The Delta Battery 1/129 Field Artillery Unit of the Missouri National Guard, based in Independence is station in Kosovo. This is the latest newsletter sent from the battallion's captains.

The Delta Battery 1/129 Field Artillery Unit of the Missouri National Guard, based in Independence is station in Kosovo. This is the latest newsletter sent from the battallion's captains.

1st Platoon
Our first month back to Camp Bondsteel from Film City has been a busy one. We started with numerous ranges, a physical fitness test, combat lifesaver courses, Thunder Challenge, Med Cap at Novo Brodo and noncommissioned officer courses.
Before getting settled and unpacked, we hit the weapons range and honed our marksmanship skills. soliders did familiarization firing on the M240B machine gun, M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, M203 grenade launcher and qualified with their assigned weapon.
Being able to fire different weapons and live rounds has been, and will always be, one of the more exciting events in the Army.
Though we all hope we never have to use the skills in a real situation, it is necessary to keep your marksmanship skill sharpened. It is also motivating to put a bunch of holes in a paper target.
After completing ranges and getting back in our areas of responsibility, we conducted the annual Army Physical Fitness Test that consists of pushups, sit ups and a two-mile run. A lot of soliders have taken advantage of the time on deployment and worked hard to improve their physical condition. Some soliders call this deployment “the 30 deployment.” You will either lose 30 pounds or gain 30 pounds. With great gyms and food, it is easy to do both. With over half of the platoon scoring above 250, out of a possible 300, it is evident the dedication to being a physically fit solider is there. Sgt. Christopher Draper is leading the way with a 298 score and Sgt. Joshua Welch with a 297.
Further proof that the soliders are taking physical training serious was the Thunder Challenge. The Thunder Challenge tested the soliders’ physical strength, endurance and their ability to think under pressure, while working as a two-man team. Some of the events included were a run, road march, several weight lifting events, written test, weapons assembly and several more. Three of the top four teams came from Delta Battery, with the winning team being from 1st Platoon. Draper and Spc. Michael Clauder brought home the Thunder Challenge banner and most importantly the bragging rights. Although not on the winning team Lt. Rick Frese, 1st Platoon Leader, was on one of the top three teams. We can only assume the commander held him back. Just kidding! Never the less, the 1st Platoon made a great showing.
In addition to the events here at Camp Bondsteel, the 1st Platoon Medic, Welch, went to Germany and competed in the Expert Medical Field Badge. One of the hardest badges to earn with roughly a 10 percent pass rate, Welch completed the course and was second in the class.
Even with the busy schedule for patrols, 1st Platoon soliders have found time to advance their knowledge and skills. Sergeants looking to make staff sergeant completed the next step in their noncommissioned officer career path. Sgt. Michael Cervi Jr., Sgt. Kenneth Manley, Sgt. Dennis Kilgore and Sgt. Stefan Dogget all attended and completed the basic noncommissioned officer phase I course. In addition to leaders courses, the following soliders learned valuable combat skills by completing the Army’ Combat Lifesaver course: Pfc. Crista Pease, Kilgore, Smith, Draper, Frese and Manley.
The last event, and one of the things we all enjoy the most, is the Med Cap. This is an opportunity for the people of Kosovo to receive free medical and dental treatment. We take quality medical and dental care for granted, but for the isolated and poor of Novo Brodo, medical treatment it is a rare thing.
We assisted with security, parking and informing the public attending the Med Cap. Of course, this is what we all enjoy the most, going out into the community and helping the people of Kosovo. We handed out red noses and candy to the kids. (Good thing they received tooth brushes and toothpaste with all the candy they received.) It is a great feeling to help out and leave a positive and lasting impression.
It is hard to pick out just one solider that stands out for the month. There are so many individual soliders and moments that deserve recognition.
A lot of the stories will be told by pictures and words when we all return home to our loved ones. However, a special salute goes out to the two soliders of the Month for 1st Platoon, Draper and Clauder for winning the Thunder Challenge. Their dedication to excellence and accomplishing the mission is unsurpassed. These two soliders have set a high standard of professional excellence in Delta Battery.
A final thank you goes out to all of the Family members, support groups, churches, kids and everyone who support the soliders of 1st Platoon and Delta Battery.

2nd Platoon
On Nov. 12, 1st Squad went to the town of Tomance to do patrols, asking the population if there has been any type of strange things happening. We decided to go to the top of a hill because there was a soccer field up there. About 12 to 15 kids followed us there to play soccer and we played for about an hour. We handed out water, magazines and other goodies that were available for us to pass out to the population. A lot of the kids are big soccer fans of England, like Manchester and Liverpool. They really enjoyed the gifts that we gave them and asked us when we would be back again. Hopefully when we do go back to see them again, we can give things the Families of D Battery sent to give out.
We have been enjoying so many care packages lately. Not just from our own Families, but from the Family Readiness Group, also. The weather is getting colder, but the FRG has sent knitted stocking caps and even embroidered blankets to us.
That really was not expected, but has been really useful. It seems that every day someone gets a package of goodies that we either snack on during patrols or hand out to some of the locals. Right now there are trash bags full of back packs that we will be handing out soon.
These are the days that make this deployment worthwhile. When we can see firsthand the smiles we bring to the people here.
  Second Platoon’s solider of the Month for November is Spc. D’Angelo Ferguson.  Ferguson has been with Battery D since pre-mobilization at Camp Crowder, in Neosho, Mo. He has always strived to do what was necessary for his squad and build teamwork in the entire platoon. Ferguson jumps at every opportunity to accomplish what tasks are needed without complaint. He knows what has to be done, and motivates his squad to get it done by conducting every task with a smile.

3rd Platoon
This past month has been extremely busy for members of 3rd Platoon. We have conducted two separate ranges, gone on an air flights, competed in Thunder Challenge, as well as conducted combative training.
Spc. Felix Moreno qualified with his rifle marksmanship. Moreno is a contributing member of 1st Squad. He has recently been on leave and has had a brand new addition to his Family.
The range  is to qualify soliders on their personal rifle and had gun marksmanship. We hope to never have to use our weapons; however, we are proficient and ready at a moment’s notice.
The helicopter flights we can take are almost endless.
Thanks to Sgt. Bramwell  Richards, 3rd Platoon was able to conduct some awesome combative training. This type of training gives soliders the opportunity to learn how to survive and win should they find themselves in a hand-to-hand situation.
Sgt. Tyler Ritenour of 2nd Squad was chosen as the solider of the Quarter for 3rd Platoon. He has displayed exceptional leadership skills and tactical abilities throughout the deployment.
Most recently Ritenour qualified expert with the M4, scored a 306 on the APFT, took second place overall in the Thunder Challenge, was chosen as the company’s only sniper and completed BNCOC Phase I. His recent accomplishments come as no surprise as he continues his commitment to excellence. Ritenour looks forward to the end of deployment and plans to resume his duties as a Recruit Sustainment Program instructor and full time technician while preparing for drill sergeant school.
Remember the old saying, “work hard, play hard?” That models exactly how our soliders are performing in Kosovo. They put in countless hours of hard work on patrols, force protection, qualification ranges, schools and whatever last minute job that gets thrown at them. But with all the work, they also play hard with all the morale, welfare and recreation activities available on Camp Bondsteel.
Currently, our basketball team is ranked as the dream team. We continue to cheer them on as they play hard. Others are taking advantage of the tours that takes you to historical locations, religious sites, museums, of course the shopping malls and my favorite, the local restaurants.
Do our soliders deserve to play hard? Absolutely!