Battalion welcomes brigade commander to Suwon
Col. Eric Sanchez (right), 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade commander, presents a coin to Pfc. Cody Patterson of A Battery, 6-52nd ADA Battalion during his visit to Suwon Air Base July 13.

SUWON AIR BASE, South Korea - Pfc. Tenisha Graves was a bit nervous, but she was confident.

There is no doubt in her mind that she knows her job like the back of her hand. And now she just needs to stay calm and focus on the brief that she is about to give.

The young Soldier, assigned to Fox Maintenance Company, 6th Battalion, 52nd Air Defense Artillery, took a deep breath, smiled and said, “Good afternoon, sir, my mission as part of the SSA [Supply Support Area] team is to in-process every part or item we receive and forward them to the next section in the most effective and timely manner.”

Graves, a native of Woodbridge Va., thought of the first day she arrived in Korea. It was only seven months ago, but she has learned so much since.

Surrounded by her section sergeant and other key leaders in the unit, Graves continued, “On a daily basis, we process about three trucks worth of parts … we download these parts, verify the NSN [national stock number] and ensure all parts match with the correct documentation.”

The audience of Graves’ brief this afternoon is none other than 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade’s newest commander, Col. Eric Sanchez.

As Sanchez quietly listens, occasionally displaying a nod of approval, Graves suddenly realizes that a military briefing might not be so difficult after all.

Just as Graves was savoring the moment, Sanchez suddenly asked, “What is the priority during in-process?”

Graves paused for a split second before answering that her section “puts equal amount of emphasis and attention on every single part that comes in with the goal of pushing out the parts to the requesting units by the end of the day.”

Out of the corner of her eyes, Graves saw a smile lighted up across the face of her section sergeant.
Sanchez gave Grave a firm hand shake, fully satisfied with the information he heard from the Soldier, before moving on to visit other sections of the Suwon SSA.

This was a common scene from Sanchez’s first visit to Suwon Air Base and the Iron Horse Battalion as the Dragon Brigade Commander as he toured the facilities and interacted with the Soldiers and leaders of 6-52nd Air Defense Artillery Battalion July 13.

In addition to visiting the SSA, Sanchez also observed Patriot air defense gunnery training, spoke with the managers of the Suwon Community Activity Center and Army Community Service and held a special Q & A session with the battery command teams.

Topics of discussion during the Q & A included training issues specific to the Korean theater of operation as well as the future of the air defense branch.

Sanchez is no stranger to the Republic of Korea, or Suwon Air Base, for that matter. In fact, the New Mexico State University alumni served successfully as the commander for an air defense artillery battalion right here at Suwon Air Base three years ago.

Sanchez replaced Col. Brian Dunn as the commander of 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade during a change of command ceremony earlier this month.

“I am honored to be able to serve in the Republic of Korea again,” said Sanchez. “35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade was my first unit of choice for command.”

For the last few days, the former deputy director of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command's Capabilities Manager-Lower Tier, has been busy visiting the battalions under his command.

“I am very impressed with what I have seen thus far both at 2-1st Air Defense Artillery Battalion and 6-52nd Air Defense Artillery Battalion,” Sanchez told the 6-52nd ADA Battalion battery command teams and staff.

In front of the Suwon Dining Facility, Sanchez took the time to recognize a few Soldiers who have accomplished above and beyond their assigned duty.

“When did you go to airborne school?” Sanchez asked Pfc. Cody Patterson, pointing at his airborne qualifier badge, before presenting him with the Dragon Brigade Coin.

“Sir, I went to airborne school right after AIT [Advanced Individual Training],” Patterson answered.

Patterson, a Patriot radar crew member, scored an impressive “expert” during the recent range density on two weapons, M249 and MK-19.

“This is the first time I have ever received a coin from my superior officers and I feel deeply honored,” said Patterson.

The 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade has the critical mission of providing air and missile defense against tactical ballistic missiles and other aerial threats on the Korean Peninsula.

Page last updated Fri July 15th, 2011 at 04:23