By Spc. Sharla Lewis, 3rd AAB PAO, 1st Cav. Div. August 17, 2011
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq-- In a first-ever visit to 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division here in southern Iraq, Division Command Sgt. Maj. Isaia Vimoto conducted a tour of the brigade's areas of responsibility to build morale and familiarize himself with the troops and their mission in support of Operation New Dawn.
Vimoto took over the position of 1st Cav. Div. command sergeant major April 11, 2011, only four days before the division cased its colors in preparation for their year-long deployment in Afghanistan to take over Regional Command " East in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Vimoto elected a 15-day block to tour Iraq and the four 1st Cavalry Division brigades here, starting north with 4th AAB, moving to central Iraq to visit 2nd AAB and arriving August 10 at Contingency Operating Base Adder, where the GREYWOLF Brigade headquarters is located.
While at COB Adder, Vimoto paid visits to the 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion and 215th Brigade Support Battalion. 3rd Bde. Special Troops Bn. commands COB Adder's base defense operations center and visitor control center, providing 24-hour video surveillance and visitor screening for the base. Vimoto also saw 215th Bde. Support Bn.'s maintenance warehouse and aid station, which are the largest of their kind in the brigade.
To conclude the day, Vimoto dined with Soldiers from throughout COB Adder and discussed their mission here.
In the second stop of his tour of southern Iraq, Vimoto saw Contingency Operating Station Garry Owen August 11, near al Amarah, where 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment is located. There, he toured the small base, enjoying lunch and visiting with Soldiers in each of the battalion's six companies.
Vimoto learned during the visit that a Soldier in Company C, Sgt. Steven Talamantez, died July 11. Vimoto's son, Pfc. Timothy Vimoto, was killed in 2007 while serving in Afghanistan.
He spoke sympathetically to the company about the incident.
"What would he want from you?" he asked. "He would want you to get back out there, wouldn't he? I know my son would have said, 'Don't worry about me, I'll be fine.'"
For a few moments, a leader with more than 30 years in the Army stepped away from his title of division command sergeant major and into the role of mentor and comrade.
Vimoto said later that talking with the Soldiers about their issues and sharing experiences with them was one of the reasons for his visits.
After his visit to COS Garry Owen, Vimoto flew to Contingency Operating Base Basrah to spend time with the Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment August 12.
Also located at COB Basrah is A Distribution Company, 215th Bde. Support Bn. The company is the main supplier of food and fuel to the area, including outlying bases, and conducts combat logistical patrols and sustainment replenishment operations daily to ensure no unit goes without mission-essential items.
Vimoto saw the unit's warehouses for food storage and maintenance parts as well as the fuel distribution site and met with the Soldiers that work there.
On Vimoto's fourth and final stop of his tour of the GREYWOLF units, he landed at Camp Delta, near al Kut, to visit the 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment there.
While there, Vimoto saw a change of command at a ceremony August 12, conducted his morning workout with the squadron's first sergeants and sergeants major and ate breakfast with a collection of the unit's junior enlisted troopers.
At the breakfast, Vimoto talked to the Soldiers about the 1st Cavalry Division mission in Afghanistan and the future of the division.
"In the future, the division and all the brigades will deploy as a unit," he said. "Until then, we'll be resetting and training for the mission."
The 1st Cavalry Division deployed to Iraq three times between the years of 2004 and 2010, with some Soldiers deploying as many as six times since the initial phase of combat in Iraq in 2003.
Questions rose from the group about how the division would use the dwell time between the brigade's current deployment and their next one.
"Are we going to reset like we normally do?" one Soldier asked.
Vimoto said that because of the extended dwell time, the brigades would have the opportunity to do back-to-basics training and training to prepare for the next mission, but also to take a breath and re-connect with families and loved ones.
Having spent his entire career with light infantry units, most recently as the command sergeant major for First Army Division West at Fort Hood, Vimoto admitted that he is constantly learning about the use of armored vehicles and assets.
At the conclusion of his tour, Vimoto said he was happy to see the division's Soldiers in action.
"The best part of my travels is being able to visit the troops and get out and see them in action," he said. "We're all doing the same thing and I think hearing from the division (command sergeant major) about the mission here really boosts morale."
In the wake of his visit, Soldiers' conversations rumbled about Vimoto's down-to-earth personality and interest in their jobs.
Senior enlisted leaders throughout the brigade said they were glad to expose their Soldiers to Vimoto's visit.
"I feel that it is a great opportunity for our Soldiers to have the chance to meet our enlisted leader," said 1st Sgt. John Buford, of C Medical Co., 215th Bde. Support Bn.
"It inspires Soldiers to know that he took the time to fly in from Afghanistan to address their needs and issues."