TF 1/103 News Volume 3
Special points of interest:
Happy Holidays from the Commander
Transfer of Authority complete for Rhode Island Units
Dear Family and friends of the 103rd, We would like to thank every one of you for the support and gifts we have received during
Care Packages are streaming in.
Inside this issue: Notes from the Command Sergeant Major
Transition of Authority
SSG Telus: New Daddy for Cristmas
this holiday season. The care packages have overwhelmed our delivery system and our mail room here at Camp Virginia has told us they have never seen such a large quantity of boxes and mail sent to any unit in the past. That is a testament to the care and support of all of you for our Soldiers. I would also like to send
a personal thank you to Dominion, Inc. ,Electric Boat & the Warren Bristol Schools for the care packages they sent to support our Soldiers. Over 300 stockings were stuffed and delivered from Dominion volunteers and shipped to us so that we may deliver them to the Soldiers. Volunteers at Electric boat filled 200 care packages with useful items for our Soldiers and the Warren/ Bristol Schools supplied our Soldiers with cards, letters, snacks & gifts. We have delivered these gifts to all of our Soldiers across all areas of operation and they are truly appreciative of these items. It is the generosity of the volunteers and organizations such as these that make us feel special. We are looking forward to the holiday meal. The personnel in our mess hall put together
an incredible spread for Thanksgiving and we can only imagine what the Christmas feast will be like. We all miss our home cooked meals surrounded by our families. However the food is always good here and we are surrounded by our military family as we support each other during this season. I hope everyone has a safe holiday season.
TF 1/103 News
Notes from the Command Sergeant Major Greetings, Here we are in December. It does seem, to some anyway, that time is flying by. Christmas is just around the corner and before you know, New Years Day 2011. We have been here in Kuwait for about one month now. Our predecessors, the 53rd IBCT have left the building and the 103rd is in the
house!!! We have learned much from the 53rd while on our RIP (relief in place). Of course we still have much to learn but we will be fine. Camp Virginia isn’t such a bad place when one considers other alternatives. All of your Soldiers here are doing a great job in their respective areas. It is a testament to them for having the willingness
and eagerness to learn something new and learn it well. The command team is proud of them all. I would personally like to wish everyone a MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY NEW YEAR. v/r CSM Richard H. LaFond
Transition of Authority Held on the anniversary of the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, the Transfer of Authority ceremony at Camp Virginia, Kuwait, Dec. 7, was a stark reminder that peace is a temporary state. 1st Battalion, 103rd Field Artillery, Rhode Island Army Guard assumed command of base operations from Headquarters, 53rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Florida Army National Guard. On this day, a new generation of Soldiers was answering their Nation’s call, symbolized by the furling of the 53rd BSB guidon and the unfurling of the 103rd guidon. Both units had served previously in Operation Iraqi and Enduring Free-
dom, and both National Guards have a rich legacy of combat service. In the final draw down of the OIF campaign, Camp Virginia was recognized as “the most secure camp in all of (Kuwait)” because of the 53rd BSB’s exceptional management, said Maj. Gen. Kenneth Dowd, commander of 1st Sustainment Command (Theater). “They accomplished much as they took ownership and pride in every detail of Camp Virginia,” he said. Over the course of its 10 months at Camp Virginia, BSB’s mission was to facilitate sustainment and support operations, provide force protection and coordinate the redeployment of forces.
It completed a $7 million housing project, achieved a 98 percent operational readiness rating and distributed 1,000 pallets of water and a million pounds of ice, according to Lt. Col. Thomas Cannington, the BSB commander. The 103rd will continue to improve operations at Camp Virginia, said commander, LTC Philipp Baumann Jr. “As artillerymen, we are accustomed to providing timely service of accurate fire support, but we learned that this mission requires a different kind of customer service.”
1SG Cardinal Well we made it to Camp Virginia Kuwait and things are going well. We spent a couple of weeks training with the Soldiers we are replacing. One week they would show us how to do their jobs and the second week they would oversee us doing their jobs. They were very good at what they did, and it will be hard to improve what they did. I have all the confidence in the 103rd that we will meet their standards as well as exceed them. This is a great place, no grass to cut, no leaves to rake, no snow to shovel, no umbrella needed, the sun has been shining since we arrived, and the temps are between 70 and 85 during the day and between 40 and 60 at night. The dining facility is a great place; it’s about the only time that we run in to each other. Otherwise everyone is going their own way doing their jobs, and doing them well. SPC Milton Bass War-
ner loves his job on the tent pads (where the transient Soldiers stay) that he is already asking if he can stay once we leave. We’ll have to see how that plays out. We have already made our mark on Camp Virginia; SPC Michael Petrillo came in first place in the Camp Fitness Contest. CPT Peter Lawrence came in first place in the Bench Press (weight lifting contest) and we had two teams take the first and second places in the Volley Ball Tournament. 1st Place team consisted of LT James Sykora, CW3 Donald King, SFC Donald Deslauriers, and SSG Steven Allen. The 2nd place team consisted of SGT Bryan Leveillee, SPC Eric King, SPC Sean Murphy, and SPC Milton Bass Warner. We had a Christmas tree lighting on December 1st along with the “Buffalo Jill’s” (the cheerleaders for the Buffalo Bills). We did have a few issues however. We were to light the trees
on all four camps at the same time and it was supposed to be video fed from the other three camps, we would get one camp then try to get another and lose that one. Then the Christmas tree kept blowing the fuse. Then while waiting for the cheerleaders the troops were restless and jumping on the bleachers and they collapsed. No one was hurt. When the cheerleaders were ready to start their program the music wouldn’t play. It finally all came together. All in all it was a good night. We had Camel Rides here yesterday afternoon. Things were going along good until CSM Richard Lafond showed up and agitated the camel and the camel bit him. Please watch out for one another. Happy Holidays 1SG Hubert Cardinal Task Force 1-103
Volleyball Champs Pictured from L to R: CW3 Donald King, 1LT James Sykora, SFC Donald Deslories, SSG Steven Allen
New Daddy for Christmas was fine with the birth, and she is healthy. CW2 Stack: How is your wife doing without your presence? SSG Telus: She is doing pretty well. She has her mother and sister to help her out. She misses me and I miss her a lot too. Given the circumstances, she is doing pretty well. We talk to each other every day by phone, and I write her a lot. I call her from the Camp Virginia USO and AT & T phones. With eight days until Christmas, CW2 Stack interviewed the 1/103 Field Artillery Battalion’s newest father, SSG Vladimir Telus. SSG Telus is from Bridgewater, MA and joined Charlie Battery, 1/103 Field Artillery Battalion, Rhode Island National Guard on September 26, 2006. SSG Telus’s military occupational specialty (MOS) is 13B, which is a Cannoneer. This is his third overseas deployment. His first overseas deployment was to Southeast Asia with the U.S. Navy. His second deployment was with Charlie Battery, 1/103 Field Artillery to Camp Victory, Baghdad, Iraq between 2007 and 2008. CW2 Stack: In the past month, the biggest event in the battalion was the birth of your child! You are the first Soldier in the battalion to have a new child since we’ve arrived at Camp Virginia, Kuwait. Is this your first child? SSG Telus: Yes. She was born on Monday, December 6, 2010 at 12:08 in the afternoon at Good Samaritan Hospital in Brockton, MA. Her name is Nayah Jima Telus. Everything
CW2 Stack: A lot of people back home are wondering what life is like for the Soldiers of the 1/103 here at Camp Virginia. Can you tell them your overall impressions of life on the base? SSG Telus: Besides having too much sand here, I like my job and the people I work with. My job title is Support and Services Supervisor. My sidekick, SSG Taylor, and I supervise 18 TCNs (third country nationals), overseeing their daily activities--their daily work. So it is pretty exciting. We have different projects on base that we are doing, so it keeps us very busy. CW2 Stack: What types of projects are you doing now on base? SSG Telus: Right now we are working on a number of force protection projects, including reinforcing some bunkers with sand bags. We have five to do, and so far we’ve completed three out of the five bunkers. We also just completed removing the wooden floor in the command cell patio and replacing it with pavers, so that was pretty good. We’re looking forward to some new
challenges now… CW2 Stack: What do you want to tell people back home what it is like living over here? SSG Telus: Being away from your family is very worrisome no matter what, even if you are living state-side. I want to tell them that, for the most part, we are pretty safe. And the Kuwaitis--the government-- are friendly with us, so we are pretty much safe. I want to tell the families back home that there is not much to worry about. Of all of the bases in Kuwait, Camp Virginia was deemed one of the safest. CW2 Stack: What is the best thing about living on Camp Virginia and what is the worst thing? SSG Telus: The worst is being away from my family, especially with having a newborn child at home. I would love to be at home with them. Another bad thing about being here is the sand, and the sand storms. The sand is everywhere! The best thing about being here is doing my part as a United States citizen, and making sure our country is safe back home. Another good thing is the food. The dining facility goes out of its way on Thanksgiving and Christmas to make us feel somewhat back at home. Nothing is going to replace being at home with a real home-cooked meal, but they are doing their best at the dinning facility. CW2 Stack: plans for your back home? SSG Telus: weeks of leave
What are your two-week leave During my two I plan on spend-
ing as much time with my daughter and wife as possible. The priority, for me, is to hold my daughter in my hands for the first time. CW2 Stack: What are your plans after your 10-month deployment is over? SSG Telus: My plan is to continue my education, spend time with my family, and get back to my daily work. It’s going to be different having an addition to the family, but I see it as a REAL blessing. I have an electrical technology background. I work in the electrical field right now at Naval Facility Engineering at the Newport Navy Base. My plan is to get a degree in political science with French as a secondary major, but those are long term goals. Right now, my most important thing is making sure my family is taken care of financially. CW2 Stack: Anything else you want to say to the folks back home? SSG Telus: I want to say thank you to all the people who have been supporting my family while I am away, the people from my Church, Annointed Baptist Church. I want to thank every one of them for the overwhelming support they have given to my family. I want to thank my mother, my stepmother, my dad, and my sisters. I want to thank my aunt and my cousin for all the support they have provided my family. They’ve made the burden of my deployment to Kuwait so light on my family. I can’t express my thanks enough. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!
Volume 1, Issue 1
Commander’s Corner Dear Family Members, It’s been just about a month since our arrival to Kuwait. The weather has been very warm with a bit of a chill in the air at night (I’m sure you chuckled at that). We’re set up nicely in our permanent structures and we’re ready for the next nine months. The transition into our new roles went smoothly. We learned our jobs from our Florida counterparts and then took control of Camp Virginia in a Transfer of Authority ceremony held on the 7 th of December. Our responsibilities are quite important as we are performing essential functions that ensure the smooth operations of the base. Most of us are out of our comfort zone, but we’re flexible Soldiers and we will continue to do great things. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving meal and enjoyed a beautiful presentation at the dining facility. Many hours of hard work went into its overall preparation. Please take a moment and check out the photos of the displays. CW2 Stack, SFC Deslauriers, and his dining facility staff did a great job creating a memorable Thanksgiving Day 2010. Be assured that we’ll be home for our next Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2011! Also, I would like to point out that our MWR (Morale Welfare and Recreation) personnel, 2LT Dias and MSG Taillon, are doing a fantastic job ensuring your loved ones are taken care of with a variety of sporting events (yes, softball in December), entertainment events (Camp Virginia Christmas Tree lighting ceremony on December 1 st), and assorted recreational activities. During the holiday season it is easy to dwell on the fact we’re away from home so I’m counting on the MWR folks to keep the Soldiers’ spirits high. I could easily recognize all of the sections individually for their accomplishments, but that would involve several more pages. I’ll leave you with this comforting thought: although we are early into our deployment, the days pass quickly and days turn into months. Merry Christmas and Happy 2011! Sincerely, CPT DeCristoforo
Hear about the 103rd FA's first month in theater. Updates from the leadership and nice Q&A with the newest father in the unit.