July 17th, 2008
FORT BENNING, Ga. (WXTX)-For Third Brigade Commander Colonel Wayne Grigsby, life on Kelley Hill over the past 25 months has been heaven on Earth.
"Two words...simply amazing," said Col. Grigsby.
Grigsby started his reign back in June of 2006, just months before the Third Brigade was called upon to return to Iraq early, as part of the surge.
Leading almost 4,000 Fort Benning soldiers into the untamed deserts of Iraq, Grigsby and his troops went into areas yet untouched by Coalition forces.
"In our area of operation, there was nobody out there...no coalition forces, just Sunni extremists, Shi'a extremists, Persian influences, doing what they wanted to do....but not any longer," said Grigsby.
In their 15 months of combat, Grigsby and his troops were able to bring the violence and bloodshed down to a level where schools could be built and factories could be opened.
It did not come without a price, though....
35 third brigade soldiers lost their lives in Iraq.
"There's a lot of great things about command...but that is a curse that I will have to live with for the rest of my life, that the decisions I made got those soldiers killed, because I'm the one responsible," said Grigsby.
Being at the top gets lonely...but it's all part of the job for Grigsby, and the ultimate focus must always be on the mission ahead, and not dwelling on the past.
"Combat is rough, and bad things happen. You just have to get over it, and look at the other 3,800 soldiers you need to lead to victory," said Grigsby.
Each one of those 35 deaths was hard, and another 162 hurt didn't help matters....but there was one amazing high point for Col. Grigsby in the end...
"Bringing those soldiers home, bringing every soldier home, bringing 3,950 of these Sledgehammers home, bringing them to a great Columbus, great Phenix City, and a great Fort Benning," said Grigsby.
Grigsby will now move onto Washington, to serve in the Joint Chiefs' office, where he will continue to serve the interests of the men and women who served him for so long.
"They are the blood and treasure of this country. The only reason we exist and the security we have is because of the American Soldier, and for me, the past 25 months, it's been the sledgehammer soldiers...they are simply the best," said Grigsby.
Colonel Grigsby will turn over command to Colonel Peter Jones Friday morning on Kelley Hill at 8 AM.