The Muleskinner Team Mo Agri-Business Development Team IV V O L U M E
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J A N U A R Y
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DRIVING THE TEAM Commander Col. Fortune
Message from the Commander
Deputy Commander Lt. Col. Charles
ello families and friends of the Nangarhar/ Missouri Agrib u s i n e s s Development Team IV. Most of you already know that we suffered a huge loss on January 5. when one of our Soldiers was killed by an improvised explosive device in the Khogyani di st ri ct of Nangar har province. This Soldier, Sgt. 1st Class Robert Pharris, was a great man and an outstanding Soldier. Not only did he have the perfect skill set and temperament for the ADT mission, but he was like a brother to many of us. A few days after his death, Sgt. 1st Class Pharris' wife and son sent a very courageous and thoughtful hand-written letter to help comfort and encourage the team. Here is an extract from that letter.
Senior Enlisted Advisor Senior Master Sgt. Blankenship www.facebook.com /MONG.ADTIV
INSIDE THIS SECTION: Senior’s Space
General Carpenter on the FOB
What We’ve Done
Meet the Team
Pictures From the Field
Back at the Homestead
"To the Members of ADT IV, from Pamela Pharris and Corporal Ben Pharris, United States Marine Corps: Dear Team Members, As Ben and I are preparing final honors for Robert, we want you to know that we are being
well looked after. Robert will be honored in our hometownof Seymour, then given his final rest at Arlington National Cemetery. I believe he would be most proud. Ben and I would also like to thank each of you for making Rober’s time with ADT IV so rewarding. His happiness and pride were reflected in his voice with every phone call home. He spoke of his "family of 66," doing a mission to answer the prayers of thousands. And he believed this mission could be achieved with a true heart, strong Soldiers, and patient hands. Robert waited 14 years for a mission such as this. Thank you for helping make his dream come true with such pride. Robert left this world fulfilling his dreams and su rro un d ed by friend s. And I believe you all know what Robert's final words of encouragement to you (and to his son) would sound like: ‘Now say your Amens, suck it up, and
get on with the mission. But keep your heads down, and your powder dry. Now, can I get a big Hooah.’ Praying for your safe return, Pamela and Ben Pharris"
Here on Forward Operating Base FinleyShields, we conducted a memorial ceremony for Pharris on January 12. The ceremony was very well attended by not only the ADT, but many other units of the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division. While his death was a tragic loss, our team has found some consolation in the fact that Robert lived a good life and died doing something that he loved to do - being a Soldier and supporting a mission to make the world a better and safer place.
ADT members together after the memorial service.
From around the world By Senior Master Sgt. Blankenship
or have had any friends!
My definition of R&R is run … and then run some more. The families want to see you, your workmates want to do a happy hour, and your personal friends all want to meet up for dinner and drinks.
all said THEY were family.
H o w e v e r , I don’t think any of these people talk to each other so I had to lay down the law … we were all to meet at Olive Garden, because when you go to Olive garden you are family. That’s what the Olive Garden commercial says anyway.
This morning I had to get up at 4:00 a.m. to see the news re-runs since I was too busy socializing the day before.
e l l o from the West side … the west side of the WORLD that is. I am actually on R&R in St. Peters, Missouri. The Missouri/ Nangarhar ADT IV mission has reached its half way point and just about half of our team has experienced their R&R. R&R is the military slang for r e s t a n d recuperation or rest and relaxation, whichever you prefer. Current polic y allows S o l d i e r s a n d Airmen to go on a 15-day R&R pass d u r i n g t h e i r deployment. I’m not sure who originally said “R&R” is for rest and recuperation, but they must not have been married
And my logic was, if I am family they shouldn’t ma ke me p a y, right? Apparently not. When I said hello sister Nancy, she told me I wasn’t her brother. To make a long story short, I ended up stuck with the bill because they
Whatever the case, I have been there, here, back there, and have met m y p e o p l e everywhere; Dr. Seuss has nothing on me.
My first beer in s i x mo n t hs … yahooo! As most of you probably already know, deployed Soldiers and Airmen are not allowed to drink. Regardless of what anyone tells you, that is probably a good thing. But for days or even weeks (Continued on page 3)
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before departing for R&R, all you can think about is that first beer … Ahhhhhh. Even on your way home to the States, there is no alcohol until you reach your final destination airport. I must have walked by 20 drinking establishments in the various airports along the way. I will say that walking through those airports in my uniform, I had a lot of people lift their beers and toast me to thank me for my service. I was, of course, very appreciative and nodded, but at the same time licked my lips. I am sure they all thought I had chapped lips from the desert, or that I was very thirsty since I had my tongue hanging half way out of my mouth. It was all one big tease. When I finally got to St. Louis, my wife asked me where I would like to go to have my first cocktail. My response … “Honey, there had better be a cooler in the car … it is happy hour somewhere in the world and since I j ust flew across it, I deserve a drink right now.” If your job requires you to travel, you know that as soon as you leave home something breaks. Well leave for five or six months … and everything breaks. I walked into the house and there was a scroll hanging on the refrigerator. I didn’t have a “honey
Senior stops for a photo outside one of the ADT’s many solar well projects scattered around Nangarhar. He is always ready with a smile and carries his teddy bear on every mission.
do” list … it was a freaking War and Peace novel. Needless to say, I had a great time while I was home. Though I was only there for 15 days, it was some of the best 15 days I have ever had. It went by rather quickly but it was still an awesome time to be with family and friends. It was hard leaving, but I knew when I got back to FOB Finley Shields I would only have about four and a half months before it would all be over. I worked very hard to have a 6pack stomach for the wife by the time I got home on R&R. I worked very hard while home and now have an additional 6-pack over it. P90X and AB -Ripper are going to be my friends once again when I return to the FOB.
By Col. Mike Fortune
n early January, the ADT was honored by a visit from General David H. Petreaus, commander of the NATO International Security Assistance Force and also of U.S. Forces Afghanistan. Although the general spends much of his time tending to issues in the southern provinces of Helmand an d K and ahar wher e the Taliban has a stronghold, he wanted to see, firsthand, what chal l enges f aced t he provinces in the eastern part of the country where kinetic activity has increased during the past year. On Jan. 6 he flew to Nangarhar to meet with the provincial governor and visit one of the Missouri ADT's w a t e r s h e d management proj ects in the district of Kama.
It had taken about two weeks for Task Force Bastogne, the brigade level "battle space owner" for the provinces of Nangarhar , Nuri stan, and Kunar, to fully plan and coordinate Petreaus' visit. By the morning of January 5 however, all t h e n e c e s s a r y coordination had been co mpl et ed and t he pl an General Petreaus talks with local Afghans while on mission with the ADT. was locked down. But at around 4:30 p. m. t hat day, t he ADT r e c e i v e d s o m e devastating news; Sgt.1st Class Robert W. Pharris, a member of the ADT, had been killed by an improvised explosive device in the district of Khogyani while on a mission with the cavalry unit he was supporting. Although the team would still be in a state of shock, the next day's mi ssi on woul d cont inue as planned. After some very intense grieving and a short night's sleep, team members assembled in the motor pool at 6:00 a.m. for the mission
briefing. The plan was to visit a project in the district of Dari Nor and t hen pr oceed t o K a ma t o meet up with Petreaus.
“So put your game face on and let’s go.” He then
When t he pre -mi ssi on briefing was over, Sgt.1st Class Earl M. Eisenbacher gave the group a pep talk. He said, "None of us want to go on this mission today, but we're going. And we need to suck it up because we are all counting on each other to keep the team safe. So put your game face on and let's go." He then closed with the (Continued on page 5)
closed with the comment, “Sergeant Pharris wouldn’t have it any other way!”
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c o m me n t , " S gt . P h a r r i s wouldn't have it any other way!"
“Looking back it was a difficult day filled with emotion, but Pharris would have been proud of the team’s performance.”
D e s p i t e t h e circumstances, the mi ssi on went extr emel y well. The ADT convoy pul l ed i nt o K ama about an hour before the general was scheduled to arrive. When his UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter l anded i n an open f i el d near the worksite, the ADT commander, Col. Mike Fortune, met him at the helicopter. Petr eaus' f i rst words were, "Mike, I heard you lost a great Soldier yesterday and I'm terribly sorry about that. I know thi s is a r eall y difficult time for you and your unit." For t une t hen l ed the general about 200 meters t o t h e w o r ks i t e , d u r i n g which time he discussed the ADT's mission and strategy. Petreaus stayed for a few minutes t o lear n mor e about the ADT's project - a labori nt ensi ve cash -f or -wor k project to improve the a dj acent vi l l a ge 's canal
With the ADT providing ever diligent security, Petreaus is able to talk with the local people and learn about life in Eastern Afghanistan.
He then walked with the Task Force B a s t o gn e c o m m a n d e r , Col. Drew Poppas, to a nearby mar ket place to talk with the local shopkeepers.
Col. Poppas could ha ve t a ken Pet r eaus t o see any number of projects going on in his battle space, but he chose t o show hi m one t h a t w a s b e i n g administered by the Mi ss our i A DT beca use he genuinely believes the team is doing some great work and making a difference here.
While at the village market, the general o r g a n i z e d a n impromptu footrace for t he l o cal A f gha n ki ds and gave the winner a soccer ball. Afterward, the general walked back to his helicopter and headed back to Kabul. Looking back, it was a difficult day filled with emotion, but Sgt. 1st Class Pharris would have been proud of the
Poppas commented after the mission was over that the general was very impressed with the project, and with the direction the ADT is headed.
By Lt. Col. North Charles
n Friday, Jan. 21, the acting Director of the Army National Guard, Major General Raymond W. Carpenter, visited the Nangarhar Agri-Business D e v e l o p m e n t Team on FOB FinleyShields. C a r p en t e r an d h i s entourage arrived i n t wo UH -6 0 Blackhawks a little before 12:15 p.m. and stayed nearly two hours. I n s t e a d o f participating in the usual command briefing upon arrival, he headed straight for the dining facility and had lunch with ADT Soldiers and Airmen. Carpenter spent thirty minutes with Spec. John Buell, Spec. Zachary Cronk, Spec. Jer emy C h a p ma n , S p ec i al i st Johnnie Sims and Sgt. Elijah Mosier. From the dining facility, Carpenter walked down to see where the ADT Soldiers and Airmen live. The unit held a quick formation so Col. Mike Fortune and
Carpenter could promote Jeremy Berendzen to captain. Col. Fortune explained Berendzen's contributions to the team and Carpenter swapped out his first lieutenant bar for captain's bars. Gen. Carpenter spoke to the team for ten minutes on the mission of ADTs. He also emphasized the vital Maj. Gen. Carpenter ensures Capt. Berendzen’s new r ol e t he Ar my Nat i on al bars are firmly affixed to his uniform. Guar d has f i l l ed i n o ur nation's defense since the FOB Finley-Shields for the visit. attacks of September 11th, Carpenter also presented some 2001 Combat Infantryman's Badges to Carpenter then took time m e m b e r s o f t h e N a n g a r h a r to visit some of the rooms of Provincial Reconstruction Team the Soldiers and Airmen. He who also live on FOB Finley- “He emphasized met one-on-one with many of Shields. the vital role the the team members. Gen. Carpenter and his team Army National During his visit departed FOB Finley-Shields at 2 Guard has filled Carpenter took time to meet p.m. to continue visiting other with leaders from the Kunar/ N a t i o n a l G u a r d u n i t s i n in our nations Iowa Army National Guard's defense since ADT who had traveled to Afghanistan. that attacks of September 11th, 2001.”
Maj. Gen. Ray Carpenter (left) admires Spec. Anthony Berryman’s (right) room.
What We’ve Done to Make it Home
During the Holiday party the ADT threw, the Commons Area was unveiled and opened up for use by the team.
By Master Sgt. Bob Weber
of home with us.
Many people enjoy carpentry and construction as a hobby back home and it is nice to be able to continue this here, so many miles from home. The time we spend working on our v a r i o u s p r oj e c t s h a s also allowed many of u s t o b e c o me c l o s e r and even learn a new skill here and there.
e the Soldiers and Airmen of ADT-IV have m a d e m a n y improvements during our time here on FOB Finley-Shields. People have made and i mpr o ved upon their customized rooms in order to maximize space or to j ust have their own area. We have poured more than 16 yards of concr ete, built a w o r k o u t a n d co mmo ns ar ea , a nd fashioned our own pull-up bars from scrap iron. I t ’ s t o u g h sometimes, not being able to run out to a Lowes or Home Depot but we make do and are often pleasantly surprised with the results. I think we do these things not only to make a better l i vi n g e n vi r o n me n t but also to bring a bit
Among the various projects we currently have in t he wor ks is an expansion of the gym to take up the remainder of the space between the Security Forces and Agriculture buildings. With more workout equipment and ideas on the way, this is an important project. One member of the Security Forces, Sgt. Eric Kostron, is also working on a barbeque grill because, well, w h o d o e s n ’ t l o ve t o barbeque on a sunny day off?
When everything is all said and done we can say that we have done very well for ourselves, creating an a ma zi n g l i vi n g ar ea, fashioning useful things for the team to come together around, and providing many people with numerous learning opportunities in the worlds of carpentry and construction.
“I think we do these things not only to make a better living environment but also to bring a bit of home with us.”
Reliable and capable By Lt. Col. North Charles
Specialist Eric Garcia serves as one of SECFOR’s most respected and talented gunners. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his work with the ADT. Spc. Garcia previously deployed to Iraq as a Combat Engineer with the 1138th E n gi n eer C o mp an y (Sapper) from Farmington. He worked on a route clearance team in Baghdad during that
mission. 1st Lt. Miciah Pyatt, Speci ali st Gar ci a’ s platoon leader, describes Eric as a quiet, but very professional Soldier.
very different from my first deployment, but I don’t mind it. The mission is good and I get along well with everyone in SECFOR.”
Specialist Garcia lives in Kirksville, with his wife Jennifer, and their three children. During his mid-tour leave, he was able to spend time with them in Kirksville and in Kansas City where they enjoyed an indoor water park. Eric describers his Eric works for Bayer in time with ADT. “This is Kansas City, Missouri. “Specialist Garcia is one of those extremely reliable, very capable Soldiers. I can always rely on him to accomplish any task he’s given. He puts in extra time to ensure every job is done right.”
From Hawaii with love By Lt. Col. North Charles
Sergeant Eric Kostron serves as a SECFOR Team Leader and Truck Commander. His l ar ger -t han -li fe personality, generous nature, and love for Hawaii come through in everything he does. Master Sgt. Bob Weber, Sgt. Kostron’s Platoon Sergeant, says Eric is a
p o s i t i ve SECFOR.
“Sergeant Kostron pitches in on every task. His positive attitude and focus on the mission makes a difference everywhere in SECFOR.” Sgt. Kostron was selected as the ADT’s NCO of the Month for December 2010. In his civilian career, Eric works as an HVAC technician and a welder. He lives in Springfield with his wife, Angela, and their
five children. Eric’s home unit of assignment is the 276th Engineer Co mpan y ( V er t i cal Construction) in Monett and Pierce City where he is a Team Leader. Eric describes his time with ADT, “It’s a great bunch of guys I’m serving with. The missions are good and we’re making a difference here. I’m also able to help out around the FOB building some things and improving our place here.”
Building the Future By Lt. Col. North Charles
Ca pta in J ohn Paluczak is the Agriculture Section Deputy. In this role, he acts as the go-to guy making things happen on a daily basis in the Ag Section. His role is to bring order to the chaos of ten agriculture specialists and engineers working in ten districts across Nangarhar on countless projects. Capt. Paluczak says, “ I r e a l l y l i k e t h i s j ob because i t ’ s ext re mely challenging, always evolving and it gives me the opportunity to gain new skills on a daily basis.” In addition to his duties as the Ag Team OIC, John also plays a
significant role in interacting with Nangarhar director of agriculture, irrigation a n d l i ve s t o c k; U . S . A g e n c y f o r In ter nation al D e v e l o p m e n t Implementing Partners; and N a n g a r h a r University. Lt. Col. Ray L e gg, t h e A g T e a m Chief explains, “ W h i l e m a n y members of the Ag Team concentrate on the district level, John often works province-wide projects. He’s able to understand the c o mma n der ’ s i nt e nt and translate that into working relationships
with a variety of our development partners. John has begun distance running d u r i n g t h i s depl oyment . He has completed a series of 10k races and half marathons. He plans to continue running throughout his time on FOB Finley-Shields. Paluczak and his wife Michelle live in St. Louis. In his ci vi li an car eer , J ohn h a s b ee n a Pr e mi u m Auditor for four years at Safety National. A ni ne year vet er an of the Missouri Army National Guard, Capt. Paluczak’s home unit of assi gn ment i s t he 1140th Engineer Battalion in Cape Girardeau.
Water and fire professional By Lt. Col. North Charles
Staff Sergeant William F. Fox serves as a Liaison Sergeant to Shinwar district and a Hydrologist Subject Matter Expert with the Agriculture Team. I n h i s r o l e a s Li a i s o n Sergeant, Fox mentors and develops Mr. Ihsanullah, the Agriculture Extension Agent in Shinwar and oversees all agriculture redevelopment projects in that district. As the team’s Hydrologist, Staff Sgt. Fox assists with all water management projects as
well. Fox says, “During this deployment, I’m assisting Afghan farmers, mingling with Afghan people, and learning their culture. Our projects in Shinwar are making tangible differences for this country.” Master Sgt. Steve Bradley the Ag Team Noncommissioned Officer In Charge explains, “Staff Sgt. Fox is a great worker who really throws himself into a project. He understands what we’re doing here and how this will
make a difference.” Fox stays in shape by weight lifting and boxing while deployed. When at home, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Laura, and six children. Fox’s ho me unit of assignment is A Co., 935th Aviation Support Battalion in Aurora where he is an Ammunition Section Chief. This is Staff Sgt. Fox’s second deployment. He also served in Somalia as a fire c hie f a nd in C ub a providing fire protection and riot control support.
Sgt. 1st Class Pharris
Sgt. 1st Class Pharris stands next to Spec. Lohmann outside one of the ADTâ€™s solar well projects.
Never one to pass up a photo, Sgt. 1st Class Pharris stands with a group of Afghan children outside a solar well project
Sgt. 1st Class Pharris by an RG-31 just before his first mission.
Sgt. 1st Class Pharris strongly believed in the education of youth as a means to change Afghanistan.
At his core, Sgt. 1st Class Pharris was an Infantryman and always wore his crossed rifles
Sgt. 1st Class Pharris was an expert on small ruminants and shared his expertise.
Sgt. 1st Class Pharris and other members of the Team stand outside a veterinary clinic.
Sgt. 1st Class Pharris enjoyed all the animals of Afghanistan, including this monkey kept at FOB Fenty.
The team comes together for a group photo opportunity while out on mission. Sgt. 1st Class Eisenbacker, Sgt. 1st Class Travis, and Sgt, Mosier
Watched over by the Security Forces, the Agricultural Team speaks with a local Afghan at a project site.
1st Lt. Wischmeyer enjoys some of the local cuisine while at the Governor’s Palace.
Capt. Huenink talks with an Afghan girl outside a project site, making a new friend.
SGT, Rios inspects and takes pictures of a solar panel array.
Spc. Terry looks through his scope, providing security while dismounted.
The ADT marches on towards another project while “outside the wire”.
Flying over Jalallabad provides a new and unique look on the city as members of the ADT head to the Governor’s Palace for a conference.
Spc. Brody stops to pet one of the many dogs running around the Rodat District Center.
MONG ADT IV Give us a holler! Name (NO RANK) MONG ADT IV FOB Finley-Shields APO, AE 09310
A HEARTY THANKS TO ALL THE FOLKS THAT HAVE SENT DONATIONS TO THE UNIT MEMBERS AND AFGHAN CHILDREN: Angela Lanaker Hero Hugs Missouri 4-H USO Maloney Family Jim and Katie Roberson Dennis O’Leary, Local 136 Fenton Rick and Mary Rutledge James Tinder Holly Cronk Alice Howard Dr. James Maxwell and Staff. Crestwood Dental Group Michelle Paluczak Operation Gratitude Janice Beydler Safety National Odessa, MO Ram Trucks Bank of America Innoventor Sabreliner Corporation Operation Christmas Tree Operation Care
Celebrating Birthdays in January Staff Sgt. Beydler
Staff Sgt. Reynolds
Sgt. 1st Class Travis
Anniversaries ● Lorrie and Robert Taggart
MONG ADT IV
The Muleskinner is an unofficial publication authorized by AR 360-1. It is published monthly by the Missouri Agribusiness Development Team IV to provide important information re-
The Muleskinner Team provides a
lated to their deployment for the Soldiers and
monthly update for families and
Airmen, their Families, units and commands,
friends of the Nangarhar Missouri
the Army, DOD and the public. Views and opinions expressed in the
National Guard Development Team.
Muleskinner are not necessarily those of the Department of the Army or DOD.
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insights and analysis on the Nangarhar Missouri National Guard Development Team’s mission. If you have questions or comments on the
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Muleskinner Report, please contact Col. Mike Fortune at Mike.Fortune@afghan.swa.army.mil
.call . . e m l l a C
Who do I call? Where do I go?
Back at the homestead • Family Readiness Group Leader Paula Ann Maloney 417.250.1703 or 417.683.3711 • ArmyOne Source 800.342.9647
• 131st Fighter Wing Coord. 314.527.6362 • 139th Fighter Air Lift Wing Coord. 816.236.3511 • Military Family Life Consultants
• Family Program Office 800.299.9603
- Child/Youth (Amy Bledsoe) 573.418.3588
• Family Assistance Center 877.236.4168
- Adult (Phil Pringle) 573.418.3588
• Deployed Pay Issues 877.276.4729 • Employer Support of Guard and Reserve 573.638.9500 ext. 7730
• JFHQ-MO Chaplain 573.638.9618
Part II of the monthly newlsetter published by the Missouri National Guard Agri-Business Development Team IV working in Nangarhar Province,...