Welcome home, 173rd Airborne: HHC duties included on and off base tasks
May 2, 2006
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Soldiers assigned to a battalion's Headquarters and Headquarters Company often perform vital roles that don't have them straying too far beyond the base perimeter.
But that wasn't the case with many of those assigned to the HHC, 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry Regiment in Afghanistan.
Due to the transfer of Company B to Regional Command South, more troops were needed to patrol sectors in Paktika province.
"Basically, HHC had to fall down on all of Bravo Company's [area of operations]," said 1st Lt. Chané Jackson, who spent most of his time in Afghanistan with Company A.
Both Company A and Company C had extra territory because of the move, as well. But engineers and mortar men from HHC joined the scout platoon in taking on specific geographic areas of responsibilities instead of performing their more traditional roles. HHC's area of responsibility was generally the northwest part of Paktika.
And there were times — the September elections, for example – when those in other specialties, such as cooks, were assigned to patrol duties, as well.
Not that there still weren't soldiers who spent most of their time in or around the bases.
Spc. Larry Elkins spent almost all his time around the front gates of Bagram Air Base, shepherding jingle trucks that were carrying supplies for the battalion. Despite serving on the biggest — and arguably the safest — U.S. compound in the country, Elkins had a close call on Nov. 30.
"I survived an anti-tank mine," he said.
Bagram still has mines originally placed by the Soviets and later rearranged by warring Afghan factions.
Elkins had driven over the same ground before — it was believed to be cleared — but this time his Humvee's rear tire struck a mine when he was returning to the base.
"It was blown seven feet in the air and off to the right," he said. He was the only one in the vehicle and suffered a minor back injury.
Sgt. Aaron Correa mostly heard about such incidents on the radio. He was the one responsible for keeping Company A's radios in working order before moving over to HHC and then adding computers onto his responsibilities.
His main accomplishment?
"Surviving a year in Afghanistan," he said with a smile.
Spc. Jason Alipio also spent a lot more time on base once he joined HHC from Company A. He was one of those charged with loading and unloading the helicopters that landed on base.
"The main job at Orgun-E was the birds," he said. "Before that, it was basically patrolling every day."
Elkins said no matter where they were stationed, there was plenty to keep HHC soldiers busy.
"The year went by pretty fast," he said.