Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Afghanistan Memorial Service PV2 Michael Wayne Murdock

PV2 Michael Wayne Murdock was born on July 7th, 1986, in North Carolina where he spent his youth. He entered the U.S. Army on the 20th of July, 2006.

During his time in service, Private Murdock attended Basic Combat Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Upon completion of his initial training, Private Murdock served as a Fire Direction Specialist in Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1-6 Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd IBCT, 1st Infantry Division. In April of 2008, Private Murdock was re-assigned to A Battery, 1-6 Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd IBCT, 1st Infantry Division. Private Murdock deployed to Afghanistan in July of 2008, serving as a Fire Direction Specialist with 2nd Platoon, supporting Task Force Raider, 6-4 Cavalry Squadron, in the volatile Nuristan Province. Private Murdock trained, deployed and fought side by side with his fellow Redlegs in support of OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM IX.
Private Murdock distinguished himself as a courageous and loyal member of the REDLEG Family, and will forever be remembered as a brave hero to us all.

PV2 Murdock’s awards include the Bronze Star Medal (Posthumous), Purple Heart (Posthumous), National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal w/ Campaign Star, the Good Conduct Medal (Posthumous), Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, NATO Ribbon and the Combat Action Badge.

PV2 Murdock is survived by his mother, Jennifer Tripp and his father Walter Murdock from North Carolina.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Raider Family . . . Prepared and Loyal

I had emailed Cpt Bessey, something to the effect that their far flung troop must sometimes feel like they're re-living the computer program "Where in the World is Carmen SanDiego". I also sent him a Don't Mess with Texas Stickers.

Bessey replied:

"I promise never again to "Mess with Texas" in anyway, shape or form. Speaking of messing with people from that state, 1SG Mancuso is typically on my left hip, barking at me to do this and that. Carmen SanDiego, as I remember, was much saucier than him but lacked his undeniable ability to make stuff happen while caring for hisSoldiers."

From Simone Mancuso's latest caringbridge update, it is apparent the whole Mancuso family have that undeniable ability to "make stuff happen".

Thursday was Patrick's 6 month mark, which is exciting and we celebrated a little.
He's doing well, has a couple issues with his skin, but that is probably from being outside.
I am in contact with Methodist weekly through e-mail or phone and he saw a Doctor from San Antonio this week on Ft Hood and had labs done again. Since he is going to school now they try to keep the trips to a minimum so he doesn't miss to much school and his Doctor lets us see the Oncologist from Wilford Hall at their monthly visit to Fort Hood.
We have to go back to San Antonio on the 7th of October.

I can't say we are back to normal and I know that will still be a while. There is always fear in the back of our minds, but it feels like we are moving in this direction.

We went to Austin today, Patrick has been invited to become a Student Ambassador and go to China next summer.
Nervous about this, but we do not know what the future holds and want him to live, laugh and love.
He had his interview today and absolutly wants to go, so now he's just waiting to find out if he's been accepted, which we probably find out in the next couple of days.
He got the invitation about 2 months back and we went to the informational meeting a couple weeks ago. Since he has to raise part of the money, we will see how bad he wants to go.

On our way back we stopped in Georgetown and my Truck Battery died, nothing.......... What a day, I actually had to call some friends, since we could not jump start it. Anyway, they brought an extra Battery, lucky for us or we still be there.Thanks Brian and Wendy!!! I came home and went straight to Wal-mart to get a new one. I miss my hubby, but on days like this I really miss him.

I know I said it before, but Killeen High School has a Blood and Marrow Drive on Monday and Tuesday, if you can please make some time and go. Patrick is on the Student Counsil now and he will be around on Tuesday.
It is really important to him, so maybe some of you can make it. Thanks!!!
Simone Mancuso

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fateful day brings COP Lybert back to war’s reality
By Michael Gisick, Stars and Mideast edition, Thursday, September 25, 2008

(See video at end of story, pictures in previous post.)

NURISTAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan — Fire had swept through the pine forests blanketing the mountains around Combat Outpost Lybert a few years ago, before the Americans arrived.

According to the stories they’ve heard, the fire was set by loggers from Pakistan trying to eliminate their competition. If so, it worked. Broad swaths of scrub, blackened stumps and skeleton trees remain.

The Americans move slowly up through this ghost of a forest in the gray dawn, struggling against the altitude and the incline and their packs and weapons. One of the first things the Marine Corps lieutenant who works with the Afghan soldiers here taught the newly-arrived Army lieutenant was how to tell the Afghans to slow down.

The bullets that rained on Lybert four days earlier came from up this way, at least some of them. But the only presence the patrol finds amid the scattering of abandoned huts and clapboard goat corrals on the mountain is one lone wanderer, wearing brown "man-jammies" and faded yellow shoes decorated with colorful, washed-out polka dots.

This man says he is from Pakistan and has come in search of his lost herd. The U.S. interpreter struggles to understand his dialect, but the Afghan commander, a stubble-faced man with a tattoo of a snake coiled around a dagger on his forearm, doesn’t believe the story.

First this man says he’s a Pashtun, the commander, Taj Mohammed, says. And then he says he is a nomad.

"Next he will say he is British," Mohammed concludes.

"He looks pretty clean to be a goat herder," Army 2nd Lt. Chad Lorenz adds.

The Afghans decide to take him back to the camp for questioning. Escorted by an Afghan soldier with a quiver of rocket-propelled grenade rounds strapped to his back, the man follows the patrol as it heads back up against the mountain, his bound
hands folded in front of him like a monk with a mystery.

A quiet start

Lybert was built in 2006 as the U.S. military began to step up its presence in Afghanistan’s eastern mountains. Like many U.S. bases, it was named in memory of a soldier — Staff Sgt. Patrick Lybert, who was killed in these mountains in June 2006.

Despite its proximity to the border — and to other U.S. outposts that come under frequent attack — until recently the troops at Lybert had seen relatively little action. The U.S. unit that left Lybert earlier this summer reported only a pair of attacks during its year at the COP. A platoon from 1st Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment took over in July, and their first few weeks at the outpost led some to expect a quiet deployment.

"It was like a ski resort without the resort," says Staff Sgt. David Joslin, a medic. "It was just beautiful mountains, scenery, get up and see the patients every morning. It was like a normal day-to-day life."

Through July and August, Joslin’s aid station saw about 500 sick-call patients from the nearby villages. They were simple people, Joslin says. Sometimes the men would get upset when other men received two kinds of pills and they’d only gotten one kind.

Routines set in. Pvt. Michael Murdock, a 22-year-old artilleryman from North Carolina, fell out with the mortar crew, deciding he wanted to reclassify to the infantry. Pvt. Scott Stokes, a 43-year-old single father who’d found out he could still join the Army a year earlier when he attended his daughter’s graduation from basic training, grew close to the young North Carolinian.

"He always told me he wanted to go back home and marry my daughter," Stokes says. "So that was fun."

The first sign of trouble came on Aug. 29, when a trio of bullets narrowly missed soldiers sitting on a porch in front of Joslin’s aid station. Fitful, half-hearted attacks continued for the next week-and-a-half. A mortar round one day, a few gunshots the next, ricocheting down from the surrounding peaks.

But as it turned out, that was only a prelude.

"How I look at it, the Taliban pretty much saw an opportunity that we were trying to calm down and let the [Afghan army] take over a little bit," says Sgt. Ken Dicristofano, a mortarman who had taken Murdock under his wing. "They saw their chance and they went for it."

Sept. 11 attack

The attack started around mid-morning. It was mostly small arms, a few mortars, maybe a machine gun, the soldiers say.

Murdock was in his barracks hut, putting on his body armor, when a bullet cut through the plywood wall and hit him in the side. Along the Hesco barriers and razor wire, the bullets were coming in from three directions while the soldiers fought back. The Afghans manned one end of the camp and the Americans the other. Bullets crashed through the aid station’s window as Joslin and his medics struggled to keep Murdock alive.

"Five seconds can seem like an hour, especially when there’s a soldier in front of you dying, and you’re waiting on a helicopter and you’re trying to do everything you’ve been trained to do to save a life," Joslin says.

The attack continued for two or three hours. Apache helicopters and a slow-flying A-10 arrived and drove the fighters from the mountains, setting new small fires.

Murdock was medically evacuated, and later declared dead at Bagram Airfield.

Reinforcements from Lorenz’s platoon of infantrymen arrived at Lybert two days later and began their dawn patrols in the surrounding mountains. But the decision to close Lybert later this fall had already been announced in the villages, even before the Sept. 11 attack.

Officers say the base is not well situated to guard a nearby pass through the mountains on the border, a fact that might account for the relatively spare history of attacks on the base. And with U.S. troops spread thin across eastern Afghanistan, the soldiers are needed elsewhere.

"When they came down and said we were moving, we were a little upset," says Staff Sgt. Michael Bannin, 27.

The more experienced soldiers say they’ve seen changes in the younger troops since the attack, a new reality setting in. In the last days of COP Lybert, the reinforcements spend many of their evenings talking on the phone and watching DVDs. The artillerymen mostly keep to their barracks hut. Murdock’s corner remains empty.

"Unfortunately, the 11th made it real," says 1st Lt. Ian Lipsitz, 24, who leads the artillery platoon. "Real personal for us, real definite that we’re out here fighting a war."

Pictures from Stars and Stripes

All pictures Michael Gisick / S&S

Soldiers from 1st Platoon, Troop C, 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment prepare for a patrol at Combat Outpost Lybert in Northeastern Afghanistan. The platoon was sent in to reinforce the outpost after it was attacked on Sept. 11, killing one soldier.

Soldiers from 1st Platoon, Troop C, 6/4 Cavalry Regiment during a patrol in northeastern Nuristan Province near the Pakistani border. Fire swept through thr mountains here several years ago, reportedly set by Pakistani loggers aiming to eliminate their competition.

Sgt Ken Dicristofano, front, ducks away from a mortar blast at Combat Outpost Lybert.

Afghan soldiers question a man found wandering near the site of an attack on a U.S. outpost in northeastern Afghanistan.

Pvt. Kirk Goff scans the surrounding hills during a patrol near Combat Outpost Lybert.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Operation CupCake Flies Again

Is it that time, again?

The Operation CupCake "cooks and delivery" troopers are still at it.

For those new to G&P, the 6-4 CAV kicked off operation cupcake, to deliver home made, okay, "FOB Bostick made" cupcakes to birthday troopers out on the COPs, OPs, and firebases.

Thanks to requests from their officers; cup cake condoms, cake mixes, and a hand mixer (yes, they are all mixed with a hand held mixer), cup cake pans, and a lot of love ---- were soon on their way from TankerBabe. The cooks work their magic, and these troopers are treated to a bite of "Happy Birthday" ! ! ! ! Yep, no matter how far out in the boonies their mission takes them.

We Luv You Guys ! ! ! !

Friday, September 5, 2008

Patrick Mancuso - Marrow Transplant Recipient

Patrick's parents. 1SGT Mike Mancuso Senior NCO Crazy Horse Co 6-4 CAV, 3-1 ID

Simone Mancuso Great mother, and warrior on the home front.

What the press release does not say is that Patrick's Dad, 1SGT Mike Mancuso, deployed to Afghanistan as the Senior NCO of Crazy Horse Company 6-4 CAV, 3-1 ID; as his parents were waiting to hear if the transplant was successful.

The Scott & White Marrow Donor Program is pleased to honor Patrick Mancuso at the Lone Star Circle of Life Bike tour for his efforts in educating the central Texas community about the need for people to join the registry.

Patrick, his friends and his family, worked very hard to add hundreds of people to the registry during the time Patrick needed a transplant.

Patrick continues his support of the National Marrow Donor Program by agreeing to be the Honorary Race Director for the 2008 Miracle Match Marathon to further educate the public as well as raise funds to tissue type people for the registry.

Here is Patrick's story:

"Hello, my name is Patrick Mancuso and I am the first Honorary Race Director for the 2008 Miracle Match Marathon.

I would like to tell you about the race I have been running for the last few months -the race against cancer.

In November of 2007, I began to become very ill. After several doctors' visits, I was told that I was simply suffering from inflammation or growing pains.

After much persistence from my mother that it was something more serious, more tests were done and on December 4, 2007, I was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of leukemia knows as Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML).

I was immediately transferred to a hospital in San Antonio where my doctors started me on chemotherapy treatment. After my first round, it was clear that chemo alone did not work and I needed a transplant soon.

My doctors searched for a life-saving marrow donor, while I had to continue to undergo three more treatments of chemo as well as cranial and full body radiations.

As a result, I became very ill and had hard time dealing with the side and after effects. Throwing up and hardly eating became a routine.

My match was found and after all the preparations I received my life-saving marrow transplant at the Methodist Children's Hospital in San Antonio in March of 2008.

Since then, I have been on the rocky road to recovery and it's been very had at times.

I am still dealing with the after effects of chemo and radiation, which is normal, since recovery can take up to a year.

The good news is that I am recovering better than any one could have imagined and my last count on August 22nd was 100%donor cells!

I was able to start school again and am still trying to be a normal 14 year old, playing XBOX and my favorite sport - football!!!

Recovery has been very frustrating for my family and friends, but I am very lucky to have their love and support.

I am also very anxiously waiting to meet my marrow match. She sent me a card before my transplant, but it has only made me more excited to meet the person who has given me another chance at life.

Check out the Lone Star Circle of Life Bike tour site: http://www.sw.org/web/patientsAndVisitors/iwcontent/public/biketour/en_us/html/biketour_localevents_temple.html

And Patrick's careingBridge site: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/patrickmancuso Where you can leave a message for Patrick, his brother and his parents (1SGT Mike and Simone Mancuso)