CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE MAREZ, Iraq " Deployed in support of Operation New Dawn, “Long Knife” Soldiers assigned to 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, celebrated America’s 235th birthday while serving together in Iraq.
Soldiers assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th AAB, participated in a pre-Independence Day cook-off, July 1, to allow troopers to take time out of their schedules for fun and competition.
“The cook-off was to recognize the hard work the staff of HHC has been doing this year ensuring our Iraqi partners have the best possible training,” said Capt. Aaron Childers, commander, HHC, 4th AAB.
Serving in Iraq on Independence Day is an opportunity to share a holiday with people who have the same beliefs and patriotic duty that we Soldiers have in common, said Childers, a native of Plano, Texas.
“This isn’t just about completing the mission,” said Childers.
Serving during Operation New Dawn is about completing the mission more than 4000 service members gave their lives for, Childers said.
For 16 Soldiers of Long Knife Brigade, the Fourth of July became more than just a celebration of the nation’s birthday, as they raised their right hands and became America’s newest citizens during a naturalization ceremony at Al Faw Palace in Baghdad.
Specialist Patrick Wells, a military justice paralegal assigned to HHC, said he enlisted in the U.S. Army because he felt like it was the right thing to do.
A veteran of two years, Wells celebrated his first Independence Day as a U.S. citizen after becoming naturalized earlier this year.
“It makes me feel like I’m making a difference serving my country,” said Wells, a native of Regensburg, Germany. “I’m enabling people to have the freedom to support whatever they choose. I am proud to be able to be a part of maintaining freedom.”
Many Soldiers worked as if the day was like any other, but Independence Day in Iraq proved something different.
Some Soldiers earned recognition for their contributions to their units during the deployment, while others raised their right hand and extended their time in service by reenlisting.
Sergeant Jessie Wilson, an infantryman assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, attached to 1st Advise and Assist Task Force, 1st Infantry Division, re-enlisted, making this Independence Day a little more memorable than others.
A native of Bronx, N.Y., Wilson said he joined the Army to better his life and his future. Currently on his second deployment, Wilson said serving in Iraq is an eye opener for him.
“I see how people live and the kids with no shoes on their feet, and I see the privileges we have at home,” said Wilson. “Today is a day to appreciate our freedoms and the people who sacrificed their lives so we can have the privileges we have.”