Thursday, January 26, 2012

Remembering SFC Matthew Kahler Killed In Action 26 January 2008 - Afghanistan

24 July 1978 – 26 January 2008
Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment

SFC Kahler was killed by small arms fire on Jan. 26, 2008 at Forward Operating Base Fenty in Waygul, Afghanistan.

SFC Kahler left behind a wife and daughter as well as legions of family members, fellow Soldiers and friends who miss him as much today as they did four years ago. His death left a huge hole in many hearts.

There is a slide show here with photos of SFC Kahler with his family and on deployment.  There is another photo gallery here of the day SFC Kahler was brought home to Granite Falls, MN, his final resting place.

Sergeant First Class Matthew R. Kahler was born on 24 July 1978 in Carroll, Iowa. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on 5 June 1997.

After SFC Kahler completed Basic Infantry Training, Advanced Individual Training, and Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia, he was assigned to A Company 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina on 17 November 1997. While assigned to the 504th PIR, he held the positions of Assistant Machine Gunner, Machine Gunner, and Fire Team Leader. He deployed to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1997 in support of OPERATION DESERT FOCUS and OPERATION DESERT THUNDER.

SFC Kahler was assigned to 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team in June 2001. While assigned to the 503rd, he held the positions of Fire Team Leader, Rifle Squad Leader, and Platoon Sergeant. He helped form and train Able Company during countless training deployments to Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels. SFC Kahler deployed and served in the Brigade as a Rifle Squad Leader during both OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM I and OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM VI. SFC Kahler deployed with The ROCK to Afghanistan in support of OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM VIII as the Platoon Sergeant for 2nd Platoon, Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne) 503rd Infantry Regiment.

SFC Kahler’s awards include: Bronze Star (2, Posthumous), Purple Heart (2, Posthumous), Army Commendation Medal (2), Army Achievement Medal (4), Army Good Conduct Medal (3rd Award), National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Afghan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon with numeral three, Army Service Ribbon, Over Seas Ribbon with numeral four, NATO Medal, Ranger Tab, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Expert Infantryman’s Badge, and Senior Parachutists Badge with Combat Bronze Star Device. SFC Kahler was also recently inducted into the U.S. Army, Europe Sergeant Morales Club as a lifetime member.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

SSG Tyler Schmidt (Former ROCK Paratrooper) Earns His Pathfinder Badge

Current Pathfinder Badge without enameling

The original Pathfinder badge was designed in 1944.  In 1964 the current badge design was adopted and made of felt.  In 1968 the current badge was approved and is made of metal with enameling.   The wings on the badge represent airborne capability and flight while the wings represent leadership and guidance.

I learned today that, in order to earn the Pathfinder Badge, the student navigates dismounted, establishes and operates a day/night helicopter landing zone, establishes and operates a day/night CARP, GMRS, and Army VIRS parachute DZ, conducts slingload operations, provides air traffic control and navigational assistance to RW and FW airborne operations. Students participate in a three day FTX (I think that means in the field) as a member of a Pathfinder Team.

Specifically Soldiers learn the following skills at Pathfinder School:

Navigate cross country on foot

Establish and operate a day/night helicopter landing zone

Establish and operate a day/night parachute drop zone

Conduct slingload operations

Aircraft rappelling

Provide air traffic control and navigational assistance to aircraft within an operational site control zone

It is my understanding that there is only one Pathfinder school within the Army.  It is located at Fort Benning, GA.   However, the Air Assault School at Ft. Campbell, KY is authorized for Pathfinder training and the Army National Guard Pathfinder Mobile Training Team (MTT) provides Pathfinder training to Army National Guard and Reserve Soldiers.
So today, in true Army fashion, the graduation was held OUTSIDE in a freezing rain only feet from a huge, warm, dry building.  But I wouldn't have missed it for anything!
Tyler, I could not be more proud of you for this accomplishment and so many others you have attained.   WELL DONE!  Congratulations to Misty, too, for her support of your Army career and those long and difficult deployments.  You two are an amazing couple and it is truly a privilege and honor to know you and call you friends.

Today's graduating class at Ft Campbell
SSG Schmidt, 1st row, 4th from right

The man of the hour!

It's Official!!!

Behind every successful Soldier is a supportive spouse! 
SSG Tyler and Misty Schmidt

Aww...come on, Misty.  Do it!  Do it!

Well, Misty, if you won't, I will!  Time to draw some blood and make sure that badge sticks!

Love you guys and thank you for introducing me to some of the men from your recent deployment.  Being at your graduation was one privilege.  Meeting those men was yet another.

Now get some rest before moving on to your next task.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

One Last Gift

Grab your tissues, folks. 

From 9 News in Colorado - the story of how people around the nation came together to help honor the wish of a fallen Hero,  CPT Bruce Hayes from the Wyoming National Guard, deliver "one last gift" to his wife and daughters.

Remembering CPT Bruce Hayes - killed in action 17 September 2008 by a roadside bomb in eastern Afghanistan.