3-71 CAV Reunion

Looking ahead to 2018-  We never have to look far for a unit that suffered hardship during deployment. As a lifetime civilian, I try to imagine what these etched out times in a young person’s life must be like. Knowing that my imagination is barely able to grasp the harsh reality that lies within these experiences, one thing always amazes me… life on the other side. If you have ever spent time with a combat vet you know that on the outside they are no different from most. They have families to care for,  jobs to go to,  friends to socialize with, and all the things that we do. On the inside they have seen and experienced things that, like me, we can’t fathom.  Reunions are a time for all that inside “stuff”  to be external. It comes out in tears, laughter, name-calling, story telling, and guards being let down. All that being said, we are thrilled to be planning a June 2018 reunion with the men of 3-71 CAV  (2006-2007) . It will be their first time together in a decade and we can not wait for them to be together again.

I have spoken to Jeremiah Ridgeway who was part of this unit. He has reached out to his brothers and things are beginning to form. The following is his response to my request to summarize that deployment. I am well aware that describing a year of hell, fear, loss, loneliness, and all the other things that come with deployment is hard to describe in a couple of paragraphs, but I think he did a great job, and wrapped up nicely with a quote from Captain Ross Berkoff:

The Squadrons troops shared moments of hardship, grief, joy and terror. This served to bring them close to one another and to view each other as not just fellow Soldiers but true brothers.”  Here is his entire synopsis:

3-71 Cavalry Squadron’s deployment began in January of 2006. The unit operated in the southern area of RC East in Afghanistan mainly based out of FOB Salerno,supporting multiple operations including Operation Mountain Lion. At the end of Operation Mountain Lion, the Unit suffered 4 casualties during an EXFIL when the UH-47 Chinook carrying them and 6 crew members crashed. After the “Spring Offensive” began to subside 3-71 was moved north the establish FOB Naray.

Once the initial push to Naray was complete in May of 2006 and the FOB was well established three other smaller camps were establishedKemdeshGowardesh, and Asmar. This is where then Unit stayed for its remaining time in country. On June 21st 2006, a patrol of 16 troops were on patrol from Gowardesh, when they came under fire. 4 Soldiers lost their lives that day, 3 from 3-71, the other was a Flight Medic that died while trying to extract one of the wounded troops. Kemdesh which was positioned in the Nuristan Province, was one of the most remote camps in Afghanistan at the time. It was inaccessible by large truck at the time 3-71 started operations in the area. Though it was advised by multiple personal including the Maintenance NCO assigned to Able Troop, the Squadron Vehicle Recovery NCOIC, Squadron Motor Sergeant and Maintenance Chief Warrant Officer. The think tank pushed to move heavy wheeled vehicles into the area for supply. One LMTV with a single pallet of ammunition was to accompany a convoy from Naray north to Kemdesh along with numerous cargo trucks operated by the local nations. During the mission the convoy came under fire and all of the local cargo trucks were abandoned by their operators and most were burned to the frame. After the convoy finally reached Camp Kemdesh the LMTV was left there until November 26th when an attempt was made to drive the truck back to Naray. Manned by two Soldiers, CPT Keating and SFC Tiller, the truck headed back south after months of sitting at the camp. During the convoy the road gave way and the truck rolled to the river bed below. CPT Keating lost his life and SFC Tiller sustained multiple fractures to his spine as a result of the accident. The areas remained manned through the winter and when the Squadron was set to return State side orders came from D.C. that the entire Brigade’s tour was to be extended with no end date noted. By the time the decision was made to extend the BCT, its equipment had already been prepped for shipment, its Soldier had already packed their gear to return home, some were actually in the air flying back to Fort Drum. 3-71 continued operations in the remote northeast until June of 2007. By the time Squadron returned to Fort Drum some of its Soldiers had spent 18 months in Afghanistan. The Squadrons troops shared moments of hardship, grief, joy and terror. This served to bring them close to one another and to view each other as not just fellow Soldiers but true brothers.

Keep following us for more information on this reunion and what else will be happening for us in 2018.  We so appreciate those who make our cause their own-
Mary Henry

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