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629th Forward Surgical Team Transfers Authority

Forward Operating Base Warhorse , BA'QUBAH, Iraq
-- After one year, 16 surgeries, 61 advanced trauma life support cases and three mass casualty operations, Soldiers from the Blacklick, Ohio-based 629th Forward Surgical Team are headed home.

Soldiers from the 1st Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team gathered here on Jan. 4 to extend thanks and best wishes to friends and colleagues from the 629th FST and to witness the transfer of authority to the Fort Lewis, Wash.-based 102nd FST.

"While with the 3rd BCT, the 629th saved the lives of countless Soldiers, Iraqi Security Forces and Iraqi civilians," said 201st Forward Support Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Daniel Mitchell. "For this aid, we are forever indebted."

The team moved where needed, and accompanied the 3rd BCT to An Najaf in April when insurgents loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr caused an uprising in the holy city.

When replacements from the 1st Armor Division and 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment arrived in An Najaf two weeks later, the 3rd BCT moved back to their home bases. But the 629th stayed behind an additional 30 days until a team from the 2nd ACR, who had already begun redeploying to their home base at Fort Polk, La., was turned around and rejoined them.

The team then moved to Logistical Supply Area Anaconda in order to augment the 31st Combat Support Hospital. Twenty-five days later, most of the team moved back to Warhorse, while a four-man detachment was sent to FOB Caldwell, near the Iranian border.

The team finally came back together at Warhorse in the first week of November.

Sgt. 1st Class Ron L. Haskett said the highlight of his deployment was working with the 3rd BCT, and their greatest challenge was trying to keep the unit in the field.

"These teams are built to stay with maneuver units," he said. "That's where they should stay. That's where they're needed."

Team Commander Maj. Carolyn Elias described the year-long deployment as the most unique experience of her life and thanked the 201st FSB and 3rd BCT for their unwavering support.

She also thanked her team, specifically her executive officer, Capt. Matthew Blissenbach, for their ability to "make the impossible happen."

"Our mission, pure and simple, is to provide surgical interventions in a forward position to save life, limb and eyesight," Elias said. "The 629th can say, with conviction and pride, 'mission accomplished.'" (Story by Sgt. Kimberly Snow, 196th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

Release #050106g

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