Cleaning Up The Streets … One IED At A Time
September 28, 2007
As with most Soldiers that we have the opportunity to speak with, Sgt. Nicholas Denning is pretty nonchalant when lavished with praise and attention. Sgt. Denning, like most of our Troops, just feel like they’re doing their job and not doing anything special. They don’t want any special attention for doing that job. Just the knowledge that those of us here at home support them, while they do their job.
The Soldiers in Company A, Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Infantry Division, nicknamed the “Assassins” take their work very seriously. They currently lead all companies in Baghdad with 48 IEDs found, which is more than double the numbers of any other unit.
Sgt. Nicholas Denning checking the mechanical arm on his Husky prior to a mission
(photo by Maj. Sean Ryan 2nd IBCT, 2 Inf Div, PAO)
Sgt Nicholas Denning recently was chosen as a driver for a 3rd Husky, which is one of the most critical jobs for clearing IEDs from the streets of Baghdad. How was he chosen to be the 3rd driver you might ask. The old fashioned method of course, that good old stand-by of “rock, paper, scissors.” While that might sound like a joke, the method was chosen because there were so many Soldiers in the unit qualified for the job.
Sgt. Denning takes his job seriously, so much so that he alone is responsible for finding almost 70% of the IEDs that his unit has been credited with. To date, he’s located an amazing 22 IEDs and thus saved countless lives of US Soldiers, Iraqi Forces as well as the lives of innocent Iraqi citizens.
This isn’t the first time that Sgt. Denning has been deployed to Iraq, during his 7 years in the Army. He initially was working as a Buffalo operator. A Buffalo is another type of mine-clearing vehicle. Denning has over 300 missions to his credit and is currently serving his 3rd deployment in Iraq. Two of those were while he was Active Duty and one was when he was a member of the Iowa National Guard. So, you could say that Sgt. Denning is an “old hat” at this type of mission.
Sgt. Nicholas Denning conducting vehicle checks prior to going on a mission
(photo by Maj. Sean Ryan, 2nd IBCT, 2nd Inf Div PAO)
“The success comes from paying close attention to detail and never underestimating the enemy,” Denning said. “It also comes from knowing your equipment, the threat and great leadership,” he said.
Denning is quick to not take credit for himself and equally quick to point out that clearing the streets of IEDs isn’t a one person job and maintains that it’s a team effort and due to the constant training his platoon and company receive from his leadership, that ensures every Soldier knows and understands the battlefield they’re faced with.
“It’s also about not being afraid to stop the entire convoy if you think you see something,” he said. “Sometimes it’s worth the wait, but you can’t expect to find something every time.”
According to his company commander, Captain Robert Gordon, Sgt. Denning is an outstanding Soldier and has a vast and varied background from previous deployments, which according to Capt. Gordon is different from everyone else’s. He was quick to agree though, that success comes from the effort of everyone pulling together as a team.
“The Soldiers can tell you everything about the vehicle’s capabilities and what to look for on the streets,” said Gordon. “On one level Sgt. Denning is no different than any other Soldier we have. Everyone has to pay attention to detail. But he is the lead guy and has a lot of pressure on him to navigate, push traffic and keep everyone else aware. I’m very happy we have such seasoned NCOs. His record of finding IEDs speaks for itself,” he said.
The job that Sgt. Denning and his fellow Soldiers does is indeed no easy task. Despite the risks associated with his job, Sgt. Denning credits the support of his family at home and good equipment, to helping him be able to continue his work and remain focused.
“My family is real supportive and happy for all of our successes,” he said. “Without a doubt, the Army has supplied us with great equipment and the opportunity to save lives by conducting route clearance,” added Denning.
Dedicated Soldiers such as Sgt. Denning, are the type of men and women that we have serving our country. They take pride in their work and do it to the best of their ability. The bravely go about their days, knowing full well that one misstep could mean their death; yet they continue to proudly do what they do. I for one am thankful that we have such dedicated professionals serving in our countrys Armed Forces.