Iron Brigade ready for Iraq rotation
Stars and Stripes April 25, 2008
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait — Pfc. John Quincy Adams IV is about to enter Iraq for the second time.
But unlike many of his fellow soldiers in the 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment who also are making a repeat trip into combat, Adams’ last tour was nearly two decades ago.
“He’s like the Michael Jordan of the platoon. He’s getting ready to make a comeback,” said fellow 2-6 soldier Pvt. Adam Holloway, giving the old man of the group a hard time.
Adams, a Gulf War veteran who reenlisted in 2006 after a 16-year hiatus, is making his comeback at age 38.
“The Army is just something that gets in your blood,” said Adams, explaining why he decided to leave civilian life behind during a time of inevitable deployment. And yes, for those who wonder about his ancestry, he says he is some kind of relation to the sixth president of the United States.
Adams and the rest of the Baumholder, Germany-based 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division have worked in Kuwait for the last few weeks. At Camp Buehring, they’ve been firing machine guns at the range and getting their equipment in order. They’ve worked on identifying roadside bombs, practiced clearing rooms and adjusted to the desert heat.
Drivers have taken crash courses on using Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, or MRAPs — the new heavily armored vehicles absent during the brigade’s two previous stints downrange.
With their rotation in Iraq to commence in a matter of days, the seemingly endless cycle of preparation comes to an end. For some, that fact is still almost hard to believe.
Initially, the Iron Brigade was slated to deploy for Iraq in November. But in August, while soldiers were busy training in the field in preparation, the Pentagon announced a change. Instead of November, the brigade would deploy in early 2008. The training rotation in Hohenfels, Germany, was cut short and rescheduled for fall. But when January turned into February there still was no date for deployment.
The inevitable speculation ensued. Would there be another delay? Would the unit even go? But the orders eventually came.
“The soldiers have been preparing for months, and in some cases years, for this. They feel like, ‘Let’s go and get this done,’” said 2-6 Command Sgt. Major Stephen Bower.
Pfc. Brad Killough, a soldier with the 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment’s Company B, is among the many who will experience the five-year-old war for the first time.
“How many people get to do this? It’s an adventure. At the same time, it’s an adventure that can take your life,” said Killough, whose company is attached to the 1st Battalion, 35th Armor Regiment. “I’m just going to remember all the training that been ingrained in my head.”
Before moving into Iraq, soldiers indulged in a few of the luxuries offered up at Buehring: Starbucks coffee, wireless Internet, cell-phone coverage for calling home. Troops in remote combat outposts won’t have such amenities.
For Adams, a soldier with 2-6’s Company A, the feeling heading into Iraq this time around is decidedly different.
During Desert Storm, it was all butterflies and nervous anticipation, he said.
“This time I feel ready and better prepared,” he said. “I’m not as overwhelmed.”