By Sgt. Doug Roles, 56th SBCT PAOMay 29, 2009
CAMP TAJI, Iraq - Soldiers from a 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team unit took time, May 24, to recognize peers who have reenlisted while mobilized. The unit also welcomed newly-promoted sergeants into the noncommissioned officer ranks.
Dual morning ceremonies honored outstanding service and commitment before Soldiers of the 328th Brigade Support Battalion, based out of Lancaster, Pa., launched into an afternoon of Memorial Day weekend fun that included a cookout and softball and basketball games.
Twenty-three recently-promoted sergeants signed the NCO charge and read the Creed of the NCO in front of a battalion formation. Sixty-two Soldiers, who recently re-enlisted, then walked the stage at the front of the pavilion to receive a U.S. flag and a certificate verifying the flag was flown in theatre.
"For everyone who reenlisted since the mobilization, we flew a flag for that Soldier, over the battalion TOC [tactical operations center] and presented it to them," said BSB Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Buck, of Myerstown, Pa.
Before the recognition of individual Soldiers, Lt. Col. Michael Curran, 328th BSB commander, fromPine Grove, Pa., praised the Soldiers for their work in Iraq.
"'Outstanding'. 'Superb.' 'Magnificent.' These are some of the things others are saying about you," Curran said. "I couldn't be happier. I couldn't be more proud."
Curran credited the battalion's Soldiers with outstanding service, noting that Company B has posted a 99 percent equipment readiness rate while Soldiers with the battalion's medical company are running a Level 1 care clinic serving 20,000 Soldiers. He said Guard Soldiers are staying in the service, getting promoted and passing on their experience to younger Soldiers.
"I can't tell you how many eyes you guys are opening," Curran said. "It's because of maturity, the maturity in the ranks. This is the life blood of our battalion. It's the enlisted folks who are carrying us through this."
The procession of new NCO's formed on the stage for the reading of the Creed of the NCO. When they left the stage they joined a formation of the battalions NCO's.
"This is the threshold. This symbolizes their leaving the enlisted corps and joining the time-honored NCO corps," said 1st Sgt. Ed Cunningham, of Lancaster Pa.
Spc. Brandon Ober, a Lititz, Pa. resident, was among those who recently reenlisted. He has been in the Pennsylvania Guard for nearly six years.
"I'm just proud of my country. I love wearing the uniform and serving our flag," he said. "What better place to reenlist."
"It gives you a good feeling," said Staff Sgt. William Flagg, of Philadelphia, a 26-year veteran, of re-upping in country.
"It was great we got to reenlist here. It means more to do it here," said Master Sgt. Jeff Barrick, of Carlisle, Pa., while Sgt. Misti Ott, of Kutztown, Pa., said the deployment changed her mind about serving.
"I was not planning to reenlist," Ott said, adding that she is now considering deploying again.
Curran told his Soldiers they are coming down the homestretch of their year-long mobilization.
"We have three more months to go. Make sure you keep an eye on your buddy," Curran said.
The BSB's mission is to supply the 56th Brigade with everything from fuel to food to medical care.
Mobilized in September 2008, the 56th has been in Iraq since late January. The brigade is scheduled to return to Pennsylvania in September.