Update on COP Keating Battle and Relief Fund

 
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COP You proved that we do give a shit. First, apologies for the tardiness of my update, we have the National Executive Committee in town, and your humble blogger has been attempting to explain the success we have been having, and how we can use this to aid our brothers and sisters in arms. Nonetheless, I apologize, mea culpa! The outpouring has been nothing short of phenomenal. This morning we hit $45,000 dollars, raised from 565 individual donations. The Sons of The American Legion passed the hat at their meeting, which meant the world to me personally since their Commander, Mark Arneson is one of my classmates from The Citadel, the finest (and best smelling) military college in the country. (Sorry Commander Hill, but I am asserting the defense of truth on this on.) I also know that the NEC and Adjutants and others have passed the hat as well, but I do not have those funds added into the above figure. I do know that some of the proceeds from the Ye Steivos dinner last night are going to the COP Keating Relief Fund. Additionally, I may have HUGE news shortly on that. So just bear with me as I deal with everything else and I promise a more full accounting shortly. But trust me, things are going AMAZINGLY well. Two other things, both as regards the Battle itself. First off, this was forwarded to me by my new friend Scott, who got it from a soldier in theater:
Jonathan G Hill October 13 at 1:15am Reply I would like to thank you all for the great support for me and my soldiers. We are all very very greatfull. However I have to ask that you not send any more food or hygene, we have been getting quite a bit and the men are just fine with all that. The things that would be nice to have is underwear (boxer briefs) from sized M-L. Movies, magazines (Maxim, FHM, Car, Motorcycle, or any thing of the sort. We are not asking for much, but anything that you feel that you want to send that would help get a smile back on the men's faces would be great. We lost everything (material wise) from DVD players, Hard Drives, Laptops, memory sticks, photos, all of our gear and several other things but we did not lose our pride and will to drive on. We are closer together as a platoon and troop more then ever. Thank you again and God bless. SFC Hill

Just so we never forget who we are doing this for, here is a picture sent to me as well, that shows some of the men of B Troop. B Troop 3-61 CAV 4BCT 4ID FOB Bostic (COP Keeting) APO AE 09354 As regards the battle, some new reports are out and I wanted to share them with you. From the incomparable Greyhawk of Mudville Gazette (you should bookmark and read him daily) I give you the three part interviews with combatants to the Nuristan attack. Part I: Part II: Part III: Those guys are studs. Anyway, I also had this email sent to me, wasn't sure whether to use it, but I see other real media outlets citing to it, and Cop-In-Charge emailed it to me, so here you go. It is long and put in here unedited, but read it all. There will be a further update later.

I feel compelled to write and disseminate this, because when I often read open-source media accounts of battlefield exploits involving US Soldiers, they are often lacking. The attached AP story is such an example. (I am not sure about AP story as there was no atachment - al k) Here are the facts, without revealing sensitive information. I feel compelled to write this because I heard some very fine, brave Americans fought for their very lives Saturday, 03 OCT 09. They fought magnificently. Eight of them made the Ultimate Sacrifice. I don't know their names, only their call signs. Though it may have been smaller in scale, and shorter in duration, their battle was no less heroic than the exploits of their ancestors, in places like LZ X-Ray or Fire Base Ripcord in Vietnam. I want people to know that there are still some GREAT Americans who serve in the US Army, fighting for Freedom, who will probably never be given the due they deserve. I don't know ALL the facts, only what I overheard on the satellite radio. COP Keating was (past tense) located on low ground, near a river, surrounded by mountains - a poor place to have to defend to begin with. The village of Kamdesh was nearby, as was a mosque. About two platoons and a cavalry troop headquarters occupied the COP - Combat Outpost. If you Google COP Keating, you will find a Washington Times article describing the austere conditions there, written earlier this year. I was on duty from 0600-1800 (6 a.m. until 6 p.m.) on Saturday, 03 OCT 09, and heard, first-hand, the events I am about to recount transpire. I took notes as the battle unfolded. Things were relatively quiet when I came on shift at 0600. Not too long afterward, I heard a call sign describing taking small arms fire at his position. (That in itself is not alarming - I hear that frequently because I hear satellite radio transmissions from all sorts of units who operate in Nangahar, Kunar, Laghman (where I am) and in Nuristan Provinces, where this happened.) The situation, then began to deteriorate. The Troop Commander - urgently - requested rotary wing gunships to support him. He was told they were 45 minutes away, and that he should use his 120 mm mortars. He replied that the mortar pit was pinned down, and that the could not employ his 120 mm mortars. I did not know until I saw an aerial photo later that day, after > I got off shift, that the COP was located in a "bowl," surrounded on nearly all sides by high ground. The insurgents were shooting down into the mortar pit from above. The 120 mm mortars from OP Fritshe, a few kilometers away were able to help a little, but it was not enough. Not too long after the fight started, the Troop Commander said that he had a KIA, and several wounded. Uh-Oh - now this is getting serious. Not too much longer after that, the Troop Commander, in a voice that was not panicked, but which had a sense of urgency said, "We've got people inside our wire!!!" He said that he had lost communications with some of his elements at different places on the COP. He had to abandon his Tactical Operations Center (TOC) and all the various means of redundant communications there (MIRC Chat, Blue Force Tracker, tactical FM radios, etc.) His only means of communication was the satellite radio he was using. He said he urgently needed air support. The number of KIA began to climb. He kept asking about the helicopters - his higher headquarters said they were "30 minutes out..." He said that if he did not get help soon, they were going to be overrun. He had consolidated the soldiers he had, to include dead and wounded, in a tight perimeter on part of his COP. He advised that the Afghan National Army (ANA) side of the COP was completely overrun and was on fire. The insurgents had gotten into his perimeter where the ANA latrine bordered his perimeter, after they had overrun the ANA camp. His Entry Control Point (ECP) where some Afghan Security Guards (ASG) had been had been overrun. The ANP Police Checkpoint had been overrun and he was taking a heavy volume of fire from that. He was taking a lot of RPG fire from the mosque. His Ammunition Supply Point (ASP) was under insurgent control. He kept asking about the helicopters. He was told, "Passing Checkpoint 12..." He said, "I'm telling you that if they don't get here f***in' soon, we're all going to f***in' die!!!" Shortly after that, his Squadron Commander came up on the radio and told him that he was going to be OK, that help was on the way. The SCO said that he needed to come up on FM and talk to the helicopters, who should be arriving very soon. > The Troop Commander said that the Harris was all he had at the moment, and asked that the Squadron relay. It was, obviously, a very anxious time. I was afraid that at any moment, the Troop commander would just stop transmitting, and that would mean that they were likely all dead and dying. Someone asked the Troop commander what his target priorities were, and he said that "anything outside the wire" was controlled by bad guys. He mentioned that he needed gun runs at a particular wall, and mentioned certain Target Reference Points (TRP's) such as "the putting green" and "the diving board." Finally, the helicopters arrived and began killing insurgents. It became clear, however, that it was such a target-rich environment that much more air support was needed. The helicopters gave the defenders enough breathing room to better position themselves, reload, etc. Under the umbrella of the gunships, the Troop Commander said that he was going to try to re-take some of his camp. The SCO calmly encouraged him to "fire and maneuver." As they regained some lost ground, the Troop Commander said that he was finding some of his unaccounted for soldiers, and that they were KIA. He gave their battle roster numbers. Things were looking better, but it was still a fierce fight. I could hear a cacophony of machine gun fire when the Troop Commander keyed that microphone to talk. The mortars were still pinned down, with one KIA and wounded in the mortar pit. After only a short time, gunships had to leave to rearm and refuel, heading to FOB Bostic. (FOB Bostic was hit with indirect fire, also, throughout the day.) The weather in the high passes interfered with the helicopters. Close Air Support in the form of jets were on the way, and the Troop Commander was asked to provide Target Numbers, which he did. He was still being pressed on all sides, still taking a heavy volume of small arms fire and RPG's. He had regained some buildings, but had not been able to re-capture all his perimeter. He found at least one MBITR and was able to communicate with aircraft a little better. Once the jets arrived overhead, they began to drop bombs on the masses, the swarms of insurgents. Usually, the insurgents conduct a raid at dawn, do their damage, and flee. Not this day. I looked at my watch, and it was after 1000 and the insurgents were still attacking, even though it should have become clear to them after the close air arrived that they could no longer hope to completely overrun the camp. The Close Air was on station continuously after that, and as soon as one plane dropped its bombs and strafed, another came down to hit targets - some very close to camp. The mosque was hit by a Hellfire, and open source now reports that a high profile insurgent named Dost Mohammad was killed there. A target described as a "switchback" was bombed repeatedly and the insurgents seemed to simply re-occupy it only to be bombed out of it again. (Several pieces of weapons and equipment has since been found there.) The "North Face" was also repeatedly bombed and strafed. A plan was developed to get reinforcements to COP Keating. Because it was still "too hot" to land helicopters, they were flown to OP Fritshe and had to walk to COP Keating. Asked about his ammunition (Class 5) at about 1300, the Troop commander said that he was "red" on 7.62 link and MK19 ammunition (40mm grenade machinegun). Not too long after that, he stated that he was "black" (supply exhausted) on 7.62, but still had a lot of .50 caliber. More KIA were found, and the Troop Commander said that they were missing their sensitive items (weapons, night vision, MBITR radios - things like that.) The KIA number rose to 5. There were constant updates on a particular wounded Soldier who had a broken leg and a crushed pelvis. They said that he had lost a lot of blood, but was on an IV, and was "hanging in there." The Troop Commander said that he had two ANA KIA, and several wounded, still with him. He said that a lot of the ANA - about 12 - had broken and run when the COP began to be overrun. (Some of their bodies were found nearby the next day, along with some ASG who were wounded.) The Troop Commander said that the insurgents had made off with the ANA's B-10 Rocket Launcher. Throughout the day, the air support targeted a B-10 launch site, but it was unclear if it was the same system that the ANA had lost of not. The SCO got on the net and said that there was a plan to bring in a CH-47 Chinook as soon as it got dark, with attack helicopters overhead, and that they would bring in ammo and Soldiers and evacuate the wounded and dead. The SCO said that he would fly in, also. During the battle, the SCO always seemed calm and gave a lot of encouragement to the Troop Commander on the ground. He asked for updates (Situation Reports - "SITREPS") but he did not nag the Troop Commander for it every 5 minutes. He let the Troop Commander fight the fight, frequently asking him what he needed and asking him how he and his Soldiers were doing, offering encouragement, but not micro managing. The fighting continued all day, even though it was not as intense as it had been in the early morning. As the relief column approached from OP Fritshe, it got into a brief fight, quickly killing two insurgents and capturing their ICOM radios and RPG's. Then, they continued on toward COP Keating. The fire that had completely leveled the ANA side of the COP was spreading from building to building, and was setting the COP on fire. The Troop Commander and his Soldiers had to evacuate their TOC again, because it caught on fire. Many of the barracks buildings caught on fire and burned, taking the Soldiers' possessions with them. Only one or two buildings were left by the time it was over. As night approached, the Troop Commander told someone (S-3? FSO?) that if the air cover were lost, and if they were attacked again, they were "done." The Troop Commander was assured that he would have adequate air support. The CSM came up on the net and asked the Troop Commander to try to expand his perimeter in order to try to get accountability of everyone. The Troop Commander said that he "just can't do it, I just don't have enough people. I have too many wounded." The CSM said that he understood, but that he was looking at a cold body on the Predator feed near the maintenance building, and thought that that might be the final missing soldier. (It was later determined that was not him.) The Troop Commander said that there were "a lot" of dead insurgents lying dead inside his perimeter, and he could be seeing one of those. I went off shift at 1800. At that time, there were 6 US KIA, and one missing, later found and determined to be KIA. I do not know where the 8th KIA came from: either one of the wounded died, or earlier there was a mistake in regard to accountability. The next day (Sunday, 4 OCT) when I came to work, I learned that they had found the unaccounted-for Soldier(s) and had made it through the night. During the late morning, the SCO came up on the net and briefed someone about the situation. He said that of five (5) HMMWV's, only one was still running. They had counted eight (8) RPG impacts on one HMMWV alone. He said that the HMMWV's were shot all to pieces. The camp Bobcat had a window shot out, but was still running, and they were still using it to move things. There was a lot of UXO's (unexploded ordnance) that made the area hazardous, such as unexploded US mortar rounds that had been scattered, as well as AT-4's and Javelin's. Most of the Soldiers on the COP had lost all their possessions except for what they were wearing. A plan was already being developed to get them new TA-50, uniforms, boots, toiletries, etc. once they were extracted. There were a lot of sensitive items that needed to be lifted out, because they are serial numbered items that needed to be accounted for, but most everything was ruined. They discussed whether to insert engineers with a lot of explosive to blow everything up, or whether to call in air strikes after everyone was evacuated and try to destroy what was left that way. Even at this point, they were still taking the occasional odd, angry shot or rocket fire. As I type this, I am still listening to the folks who are left at COP Keating, figuring out what to destroy, how best to destroy it (demo vs. aerial bombs or rockets) what to fly out, and making a plan on how best to get that done so they can abandon and close the COP.
Posted in the burner | 20 comments
 
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WELL DONE American Legion and all those great Americans who have pitched in on this with you. WELL DONE!

Just a note - they are "good" on boxers, boxer briefs, socks, sheets, towels, pillows, blankets, shower shoes, razors, running shoes, etc. If anyone has any questions about the items that were donated via the drive Bob Connolly and I worked on with so many great Americans and organizations please drop me an email tankerbabelc@gmail.com.

I come here to the burn pit everyday, sometimes several times in a day. I am not really sure why, but somehow it makes me feel a little connected these brave young men. As the mom of a survivor of COP Keating I find so much comfort in knowing that so many are concerned for this unit. I am still grieving for the 8 men that lost their lifes on Oct 3rd. Eight men I never laid eyes on but will not soon forget. I hope if there is a surplus in funds that something may be purchased for these families also. Thanks to everyone involved here a billion times over-

Hello,

Leta, thank you for linking this website from yours so people like me can keep updated and be in the company of other people who care. I probably never would have found it otherwise.

Mary Henry would you be able to post your son Eric's address, if not post maybe an email to me? I just sent Becky Rogers' son Daniel a letter today thanking him and the men with him for all they do. And asking him to tell them all that this family in Lumberton, NJ cares, prays for them and their families, appreciates and respects them all. We too are with heavy heart over the loss of the men we don't know. I would write to your son as well. If they are in Potempa's group the care packages I sent will help these two young men as well.

To the Burn Pit creators, thank you for all you do with keeping us all informed. We need you!

Respectfully,
Candis
leosmane@live.com

PLEASE NOTE!!! Our son is at Bostick, the FOB for Keating. Just wanted to make sure that everyone is aware that any "extra" or "surplus" stuff is not hoarded. Extra and surplus is pushed out to other FOB's, COB's and OP's as needed. All our troops look out for each other and as they identify a need, they do all they can to meet that need, so whatever you send is used!!! We know that there are soldiers stateside that have even involved their units in making sure everyone gets what they need, no matter where they are. So don't let the notice that they are "good" stop you! Suggest that you know that Christmas is coming and some of these men would not get a "Christmas package" if it were not for all of us working to insure that! We're using the small 7x7x6 P.O. Boxes to try and do this for everyone at Bostick, approx. 450. Working on getting the info. we need now to insure everyone is covered and finding out each personal need/want and then something special! God Bless all of you, pro Deo et patria!

My son lost everything thing at the COP that day. He lost things, some replaceable and some not. He lost the little knitted cap his daughter wore home from the hospital, she was born a couple months before he went over. He lost fellow soldiers that he lived, worked and fought side by side with. He mourns for them and their families...I think he honors them by his will to go on. He did not lose his spirit that day. He told me Monday that he re-enlisted for 6 more years. I say that with pride and fear. I am his mom. I will always worry about him. But Jon is what he has wanted to be since he was a child. He is a Soldier. Thank-you everyone for reaching out to our sons and daughters. Your kindness has brought tears of joy to eyes that have cried so many in sorrow.
God Bless You,
Treva Majors

The support is wonderful, but be careful about your hearsay account that you posted in the blog. The Troop's Commander was coming down a mountain attempting to get to COP Kaating when the "earwitness" claims to have heard him over the radio. We should wait until the other soldiers are interviewed to post any accounts of what actually happened. God bless your endeavor.

Mr. Weathers I cannot even begin to tell you how grateful I am for men like your son and so many others who wake up each day - often in the same uniform they went to sleep in the night before - and give all they have an more for our nation. I have such respect and appreciation for all of them.

So many Americans spend time each day or week sending what they can to our beloved deployed military personnel. I am grateful for those who recognize that we owe them that support. If only more would step up and do what, in my opinion, they should do as citizens to support our military personnel and their families.

My comment about them being "good" on the items I mentioned in my comment above (and I should have included toiletries) came from the men forward. I know you are aware - but many aren't - that supply to that area is not easy. Resources are limited at best. Right now they are attempting to get all of the remotes stocked with "beans and bullets" for the winter. While there is no question that those Soldiers absolutely deserve to be showered with support (as do all of our deployed military personnel) and that they do share any excess I think it is encumbant upon us not to over burden their supply resources.

[...] More from MOTHAX at the Burn Pit. [...]

I have been following this story from Iraq, and as far as I know nothing like this has ever been done in support of the troops. Back in the beginning of these wars, people send steel and money to help upgrade humvees, etc, but nothing on this scale. This effort if something that will make history. This is the stuff that books are written about. I feel its on par with things like the Berlin Airlift historically.

Since when have people and organizations come together to provide more than $50G worth of support to one small unit that was devastated during an attack. I can't find any other time in history.

I applaud every one of you for everything you have done. It shows, that when things are at their darkest, the American spirit is still alive in every one of us, and that we can put differences aside for the greater good. It shows that we do not nor will we ever forget those who put it all on the line, even if we don't hear or see much overtly anymore.

Thank you so much for keeping us updated with this great information. God Bless our Troops!

My husband is with B troop, we are all here waiting for the unit to come hoem safe and sound next year. We love all of our soldiers and will miss the 8 we lost very much. Thanks to eveyone in helping our guys feel the love from back home.

Thanks for getting the ball rolling, and Thanks to Target Corp. Here are some pictures from the event in Minneapolis courtesy of Shawn Davis, Commander 5th District SAL. http://web.mac.com/shawndavis5/iWeb/Site%203/Welcome.html

Treva or Mary Henry,

Could you send me the mail address for your sons so I can send something like magazines over? I sent stuff in early October and got a holiday card back from the CSM which made my day. There's always some guys that don't get much mail which can be hard over the holidays so if they know someone in need I'd like to get something over there soon.

freemj@alum.rpi.edu

-Jeff

Im thankful for the blog.Really looking forward to read more. Will read on...

i am not a fan of Satellite Radio but i guess it would become more popular as years go by,,*

hey people... thank you, but why the hell does this underwear seem to be yellow??

thnx for sharing cool site :)

I love this blog. Keep up the writing love what your doing here.

Berlin is just one of those cities that you need to visit over and over again. So much to see, I have been there now once for 8 days in total and still I want to go back. Nightlife is fantastic so many sights to visit and read about. Just love Berlin in the spring.

here it is 2 and a half years past oct 3rd. It seems like every waking moment i think of that day We lost 8 men. I miss them. I thank everyone here who helped us during those times. I must admit I was one of the individuals that thought we were just forgotten by America. I was thankfully proved wrong. Thank you all again.
Jake Tapper has a book coming out in November called "The Outpost" its available on pre order on amazon you should take a look if you are intrested in our story.

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News from the World of Military and Veterans Issues. Iraq and A-Stan in parenthesis reflects that the author is currently deployed to that theater.