Afghanistan roundup, No. 4: Stories and photo showcases

Stories and photographs from our team that you may have missed in the past week. As always, this is content you’ll only find in the World-Herald.

From left, Staff Sgt. Mary Jo Yager, of Lincoln, Sgt. Andrew Brodahl, of Fremont, Pfc. John Hogue, of Geneva, and Spc. Christopher Borreson, of Wahoo, build a bus stop shelter to be used at Forward Operating Base Sharana on Wednesday, March 23, 2011. The soldiers, who were working at the lumber yard, are part of Nebraska's 623rd Engineering Company. (Photo by Alyssa Schukar / The World-Herald)


Medics – Iowa National Guard’s 734th Agribusiness Development Team (April 4)

Controlled detonations (April 1)

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Military wife blogs as life goes on (April 4)
“Now begins our journey into moving forward. … You know you have to. Life goes on.” That’s the thesis statement of Tory’s blog, a uniquely 21st century way for the Lincoln woman to share her family’s trials and tribulations with friends who always wonder what real life is like during a deployment.

Write Home project nears 1-million mark (April 4)
Bursting with craft ideas but don’t know where to direct them? How about making cards for Operation Write Home? Operation Write Home sends hand-made cards to deployed troops around the world. The troops then can write in the cards and send them home.

Treating war’s wounded (April 3)
Before this deployment began, Sgt. Heather Eberly had assumed that she and the other two combat medics with the Iowa National Guard’s 734th Agribusiness Development Team would be hanging around wheat fields and orchards as the team worked to help improve the lot of Afghan farmers. But much of their time has been spent helping the surgical team here at Forward Operating Base Wright.

This duty’s not a walk in the park (April 2)
Unspoken family peer pressure helped prompt Chad Fairbanks to join the military. Now Sgt. Fairbanks, 33, is deployed to Bagram Air Field in eastern Afghanistan. His unit is responsible for providing security, which includes conducting patrols aimed at catching the insurgents who like to shoot rockets at the base.

A blast of Afghan reality (April 1)
The school administrators were worried, and they let the Iowans know it. A team from the 1-113th Cavalry Squadron of the Iowa National Guard’s Charlie Troop was preparing to do a controlled detonation of a couple of old rockets found in the area. But the detonation site was 100 yards from a school, where children were gathering for the day’s classes.

Battallion’s job: wheels, meals (March 31)
It’s tough enough hunting for insurgents in Afghanistan without worrying about changing the oil in your MRAP. Fortunately, Sgt. Jason Jager, 30, of Akron, Iowa, is here to help. He’s one of the vehicle maintenance guys of Delta Company of the Iowa Army National Guard’s 334th Brigade Support Battalion, stationed at Combat Outpost Pushtayshark.

Iowan wounded in Afghanistan (March 30)
An Iowa man serving with the 101st Airborne Division in Afghanistan has been wounded by small-arms fire in Kunar Province. Army Spc. Nathan M. Allen, 23, of Atlantic was taken to the U.S. military hospital at Bagram Airfield for medical treatment, military authorities said Wednesday.

Guard tower duty can drag on (March 30)
After the sun sets over this outpost in far eastern Afghanistan, Spc. Danny Goeser of Manilla, Iowa, and other Delta Company soldiers gather to split up guard tower duties for the 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. night shift. Guard tower duty is the worst, troops say, because it’s so boring. An Afghan soldier is stationed in each tower, as well, but with the language barrier, they don’t have much to talk about after exhausting basic pleasantries.

Soldier soon to be a citizen (March 29)
Spc. Juan Francis, 22, of Lincoln left for this deployment as a permanent resident. He will return a citizen of the United States. About 4½ years ago, as Juan Francis was about to graduate from high school, he decided to join the Nebraska Army National Guard. It was something he’d always wanted to do, and his stepfather had been in the military.

Helping on the homefront (March 28)
Helping the troops and helping the mothers of the troops are primary goals of the Blue Star Mothers of America. The organization was founded in 1942. There are local chapters across the country, including the Loess Hills Chapter, which serves families in the Omaha metropolitan area and western Iowa.

‘Building freedom’ in Afghanistan (March 27)
Building freedom. That’s the slogan for soldiers of the Nebraska Army National Guard’s 623rd Engineer Company deployed to Afghanistan. The 160 or so members of the Wahoo-based company are here to support other units by constructing, fixing, remodeling, gutting, demolishing and rewiring just about anything and everything that’s brought to them.

Afghan challenges keep the price high (March 27)
The nine new buildings at Combat Outpost Margah stand as a testament to both the dedication and the dollars necessary to fight the Afghan war. More than 100 Taliban attacked the remote outpost the night before Halloween, pouring across the nearby Pakistan border — an attack that left dozens of insurgents dead and the U.S. soldiers stationed there feeling dangerously exposed. The price of this security isn’t cheap. In fact, the United States spends more than $1.2 million for every soldier deployed in Afghanistan, according to a top military budget expert.

Air assault targets insurgents (March 27)
The Iowa Army National Guard’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team has embarked on its largest mission since World War II — clearing eastern Afghanistan’s Galuch Valley of insurgents.

Top brass visits troops (March 26)
A special visitor dropped in this week on the Nebraska National Guard soldiers serving in Afghanistan. Brig. Gen. Judd Lyons of Omaha, the adjutant general of the Nebraska National Guard, traveled to Afghanistan as part of the Joint Monthly Access for Reserve Components program, which allows National Guard leaders to visit their troops deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan.


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