By Staff Sgt. Jon CuppMarch 26, 2007
BAGHDAD, Iraq (Army News Service, March 26, 2007) - Three Iraqi men, battered and beaten after many days of being held hostage by terrorists near the town of Fallujah, entered the Company A, 115th Brigade Support Battalion's headquarters on Camp Taji, Iraq.
The men, who all smiled when greeted by the U.S. Soldiers, had been kept on the camp for medical treatment and were waiting to be driven to Baghdad, and from there to Fallujah to be reunited with their families.
This was the scene as Soldiers from the 1st Ironhorse Brigade Combat Team participated in a joint effort with Iraqi Police in Fallujah and Marines from the 6th Regimental Combat Team to get the men back home March 25.
The liberated hostages had been rescued by coalition troops March 22 near the town of Karmah, Iraq, just hours before insurgents could fulfill their plans to execute the men.
On the first leg of their journey, they were escorted by Soldiers from the 115th Brigade Support Battalion from Camp Taji, Iraq, on a convoy to Baghdad where they were then linked up with other Ironhorse Brigade troopers from Company E, 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, on Camp Liberty, Iraq.
The Co. E troops then drove the men to a link-up point near Fallujah, where Marines from the 6th RCT took them to the Fallujah Iraqi Police station.
From Fallujah, the IPs then reunited the men with their awaiting families.
Pfc. January Schectman, a combat medic for Medical Company C, 115th Brigade Support Battalion, offered the men some crackers and other foods prior to their departure, but said it was hard to fathom what the men had been through over the past few days.
"They're a little traumatized so it's been hard for them to eat," she said as she gave food to two of the men, while the other man laying on his side smiled at her but turned down the food, due to pain from his injuries. "It's sad that the insurgents would do such things to them."
Schectman felt it was important to show the men compassion, something, she said, the insurgents who kidnapped the men were lacking.
For Capt. Jay Wisham, commander, Co. E, 2nd Bn., 5th Cav. Regt., the mission was an honor.
"I'm all about doing this, and our willingness to transport these hostages, who we freed from the insurgents, more than 100 kilometers back to their homes shows that we're here to support the Iraqi people."
"It really illustrates the exact differences between us and the insurgents who torture, kill and kidnap people with no regard for the families involved," added Wisham. "We are willing to go to extraordinary lengths to reunite them."
Wisham and his troops often perform missions near Baghdad. Over the course of their missions they have captured a lot of insurgents and routed out terrorist cells, all the while being involved in humanitarian efforts to help the people in the villages where Co. E patrols. So Wisham said helping the freed men was something his Soldiers were more than glad to participate in.
"This has been a great opportunity to show the Iraqis that we care for them," said Sgt. Justin Harris, a combat engineer and Co. E team leader. "You can see the Iraqis really want our help, and seeing and experiencing their attitudes toward us, it's a good feeling and it's pretty awesome."
"We're not just here to shoot bad guys and get rid of insurgents, we're here to help the country and its people," he said.
As Harris reflected on the day's mission, he also drew comparisons between Americans and Iraqis in their wanting to be free and live free of violence.
"The Iraqi people are just like us, they just want to work, support their families and then come home without having to be worried about being abducted from their homes," said Harris. "Sometimes there are a few bad apples who are insurgents and the civilians are not equipped to take care of that, but we're more than happy to continue assisting (the Iraqi security forces) in getting rid of the bad guys."
(Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp writes for the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Public Affairs.)