Thursday, November 5, 2009

Who Fights This War? Door Gunner and Runner



Sgt. James McKeithan, a door gunner in Company B, Task Force Diablo, checks his equipment before a flight at Camp Adder, Tallil, Iraq. As a door gunner in a CH-47 Chinook helicopter, McKeithan flies the night skies. He said the most exciting mission he would have gone on, a support role in an air assault, actually got canceled.

The runner-up was what he described as a hot unloading of pallets at Basra. This means the pallets are dropped from the cargo ramp while the helicopter is still moving. McKeithan said the most difficult part of his job came when he was required to perform overnight missions on eight consecutive nights.

A resident of Carlisle, Pa., 22-year-old McKeithan is a full-time Army National Guard Soldier. He served on the Pennsylvania Army National Guard's Mobile Event Team before he deployed to Iraq. He plans to serve full-time with the Guard when he returns and attend college at night. He has one year of college left to finish earning his degree as a registered nurse.

After that, he will pursue additional training to become a nurse anesthetist. When he is not working, McKeithan is a competitor. His last Army physical fitness score was 336 (300 is considered a perfect score), with a two-mile run time of 12 minutes and 12 seconds. He said his goal is 350 with a run time of 11 minutes and 30 seconds. He plans to run the Army 10-Miler in Iraq. He said he ran the race in Washington D.C. in 2008 with a time of one hour and six minutes. He also participates in mixed martial arts fighting and is a registered competitor in four states.

The Race is On!!!!! Task Force Diablo Biathlon on Thanksgiving Morning

It's Approved. It's on. We are ready to roll!!! The First EVER Task Force Diablo Biathlon begins at 0700 hours on Thursday, November 26. The Run/Bike event will begin with a 5k run followed by a 15k bike. We will have individual and team competition. We are hoping to have medals. We do have water bottles and a couple of helmets and several other prizes courtesy of Bike Line of Lancaster, Pa.

The course profile is the same as an ironing board--flat. I am hoping to have 100 teams or individuals. I am going to make the race flyer in the morning. Advertising should begin by Saturday. Three weeks today till the start.

When I went to the garrison sergeant major's office to get approval for the race, he said we first had to talk about a Veteran's Day ceremony on Wednesday the 11th. I am going to be the emcee. I contacted the guy who will (I hope) be the featured speaker--one of the chaplains who is a regular at the CS Lewis book group.

This Monday I am going to send the newsletter I do to everyone I sent it too a month ago. This seventh issue really is good. With the help of Sgt. Matt Jones at 28th Combat Aviation Brigade, the simple layout I use is starting to look better. And I got some really good shots that I am using full page so they would not look as dramatic on the blog.

Too many great things happened this week to even write them all down. One sad thing for me I realized this morning is the Charlie MEDEVAC Company is leaving. They have been the source of some of my best stories and are one of the best units it has ever been my pleasure to be associated with. They are going back to Alaska soon and another MEDEVAC will take their place. I re-wrote the Eight Minutes and Gone blog post from two months ago as a tribute/goodbye to them and re-cropped some pictures for the past page of the newsletter.