CAPT. ENRIQUE T. VASQUEZ
Andrew Crout, infantryman, Company B,|
1st Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment,
Oklahoma Army National Guard, watches his
sector of fire as he scans the horizon
while pulling site security at a remote Patriot missile battery tactical site
in Southwest Asia.
ASIA - As Patriot air defense batteries keep a vigilant eye over the skies of
the Middle East, poised and ready to engage Iraqi missiles, the question may be
asked; who will protect
The critical mission of protecting
the air defense units in the gulf region during this conflict has fallen to the
men of the 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment, Oklahoma Army National Guard,
who make up 'Security Force Tomahawk.'
Soldiers of the 179th wear the yellow
Native American bird with red background 45th Infantry Brigade patch. The history
of this unit can be traced back to 1890 with the formation of the Militia of the
territory of Oklahoma. The Oklahoma National Guard has served in the Spanish-American
War, Mexican Border Conflict, World War I, World War II, Korean Conflict and Desert
The men of the 179th have a long history of being up front and close
to the fight, however, this time their fight is protecting our air defenders from
a terrorist and Iraqi threat.
this mission is different, it seems to be more important," said Spc. Christopher
Harris, infantryman, Company B, 1st Bn., 179th Inf., OKARNG. "Protecting
Patriot is ever so vital to everything around the Middle East including U.S. servicemembers."
Listening to the men of the 179th explain
why they are here is like listening to the words of some patriotic
script from a Hollywood movie.
were sent for one job: to guard Patriot and we will do it the best we can,"
said Spc. Eli Davis, infantryman, Company B, 1st Bn., 179th, Inf.
the conditions, our guys will do whatever it takes to get the job done,"
said Harris. "Most of us are just farm boys with a few city boys mixed in,"
said Spc. Raymond Henry,
Brian Nickel, infantryman, B Co., 1st Bn., 179th Infantry Regt., OkArNG, performs
a communications check over|
radio while pulling on-site security at a remote
Patriot missile battery tactical site in SWA.
infantryman, Company B, 1st Bn., 179th Inf.
guys at our armory are buddies that grew up with each other, these guys are friends
you grew up with," said Spc. Stephen Rogers, infantryman, Company B, 1st
Bn., 179th Inf. "You might say we are hometown boys, it's 'kinda' that way
Everybody knows what everybody is thinking, because you all grew
up together and you are more in-tune to each others' thoughts."
do the soldiers of the 179th consider themselves family, in some cases the relation
is literal. "In this unit we have a set of twins and a father with two sons
serving among us," explained Harris.
"We have a very close relationship,
even back home in the states we are like one big family. For example if I needed
money or something I could borrow it from someone at the armory," said Sgt.
Jeffrey Smith, infantryman, Co. B, 1st Bn., 179th Inf.
Family and friends
may be an important factor in the cohesion of the 179th, but the training is equally
significant to these guardsmen. "Before deploying, weekend drills were a
issue. Our training was pretty packed and nonstop,"
"We are always training. Even here, we have been training in infantry tactics,
close combat optics and the new M4 carbine," said Spc. Andrew Crout, infantryman,
Co. B. The M4 Carbine is a more compact version of the M16A2 weapons system.
A sense of family and emphasis on training may be of worth to the men of the 179th,
but the motivation they carry in their hearts is the driving factor that makes
these soldiers good at whatever they do.
emails and letters we receive are filled with support, 'we are behind you, get
the job done'," said Staff Sgt. Darryl Easley, operations noncommissioned
officer, 1st Battalion, 179th Inf. "It is interesting what the school kids
have to say when they write to us: 'Don't get dead', shoot first," said Harris.
"It is the email and letters that keep us motivated."
here are two sons (Sgt. Travis Secrest, right), (Spc. John Secrest, left) and
a father (Sgt. John Secrest, center) currently serving with Company B, 1st attalion,
179th Infantry Regiment, Oklahoma Army National Guard.|
All in all,
the soldiers of 'Security Force Tomahawk,' know they play a prestigious role in
this conflict. "We are proud to assist the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense
Command in providing security for the Patriot forces, we are happy to be part
effort," said Maj. Mike Thompson, infantry officer, 1st Battalion,
179th Inf. "By pulling the security for the Patriots, we allow
to be concerned about their job and allowing them to do that job," said Harris.
PHOTOS BY CAPT. ENRIQUE VASQUEZ