Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bucca units move detainees outside the wire

Spc. Andrew Alexander, Fond du Lac, scans the roads from the gunner's turret of a Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected vehicle. Army photos by Spc. Tyler Lasure.

A little more information has trickled out about the changing missions of some Wisconsin National Guard soldiers who were deployed to run detention camps at Camp Bucca in southern Iraq.

The State Journal first reported on July 29 that some units were transporting detainees out of the Bucca detention centers, which are scheduled to be closed soon. During a press conference, Col. Steven Bensend, top commander of 3,300 Wisconsin National Guard soldiers in Iraq, downplayed the hazards of the missions, noting that personnel in bases also face threats, for example from explosives fired from a distance. Bensend also said insurgents attack larger-scale targets more often than transport operations.

After the press conference a National Guard spokesman said Bensend would not elaborate on the missions. Yesterday, the Army distributed a press release about the operations, which are being undertaken by Janesville's Company A, 132nd Brigade Support Battalion, and Fond du Lac's Company C, 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry.

When the detainees are finally loaded onto buses at the end of the day, Charlie Company takes charge. The desert sun is already setting when soldiers perform the last pre-combat checks on their Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicles. They shovel down a meal, load their weapons and roll out. It is going to be a long night, and everything needs to go right.

Charlie Company provides security for the convoy from Bucca to a military flight line. Attacks on the convoy aren't the only thing these soldiers need to prepare for; should a disturbance occur on a busload of detainees, the soldiers would be required to restore order.

Camp Bucca, once the largest detainee facility in the world, is being emptied and converted to other uses. Under an agreement with Iraq, the U.S. military is relinquishing control of thousands of detainees. Detainees typically are taken to Camp Cropper, the central booking facility for U.S. military detainees, for release or transfer to Iraqi custody, the Army has said.

I'm heading home to care for Carter after car crash hurt his mom

From Sgt. Robert Grinage of Rice Lake, Wisconsin. He is stationed 6,646 miles from home at Camp Bucca, Iraq.

When I was on leave last month my handsome son was born. His name is Carter Matthew Laursen. He is my little trooper. The mother of Carter is Jaci Laursen. She is a great mother.

But at this time she is hospitalized because she was in a serious car accident.
As of now the military is sending me home, to care for my son while the mother of my child goes through surgeries. I ask all to pray for Jaci and the Laursen family as they they are under this hard time in the family's life.

As this has been going on I have been receiving pictures of my little trooper. It is a true statement when parents say: "Children will change your life." I am 10,000 miles away and i can totally tell that statement is true.

It is hard watching your child grow up through pictures. But in the same time, it's like Christmas every day I receive them. I would like to thank both families of my son. Without them my son would never know who I am till I come home. Thanks guys. Jaci get better soon, my prayers are with you.

- Robert

Rhyming the time away in Iraq

From PFC. Junior Buchanan of Madison, who is 6,415 miles from home serving in a Wisconsin National Guard unit at Camp Cropper, Iraq.

I came with the 32nd and I'm doing detainee ops just like the rest. I was deployed right after completion of my AIT (Advanced Individual Training). I was only home for 5 or 6 days before going on orders. I didn't know till the last minute that I was getting deployed -- kinda sucked but i cooperated with it. It was hard, but it's part of the job I guess.

I have been writing my own music since I was about 12 or 13 with my cousins. Writing music helps make my time here pass faster and a little more enjoyable. My family has a lot of musical talent in it -- singing and also hip hop (rap) and dancing.

Thank you for taking interest in my songs. I love what I do and take pride in making it sound good. I was on active duty orders before I joined the guard. did basic AIT and now Iraq. When I get home for good I would have been back and forth only spending a week or two or a few days at home for about a year and 6 months.

- Junior