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    Posted February 5, 2013 by
    New Jersey
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    The war through your eyes: Iraq 10 years on

    Sallah A Din - Balad to Bayji and everything in between

    I deployed in 2004 as part of 2nd Brigade 1st Infantry Division to the Sallah A Din area. We fell in on 4th ID's area of operation with 1 Brigade, replacing 2 of theirs. Needless to say, we were stretched from the get go.

    As part of the BRT, we were too small and light to occupy a city, and assumed the mission of the Brigade Commander's reserve force, with him deploying us to whatever Battalion task force needed help at any given time. We bounced around a lot, and spent time in every city and FOB between Balad to Bayji with a special 6 month stop over in Samarra in support of Operation Baton Rouge.

    We came up against everything from unorganized locals who were paid to ambush us to highly sophisticated well funded and well trained AIQ (Al Qeda in Iraq) forces. This was long before the troop surge, so we were always undermanned and often reactionary.

    The war changed me, I believe I grew up in the heat and dust and sweat of Iraq. 192 Soldiers came home in an oblong box. To this day, I'm grateful that the 6 I had in my charge all returned home safely. I sleep soundly at night, knowing that many of our enemies lay 6 feet under facing east, we did our job and served our country with honor and integrity.
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