Story by SSG Samuel Northrup on 04/20/2017JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. For more than 15 years, the U.S. Army has been fighting in Afghanistan the longest conflict in United States history. Soldiers of C Troop, 1st Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, are some of the recent Soldiers to deploy there for Operation Freedom Sentinel.
Deploying to Afghanistan in early February 2017, the Soldiers are supporting the 16th Combat Aviation Brigade.
"Afghanistan is truly is a beautiful place," said Spc. Ryan Muir, a medic with C Troop. "There are a lot more mountains than I imagined and it makes for a great view every day. In other circumstances I would gladly come here to visit."
His previous deployments were counter-insurgency based that were focused on disrupting the enemy in a sector, said Staff Sgt. Timothy Oremus, a section leader with C Troop and a Smithfield, Rhode Island, native. This mission is in support of possible downed aircraft.
The tactics, movement and support are very different than what Oremus is used to. Coming from the Stryker-based Cavalry Squadron conducting reconnaissance operations, this mission entails a light air assault force for conducting security operations in support of U.S. forces.
"We had the opportunity to cross train with Air Force Para-rescue Jumpers (PJs), Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC), Tactical Air Control Party (TAC-P), and Security Forces (SF) and with allies from the United Kingdom, Czech Republic, and Afghanistan," said 1st Lt. Andrew Frazier, a platoon leader with C Troop.
Staff Sgt. Rinson Neth, a Section Leader with C Troop and a Pohnpei, Micronesia, native, said he was deployed to Afghanistan 2009-2010. He said It's amazing how many resources and how much manpower has been poured into the country to support the mission. There are so many different countries are willing to work together to re-build Afghanistan.
"I believe the mission of Operation Freedom Sentinel is extremely important and mitigates terrorism," said Sgt. Gabriel Mercado, a team leader with C Troop who is originally from Las Vegas, Nevada. "As Americans, we must not only increase our security back home but assist the country of Afghanistan in bringing peace to its nation."
The Afghan people are a hard working group of individuals that want to make their country better, said Sgt. Alexander Raymond, a team leader with C Troop from Portland, Oregon. They need all the help they can get from the coalition forces to help structure a safe and stable environment for their families and loved ones.
"That is what keeps me motivated day to day: knowing I have people that care and are waiting for me back home," said Spc. Sanz St. Jean, a C Troop assistant gunner from Ft. Myers, Florida. "All the love and support we receive while overseas keeps me motivated to keep driving on and make it back to the states."