MOSUL, Iraq–Several Hawaii-based soldiers from the 130th Engineer Brigade were promoted by Chief of Central Command Gen. David H. Patraeus on Thursday, Dec. 31, during a brief visit to Contingency Operating Site (COS) Marez.

While at COS Marez, Patraeus ate lunch with soldiers from the 130th Eng. Bde. and the 2nd Brigade 3rd Infantry Division. Afterward, he traveled to the VIP Palms facility at Logistics Support Area Diamondback, which contains the Mosul airfield and lies adjacent to COS Marez.

Before meeting with top U.S. military and civilian leaders of the United States Division North (USD-N) area of Iraq, Patraeus promoted three soldiers from the 130th Eng. Bde. Jason Jack was promoted from second lieutenant to first lieutenant, Ronald Nelson was promoted from sergeant to first sergeant, and Everardo Samaniego was promoted from specialist to sergeant.

“James Johnson General Patraeus centered”

“It was really good that they did three different [promotions], an officer, myself, and a new NCO (non-commissioned officer) and that one is the one that I feel is the most Important,” said Nelson. “That’s a changing step in any soldiers life, when they become an NCO. For that to happen by the CentCom Commander, is a pretty big deal.”

“That is the man who turned this war in Iraq around with the counter-insurgency plan. He is a major player in history,” said Jack. “I really feel honored that he took the time out to come and promote me from second lieutenant to first lieutenant, the next big step in my career.”

Other soldiers received command coins from Patraeus for their efforts in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Among those recognized was Staff Sgt. Ricky Hammons who is now on his second deployment to the Middle East–the first was during the Gulf War from 1990-91.

“God bless you,” said Patraeus, a former 101st Airborne Division Commander when he learned that Hammons had supported Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield, as a member of the 101st.

“James Johnson General Patraeus autograph centered”

“Most of the time when you see someone with a 101st patch on, it’s something special,” said Hammons. “It makes you a bit nostalgic.

Other top officials visiting COS Marez with Patraeus included General Charles H. Jacoby who leads the Multi-National Corps-Iraq, and General Anthony Cucolo, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division which currently operates in USD-N.

‘Photos and report by James Johnson, a Hawaii Reporter journalist embedded in Iraq. Reach him at mailto:jkenii@hotmail.com/’

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