Well it’s time here in Kirkuk to wave good-bye to the 116th Brigade Combat Team. It’s been a pleasure to work with them for a year or so. Now they are getting ready to snake their way back to their favorite rivers and such famous cities as Boise, Preston, and Weston, which is West of Preston. I kid you not. And let’s not forget that Hollywood blockbuster “Napoleon Dynamite” was filmed in such humble areas. They will be leaving all this Iraq desert, sand, and rock for the desert, dust, and rock of Idaho. A welcome change, I’m sure--although some are heading back to Utah or so far away as Southern California.
You could say we’ve gotten to know these fine country folk who have protected America, ourselves, and served the people of Iraq so well with just the training of 1 weekend a month and 2 weeks during the Summer. Having applied almost 500 armor kits to their vehicles and replaced or repaired armor on another 460 or so of their vehicles, we have come to appreciate their easy going manner and vibrant patriotism. In fact we’ve become downright good friends with many of them, and what’s not to like? Especially when they enjoy BBQing so much. They have been generous with the Army’s, I mean, their stuff, and we have been proud to serve them. We wish you a safe return to your families and life, and hey, we’ll keep the light on for ya…
Of note, this exiting group has been the largest deployment of Mormons since the historical “Mormon Battalion” of the mid-1800‘s and has been named the “Mormon Brigade,” according to local and general LDS church leaders. The National Guard crew (60% LDS), with its Snake River designation, is being replaced by the renowned 101st. Many have already arrived with their newer digitally designed green fatigues and bear the leaner look of the younger and career-vintage crew that they are. It’s no coincidence that their arrival overlaps the soon-to-depart Idahoans during this election month. And I’m sure the Iraqis will appreciate the extra protection as they vote.
For us it means longer lunch lines (the cafeteria didn’t grow overnight like the numbers of soldiers did) but alas, we will still miss our stout Intermountain-West spud buds and their warmer demeanor, when they leave. (Those 101st-types seem so serious, having to maintain a reputation and all. More on them later) But for now; “Farewell, saints and soldiers!”