Gulf War (2003) Articles
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Montgomery gets deployed

Sgt. Daniel Montgomery of the 980th Engineer Battalion in Seagoville was recently activated and attached to the 808th Engineering Pipeline Unit out of Houston. He trained at Fort Hood for 30 days, before shipping out to participate in Operation Enduring Freedom. He is stationed in Camp Udari, Kuwait, 20 miles from the Iraq border.

Montgomery enlisted in February 1999, just days after his 17th birthday. He then attended basic training in Fort Benning Ga. He graduated with honors from Rice High School in 2000, and then attended AIT in Gulfport Miss. He began classes at Navarro in 2001 and was finishing up his associate's in accounting before starting UTA in the fall to earn his bachelor and master's in accounting. He is also a member of First Baptist Church in Rice and was working nights at Sterilite Corporation in Ennis while attending Navarro.

Montgomery's wife and family are extremely proud of him and all prayers for his safe return are welcomed.

Notes:


Fogg called to active duty

Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. James B. Fogg, grandson of retired Army Col. and Mrs. Joe B. Fogg of Corsicana, was recently called to active duty in support of Operation Enduring Freedom while assigned to Marine Air Logistics Squadron 49, 4th Marine Air Wing, home based in Newburgh, N.Y.

The 4th Marine Air Wing's mission is to organize, train and equip individual Marines and combat ready groups, squadrons and air defense units to augment and reinforce the active component when required.

He is a 1987 graduate of Corsicana High School, and joined the Marine Corps in July 1987.

Notes:


4/6/2003 Area soldiers serving in War With Iraq

Private Timothy Balenzuela; Army; Corsicana; Grandson of Erma Gray and the late L. E. Gray

Sgt. M. E. Belcher; Marines; Frost; Son of Charlie and Pat Belcher

Sgt. James Allen Dupree; Marines;  Vernon; Son of Jim and Dorothy Dupree of Frost

Electricians Mate Kenneth Lee Burch; Navy; Houston; Grandson of Millie and Truman Howell of Corsicana

Sgt. Jeff Glidewell; Marines; Corsicana; Son of Keith and Alice Tacker; Grandson of Johnny and Kathy Glidewell

Sgt. Matthew Woeller; Army; Kerens; Son of Don and Joyce Hagens

Spc. Jarrod Woeller; Army; Kerens; Son of Don and Joyce Hagens

Cpl. Robert Shane Keele; Marines; Mildred; Son of Delores Farris; Grandson of Francis Banks and Joyce Lewis;

Spc. Montray Andrews; Army; Corsicana; Son of Frances Andrews

Lt. Casey Batchelor; Navy; Corsicana; Son of Pat and Carolyn Batchelor; Grandsons of Margaret Batchelor of Corsicana and Lois Ellen Reynolds of Hamlin

Seaman Apprentice Scott David Lamb; Navy; Corsicana; Son of Steve and Luan Lamb

Lance Cpl. Zach Marshall; Marines; Corsicana; Son of Don and Jill Marshall; Grandson of Johnnie and Sue Thompson

Chief Warrant Officer Andy McDougald; Army; Corsicana; Son of Gene McDougald

Seaman Jason Daniel Drain; Navy; Emhouse; Son of Danny Drain

S.N. Billy Williams; Navy; Kerens; Son of Larry and Henrietta Williams

Class Petty Officer Gerry Armstrong; Navy; Gurley, Ala.; Grandson of Gerald and Nanci Armstrong

Cpt. J.B. Worley III; Army; Corsicana; Son of J.B. and Janis Worley

Sgt. Dale E. Campbell II; Air Force; Caribou, Maine; Son-in-law of David and Patty Whitehead

Cpl. Michael P. Atkins; Marines; Houston; Grandson of Estelle Speed


 


Cpl. Shane Keele of Mildred has been in the Middle East since February. This week, he phoned home and was interviewed on MSNBC. Courtesy photo

4/13/2003 Sight for Sore Eyes: Local soldier calls home, interviewed by MSNBC reporter

By DEANNA PAWLOWSKI/Daily Sun Staff

Cpl. Shane Keele of the United States Marines phoned home from Baghdad Wednesday morning.

Then, in an added blessing, he was spotted on MSNBC that evening. Keele's family had not laid eyes on him since Christmas.

"It was such a treat to get to talk to him and see him on television," said mother, Delores Farris. "He sounded real good -- he's over there doing his job -- the Marines have trained him really well. He was cutting up and laughing."

Keele is a 0331 machine gunner on a Hummer with the 3rd battalion, fifth Marines based out of Camp Pendleton near San Diego, Calif. In a letter to his mother dated March 6, Keele said that they were "still in Kuwait, waiting on the word to go."

The day after the phone call and the TV spot, Farris got word that Shane's battalion was entering their checkpoint, and noticed several Marines face down on the ground. One Marine sprang to his knees, and warned them that there was a suicide bomber who had wandered up like he was going to surrender. At that point, the bomber blew himself up, injuring four Marines.

"That really shook me up," Farris said. "But I haven't heard anything yet, and if Shane were hurt, they would have found me."

Keele also said in the letter, "Well, keep praying for me and tell the church that the warring angels are with us and they are the 30-foot walls which guard us. In a dream God showed me the huge Angels so I truly believe they are there."

That is great comfort to a mother who has sent her son three care packages with scriptures, one of which he actually received. Farris includes scripture with all her letters to Shane. She has sent him beef jerky, Koolaid, and his favorite Oreos and Butterfingers. When Farris talked to Shane on Wednesday, he told her that they "tore that beef jerky up!"

Farris and her husband, Rob, had been watching CNN constantly since before the war began. Shane then informed them through a letter that Chip Reid of NBC was traveling with their battalion.

"We just watched NBC after that. The Today Show on NBC aired an interview with Shane's Hummer crew," Farris said.

He also expressed horror about his hair. Angie Valentine, who is married to Shane's brother Brian, printed his picture off the MSNBC Web site. As someone who wore his hair extremely short, even before entering the Marines, the sight of Shane with two to three inch long hair was strange.

"He even looked dirty -- when I blew up the picture, you could see the dirt on his neck," Angie said.

Haircuts and showers are few and far between in Iraq.

Shane has two brothers who are former Marines. Lee Keele of Midlothian and Brian Valentine each served four years in the Marines. Currently, Shane's nephew Bryan Elliott is believed to be in Iraq, too. Shane and Elliott are nine months apart in age, and both joined the Marines at about the same time. Elliott is the son of Shane's sister, Cindy, and is a cook in the 15th MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit).

"Shane has been talking about the Marines since he was 12 years old," Farris said. "He would bring books home from the school library about military stuff."

Growing up, Shane played baseball and football. He and his step-father, Rob, got into karate and dirt bikes together. After attending Mildred High School as an A-B student, Shane graduated in 2000 and went straight to Camp Pendleton. He had already enlisted at the age of 17, and signed up for "delayed entry," meaning that he would go as soon as he graduated.

Shane's father is Robert Keele of Corsicana.

"I let him know when I hear from Shane," Farris said.

His grandmothers are Frances Banks and Joyce Lewis.

"In June Shane will have been in the Marines for three years," Farris said. "He has one more year after that to serve, then he will get out.

"He is a well-rounded young man, with a lot of options. He's smart, and he's got a good head on his shoulders. We're just ready for him to come home."

Deanna Pawlowski may be contacted via e-mail at deannap@corsicanadailysun.com


Naik deployed

Navy Airman A. R. Naik, a 1996 graduate of Corsicana High School, is currently in the Arabian Gulf supporting the global war on terrorism while assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk, forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan.

Aircraft carriers are deployed around the world to maintain U.S. presence and provide rapid response in times of crisis. They serve as a highly visible deterrent to would-be aggressors, and are equipped with the most versatile and powerful weapons and aircraft available.


Travaras E. Tutt

Military news

Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Travaras E. Tutt, son of Thelma J. Stewart of Corsicana and Richard E. Tutt of Fort Worth, is currently participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom in the Arabian Gulf while assigned to Fighter Squadron 22, based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia Beach, Va. The squadron is onboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, homeported in Norfolk, Va.

Tutt is a 1995 graduate of Dunbar High School of Fort Worth and joined the Navy in August 1995.


5/1/20031 LOCAL SAILOR COMES HOME: Melton returns after carrier stint in Persian Gulf

By DEANNA PAWLOWSKI/Daily Sun Staff

The last time 2nd Class Electronics Tech-Nuclear Michael Todd Melton tried to head for home aboard the U.S.S Abraham Lincoln, they were re-routed to the Persian Gulf to assist with the Iraqi War.

This time, he made it.

Todd Melton, who is a U.S. Naval Nuclear Engineer aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, came home to Corsicana this week for a two-week visit with his family.

"I knew how ready he was to get off that boat," said Mike Melton, Todd's father. "I kept waiting, and he was late getting off the ship. Finally, he emailed me to say that he would be a few days later than he had said, because he offered to take another guy's watch so that he could get home to his wife and kids.

"Todd is a good kid."

Todd Melton was born and raised in Corsicana, attending Corsicana High School. After graduation, he spent four and a half years at Texas Tech, majoring in English, with a minor in journalism.

"I was really close to finishing, but my dad had been supporting me for a while at that point, and I was ready to do something on my own -- so I joined the Navy," Melton said.

Melton was placed in the intensive nuclear training program through Thomas Edison State College in New Jersey. The program, which was set up by MIT, requires a 45 hour school week, with an extra 30 hours for studying.

"It was very challenging -- math and science were not my strongest areas. They basically cram a four year college degree into two to two and a half years," Melton said.

Melton was then sent to Saratoga Springs, N.Y. where the Navy has a nuclear reactor prototype. He spent six months there, learning hands-on with the land based prototype, which looks like an above-ground submarine.

The U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln, which is dry-docked near Seattle, was his next destination. Melton is a nuclear reactor operator, as well as a work center supervisor, supervising 20 men. There are two reactors per carrier which are completely independent, but work together to power the ship. The carriers typically weigh about 99,000 tons, unloaded.

"We control reactor safety, make sure the reactor works properly, and are always testing and doing maintenance," Melton said. "Everyone in the government always wants to see our paperwork -- it's sensitive, because it's nuclear -- and it always has to be perfect."

Melton said that he got plenty of training on safety, learning about every nuclear accident, and what not to do.

"The Navy has had submarines running on nuclear power since the 1950's, and never had one single accident," Melton said.

Melton, who has been in the Navy about four years, said that they were in Perth, Australia ready to head for home when they got the word about their six month deployment to the Persian Gulf. The role of their carrier was to launch the planes, then hang around and pick them up again.

"The catapults that launch the planes run off steam, which comes from the reactor. We make sure everything is working right. It is the most important thing we do," Melton said.

Melton said that the Lincoln was in transit back to the states, and was between Hawaii and San Diego when President Bush made his recent visit aboard the carrier.

"Some of us got to go down and eat dinner with President Bush," Melton said.

Melton loves what he does, but admits that he has gone an entire month without seeing the sun. His work is very detailed, and keeps them very busy, and about 40 percent of their time is spent cleaning.

Following his leave, Melton and the carrier will return to dry dock near Seattle, where they will spend the next 11 months. They use this time to integrate new technology into the system, then test it repeatedly.

"The big shutdown maintenance all gets done while we're in dry dock, and it takes a long time," Melton said.

Melton reenlisted during the recent deployment. He will get off the ship a year early, then spend three years as a nuclear theory instructor in Charleston or New York. The Navy provides many incentives to the reactor guys to keep them in, and keep them happy -- because the work is so difficult and complex.

"I reenlisted partly out of a sense of duly, and partly because it's a very good deal," Melton said. "I really want to teach nuclear theory -- you have to have good instructors."

Melton is quick to point out that the Navy is not for everyone. While he loves the camaraderie, it is hard to be away from home and loved ones for long periods of time.

Melton's father, Mike, resides in Corsicana, along with brothers Aaron and Nick, and sister, Alex. His mother, Paula, passed away in 1995. Todd is proud of his brothers and the choices they have made for themselves. Aaron is a police officer, and Nick will graduate from CHS this month, and will play golf for McClennan County Junior College in the fall. Sister Alex is 7 years old, and in the second grade. Maternal grandfather, Hale Wright, who Todd named "Papa Gee" as a child, has also been a great influence.

"I'm very proud of all of them," Mike Melton said. "I am very blessed in that regard."

Todd Melton feels like the navy has been a blessing for him, as well.

"The discipline and challenge was exactly what I needed, " Todd said. "It changed my whole outlook, and made me a more productive human being."

Deanna Pawlowski may be contacted via e-mail at deannap@corsicanadailysun.com


7/26/2003 BACK FROM IRAQ: Rice grad returns after 4 months in Middle East

By LOYD COOK/Daily Sun Staff


Daniel and Wendy Montgomery celebrate his return from the Middle East at a family party held Friday. DAILY SUN photo/KIRK SIDES

Food is spread across the counter of the adjoining kitchen. Friends and family are gathered in the large living room area of the Hickory Hollow home. In the corner, a computer keeps cycling an automated picture show of a soldier in a faraway land.

Sgt. Daniel Montgomery of the 808th Engineering Company is home from the Middle East.

The 21-year-old Rice High School graduate is home after spending four months in the world's most-often troubled region, time split between Kuwait and Iraq.

Montgomery was a reservist, called to duty for a month at Fort Hood, then shipped overseas before the hostilities started with Iraq. He got his taste of heat and sand ... lots of sand.

And he can't really explain exactly where he was during those Iraqi days.

"I couldn't tell you," said Montgomery, his hair closely shaven in true military style. "It wasn't a city. It was just there."

His company was stationed in Kuwait for about a month before following the U.S. Army's infantry into Iraq. He said he and his fellow soldiers went in about two days behind the leading elements.

Their goal? To erect a pipeline across the barren wasteland to an air base not yet captured. The pipeline was, and likely still is, for the transport of fuel. It helped keep tanks and helicopters and all manners of machine full and ready to keep rolling on.

He ended up just south of the Tillil Air Base, a location mapped out on CNN and all the major networks as one of the U.S. military's chief strategic targets.

His work was not unlike construction work, but definitely different in other ways. How many construction workers keep M-17 assault rifles near to hand while a heavy machine gun mounted on a tripod and placed on top of a nearby truck is manned to provide covering fire if it's needed?

The entire experience was understandably a trying one for Sgt. Montgomery. It was for his wife Wendy. The couple had been married but 10 months when he was called to Fort Hood, then shipped completely away for more than four months.

"I was glued to the TV the whole time," Wendy said of her fears. "But our families were real supportive.

"I kept writing him letters telling him to get in front of the cameras. I wrote him letters every single day."

The letters were welcomed by her husband, although they took some time to make it down the military's logistical process to the field.

"In fact, I got one dated March 14th (just) today," he said Friday. "It had to have come back from over there."

Sgt. Montgomery has been back for a couple of weeks, but the newlywed couple almost immediately took a delayed honeymoon to Cancun before coming home to his Welcome Home party Friday night.

He had a job with Sterolite in Ennis before he left, a job the company kept for him until he got back, but the young reserve sergeant said he's quit. The couple will move to Arlington soon. He plans to study accounting at the University of Texas at Arlington.

What are his feelings about the time in the Middle East?

"Helicopters all the time ... hot," he said with a grin. "They had us working in our gear (including chemical) all the time."

There'll be no more of that for now.

He's back from Iraq


7/25/2003 Patriots, Johnson make it final

From Staff Reports

Former Corsicana High School and Texas A&M wide receiver Bethel Johnson was one of eight players signed by the New England Patriots earlier this week.

According to ESPN.com, the Patriots signed Johnson to a five-year contract. Johnson received a signing bonus of $1.75 million and base salaries of $274,000 (2003), $342,000 (2004), $410,000 (2005), $478,000 (2006) and $546,000 (2007). There is also an escalator clause that could increase the base salary for 2007 if Johnson reaches some prescribed playing time levels.

Johnson, 24, was selected by the Patriots with their second selection in the second round, the 45th selection overall. The 5-foot-11-inch, 201-pound wide out set school records with 117 receptions for 1,740 yards while starting 22 of 35 games played at Texas A&M. He also scored 11 touchdowns, tied for fourth in school history. He averaged 13.0 yards on 15 punt returns and 20.0 yards on 22 kickoff returns during his career. Last year, he started all 12 games for the Aggies and led the team with 40 receptions for 718 yards and 8 touchdowns.

Johnson is the all-time leading receiver (since 1970) in the history of CHS with 65 catches for 1,408 yards and 17 touchdowns. Johnson averaged 21.7 yards a catch as a Tiger.

The Patriots started training camp on Wednesday and Johnson couldn't be reached for comment.


8/31/2003 Love Waits: Jaspers spend mere hours apart while on duty

By MICAH CHAPLIN/Daily Sun Staff

When Cheryl (Bower) Jasper was given orders to go to Kuwait April 7, her role in the war was not as much on her mind as was the possibility of seeing her husband again.

Cheryl, a Corsicana High School graduate, met her husband Doug while living in Killeen after high school. After about six months of marriage, the two moved to Georgia, where Cheryl decided she would join the Army.

"Financially, it was a good move, and I wanted to be able to say I could do it," Cheryl said. "It as a lot of fun, and if I could restart it, I would."

With Doug and Cheryl both on active duty, they knew deployment to the Middle East was inevitable. In October 2002, Doug was sent to Kuwait. On their second wedding anniversary, Cheryl, too, was on a plane headed for Iraq.

During the flight, Cheryl was looking forward to being near her husband again. The two had not seen each other since his deployment, and had not spoken for more than a month. This is nothing new for the Jaspers, however, as the two have been apart for more of their marriage than they've been together.

"We've been married for just over two years, but we've only been together for about 11 months," Cheryl said.

Doug recalls vividly the last time they spoke on the phone.

"It was March 18," Doug said. "It was two days before we went over the border."

Doug was in the first wave of troops to cross over into the Iraqi border. His duties included mobility and countermobility.

"I made sure the task force went where they needed to go and stopped the enemy from getting where they needed to go," Doug said.

He was also among those who checked out buildings as they were taken over, to ensure they were adequate for their operations, and performed basic police actions in Iraq, such as destroying weapons.

Cheryl's job was to keep the electricity going by maintaining and repairing generators. During that time, she lived in a tent, walking to makeshift restrooms and showers, while facing hot, dry and windy conditions.

"It was 90 at night, and that felt good," Cheryl said. "Doug had it better though."

Doug also lived in tents occasionally and even out of his vehicle for two and a half weeks. When they took over buildings in Baghdad and Fallujah, he was able to take shelter there.

Even though Doug and Cheryl were just hours apart, at one point less than three, the two still were unable to get together during their tenure in Iraq. They couldn't even talk on the phone.

"We had a map that told us where all the other units were," Doug said. "We just didn't have phone numbers for them."

"At one point, he was ready to take a Hum-V to go looking for my unit," Cheryl said.

"I just couldn't get a pass out of the gate," Doug said.

The Jaspers were the only couple within their units who were unable to reunite.

"The others were able to make arrangements, but our chain of command basically told us the right time hadn't arisen for us to see each other," Doug said.

It wasn't until Doug got off a bus in the U.S. on Aug. 10 that Cheryl finally saw him again. The two made a three-day stop in Corsicana last weekend to visit Cheryl's parents, Butch and Terry Bower, before returning to their home in Fort Stewart, Ga.

Doug and Cheryl were both left unimpressed with the country of Iraq.

"It's like the garbage can of the planet. The cities were very dirty. They smelled like rotten food and dead fish," Doug said. "Some of their lower class live in tents and adobe houses. In the cities, there are all apartments and a few houses, all of which are for upper class."

"Everywhere you drove, there was trash along the side of the road," Cheryl said. "I've never seen anything like it."

Doug, who interacted with the Iraqi people more than Cheryl, said, in general, they were nice people.

"Most of them wanted us there, except for a few who are still brainwashed," Doug said. "Like anyone else, they don't like guns pointed at them or people telling them what to do. But as long as we were polite, they were polite."

Doug and Cheryl, among other troops, were also well-aware of the anti-war sentiment spreading through the U.S.

"They're not thinking straight," Cheryl said. "It's called patriotism."

"It's no fun being over there, but we do what we have to do," Doug said. "I just hope we never have to go back."


Corsicana native Andy McDougald was close to the action when U.S. forces captured Saddam Hussein


12/31/2003 THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: 1st Lt. John Anderson enjoying short leave before Iraq return


1st Lt. John Anderson is an executive officer in an infantry company serving in Iraq. He is home on a short leave, but is scheduled to return to the Middle East on Jan. 11. Courtesy photo

By MICAH CHAPLIN/Daily Sun Staff

1st Lt. John Anderson always knew he wanted to be in the military.

Upon graduating from Corsicana High School in 1996, Anderson went to Texas A&M, where he majored in biomedical science. His interest in the military was further developed as a member of the Corps of Cadets during his time at A&M.

Less than a month after the Iraq war began, Anderson was deployed. He left on April 11 and started out his duties as a platoon leader for the infantry. Very quickly, he was moved to an executive officer position.

"Basically, I just run the company," he said.

But that doesn't mean he sat in an air conditioned office and slept in a suite. Anderson's reality was far from it.

"For the first few months, I slept in the sand," he said. "Now, we're in buildings that are basically rubble."

Those buildings, he says, even without air conditioning, were better than being out in the heat.

"The summer was absolutely brutal," he said. "The temperatures were easily in the 140s. We were drinking two gallons of water per day per soldier."

Anderson says the capture of Saddam Hussein was a great morale booster, but that the troops knew better than to get too optimistic.

"We would watch the news, and the way the capture was presented, it seemed people thought everything would instantly get better," he said. "But we knew. We knew security would have to be heightened and that we'd have to put more people on the border."

While away, Anderson was allowed one 10-minute phone call every three weeks, and for the first six months, there was no Internet access. Needless to say, it was hard for him to stay in touch with his parents, Jim and Judy, and sister Jackie, 23.

"That was really hard," he said. "Because I couldn't talk to my family and let them know what was going on, and I knew they were back here worrying."

The worst part, he said, however, was missing his sister's wedding day.

"She got married in September, and I had to miss that," he said. "That was pretty rough."'

Anderson is making up for that lost time. Home for a few weeks, he has been eager to catch up with family and friends. He's also managed to play a little golf, and eat a whole lot.

"I've eaten so much," he said. "We have the best food in the world here."

Good food and a bed are the two primary comforts Anderson says he misses while in Iraq. After the first few months of sleeping in the sand, Anderson's sleeping conditions were upgraded to a cot, but he said there's nothing like a bed.

Other than eating and relaxing, Anderson has no formal plans for his break.

"I just want to take it easy," he said.

Anderson returns to Iraq on Jan. 11, but looks forward to returning permanently sometime in April.

"After that, I don't know what I'm going to do," he said. "Part of me really wants to go back to grad school, but I'm still undecided."

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Micah Chaplin may be contacted via e-mail at mchaplin@corsicanadailysun.com.


Sgt. Steve Melton of Kerens left for his tour in Iraq March 5. Melton is with the HHC 1st Cavalry Division out of Fort Hood. He also served in Desert Storm. He is the son of Shirley Daniels of Corsicana


After a year in Iraq, Calen Bullard has a renewed ... Love of Country

 


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