Headquarters Platoon


Brothers fulfill the promise of one fallen.

(Article by Major George Chigi and Captain Kapualani Ampong-Duke. Photos courtesy of 3-1 AD Public Affairs Office, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, 7 JUN 2014.)

Soldiers dressed in full Army Dress Blues filled the front seats of Mountain View High School graduation ceremony on June 7, 2014; a unique sight, even for a city located just outside a military installation. As Lluvia Loeza’s name was called, the Soldiers rose to their feet and rendered a salute.

Lluvia’s brother, Staff Sgt. Roberto Loeza, Jr., was an Infantry Rifle Squad Leader and Headquarters Platoon Sergeant in Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division out of Fort Bliss, Texas. He deployed with the unit to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2011. Before leaving, he made a promise to his youngest sister, Lluvia, that he would be at her graduation to watch her walk the stage. 

Roberto died of injuries sustained by indirect fire on May 25, 2012 while serving in Logar Province, Afghanistan. 

Roberto’s brother, Esteban, wanted to surprise their sister. He sent out a message through Facebook to Roberto’s old unit asking for volunteers to stand in his place. The call was answered immediately. 

Though the majority of the unit is deployed once again to Afghanistan, the Battalion’s rear detachment known as Task Force Stalwart West led by the Battalion Executive Officer, Maj. George Chigi, along with Maj. Christopher Penwarden and Sgt. 1st Class Bernie Brooks, organized a group of Soldiers to attend Lluvia’s graduation. 

More than 30 Soldiers from 1-4 Infantry Battalion attended the graduation. Also in attendance were several Soldiers from the Fort Bliss area that knew Roberto well, including Penwarden and Sgt. 1st Class Jason Yeazel. 

Lluvia was completely surprised by the Straight and Stalwart Battalion Soldiers who gathered in their Army Service Uniforms. Making the event even more special for her, Major Chigi received permission from the school district’s superintendent to present Lluvia with her high school diploma. 

Staff Sgt. William Berry, a member of Charlie Company and a friend and comrade of Roberto, stated that, “Staff Sgt. Roberto Loeza, Jr. was a loving and caring father and family man. His Soldiers held him in very high regard and respected his leadership and presence.”

Lluvia was just as impressive as her older brother; her discipline and drive earned her the distinction of the 4th highest grade point average in her high school. Lluvia’s brother is sure to have been proud to know that Lluvia’s efforts earned her more than $100,000 in college scholarships.

The entire Loeza family was overwhelmed with emotion. They were happy to see so much support from the Straight and Stalwart Battalion for their son and Lluvia. The families of the other graduating students were awestruck by 1-41 Infantry Battalion as it rendered honors to Lluvia, the family, and Roberto.

“It was a very emotional and uplifting event for us and the family. All in all, we fulfilled a fallen Soldier’s promise and we did it with pride and honor and represented the 1-41 Infantry Battalion with nothing but the utmost respect and pleasure doing it for the family,” said Brooks, the Charlie Company First Sergeant.

As the 1-41 Infantry Battalion soldiers gathered to say goodbye to the Loeza family, Berry presented Lluvia with a Straight and Stalwart Battalion coin. These coins are traditionally only given by the Battalion Commander and Command Sergeant Major to Soldiers for extreme excellence in the performance of their duties. Lluvia was also presented with a Bulldog Brigade coin.

Lightning at Bourheim by Larry Selman

“Technical Sergeant Joseph A. Farinholt, known as “Lightning Joe” to his buddies, had already earned three Silver Stars in the five and a half months since his unit had landed on Omaha Beach on June 7, 1944. A Guardsman from Baltimore, Maryland, Farinholt was acting platoon leader for the anti-tank platoon of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 175th Infantry, 29th Infantry Division when he earned his fourth and final Silver Star in late November, 1944. No known enlisted man in the U.S. Army earned four Silver Stars during the entire war, much less over such a short span of time.

“On November 26, 1944 the 175th Infantry was spread thin around the outer perimeter of the town of Bourheim, which it had captured three days earlier. For the sixth time in those three days, a German armored column attempted to recapture the town, a key to their defense of the strategic city of Julich on the Roer River. The enemy attack opened with such an intense artillery barrage that the 29th Division’s After Action Report cites as it as ‘…the worst suffered by the division during the war.’ Then the German infantry and their supporting tanks pushed forward. Men in the outlying areas fell back toward the town and it looked as though the enemy might finally break through.

“Farinholt quickly went into action. One of his three 57 mm antitank gun crews, after firing several rounds at the enemy, all became casualties when a German shell hit a tree near their position. Knowing that the 57 mm gun did not have the penetrating power to pierce a Tiger’s armor, Farinholt loaded, aimed and fired at the tread of the lead Tiger tank, disabling it and halting the advance of the column. However, the tank returned fire with armor-piercing machine gun bullets, wounding Farinholt in more than 20 places and shattering the bones in his right leg below the knee . Despite his wounds he managed to drag himself to his jeep and drive to the battalion headquarters to alert them of the strength and direction of the German attack. Weakened by his injuries and unable to control both the clutch and the gas pedal, Farinholt crashed his jeep into the Headquarters building but refused first aid until he gave his report. Because of his actions and those of his platoon, the German advance was stalled for almost an hour and then diverted to another sector, buying time for the 29th Division to move troops and summon air support to successfully defeat the attack.

“The Germans never recaptured Bourheim. Farinholt’s wounds were so severe that he was returned home and spent nearly two years in the hospital. Though he lived nearly 60 more years, he never fully recovered from his injuries.”

(National Guard)


#soldierporn’s Military Muscle Recognition Review.

The MRAP Original.

Mine-protected, ambush-protected vehicles sit on Forward Operating Base Tagab in Kapisa province. [For size reference, the foreground is an original MRAP vehicle, the background vehicle is a MATV. -R]

(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Andrew Claire Baker, 18 MAR 2013 @ FOB Tagab, Kapisa, Afghanistan.)

The M-ATV (MRAP ATV): Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All Terrain Vehicle.

A new Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All-Terrain Vehicle, built specifically for the mountainous Afghan terrain, parks on the flight line after arriving by air transport. The initial eight vehicles, the first M-ATVs designated for Southern Afghanistan, will be used to train drivers and mechanics from units selected to receive M-ATVs.

(Photo by Specialist Elisebet Freeburg, 22 OCT 2009 @ Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan.)

The MASV: Military Armored Security Vehicle. 

[L] Soldiers of Military Police Platoon, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, wait to fire their Armored Security Vehicles’ .50 caliber machine guns and MK 19 grenade launchers Feb. 4 at Range 5 here. The range was part of Exercise Raider Focus, the brigade’s month-long training exercise designed to challenge the ability of leaders and soldiers to conduct full spectrum operations as a combined arms team.

(Photo by Specialist Reece Von Rogatsz, 4 FEB 2012 @ Yakima Training Center, WA.)

[R] Military policemen with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, begin mounting the platoon’s new M1117 Armored Security Vehicles during a MK-19 grenade machine gun range here. The unit is one of two on JBLM with the vehicle. 

(Photo by Specialist Kimberly Hackbarth, 4 APR 2011 @ JBLM, WA.)

The Stryker Original.

An Army Stryker from the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, gets ready for a mission after refueling at Forward Operating Base Sparta. The Stryker unit from the “Arctic Wolves” Brigade made the nearly 400-mile trip from Fort Wainwright in support of a nine-day field training exercise for their sister brigade, the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne).

(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Smith, 20 JAN 2014 @ JBER, Alaska.)

Stranger Danger: Name That Beast.

[When compared against the others, it becomes readily apparent that what the Combat Camera in Afghanistan labeled a “Stryker” vehicle was in actuality a modified MASV with a turret nest to protect the gunner. Apologies for any confusion – I did spend a few hours thinking the Stryker Brigades had been augmenting with steroids. -R]