By Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp; 1st BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Public AffairsNovember 19, 2007
CAMP TAJI, Iraq - As people in the U.S. prepare to give thanks during Thanksgiving Day celebrations later this month, senior leaders from the 4th Stryker "Raider" Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division showed their appreciation in a different way and a little earlier in November with a visit to see their fellow Soldiers in the 1st "Dragon" Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment of the 1st "Ironhorse" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division here.
Dover, Pa., native Col. Jon Lehr, commander, 4th SBCT, 2nd Inf. Div., Command Sgt. Maj. John Troxtell, the 4th Stryker Brigade's senior noncommissioned officer, along with some of the brigade's staff took the time Nov. 13 to recognize the 1-82 Dragons for their firing of field artillery in support of the Raider Brigade's Soldiers, many of whom were once based out of Camp Taji with the majority now at Camp Warhorse.
Batteries A and B of the 1st Bn., 82nd FA Regt. have fired nearly 6, 300 rounds from their M109A6 Paladin Howitzers over the course of Operation Iraqi Freedom Rotation 06-08 and 31 percent of their fires, more than 2,000 rounds, were fired in combat missions in support of the 4th SBCT, 2nd Inf. Div. who operated in villages near Taji such as Tarmiyah.
"It gives me a good feeling and means a lot to me to be able to recognize these warriors," said Lehr, addressing the Dragon troops. "How many lives have you saved through your terrain denial and counterfire' You may never really know, but I guarantee that you saved a lot of Raider lives with your actions. We are ever beholden of you and you have been on time, on target."
For nearly seven months, with the Dragons providing some fire support for the 4th SBCT, Lehr added that his brigade was "more able to get their area of operations under control" and that in the beginning of their tour the 4th SBCT faced a "very strong fight" against insurgents.
"We were having about 200 contacts per week to include both (improvised explosive devices) and direct fires," said Lehr, also noting that with assistance from 1-82, air asset support from the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, recent reconciliation efforts and his Soldier's determination to take the fight to the enemy, the 4th SBCT was able to greatly decrease the number of attacks against Coalition Forces, Iraqi Security Forces and the civilian populace.
Lehr's brigade, which now has only one battalion on Camp Taji, operates mainly in northern Baghdad.
After Lehr spoke, the brigade's command sergeant major, Troxtell, also commended the efforts of the Dragon battalion.
"We are now doing graduate level counterinsurgency operations, and we are rewriting doctrine," said Troxtell. "You helped us to separate the insurgents from their base of support, and we thank you for all you do."
Once they were done speaking, Lehr and Troxtell presented signed and framed 4th SBCT posters to the 1-82 leadership and leadership from Batteries A and B.
"We are very humbled by this," said Lt. Col. Martin Clausen, commander, 1st Bn., 82nd FA Regt. during the ceremony.
Although Clausen said few words during the ceremony, he preferred to let his Soldiers express what the 4th SBCT visit meant to them.
"I feel very privileged and it's an honor to shoot for them," said Spc. Brett Snauffer, who works in the 1-82 fire support center and hails from Williamsburg, Pa. "That they recognized us really means a lot and so does knowing that we're saving lives."
"It's awesome that we've had enough of an effect for them to come down and recognize us and that makes me really proud," said Aurora, Colo. native Spc. Chris Harris, who also works in the fire support center.
After the ceremony, Troxtell presented the battalion with some coins that he brought so the Dragon battalion could place them on the 1st Cavalry Division's Operation Iraqi Freedom Memorial at Fort Hood, Texas once they return home from their current deployment.