Letter from CPT Phil Sounia on 1/1 Cav in Iraq

From: "Sounia, Phillip D. CPT HHC CMTC Timberwolves"
  Date: 2004/06/29 Tue PM 01:36:42 GMT
Subject: 1-1 Cav Update
  My name is CPT Phil Sounia and I just reviewed your web site.  I have
recently complete my command of B Troop 1-1 Cav and thought that I would
send you a quick update.
  1-1 Cav (Apache, Bandit "The Bastards", Commanche, and Gator (Engineer)
with attachments deployed to Kuwait and then to Iraq in April of 2003, there
we served in 2nd Brigade 82nd Airborne whom was attached to our parent unit
1st Armored Division.  The Squadron then secured and controlled Southern
Baghdad and establishing its primary HQ at Camp Slayer just south of Baghdad
International Airport. If you look on the map it runs roughly from HWY 8 to
HWY 1 fand from River to river.  B Troop " The Bastards" established our own
base camp south of Baghdad called Camp DILLIGAF. It was a future power
supply station with just a few mortar rounds in it but it sufficed quite
well.  It gave us great feilds of fire, kept us in Indian Country, and held
a little secret of a lost water purification team that found fresh water.
After a couple month of 2 bottles of water per man we weren't giving that
place up for nothing.  The Squadron has conducted innumerable actions
throughout the Baghdad area of operations about a 210sq km sector.  Along
with numerous missions in support of Special Operations.    B Troop in fact
was nominated for a Unit Citation for actions between May - July 2003
against the Fedeyeen Saddam and external terrorist forces.
  The Air troops (Desperado and Executioner "Bastard Air", and Falcon
(Aircraft Support) operated out of Baghdad International Airport under
control of the 4th Aviation Brigade, yeah we didn't like that either.  We
are still flying our old OH-58's and they are truly the air workhorse of the
Division with the pilots flying well in excess of 100 hour months.  In fact
they have done such a great job that if the ground guys are told they are
getting AH-64s instead of OH-58s they call back and say they don't need
them.  But don't worry we still keep our "Secret Squirrel" nets set up with
the air guys, they always check in with us whenever they are up and usually
can break skids in 10 minutes if we need them.
  As far as casualties are concerned we are doing alright but we have lost
a few of our brothers.  One Mortarman (C Troop) to a land mine that his
vehicle hit, two Scouts (A Troop) during operations with SF units, and our
former CSM.  CSM Cooke's death was really hard on the whole Squadron, hell
the Army.  CSM Cooke was forced to leave us to serve with 1st BDE, 1AD and
died on Christmas Eve when he hit an IED while on patrol checking on the men
at 2300 hrs.  CSM Eric S.Cooke served as the C Troop and HHT 1SG previously
and was the closest thing most of us in the Squadron had to a Father.  He is
now buried at Arlington.   Damn he was one of the best men I 've ever known
and by far the best soldier I've ever known.
  Well enough.  I hope each of you don't get too tied up in the crap you
see on the TV about the war.  Things are going a hell of alot better over
their than what the reporters tend to report.  I don't think I saw a
reporter leave the Al Rashid hotel the whole time I was there unless they
were paying somebody to start jumping up and down for five minutes while
they filmed.  One should also remember that all of their interpreters are
college students from the University of Baghdad so that everything that they
get is already filtered to hate America.  Our interepreters are guys that
actually had to live under the regime not the pampered Baath party kids.  I
think America would be hard pressed to find a Soldier that doesn't think we
are making a difference over there every day.  Hell any one that has been on
patrol over there for a day could see that.  The kids all wave and cheer for
you,  the older people 30+ thank you repeatedly, old men cry on your
shoulders and kiss you in thanks.  And if that doesn't do it for you take a
walk down to one of the three mass graves of thousands in our sector or talk
to some of the people just outside of Baghdad that were slowly being starved
to death by Saddam.  Is it a perfect world, you know better than I that it
isn't but we make a difference because we are buying hope for a future generation.

The men should be home by the end of the month and I would like to add that word
on the street is that Apache Troop under CPT Scott O'Neal and 1SG Kuhlman did a
hell of a job in Najaf over the last few months (I don't know the whole story). 
Comanche under CPT Adam Schlang and later under CPT Chase Metcalf also
had a pretty damn good reputation and definitely had a huge part while in country
taking over most of the Squadron Sector after I left and B Troop pulled in to refit.
And I really don't think we can say enough about our Air Troops, ya gotta love those guys. 
I should also include that A/16th Eng is a damn fine unit with a great command team
and definitely earned their place in the Cav doing just as much work as the rest of the
line dogs. Thank god for them is some places their M113's were the only thing that could
get there. 
  I would also like to add that the men serving in HHT with CPT Oscar Diano and CPT
Grant Fawcett (soon to take B Troop)did a great job and deserve as much of the credit
as everyone else. CPT Craig Martin the S2 was pulled up to Command a year early, our
old S2 (CPT Adam Boyd)was hand pick as MG Dempsey's aide, SGM Davenport
(one hell of a Soldier) has taken over as the Squadron CSM and is quickly filling the shoes
of his mentor CSM Cooke. 
  The men of the Squadron are the most outstanding men I have ever been honored
enough to know.  The NCO's are just incredible. Men like SFC Ayotte (the only man
I've ever known that could give CSM Cooke a run for his money), SFC Eggers
(the best damn tanker in the US Army- bar none), SFC Thibodeaux
(A take no shit Mortar man that led from the front and cut out his own little piece of Baghdad),
SSG Johnston, CPL Looke, SPC Willingham of the "Bar Room Brawler", and SPC Lombardi
(Who kept my ass in one piece and is a damn good friend).  The guys across the board were
so damn good they would make you smile from ear to ear.  They maintained the honor you
gentlemen have earned the Regiment.

Phil Sounia
Bastard 6.

PS the Squadron Commander LTC Charles Williams is changing command to a LTC Cheatham
on the 23rd of July.