BAGHDAD - It was 7 a.m. when the Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar system went off, and more than 300 Servicemembers and civilians knew what that meant- time to race.

Company E, 5th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery, 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, hosted its farewell run Feb. 7, at Camp Victory in Baghdad. Appropriately dubbed "When you hear the alert, hit the dirt", the run was 3.3 miles in honor of their task force name, TF 3-3 ADA (C-RAM).

"The farewell run is a culmination of the things we have done during our 12 month tour," said Maj. Dave Shank, TF 3-3 ADA (C-RAM) operations officer in charge and a Jacksonville, Fl. native.

Lead by the 5-52 commander, Capt. Douglas Simmons, the race was meant to build esprit de corps within the unit and those participants who came to support the run.

"We want people to get some physical training in, smile and have a good time," Shank said. He added that there was no first, second or third place in the event, because the race was about boosting morale.

Based in Fort Bliss, Texas, home to the largest air defense artillery operations, the task force has spent the past 12 months providing sense-warn and intercept capabilities to the Iraq theater of operations under the United States Forces-Iraq command.

"We were successful in our mission here because we were able to integrate into the corps and the divisions and exercise joint teamwork," Shank said.

The unit operated under a joint environment for much of their deployment, and is composed of Soldiers, Sailors and civilians.

"We had leaders leading, and the Soldiers and Sailors executing. We were able to provide timely warning for indirect fire attacks (on Victory Base Complex)," said Master Sgt. Lawrence MacDonald, acting operations sergeant major who hails from El Paso, Texas.

Shank and MacDonald said that the unit was able to intercept a number of enemy artillery rounds during their tour.

"We've been able to save countless lives and that's a great thing," said Shank.

TF 3-3 ADA will return to Fort Bliss in late February. Shank said he is confident in the abilities of their replacements, Fort Lewis' 5th Battalion 5th Air Defense Artillery, 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade.

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