50 graduate Fatima Girls High School

Tabasum Sharqi (left) opens a book she received for graduating at the top of her Fatima Girls High School class at a ceremony held at the Kunar Department of Women’s (click for more)

Polish and US Forces bond through weapons

Soldiers from the Polish Army and the Texas National Guard Agribusiness Development Team-IV check their shot grouping during qualification on the Polish AK-74 5.56 mm Mini-Beryl short assault rifle Feb. (click for more)

TF Duke Soldiers volley for peace

U.S. Army Soldiers from Company B, 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Task Force Duke, play an impromptu game of volleyball against a team (click for more)

Nurgaram District leaders electrify Nangaresh schools

Dr. Mehirulla Muslim, the Nurgaram District subgovernor, addresses an audience of teachers, government officials and citizens during a ceremony to celebrate a completed solar panel electricity project Feb. 21 in (click for more)

10th CAB Soldiers bring communications to Bagram’s east side

U.S. Army Spc. Raheem Stewart, an automations specialist with TF Phoenix, steps along the rafters of the building his team helped wire for communications. Stewart, from Dallas, was one of (click for more)

ANA, Red Bulls search Parwai during Operation Brass Monkey

An Afghan National Army soldier from Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 201st Infantry Regiment, searches a pile of rocks in the courtyard of a high-value target home outside the village of (click for more)

Female engagement teams trained to aid communication with Afghan women

U.S. Army Capt. Nicole Zupka of Fair Lawn, N.J., a battlewatch captain with Combined Joint Task Force-Paladin, helps an Afghan child with her writing skills during female engagement team training (click for more)

ANA, TF Storm break trail, make difference in Kharwar

LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Army soldiers move through Kharwar District to prevent the Taliban’s freedom of movement Feb. 12. U.S. and Afghan soldiers braved more than 3 feet (click for more)

Ky. ADT II begins Panjshir sheep parasite project

Kentucky Agribusiness Development Team II members, U.S. Army Spc. Justin Allen (left), a London, Ky., native, and U.S. Army Sgt. Nicholas Combs, a Corbin, Ky., native, get to know a (click for more)

Engineer Soldiers deliver aid to Afghans

An Afghan carrying a child approaches U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Peter Moeller of Atkins, Iowa, a medic with Task Force Red Bulls, for humanitarian aid at Qale-Mussa Pain Middle School (click for more)

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KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, International Security Assistance Forces commander, recites the oath of re-enlistment to 113 Soldiers assigned to 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, Task Force No Slack, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, at Forward Operating Base Joyce in eastern Afghanistan's Kunar Province April 11. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Mark Burrell, Task Force Bastogne Public Affairs)KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus re-enlisted 113 Task Force No Slack Soldiers at Forward Operating Base Joyce in eastern Afghanistan, April 11.

TF No Slack is the first battalion in the 101st Airborne Division and all of Afghanistan to make their re-enlistment quota for fiscal year 2011 during some of the most intense fighting of Operation Enduring Freedom said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert A. Reynolds, a career counselor from Clarksville, Tenn., assigned to 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Div.

Petraeus said there was a reason so many TF No Slack Soldiers want to stay.

"As we look at those who are re-enlisting today we ask, 'Why in the world are they doing this?' It's not for the stock options, I'm sure of that," said Petraeus. "At the end of the day, this is all about teams, all about air assault buddies."

In the crowd, there were two Soldiers who re-enlisted to continue being battle buddies for each other and their fallen comrades.

U.S. Army Sgt. James Schmidt from Decatur, Ill., and U.S. Army Sgt. George S. Rueda from Norwalk, Calif., two squad leaders who deployed with 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team to Kunar Province just a few years ago, signed another three-year contract.

After serving in the Korengal and Wygal Valleys at Observation Post Restrepo and Combat Outpost Bella, they moved to Fort Campbell, Ky., at the same time.

"I had just gotten to the battalion conference room and the battalion commander came in," said Schmidt. "I was with my buddy Rudy [Rueda] and he saw our patches and said, 'Oh, 173rd, huh? You guys know anything about the Kunar Province?' And we just looked at each other and were like, 'You gotta be kidding me, there’s no way.'"

As they raised their right hands for re-enlistment, metal bracelets etched with names of fallen comrades weighed heavy on their arms.

"I think that’s why I re-enlisted," said Schmidt. "I was thinking about getting out after last deployment, but I didn’t want to give up after these guys gave it their all. They lost their lives doing something they believed in, and I think it would have tore me up the rest of my life if I would have just stopped and not come back here … It reminds me of why I’m here."

Rueda agreed and said he was doing it for his fallen brothers and the ones that are still with him.

"You can't find this brotherhood anywhere else," said Rueda. "Family back home is always there to back each and every one of us, but here there's a different kind of family. You got your brothers to your left and your right that will do anything for you."

Throughout this tour, the two Soldiers kept in contact and reminisced about hanging out together and planned their next barbecues.

"It's funny knowing that he's just right across the river from me this deployment and he was right across the river from me last deployment," said Schmidt. "It's good having another two-timer to the Kunar."

They laughed at each other and both agreed that it was comforting. They also agreed that it was great to finally meet Petraeus.

"It was a privilege and honor to hear that Gen. Petraeus was going to be here to re-enlist us," said Rueda. "Just to see him in person was an honor."

Before reciting the oath of re-enlistment, Petraeus said these Soldiers have a gloried history and have added their own heroic chapter to it this deployment. He also said the honor to re-enlist these TF No Slack heroes was all his.KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Sgt. George S. Rueda, a weapons squad leader from Norwalk, Calif., assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, Task Force No Slack, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, talks with a battle buddy after a re-enlistment ceremony at Forward Operating Base Joyce in eastern Afghanistan's Kunar Province April 11. Rueda, also on his second combat tour to Kunar Province, re-enlisted for three more years. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Mark Burrell, Task Force Bastogne Public Affairs)KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – U.S. Army Sgt. James Schmidt, an infantry squad leader from Decatur, Ill., assigned to Company C, 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, Task Force No Slack, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, lines up to shake hands with Gen. David H. Petraeus, International Security Assistance Forces commander, after a re-enlistment ceremony at Forward Operating Base Joyce in eastern Afghanistan's Kunar Province April 11. Schmidt, on his second combat tour to Kunar Province re-enlisted for three more years in the Army. (Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Mark Burrell, Task Force Bastogne Public Affairs)


Last Updated on Thursday, 14 April 2011 22:56


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Coalition forces engage insurgents in Kapisa

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Coalition forces killed seven insurgents in defensive operations in the Alah Say District, Kapisa Province, eastern Afghanistan, March 29.

Coalition forces and aircraft responded to an insurgent attack. Four insurgents were killed by air strike and three were killed by direct fire from coalition forces.

All rounds were reported safe and on target. There were no reports of injuries or damages to civilians in the area.

ANSF, ISAF begin major operation in Laghman valley

LAGHMAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – The Afghan National Security Forces, partnered with U.S. Task Forces Red Bulls and Phoenix and French Task Force La Fayette, began operations in Galuch Valley, Laghman Province, March 25.

Soldiers of the Afghan National Army’s 201st Corps, Afghan National Police’s 202nd Shamshod and the U.S. Army’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, TF Red Bulls, supported by the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, TF Phoenix, conducted an air assault into the valley to remove enemy forces. Battle Group Richelieu, TF La Fayette, provided artillery support from Kapisa Province.

While conducting operations, the forces found multiple weapons caches including assorted rocket propelled grenades, mortar rounds, Russian rockets, materials to make homemade explosives, various other ordnances and communication equipment.  

While moving through the valley, unit leadership met with village elders to discuss the security situation and to allow them to give up insurgents still in the area.

The operation will assist the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in establishing the valley as a new district giving the Afghan people in the area freedom from the insurgency.   

President Hamid Karzai approved the creation of the additional district and hopes the new district will help improve the security of the area and support the reconstruction effort.

Mohammad Iqbal Azizi, Laghman Province governor, held a press conference March 7 announcing the establishment of a new district located in the valley.

ANSF, TF Bastogne continue operations in Kunar


KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Afghan National Security Forces and coalition troops from Task Force Bastogne continued operations in the Shigal District March 18 after clearing the village of Lawsin and the surrounding area.

Afghan leaders, coalition forces look forward

PAKTYA, Afghanistan – Leaders from across eastern Afghanistan attended a security conference March 9 at Forward Operating Base Thunder, the home of the Afghan Army’s 203rd Thunder Corps.