Written By Sgt. Joe Padula
2nd Brigade Combat Team PAO
Fort Campbell, KY – “You’ve found in one another, a bond, that exists only in combat, among brothers,” said Cpl. Joseph Liebgott, from the TV mini-series, “Band of Brothers.”
The bonds that were formed on the Kandahar battlefield created a strong connection between the Strike Soldiers, which continues today, especially with those wounded during the Afghanistan surge, which are now healing in other units.
The 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), maintain the bond with their wounded warriors and held its wounded warrior lunch at the Strike Dining Facility, January 12th, where the wounded and Strike Soldiers ate together, reconnected with their units and confirmed they are still a part of the Strike family.
“You are not forgotten and once a Strike Soldier, always a Strike Soldier and if you felt otherwise, it is not so,” said Command Sgt. Major Alonzo Smith, the brigade’s command sergeant major, while addressing the wounded warriors at the lunch-in. “Whether it’s five-years from now, ten-years from now or 20-years from now, what you have done and your service has made you always a Strike Soldier.”
Some of the wounded are currently assigned to Fort Campbell’s Warrior Transition Battalion, whose purpose is to prepare Soldiers to return to their active duty unit or to become a successful Army veteran in the civilian life through medical and physical treatment. The 12-wounded Soldiers from the WTB revisiting Strike were emotional about their visit.
“I’m always thinking about my guys and seeing them and being with them is so needed,” said Sgt. Kevin Siler, a Bronze Star Medal with Valor recipient now with the WTB and was with Strike’s Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, when he sustained wounds on July 31st, 2010 during the Battle of Bakersfield, an offensive in Afghanistan’s Arghandab district. “The closest bond was made between us and words can express how it feels to be reunited with my brothers.”
Discussions during their meals touched upon war stories about places in Kandahar, Afghanistan called Zharay, Arghandab, Maiwand and Pajwa’i. Laughs, moments of silence and long embraces were shared throughout the lunch.
“This reminds me of the things that I’ve missed and at the Warrior Transition Unit, things are great, but it’s not the same camaraderie and it’s not the same family,” said Spc. Richard Danker, now with the WTU’s Company B and was with Strike’s Company G, 526th Brigade Support Battalion, when he sustained wounds October 22nd, 2010, while operating in Jelawur. “I look around me and I feel like I’m at home and I’m doing a lot better than I was before.”
During the lunch, footage of Strike’s Afghan missions and operations was shown and then a visit to the Strike Store, where the wounded warriors were given unit memorabilia. The effects of Strike’s continued connection to its wounded are felt amongst the Soldiers.
“The emotion I have when I am over here is pride, I am very proud to be a part of Strike and the solidarity that I feel with my brothers here is like that of family,” said Sgt. Jeremy Smith, who was injured in Zharay district July 2nd, 2010, when he was assigned to Company A, 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion. “My unit in Strike is family to me and is one of the best units I’ve ever been in.”
Before heading back to the WTB, the Strike Wounded Warriors paid their respects to the 66 fallen Soldiers of Combined Task Force Strike at the brigade’s memorial dedications.
“The 2nd Brigade is an excellent place to be and I was honored to fight along the side of my brothers there,” said Smith, while standing next to the wall with the faces of the fallen from Strike’s Operation Enduring Freedom 10-11.
The 101st’s 2nd BCT has scheduled more events to include its wounded warriors as it continues to never forget its Strike family.