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7th Engineer Dive Team

Monthly Newsletter Issue 4: May 2011

Published on 31 May 2011

Aloha and Mahalo by CPT Adrian Biggerstaff Aloha* from Kuwait! The month of May has proven to be another busy month for the 7th Engineer Dive Team. We had an excellent start to the month as we promoted two outstanding Soldiers: SSG Cochran and SGT Damon, and the unit provided great dive support throughout the month in Kuwait, Iraq, and Oman. However, we once again found ourselves doing equipment inventories towards the end of the month, and unfortunately, this round of inventories was for the upcoming change-out of the 7th Dive commander (me). As this will be the last newsletter I send out to the friends and families of 7th Dive, I would like to pass on my final thoughts in command and recognize many of the outstanding individuals that have kept this organization strong: It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as the Commander of the 7th Engineer Dive Team, and as CPT Scott Sann will soon learn, the experience goes far too fast. While being in command, I have had the opportunity to work with the Army’s best Soldiers and socialize with the Army’s best families and spouses. Every great Army unit has strong families and supportive spouses that are always prepared to provide assistance, demonstrate flexibility, and recognize the hard work that their service member produces daily, and 7th Dive leads the way with an amazing support network that spreads across the Pacific Ocean, from coast-to-coast in North America, and even into the far reaches of Kuwait. If not for the friends and family of 7th Dive, the organization would not have the resilience and drive it proudly boasts of today. And all of this support is spearheaded by our great FRG Leader, Mrs. Nicole Martinez, who has set 7th Dive as

one of her top priorities for over the past two years. Thank you Nicole for all of the hard work and dedication!

put forth great effort to ensure the 7th Engineer Dive Team got out of Hawaii prepared to take on its war-time mission. And the support didn’t stop there; once in theater, While 7th Dive has had great COL Corey, CSM Constante , LTC support since I arrived into comLeBlanc, SGM Gosselin, and the mand, the leadership inside the unit rest of the 197th Fires Brigade has kept us moving forward even in staff gave our small formation the rough times where all things equal time and attention as all of were looking down for our pretheir battalions of much greater deployment training. 1SG size. I have been blessed to have Baumgartner, 1LT Guerdan, and great leaders and mentors who SFC Prater have demonstrated an provided great support and guidamazing amount of dedication, ance to 7th Dive throughout my energy, and selflessness to the command. organization in order to set the unit up for success when deploying, I would also like to acknowledge and once deployed. These pheand thank my wife and family for all nomenal leaders have proven that of their assistance during my time they can rise up to any challenge in command and while deployed. and find success even in the darkJuliana (my wife) has recently est of times. However, they could- transitioned out of the Army and n’t do it alone; the past and present moved her and Dylan (our 5 month Squad Leaders of 7th Dive (SFCs old son) back to Texas to spend Harrison, Woodcox, and West, time with family while I’m deployed. SSGs Rohde, Geffert, Rowley, and While taxed with the newborn, she Duhnam) consistently served as the has been incredibly supportive with critical link between directing and packages and e-mails. Meanwhile, executing. They gracefully walk a my parents, Alan and Vickie Biggerthin line that results in 7th Dive’s staff, and her parents, Jim and Soldiers getting the training, exJulia Bodenhamer, have been there perience, motivation, and support every step of the way to assist in they need to grow into future lead- all of my family’s personal needs ers and exceptional divers. while I have focused on command. As I transition out of 7th Dive and move away from the dive community, I am confident that I will never again work with a group of such dedicated, talented, goodspirited, energetic, resourceful and loyal people. I truly feel blessed to In addition to the amazing Solhave had the opportunity to comdiers, friends, and family that make mand such a high caliber unit with 7th Dive a truly extraordinary amazing Soldiers and Leaders, and organization, many great leaders I know that 7th Dive will continue and staff officers have contribto reach new heights with CPT Sann uted to the unit’s success while I and 1SG Baumgartner leading the have been in command. COL Milway. horn, CSM Ward, and the 130th For all of the support, patients, Engineer Brigade staff, along with and hard work everyone has given to LTC Koprowski, CSM Morse, and the team during my time in comthe 65th Engineer Battalion staff mand, I would like to give one last heartfelt and sincere Mahalo*!

Inside this issue:

1SG’s Article

2

XO Notes

2

PSG Notes

2

1st - 3rd Squad

3

4rd Squad

4

Pic of the month

5

Soldier Story

6

Mailing Address: (Soldier’s Name) 7th Engineer Dive Team APO, AE 09337

Care Packages Welcome!

From the Specialists to the First Lieutenant in the unit, all members have played critical roles in us getting to where we are today, and I greatly appreciate everyone’s hard work and good attitudes.

* For all of the Non-Islanders: Aloha = Hello/Goodbye

Mahalo = Thank You

CPT Adrian Biggerstaff 7th Engineer Dive Team Commander March 2010 to June 2011


Monthly Newsletter

Page 2

From the First Sergeant's Desk by 1SG Scott Baumgartner Greetings and salutations. The 7th has been both extremely busy and very

upcoming change of command between CPT

work ethic has always amazed me and I

the opportunity to showing him what a great

Biggerstaff and CPT Sann.

am sure he will bring that dedication

team he has fallen in on.

productive in the last month in support

Since I met CPT Biggerstaff when he

of missions throughout the CENTCOM

was a student in Dive School way back in

has set a high standard for us all to

how much I truly appreciate the families

area of responsibility. The team contin-

2006, he has consistently exemplified the

follow and made us better Soldiers

and friends back home; spouses, parents,

ues to grow stronger by the day as we

Army Values and especially the Value of

because of it.

and friends, who make our lives easier over

face the many challenges that come

Selfless-Service. His dedication to the

along with the opportunity to serve our

Army, and especially the 7th Dive is beyond

see how the leadership style of the

standing. I am continually awed by how

country overseas.

compare. Since arriving in Hawaii CPT Big-

incoming Commander CPT Sann will

resilient our families are when our country

gerstaff has spent 33 months out of the

bring new elements of change and

asks so much of them. Not only do our

their exploits and tales of derring-do in

last 5 years serving his country in Iraq and

growth to the team as well. I know

support networks give us strength but they

the columns that follow, so instead of

Kuwait. This amazing example of dedication

from past experience that his dedica-

motivate us in the knowledge that though

covering these topics, I thought I would

to his country and our field of diving breth-

tion and love of diving will have a posi-

we are separated by time and distance, we

take this opportunity to point out how

ren sets a great example of what it means

tive impact on our team as we move

are still connected to them in spirit as they

proud I am to serve with this team and

to serve. I am personally thankful that I

toward the finish line of this deploy-

face challenges equal or beyond what we

also to bring special attention to the

had the opportunity to share both the good

ment. The whole team welcomes his

face here in theater. So to all of the folks

times and the tough times with him. His

arrival and we look forward to having

back home again, thank you for all that you

Individual squads will no doubt detail

with him in his future assignments. He

At the same time I am excited to

dedication to the team and truly tireless

The last thing I would like to share is

here by their unfailing support and under-

do.

Notes from the Executive Officer by 1LT David Guerdan Hello to all the families and friends of 7th Dive! I hope this finds everyone doing well and enjoying the start of summer back home. Summer has definitely made its presence known to us here in Kuwait and Iraq, with temperatures consistently in the triple digits and not looking to get cooler any time soon. While the big focus of May was change of command inventories as well as maintenance on our equipment, we still managed to fit in quite a bit of training to stay sharp on all of our skills. SPC Robert Russell, under the direct guidance and outstanding leadership of his squad leader, SSG John Geffert, planned and executed a successful surface demolition range for the unit. This range gave everyone an opportunity to get refreshed on all of the dif-

ferent types of charges we could potentially need for a mission. SPC Anthony Varas, shown in the picture to the right, is preparing to build one of his charges.

nately (or fortunately), it was a pretty quiet time while they were up there so they were able to spend time training and staying proficient with one of the unit’s remote operating vehicles (ROV) in the pool on JBB.

7th Dive also took advantage of a few other training events in Kuwait this month: SFC Andrew Harrison Unfortunately, 7th led training on salvage Dive and the pumping and newly entire dive compromoted SSG Jake SPC Varas prepping C4 Demo munity has to say Cochran gave Sergeants goodbye to CPT Time Training on underBiggerstaff next month, on 10 June water photography and video. 2011. As you may or may not know, SSG Jeb Dunham and his crew repCPT Biggerstaff took command in th resented 7 Dive well during their March of 2010 and since then has time up northern in Iraq. Unfortu-

spent countless hours away from his wife Juliana and newborn son Dylan preparing our team for deployment. His guidance and leadership will surely be missed. He is headed to Ft. Leonard Wood where he will attend the Engineer Captain’s Career Course as well as pursue a Master Degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering. Now for some exciting news, SSG Brandton Rohde was selected to continue his military career as a Warrant Officer in hopes of one day commanding a LSV or LCU. Unfortunately, this means that he will also be leaving the dive community upon redeployment, but we are all thrilled for both him and his wife, Andrea at this awesome opportunity!

Insights from the Platoon Sergeant by SFC Milton Prater The 7th had the privilege this month to go to Oman again to provide security dives for the port of Salalah. The team consisted of myself, 1SG Baumgartner, SGT Damon and SPC Morales. It didn’t take long searching a flat quay wall in the middle of the day with 15 ft of visibility. Other than the dive it was a great break from Kuwait and a very good opportunity for the Soldiers to get out and see some sights. One of the best things on this trip was that 1SG Baumgartner completed the Oasis Club eating challenge with a remarkable time of 29 minutes (the challenge had to be completed in 30

minutes), winning a t-shirt for his impressive feat. However, SPC Morales came through with probably one of the fastest times recorded and crushed the competition by completing the meal in 16 minutes. With any luck, we will be getting more missions to Oman so more of the 7th Dive will get a chance to see another country. OH!! Top finally got a chance to take pictures with camels.


Issue 4: May 2011

Page 3

1st Squad by SPC Britton Hall ports are safe for incoming ships.

I would like to welcome CPT Sann to

change of command, we are conduct-

to be an outstanding part of 7th

SSG Cochran is also excelling in his

7th Dive Team. He will be taking over

ing layouts of all of our gear. SPC

Engineering Dive Team thru hard

new duties, spending countless hours

as our unit Commander shortly. That

Morales is taking on a lot of respon-

work, high motivation, and perform-

at the computer; all that desk work

also means that we will be saying

sibility with the extra equipment he

ance. We started this month with a

must be exhausting. Actually, SSG

goodbye to CPT Biggerstaff our

is now assigned and is doing a superb

spectacular boom at the demo range

Cochran is one

current Commander. It

job with layouts. He and SPC Hall are

(Great job SPC Russell). SSG Rowley,

of the hardest

has been a real honor

working hard at preparing, studying,

SSG Cochran, and SPC Morales cal-

workers on the

serving under his com-

and proving they are ready to take

culated precise demolition charges

team. Due to the

mand. He has helped

the next step in their career. SSG

along with an 80 Lb. explosive put

limited personnel

us, guided us, and led

Rowley has spent some late nights

together by SGT Damon and SPC Hall

we have at most

us over the past year

studying for the prestigious SGT

that all proved to be successful.

times, he per-

and a half in becoming

Audie Murphy board coming up in

Congratulations to SGT Damon and

forms multiple

an even better unit

June. His knowledge of the subject

SSG Cochran on their promotions.

duties from

than we already were.

matter is already impeccable.

SGT Damon is performing above and

leading to get-

He has proven to be an

There’s no doubt he will shine at the

beyond in his new duties. He is cur-

ting his hands

excellent commander.

board. Also, windows are no match

rently participating in a mission in

dirty right be-

Great Job Sir! In

for SPC Hall. Remember, Safety

Oman with SPC Morales to ensure

side his Soldiers.

preparing for the

first. Hoo-Ya Deep Sea!

Once again 1st Squad has proven

2nd Squad by SPC Tony Varas Hello again from the ancient land of Kuwait. The 7th Dive continues to do great things in support of “Operation New Dawn”. In this month we performed demolition training at the Udairi demolition range all thanks to SPC Russell and his outstanding curriculum, as well as the Army EOD for their unequaled support. The 7th Dive hit the ground running upon arrival at Camp Beurhing, preparing calculated demolition charges late into the night. The next day at the range all the charges were place in precise locations on their targets. In the end, most of the charges were successfully detonated;

all except for one (cough cough Bullington). All in all, the demolition range was a blast. In the second week of May second and third squads performed superb hydrographic training from SSG Geffert; taking depths and mapping the water inside of the port of Kuwait Naval Base. Training is never over for the perfectionist of the 7th Dive; we are continuously perfecting our skills on our equipment. In the third week of May the members of the 7 th received an outstanding class from SSG Cochran on our underwater photography set. We learned how to properly set up the equipment as well as the science behind how light is affected by water depths. In preparation for CPT Sann to take over the unit, all divers have been amassed to complete 100% inventories. Long hard days in the sun are becoming the norm now a days with temperatures rising to over 100 degrees F. daily. Our unit is doing everything possible to ensure that we are safe and well hy-

drated in these hot hot times. Until next time this is SPC Varas signing off.

Pictures from the 7th Dive Demo Range

3rd Squad by SGT Jeb Duhnam During the month of May, 3rd Squad had another chance to leave Balad, Iraq and head north to Camp Marez, Mosul to provide QRF (quick reaction force) diving capabilities if needed. The scenery up north was very different, with green hills, the smell of grass and even an old monastery on base. SPC Morales and SGT Damon were also flown up to fill in for SPC Wilson and SPC Steffic while they were on R&R. The major-

ity of our time was spent training and testing equipment, brushing up on dive manual knowledge, promotion board knowledge and as always PT twice a day. SGT Damon even had the opportunity to meet with his brother who is stationed on Marez. We are looking forward to the return of SPC Steffic to hear how his leave turned out and SGT Hoover is excited about his upcoming trip to Australia. That’s all for now.

3rd Squad after a hard day of work


4th Squad by SGT Girlie Vicente The month of May is a very significant month for fourth squad. SSG Rohde, squad leader, found out the good news that he got selected for Warrant Officer, but he will remain in the unit until we redeploy to Hawaii (thank goodness). Despite his late nights and early mornings at work he still ensures that every squad member practices “gratitude not attitude”. After 100% deployment inventory of our equipment last month, we are conducting another 100% Change of Command inventory this month. Every Supply Sergeant knows that this is our moneymaker. I ensure that all hand receipts of unit’s

property, which by the way, worth millions of dollars are ready for the incoming commander, CPT Sann. I

might be stuck in the desert, busy with ongoing inventories, but nobody can take away my Zumba -love out of

Page 4 me. Although I cancelled my weekday classes, I have Saturday and Sunday to make it up to my Zumba-lovers. SPC “Doc” Martinez came back from Joint Base Balad, Iraq after two weeks of missions conducting medical coverage. Doc Martinez is getting ready to attend his promotion board next month as well. Our SAMS-E clerk and SSG Rohde’s right hand, SPC Nnabue, who has been multitasking in assisting Soldiers on personnel actions and making sure all memorandums for travelling off-post are ready everyday. SPC Moore just returned from Rest and Recuperation (R&R) Leave where he returned to Hawaii. We all are glad to see him back because we need remedy tickets for our Commo equipment, Mr. “go-to-guy”!.

SGT Andrew Damon (Left) and SSG Sean Rowley (Right) prepare rounds for one of EODs blasts while at the Udari Range


Rock Band Tribute

SGT Girlie Vicente, SSG Jeb Dunham, and SSG Brandton Rohde Doing Work


Issue 4: May 2011 Page 6

“What kind of Communicator are you?” by 1SG Baumgartner How many times have you felt that someone took something you said or did the wrong way? How many times have you have been surprised that something you said hurt someone’s feelings when that was not your intent?

out of that mode, but that is unconfirmed. I found out through my

a very broad description but an easy way to classify people. We all fall in between these

class that my communication

two poles and both methods

style is what is known as “low

have positive and negative

context.” This means my ten-

qualities.

dencies are to be direct, to the point, and often I am deal-

Knowing this (now), I can

ing with the 50 meter target

see the many potentials for

those questions are “A LOT!”

(in military jargon) and not

miscommunications that we

With the opportunity to take

considering the context in

For me the answers to

encounter every day. An exam-

some college classes here in the

With all of these seemingly endless ways in which the potential to mis-communicate exists, it can be daunting to truly know if you ever really understand someone. Fortunately for us in the military (and within our families as well), low context or high context, we have a big advantage; we know to a large extent that we share the same goals. Going back to my

desert, I saw In-

example, this simply

terpersonal Com-

means if I was more

munications as an

aware that the Sol-

elective option and

dier going through

thought “Seems

the hard time was

like an easy A, I’ll

usually pretty high

do it, what the

context, I could be

heck?” Little did I

smarter about ap-

know that this

proaching him or her

class would make

in such a direct way.

me re-evaluate the

At the same time, a

way I had been

high context commu-

interacting with

nicator who realizes

others in all the

that I am on his or

areas of my life.

her side, might be better able to un-

In the past, I

derstand that I was

have always prided

simply trying to help

myself on being

in my own way.

very direct and not wasting people’s

None of this is

time. I was very

easy of course, some

direct and explicit in my thoughts with them. And I wanted people to be direct with me in turn. Truth is, that’s still the way that’s most comfortable for me to commu-

which people may take my

ple of this could be: if a Sol-

of the hardest things for hu-

words or actions, or how my

dier tells me that they are

mans to do is to accept some-

words or actions may make

“feeling upset because they

thing that doesn't synch up

them feel.

are having a fight with their

with what they believe. Step-

spouse.” Being a low context

ping out of our habits when it

communicator, I am very likely

comes to communication and

There is another classifica-

nicate. I don't know why ex-

tion of communication which is

to say all the ways that I would

really trying to empathize

actly but I suspect that in the

known as “high context;” these

deal with the situation and try

when we don't understand

past when I worked for people

folks are very concerned with

to give him or her advice. If

someone seems to be the key

who were vague about what

making sure no one loses face

the Soldier is a high context

to good communications and it

they expected from me, it was

or hurts others feelings, they

communicator he or she may

can be made slightly easier

very frustrating to me

are less likely to come out and

feel like I am judging them and

when we give each other the

(probably them too). I also may

say exactly how they feel until

making a statement about

benefit of the doubt. After all,

have hit my head when I was a

they have built a close rela-

them as a person, when all I

were all in this together.

Drill Sergeant and never came

tionship with you first. This is

truly wanted to do was to help.


7th Dive Team May 2011 Newsletter