Letter from CPT E. Les Minges
Commander, D Co, 2/8th CAV Iraq
Dear Angry Skipper, I hope that the fall into winter has gone well for all of you. The only semblance of changing season in Iraq is the ripening of the citrus groves and some of the apple and pomegranate orchards have a variety of standard fall leaf colors to walk through or drive by on patrols.
On 10 NOV 09 I took command of D CO from James Mijares. The ceremony was short and to the point, which is a good thing-no reason to keep Soldiers in formation for two CPTs to hand the guidon back and forth.
Below is a bit about me:
I am from Tuscaloosa, Alabama and like the fact that I grew up there, but cannot see myself returning at any point for anything other than a visit.
I enlisted during high school in 1997 with the job of air defense systems maintenance for the patriot system. It sounded really neat and a close enough runner up to the jobs that I wanted to do-medic or helicopter crew chief. After a year in Korea and almost a year at Fort Bliss, TX, I went to the West Point prep school. It's a place where they take enlisted Soldiers and teach them math and English skills (as well as a ton of PT) to qualify for an appointment to West Point. I liked it a lot and learned a lot. West Point was easy as a former Soldier, except the whole "school" part, a challenge I'll blame on being a product of the Alabama public education system.
D CO means an awful lot to me. I came to D CO originally in December of 2005 and was a platoon leader of 2nd PLT. We, through the task force organization during the deployment of 06-08, were sliced over to B CO. I was really sad that we were sliced away from D CO and asked several times to get our PLT swapped back. During that time, we had the same mission to D CO, but about 5 miles down the road instead of in Tarmiyah. After the VBIED, my tank and one other Bradley from B CO got to Tarmiyah itself slightly before the strykers did, it seemed like it took hours before we were able to get all the way to D CO's patrol base and provide direct fire support to Cory Wallace and his Soldiers. My medic, PFC Dillard (now SGT) was able to help SPC Patterson (the onsite medic) treat Soldiers prior to Evac. All of the Angry Skipper former Infantryman would be proud of the fact that my tank's gunner was an 11B, PFC Timmons, (now SGT) and perfectly used the system to engage targets with the main gun and machine gun to relieve the pressure off of the Soldiers on the roof of the patrol base. For the rest of my life I will never live down the thoughts that we didn't get there fast enough and did not shoot enough.
About three weeks later I became the XO of A CO. It was and still is a great Infantry company. We did a lot of missions using helicopters to pick a fight or capture those that needed the attention west of Taji. It was a crazy feeling every time we got dropped off and the helicopters flew away and the quiet returned. No matter what, I always found the mudhole or the slippery canal bank the hard way. Perhaps you all can remember the great feelings you got when the pickup aircraft's noise was finally audible. On one occasion as we took off the helicopter began discharging flares over a palm grove, illuminating the bushy topped palms and the citrus groves below them. As I looked out from my seat, I couldn't help but feel a connection to the efforts and sacrifice of the Angry Skippers and so many others at 200 feet and 120 miles an hour. Well, that feeling and a bit of excitement that I would be able to sleep in a bed that night after a long shower.
After returning, I got engaged to my then girlfriend, Corrie, who had been writing me almost daily letters the whole deployment and showed a level of caring for me and my Soldiers that I had never seen from anyone before. We got married in her hometown, Thibodaux, LA on August 9th, 2008. That day was the 1 year anniversary of the double VBIED bombing of the A CO patrol base in Hor Al Bosh. This time, the only flying debris was the occasional champagne cork and the only explosions were from laughter during speeches!
If I can express anything to you all its this:
I care for D CO more than I ever thought I could and will focus the efforts of my life to ensure that it has everything it needs from a Company Commander-Soldiers deserve that and a whole lot more. The fact that the Angry Skippers association exists today lets me know the value and importance of D CO Soldiers' lives; it makes me want to do what I can to ensure that we can make you all proud to call us CO D, 2nd Battalion, 8th U.S. Cavalry.
I will update the facebook page in the next couple of days to include some photos from our most recent company operation.
E. Les Minges
CDR, D CO
2nd Battalion, 8th U.S. Cavalry
HONOR AND COURAGE!