The front page of today's Washington Post includes a 4500 word description of the days leading up to the departure of the Army's 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. The central figure of the story is its commander, Lt. Col. Ralph Kauzlarich.
This is how the story begins:
FORT RILEY, Kan. -- Their camouflage on, their wives carrying infants, their older children carrying flags, the soldiers of George W. Bush's surge crowded into a gymnasium for their brigade deployment ceremony, a last public viewing before they disappeared into Iraq.
Baghdad, long an abstraction, was now imminent. Of the 21,500 additional troops President Bush decided to send to Iraq in the coming months, about 3,500 were coming from here. "Are you frightened?" a TV reporter called out. "I'm confident," one of those soldiers replied. An enormous American flag hung on the back wall. A military band lined up in formation. "Ready to go," another soldier said.
Outside, snow was coming toward this isolated place. Inside, as the bleachers filled and the doors swung closed against the cold, a 41-year-old soldier near the middle of the floor began clapping his hands in anticipation.
And now waved at his wife and children.
And now took his position in front of the soldiers he would soon be leading into combat.
While America obsesses about Anna Nicole, and Britney, and a catfight between Hillary and Obama, 800 soldiers are right now putting their lives on the line in hopes of securing a better Iraq for its and our future generations. The Washington Post will probably never run another story on Lt. Col. Ralph Kauzlarich or his battalion. Even so, I have set up a Google news search for the battalion and for Lt. Col. Kauzlarich. I'm going to try to follow their story for the next year and I'll post here of their acheivements and heartaches along the way.