Utah Guard Senior Leaders

Visit Troops in Iraq

 

Written by Maj. Hank McIntire

Published May 11, 2006

 

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Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet, cener, visits with Soldiers of the 2-222nd Field Artillery in Ramadi, Iraq.

Photo by Command Sgt. Maj. Dell Smith

Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet, center, visits with Soldiers of

the 2-222nd Field Artillery in Ramadi, Iraq.

DRAPER, Utah — Top leaders of the Utah National Guard visited troops deployed to Iraq Apr. 18-20. 

Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet, Adjutant General of the Utah National Guard, traveled to Baghdad, Balad and Ramadi, Iraq, with Command Sgt. Maj. Dell Smith and met with Soldiers from the 115th Engineers, 120th Quartermaster Detachment, 141st and 142nd Military Intelligence Battalions, 144th Area Support Medical Company and 2-222nd Field Artillery. 

Approximately 800 Utah Army National Guard Soldiers are deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In their respective areas of operations, the 115th Engineers provide training for incoming troops in mine detection and IED recognition; the 120th is conducting water-purification support; the 141st and 142nd are providing linguistic and intelligence support; the 144th is operating a medical clinic and supporting local aid stations; and the 222nd is working with local Sheiks, providing security for troops and humanitarian aid for local Iraqi citizens.

Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet speaks to Utah Guard Soldiers at their dining facility in Ramadi, Iraq.

Photo by Maj. Gonzales

Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet speaks to Utah Guard

Soldiers at their dining facility in Ramadi, Iraq.

The visitors’ itinerary included briefings from unit leaders on their assigned missions, observing training—and most important—spending time with Soldiers in at forward operating bases, guard towers, observation posts, offices, shops and dining facilities, hearing their stories, thanking them personally and leaving a message of support and encouragement.

Smith indicated that he and Tarbet were able to meet with 60-70 percent of Utah Guard Soldiers currently deployed to Iraq.

“They’re doing a great job. They have the best equipment, the best body armor, the best vehicles. They are as protected as well as they can be,” Smith said of the Utah Soldiers he met.

“You’re getting close now, and this is the time to focus more than ever before,” Tarbet told members of the Triple Deuce. “Don’t let your guard down. I want to see all your smiling faces when you get off that plane in Utah. We love you.”

Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet, center, with Col. John Gronski, commander of 2-28th Brigade Combat Team, at Ramadi memorial for fallen Soldiers.

Photo by Maj. Gonzales

Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet, center, with Col. John Gronski, commander of

2-28th Brigade Combat Team, at Ramadi memorial for fallen Soldiers.

After returning home to Utah, Tarbet reflected on his fourth visit to Iraq and meeting with Soldiers serving in harm’s way:

  —  There’s no business-as-usual mentality with the Soldiers of the Triple Deuce. Every day they make things better. There’s no quit in these guys. I told them, ‘This is not over until you’re back in our parking lot in Cedar City.’

  —  The 115th  and 144th  are doing great work and saving lives.

  —  The 141st and 142nd Soldiers are in transition between the incoming and outgoing teams. Their attitudes are good and they are doing well.

  —  The 120th is making a lot of water and doing a lot of good to improve the lives of our Soldiers and the Iraqis.

  —  I’m grateful to work with men and women of this caliber serving their country in a quiet and unobtrusive way. They are taking care of each other and taking care of the Iraqi people. I’m very impressed.

Spc. Joshua Faulkner, Service Battery, 2-222nd, left, receives promotion from Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet, right, and Command Sgt. Maj. Dell Smith.

Photo by Maj. Gonzales

Spc. Joshua Faulkner, Service Battery, 2-222nd, left, receives promotion from Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet, right, and Command Sgt. Maj. Dell Smith.

 —  I’m thankful to the families of these Guard members. We sustain and support them. We care for them, are concerned about them and pray for them.

On this, his second trip to Iraq, Command Sgt. Maj. Smith expressed similar sentiments: 

  —  They are doing a great job in a tough situation.

  —  Our Soldiers have a good system there. They are well prepared and well trained for their mission. They have the best equipment, the best body armor, the best vehicles. They are protected as well as they can be.

  —  It means a lot to me to see Soldiers, what they are doing, where they are at, finding out what issues I can work. We found two Soldiers who were still E-3’s. We stayed up late working that issue and Gen. Tarbet and I pinned (promoted) them the next morning.

   I like to be in Soldiers’ footsteps and know what they are experiencing and have a feel for how good or how bad it really is.

Spc. Jacob Carlisle, Bravo Battery, 2-222nd Field Artillery, center, meets with Command Sgt. Maj. Dell smith, left, and Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet.

Photo by Maj. Gonzales

Spc. Jacob Carlisle, Bravo Battery, 2-222nd Field Artillery, center, meets with Command Sgt. Maj. Dell smith, left, and Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet.

  —  It was tough for me to leave them there. I’ve gotten close to a lot of these Soldiers. They are like family. People think I’m crazy to want to go to Iraq and visit Soldiers, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’d go back tomorrow if I had the chance.

And Soldiers who met with Tarbet and Smith were appreciative of their visit. 

“To have the opportunity to see Gen. Tarbet, and Command Sgt. Maj. Smith was something I will never forget,” said Sgt. 1st Class Carlyle Smith, commander of the 120th Quartermaster Detachment.

“The two most prominent members of the Utah National Guard flew 8,000 miles to spend time with their Soldiers and listen to our concerns, issues, and mission status because they truly care about all of us serving our country. It’s this type of leadership that has made the Utah National Guard so successful in accomplishing our mission so far away from home,” Smith added.