Soldier's Diary: Army Reenlistment Up, Soldiers Get Recognized in Iraq

Editor's note: U.S. Army Capt. Dan Sukman is serving a one-year deployment to Iraq. For previous entries and his bio, see the Soldier's Diary archives.

28 June 2006

Thank God it's Wednesday. Another Tuesday done and over with. Things are about back to normal this week following last week's events. Click here to read the latest on that story.

For a good six days or so, there seemed to be an uneasy feeling, like something you would get if you knew Jason Voorhees were chasing after you. There are good things happening here, and when you want to hear good news all you have to do is talk to the soldiers here.

We had a reenlistment ceremony towards the end of last week. Sgt. Andre Washington, my company supply sergeant, took his oath of reenlistment and told the Army he is on board for another six years.

Sgt. Washington has been serving with us since the start of this deployment. He was a key element in my change of command inventories, having helped account for over $10 million worth of equipment. He was specifically asked to come down for the inventories, as he is considered the supply expert within our battalion.

Like the other NCOs [non-commissioned officers] I have talked about, Sgt. Washington has a family back in the States that with the exception of this two weeks of mid-tour leave he has not seen all year. I am sure he misses them deeply, but he always goes about his job in a cool, reasoned manner. He will never complain about the hardships endured over here lest it affect his work or the morale of his soldiers. This is his second deployment; he spent seven months at a place called LSA Anaconda on his last trip over here.

The reenlistment rate over here has far surpassed our yearly goals. There are a couple of reasons behind this, some of it amounts to timing, as a number of soldiers have reached the point where they have to make the decision. Some of the reenlistments are probably due to the tax free bonuses that can be received, while others simply due to the joy of serving one's country. On most, I think it is a combination of the three.

Later in the week, we will be having a promotion ceremony for three of our soldiers, along with an awards ceremony for some of our soldiers who will be receiving the Combat Action Badge or CAB. The soldiers are receiving the CAB for having been under enemy contact; in most cases, this amounts to having been in the vicinity of an IED strike on their convoy. They are just a few of the many within this unit that have either received the CAB or CIB [Combat Infantry Badge] throughout the last nine-and-a-half months.

Promotions, awards, and reenlistments are about the three best things you can do as a commander. The ceremonies are always nice, as someone — be it the commander or the person chosen to promote the soldier — is always asked to say some nice words about the soldier.

In the big picture, these actions occur on almost a daily basis; at the start of every month, a certain number of soldiers will be promoted. Every day, soldiers over here are doing their part and earning various awards — to write about each medal given out would take an eternity. These events do not produce any earth shattering news, but for the soldiers being recognized, it is their time.

E-mail Captain Dan at Click here to read his bio.