi-National Division-South after a transfer of authority ceremony later this month.
The 34th Infantry Division is from the Minnesota Army National Guard. Their patch features a steer skull imposed on the shape of an "olla," or Mexican water flask, and harkens back to the harsh training conditions at Camp Cody, New Mexico in 1917 while the Red Bulls were preparing to deploy for World War I.
In World War II, the 34th ID conducted a battle hand-off to the 10th Mountain Division in Italy and now that hand-off will be reciprocated, said Sgt. Joe Roos of the 10th Mountain Division.
In the fall of 1943 the 34th Infantry was pushing north in Italy, capturing the four peaks of Mount Patano, fighting through the Mignano Gap to take Mount Trocchio and pushing the Germans back in the First Battle of Monte Cassino. But in their operations, the Red Bulls suffered about 80 percent losses in their infantry battalions. They were in desperate need of relief.
Relief came from the allied forces, especially the 10th Mountain Division, with trained skiers and climbers for battles in exactly the type of difficult, mountainous terrain the 34th had been hunkered down in during their campaign through Italy.
Now the 34th ID headquarters is arriving in Iraq to relieve the 10th Mountain Div., and Lt. Col. Fred Karasov of Minneapolis said he is looking forward to taking over the mission.
"I am proud to be a part of this and to be able and do something for Iraq," said Karasov. "I think it is an important task that needs to be done."
The Red Bull Soldiers were quickly in-processed before being escorted to their new accommodations. A newly-constructed Red Bull LSA allowed 34th ID Soldiers to forgo the typical transient housing period most servicemembers endure when arriving in Iraq. Red Bull staff had their new arrivals in containerized housing within hours of landing.
"Hopefully we can leave this place better than the 10th Mountain left it," Karasov said. "If every division can leave it a better place, then they have accomplished their mission."
(Spc. Darryl Montgomery serves with MND-S Public Affairs.)