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321st Military Intelligence Brigade heads for duty in Afghan war zone

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Posted: Wednesday, December 28, 2005 12:00 pm | Updated: 3:15 pm, Wed Aug 15, 2012.

By Emily Baker

Killeen Daily Herald

WEST FORT HOOD New York Citys once mighty Twin Towers were once visible from Spc. John Roaches house.

That part of the city has now been scooped out and cleaned up since terrorists hijacked airliners and flew them into the buildings four years ago.

Seeing the familiar skyline without those two buildings will stick with Roache as he does his part to ensure such an attack never happens again.

It has kind of burned into my vision, Roache said, as he pointed to his eyes.

Roache; his wife, Sheila, also a specialist; and the rest of Bravo Company, 321st Military Intelligence Brigade have begun a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan. They left from Robert Gray Army Airfield on Tuesday evening.

The company is an active-duty unit assigned to a Reserve battalion based in Austin. For the last seven months, the company has been attached to Fort Hoods 303rd Military Intelligence Battalion, 504th Military Intelligence Brigade, which was responsible for training and deploying the company, said. Lt. Col. Orlando Ortiz, the 303rd Battalion commander.

At least 65 percent of the companys 90 soldiers are in their first enlistment term, Ortiz estimated. That means at least that many joined after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that thrust the United States into the very war to which they are on their way.

This company is very, very energetic, very positive, Ortiz said. They are looking forward to serving their country.

Each soldier polled who joined the Army after Sept. 11, 2001, listed the terrorist attacks in their Top 3 reasons for enlisting.

They each remembered right where they were when they learned what happened:

Pfc. Andrae McEnnis, who joined in May 2004, was lying in bed in his dorm room talking on the phone.

Pfc. Cory Brackett, who also joined in May 2004, and both Roaches, who enlisted in the summer of 2003, were all in college classes at the time.

Pfc. Chandler Lee, also a May 2004 enlistee, was a network administrator at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and worked a 72-hour shift in response to the attacks.

A lot of these young soldiers joined the Army after the attacks, and now they get to do what they joined to do, said 1st Sgt. Carl Myers, the companys top noncommissioned officer.

The company will be assigned to Combined Joint Task Force 76 and will be scattered throughout Afghanistan, Ortiz said. Their mission will be collection of counter, or force protection, intelligence and human intelligence.

We have trained really, really hard ... and havent wasted a single day, said Capt. Matthew Butt, the companys commander. We are motivated and ready to get the mission under way.

The companys soldiers were sent overseas with gifts from children. The students of Montague Elementary, which serves West Fort Hood residents, colored messages on travel pillow cases and presented them to the soldiers.

Its kind of nice to have people thinking of you, especially kids, Roache said.

Contact Emily Baker at ebaker@kdhnews.com

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