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Wolfhound Reflections – Maj (R) Chadwick Maxey

Upon arriving to Hawaii in 2005 and joining 2-27IN Wolfhounds, I could never imagined the impact that it would have on my life, both in the Army and now afterwards. I arrived during the units first week back from redeployment from Afghanistan in 2004-2005 (the first time the Battalion had been deployed as a whole unit since Vientam) and remembered the confused look on people's faces that a young Lieutenant had just missed the main event. However, time proved that I would have plenty of opportunities to serve with these men I still call brothers and the finest infantry soldiers in the Army. There was very little time for the unit to relax, as the patch chart already had 3rd Brigade going back to Iraq the following year. We had to fit individual, squad and platoon live fires (at Pohakuloa Training Area- PTA) before heading to the desert of California for the National Training Center. About half the unit was combat veterans and fortunately, most of the leadership. The training was intense, but honestly could never have prepared us for what we'd face during the next year and a half.

The 2006-2007 tour in Hawija, Iraq at Fob McHenry was one of the most difficult challenges in Iraq. GEN Petraeus once joked about Hawija remaining a "shit hole" in Iraq when everywhere things were showing progress. My company, the Hellraisers, were assigned to the city and nothing could prepare us to lose 2 casualties before we finished the Relief in Place (RIP) of the 101st Airborne (1- 327IN). Corporal Jeremy Shank continues to be honored by those who served with the Alpha Company and particularly our 11C mortar section. Darryl Weatherby, was a police adviser attachment who clearly had no issues facing the dangers of the city and should be honored as much as anyone in uniform. The next 15 months proved to be chaotic as we went from trying to pull out of Iraq to fighting our way back into each city and implementing the Counter Insurgency strategy that GEN Patraeus and LTG Odierno ordered throughout Iraq. The remaining months proved that we were capable of making progress, despite the challenges associated with the Sunni/Shia/Kurd sectarian civil war that was occurring during our watch. Another defining moment of the deployment was the announcement by President George W. Bush that all units in Iraq would be extended 3 months to implement the surge strategy to contain the civil war that was spreading. This difficult news came hard on morale, but the Wolfhounds kept marching along. Although there were countless missions, air assaults, raids and recoveries there is one mission that stands out for the deployment. The Wolfhounds were specially picked by the Division Commanding General, MG Benjamin Mixon, for Operation Lightning Hammer, a followup 25th Infantry Division operation to Arrowhead Ripper, and involved 3 Brigade Combat teams to clear the entire city of Baqubah and the Diyala River Valley. Wolfhounds fought next to 5-73 Cav out of the 82nd, 2-6 Cav out of 1st Cav Division and 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat team, the Corps reserve from Ft Lewis. This operation was the largest outside of Baghdad since the battles for Falluja and Ramadi involving over 10,000 US soldiers. The intense day to day fighting defined the deployment and the 18 Wolfhounds that made the ultimate sacrifice during that most difficult mission will never be forgotten.

In 2008, I had made it my personal mission to return to Hawaii because I knew the unit was redeploying within 11 months after returning from Iraq in 2007. After a condensed training period, the Wolfhounds were once again sent to Iraq, this time to the city of Bayji at Fob Summerall, just an hour's drive north of Tikrit, Sadam's hometown, and it's critical national oil refinery. The oil refinery was out-producing their southern counterparts, in large part due to the efforts of its Oil minister Dr. Obeidi and the protection afforded by the Headquarters Company. C Company took the city of Bayji, which remained a hotbed of insurgent activity. However, slowly, this tour began to show the fruition of the strategy implemented by the previous deployment and units. Attacks went from daily, almost hourly attacks, to weekly and monthly. Government projects began to take shape with the aid of US State Department and USAID. Although we weren't always in a combat situation, the Wolfhounds remained vigilant as many had just recently experienced the dangers of the previous deployment. The city slowly changed and no doubt in part due to the legacy of SGM Hugh O'reilly. As the then Brigade Commander stated, the duality of warrior (tough in battle against the enemy, compassionate in person to civilians) was second nature to Wolfhounds through our legacy with the Holy Family Home. We can remain vigilant and fierce, but still create progress. During the next 12 months, the Wolfhounds did kill the enemy and establish security, but they did much more by rebuilding the city and people's hope through projects like the Bujwari water pumps, the water treatment facility repair and the complete renovations of roads and the Police and government compounds. This deployment was not without its heroes and those that made the ultimate sacrifice. CPL Anaya, from Alpha Company, was KIA while driving by a dangerous Anti-Armor IED. SGT Brendan Marrocco, miraculously survived and continues to recover and astonish doctors at his amazing recovery. He recently became the first recipient of the first double arm transplant in the world. In an unfortunately replaying of the past, our Military Police attachments advising also struck tragedy. SSG Shannon Smith, CPL Zachary Myers, CPL Thomas Lyons all made the ultimate sacrifice for the progress we created that year. But those who remained were undeterred and continued their mission, despite the heart wrenching loss. Ultimately, the Wolfhounds protected each other and gave the city of Bayji and the Iraqi nation (because of the oil refinery) a true chance at progress and peace. This deployment would be defined by the fellowship of the unit and progress that we showed was possible for the war torn country.

Upon redeploying in 2009, the Wolfhounds were already notified that they would be deploying to Afghanistan just one year later again, where they again honored the legacy of the 27th Infantry Regiment during the Afghan surge in the dangerous mountains of Kunar. No complaints, just understanding by the men who wear the wolfhound crests. Despite the pain and sacrifice made, it was with great sadness that I left my family of brothers for the past 5 years. These men truly showed bravery time and time again. No one else can understand how much courage was required when every day there were no guarantees. They truly earned their motto "NO FEAR ON EARTH".

Brothers forever,

Chad Maxey (fmr Army Major)

Hellraiser 36, Hellraiser 5, Lightning 8A, No Fear 3A, Comanche 6

Tropic Lightning, Wolfhounds- NO FEAR!  

 

Mason Rick CPT, ARMY, C/2-27
Mason grew up watching war movies with his father and visiting museums dedicated to those who served. When the chance to enlist arose through a high school ROTC program, he knew he couldn't turn down the opportunity to serve his country. Mason worked as Fire Support Officer in Afghanistan, leading a team of ten men, and later became the Battalion Master Fitness Instructor. When first deployed, Mason and his team realized there was a severe lack of clean drinking water available to locals. Partnering with civilian organizations, he led a team through dangerous conditions to make water filters available to those in need. He knew it was a mission that not everyone would have taken on, but he also knew the payoff would be worth it. "It seemed like a simple decision to make," he said, "complete the mission and help the people of Afghanistan." As a veteran, Mason now lives in Cincinnati with his wife and family. He participates in local food drives, raises funds to help those in need, and is a regular blood donor.
Mason Rick's Photos

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