‘First Lightning’ Battalion finds strong support system in Joint Security Station Loyalty rebuilding
BAGHDAD—Command Sgt. Maj. William F. Bauer, left, senior enlisted advisor of 1st “First Lightning” Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division – Center and a New York City native, and Maj. John W. Sandor, executive officer with 1st Bn., 7th FA Regt. and a West Creek, N.J., native, show their appreciation as Kellogg, Brown, and Root contractors donate a game system to the unit June 17, 2011 at Joint Security Station Loyalty, Iraq. KBR has helped Soldiers with the battalion rebuild parts of JSS Loyalty after a June 6 indirect fire attacks. (Photo by Pfc. Hayden Duff, 2nd AAB, 1st Inf. Div., USD-C)
Story by: 1st Lt. Donald Gillilan
BAGHDAD—Soldiers with 1st "First Lightning" Battalion, 7th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division – Center have been benefitting from strong support as they continue to reconstruct Joint Security Station Loyalty after an indirect fire attack that occurred June 6.
Even on the day of the attack, vehicles with needed supplies began pouring into JSS Loyalty, and with them the helping hands of fellow Soldiers, Airmen and civilian contractors.
As the rubble was cleared away, many who call the base home realized that a strong sense of community had developed, which was often evident in the efforts each individual put forth to reconstruct and bring back a sense of normalcy.
"The event that occurred on June 6 was just as tragic to us here working for [Kellogg, Brown, and Root] on JSS Loyalty [as for Soldiers]," said Phillip Godwin, KBR camp manager and a Moultrie, Ga., native. "We have the ability to get to know the Soldiers in a very personal way. You are able to see it everywhere you go, they watch movies together, attend church service and eat together."
Godwin was pleased with the efforts in reconstructing JSS Loyalty and compared them to those in a neighborhood that has just experienced a natural disaster, and how everything possible to help a neighbor is done. He and his fellow contractors made a gesture to help bring a sense of normalcy to the Soldiers.
"Earlier this year, we had shirts made for all the electricians that work for KBR in this area, and after everyone paid for their shirts, we had a little money left over," Godwin said. "We were going to use this money for a barbeque for the workers, but instead we all decided to chip in and purchase a game system and present it to the Soldiers because some of these guys lost everything."
Even the First Lightning Battalion command sergeant major was grateful for the contribution the KBR personnel have made and continue to make for the Soldiers.
"We are in the process of constructing a new day room for the Soldiers," said Command Sgt. Maj. William F. Bauer, senior enlisted advisor of 1st Bn., 7th FA Regt. and a New York City native. "I think this gaming system that the KBR guys presented to us would be a great addition to that room."
The KBR employees on JSS Loyalty are not the only ones who have contributed to the reconstruction efforts.
"We came to JSS Loyalty to assist in the clean up and reconstruction efforts, and to help bring a sense of normality to the Soldiers," said Air Force 1st Lt. Ryan Winsor, engineering projects officer with 467th Expeditionary Prime Base Engineering Emergency Force Squadron out of Joint Base Balad, Iraq, and a Cool, Calif., native. "We are not totally complete with the job here, and there is still a lot to do, but we are definitely moving in the right direction."
The majority of the cleanup effort was completed in a matter of days, and that allowed leaders to begin reconstruction efforts around the base to ensure better force protection and safety for the Soldiers.
"It is pretty sweet to see the Army flex its logistical muscles," said Capt. John Worsencroft, logistical officer with 1st Bn., 7th FA Regt. and a Cleveland native. "It feels like we have every available asset in theater right now and the entire Army is behind [1st Bn., 7th FA Regt.]."
The hard work and the assistance that has been brought to bear at JSS Loyalty has not gone unnoticed by First Lightning Soldiers.
"At first I said, 'we are never going to get this place cleaned up, things will never be the same,'" said Pfc. Jonathan White, a personal security detachment Soldier with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Bn., 7th FA Regt. and a Pensacola, Fla., native. "These guys hit the ground running, and I am grateful that they are out here to help us get JSS Loyalty back together and allow us to continue our mission."