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Welcome Home young veterans...we are proud of you!
Tri-County Courier by Kehn Gibson, staff writer. Posted 8/22/03
Four soldiers from the Klamath Basin – the latest in a tradition of service that stretches back to World War I — have returned from Iraq safe and sound and will soon visit their families.
Sgt. Stephanie Loughry of the 101st Airborne and a co-valedictorian of the 1995 class of Tulelake High School, reached our shores Aug. 3, her mother, Denise Chambers, reported.
Loughry, who left a one-year-old daughter and a husband behind when she was deployed, is scheduled to leave again Oct. 2 for Germany.
Because Stephanie is so busy,
both in getting reattached to her family and
preparing for her next deployment, Chambers said she
is avoiding talking with the media.
Chambers said her daughter will be in Tulelake "around Fair time," and the Tulelake Chamber of Commerce has already arranged for a military vehicle from Kingsley Field to participate in the parade Sept. 6 to carry Stephanie.
Rudy Idrogo, also of Tulelake, served as a Navy medic assigned to a Marine unit pushing into Baghdad along the Tigris River. He returned stateside June 1, and his mother, Cuca, reports he will be passing through this weekend.
Cuca Idrogo, who for many years worked as a hair stylist in Tulelake, said her joy in the safety of her son was tempered only by her pride in him.
"He went through a lot, but he is okay," she said. "He went to do his duty, and I am so proud of him."
Merrill’s Mario Cobian, a 1999 Lost River High graduate, served in the Seventh Marines as they pushed north into the Iraqi capitol. He returned to San Diego June 24 his father, Javier Cobian, said.
"I went down to see him," Javier said. "I was very excited. I was so happy to see him. The only problem he said he had was all the time he couldn’t sleep."
Javier Cobian is a quiet man, and when asked if he was proud of his son he struggled to find the words.
"He did something he believed in, and I respect that very much," Javier said. "I may not agree with it, but I am still by his side, no matter what people may say." A quiet descended upon us, broken by a firmer voice from Javier’s end.
"Some of these questions, I don’t know if I gave the right answers," he said. "But I answered what I feel."
Crystal Carroll hugged her son as soon as she saw him last week in Malin.
"You have to touch them to make sure everything is all right," she said. "A phone call isn’t enough."
Shane Carroll drove a Bradley fighting vehicle for Charlie Company of the First battalion, Third Division of the U.S. Army. The Third was the first American force to enter into Iraq, and drove the western flank of the attack right into Baghdad.
During the short, five day drive into the heart of Iraq —"It was like one very long day; we didn’t sleep until we were five days into it..." —Shane would rotate from being the driver to being a "dismount."
"A dismount means, when it happens, you lock and load and get out on foot," Shane said. "It was tense. The sergeant would call out ‘Two minutes to dismount,’ and I would sit there, legs shaking, until we would hustle out. Anything moves, fire. Be safe, make sure your buddies are safe, and do the mission. In one stretch we did that a dozen times in two hours."
Shane said Charlie Company hit organized resistance only on the drive north, yet it would quickly fade in the face of the Third Division’s tactics.
Once, he said, his Bradley was the "lead element," responsible for laying down suppressing fire on any hostile action that hit the vehicles following behind. Passing through a small village, rear units began taking fire from some of the houses lining the route.
Wheeling around, Shane said his Bradley immediately knocked out a heavy weapon firing into the convoy, yet his Bradley lost a track in the sudden maneuver.
Calling the combat engineers for a tow bar, Shane said they were told the 350-pound bar would be left 1,000 meters to the rear. In the moment of decision, Shane said there was no time to be scared.
"Our squad leader said ‘You, you and you, go get that bar,’ and we took off,’ Shane said, his toe tapping rapidly on the floor. "It was nuts. We ran back, through the ambush, and there was small arms fire everywhere. We got to the bar, picked it up, and ran faster than we did getting there."
After the Iraqi capitol fell, the Third was assigned to checkpoint duty. Crystal, Shane’s mother, remembers the transition all too well.
"Like everybody, we watched the news all the time," Crystal said. "Then, nothing, it all went away, but we knew he was still there. It was horrible."
On the day Shane’s story ran in this paper, April 4, four members of the Third were killed by a car bomb at a checkpoint west of Baghdad. They were the first Americans to die by hostile action after hostilities formally ended.
But he is home now, a new sense of honor, and wonder, pervading his every move. The second thing he noticed was his daughter, Nataja.
"Man, she is talking now, and walking everywhere," Shane said, a boyish glee flushing his face.
The first thing he noticed, Shane said, was his wife Candice.
"She is so independent now, so strong," he said. "I watch everything, how she and my little girl relate to each other. It’s really amazing."
Shane chuckles in a way that reminds one that he will not be 21 until Oct. 28.
"Man, I go to fight a war and come back to find out she is the boss!" he says, now laughing out loud.
Ultimately, Shane says, the experience has made him more certain of his priorities.
"It feels like I did something worthwhile," he said. "Something bigger than me, but I like the idea of doing something for this country."
Page Updated: Saturday February 25, 2012 05:33 AM Pacific
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