A soldiers view

Posted: Monday, February 11, 2008

Editor's note: Periodically the Clarion prints biographies, photos and letters to the community from peninsula soldiers stationed around the world and in the U.S. Soldiers may e-mail letters and photos to news@peninsulaclarion.com.

Name: John S. Bittle

Hometown: Kenai

As a leader in Bravo Company 297th Combat Support Battalion, I believe it is my duty to tell of the soldiers' heroism and sacrifice here in the Iraq. I also believe that the Alaska National Guard Soldiers are preforming an excellent job here.

Our company began its mobilization at the end of August with some 200 soldiers from all over Alaska. Soldiers from the company also were taken from all over the Army. We have infantry, cavalry, medical personnel, engineers, mechanics, truck drivers, administrative personnel and cooks, so it is easy to see that we are a melting pot of different experiences all tied to one mission.

The mission we have been tasked with is to preform convoy security on some of Iraq's deadliest roads. We preform this task by providing security for U.S. civilian or third country national convoys, which travel from outpost to outpost.

Most of the convoys we protect are bringing supplies to the troops that need them. The supplies range from water and food, to the mail from a loved one back in the states.

Knowing the importance of these supplies makes the danger of performing our mission worth it. Ensuring it helps our fellow soldiers, but doesn't change anything when we are out on the road. We are still doing one of the most dangerous missions in Iraq today.

Our unit as a whole has been involved in multiple attacks from roadside bombs to small fire fights.

The soldiers who are preforming this mission are made up of some the best Alaska has to offer. For example two soldiers both come from Soldotna, Spc. Jonathan Rodriguez and Cpl. Steven Powell.

Rodriguez came into the army to be a truck driver, but here in Iraq he is a mechanic. He doesn't mind it, but I think in some ways he wants to be on the road with the rest of the company. His job is important. He works with about 15 other people working 12 to 14 hours a day making sure our vehicles are ready to hit the roads of Iraq. Without people like Spc. Rodriguez the company mission would never be completed. He wanted me tell his fiancee, Michelle Turner, of Soldotna, that he loves and misses her and her family.

Cpl. Powell has been asset we can not do without. He is the truck commander of a wrecker crew whose job is to recover damaged vehicles. Sometime these vehicles break down, or have been involved in some sort of attack. In some instances the wrecker crews are the first ones on the scene and they might have to do their job while under fire.

To me these two soldiers display the fine work that our company is doing here in Iraq. I also hope that you keep us in your hearts and prayers.

1st Lt. John S. Bittle

Infantry, Alaska Army National Guard

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