Friends and Family;
Well, folks, we passed the four month mark this past week -- we are officially one third of the
way through the tour.
Things continue to go well for the brigade ETT team and the Pennsylvanians. Several members of our team work with the Combat Service Support battalion that consists of a headquarters, a Transportation (trucks) & Supply Company, a Maintenance Company, a Medical Company, a Maintenance Company and a Signal Communications Company too. To best support the brigade, the unit is split between Darulaman, Jalalabad and Camp Fayez.
I was visiting some of the camps this week and spent some time at Camp Fayez. It is a very comfy camp in a mountain valley, right on a big river. The guys live well there, despite having to cook their meals. As you would expect from a group like us, most of their dinners are cooked over a roaring fire in the big brick grill outside.
Along with me during this trip were 1SG Walter and SPC Maritato. When we stopped at one of our camps, 1SG Walter's police-honed senses alerted to a marijuana plant growing across the road. It is actually a common weed here in Afghanistan. Through some nefarious process -- that did not involve me! -- a sprig of the aforementioned weed ended up tucked under my helmet band. I have been told that there is also photographic evidence....
For those of us out east, we have also experienced some of Mother Nature's power. Thunderstorms in this area have a monsoon quality, and knee deep water & mud can cover a road. One evening this week, we also had a mild earthquake.
This coming week, the US unit that we partner with in the east, is changing out. Gone are the Soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division after a 15-month tour, and they will be replaced by the 173rd Airborne Brigade. This great unit has prior experience in Afghanistan, as well as Iraq.
I know that an invitation went out this past week for a Family Support Group meeting, and I hope that you will all participate in that event.
GEORGE M. SCHWARTZ
1st Brigade, 201st Corps (ANA ETT)
Also there was a blog posting on Memorial Day that featured Geo and his men.
Friends and Neighbors Serving Far From Home
Posted by PamelaVarkony at 6:07:48 PM on May 28, 2007
....like LTC George Schwartz and his Pa. National Guard unit at Camp Darulaman outside of Kabul. When I visited them a few months ago, this wonderful group of soldiers welcomed me, shared their stories with me, and continue to include me in their weekly "Friends & Family" newsletter.
Memorial Day provides the perfect opportunity to once again say "thank you."
(edited to exclude names. Please view original post for information)
Like all our service members around the world, they do their duty while the lives of their loved ones unfold back home: Col. Schwartz is now the proud father of a beautiful baby girl he has never seen, SPC Maritato's mother still sends weekly care packages to everyone, including camouflage colored Easter baskets filled with goodies.
As the mission continues to unfold, the Pa. Nat. Guard unit has been joined by a French team of paratroopers who LTC Schwartz characterizes as "very professional". It didn't take long for the French along with one brave US Marine, to form a soccer team. The "Coalition Forces" bested the Afghan team in the first round of competition. There was also a very competitive volleyball tournament which was won by the Afghan team.
Recently, LTC Schwartz and his unit have dispersed to varying assignments in different parts of the country; about half of them are now stationed near Jalalabad, 3-4 hours south of Kabul, along the border with Pakistan; a very dangerous region. Some members of the unit are getting ready to provide mentoring and specialized training for the Afghan National Army and Police throughout the country.
I know the readers of this blog wish all our troops, and especially our friends and neighbors from the Penna. National Guard, a safe and happy Memorial Day. We are deeply grateful for your service and look forward to welcoming you home with us soon.
An interesting note: According to LTC Schwartz, the compound in Jalalabad that the troops are using as their temporary headquarters, was once an old Afghan fort and Taliban stronghold. The teahouse on the property is the last known residence of Osama bin-Laden.
(Do you think if we brought in some good ole American blood hounds, we might be able to find the guy?)