By Sgt. Melissa StewartMay 24, 2012
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Members of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), recently returned to Fort Drum from a yearlong deployment to Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, where the fight to liberate the Afghan people from the control of the Taliban did not come without tremendous sacrifice by the Soldiers and Families of the Spartan Brigade.
While the mission in Afghanistan was extremely successful, leading to improved safety and freedom for Afghans, the brigade's deployment paid a physical toll on many Spartan Soldiers, who are now being treated for their wounds at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.
These wounded warriors are still members of the Spartan Team and have not been forgotten, nor have they forgotten their fellow Soldiers. Col. Patrick D. Frank, 3rd BCT commander, was accompanied by the brigade's chaplain and other Soldiers to visit with wounded Spartans in Washington, D.C., taking them to a Washington Nationals baseball game May 15.
"(The) Spartan Brigade has been very supportive since I got injured; they have been there for everything," said Sgt. Justin Griffin, a former combat engineer in A Company, 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, who is now assigned to the Walter Reed Warrior Transition Brigade. "If you ever have any issues, all the commanders in the Spartan Brigade have an open door policy, and they are more than willing to help."
Seven of the brigade's wounded warriors attended the Nationals versus San Diego Padres game with their guests and Spartan leaders. The Soldiers were given box seats behind home plate, along with ballpark food and souvenirs.
"This is pretty awesome, none of the other units do it that I know of," said Griffin. "It's an amazing feeling to be back together with everybody and see everybody again."
While the Soldiers attended the game in civilian clothing, they were still obliged to adhere to the high standards of the U.S. Army and the Spartan Brigade.
"They are doing really well; they still maintain the 'Spartan Standards,' and they find the meaning of their sacrifice and service," said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Chul Kim, 3rd BCT chaplain.
Despite the seriousness of their wounds, these Soldiers are maintaining a positive outlook and recovering well. Many of them have solidified plans for the future and are in the process of applying for schools, internships, or returning to active duty.
"It's really moving to see them doing real well and continue in their fight," Kim said.
The brigade's wounded Soldiers understand that the sacrifice they made in Afghanistan was not in vain. Through 12 months of hard fighting in the Zharay and Maiwand districts of Kandahar Province, the Taliban's power over the people was significantly decreased, while the residents' way of life improved.
"I think we did an outstanding job," Griffin said. "We made history; the guys knew it, everybody knew it. It gave everybody a sense of purpose. It was an incredible experience."
This is not the first time the Spartan Brigade's leaders have visited wounded warriors in Washington, D.C., and it will not be the last time.
"Those guys are my heroes," Kim said.