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UNSUNG HEROES: The Soldier Who Rode A John Deere ATV Into Battle
On Nov. 1, 2010, a young Afghan approached Sgt. Felipe Pereira and his team on a shiny motorcycle near the end of a daily dismounted patrol. Pereira checked his pockets and bike for explosives, the soldier later told Stars and Stripes, and finding nothing, shook the rider's hand. The calm and collected Afghan smiled at Pereira, and as the squad turned away toward the base, the motorist detonated explosives hidden on his vehicle.
Pereira, a team leader with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, had a weird feeling that something would go wrong that morning on their patrol. He decided to alter their path that usually ran along the perimeter of the expanse that separated their combat outpost from the city of Senjaray in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. Winding through the middle, the patrol crossed the expanse safely and were headed home when the motorist approached.
He responded well to Pereira’s hand signals, and when the explosion occurred, the soldiers assumed it was from an improvised explosive device, not the young Afghan who politely cooperated moments before. They would later learn otherwise.
Two patrol members were killed instantly and four others sustained severe injuries. Pereira himself received shrapnel wounds to his spleen, liver, and left lung, according to his citation.
After the explosion, Pereira looked down to see his legs bleeding, riddled with holes. Within seconds, Taliban fighters surrounded the surviving men on three sides and opened fire.
The outpost was just behind them, but the Taliban were everywhere; dodging through trees, and taking pot shots from the market. Out of necessity, Pereira ran inside the base and found a John Deere Gator used to haul trash.
“That thing was bare bones,” Pereira told Stars and Stripes. “It was nothing you would ever take to combat whatsoever.
His lung began to collapse as he hurried to the base, choking him from the inside, but Pereira refused medical treatment because his men were alone, wounded, and needed help.
Struggling to breathe, Pereira rode the John Deere back into heavy enemy fire to provide a chance to evacuate his wounded soldiers, his citation recounts. Making it within 20 meters, he provided cover fire from his seat as his fellow soldiers loaded two of the wounded aboard. Bullets ricocheted off the vehicle, narrowly missing Pereira.
He made it back to the outpost with the wounded where medics waited to receive them. He then quickly returned with the vehicle to the battle to evacuate the remaining wounded men.
Once Pereira made it back inside the base with all his men safe, he took his helmet off and collapsed.
Pereira would recover from his injuries and return to his patrol duties a month later.
U.S. Army Sgt. Felipe Pereira an infantryman from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team "Strike", 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) sits with his wife, Candi and his mother, Denise, during the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) award ceremony for Pereira at McAuliffe Hall, Fort Campbell, Ky. on April 12, 2012.U.S. Army Photo by Sam Shore.
“I had people tell me, ‘Man, you’ve already paid your dues, go home now,’” Pereira told Stars and Stripes. “That was one day. I don’t want to be measured for the rest of my life against one day.
“I’d been in so many firefights prior to that. I was in so many firefights after that. But I wouldn’t feel right as a man to go home and let the other guys stay there.”
According to his Army biography, Pereira was born in Brazil and moved to the United States for college when he was 17 years old. Pereira enlisted in the Army in 2009, three years after earning a college degree. He would become a U.S. citizen in February of 2010 and deploy to Afghanistan the same year. Six months later, Pereira earned the second-highest commendation for valor in combat, the Distinguished Service Cross, for his actions that day.
“I couldn’t care less about my medal,” Pereira told Stars and Stripes. “I’m tremendously proud of it, but if there’s one thing we could take out of this entire thing is the sacrifice of those who never came back. They’re the real heroes.”
13 Marines at Camp Pendleton charged with crimes related to smuggling of undocumented immigrants from Mexico
Thirteen Marines have been formally charged for their alleged roles in a human smuggling ring, according to a press release from 1st Marine Division released on Friday.
The Marines face military court proceedings on various charges, from "alleged transporting and/or conspiring to transport undocumented immigrants" to larceny, perjury, distribution of drugs, and failure to obey an order. "They remain innocent until proven guilty," said spokeswoman Maj. Kendra Motz.
The recruiting commercials for the Army Reserve proclaim "one weekend each month," but the real-life Army Reserve might as well say "hold my beer."
That's because the weekend "recruiting hook" — as it's called in a leaked document compiled by Army personnel for the new chief of staff — reveal that it's, well, kinda bullshit.
When they're not activated or deployed, most reservists and guardsmen spend one weekend a month on duty and two weeks a year training, according to the Army recruiting website. But that claim doesn't seem to square with reality.
"The Army Reserve is cashing in on uncompensated sacrifices of its Soldiers on a scale that must be in the tens of millions of dollars, and that is a violation of trust, stewardship, and the Army Values," one Army Reserve lieutenant colonel, who also complained that his battalion commander "demanded" that he be available at all times, told members of an Army Transition Team earlier this year.
According to an internal Army document, soldiers feel that the service's overwhelming focus on readiness is wearing down the force, and leading some unit leaders to fudge the truth on their unit's readiness.
"Soldiers in all three Army Components assess themselves and their unit as less ready to perform their wartime mission, despite an increased focus on readiness," reads the document, which was put together by the Army Transition Team for new Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville and obtained by Task & Purpose. "The drive to attain the highest levels of readiness has led some unit leaders to inaccurately report readiness."
Lt. Gen. Eric J. Wesley, who served as the director of the transition team, said in the document's opening that though the surveys conducted are not scientific, the feedback "is honest and emblematic of the force as a whole taken from seven installations and over 400 respondents."
Those surveyed were asked to weigh in on four questions — one of which being what the Army isn't doing right. One of the themes that emerged from the answers is that "[r]eadiness demands are breaking the force."
The Army thinks China will surpass Russia by 2028. Here is how the service is planning to take them on.
If you've paid even the slightest bit of attention in the last few years, you know that the Pentagon has been zeroing in on the threat that China and Russia pose, and the future battles it anticipates.
The Army has followed suit, pushing to modernize its force to be ready for whatever comes its way. As part of its modernization, the Army adopted the Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) concept, which serves as the Army's main war-fighting doctrine and lays the groundwork for how the force will fight near-peer threats like Russia and China across land, air, sea, cyber, and space.
But in an internal document obtained by Task & Purpose, the Army Transition Team for the new Chief of Staff, Gen. James McConville, argues that China poses a more immediate threat than Russia, so the Army needs make the Asia-Pacific region its priority while deploying "minimal current conventional forces" in Europe to deter Russia.
In leaked documents, Army family reports waiting weeks to have gas line and roof leaks fixed in on-base housing
As the saying goes, you recruit the soldier, but you retain the family.
And according to internal documents obtained by Task & Purpose, the Army still has substantial work to do in addressing families' concerns.