Serving the Soldiers, Civilians and Families of 2nd ABCT, 4th Inf. Div. Vol. 2, Issue 6 March 14, 2014
Warhorse PrideServing The 2nd Armored Brigade 4th Infantry Division
END OF TOUR EDITION
Warrior LeaderStory and phots by Sgt. Marcus Fichtl 2nd Armored Brigade Public Affairs Office
Spc. Violeta Loya, Garden Grove, Calif. native, unit supply specialist, 3rd
Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery, 11th ADA Brigade, Fort Bliss, Texas,
and deployed to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, marches with her platoon to
warfighting training lanes during the first class of the Warrior Leader Course,
Noncommissioned Officer Academy, U.S. Army Central, at Camp Buehring,
Kuwait, May. 21, 2014.
It ends with a few small steps across a stage, a
handshake and a piece of paper, but in the same
way that’s how it starts – a few small steps.
Spc. Violeta Loya walks across the Warrior Stage May
23 at Camp Buehring, Kuwait. At 5’1, her steps might be
some of the smallest out of the Warrior Leader Course
graduates, but they’re the first and over the next six
months, 900 Soldiers will follow her lead.
Loya, a unit supply specialist with the 3rd Battalion,
43rd Air Defense Artillery, 11th ADA Brigade, stationed
in Fort Bliss, Texas, and deployed to Al Udeid Air Base,
Qatar, but her story didn’t start in Texas or Qatar.
It begins 8,000 miles away in Garden Grove, California.
The youngest daughter of a southern California family,
she decided to take a chance, a step in a new direction, to
become the first person in her family to join the military.
Stunned, confused and angry, her family didn’t speak to
her for days, but eventually they came around.
As Loya crossed the parade field after basic training,
they saw her for the first time in her uniform – black beret,
tan boots, U.S. Army across her chest and an American
flag on her right shoulder. They changed - Loya changed.
“My parents hugged me and told me how proud they
were,” said Loya. “I realized I was about to do something
no one in my family ever thought of doing.”
As time passes in a Soldier’s career, they must transition
to a leader if they want to progress.
“The Warrior Leader Course is the first level of NCO
of core attributes, morals and ethics,” said Command Sgt.
Maj. Tim Hileman, commandant U.S. Army Central,
Noncommissioned Officer Academy and Pennsylvania
Guardsman. “We give Soldiers, after 22 days of training,
the tools that they need to be a first line leaders.”
The NCOA at Camp Buehring is a unique academy.
The only NCOA where all Army components, guard,
reserve and active are equally represented, not only in
its students, but its cadre as well. The backgrounds and
teaching styles may differ, but they all teach one thing -
Army leadership, in a way, has been boiled down to a
few short phrases, “deeds not words.” And according to
Hileman, it’s as simple as “be, know, do.” The emphasis is
The first tools the NCOA gave Loya was a pat on the back,
the position of platoon sergeants, 32 Soldiers and the simple
phrase, “lead them.”
“Adapt and overcome,” Loya told herself.
“I feared that if I made a mistake, the sergeants would
laugh,” she said. “I got up there and decided I wasn’t going
to let rank intimidate me,” said Loya.
But when she called “fall in,” the Soldiers fell in, when
she called “forward march,” forward they did march.
“I came to find out, I was very wrong about my platoon,
they didn’t question me, they respected me,” she said.
“When I made mistakes, they showed me the ropes. When
I needed guidance, they guided me.”
They guided each other in the sand, in the classroom and
on the battlefield. Presentations, tests and open discussion
dominated the day, Soldiers from watercraft operators to
military policemen recalled experiences that on the face
were as different as their jobs, but at heart as similar as the
oath they all took.
“The class showed wearing the stripes does not determine
a great leader,” said Loya. “The rank does not define true
leadership, true leadership is defined within the person.”
Hileman said the NCOA focused on teaching the troop
leading procedures and to do what’s right when no one is
“The goal for us is for sergeants to understand the
expectations of being a noncommissioned officer, but then
not to only understand those expectations, but put them
into practice and being a more resilient Soldier by the time
they leave,” said Hileman.
Sgt. Thomas Wallace, New Berlin,
N.Y., native, watercraft operator, 45th
Sustainment Brigade, Schofield Barracks,
Hawaii, deployed to Camp Patriot,
Kuwait, crosses a field as part of the
warfighting training lanes during the
first class of the Warrior Leader Course,
Noncommissioned Officer Academy, U.S.
Army Central, at Camp Buehring, Kuwait,
A Soldier assaults through a door as part
of the warfighting training lanes during the
first class of the Warrior Leader Course,
Noncommissioned Officer Academy, U.S.
Army Central, at Camp Buehring, Kuwait,
Soldiers breach into a urban compound
as part of the warfighting training lanes
during the first class of the Warrior Leader
Course, Noncommissioned Officer
Academy, U.S. Army Central, at Camp
Buehring, Kuwait, May. 21.
“Being the first person in the
first class to walk across that
stage is more powerful than
anyone can imagine.”
The course transformed Loya’s entire concept of
leadership as she changed as much as she did on her basic
training’s parade field.
“To be a leader did not mean much to me because
coming up in the Army I didn’t really experience great
leadership, I didn’t know what it meant. Now, being a
leader has so much meaning to me. A leader is someone
who leads, motivates, and influences,” said Loya.
list, a recognition reserved for the top-twenty percent
of the students in the course. No small feat, but in one
final twist sitting in rehearsals for the final ceremony she
learned she would also receive the Ironman Award for the
highest Army Physical Fitness Test score.
She was placed in front of the entire 127 Soldier class,
not just the 32 of her platoon. She would represent the
Academy for its entire stay in Kuwait.
“Being the first person in the first class to walk across
that stage is more powerful than anyone can imagine,”
Loya takes her step across the stage, shakes a hand
or two and receives a paper that tells her she’s an Army
leader, but with her first step out the door of her Garden
Grove home, five years and 8,000 miles ago, she always
“In the next six months, we will provide commanders
with 900 fit, competent, confident and resilient NCOs,”
Story and phots by Sgt. Marcus Fichtl 2nd Armored Brigade Public Affairs Office
eventeen infantrymen earned the Expert
Infantryman Badge during a badging
ceremony at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, May
The event hosted by the 2nd Battalion, 8th
Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team,
4th Infantry Division, tested infantrymen from May 26-30
on the ability to conduct infantry tasks.
“The EIB is a special skills badge, first awarded in 1943
and is awarded for the successful completion of a course
of testing that is designed to identify infantrymen who are
experts in their field,” said Sgt. 1st Class Terris Kolmorgan,
event coordinator, 2nd ABCT.
He continued to say the Soldiers began the badging
process by demonstrating expert proficiency on their
assigned weapons systems, high standards on the Army
Physical Fitness Test, proficiency in land navigation day and
night and working through three days of lanes testing.
The lanes included proficiency testing on all infantry
weapons, rifles, machine guns and hand grenades. It also
tested communication skills, rendering first aid, calling for
fire support and making tactical decisions under significant
duress. They completed the badging process with a 12-mile
ruck march with a 35-pound load while wearing full combat
The event started with more than 267 Soldiers, and by the
first lane there were less than 150. By the end of the 12-mile
road march, there were only 17 left. An attrition rate of 94
percent - high but expected.
“This is the 70th year since we have had the EIB in the
Army,” said Col. Omar Jones, commander, 2nd ABCT.
“During the first EIB, they took 100 Soldiers and only 10
made it through, so that percentage of single digits has
been consistent for the last 70 years.”
Jones said the badge is a mark of excellence and the
Soldiers need to understand what it means to the infantry.
“As you wear that badge, wear it with pride,” said Jones.
“Inspire others to earn the badge in the future because
our goal is to never lower the standards, but for every
infantryman to compete and earn the badge in future.”
For some who passed, this was their first attempt for the
EIB, but for many, this was their second or third attempt,
and Jones told the crowd watching the badging ceremony
to never falter.
“What I ask you to do is reflect on what was pretty darn
good training,” said Jones. “Reflect on how frustrating it
was to walk off the lane and use that to motivate yourself
for the next EIB. Take the training you received, motivate
yourself and teach your Soldiers.”
Unlike the combat infantryman’s badge, which is earned
performing infantry tactics during combat operations,
the EIB has its charging handle cocked, symbolizing
preparedness and according to Jones, it symbolizes the
future of the Army.
“The EIB is about readiness, it’s about doing our job,
doing our job when asked and doing our job in combat,
and to do it better than anyone has done it before,” said
Jones. “Make sure the readiness you demonstrated today
continues and sustain it for the rest of your career.”
Soldiers plot their route for day land navigation as part the Expert
Infantryman Badge hosted by the 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry
Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division
at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, May 26, 2014. Later in the evening the
Soldiers completed night land navigation.
A Soldier finishes the end of a 12-mile ruck march marking the end of the Expert Infantryman Badge process hosted by
the 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at Camp Buehring,
Kuwait, May 30, 2014. Seventeen Soldiers finished the ruck march and earned the EIB.
A Soldier hugs his squad mate at the end of a 12-mile ruck march marking the end of the Expert Infantryman Badge
process hosted by the 2nd Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division at
Camp Buehring, Kuwait, May 30, 2014.
During “downtime” on deployment,
most Soldiers watch movies or play
video games, but one 2nd Armored
Brigade Combat Team Soldier spends
his time volunteering at the United
Sgt. Lindon McCurdy, supply
specialist, Headquarters and
Headquarters Company, 204th
Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd
Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th
Infantry Division, has volunteered
more than 1,500 hours at the USO
over the seven months the brigade has
been deployment to Camp Buehring,
McCurdy, a native of Orlando,
Florida, and a nightly USO volunteer,
began with signing out phones,
computers and video games, and also
setting up tournaments, but he soon
started to display additional talents to
the other USO staff.
“When I first started out, before they
knew what I was capable of, I started
out on the desk helping Soldiers,” said
McCurdy. “Making sure they were
comfortable coming into the center
and they knew what was going on.”
When the brigade first arrived,
McCurdy noticed the potential the
USO could have.
“The USO was not well known
amongst the brigade, and not a lot of
people showed up,” said McCurdy. “I
made it my mission to kind of advocate
on behalf of the USO because there
was free stuff being given away, free
events, things to be won and people
A Regular Superman
weren’t showing up.”
Volunteering comes natural to
“I think it is just in my nature,” said
McCurdy. “Ever since I was small,
I have had a super hero complex.
Everyone who knows me knows I’m a
huge fan of Superman. Not Superman
the comic, but Superman and what he
For the staff of the USO, McCurdy is
always there to save the day.
“With him as a volunteer, he is
incredible,” said Christina Ambrose,
USO volunteer coordinator. “He has
done so many creative projects and
taken them under his wing, and it has
bettered the center in so many ways.”
Stoay and Photos by Staff Sgt. Andrew Porch, 2nd Brigade Public Affairs Office
Sgt. Lindon McCurdy, supply specialist, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 204th Brigade Support
Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, helps paint a mural located outside the United
Service Organization on Camp Buehring, Kuwait, May 20, 2014.
As McCurdy began to feel
comfortable at the USO, his talents in
design started to shine and flourish.
“I’m a firm believer in giving back,”
said McCurdy. “Being that this was the
only place I had, I came here and kind
of turned the center into my own.”
S i n c e
volunteering at the
USO, McCurdy has
contributed to the
decor of the inside
of the building and
flyers, coins and
“We are so lucky
to have him here,” said Ambrose. “He
is fantastic. He has got so much talent
that we haven’t seen in a long time
from a volunteer.”
As a volunteer, you are on display
for all the other Soldiers to see.
“If you talk to one of the staff
member here, I’m sure they might
mention something about setting
a standard,” said McCurdy. “It isn’t
about the time, it is about the quality
of service and I have tried to give 110
percent to this place.”
M c C u r d y
e x a m p l e
v o l u n t e e r s
with attitude, skill and just who he
is,” said Ambrose. “He has brought
in other volunteers and recruited
amazing people with similar skills
and talents. We are very lucky to have
Though it is important for McCurdy
to volunteer, he knows the mission
“It’s always duty first in the Army,”
said McCurdy. “Granted, I am doing
a great thing, but (my job) is what I
signed up to do. That is what they pay
me to do, so duty always comes first. If
I am accomplishing everything that I
need to, then I can go ahead and do my
McCurdy hopes to close in on 1,700
hours and continue his volunteering
back at Fort Carson.
“He has definitely left his mark in
so many ways,” said Ambrose. “They
are going to be the luckiest USO ever.
I can’t even put into words the impact
he has had here. He has done so, so
much. For the center back in the states,
they hit the goldmine.”
“I’m a huge fan of
Superman the comic,
but Superman and
what he stands for.”
Sgt. Lindon McCurdy, supply specialist, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 204th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th
Infantry Division, sits in front of a mural he painted located outside the United Service Organization, Camp Buehring, Kuwait, May 22, 2014.
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A Soldier stands sentinel across from a field of 6800 memorial
lights representing the U.S. servicemembers who have fallen
in Iraq and Afghanistan, during a Memorial Day vigil at Camp
Buehring, Kuwait, May 26, 2014.
“It could have been me,” said Zietlow, who is now assigned to the 2nd
Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. “There are a lot
of guys who have that story.”
After twelve years of conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, 6,800 service
members have given their lives.
There are a lot of stories, a lot of missing faces.
It’s why for three years now that Camp Buehring, Kuwait, and the
United Service Organizations light the field with lights, cover the
walls with faces and help remember fallen service members with a 5k
Memorial Day Run and Vigil.
The run is a zigzagging course through Camp Buehring complete
with helicopter fly overs and an escorting convoy of humvees, and
finally ends in an open desert field illuminated by 6,800 LED light filled
"We wanted to create a 5k that was a little different, somber but
reflective, commemorative, and hopefully a moment of healing," Said
Tiffany Banks, USO Director, Camp Buehring.
And for Zietlow, a Marion, Wisconsin, native, who heals a little each
day playing and teaching guitar at the USO, was asked by the USO staff
to perform Amazing Grace, the centerpiece of the events vigil.
"I grew up singing in the Catholic church as a canter, with grandpa,
grandma, dad, my brothers, and my aunts singing along side me," said
Zietlow. "So the song has always been with me, but I never really took
the time to really study and understand the lyrics. I just sang the piece
and followed the hymnal, but out here having the opportunity to learn
the song was really special."
Zietlow came to a crossroads on how the sing the song, with or
without using the guitar he was known for in the USO, until he had
a conversation with his wife and she said, "Sing it like it was sung 200
And Zietlow knew what he had to do.
there’s a lot of guys who
have that story.”
"I didn't want to make it my own," he said. "It was about them and
their sacrifice and it was about how the lyrics they wrote transcend time,
how the lyrics still stand today,"
As Zietlow prepared his song, volunteers prepared the luminaries
To build the luminaries on Camp Buehring took time and dedication
as 6,800 bags needed to be filled with sand, 6,800 bags needed have an
LED light and 6800 bags needed to be placed.
In spite of the heat and the sandstorms, during the laying of the
luminaries, Banks witnessed a cleansing process for her military
"The entire process of the planning, the preparing and the setting of
the bags and then lighting them that evening and seeing the final product
is an opportunity to heal," said Banks. "You see them go through the all
elements of the process of healing throughout the project."
For Banks and the USO, they simply want to show the service
members that people care about them.
A Soldier watches faces of the fallen projected onto a wall during a Memorial Day vigil at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, May 26, 2014. 6,800 memorial lights filled a
desert field representing the U.S. service members who have fallen in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Soldiers walk across a field of 6800 memorial lights representing th
"There are people who care about the service provided from Soldiers,
wounded Soldiers, their families, and those who passed," said Banks.
"Your name won't be forgotten."
The runners reached the end point, flanked by tanks and humvees to
the side, and helicopters above.
Zietlow took the stage with 6,800 fallen souls behind him and
hundreds of Soldiers before him; he clutched the microphone, fighting
tears as he sings the first line, the wall next to him flashing the faces of
"Amazing grace, how sweet the sound."
For a few minutes it was nothing but Zietlow channeling his thoughts,
It was his healing.
"It's helped me become inspired and motivated to live and earn this
freedom we have," said Zietlow. "A freedom definitely earned by the
sacrifices of so many brave men and women."
“A freedom definitely earned by the sacrifices of so
he U.S. Soldiers who have fallen in Iraq and Afghanistan, during a Memorial Day vigil at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, May 26, 2014.
name won’t be forgotten.”
o many brave men and women.”
WarhorseStory and Photos by Staff Sgt. Andrew Por
Inducteesrch 2nd Armored Brigade Public Affairs Office
The Sergeant Audie Murphy Medallion rests upon a member’s chest
during an induction ceremony on Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, May 24, 2014.
The medallion is 2.75 inches in diameter and is suspended from an
18-inch powder-blue ribbon. Soldiers appearing before the Sergeant
Audie Murphy Club board are required to describe the medallion and
specific key moments in Murphy’s history.
of elite professionals
who stand out in
their units,” said
Command Sgt. Maj. Ronnie
Kelley, senior enlisted leader,
U.S. Army Central. “These
understand selfless service and
commitment. These are NCOs
that understand character
and being an example means
members are leaders and
mentors in the community.
These are NCOs that want to
make a difference.”
Kelley, the senior U.S.
Army Central Sergeant Audie
Murphy Club member, was the
guest speaker at the ceremony
that inducted two Soldiers
assigned to 2nd Armored
Brigade Combat Team, 4th
Infantry Division on Camp
Arifjan, Kuwait, May 24.
Staff Sgt. David Jones,
and Headquarters Company,
1st Battalion, 67th Armor
Reg., and Sgt. Tyree Kitchen,
generator mechanic, Company
B, 204th Brigade Support
Battalion, stood out among
16 participants to be the only
Soldiers inducted for the
“I am very proud of myself and I’m very humbled that
I was allowed to even be a part of this,” said Kitchen. “To
be recognized by my brigade commander, my brigade
sergeant major, my battalion leadership, my first sergeant -
I couldn’t have done this without them recommending me
or seeing the potential inside of me.”
Jones reiterated the joy of gaining acceptance into the
“It is an amazing accomplishment for me,” said Jones.
“I went to the board about two months ago and to finally
be recognized as part of the top two percent is an amazing
The inductee’s journey started last winter with weekly
study groups and practice boards that encouraged them
to answer questions requiring a combination of book
Staff Sgt. David Jones, left, infantryman, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment,
Brigade Combat, 4th Infantry Division, stand at attention during their induction ceremony into the Sergeant Audie Murphy
started preparing for the board last December through study sessions and situation based questioning.
knowledge and personal experience.
“Countless hours of studying and it isn’t just sitting down
in front of a book and reading the questions and answers,”
said Sgt. 1st Class Alfred Leblanc, military policeman,
Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Special
Troops Battalion, 2nd ABCT. “To study for this board, it’s
proposing a situation and talking through how you would
react as a leader,”
Leblanc, a SAMC member,
went on to say is expected of
NCOs that join the elite group.
“Setting the standard is the
job for every NCO,” said Leblanc.
“But with the Audie Murphy
members, they set the example
for all other NCOs. They have
committed to doing everything
that they can to being perfect.”
For Kitchen, this is for his
Soldiers just as much as it is for
“It allowed me to put myself
to the test and know what my
abilities are under pressure and
put myself up against my peers,”
said Kitchen. “It also shows
Soldiers in my section and any
yourself you can do whatever you
And how does he think it
makes him a better leader?
“I wouldn’t say that this right
here makes me a better leader,”
said Kitchen. “I believe that
the Audi Murphy Club is just a
formal recognition for NCOs for
things that they are supposed to
do on a daily basis.”
Now that Jones is a member,
he plans to take the club to new
, and Sgt. Tyree Kitchen, generator mechanic, Company B, 204th Brigade Support Battalion, both of the 2nd Armored
y Club on Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, May 24, 2014. Jones and Kitchen, the only two Soldiers inducted during the ceremony,
“I’m going to be an actual member,” said Jones. “I’m not
just going to be a medallion wearer. I’m going to pursue
it and live up to the creed of it. I’m going to spotlight this
organization. We are all about helping the community and
giving back to our Soldiers, and that is what the Army is
U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew Porch, 2nd Armored Brigade Public Affairs Office
Sgt. Justin Banner, right, signal support system specialist, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2nd Special Troops
Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, lands a right cross on Spc. Aaron Cameron, health
supply specialist, Company C, 204th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd ABCT during level-one combatives training on
Camp Buehring, Kuwait, May 30, 2014. On the last day of training, Soldiers must be able to complete three cliches while
level-two certified instructors throw punches at them.
Warhorse Friends and Families,
I recently learned of my next assignment to US Central Command in Tampa, Florida. My report date requires my
family and me to leave the brigade and Fort Carson earlier than expected. I will change command here in Kuwait on 9
June. While we are excited about this opportunity and this next chapter in our military adventure, we leave this brigade
with very heavy hearts.
I am incredibly proud of the brigade and everything these amazing Soldiers have accomplished the past two years. It
truly has been my honor to serve on their team. I am very excited to see the impact these great Soldiers make as they
join units across the Army as we inactivate. Our Army will be a stronger, more powerful team for their continued
service and contributions.
Thank you to our southern Colorado community for your generous support to our Soldiers and their Families. This is a
remarkable community and is incredibly gracious and supportive of our military service members and Families. Thank
I want to thank all of our Warhorse Families. Thank you for your selfless support to your Soldiers and our brigade.
While we have accomplished much the last two years, none of it would have been possible without your support. Thank
you for everything you do and everything you sacrifice as a military Family member. You really are our strength.
I will relinquish command to LTC Andy Koloski. I have known Andy since 1988, and he has been with our brigade
since last spring. He knows our Soldiers, our Families, this mission, and our team. He and his wife, Kym, are absolutely
the right team to finish this deployment and lead our brigade through inactivation next January.
I look forward to serving with many of you in the future.
Lead the Charge! …. Warhorse!
The Warhorse Pride is produced in the interest of the
Soldiers of the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team,
4th Infantry Division. The Warhorse Pide is an Army-
funded news-letter authorized under provision of AR
Contents of the Warhorse Pride are not necessarily
the view of, nor endorsed by the U.S. government,
Department of Defense, Department of the Army
or the 4th Infantry Division. All editorial content of
The Warhorse Pride is prepared, edited, provided and
approved by the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team
Public Affairs Office.
The Warhorse Pride welcomes articles, commentary
and photos from readers. The Warhorse Pride
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Submissions should be e-mailed to the editor:
Col. Omar Jones IV......................2nd ABCT Commander
Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Lehtonen 2nd ABCT CSM
Maj. Chris Maestas.................................................PAO OIC
Staff Sgt. Andrew Porch..................................PAO NCOIC
Sgt. Marcus Fichtl...............................Layout and Design
Staff Sgt. Andrew Porch............................................Editor