Brigham City and Logan Welcome the

1-148th Field Artillery Home from Iraq

 

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Written by Maj. Hank McIntire

Published December 5, 2005

 

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Soldiers of Bravo Battery, 1-148th Field Artillery, in formation at welcome-home ceremony at Brigham City armory Nov. 21.

Photo by Spc. Kelly Collett

Soldiers of Bravo Battery, 1-148th Field Artillery, in formation at

welcome-home ceremony at Brigham City Armory Nov. 21.

BRIGHAM CITY and LOGAN, Utah — Utah welcomed home the Soldiers of the Brigham City- and Logan-based Bravo Battery, 1-148th Field Artillery, Utah National Guard, at the Salt Lake Air Base Nov. 18.

Three days later, the two cities honored these Operation Iraqi Freedom heroes who deployed in June 2004 with separate community celebrations the same day.

Nov. 21 began with an early-morning ceremony at the Brigham City armory. Capt. Darcy Burt, commander of Bravo Battery, 1-148th, stood at attention with his Soldiers dressed in their Desert Camouflage Uniforms in formation behind him, and the Utah National Guard’s Honor Guard conducted a flag ceremony. The  25-voice Box Elder High School Madrigals, led by Claudia Bigler, then sang the first and last verses of the National Anthem.

Following the song the crowd erupted in spontaneous applause for the Soldiers, and Burt and his men were visibly moved.  

Box Elder High School Madrigals, led by Claudia Bigler, sing the National Anthem at Brigham City armory ceremony Nov. 21.

Photo by Spc. Kelly Collett

Box Elder High School Madrigals, led by Claudia Bigler, right, sing

the National Anthem at Brigham City Armory ceremony Nov. 21.

Brigham City mayor Lou Ann Christensen then spoke to the crowd of 300, which included Soldiers, families, friends, and older veterans in Air Force, Army, and Navy uniforms.

“I’m so absolutely proud that you Soldiers would put your lives on the line for each of us. You are heroes in my eyes. It’s our privilege to honor you,” Christensen said.

The cheerleading squad from Box Elder High performed several cheers for the troops, and the choir then sang “The Lord Bless and Keep You.”

Brig. Gen. Patrick Wilson, commander of I Corps Artillery, spoke on behalf of the Utah National Guard and commended the Soldiers for their service and sacrifice.

“Our ability to achieve and maintain our freedom comes from great individuals and their families like you see here today. You are truly my heroes. You are these families’ heroes and this country’s heroes,” Wilson said.

Brig. Gen. Patrick Wilson, I Corps commander, presents Capt. Darcy Burt, Bravo Battery, 1-148th, with a yellow ribbon.

Photo by Spc. Kelly Collett

Brig. Gen. Patrick Wilson, I Corps commander, left, presents

Capt. Darcy Burt, Bravo Battery, 1-148th, with a yellow ribbon.

After his remarks Wilson presented to Burt the yellow ribbon that Wilson had kept on his front porch since the 1-148th deployed to Iraq, officially welcoming the unit home.

The battery’s senior enlisted Soldier, 1st Sgt. Kevin Martinez, then took a moment to tell those assembled what kind of men stood before them.

“These Soldiers set the standard for the rest of the brigade to follow. They did our state and our country proud,” said Martinez. “Inside your heart you knew you were there for a reason, to help [Iraqis] be free and have a life like we have here in the U.S.”

Among the families gathered at the ceremony was one who was not accompanied by their Soldier. Sgt. 1st Class Ronald T. Wood, was killed in combat July 16 in Kirkuk, Iraq, and his parents, Ron and Jody Wood, wearing their children’s letterman jackets, and brother, Sgt. Nathan Wood, I Corps Artillery, in battle-dress uniform, attended in his memory.

Ron Wood, left, Jody Wood, center, and Sgt. Nathan Wood pay tribute to Sgt. 1st Class Ronald T. Wood at Brigham City Armory Nov. 21.

Photo by Spc. Kelly Collett

Ron Wood, left, Jody Wood, center, and Sgt. Nathan Wood pay tribute to Sgt. 1st Class Ronald T. Wood at Brigham City Armory Nov. 21.

Reserving their loudest ovation for the Wood family standing hand in hand before them, the crowd listened in tears as the Woods spoke of her their son’s love for his country and acknowledged the tremendous outpouring of love they have received from so many.

“It’s a great honor to be here with all you wonderful people. Thank you, Soldiers. We love you so very much. We know Ronnie’s here,” said Ron Wood.

“We want to thank you all from the bottom of our hearts because you have all supported and loved us so very, very much,” added Jody Wood.

“Ronnie was the most selfless person that I have ever met. He is the best human being that I will ever know,” said Nathan Wood.

Following the ceremony, Soldiers had a few moments with family and friends before boarding buses for a parade through town.

Les Dunn, World War II veteran, watches with pride the welcome-home ceremony at Brigham City Armory Nov. 21.

Photo by Spc. Kelly Collett

Les Dunn, World War II veteran, watches with pride the

welcome-home ceremony at Brigham City Armory Nov. 21.

Les Dunn, member of American Legion Post 10 and World War II veteran, was there to support the local Soldiers, knowing what they had been through.

“Every war is the same. It doesn’t matter which one it is; it’s all tough stuff,” Dunn said. “I look at these guys and it almost makes you want to cry. We support them 100 percent.”

Kimberly Bailey, wife of Sgt. William Bailey, Logan, talked of the challenges she experienced while her husband was in Iraq.

“It’s been a hectic 18 months with two boys and no dad. I’m glad it’s all over with,” she said. “I had to do it all: the yard work, taking care of the animals—all of it. Having to take on all that responsibility myself made me appreciate what he does even more.”

Husband William was equally thankful to be reunited.

Students at Discovery Elementary in Brigham City await the arrival of 1-148th Soldier parade.

Photo by Spc. Kelly Collett

Students at Discovery Elementary in Brigham City

await the arrival of 1-148th Soldier parade.

“It was great to serve our country. That was the overall goal. It made me appreciate some of the smaller things you normally don’t appreciate in your everyday life,” he said.

Angela Staheli kept the home fires burning while her husband, Spc. Thomas Staheli, volunteered to go from Charlie Battery, 1-145th Field Artillery, Spanish Fork.

"A year and a half makes you a little crazy, but the deployment has made our relationship a lot stronger. Our communication is much better now,” Angela said.

Staheli, who left a two-week-old baby girl and returned to a walking, talking daughter, is focused more on what lies ahead rather then what he missed while he was away.

“Let’s get it over with and move on,” he said simply.

Just down the street from the armory near the beginning of the parade route, students from Discovery Elementary School waited anxiously to cheer on the Soldiers of Bravo Battery.

1-148th Soldiers in buses wave to cheering spectators at the beginning of the parade route in Logan Nov. 21.

Photo by Spc. Kelly Collett

1-148th Soldiers in buses wave to cheering spectators

at the beginning of the parade route in Logan Nov. 21.

Zach Baty, Selena Morales and Sarah Steckel, all fourth-graders at Discovery, were excited to be out of class for the celebration.

“My sister Megan is in the Army in Iraq. I miss her, but it’s important to support our troops,” said Zach.

“We’re going to cheer for the Soldiers who just came home from Iraq.  It’s important so that we can have our freedom,” said Selena.

Sarah agreed. “I’m here to support the troops. They’re protecting us from terrorists.”

Once the two Soldier buses accompanied by Brigham City fire trucks, police, and the Utah Highway Patrol reached the school, students waved flags, banners, and signs, enthusiastically chanting “U-S-A! U-S-A!”

Logan Fire Department creates makeshift archway over parade route Nov. 21 to honor 1-148th Soldiers returning from Iraq.

Photo by Spc. Kelly Collett

Logan Fire Department creates makeshift archway over parade

route Nov. 21 to honor 1-148th Soldiers returning from Iraq.

This scene was repeated throughout Brigham City as citizens lined the streets, some of whom stopped their shopping or work momentarily to show or shout their support. And nearly every marquee in town blared a message of welcome and thanks to the troops.

The motorcade left Brigham City for the 25-mile trip north to Logan, and about halfway between the two cities, the Brigham City contingent handed off the buses to their Logan counterparts.

As the vehicles arrived in Logan, the parade continued Logan style as citizens waved and cheered as Soldiers passed.

Near the end of the Logan parade route, two trucks from the Logan Fire Department on either side of the road extended their ladders to form an archway under which the arriving heroes passed to Soldiers’ and spectators’ delight.

Arriving at the campus of Utah State University, Soldiers and families packed the Taggart Student Center auditorium for a tribute.

Logan Fire Department color guard salutes flag at ceremony 1-148th Soldiers at Taggart Auditorium at Utah State University. for

Photo by Spc. Kelly Collett

Logan Fire Department color guard salutes flag at ceremony for

1-148th Soldiers at Taggart Auditorium at Utah State University.

The Logan Fire Department provided the color guard, and Logan mayor Doug Thompson, who has an Army son serving in Iraq, thanked Soldiers for what they stood for.

“You’ve not just served your country well, you’ve served the people of Iraq well with the humanitarian and civic things you’ve done,” Thompson said. “I’m proud of you for serving so well, but I’m more proud for the way you defended our values.”

Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet, Utah National Guard Adjutant General, reminded the 1-148th of the sobering realities of war.

“I thank God for your safe return, but we’re one Soldier short. I think Ron Wood is here today teaching you one final lesson about this mobilization and its cost,” said Tarbet. “We acknowledge his great service, and what a marvelous family! We see courage, conviction, dedication, and devotion in their eyes.”

Members of Bravo Battery, 1-148th Field Artillery, in formation at welcome-home ceremony Nov. 21.

Photo by Spc. Kelly Collett

Members of Bravo Battery, 1-148th Field Artillery, in

formation at welcome-home ceremony Nov. 21.

Tarbet also praised Soldiers for not being passive observers in the fight and for doing the “heavy lifting” for the 116th Brigade Combat Team, the unit they supported in Iraq.

“This is a war being won by individual Soldiers. It’s not the generals. It’s not the colonels. It’s the individual troops out in those gun trucks every day, making decisions in a split-second that are life-saving or life-ending. I salute you for what you’ve done, and I’m in awe of what you have accomplished,” Tarbet said.

Addressing his Soldiers as a group for the last time, Bravo Company Commander Capt. Darcy Burt, reviewed the highlights of their deployment.

Bravo Battery was attached to First Infantry Division in northeastern Iraq and worked side by side with Iraqi police and the newly formed Iraqi army.

A sign honors Sgt. 1st Class Ronald T. Wood and Soldiers of the 1-148th Field Artillery along the parade route in Brigham City.

Photo by Spc. Kelly Collett

A sign honors Sgt. 1st Class Ronald T. Wood and Soldiers of the

1-148th Field Artillery along the parade route in Brigham City.

“We are an artillery unit, but we learned infantry tactics. We became known as the ‘infantillery’” said Burt. “We were the ‘Go-to Battery.’”

Soldiers were based in isolated camps along the Iran-Iraq border, ran mounted patrols day and night, completed infrastructure projects and carried out humanitarian and escort missions throughout Iraq and into Kuwait.

Later the battery moved to Kirkuk, Iraq. They were the first and last unit in the brigade to conduct offensive operations.

With emotion Burt told the group, “The Soldiers of Bravo Battery are the finest group of combat veterans you will find anywhere. Bravo Battery and families, you can be proud of all your accomplishments.”

“I would like to remember our hero: Sgt. 1st Class Ronald Wood,” Burt said in conclusion. “Freedom is not free. We will never forget.”

Jody Wood, mother of slain 1-148th Soldier Sgt. 1st Class Ronald T. Wood, at Brigham City Armory Nov. 21.

Photo by Spc. Kelly Collett

Jody Wood, mother of slain 1-148th Soldier Sgt. 1st Class

 Ronald T. Wood, at Brigham City Armory Nov. 21.

Cheerleaders from Box Elder High School present a cheer for 1-148th troops at Brigham City Armory.

Photo by Spc. Kelly Collett

Cheerleaders from Box Elder High School present a

cheer for 1-148th troops at Brigham City Armory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Students at Discovery Elementary wait for the beginning of the parade featuring the returning Soldiers of the 1-148th.

Photo by Spc. Kelly Collett

Students at Discovery Elementary wait for the beginning of

the parade featuring the returning Soldiers of the 1-148th.

A Soldier of the 1-148th Field Artillery waves to students as the bus passes Discovery Elementary in Brigham City.

Photo by Spc. Kelly Collett

A Soldier of the 1-148th Field Artillery waves to students

as the bus passes Discovery Elementary in Brigham City.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brigham City fire and ambulance vehicles accompany Soldier buses during a homecoming parade honoring the 1-148th.

Photo by Spc. Kelly Collett

Brigham City fire and ambulance vehicles accompany Soldier

buses during a homecoming parade honoring the 1-148th.

A spectator prepares to greet the oncoming bus with Soldiers of the 1-148th during Brigham City homecoming parade.

Photo by Spc. Kelly Collett

A spectator prepares to greet the oncoming bus with Soldiers

of the 1-148th during Brigham City homecoming parade.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two enthusiastic supporters cheer Soldiers of the 1-148th during the Logan homecoming parade Nov. 21.

Photo by Spc. Kelly Collett

Two enthusiastic supporters cheer Soldiers of the 1-148th

 during the Logan homecoming parade Nov. 21.