Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fallen Heroes, Iraq War 03/19/03

Steven W Faulkenburg

Huntingburg, Indiana

November 9, 2004

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
45 Army Command Sgt Maj

2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment

Vilseck, Germany

Died in Fallujah, Iraq, when he came under small arms fire while conducting combat operations.

This letter was written by CSM Faulkenburgs troops in Iraq.

THE MUDDY AND DUSTY BOOTS OF RAMROD 7


CSM Steve Faulkenburg was the epitome of an Infantryman and almost larger 
than life figure to the Soldiers of Task Force 2-2 Infantry, Ramrods. We had 
the distinct pleasure of serving along side him for two years during two 
operational deployments--Kosovo (Nov 02 to Jul 03) and Operation Iraqi 
Freedom II (Feb 04 to Nov 04). We knew immediately he was a Soldiers' leader 
from the moment we met him. He was an Infantryman who cut his teeth and 
served in units such as the 101st Airborne, 82nd Airborne, and 2nd Infantry 
Divisions; all light assignments where he honed his skills as an Infantry 
Soldier and leader. The Big Red One was his first mechanized assignment and 
one that did not intimidate this incredible soldier. Most Infantrymen who 
have served their entire career in the light world don't care to be around 
mechanized vehicles, but not Ramrod 7. CSM Faulkenburg viewed this 
assignment like all of his others. He would often say, in his unique 
southern accent, "Hell Sir, it's all about leading Soldiers."

His presence was immediately felt by all, especially the non-commissioned 
officers. He personally set the example and challenged young NCOs to embody 
and live by the NCO creed. During the battalion's deployment to Kosovo, CSM 
Faulkenburg demonstrated he was the standard bearer with his continuous 
presence. All were amazed at his energy and ability to always be at the 
critical point on the battlefield. Because of his in-depth understanding and 
passion for Soldiers and standards, he frequently conducted nighttime leader 
checks. He knew this was the time when standards tend to drop, and he was 
there to ensure they did not. Every soldier on Montieth, Zegra Base, 
Observation Post Power and, Thunder Base knew to expect Ramrod 7 when it was 
the darkest, coldest, or rainiest. He would be there to inspect the Soldiers 
at guard mount, on entry control points, and in guard towers. When a soldier 
was found wanting, it was his NCO chain of leadership that retrained. Ramrod 
7 was truly about Soldiers living by the "Warrior Ethos". During the Kosovo 
deployment, he organized and executed a V Corps Leaders Check Ride, EFMB, 
two modified table VII gunneries, and weekly live fires to ensure the 
Soldiers maintained a combat focus. When Operation Iraqi Freedom I began, 
many Ramrod soldiers felt they were being left on the sidelines. CSM 
Faulkenburg, who always understood levels above his position, reminded the 
men that supporting efforts contributed to the mission's success, and our 
assigned mission was protecting EUCOM's flank. He also told Soldiers to look 
long term--we would get our chance to fight in Iraq. The battalion returned 
from Kosovo in July 2003 and received orders to deploy to combat in Iraq.

In February 2004, the Ramrods were on the march again, occupying Camp New 
York in Northern Kuwait and refining those combat skills that would take us 
through the approach march through Baghdad to FOB Normandy north of Baghdad. 
CSM Faulkenburg took his place in the final serial and ensured no one was 
left on the side of the road and accountability was maintained at every 
stop. In his unmistakable voice and a cheek full of Redman, Ramrod 7 had the 
ability to bark commands over the task force command net to ensure all 
leaders maintained situational awareness, a combat focus and would never, 
ever compromise standards.

Task Force 2-2 arrived at FOB Normandy and completed the first step in a 
long journey. Although the Ramrods were met with difficult living 
conditions, CSM Faulkenburg recognized a forward operating base with 
personality and unlimited potential. Always taking care of soldiers, CSM 
Faulkenburg established priorities of work that ensured security was 
established to high standards followed by improving soldier's living 
conditions. Improvements deliberately began to unfold. Today, Normandy sets 
the division standard in force protection. The dining facility started as a 
shell of a building--first came lights, followed by chairs, windows, and 
then air conditioners. Eventually the birds and bats were defeated and 
replaced by stand up refrigerators for soda and ice cream as the scorching 
summer arrived. The chapel went from ugly to a true place of worship. The 
MWR Center changed from an abandoned building with eight phones to a place 
where soldiers could relax, watch television, drink an ice coffee, and check 
email. The PX went from nothing to a well stocked facility, burn barrels 
were replaced by latrines, and working showers replaced baby wipes. 
Throughout all these changes, CSM Faulkenburg's personality and 
determination left a lasting imprint.

In Iraq, CSM Faulkenburg conducted a combat patrol with every platoon in the 
task force. He followed the platoons through the orders process, rehearsals, 
precombat checks and inspections, execution, and AARs. He knew that was how 
he could best understand the strength and weaknesses of each platoon, its 
leaders, and Soldiers. Never backing down from a fight, Ramrod 7 was 
involved in Task Force 2-2's first firefight in March 2004 on the day of the 
transfer of authority. CSM Faulkenburg lived for maintaining contact with 
the enemy once the snake raised his head. During the Battle of Muqdadiyah 
Market Place on 08 August 2004, he fearlessly roamed the battlefield. A 
soldier described him as, "the Robert Duvall character in Apocalypse Now" 
and he inspired those around him.

Task Force 2-2 was called upon to deploy from FOB Normandy twice. During the 
insurgent's Easter Offensive, Task Force 2-2 fought for two days, disengaged 
most of the battalion while in contact, and conducted a 400 km approach 
march to An Najaf south of Baghdad. Crossing both the Tigris and Euphrates 
Rivers while in contact, Ramrod 7's crew killed several insurgents. As part 
of the Brigade Combat Team, CSM Faulkenburg enforced the standards of Task 
Force 2-2 which helped bring stability to An Najaf so it could be later 
handed off to the 1st Armored Division. The Ramrod's deployment to Fallujah 
in November 2004 was a more difficult mission.

Task Force 2-2, under the operational control of the 1st Marine Division for 
the assault on Fallujah, would face a well entrenched and determined enemy. 
Having occupied the city for months, the insurgents were able to build and 
improve fighting positions and plan a complex defense of the city. The 
soldiers of Task Force 2-2 were more than ready and CSM Faulkenburg was one 
of the main reasons why.

CSM Faulkenburg was mortally wounded during the early morning hours of 09 
November 2004 during the initial assault into Fallujah. To those who knew 
him, we can close our eyes and picture what Ramrod 7 was doing those last 
few moments. He was dismounted and organizing the soldiers around him. He 
had just finished guiding a battalion of Iraqi soldiers through the breach 
lane. As small arms fire burst out from two sides, CSM Faulkenburg issued 
fire commands to his gunner, and raced forward into the contact. The Task 
Force's standard bearer had fallen, but his impact on the Soldiers he led 
continues on.

Command Sergeants Major simply to not come any better. Because of CSM 
Faulkenburg, we are all better Soldiers. He will always be with us. Our 
prayers are with this incredible noncommissioned officer and his loving 
family.

From Brian Baar 04/11/07:

Read article small correction....... I served with Steven in the 24th Inf Div 2nd Bn 21st Inf CSC Company (Mech) so the Big Red One was not his first Mech assignment, we both were in the Anti-Tank Plt. 
Also Steven and I (Brian J. Baar) lived together at Floyds Trailer Park Lot #124 in 80-82 and a few others.

He built his own Motorcycle and I had a Kawasaki 1000 LTD, We used to reach out the kitchen window and get Pecan Leaves and make Tea, David Yoeman, James Swann, John Pence, The Five of us paid $40.00 each per month and we had a great time, We had been to Ft Irwin training, Ft Drum and The first of the many Operation Bright Star, back when the Egyptian President was killed.

My foxhole would have been open anytime for Faulkenburg, A fine a soldier anyone could want to serve with, 
a credit to the US Army, His Units, His Commanders, Family and Friends. His Mom and Dad had as fine a Son as any could hope for, a real Patriot!

I will miss him, surely America has lost one of its finest!

Command Sgt Maj Faulkenburg I salute you, Thank you for your service and may God bless your family and friends, comfort and keep them safe. Until we meet again my Friend, I'll see you on the other side!

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