Table of Contents
· TAG's Message
· CSM Message
· 108th Passes First Year Mark in NETTF
· Band of Brothers - and Sisters
· 177th CE Deploys to RAF Mildenhall
· Cavalry MOUTs up at Fort Knox
· 21st CST Go For Hot Zone
· Operation Whirlwind
· Chaplain Beats the Devil out of Soldiers
· News Guard Families Can Use

· Short Rounds
· Army and Air Enlisted Promotions
· Farewell to Brig. Gen. Bell
· Family Assistance Centers & Family Readiness Centers
· Guardlife Information

Guardlife - Volume 31, No. 4

Band Of Brothers – And Sisters
Photos and story by Sgt. 1st Class Robert Stephenson, NJDMAVA/PA

Spc. Charles Snook patrols the provisional governor's palace main entrance while on security detail.  (Click to enlarge)The Soldiers of the 42nd MP Company are a diverse group of people with a common bond – they are all military police.

No matter what they do in civilian life, as MPs, they share a special calling on the streets of Iraq. It doesn’t matter that the majority of the unit hails from Massachusetts while a smaller detachment makes its home in Lawrenceville. Or that the two separate units first met shortly before being sent to Iraq. They may be bitter rivals when the Yankees-Red Sox play, but here in the town of Tikrit, they all play on the same team as they perform their force protection mission.

New Jersey resident Staff Sgt. Tim Hoke describes what it’s like working with Soldiers from Massachusetts.

“Outstanding. Other than the fact that they’re Red Sox Fans, they’re all right.”

Hoke, the convoy commander on a recent mission outside the gates of FOB Danger and into the streets of Tikrit, enjoys working with the Massachusetts contingent,
and finds it not a problem at all.

“All being MP’s – 31 Bravos – it was as if we were training with them for years,” says Hoke. That same sentiment is echoed by the company’s top NCO, 1st Sgt. Richard Bowe.

“It’s as if they were with us from day one at drill in Chicopee, Mass,” says Bowe. “They came in and incorporated without any issues. They’re our brothers – we don’t even call them Jersey Soldiers, and they don’t call us Mass, we’re the 42nd. I don’t know who’s training them down there but they’re doing a damn good job.”

“Just getting to know the people was the only real hard part,” notes Hoke. “But as far as doing the job – take someone form Mass and someone from Jersey and put
them together and there’s no problem. It’s just like civilian law enforcement, they’re my brothers and sisters, and we all look out for each other.”

Getting The Job Done

Spc. Dalila Navarro stands watch in the turret in front of the provisional governor's headquarters building. (Click to enlarge)As MP’s stationed in Tikrit, their mission varies daily. Mostly they spend their time on the road, either moving detainees from the local detention center to Baghdad, or escorting military VIP’s from FOB Danger to locations around the city. Regardless, each unit member takes every mission seriously. When asked if there is any particular part of a mission that gives him cause for concern, Hoke has a quick answer.

"The whole thing. There are certain areas that are worse than others, but you never know... it can be anywhere out there. It could be anything from garbage bags to dead dogs on the side of the road, so you never know. They usually have IED (Improvised Explosive Device) sweeps that go out every morning. So we usually wait for the sweep but sometimes we have to hit our SP (Start Point) early in the morning and so we pass the sweeps.”

On this mission, their five-vehicle convoy of up-armored Humvees is escorting a 42nd Infantry Division community relations officer outside the wire and to the “Governator’s Building,” as it’s called, where the Tikrit provisional governor has his offices. When moving outside the FOB, posted speed limits and other traffic signs are ignored – the vehicles never want to stop out in the open. Although the building was just a short stretch down the road from FOB Danger, that office building and the one next to it – the headquarters of the Iraqi Police (IP), are the two buildings
most targeted by insurgents in the city, according to Massachusetts resident Cpl. James Lawler, a lanky soldier cradling a sniper rifle.

“See that yellow building right there?” Lawler says as he points to the building next door. “That’s where they always [set up] VBIED’s (Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Devices) and kill the IP’s. This road sucks. Actually as close as we are [to FOB Danger], this is the worst place we can go besides Samarra.”

Hurry Up And Wait

On guard. MPs block the entrance and stand watch outside the provisional governor's headquarters building while waiting for a meeting to end. (Click to enlarge)With the 42nd ID officer meeting with the provisional governor, the MP’s set up a cordon with their vehicles around the front of the building, and with the exception of the turret gunners, dismount, set up a perimeter and wait.

And wait.

During the next 90 minutes, they are constantly scanning the streets and alleys
facing the governor’s building, looking for anything that might be a threat.

“Watch the guy with the wheelbarrow,” shouts Lawler above the Humvee’s engine. New Jersey resident Spc. Charles Snook keeps an eye on the Iraqi worker who is
moving a wheelbarrow full of dirt towards the front of the building. There are a number of Iraqi civilians trying to make improvements to the building since major combat operations ceased, but a wheelbarrow full of dirt could be concealing something more.

“You can’t be complacent,” Hoke reminds me. “Complacency kills. You have to be ready for anything.” In this case, the wheelbarrow full of dirt was just that – dirt.
Hoke’s team is a close-knit group of Soldiers who have worked together on many missions, and includes one team member who left her job at the Basketball Hall of Fame to volunteer for the army so that she would have something to tell friends and family about one day in the future.

“It’s definitely been a learning experience for me,” says Massachusetts resident Spc. Dalila Navarro, as she scans the street for any movement that might be considered a threat to her or her “brothers” on the team, a group of guys she considers her buddies. “They’re funny – funny guys,” she says with a smile.

When the unit is on the road, Navarro stands in the gun turret of the lead vehicle – a position she always requests – and makes her presence known to the Iraqi civilians as the unit convoys down the street. Occasionally she has to throw rocks at the cars that don’t move out of the way fast enough to get their attention and to show that she means business. So far, that’s all she has had to do.

Meeting finished, they escort the officer back into the waiting Humvee and prepare to depart for FOB Danger. As he stops to direct the placement of vehicles I notice
something written on the side of Hoke’s helmet band. It reads “Psalm 91,” and I ask him about it.

"Basically it says that '10,000 shall fall at my feet and nothing shall harm me,'" he says. “I read it once and it sounded pretty good and everybody else had it on and
I threw it on there too and it seems to be working because we’ve got someone looking out for us, that’s for sure.”