Military.com

Army Reserve Soldiers Honored for Aiding Anti-ISIS Mission

Fort Bragg (U.S. Army photo)
Fort Bragg (U.S. Army photo)

When hundreds of Fort Bragg soldiers belonging to the 18th Airborne Corps deployed to Iraq and Kuwait last year, they weren't alone.

Dozens of Army Reserve soldiers from across the country came to Fort Bragg to bolster the corps' efforts.

Some of the soldiers deployed with the 18th Airborne Corps, filling a variety of roles that included planning and operations, communications, public affairs and intelligence.

Back at Fort Bragg, other Reserve soldiers took on the jobs of deployed troops. They became mechanics supporting the 18th Airborne Corps motor pool and helped run day-to-day operations.

On Thursday, Army Reserve leaders honored those soldiers -- more than 50 in all -- during a ceremony at the William S. MacArthur U.S. Army Reserve Center.

The soldiers, many of whom will return to their civilian careers, received folded American flags in a special display case to denote their service.

Maj. Gen. Kenneth Jones, deputy director for logistics operations, J4, in the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Washington, said the soldiers had earned the title of "Warrior Citizen."

"Congratulations on a mission well done," he said.

Jones said the soldiers who supported the anti-Islamic State mission in Iraq and Syria faced an incredibly difficult and complex challenge.

He said the soldiers could be proud of the successes that Iraqi and Syrian partners have made against the Islamic State with the help of U.S. and coalition allies. And he said their experiences would help advance their careers and improve their units.

"The Army Reserve is a great combat multiplier for the nation," Jones said. "You proved that on your last mission."

Many of the soldiers who participated in the ceremony returned to Fort Bragg late last week, along with more than 100 18th Airborne Corps soldiers.

In Iraq and Kuwait, the soldiers served as the headquarters for Combined Joint Task Force -- Operation Inherent Resolve, which led the coalition efforts against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Col. Terrance Adams, Army Reserve engagement team chief for the 18th Airborne Corps, said the soldiers played important roles, whether deployed or at Fort Bragg during the year-long mission.

Spc. Chester Calica is a mechanic in his civilian career. And he served in that same role at Fort Bragg as he filled in for deployed soldiers.

"It feels good to be recognized," he said after the ceremony Thursday.

Calica lives near Fort Bragg. Others honored were much further from home.

Capt. Donald Stewart is an emergency medical technician in New Orleans. But for the past year, he served as a future operations planner. In that role, Stewart and his team were involved in planning for the liberation of Mosul in Iraq and the ongoing battle to liberate Raqqa in Syria.

"It was pretty exciting," he said. "It was important to reach those strategic goals."

Stewart said he was proud that Iraqi forces were able to take back Mosul, one of Iraq's largest cities. And he said working as part of the international coalition was a valuable experience.

He'll return to New Orleans, where he said he'll need to refresh his training as he steps back into his civilian job.

Maj. Nathan Thompson is in a different situation.

Living near Rochester, New York, Thompson volunteered for the deployment, in part, because he was between civilian jobs. Now he hopes to find a position as a historian or in a related field.

While deployed, Thompson helped plan artillery strikes in support of the liberation of Mosul. He said it was the most satisfying job he's had in an Army career that includes two other deployments and tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I saw this from beginning concept to mission complete," Thompson said. "Helping the Iraqis liberate the city is my most significant achievement."

Thompson said the mission is a true coalition, with international partners, active-duty, Reserve and National Guard troops all working toward a common goal. The Reservists had no small role in the coalition.

"They brought a lot of knowledge to the fight," he said.

--This article is written by Drew Brooks from The Fayetteville Observer, N.C. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Show Full Article