Friday, June 17, 2011

Army Ranger Killed In Afghanistan

SSG Jeremy A. Katzenberger

From the Army's Special Operations Command Public Affairs Office:

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"Staff Sgt. Jeremy Andrew Katzenberger, 26, was killed by enemy forces during a heavy firefight while conducting combat operations in Paktika Province, Afghanistan.

Staff Sgt. Katzenberger was a squad leader assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Hunter Army Airfield, Ga. He was on his eighth deployment in support of the War on Terror with four previous deployments to Iraq and three to Afghanistan.

He was born Nov. 2, 1984 in Kansas City, Mo. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in October 2004 from his hometown of Weatherby Lake, Mo.

Staff Sgt. Katzenberger completed One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning, Ga., as an infantryman. After graduating from the Basic Airborne Course there, he was assigned to the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program also at Fort Benning. Staff Sgt. Katzenberger graduated from the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program and was then assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment in April 2005, where he served as a rifleman, automatic rifleman, team leader and Ranger squad leader.

His military education includes the Basic Airborne Course, Ranger Assessment and Selection Program, U.S. Army Ranger Course, Warrior Leader Course, and Jumpmaster.

His awards and decorations include the Ranger Tab, Expert Infantryman Badge, Combat Infantryman Badge and the Parachutist Badge. He has also been awarded the Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Army Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Army Good Conduct Medal with one loop, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two Campaign Stars, Iraq Campaign Medal with three Campaign Stars, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon with numeral 2 and the Army Service Ribbon.

Staff Sgt. Katzenberger is survived by his wife Colleen A. (Montgomery) and his son Everett James, both of Richmond Hill, Ga., and his parents Robert and Peggy Katzenberger of Weatherby Lake, Mo.

As a Ranger, Staff Sgt. Jeremy Andrew Katzenberger selflessly lived his life for others and distinguished himself as a member of the Army’s premier direct action raid force, continuously deployed in support of the War on Terror, and fought valiantly as he served his fellow Rangers and our great Nation."

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Our condolences to SSG Katzenberger's family, friends, and fellow warriors.

Rangers Lead The Way...

Charles M. Grist

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Happy Birthday To The United States Army

Today is the birthday of the United States Army. I first joined the Army on December 3, 1968. I had three breaks in service over the years, but I finally managed to retire on February 28, 2009.

Such a lengthy association means that I have served with men who fought in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Desert Storm, Iraq, Afghanistan and other lesser-known battlefields throughout the world. I served alongside my fellow soldiers in both Vietnam (1970-71) and Iraq (2004).

The following is a description of the birth of the United States Army taken from Robert Wright, The Continental Army. Read more at :

"The June 14 date is when Congress adopted 'the American continental army' after reaching a consensus position in The Committee of the Whole. This procedure and the desire for secrecy account for the sparseness of the official journal entries for the day. The record indicates only that Congress undertook to raise ten companies of riflemen, approved an enlistment form for them, and appointed a committee (including Washington and Schuyler) to draft rules and regulations for the government of the army. The delegates correspondence, diaries, and subsequent actions make it clear that they really did much more. They also accepted responsibility for the existing New England troops and forces requested for the defense of the various points in New York. The former were believed to total 10,000 men; the latter, both New Yorkers and Connecticut men, another 5,000."

Please take time to thank a soldier for your freedom. They have been protecting all of us for a long, long time.

Charles M. Grist
First Lieutenant, USAR, Retired

Flag Day 2011 - Honoring The Stars & Stripes

Flag Day was officially established by the Proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson on May 30, 1916. While Flag Day was celebrated in various communities for years after Wilson's proclamation, it was not until August 3, 1949, that President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14 of each year as National Flag Day.

"Old Glory" has inspired more people than any other flag in the world. It has accompanied our troops in multiple wars as we liberated untold millions of oppressed people. There is a magic about our flag that brings tears to our eyes, warmth to our hearts, and pride to our spirit.

Please take time today to remember our flag, and remember all of those who have given their lives in its defense.

Charles M. Grist

Monday, June 6, 2011

Remembering D-Day - June 6, 1944

Allied troops storm the beaches of Normandy
There were 160,000 Allied soldiers who landed on a fifty mile stretch of Nazi-fortified beach in Normandy, France on June 6, 1944. General Dwight Eisenhower called the invasion a crusade in which "we will accept nothing less than full victory." More than 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the Normandy invasion and by the end of the day, the troops had gained their foothold in France. The cost was heavy: More than 9,000 Allied troops were killed or wounded.

The following video from the Army's website tells the story of D-Day in the words of the warriors themselves:

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Take time today to thank the brave World War II veterans of Normandy whose courage has become legendary. Without their heroism, the world would be a very different place.

Charles M. Grist

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Army Ranger Will ReceiveThe Medal Of Honor

SFC Leroy Arthur Petry of the 2nd Ranger Battalion
From the Army News Service:

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WASHINGTON (Army News Service, May 31, 2011) -- An Army Ranger who lost his right hand and suffered shrapnel wounds after throwing an armed grenade away from his fellow Soldiers will be the second living Medal of Honor Recipient from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On July 12, 2011, President Barack Obama will award Sgt. 1st Class Leroy Arthur Petry, with the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry. Petry will receive the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions during combat operations against an armed enemy in Paktya, Afghanistan, May 26, 2008.

Petry now serves as part of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 75th Ranger Regiment at Fort Benning, Ga.

"It's very humbling to know that the guys thought that much of me and my actions that day, to nominate me for that," said Petry, on learning he had been nominated for the medal.

At the time of his actions in Afghanistan, Petry was assigned to Company D, 2nd Bn., 75th Ranger Regiment at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. Petry's actions came as part of a rare daylight raid to capture a high-value target.

On the day of the actions that would earn Petry the Medal of Honor, he was to locate himself with the platoon headquarters in the target building once it was secured. Once there, he was to serve as the senior noncommissioned officer at the site for the remainder of the operation.

Recognizing one of the assault squads needed assistance clearing their assigned building, Petry relayed to the platoon leader that he was moving to that squad to provide additional supervision and guidance during the clearance of the building.

Once the residential portion of the building had been cleared, Petry took a fellow member of the assault squad, Pvt. 1st Class Lucas Robinson, to clear the outer courtyard. Petry knew that area had not been cleared during the initial clearance.

Petry and Robinson, both Rangers, moved into an area of the compound that contained at least three enemy fighters who were prepared to engage friendly forces from opposite ends of the outer courtyard.

The two Soldiers entered the courtyard. To their front was an opening followed by a chicken coop. As the two crossed the open area, an enemy insurgent fired on them. Petry was wounded by one round, which went through both of his legs. Robinson was also hit in his side plate by a separate round.

While wounded and under enemy fire, Petry led Robinson to the cover of the chicken coop. The enemy continued to deliver fire at the two Soldiers.

As the senior Soldier, Petry assessed the situation and reported that contact was made and that there were two wounded Rangers in the courtyard of the primary target building.

Upon hearing the report of two wounded Rangers, Sgt. Daniel Higgins, a team leader, moved to the outer courtyard. As Higgins was moving to Petry and Robinson's position, Petry threw a thermobaric grenade in the vicinity of the enemy position.

Shortly after that grenade exploded -- which created a lull in the enemy fire -- Higgins arrived at the chicken coop and assessed the wounds of the two Soldiers.

While Higgins evaluated their wounds, an insurgent threw a grenade over the chicken coop at the three Rangers. The grenade landed about 10 meters from the three Rangers, knocked them to the ground, and wounded Higgins and Robinson. Shortly after the grenade exploded, Staff Sgt. James Roberts and Spc. Christopher Gathercole entered the courtyard, and moved toward the chicken coop.

With three Soldiers taking cover in the chicken coop, an enemy fighter threw another grenade at them. This time, the grenade landed just a few feet from Higgins and Robinson.

Recognizing the threat that the enemy grenade posed to his fellow Rangers, Petry -- despite his own wounds and with complete disregard for his personal safety -- consciously and deliberately risked his life to move to and secure the live enemy grenade and consciously throw the grenade away from his fellow Rangers, according to battlefield reports.

As Petry released the grenade in the direction of the enemy, preventing the serious injury or death of Higgins and Robinson, it detonated and catastrophically amputated his right hand.

With a clear mind, Petry assessed his wound and placed a tourniquet on his right arm. Once this was complete, he reported that he was still in contact with the enemy and that he had been wounded again.

After the blast that amputated Petry's hand, Roberts began to engage the enemy behind the chicken coop with small arms fire and a grenade. His actions suppressed the insurgents behind the chicken coop. Shortly after, another enemy on the east end of the courtyard began firing, fatally wounding Gathercole.

Higgins and Robinson returned fire and killed the enemy.

Moments later, Sgt. 1st Class Jerod Staidle, the platoon sergeant, and Spc. Gary Depriest, the platoon medic, arrived in the outer courtyard. After directing Depriest to treat Gathercole, Staidle moved to Petry' s position. Staidle and Higgins then assisted Petry as he moved to the casualty collection point.

Higgins later wrote in a statement, "if not for Staff Sergeant Petry's actions, we would have been seriously wounded or killed."

Petry is the ninth servicemember to have been named a recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Of prior recipients, all but Petry and Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta were awarded the honor posthumously.

Included among those recipients are Spc. Ross A. McGinnis, Sgt. 1st Class Paul R. Smith, Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor, and Marine Corps Cpl. Jason L. Dunham, all for actions in Iraq. Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, Staff Sgt. Robert Miller, Sgt. 1st Class Jared C. Monti and Navy Lt. Michael P. Murphy were awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan.

Petry currently serves as a liaison officer for the United States Special Operations Command Care Coalition-Northwest Region, and provides oversight to wounded warriors, ill and injured servicemembers and their families.

He enlisted in the United States Army from his hometown of Santa Fe, N.M. in September 1999. After completion of One Station Unit Training, the Basic Airborne Course and the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program -- all at Fort Benning, Ga. -- Petry was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.

Petry has served as a grenadier, squad automatic rifleman, fire team leader, squad leader, operations sergeant, and weapons squad leader.

He has deployed eight times in support of the War on Terror, with two tours to Iraq and six tours to Afghanistan.

Petry and his wife Ashley have four children, Brittany, Austin, Reagan and Landon.
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Well done, Ranger...

Charles M. Grist