Remember the Alamo
Col. Scott Mac Leod
Commanding Officer of the 1-141st Infantry Battalion, Texas Army National Guard
Fellow Texans, March 6 is upon us. As you commemorate the Battle of the Alamo in San Antonio and throughout Texas, be assured that we, the Soldiers of the 141st Infantry Regiment, are also marking this day.
Currently, I have the honor of commanding the 1st Battalion of the 141st Infantry, also known as the "First Texas Infantry."
Recognized by the Army Institute of Heraldry as the oldest standing military organization in Texas, we trace our lineage to the War for Texas Independence and take great pride in a single white battle streamer that hangs from our regimental colors - white with red lettering, it simply reads, "THE ALAMO."
A big part of Texas history, this San Antonio-based unit has fought valiantly in battles for Texas' independence, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War and World War I and II.
The 13-day siege which ended on March 6, 1836, is one of the most famous acts of defiance ever recorded in the annals of military history.
Outnumbered and with no hope of achieving victory, the Texan's heroic defense of the small Alamo Mission in San Antonio is considered by some historians to be equal in magnitude to the Battle at Thermopylae where 300 Spartans stood against a vast Persian army.
While we've planted the Lone Star flag over our headquarters, we don't expect to make that sort of history again so soon. This time, we're here to support Iraqis who on the 7th of March will have another opportunity to break free from the past by voting in their national parliamentary elections.
In Iraq, the 1-141st Infantry Battalion's mission is to act as the command headquarters for Forward Operating Base Cropper located near Baghdad International Airport and to provide command and control of our subordinate units.
Our company-sized elements are split between base defense, correctional assistance and advisory training teams, convoy security, fixed site security of strategic locations and personal security details for senior Army leaders.
Like the men who fought at the Alamo, our Texas Soldiers are known by their families and friends best, but they're heroes just the same. On a recent patrol into Baghdad, I reflected on how extraordinary they have become.
Many were only 9-years old when 9/11 occurred. Today they are here in Iraq because they volunteered to leave jobs and family and to regularly, and without fanfare, display great generosity of spirit as they put themselves in harm's way on behalf of a budding nation.
I know that if you could see them you would agree that it's not just their families who admire them, little do they know that they have also become the pride and joy of our community.
Conditions look good going in to the Iraqi March 7 elections, but Soldier safety is my main concern as an increased risk remains and the improved security in Iraq is reversible.
I hope that like our Soldiers, Iraqis, who were children in 2001, will also stand up for their nation by proving their generation is committed to using the ballot to seek freedom and a better life. A strong and democratic Iraq could be a potent force for good in the Middle East.
Morale is high. But, our operational tempo can be a challenge to many of our Soldiers on their first deployment. With many missions, we work six 12-hour days a week, with only one off day. To ease stress, our 1-141st leaders are highly involved.
Here in Iraq, your sons and daughters know that San Antonio families are extremely proud. Thank you for your support and know this, my officers and I find it humbling that American moms and dads continue to entrust their greatest possessions to our care.
Upon their return, these Soldiers will have much to offer by sharing the incomparable lessons learned from participating in something much larger than them.
Having deployed to combat at such a young age, my hope is that one day our schools, businesses and governments will be led by these Soldiers who have gained the priceless insight which is a unique reward for those who have practiced selfless service.
With our tour half way over, we look forward to coming home to you and our Great State.
Things are much better here, but, like any good Texan who should find themselves in a tight spot, we'll remember Col. Travis' words during the battle:
"¡No rendirse, muchachos!"
May God Bless You, and may God Bless Texas!