Soldiers and Families: Life in the 150th

Members of the 150th Battalion

…they had gone on a mission and he was playing peek-a-boo with a child standing behind a tree that looked to be about two. And then he realized that the child was playing peek-a-boo behind a 50 cal., which is a large gun that they set up on top of the vehicles to protect themselves. I had to tell him that that child didn’t see the 50 cal., he saw the soldier behind it.

Kimberly, caller from Mobile, AL

Members of the 150th Battalion [provided by Amanda Jones]

For this show we’re trying to paint a full picture of the American military by focusing in on the microcosm of a single battalion. Specifically, the 150th Battalion of Combat Engineers out of Meridian, Mississippi. We’ll talk to soldiers about the community that exists within the battalion. But we also want to hear from their spouses, parents, and kids, and the friends they’ve left back home. The people who feel (if you talk to them) almost as much a part of the battalion as the soldiers themselves. It’s an extended community that stretches from Iraq back to the states, which also exists online.

We originally found out about this particular battalion through SFC Kevin Kelly, whose blog we excerpted for our Blogsday show, and who was then subsequently a guest on our milblogger show. His blog is posted on the Dixie Sappers site, which serves as an online hub for friends and family of the 150th.

uncovering a weapons cache in IraqUncovering a weapons cache [provided by Amanda Jones]

These photos were sent to us by Amanda Jones of Lucedale, Mississippi, whose husband Randall and brother-in-law Ben are both serving in the 150th. They were taken in March of this year, and show members of the 150th uncovering a weapons cache buried in the Iraqi desert near their operating base. According to Amanda, ?they dug for 4 days straight, to find the weapons.”

If you’re a part of the 150th — at home or in Iraq — please tell us a little about your life, what you miss, and what you’re waiting for.


Amanda Jones

Wife of Randal “Lee” Jones, B Company

Rebecca McCormick

Mother of SGT Donald Wayne West Jr., A Company

Blogger, Wayne’s World.


Related Content

  • We’ve put the word out to get some letters and emails from the 150th to you over the weekend.

  • When my nephew got called up last year we were worried and we are still worried because of the situation he is in but we have faith in him and faith in God that he will be safe and he will come home to us. He is so young and I hated for him to be introduced to the horrors of war. I had an Uncle who served with Patton in Europe and experienced The Battle of the Bulge and who came home with a wounded soul which never healed. I didn’t want this for my nephew but in life sometimes we have to let go and let God! I am still struggling with the letting go part.We did get to see our nephew in May when he was home for R&R! He got to present his brother with his HS diploma and it was a very special and emotional time that we will never forget. You hear about all the bad that US Soldiers do the Abu Ghah scandals etc but I see all the good that these soldiers are doing in the lives of these desperate Iraqi people especially the children. Most of these people have absolutely nothing. My nephew has told us that he thought he had seen poverty in MS but he had seen nothing compared to the poverty he had experienced in Iraq. We are all pitching in at home to help as well.. we are collecting school supplies, shoes, toys, candy to send to the children of a school that Company A has adopted. There is the little boy called Mohammed who has captured the hearts of Co A as well as all of us at home. The company is trying to get him and his family to America for desperately needed surgery. Here at home I am trying to stay busy so I am collecting boxes of toys to send to the kids of Iraq. I have sent Mohammed a box of clothes and toys. I got MSU to send some media guides, a flag, and posters to the guys. I am in the process of collecting letters to send to the troops… my goal is that for one mail call everyone in Co A or at Dogwood get a letter from home! You can send the letters to Letters From Home 352 Marian Lane Vicksburg MS 39183! And we check email most everyday for word and we read SFC Kelly’s journal everyday to keep up with the guys over there! And we wait, count the days, and pray! That really is all we can do! Thank you for your article on our guys in Co A. We appreciate your reporting on a bunch of guys from Mississippi who are doing remarkable work in a desolate country so far away from home! This means alot to them as well as all of us back here in the USA! Thank you so much!

  • jc

    Aunt Tracye obviously has a good heart. I hope God hears her prayers. But, presuming everyone in harms way in Iraq is being prayed for, and presuming, in a war, some in the offense as well as some in the defense must die, have their bodies torn apart and mangled or be condemned to live with mental visions they find intolerable, how does God choose who will return home safely and who will not? Those whose prayers are concerned with defeating those who resist them seem also to be numerous. How does God choose? This task, based on the number of unanswered prayers, roughly half of them given probably about 50% will be pro and about 50% con any issue or wish or goal, seems to be beyond the ability of God. It would seem to be merely charitable to an overwhelmed God to withdraw the troops who are not on their home territory and end the mayhem. It would only seem to be in accordance with Christianity and Islam, both apparently worshipping the same God. It is hard to imagine that God would not be pleased to be relieved of the irreconcilable choises being presented by the prayers, and is not pleasing God to be a far greater goal than those of the praying?

  • JamesFlynn

    Military Blogs strike me as “instant reporting” from the front – the ultimate embedded journalist. To compare, news of the British victory at the battle of Trafalgar didn’t reach London until two weeks after the battle. With a military blog, the news reaches home before the battle’s over. And it also reaches *home* – the families of soldiers – without passing through the filter of military censorship.

    In this sphere, Blogs are leading an entirely new phenomenon. They’re causing a significant loss of control for military leadership – in terms of how an army can control the flow of information back to the home front.

    Interesting days ahead.

  • In response to JC….

    Let me set at least one thing straight God has never been or never will be overwhelmed. And I am not really sure what God Islam follows and I am not here to get into that religious discussion but God is NEVER overwhelmed … we humans with our desire to controll every aspect of all of his creations it is us who get overwhelmed…..

    I know we are doing wonderful amounts of good in Iraq… these people were being murdered by their wonderful dictator Saddam for the cause of SCIENCE and well if you said anything negative about him or his inbred sons you were killed… thousands have succumbed to his genocide. He is a modern day Hitler… what is so wrong in going and disposing such a barbaric leader? I see no harm in it….

    There is evil in this world and the USA and her troops are not at the root of it all… We didn’t want war war was brought to our doorstep on September 11, 2001. When thousands died at the hands of Islamic Extremists if you want to see evil look into Osama’s eyes! I lost a friend at the Pentagon on September 11… his family is having to live a life without him and that was not fair… he wasn’t at war he was sitting at his desk doing his job.

    The US and her troops and her government are not the enemies here!

    God is in his heaven and in control of our Universe

    So stop worrying and start praying!

    I am going to try and answer you by quoting from Max Lucado’s Book (written as the ashes settled from 9-11) America Looks Up

    Chapter 1 Where is God?

    Many people are wondering today how God could allow the tragedy of 9-11 to happen… what could he be thinking? Is God really in control? Yes he is very much in control I know alot of liberal minds would like to lead people to believe that we (humans) are in control but God is in his heaven and he is in control…. His ways are not our ways his thoughts are not like our thoughts….We believe preserve the body he is thinking save the soul. We dream of a pay raise he dreams of raising the dead. We avoid pain and seek peace. God uses pain to bring peace. We love what rusts he loves what endures. We show our kids the NBA superstar and say be like Mike. God points to the crucified carpenter with bloody lips and a torn side and says be like Christ. How vital that we pray armed with the knowledge that God is in heaven.. pray with any lesser conviction and our prayers are timid. shallow, and hollow. It is as important to know that even though God is in another realm he does bend close to see our sorrow and hear our prayers he is not so far above us that he is not touched by our tears. Though we may not be able to see his purpose or his plan, the Lord of heaven is on his throne and in firm control of the universe and our lifes and this war. So we entrust him with the future and with our lives and the lives of our enemies. Chapter 4 Good Truimphant….. How could God allow such evil (the terrorist attacks on 9-11) to bring so much destruction and loss? As the rubble still smolders and our hearts still ache, our questions continue. And yet we’ve already seen goodness emerging from the ruins… heroic deeds, selfless compassion, sense of community. Somehow in the midst of something so awful, goodness fights to prevail.

    In this war goodness will prevail and the Iraqi people will one day enjoy freedom and prosperity …..

    There are heroic deeds and kind acts that accompany our soldiers daily. The peek a boo with a two year old child; handing our school supplies and shoes to children who would not have any otherwise; handing our medical supplies to clincs stripped bare by insurrgents; caring for a fallen enemy and tending to his wounds as you endanger you own life (that happened yesterday or today)… because it is your job to save lives! And the list grows on a daily basis! God maybe sent us there for a reason did you ever think of that? I know of one little boy who is grateful that Co A found him and he will be getting medical attention after being born 7 years ago with life threatening birth defects… he was found because we were there….. chance …. NAH… God!

    I am sorry I ranted but I love my nephew and I love my God and I believe in what both of them are doing!

  • wonderwomanjoa74

    WELL SAID, AUNT TRACYE!!!!! You and I really should chat…

  • jc

    It may very well be that an equivalent percent of Iraqi women have feelings and wishes and hopes and beliefs indistinguishable from those of Aunt Tracye. Unfortunately, since the paricipants and supporters of the events in question are each trying to destroy the other in order that their own interests will remain intact and safe, many of the women on both sides will have their dreams crushed and they will suffer agonies. And all these women, Christian and Muslem, claim to be praying to the same God. Incredible. This seems to show little respect for God to ask him to both do something and not do it in the same circumstance. I understand that faith may be all there is to cling to when control is entirely out of reach and one can do nothing to help. I am sorry.

  • I am sorry for you too JC to have no faith to cling to when things go wrong to have no God to turn to when sorrow overwhelms you… to have no place to go to get away from all the horrors in the world…

    Oh ye of little faith!

    At least I have God if nothing else and my world is falling apart I have him to turn to; is the constant in my life… he will never forsake me and he is always there even when evil comes to visit.. he is there and he is in control of my life as well as the lives of our soldiers and their enemies.. I know it is a hard concept but I have found help in understanding by reading Max Lucado books… he has a way of explaining the unexplainable! I suggest you invest in some of Max’s books as well!

    I am sorry you have not let God into your heart I hope that by talking to me that you will consider it … faith is a wonderful thing….

  • cubbykabi

    I listen to a podcast of this show and for various reasons like timezones I end up hearing them well after showtime. This is also the first time I have posted and the reason I felt moved to post is that I am very disturbed by a subtext of what I was hearing yesterday.

    That subtext seemed to be that Iraq is and was a poverty stricken country and that the US is now there to help these ‘poor people’. It seems to be some meme that our soldiers are doing some humanitarian gesture such as has been seen in various crisis situations in developing countries. This is disturbing because it completely denies the past and recent history of Iraq and it completely leaves out any analysis as to how people have come to be without, in this instance, shoes, or whatever. It forgets the decade of sanctions against the Iraqi people and it seems to forget that much of the deprivation today is due exactly to the US military invasion and bombing and rules of military engagement.

    Iraq was a secular country. In the years between 1990-1996 it was ranked 76 (UNDP 1990) in the UN HDI index. 1977-2002 it was ranked 126 (UNDP 2000). This is a big drop – brought on by sanctions, lack of medicines etc. In the lastest rankings to give an idea – #76 is thailand and #126 is Namibia. This is a big drop.

    It is disturbing to hear this subtext about these poor iraqis – recently an extremely educated society, baghdad, mosul etc etc being firmly a middle class existence found anywhere in the world – being referred to like the famine starved people of areas who are forced to stream into refugee camps. these poor people who need america’s nobless oblige – but how did they end up that way. No understanding of cause and effect or of history or of responsibility.

  • wonderwomanjoa74

    Part of the reason these “poor Iraqi people” ended up so terribly poor is that they were under the rule of a heavy handed, corrupt, power hungry, rich DICTATOR!!! Sadaam completely oppressed his country-the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. He was unconcerned with the welfare of his own countrymen, he enjoyed life in the lap of luxury, living in MULTIPLE LAVISH PALACES, and all the while executing any who did not comply with his demands or resisted his athourity. Not to mention that he IMPRISONED THE CHILDREN of men who REFUSED TO FIGHT IN HIS ARMY!!!! A CHILDREN’S PRISON???? Unbelievable.

    Of course his uncontrollable sons were waiting in the wings for their turn at the helm, and while they waited committed horrible atrocites, murders, crimes, and the like. Some of which included raping very young girls…11 and younger…and forcing some into MARRIAGE!! Or even a one night stand. (A few fortunate ones were actually returned to their terrified families.) Lucky guys, Uday and Kusay didnt have to worry about being held accountable, or any kind of prosecution. With Daddy’s dirty politics and friends in high places, who could stop them??

    Because so many Iraqi men have very little means of supporting a family, it is not surprising many turn to shaking hands with local as well as foreign insurgents and/or terrorists. Desperate times call for desperate measures…If “ali baba” (Iraqi catch all name for insurgents) offers him 20 bucks to pass along a few weapons or IED making materials, well, you get the idea. Considering that it may be all the money he may make in a month or two it’s better than starving!!!

    See, part of what our soldiers are doing is RECONSTRUCTION. That means that they are working toward making life better so the next generation is not sucked into this pathetic existance left behind by Sadaam and his government. So, beyond our guys helping those “poor Iraqi people” it is thier MISSION TO CAPTURE INSURGENTS who CONTRIBUTE to the “poor Iraqi people’s” plight. Not to mention that they KILL AMERICAN SOLDIERS as well as innocent Iraqi children who happen to be in the way….

    My husband’s batallion alone has captured 150 plus suspected terrorists. Not only is this helping these “poor Iraqi people” but in turn helps us. Dont tell me you dont think these extremists wouldnt use those MASS QUANTITIES OF DESTRUCTIVE WEAPONS a little closer to our home. (I have photos to prove just how HUGE some of these weapons caches are.) At the very CRUX of these terrorists mindset is a deep hatred of ANY who do not conform to their religious beliefs. And because America is a FREE NATION where religious freedom is at the very heart of the founding of this GREAT COUNTRY, we are like a big red bulls eye on the map. These guys HATE Americans. Sure, partly because we have had decades of sanctions against them. And because we have invaded them militarily. But mostly because of what we represent….FREEDOM!!!! But again, they can all thank Sadaam for the years of sanctions AND the bombings.

    Now if you can explain to me how our past military presence had ANYTHING to do with Sadaam’s inability as a leader as well as the mistreatment, opression, and murder of Iraqi citizens, please hit me with your best shot.

  • You go wonderwoman!!!!!! I know that my nephew as well as SFC Kelly that some of these clinics are stripped bare not one bandaide…. I also hear that the one child we are trying to get to the US for surgery; his parents make $200 a year (A YEAR). And that they live in huts with no furniture …. just rugs on the floor and a hole in the floor for the toliet… this is primitive and sad! Saddam didn’t give a rats behind about his country or its people he only cared about himself and making himself richer. I can not believe all the people who support him blindly but then again we had alot of people in the 40s who blindly supported Hitler…

  • wonderwomanjoa74

    Once again, you and I are on the same page!! Besides, photos dont lie, do they?

    And regardless of exactly how they got into the terrible condition, (did i mention Sadaam?? lol!) we are the ONLY nation I know of that invests themselves COMPLETELY in restoring the countries they wage war against. Reconstruction…we are in this for the greater good.

  • jc

    Sounds like a sophomoric pep rally recalled from high school, with two teams praying each to beat the other!

    Of course God is overwhelmed… Constantly overwhelmed as is manifest in the fact that one team loses. It is only how loud the yelling is that matters in a pep rally, not whether anyone understands anything. It is barely history and yet wondernomanjoa74 has already forgotten that they were her representatives, her own country’s government that saddled Iraq with Sadam, wonderwoman’s government’s puppet.

    And witness the pride she and Aunt Tracye take in acting the saviors relieving the results of their own actions of supporting unconscionable behavior on the part of their own government. Pride goes before a fall.

    Aunt Tracye and wonderwoman have been completely conned again, their families being exploited to enhance the few controlling functionaries of their disreputable government. They brag about their government throwing pittances to people who are destitute because that goverment disgracefully destroyed the entire infrasatructure of the destitute people. Yes, I am sorry. Can anyone help being sorry for such deluded souls as Aunt Tracye and wonderwoman?

    But waste no worry nor sorrow for me. I cannot remember when sorrow was required for my benefit. My world is functioning as could be expected and is truely fascinating. The only horrors I know are those that I see exploited people such as A. T. and ww are suffering and the horrors inflicted by the governments of the world with their support. One of the fascinations is observing their rapture and delight in such suffering. There must be little else to make their lives exciting except a pep rally.

  • Linda McKinney

    Amanda , it is so nice to hear that Lee & Benjamin are together and that things are well, I am especially proud of each of you, Lee and Benjamin for protecting the country and you for being a strong woman of God and taking care of things in Lee’s absence. It has been many years since we last spoke, 1995 in Pascagoula, I worked with Sharon @ WIC,.Austin should be a big guy now. You knew me a Linda Johnson, I was the site Manager. I thought of you tonight and just decided to put your name in the search engine. I found this site. I will pray for our soilders..and your family. Take Care you beautiful girl!
    Linda McKinney