Tuesday, June 13, 2006

101st Airborne in Iraq

Michael Fumento has exclusive coverage, with the "Band of Brothers."

Fumento has video of a firefight in Ramadi. (Right-click on the link and choose "Save as ..." to download.)

Don Surber suggests a timetable for withdrawal. ("... and then we'll fight them on the ice!")

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Also blogging: BlackFive, Free Republic, Dan Riehl, Sith Empire , BlackFlag ...

The 101st is some baa-aad dudes, by the way. Madstrider, a 101st veteran, once got angry at me. I never want to see him angry again.

The 101st has taken its share of casualties, including First Sgt. Clarence D. McSwain, 31, of Meridian, Miss. He had been promoted to Sergeant First Class in March. He was on his third tour of Iraq when he was killed June 8:
A Meridian native and the father of four, McSwain ... of injuries sustained when a roadside bomb detonated near his convoy vehicle during combat operations, the Department of Defense said.

McSwain, 31, a 12-year Army veteran, was serving his third tour of duty in Iraq. He was the oldest of five siblings.

His sister, Ashley McSwain, 25, spoke for the family when reached by phone. She said he always was very protective of his family, especially his younger sisters, an impulse that Ashley McSwain says drew him to the Army.

"He was like that wherever he went. He wanted to protect people," McSwain said. "I think the world lost a good person. He was one of the best brothers anyone could have."

Maj. Nathan Banks, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, said McSwain was traveling in a convoy near Al Kut, about 115 miles southeast of Baghdad, when soldiers noticed a possible bomb near the roadside.

McSwain and another soldier got out of their vehicle to identify the bomb, and it exploded as they approached, Banks said. The other soldier was not killed.

McSwain is survived by a wife, Kendra, two daughters, Krista and Jakayla, a stepdaughter, Jasmin, and an infant son, Kenneth.

Ashley McSwain said her brother had only seen his 5-month-old son once, when the sergeant was home on leave for Kenneth's birth in January.

Sgt. McSwain didn't have to be in Iraq. He'd already done two tours, and was back for a third because he "wanted to protect people." And look how he died: He was a senior NCO, and could have ordered a private to investigate that bomb. Instead, he investigated it himself. He died like he lived, protecting people. And then there's this:

McSwain's father, the Rev. Theodis McSwain, is pastor of Gilfield Missionary Baptist Church in Pushmataha, Ala.

The soldier was a 1993 graduate of Meridian High School, where he played football and was an honors graduate.

He majored in English at the University of Southern Mississippi before enlisting in the Army at 19.

I know a young conservative activist, just out of college. I told him four months ago, "Boy, you better get your butt to the recruiting office."

There's no shortage of College Republicans -- the girls can handle that job for now -- but America needs boots on the ground. Enlist tomorrow, and you could be in Iraq in six months.

-- McCAIN