26 April 2011

Red Bull News Herd 'Round the Net

There has been a lot of news coming out of the deployment of 2nd Brigade Combat Team (B.C.T.), 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division (2-34th BCT) recently. Some of it has been exciting, as soldiers continue to aggressively pursue their respective missions. Some of it has been inspiring, as citizens build bridges from Iowa to Afghanistan. And some of it has been heart-breaking, as buddies, friends, and family mourn the deaths of soldiers killed in action.

Here is some of the latest Red Bull news in brief:

Injured Red Bull soldier may return stateside by end of week
In an April 25 update, the Des Moines (Iowa) Register reports that, following a April 23 combat incident in Afghanistan's Kapisa Province, Iowa National Guard Spc. Zachary Durham, 20, of Des Moines has been transported to a hospital in Germany, and may return stateside by the end of the week. He has talked with family, is reportedly in good spirits. Durham was shot in the same Kapisa Province attack that resulted in the death of another "Red Bull" soldier, Staff Sgt. James A. Justice, 32, of Grimes. Both soldiers are members of 1st Squadron, 113th Cavalry Regiment--part of the Iowa's 2nd Brigade Combat Team (B.C.T.), 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division (2-34th BCT). Funeral arrangements for Justice are pending.

'Hero' tribute video depicts Nichols funeral procession
The April 23 funeral of Spc. Donald L. Nichols, 20, was held in the Waverly-Shell Rock High School. Iowans lined much of the 15-mile distance from the funeral to the graveside service, holding flags, saluting, and otherwise standing witness. The 2009 song "Hero," by the Christian rock band Skillet, was played during an interlude at the funeral. The official video of the song is posted here; a tribute video to Nichols featuring the song is posted here. While the frenetic combination of music and pictures is a little dissonant--not at all in keeping with the somber, overcast mood of the day--it does a great job capturing depicting how many people were out to welcome Nichols home one last time.

Minnesota Red Bull soldiers to train Afghan security forces
Some 55 "Red Bull" soldiers from the Minnesota National Guard's 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 136th Infantry Regiment (2-136th CAB), headquartered in Rosemount, Minn., are preparing to deploy to Afghanistan on an Embedded Training Team (E.T.T.) mission. See news article here. Such a training mission may be similar to what Nebraska's 1st Squadron, 134th Infantry are doing during the deployment to Afghanistan with Iowa's 2-34th BCT.

Iowa Red Bull unit, Minnesota non-profit distribute clothing to Afghan civilians
Working through Afghan National Army personnel, soldiers of Iowa's 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry Regiment (1-168th Inf.) recently distributed 6,000 coats and other clothing items to Afghan civilians in remote villages in Paktiya Province. The clothing was donated, collected, and transported through the efforts of Rapport Afghanistan, a Minnesota-based non-profit started in 2010 by 1-168th Inf. alumnus Shawn Mingus, Chanhassen, Minn. Weather and transportation problems postponed delivery from January to April. “Rapport Afghanistan is a great example of outstanding, grass-root support from volunteers in America who donated time and money for a coat drive to donate warm clothes for the Afghan people who need them,” said 1-68th commander Lt. Col. Stephen Boesen. See Army news article here.

Southwestern Iowa soldiers capture insurgent moneyman
On the other side of the mission spectrum, two companies of 1-168th Inf. soldiers this month also helped 400 Afghan personnel conduct Operation Rainbow Valley, a traffic-control effort to snare insurgents operating in the Zormat District of Paktiya Province. The mission paid off when a highly sought-after insurgency financier was captured on his way home from market. “We’ve definitely taken the wind out of the sails of the insurgents for a while,” said Delta Company commander Capt. Kent Greiner of Nevada, Iowa. “We’re striking a nerve with them and we’re going to keep striking that nerve to see what happens.” See Army news article here.

Omaha World-Herald team returns to Nebraska
According to a blog-post earlier this week, the Omaha World-Herald's reporter-photographer team of Joseph Morton and Alyssa Schukar is returning stateside after spending nearly two months covering Midwesterners deployed to Afghanistan. Morton's interviews and insights have told the citizen-soldier story well, and Schukar's portraits of Midwestern men and women in uniform are like fine art. You can continue to follow their coverage here.

Des Moines (Iowa) Register feature on Red Bull women practically goes viral
An April 24 Des Moines Register Sunday news feature about Red Bull women in combat has since appeared in USAToday, the Army Times, and other venues. You can continue to read the Register's regular coverage of the 2-34th BCT deployment here.

Three Red Bull blogs nominated for Fifth Annual Milbloggies Awards
Announced April 25, the Red Bull Rising blog has been nominated for a Milbloggie Award under the U.S. Veteran category. The People's Choice-style competition "recognizes military bloggers for their contribution to blogging, news and information, and to the military over the past year." Voting will close on Thurs., April 28, at 7pm EST/4pm PST, and no registration or log-in is required.

Two other blogs related to the 2-34th BCT deployment to Afghanistan, "My Yellow Ribbon" and "My Father's Voice," have been nominated under the U.S. Military Parent category. Please consider voting for these blogs, as well as:
  • U.S Marine: "Glory, Guts & Glitter," written by single-mother and Marine Christina Fawn. She writes with a bayonet, and will occasionally cut your heart out and make you like it. Plus, she's from Minnesota, and can find Camp Ripley on a map. So she's practically a Red Bull, too!
  • U.S. Reporter: Tom Sileo writes "The Unknown Soldier," which routinely and sensitively celebrates the lives of U.S. military personnel.
  • U.S. Military Supporter: The writer of "Little Drops ..." who uses the callsign "Kentucky Woman," has been a long-time supporter of Red Bull Rising, and has worked hard to introduce Charlie Sherpa around the Milblogger community. It's people like her that make the Internet worthwhile.
Click here for a Milbloggie ballot.

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