Dear Family & Friends,
Time is marching rapidly on. We officially hit our nine-month mark in country today and have started the last 90 days of our deployment. It was also a year ago tomorrow that we departed for Fort Riley. While we were often frustrated during our time there, I don't think that we will mind being there so much when we go back there in January: our stay will only be for five days and we will be quickly coming home!
With Halloween now just a few days away, it is not surprising that we all received gift boxes from "Mama Tato" filled with holiday goodies. Thanks to the Maritato family! I also received a hamper full of school supplies and other goodies from Tess Mitchell's church that I intent to deliver to "our" orphanage school (see below) within the next week or so.
We continue supporting the ANA brigade's transition out of the eastern zone. More and more of the team are now back here in Darulaman, and the rest will be returning soon. Our unit's rotation puts us in one of the hottest parts of the country (Jalalabad area) over the summer, and then back in the mountains (above 6,000 ft) over the winter.
We are still cycling people through leave. Our Robert Gerrity just got back from leave where he was promoted to Sergeant (E5) in a ceremony at the armory in Scranton that was attended by his parents. Congratulations, buck sergeant! I will be the last person from our team going on leave, hopefully arriving home on Thanksgiving Day.
While we continue to wrap things up in the east, we are helping a new French team of advisers prepare to take over another one of the kandaks from one of our USMC teams. This team is also from their Mountain Infantry Brigade, but this one is largely made up of soldiers from the French Foreign Legion battalion in the brigade. Because we have to provide the French team with a small US liaison team, over the next month some of our guys now working in the 5th Kandak will be moving into new roles to create the liaison teams.
Attached is a newsletter published by our higher headquarters, the 201st Corps. There are several articles about our brigade, including the cover story about the newly renovated "orphanage" school, the arrival of the French replacement team for our 1st Kandak, and the work our Marine team is doing in Naray.
GEORGE M. SCHWARTZ
Team Leader/Senior Mentor
1st Brigade, 201st Corps (ANA ETT)