SHOCKED AND AWED - One Year Since Iraqi War Began

One year ago we followed the unfolding events of America's war with Iraq, from local guardsmen being called to active duty to "shock and awe." Five days into the war, Jessica Lynch was missing in action.

SAD GOOD-BYES AS TROOPS LEAVE SPENCER - "It Was Crying Time" (02/11/2003)

It was reminiscent of soldiers departing in earlier wars, trucks, jeeps and equipment with soldiers hanging out windows and waving good-bye to well wishers.

About 85 members of the 1092nd Engineers left their Spencer armory yesterday morning, after being activated for a pending war with Iraq.

Some of the guardsmen are from Calhoun, including Phillip Perkins, son of Larry and Connie Perkins of Millstone. Perkins, a 2000 graduate of CHS, is a member of the Mount Zion United Methodist Church, whose members prayed for his safe return Sunday.

Spencer residents and families turned out in the falling snow for an impromptu good-bye yesterday, lining the Charleston by-pass.

"It was crying time," said Tracey Keaton, who join the crowd. "There was distress on many faces," she said, fearful of what is to come.

The unit is headed for Ft. Bragg, North Carolina where they'll undergo several weeks of training and administrative processing, with many of them to be assigned to the Gulf area, which is building to 150,000 troops.

More than 500 members of the 1092nd have been activated. The Parkersburg battalion also has companies and detachments in Gassaway, Moundsville, Richwood, Salem, and Weston.

Meanwhile, more than 3,000 West Virginia-based National Guard troops have been activated.

WAR BEGINS! - "Shock And Awe" Yet To Come (03/20/2003)

The war against Iraq began last night. Missing was the expected "shock and awe" of America's military might.

Instead, the war against Saddam Hussein began with missiles fired from American ships in the Persian Gulf - precision guided bombs raining on a bunker in Baghdad where the leader and his cronies were reportedly staying the night.

It is unknown if the surgical strike was effective.

Soon after the attacks Hussein appeared on Iraqi TV, maybe. The government felt it might have been a recording made earlier.

President Bush addressed the American people last night after the first volleys, indicating this first strike was just a preview of what is to come.

Last night's attack was a "target of opportunity."

President Bush said America will not settle for "half measures," and the job will get done.

Since the attack, Iraq is shooting some missiles at Kuwait, all of which have been destroyed or missed the target. Artillery fire was aimed at ground troops in southern Iraq. Numerous alerts required soldiers and civilians to fix gas masks, but so far they have apparently been unnecessary.

Hussein and his inner circle have refused to leave the country.

MORE THAN 3,000 WV RESERVISTS-GUARDSMEN CALLED - Eighty-Eight Leave Today (03/20/2003)

Eighty-eight members of the West Virginia Army National Guard said goodbye to their families and friends this morning.

The St. Albans-based 111th Engineer Group left in a convoy of about two dozen vehicles, headed for Indiana.

Within three weeks, the group is expected to be in the Middle East as part of a second wave of support, which may also include the more local 1092nd Engineers from Spencer and the region.

The group builds roads, bridges and buildings, and can also help with battlefield mobilization.

The unit is the 12th West Virginia National Guard unit to have been mobilized by the president as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

More than 3,000 West Virginia National Guard troops and reservists have been called to active duty in recent weeks.

SHOCK AND AWE HITS BAGHDAD - Massive Strike After Noon EST (03/21/2003)

The Pentagon on Friday unleashed its "shock and awe" strike on Baghdad, apparently destroying a series of palaces and official buildings. The skies of the city lit up under massive firepower, with huge clouds of smoke and orange fireballs.

The attack was made on other cities across Iraq.

Correspondent Peter Arnett, reporting live from Baghdad, said the strikes were much larger than what he had seen in the 1991 Gulf War.

U.S. Marines and British Commandos approached the key southern city of Basra after taking control of Iraq's oil port.

WIRT SOLDIER CAPTURED - Jessica Lynch, 19, Missing In Action, West Hamlin Soldier Killed (03/24/2003)

A 19-year-old Wirt County native is missing in action in Iraq. Jessica Lynch, who is about to turn 20, is from Palestine and is a 2001 graduate of Wirt County High School. She is a member of the 507th Maintenance Company out of Fort Bliss, Texas.

Department of Defense officials reported her unit was moving toward the front in southern Iraq Sunday to provide maintenance to mobile infantry vehicles when they became separated from their convoy in the desert. Iraqi forces surrounded the truck, killing some of the soldiers and taking others prisoner.

She may be among the soldiers paraded before cameras for Iraqi TV yesterday.

Greg Lynch, her father, said he and his family saw the news coverage of the attack. He said they were immediately fearful she could be involved. A State Trooper and a representative of the Army came to their home Sunday night to report she was missing in action.

Lynch was completing her first tour of duty with the Army and had just reenlisted for another four-year hitch.

Family members in West Hamlin, West Virginia were mourning the death of a state native killed in southern Iraq. Second Lt. Therrel "Shane" Childers, was killed Friday during action.

"That was his life. He graduated from high school and that was his determination. He grew up in the military. I'm sure that planted some type of desire in his heart," said Brenda Childers, his aunt in Salt Rock, WV.

1092ND HAS LEFT FOR KUWAIT - Area National Guardsmen Departed Monday (04/09/2003)

The West Virginia battalion best known for its ability to rebuild the state after floods has left for Kuwait, standing by to help fellow soldiers rebuild Iraq. Dozens of soldiers from Roane, Calhoun and the region are members of the unit. Several Calhoun men belong to the Spencer Detachment.

The 1092nd Engineering Combat Battalion, based in Parkersburg, left Fort Bragg, NC, Monday night for Kuwait, according to a family member.

An estimated 511 soldiers with the 1092nd spent the eight previous weeks at Fort Bragg, North Carolina preparing for their mission in the Gulf War, training with weapons to building bridges or actually fighting soldiers.

Engineering combat battalion units go in during the fighting to help reconstruct the country and get life back to normal, according to 1092nd Col. Melvin Burch.

"They can do everything from fight as infantry to build roads. They are multipurpose," said Burch, who said he couldn't release the specific nature of the group.

Burch said he could not release the unit's specific mission, but the soldiers were ready to do whatever they were called on to do -- building bridges, fighting or clearing land mines.

John Allen, brother of 1st Sgt. Fred Allen of Gassaway told media the soldiers are enthusiastic. He said "They're watching the news reports and there's a whole menagerie of angles presented. They don't know how they'll be represented in the news media...not just them, but all the soldiers.They're just good old folks from here at home trying to do a job."

Allen said they feel well prepared and confident.