Lt. Col. Patrick Rivette
Lt. Daniel Rivette, an Infantry platoon leader in the 4th Infantry Division, is guarding a bank in a small Iraqi town with his platoon when he notices that a man on a motorcycle has driven past the bank three times in the last hour.
Daniel suspects the man may be casing the bank. He decides to set up an ambush on the street and the next time the man drives by his soldiers knock the driver off his motorcycle and send him to the battalion headquarters for interrogation. Interrogators determine that he is a messenger for an arms dealer and set up a raid on their operation. In another town close by, Lt. Andrew Wild, an Infantry platoon leader in the same Infantry Battalion, is leading a raid to capture one of the cousins of Saddam Hussein.
Both of these young men are graduates of Evans High School and former Columbia County residents, serving on the front lines of our war on terrorism.
They are not alone. Many other Columbia County residents and former residents are serving, have served or are deploying in the near future to Iraq or other hot spots around the world. Lt. Michael Jackson, who was a high school classmate of both Andrew and Daniel, spent six months in Afghanistan as a field artillery Forward observer with the 82nd Airborne Division and currently is on another tour with the division as a battery executive officer in Iraq. Sgt. Michael Talley, an Infantry soldier in the 101st Airborne Division, has recently returned from Iraq and he also had a tour in Afghanistan with the division two years ago. Specialists Jon Waldorf and John Whisnant are in Iraq with their Georgia National Guard Engineer battalion, and Lt. David Rivera Jr. returned several months ago after participating in the Iraq war with an Air Defense Artillery Battery.
Some more Evans High alumni are preparing to deploy to Iraq in the coming months. Lt. Jason Colborn is deploying with his F15 fighter squadron, and Lt. Kevin Toth and Lt. Adam Rivette, both Infantry platoon leaders with the First Armored Division and 3rd Infantry Division respectively, will be leaving in March or later.
Lt. Daniel Rivette (right), an Evans High School graduate, stands with SFC Warren Brooks on a hill in Iraq overlooking the Tigris River.
One needs only drive through the neighborhoods of Columbia County to see numerous yellow ribbons tied to trees or door posts denoting servicemen and women who are deployed overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan where we still have more than 110,000 troops on duty. They come from all types of families, ethnic origins, religions and creeds. Time magazine chose well in depicting the American Soldier as the Person of the Year, and Columbia County can take pride in its sons and daughters who are doing their duty under extreme strain and duress. They are our first line of defense, and we should not forget them or the sacrifices they are making daily in our stead.
They are in harm's way daily and we need to keep them in our prayers. Daniel put it well in a recent letter to his church, West Acres Baptist in Evans: "I want to thank all of you for your overwhelming and faithful support of prayers and love. I cannot begin to recount the number of occasions where I have found myself and my men maneuvering toward imminent danger only to be calmed by the strong and silent presence of Jesus Christ and His own troop of Angels close by. He has protected us and delivered our enemies into our hands and I can only attribute such glory and success to the enthusiastic prayers of faithful Christians everywhere. Yes our nation is no doubt mighty, our men are equipped with an unprecedented technological advantage, and our people are some of the brightest, most resilient and aggressive out there, but you would have to be a prideful fool to assign glory and credit to anyone other than the Lord God Himself.
"If I ever begin to relate the number of instances in which U.S. Forces made contact with terrorists and their devices and didn't get injured or killed when they should have, you would be in shock. Just last week my scout platoon was passing through a town when we suddenly found ourselves in a near ambush. RPGs screamed in front of the gun-truck windshields narrowly missing, and heavy machinegun fire erupted from windows and alleys as we returned fire. Not a single soldier in my platoon was hurt! The Lord has protected us so many times, when by all rights, someone should have been injured. This is the God we serve! He is in complete control."
Several months ago, Daniel and his scout platoon were the ready reaction force for his battalion when the call went out that a convoy from the 173rd Airborne Brigade had been ambushed. Daniel's platoon rolled out of their compound and headed for the fight. When they arrived on the scene they spotted a 5-ton truck that had been hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and was on fire with the fight still raging. The platoon attacked and drove the enemy into an open field, where Daniel directed the fire of Apache helicopters that arrived overhead to help. Explosions and bullets ripped up the field in an awesome display of firepower. The scouts recovered one prisoner and six dead enemy terrorists.
Lts. Daniel Rivette, Andrew Wild and Mike Jackson will be returning to the U.S. in March if all goes well in the next few weeks. Make sure we tell them how much we appreciate all that they have done for us who remain safely here at home. May God bless the USA!
(Lt. Col. Patrick Rivette, U.S. Army retired, is Evans High School's JROTC instructor and father of Lts. Daniel and Adam Rivette.)
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