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U.S. Soldier Killed in ISIS Raid

wheeler

By Debbie Gregory.

A U.S. service member was fatally wounded during an Iraq mission to rescue about 70 hostages from the Islamic State (known as IS, ISIS, and ISIL) in Iraq and Syria.

Master Sgt. Joshua Wheeler is the first U.S. servicemember who has died in Iraq during combat since the United States began its campaign against IS terrorists in 2014

Although there have been nine previous U.S. deaths as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, all of them occurred in non-hostile situations.

Wheeler, of Roland, Oklahoma, was a highly-decorated soldier and father of four. He rushed into action when he heard sounds of gunfire coming from a prison in Iraq, the location where approximately 70 ISIS-held hostages were being kept.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter said that although not part of the rescue plan, Wheeler’s actions were critical to the mission’s success. Carter said the freed hostages explained what they had experienced after the rescue, including the graves that had been dug for them next to the compound.

The Special Operations Forces mission was in support of an Iraqi Peshmerga operation to rescue the hostages, after information was received that the hostages were facing a mass execution. U.S. helicopters provided air support for the operation, as U.S. forces accompanied Peshmerga forces to the compound.

Of the some 70 hostages rescued, more than 20 of them were members of the Iraqi Security Forces. Five ISIS terrorists were detained by the Iraqis, and a number of terrorists were killed. The U.S. also recovered important intelligence about ISIS.

The mission was authorized consistent with counter-ISIS efforts to train, advise and assist Iraqi forces.

During his military career, Wheeler was deployed at least 17 times — most of those in support of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Army.

Our heartfelt condolences go out to the loved ones of Master Sgt. Wheeler.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Military Connection: Airstrikes Against Islamic State Continue in 2015

air strikes syria

The U.S. military and its partner-nation allies have continued airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. As part of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, the mission has been designed to eliminate the Islamic State terrorist group, and the threat they pose to Iraq and the wider international community.

President Obama authorized the use of airstrikes against the Islamic State beginning on August 8, 2014. Since then, the U.S. has been joined by Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom in airstrikes in Iraq. Joining the U.S. in airstrikes over Syria are Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The airstrikes have wreaked havoc on the Islamic State.

U.S. Central Command recently released data on the airstrikes. Through January 7, 2015, a total of 1,676 coalition air strikes were conducted against various elements of Islamic State, hitting more than 3,200 targets.

The targets damaged or destroyed included: 980 buildings, 673 infantry fighting positions, 259 oil infrastructure sites, 394 miscellaneous vehicles, 303 technical vehicles, 184 Humvees, 92 checkpoints, 79 artillery/anti-aircraft units, 58 tanks, 52 bunkers, 41 staging areas, 26 armored personnel Vehicles, 23 stockpiles, 17 guard shacks, 16 command posts, 14 boats, and 11 improvised explosive device (IED) positions.

The bulk of the vehicles and weaponry, including armored personnel carriers and Humvees, were originally U.S. military property. The equipment was originally sold to Iraq’s government to be used by their security forces, but were captured or otherwise pilfered by the Islamic State.  The boats were reportedly used by the Islamic state to ferry personnel and weaponry across the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in Iraq.

Even since this list was disseminated, coalition airstrikes have continued against the Islamic State in Iraq and in Syria as part of Operation Inherent Resolve. Seven strikes targeted Islamic State forces in Iraq, destroying five tactical units, two vehicles, a vehicle-born bomb, and a checkpoint. Six strikes targeted Islamic State forces in Syria, destroyed four fighting positions, hit two more fighting positions and a staging area, as well as five Islamic State-controlled crude oil well heads and four crude oil pumps.

While technically not at “war,” American and allied-nation’s pilots are putting themselves in harm’s way each and every time they engage the enemy in airstrikes against the Islamic State. It has been estimated that an average of eleven airstrikes a day have been conducted so far, as part of Operation Inherent Resolve.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Airstrikes Against Islamic State Continue in 2015: By Debbie Gregory

Military Connection: Marine’s Death Reclassified: By Debbie Gregory

First CasualtyMarine’s death reclassified as first casualty of “Operation Inherent Resolve.”

Cpl. Jordan L. Spears, from Memphis, Indiana, was lost in the Persian Gulf on October 1, 2014. He was serving as a Crew Chief on an MV-22B Osprey, assigned to the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 163, supporting the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

The Osprey was attached to the USS Makin Island (LHD-8). Shortly after takeoff from the amphibious assault ship’s flight deck on October 1st, the Osprey nearly crashed. Cpl. Spears and another crew member bailed out of the aircraft and into the waters of the Persian Gulf.  The pilots were able to regain control and land safely back on the ship’s deck. Search and rescue operations were able to safely recover one crew member, but Cpl. Spears was never found. Initially, Cpl. Spears’ death was deemed by the Department of Defense (DOD) as a non-global war on terror casualty.

On October 28th, a review of the incident led to an reclassification of Cpl. Spears death as in support of the U.S. military’s efforts against the Islamic State, making Spears the first official casualty of Operation Inherent Resolve.

Unfortunately, the DOD has already identified a second casualty of Operation Inherent Resolve. Lance Cpl. Sean P. Neal died on October 23rd in Baghdad in a noncombat incident. Lance Cpl. Neal was a mortarman with 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, an infantry unit out of Twentynine Palms, California.

As a nation, we send our condolences to the families, friends and comrades of Cpl. Spears and Lance Cpl. Neal, and to the entire U.S. Marine Corps. Let us hope that these two Marines remain honored members of a short list.

Military Connection proudly serves those who serve in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve, Veterans and their Families. We are the go to site for Veteran Employment and information on Veteran education. Militaryconnection.com provides Veterans with and Directory of Employers, a Job Board, information on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and a blog that offers Veterans boundless information. Be sure to visit Militaryconnection.com, the go to site.

Military Connection: Marine’s Death Reclassified: By Debbie Gregory