Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

June 17, 2010

Kicking Horse student puts his training to use in Iraq

By Lailani Upham

Sgt. Boneshirt stands outside the motor pool in Tikrit, Iraq, where he spends most of his daily hours supervising a 12-man squad and repairing light wheel U.S. Army vehicles. (courtesy photo)
Sgt. Boneshirt stands outside the motor pool in Tikrit, Iraq, where he spends most of his daily hours supervising a 12-man squad and repairing light wheel U.S. Army vehicles. (courtesy photo)

TIKRIT, IRAQ — From Kicking Horse Job Corps to the U.S. Army, literally, Orlando Boneshirt was escorted by van from Kicking Horse Job Corps campus to the Missoula International airport to start basic training in Fort Knox, Kentucky.

It’s been a decade since he graduated from KHJC in 1999 with a Diesel Mechanic certification, but the training prepared him for what he still doing today.

Boneshirt, 33, enrolled Lakota, grew up on the Rosebud Indian Reservation. During his senior year he looked to leaving the Reservation to further his education at KHJC, according to his mother Mavis Boneshirt. “I am so glad Kicking Horse gave him that chance,” she said.

Although it has been awhile since Boneshirt graduated from KHJC with his high school diploma from Job Corps’ linkage through Two River Eagle School, KHJC Director Charles Camel remembers Boneshirt. “He was a decent young man,” he said.

His Lakota family has seen Boneshirt only twice since he joined the Army. His mother said the family were making plans to attend one of Boneshirt’s military graduations in Georgia, but could not make it. “He told us it was good we did not go because an hour later he was sent off (to Iraq),” she said.

“We’re all proud of him, that he did something with his life though. He is the first one from our town to do something like this,” she said. Sgt. Orlando Boneshirt, originally from St. Francis, South Dakota, a town of approximately 1,000 people, is the oldest of three sisters and a brother.

Boneshirt has served three tours already. He was deployed to Saudi Arabia in 2001, then to Jordan in 2003. In 2007 he was called out to Iraq, returned to the States for one year and then sent back to Iraq where he will remain until August. Boneshirt will have two weeks off to spend with his family in South Dakota.

Sgt. Boneshirt is currently with the 3rd Infantry Division Special Troops Battalion, which is part of the U.S. Division Task Force Marne in the northern region of Iraq. According to military officials, the Task Force Marne’s mission is to conduct partnered full spectrum operations in order to secure the Iraqi people, neutralize violent extremist networks and support the further development of a sovereign, stable, and self-reliant Iraq. Simply put, the mission is to help the Iraqi people solve Iraq’s problems within the Iraqi system.

Sgt. Boneshirt currently serves as the Scheduled Services Noncommissioned Officer in Charge for the Division Special Troops Battalion at the Contingency Operating Base Speicher in Iraq.

Sgt. Boneshirt works on a military vehicle in Iraq. Boneshirt's unit is on-call 24/7 for several Army units in northern Iraq to repair and maintain military vehicles in the 120-degree desert terrain. (courtesy photo)
Sgt. Boneshirt works on a military vehicle in Iraq. Boneshirt's unit is on-call 24/7 for several Army units in northern Iraq to repair and maintain military vehicles in the 120-degree desert terrain. (courtesy photo)

His mission is to recover vehicles that break down day or night on the field, 24 hours and seven days a week. “If a tire goes out or a dead battery, we go pick it up wherever it is,” Boneshirt said.

His day begins at 0500 by checking in with his soldiers then off to an hour of P.T. (physical training), where the troops fall-in for formation at 0600. After P.T. the soldiers are released for an hour and half to call home and do what they need to do to begin their day. By 0900 Boneshirt and his 12-man squad are maintaining vehicle support for several units at the motor pool. “They come over and see us about their vehicles. We help everyone,” he said. The crew works until noon, eats lunch together and it’s back off to work until 1800 to have dinner, and return to vehicles that need to be completed; it’s work until mission is complete.

Days reach about 120 degrees and cools down at night to 105, according to Boneshirt. “It’s dry out here. You look from left to right and all you see is empty desert,” he said. “When it rains, it turns to mud,” he added, which offers a new set of challenges in getting the work done for everyone.

Boneshirt’s evenings are normally dedicated to working out at the gym. “We have sports to get involved in; soccer tournaments, basketball tournaments and a weekly poker tournament to help keep the stress level down,” he said.

Boneshirt makes it point to call home on a weekly basis; however lately Ms. Boneshirt said she has not heard from her son in few weeks due to a recent bombing. She said she is looking forward to the day he returns back to the States in August. Boneshirt plans on continuing his career in the military and become a recruiter for either Montana or the South Dakota region.

Boneshirt has two uncles and one aunt who also serve in the U.S. Army.

“We are just happy he is serving his country, and for everyone that is serving and protecting our country,” Ms. Boneshirt said.

Advertise with us!
Share
submit to reddit
('DiggThis’)
Delicious Bookmark this on Delicious