Freer native trained Iraqi soldiers

Sue Fleming, The Freer Press

U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Alejandro (Alex) Luis Macias recently was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for exceptional meritorious service while assigned to Multi-National Security Transition Command in Iraq.

As of last July, SSG Macias, along with 11 other U.S. soldiers, began training the Iraqi Army soldiers into a deterrent force to secure the independent control of 18 sectors of battle space within the city of Fallujah.

"We lived with the Iraqi soldiers for eight months on the northeast edge of the city," he recounted. "We experienced mortar fire and small arms fire almost daily."

SSG Macias, who was a transition team advisor, says the men were on constant combat missions during which day-to-day mentoring, teaching interrogation techniques, intelligence analysis and tactics were involved.

"I'd basically advise them how to take on a threat at any given time," he said, "because missions were always ongoing because of our location."

Reports show during a total of 12 months of combat operations, more than 120 tactical movements and 42 company or battalion offensive operations were executed.

Operations included seven joint operations with Marine Corps Regimental Combat Team Five and 15 civil-military initiatives.

On Nov. 15, 2006 a sniper who was responsible for multiple coalition casualties was captured and five days later, 18 suspected insurgents were captured as the result of "Operation Talon," combat operations in which SSG. Macias was directly involved.

Also on Nov.15, SSG Macias distinguished himself as a vehicle gunner on a mounted patrol as he witnessed a vehicle about 15 feet away being destroyed by a roadside bomb.

Though stunned and disoriented from the blast, he was able to deploy smoke grenades to mask the exit of the soldiers from the destroyed vehicle, possibly preventing further casualties, according to reports.

In addition, he helped direct Iraqi Army fire against sporadic enemy small arms fire for more than two hours until reinforcements could arrive.

These important successes had the direct result of stabilizing Fallujah and saving countless lives by removing a significant amount of ordnance, weapons systems and enemy personnel from insurgents operating in Al Anbar Province, reports conclude.

In January 2007, before leaving Fallujah to help train Iraqi National Police in Bagdad, SSG. Macias received a ceremonial dagger and a "disdasha," an Iraqi traditional men's dressing garment as tokens of appreciation by some of the Iraqi soldiers he helped train.

He returned to the United States last month after completion of the training assignment and is currently stationed in San Antonio.

SSG Macias has been a member of the U.S. Army Reserves since graduating from Freer High School in 1999.

He is the son of Jaime and Corina Macias of Freer.

He was assigned to the 1st Iraqi Army Division, 2nd Brigade, 1st Battalion Military Transition Team, Multi-National Security Transition Command in Iraq for one year.