"Salam Alaikum" - Greetings from Baghdad.
Remembering a fallen soldier
I would like begin by passing along my deepest condolences to the family, friends, and fellow soldiers of Chief Rodney Jarvis, who died earlier this week of a medical condition. Chief Jarvis was the property book officer with our 46th Engineer Battalion. He was 34-years-old and a native of Akron, Ohio.
One soldier wrote this about Chief Jarvis: "All of us enjoyed his company; the laughs, and the bonding. "It didn't matter if we caught anything or not, just hanging out was the best."
Chief Jarvis was known for being a family man and always made sure his family came first.
Chief Warrant Officer Two Jarvis is survived by his wife Fashion and two daughters Heather and Kourtnie.
His memorial service here at Camp Liberty will be held tonight, and to give you an idea of how many friends he had, the service will be held in a very large field house. Chief Jarvis will be missed.
Missions go on
You may have noticed news reports saying Iraqi soldiers have not asked for our help since the June 30th Security Agreement deadline for coalition forces to leave the major cities.
While that may be true, engineers with the 225th Engineer Brigade continue to partner with our Iraqi counterparts with training and advising. That part of the mission continues in earnest with specialized training in the areas of general construction such as building housing units for soldiers.
We are also still conducting missions like building sniper screens for added force protection at our main bases, building roads for improved access, and working with government leaders to improve civil capacity of the Iraqi people (water, electricity, sewer services).
Last night, I went along with our outstanding Command Security Team (CST) to a city called Zafaraniya, which is just east of Baghdad. Along the way, we saw a large number of Iraqis lining the streets as they get ready for an event this weekend in honor of the death of the 7th Imam (leader), Musa Al-Kadhim, who was known for his kindness, selflessness, and peace. The irony of this is that our mission outside of the wire comes with potential danger and never carries safety guarantees, so as with each Command Security Team mission, security is paramount at all times. We made it there and back safely. In the picture on the left, you see me with an old weapons cashe of mortar shells. On the right is two of our MRAPS - Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle - ready to roll out. These soldiers that are part of the CST are true professionals. I am working on a story about them that I will release soon.
Speaking of stories, I will share this one with you before I leave today about soldiers giving something back.
It is a story of members of the fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi. Two members of the group, Major Frederick Hall and Major Willus Hall, both hail from Lafayette. Their group photo is on the right. On the left, they're teaching Iraqi Boy and Girl Scouts first aid. They meet every week to not only lift each other up, but to also mentor Iraqi children every other weekend. The story inspired me. I hope it will do the same for you.