Red Dragons share Soldier stories

SANDSTON, Va. — Soldiers assigned to the Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team currently serving on federal active duty in the Middle East have been sharing their stories each week via the battalion’s Facebook page.

Master Sgt. James Bartels – Battalion Operations NCO
Bartels has served in the Virginia Army National Guard for 14 years, after an initial stint of 4 years in the 82nd Airborne Division. In that time, he’s been a squad leader, a recruiter, a readiness NCO, a platoon sergeant, and several other positions, and he has deployed to Kosovo, the Sinai Peninsula, Guantanamo Bay, Iraq, and now Qatar, where he serves as a battalion operations sergeant in HHC, 1-116th Infantry.
Click HERE to read more on the battalion Facebook page.

Spc. Monte Pilson – Supply Specialist
Pilson is a supply specialist for HHC, 1-116th Infantry. After graduating high school, he did a year and a half of college, then worked full-time. It didn’t take him long to decide he didn’t like that, so he joined the Virginia Army National Guard on Dec 19th three years ago: “It was my Christmas present to myself–I just wish I’d done it sooner.”
Click HERE to read more on the battalion Facebook page.

1st Lt. Eric Yarbrough – Company Executive Officer
Yarbrough, executive officer for Charlie Company, 1-116th IN, was planning to come on this deployment as a platoon leader. When the previous XO was unable to deploy, Yarbrough was picked for the position. “As a PL, your mission is a lot more clear: secure these gates, these towers. XO is a lot more fixing problems and putting out fires–dealing with the unseen things.”
Click HERE to read more on the battalion Facebook page.

Staff Sgt. Daniel Retz – Company Supply Sergeant
Retz, Bravo Company’s supply sergeant, came to B/1-116th IN, from HHC, 429th Brigade Support Battalion, just before the March annual training that served as the pre-mobilization training. He’s spent a career committed to the Virginia National Guard–he works full-time as a production controller at the National Guard’s Field Maintenance Shop 10 in Rocky Mount, VA.
Click HERE to read more on the battalion Facebook page.

Staff Sgt. George Winters – Squad Leader
Winters met his wife in the psych ward of Virginia Baptist Hospital. “We were both working there,” he quickly clarifies. They recently celebrated their first wedding anniversary from opposite sides of the Atlantic ocean.
Click HERE to read more on the battalion Facebook page.

Sgt. Paul Fletcher – Communications NCO
Fletcher is the communications NCO and a motor sergeant for A CO, 1-116th Infantry, where he has been assigned for the last four years. SGT Fletcher is the son of a military policeman; born in Germany and raised there, in Alabama, and in Prince George, VA. He joined the Army 11 years ago, deployed to Iraq with the 180th Engineers and served in the S-6 communications section of HHC, 1-116th IN before moving to A CO. “My dad was a drill sergeant; that gave me discipline and made me love the military,” he reflects.
Click HERE to read more on the battalion Facebook page.

Spc. Rafael Gutierrez – Human Resources Specialist
Gutierrez has been a human resource specialist in 1st Battalion for the last 4 years, helping Soldiers with the things that keep them going during long hours far from home; “things like marriage licenses and pay issues.” His sense of humor keep things in the HR section light, and he’s game for anything. Gutierrez remarks “Can I be honest for a second? I went HR because I had two choices: HR and chemical corps. Chemical didn’t sound good, so here I am!”
Click HERE to read more on the battalion Facebook page.

Spc. Randall Horton – Machine Gunner
Horton weighed 300 pounds his freshman year of high school; by junior year, he had dropped one hundred pounds and enlisted for the Delayed Entry Program. He attended Basic Training the summer before his senior year and is now taking classes in physical training while deployed, stating “I want to go into physical training to help people.”
Click HERE to read more on the battalion Facebook page.

Staff Sergeant Andrew Reynolds – Squad Leader
Originally from Ohio, SSG Andrew Reynolds moved to Virginia to attend Liberty University – and found a wife and a job while he was at it. While working on a degree in criminal justice, his future father-in-law convinced him to look into the Roanoke police department. He’s now been a Roanoke officer for the last three years, and also serves as a squad leader for Alpha Company, 1-116th.
Click HERE to read more on the battalion Facebook page.