Vigilant ‘mutts’ live up to call-sign HERAT, Afghanistan – One of the many great scenes in the movie “Stripes” is when Bill Murray’s character gives the “mutt speech” telling the basic trainees how they don’t fit in anywhere else and are forced to come together to create something special. In many ways, Task Force Centurion Prime’s Vigilant (Foxtrot Co.) embodies that speech. The 1st of the 167th Infantry, the famed “Fourth Alabama,” has not had a Foxtrot Company for decades and had to create one from scratch for this deployment. Capt. Kurt Buchta and 1st Sgt. Michael Hester were tasked with combining the group of veteran 167th Soldiers and newcomers together to form the new company. “I equate us to a sand-lot baseball team getting ready to play a professional team,” Capt. Buchta said. “We were put together from all over the neighborhood at the last minute, our equipment was not up to par, the coaches didn’t know what positions everybody played; with a tenacious attitude, a good amount of practice, and constantly working on our equipment we came together as a
Task Force Centurion Prime’s Vigilant (Foxtrot Co.) is led by Capt. Kurt Buchta (right) and 1st Sgt. Michael Hester.
equipment we came together as a cohesive team, gained fan support, and turned this late entry into a winner – a force to be reckoned with.” The company that didn’t exist prior to this deployment has completed around 3,000 missions, the second most of any company in the battalion. Vigilant also has a multi-faceted mission that includes base defense,
guardian angel, movements and even TOC operations in Regional Support Command-West. 1st Sgt. Hester said it matters less where the Soldiers come from than what they do while they are here. “When you have dedication and commitment from your Soldiers like we have in Foxtrot Company and the desire to be the very best at what they do, then you will have success such as we have had,” he said. “The biggest take away is, it doesn’t matter what walks of life Soldiers come from, they will always find a way to make new friends and build strong cohesion every time and make memories that will last a lifetime.” The unit may not have a recent history, but the 167th Foxtrot Co. had a rich saga during World War I. It is a history not lost on Capt. Buchta. “We had a responsibility to history placed on our shoulders when the modern day Foxtrot Company was formed,” he said. “Tracing specific valorous actions accomplished by F Company, 167th Infantry in World War I fighting alongside the 109th French Infantry SEE VIGILANT PAGE TWO 1
VIGILANT CONTINUED FROM PAGE ONE
Regiment where two Medals of Honor were awarded to F Company Soldiers, as well as the unit being awarded the French Croix de Guerre; the realization that we were now part of something greater than ourselves became very apparent. I believe that history will tell the story of our actions here, and our ‘Fourth Alabama’ brothers who distinguished themselves during that conflict will leave a chair open at the table and raise a glass with us, for we have honored them by accomplishing our mission in their spirit.” Vigilant made its own mark on history when it successfully thwarted an insider, or “green on blue,” attack when an attacker in an Afghan National Army uniform fired on them. They not only protected themselves and those in their care, but injured and caught the attacker. “Vigilant was chosen as a call-sign to remind us that in this environment it is our actions that we control, and if or when the enemy votes our control provides a marked advantage over the enemy,” Capt. Buchta said. “This call-sign, turned mantra has proven itself reliable.”
Special “K” SFC Klaustermeier has made every modern deployment with the ‘Fourth Alabama’ When you have a name like “Klaustermeier” and you’re in the Army, you will either have your name butchered or shortened. In the case of Sgt. First Class John Klaustermeier, his fellow Soldiers have opted for the latter and Klaustermeir call him “Sgt. K.” But it’s not his name or even his towering size that will ensure “Sgt. K” holds a place in “Fourth Alabama” lore. Since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, units from the 1st of the 167th Infantry have been called to active duty four times. Sgt. First Class Klaustermeier is the only “Fourth Alabama” Soldier who has served in all four. He helped secure Ft. Rucker with Alpha Co. in 2001’s “Noble Eagle.” He then went with Alpha to Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005-2006 for a counterinsurgency mission. He would return to Iraq in 2007-2008 as a platoon sergeant with Charlie Co. conducting convoy security operations. The hardest part each time was leaving wife, Lynn, and children Chase and Kayleigh, he said. His current mission in Afghanistan as part of the newly created Foxtrot Co. has been like a combination of all of the past deployments with elements of base defense like at Ft. Rucker and counterinsurgency and convoy operations like in Iraq. “It’s kind of all rolled into one,” he said.
Task Force Centurion Prime’s Vigilant (Foxtrot Co.) has a multi-pronged mission at Camp Stone. 2
Lt. Col. J.R. Bass Commander Task Force Centurion prime Soldiers, families and friends of Task Force Centurion Prime, All over Afghanistan this month there is abundant sunshine and warm weather with mostly clear skies. While there is rain in the forecast this weekend, I am sure things will stay pretty bright anywhere you see a “Fourth Alabama” Soldier! As I write to you, we have crossed the April 1 st mark on the calendar which leaves us with less than one month of operations remaining here and plenty of smiles on these Alabama faces to keep things sunny. Over the next few weeks, the Soldiers replacing us will begin arriving and learning their individual jobs and the mission that their command will assume from us. To accomplish all of the on-the-job training required as well as making our individual preparations for leaving, our Soldiers are busier than ever. Of course, that is a very good thing and I have not heard a single complaint. By the way, if you happen not to hear from your Soldier as often during these last few weeks it is probably because we will be moving into temporary quarters and transitioning out of our normal routines. Although we have not received as many details from Camp Shelby as I had hoped for, I will update you on as much as we know right now. It now looks like we will be at Camp Shelby between May 8th and the 12th. Since that is Mother’s Day weekend, I will make every effort to dedicate the time that we are not out-processing to spend with family! We now expect that our out-processing will take 11 days but given the large size of our battalion there could be some delay. As I stated last month, once we leave Afghanistan, my mission is to get our Soldiers back to their families as quickly as possible while accomplishing all the necessary actions. These actions include ensuring our Soldiers receive any care or information that they need. I will not get our schedule and determine how much free time will be available to us until the week before our return to the States. My best estimate now is that our companies should be arriving at their armories between May 18 th and the 22nd. We have learned that Soldiers that live out of state a long distance away will be flown to their home of record. We are not sure yet if this includes Soldiers who live in a neighboring state but are still within an easy commute of their armory. All other Soldiers must leave Camp Shelby on a bus and report to their armory where you can expect to have your “Welcome Home” ceremony. Although we may need a few Soldiers to return to the armory the following day to complete some tasks, I believe that everyone will be able to go home that first night. I don’t have any new information on the “Welcome Home” ceremonies at this time, but I should be able to share those details in our final newsletter in May. Here are two final thoughts. First, we have invested so much of our lives into this mission that should our leadership see a need to shift these plans to ensure success here, we will drive forward until our job is finished. Also, please continue to lift the entire “Fourth Alabama” up in prayer daily for protection in Afghanistan and support at home! We shall drive forward! J. R. Bass
Csm John black Command sergeant major Task Force Centurion prime As we approach the closing of another successful chapter in the “Fourth Alabama” history book, here is a brief summary of previous works. The first chapter began in 1836 in preparation for the Seminole war of Florida. The setting for chapter two was 1846 in what we now call Texas. These two perhaps set the stage for future SEC Championships but I digress. The Fourth Alabama is most likely known for successes during the Civil War where the Fourth Alabama earned 13 Battle Streamers. Worldwide notoriety came in France in 1917 earning six more Battle Streamers and two Medals of Honor during World War I. Each one of these Soldiers here with us today owns a piece of this history book. The Global War on Terror chapter began in 2001 with companies securing military bases throughout Alabama followed by Alpha and Charlie companies deploying in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2005-08 including teams deploying to Afghanistan prior to the Battalion’s present mission. The blood, sweat and tears they have shed this theater of operations contribute to the lineage of the “Fourth Alabama.” Again I express my pride for each of these wonderful Warriors who reached deep inside themselves and brought out all they have to build this team that is so well known and respected throughout Afghanistan. The confidence that the forces to our flanks have in us is overwhelming. The “Fourth Alabama” is the preferred security element in Afghanistan. The comrades we have made come from every part of the globe and know us as their friend. They affix our Tab onto anything imaginable. I’ve even seen working dogs and foreign aircraft crews with “Fourth Alabama” tabs stuck to them. Many greet us with a “Roll Tide” as if it were a proper greeting in the English language (it is). One of our interpreters has been known to quote Jeff Foxworthy which is even more hilarious with an Afghan accent. He has even been trusted to fist fight his own countrymen in the streets of Kabul alongside our Soldiers. My favorite duty here is to travel the country and listen to the Soldiers talk about their experiences and how they handle different situations. Their use of personal vignettes to structure training and future operations is amazing to witness. The Shonna Ba Shonna (Shoulder to Shoulder) concept has caught on with them and they work very well with their coalition counterparts. The impending closure of this chapter is bittersweet. My faith is not to study war, however those that I study and practice war alongside enhance my faith. I would like to dedicate this article to all the wonderful Soldiers of the 167th Infantry with whom I have had the honor of serving with during my 30 years in the Alabama National Guard. 4th ALABAMA! 10 CSM John Black
Cpt Robert jackson chaplain Task Force Centurion prime Jeremiah 29:14 "...I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations...and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile." As I thought about coming home this story in Scripture came to mind. The Jews were living in exile and God was promising of the time when they would return home. What excitement they must have felt at the thought of returning to their homeland! What anticipation they must have had, looking forward to that day when they would be restored to their people! Times like these stand as reminders to God's goodness. Certainly we are not Ancient Israel exiled for 70 years, but moments like this (nearing the end of deployment) take me to certain Biblical texts as I feel similar emotions. We are going home. It won't be long. I may not know the exact hour or day but I know it will be soon. This reminds me of another homecoming even greater the one that will come at the end of this deployment. It will be my homecoming with my Lord, who has prepared for me a ". . . city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God." (Hebrews 11:10) While over here I have been a sojourner, a wanderer â€“ one who has been on a mission but will one day return home. Likewise, my journey through this world is as a sojourner passing through, who, by God's grace, is headed toward his real home. This is what I hope this deployment has afforded you: The opportunity to grow in your faith and see the similarities that teach us what it means to be a pilgrim in a world that is not our own. Let moments like this draw you closer to God. May God continue to bless us all as we near the end, and thank Him for his mercy and grace through the journey. Not just the journey of deployment, but the journey of life. Serving Those Who Serve, Your Chaplain CH CPT Robert Jackson
POST-DEPLOYMENT YELLOW RIBBON Yellow Ribbon I: July 13-14
NO MORE MAIL AFTER THESE DATES
Yellow Ribbon II: August 10-11
10 APRIL TO CAMP PHOENIX
Birmingham Sheraton Hotel
6 APRIL TO EVERYWHERE ELSE
Task Force Centurion Prime is on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TaskForceCenturion 11
A U.S. flag and photo from 1st Platoon, E Co., 1st of the 167th Infantry has earned a place in “Nick’s Corner of the Paul “Bear” Bryant Museum at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
The next time you’re in the Paul “Bear” Bryant Museum, you might find 1st Platoon, E Co., 1st of the 167th Infantry. The platoon has been honored with its group picture and an American Flag placed on permanent display at the University of Alabama destination. This flag was carried on combat missions by 1st Platoon, Firescout, and Task Force Pirate. The flag and certificates were presented as a gift to Nick and Terry Saban by SPC Johnny Box. Coach Saban then contacted the museum and had space made available in his section of the museum. Coach Saban said he was “honored to have received the items from 1st Platoon, and that they were placed in ‘Nick’s Corner’ of the museum with honor.” It’s the latest honor the “Fourth Alabama” has earned in its 150 years. 1st platoon “Evil Angels” operates out of FOB Kunduz, although the soldiers are already prepping for a move to a sweet home thousands of miles away in a few days. They have served as SECFOR, guarding and transporting personnel travelling to various sites throughout the Kunduz, Baghlan and Takhar provinces. 1st Platoon is ably led by 1st Lt. Matthew Canales and Staff Sgt. Jonathan Thompson.
Bottom will have “4th Alabama” tab and “OEF 20122013” along with custom serial number (167INF###) BEER SOLD SEPARATELY!
Be sure to mark you deployment with: Smith & Wesson M&P15 MOE rifle Colt 1911 pistol with engraved handles Glock G21SF pistol Smith & Wesson .45ACP All are engraved with “Fourth Alabama” tabs and/or Task Force Centurion Prime logos and other special engravings to mark the first deployment of the battalion since World War II. All, including knives and accessories, are offered at deeply discounted prices. Contact Sgt. First Class Easlick at firstname.lastname@example.org before 1 May to order.
A “Fourth Alabama” edition of the Battle Mug is being offered for $150, nearly half the retail price, to mark the 1st of the 167th Infantry’s OEF deployment. It comes with an M16 handle and rails that can be tricked out the same as a weapon’s rails. Contact your company rep or Maj. Tomberlin at email@example.com before 15 April to reserve your Battle Mug. 12
Published on Apr 7, 2013
Published on Apr 7, 2013
April 2013 newsletter for Task Force Centurion Prime (1st of the 167th Infantry, "Fourth Alabama") and its OEF deployment