Thursday, February 04, 2010

Story of Cpt. John Teal

I recently made a Memorial Bracelet in memory of Captain John R. Teal, KIA Oct 23 2003, Baquaba Iraq. Here is one story of a man I knew for a short period of time, but admired greatly.

We were all deployed in March of 2003, during the invasion, for 13 months. Our outfit was a Civil Affairs Battalion attached to the 4ID, 2BCT. Other CA teams in our battalion were split up amongst the whole Division spread out across the area they were assigned too; we didn't see our own Battalion as a whole, until we redeployed back to the States once we left Kuwait in March 2003. Upon taking the airfield which was Camp Warhorse (Camp Freedom now), after entering Baquaba, it became readily apparent we would need to move closer to the populace in order to be more affective. Shortly there after convincing the commanders, we did move to a blown out government building in the middle of Baquaba with a population of 450,000+. However with this responsibility came extra personnel to help, the 2BCT sent military intelligence folks, Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), some infantry folks for guard-post on the roof, PYSOP, and some extra officers, just to name a few. It was also a place were SF and sniper teams would come in between night missions to change-up, adjust gear, brief us on enemies, get a bite, etc. This where we all met John.

At first many of us NCO's were a little skeptical of another officer coming to live with us not being from one of the other outfits mentioned above, as we thought he might be there to "keep eyes on us". We didn't do anything wrong, but our community was a tight-knit band of soldiers, from many different backgrounds, charged with many responsibilities, and a commander from the 2BCT that expected results yesterday. Our team alone had 1.3 million American dollars funneled through our hands for various projects to get this city back on its feet, and there were multiple teams at the CMOC. Baquaba held elections a full year before the highly publicized ones of 2005, all because of this great group of professionals we worked with. John was right there all along in the thick of it; facilitating, coordinating, adjusting, showing us he was one of the best at this business.

One night I was walking down the hallway and I heard a sound all grandchildren of Italian immigrants growing up in the 70's and 80's knew all to well, Old Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra. It was coming from Cpt.Teal's room, I walked in with a big smile on my face, and we yapped about him, from then on we connected very well. He had many DVD's and CD's that we exchanged and listened too, as well as all the goodies that somehow officers' always seem to have, snacks, hot plates, etc. You couldn't help to notice when walking into his room, a big cardboard cut-out of this gorgeous chick, the kind you see at liquor stores, or bars, smack dab in the middle of his room. After a while I asked, "Sir who sent that to you?", he told me "My girlfriend" I told him it must be a pretty special woman, he replied "You are looking at her." I laughed taking it as joke but he was serious, and showed me a picture of them two. John had that "it", that ability, attitude, looks, a smooth cat that loved sunglasses with all the combinations in life to be a success and he knew how to use all of them to his advantage. We worked out on the roof at night all of us, after daily missions, late so no enemies could see us, John had his mountain bike on a trainer, and let us all use it, a 1000 dollar mountain bike being used by multiple people, John was generous. I'll never forget one night we got mortared, and when the flash went off before the blast, I saw a silhouette of John pedaling his ass off amongst the darkness, I couldn't help but laugh as I took cover. Funny thing how you just laugh when you get attacked sometimes.

The day of October 23, 2003 was a day I know none of us will ever forget, it started with an attack at the back gate, that Cpt. Teal was pulling security on. Attacks on our compound were common place, you have a compound in the middle of a 450,000+ city, even if you take say 1% of people that don't like us and attack us, that is still 4500 people. After the attack people geared up to go on missions, at the last second we got pulled off our mission, and placed on another one. Cpt. Teal and two others; Sgt Jared Myers, and Sgt Charles "Chuck" Bartles took our place on that mission. I don't know the details about the blast as I wasn't there but I do know that Jared Myers is a hero, John died instantly, and Chuck, who was the gunner up top, on top of being cut up pretty badly, lost his arm. Jared several miles from the CMOC with a broken leg, lacerations, and in obvious shock drove the damaged vehicle back to safety. Jared do not ever forget your efforts that day, and certainly don not discredit them, what you did in the face of adversity is simply mind blogging brother. I only aspire to be 1/8 the man that Jared, Chuck, and Cpt. Teal are. When we came back later in the day from our mission, and saw the vehicle sitting there on the grounds of the compound and found what happened, to this day I can't describe the feeling I had, I was numb.

Not many days go by that I don't think of John, and all the other guys on OIF 1 with me, and it truly scares me to think it was my teams' mission they were on. I am extremely lucky, but at the same time guilty. There are times when I look at my daughter (who was born when I was in Iraq) playing, and laughing and think of John, Jared, and Chuck and think how close man, how close. To the family, I truly am sorry for your loss, may God bless you, and watch our you with love and care, as John most certainly is as well.

Sgt Michael R. M.
418th CABN
OIF1

1 comment:

Rebeca said...

thank you for sharing your story about John. I also knew John while at Fort Hood.