The Tri-parish area bids goodbye this week to troops with two local Army National Guard companies – Houma’s Charlie and Thibodaux’s Delta companies.
The troops, both part of the 2nd Battalion of the 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, are headed to Iraq for a 13-month deployment. For many, it marks a return visit to the Middle Eastern country.
The last trip would, in fact, be the final fight for six soldiers from Charlie Company.
The six “Black Sheep” – Staff Sgt. Christopher Babin, 27, of Houma; Sgt. Bradley Bergeron, 25, of Chauvin; Sgt. 1st Class Kurt Comeaux, 34, of Raceland; Spc. Huey Fassbender III, of Laplace; Sgt. Armand “Luke” Frickey, 21, of Houma; Sgt. Warren Murphy, of Marrero – and a New York guardsman, Kenneth Vonronn, were killed Jan. 6, 2005, when a roadside bomb destroyed their Bradley fighting vehicle as they patrolled along the outskirts of Baghdad.
It would prove to be our region’s deadliest day in the history of Operation Iraqi Freedom; one that haunts the families of soldiers serving in the Middle East.
As President Barack Obama and Congress mull an end date to this war, Tri-parish families and friends of troops realize the true price of this conflict. These everyday men and women, heroes to us all, are our neighbors, the face across the pew at church, the parents proudly cheering from the sidelines at our children’s soccer games.
Guardsmen are often called Citizen Soldiers. Split between two worlds, they risk their lives to ensure the freedoms our nation too often takes for granted.
With the arrival of the New Year, our community has a vested stake in the Iraqi conflict. A piece of us is bound for the war zone. We owe it to those willing to fight for our rights to take notice of theirs.
Resolve this year to gather supplies for the Blue Star Mothers of Houma; drop a line to a soldier reminding them that we appreciate their valiant effort to keep the world safe; and don’t forget the families here at home. They need our support, our time and our prayers.
God speed, Charlie and Delta companies. We’ll hold you tightly in our thoughts and prayers until you return safely home.