This week I have the pleasure of sitting down with my counterpart from my time in Iraq, 2nd Squad Leader Staff Sergeant Jay Fondren US Army Ret. I watched Jay grow from a young Private First Class into a Non-Commissioned Officer I highly respected and admired as a man and leader. Jay was my right hand my number two. Whenever a decision was being made that impacted the Platoon, Jay’s voice and opinion were always heard. Many long hours were spent at my house in Killeen TX creating packing lists, load out plans, platoon readiness documents, and training criteria.
Jay was often the Yin to my Yang, my voice of reason. I never hesitated to let him know what I thought and he reciprocated whether I asked for his opinion or not, and was glad for it every time! More than counterparts, Jay is my brother; I will cherish his friendship until the day I die.
Anyone who has led men, and especially as a Squad Leader, or Platoon Sergeant can tell you that it is often a very lonely billet because there are few people you can really talk to and open up with. Many things you want to talk about or share, you can’t really share with your lower enlisted. It’s your job to keep the moral and confidence and to do this there is a hat you must wear at all times with your men. Jay was my sounding board, someone I could speak to about my fears, questions and uncertainties. I highly valued that in him!
IN THIS PARTICULAR EPISODE YOU WILL LEARN:
Our first taste of what combat would be like happened on the streets of Baghdad April 4th 2004. A day that we would all refer to as “Black Sunday” In this episode Jay and I share our stories from our unique perspectives as the battle in Sadar City followed by all of Baghdad.
This episode is dedicated to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice that night of 04/04/04 and to the many more wounded.
Cpl. Forest J. Jostes, 22, Albion, Illinois, 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, hereinafter referred to as the 1-82 FA, assigned to the 1st Armored Cavalry Division, supporting the 2-5 Cav.
LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
Article: “Black Sunday” in Sadr City, April 4, 2004
(By: Ed Marek, editor October 19, 2004, republished September 7, 2014)
Article: The April 2004 Battle of Sadr City
(By: U.S. Army Center of Military History)
Books that were written about Black Sunday and the days of sustained combat that followed.
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