By Sgt. Jason Kemp, TF Danger Public AffairsJune 1, 2010
COB BASRA, Iraq - Soldiers re-enlist only a few times in their career; doing so on a deployment is an even rarer event.
When Soldiers of the 1st Infantry Division's Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion got the opportunity to raise their right hand 5,000 feet up in the air in a Black Hawk helicopter with Maj. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, 1st Inf. Div. commander, reciting the oath of enlistment, they flew at the chance May 26, 2010.
"Because of my job, I don't get to leave the COB (Contingency Operating Base). I've never even flown in a Black Hawk before. This was a great opportunity for me to do it before we went back home," said Spc. Darnell Jonas, a native of Kosrae, Micronesia, and unit supply specialist for Operations Company, DHHB, 1st Inf. Div.. "It was really cool to re-enlist with the CG (Commanding General) too."
One of the reasons 1st Inf. Div. Soldiers want to re-enlist with the commanding general, is because of the re-enlistment coin he designed for this deployment, said Sgt. 1st Class Marco Bochmann, a career counselor with the 1st Inf. Div. retention office.
"I re-enlisted with the CG because this is the last time I can re-enlist before I went indefinite and I wanted to do something special to remember it so I re-enlisted 5,000 feet up in a Black Hawk with the commanding general," said Tallahassee, Fla., native Staff Sgt. Amos Wade, a network systems operator maintainer with Signal Company, DHHB.
The way a Soldier re-enlists is their choice. Some choose their mentor and some choose officers they look up to; others choose different and meaningful locations to do their re-enlistment.
"We have also had Sgt. John Paylor, (from Port Orchard, Wash.) a mechanic from (Headquarters Support Company) the DHHB Motor Pool who reenlisted upside down on the climbing wall with the company commander," said Bochmann, a Junction City, Kan., resident."Another location where Soldiers have re-enlisted is by the NCO Creed wall over by the 17th Fires dining facility. It's an honor for an officer to be asked to conduct a reenlistment ceremony,"
Being able to say they were a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom is significant to most Soldiers and wanting to stay a part the 1st Inf. Div. is something most take pride.
"Since arriving in theater almost half of the re-enlistments that have been done are for current station stabilization at Fort Riley and that alone says a lot about the command," Bochmann said.
"It was a moment in history, a once in a lifetime event and I got to live history and live Operation Iraqi Freedom," said Sgt. Thomas Czarkowski, a Tobyhanna, Pa., native and information analyst with Intelligence and Sustainment Company. "It was a happy day for me."