A local hero’s amazing story

In vivid detail, Keene veteran Earle Quimby Jr. reflects on life, military service

The force of the blast rocketed an iron chimney grate across the room and flipped an exhausted Earle C. Quimby Jr. under the heavy bed he was lying on in an abandoned German house.

Steve Hooper Sentinel Staff

Out on a mission, the Army reconnaissance officer and his driver had run into a German unit, and now the 24-year-old Quimby was holed up in the house, waiting.

It was the midst of World War II, and Quimby had spent the first few months after landing in Europe speeding along snowy roads in an open-top Jeep. Crossing enemy lines, he reported troop positions and access routes back to Army brass. Continue reading

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Homecoming

Note: In February 2012, the New England Newspaper and Press Association honored the “Mission: Iraq” series with second place in the special award category in the New England Better Newspaper competition.

For 220th soldiers, life begins after Iraq

Published  April 26, 2011 12:15 pm

By Casey Farrar Sentinel Staff

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. — The soldiers sat quietly in 11 straight rows facing forward, a mass of green, tan and brown camouflage.Fifteen months ago, more than 150 Army reservists from across the U.S. left their jobs and families to prepare for deployment to Iraq with the Keene-based 220th Transportation Company.
Together they spent four months training at Army bases across the country, a few weeks acclimating to the desert heat in Kuwait and then more than nine months living in northern Iraq. During their time at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, outside Tikrit, the unit completed 170 convoy missions, logging more than 400,000 miles.
Friday evening, 146 of the soldiers gathered one last time in a small chapel on a military base in New Jersey for a ceremony that officially ended their deployment.
Family members and friends filled rows of chairs behind the soldiers. For many of the soldiers, the occasion was the first glimpse in months of their loved ones. Others wouldn’t see their families until they arrived home.
Brig. Gen. Peter S. Lennon, who leads the Pennsylvania-based 316th Expeditionary Sustainment Command to which the unit belongs, told the soldiers Friday’s ceremony marked “the final page in your deployment scrapbook.”
Despite the soldiers’ solemn faces and stiff postures, an air of excitement buzzed through the room. Knees bounced, feet shuffled and occasionally a soldier glanced back, flashing a smile at a mother, a father, a wife or a child.
They were all ready for the next chapter. Continue reading

Long time, no posts

Note: In February 2012, the New England Newspaper and Press Association honored the “Mission: Iraq” series with second place in the special award category in the New England Better Newspaper competition.

I haven’t posted stories here for a while, but there have been a lot of exciting things going on lately.  In November, I went on a reporting trip to Iraq to cover the Keene-based 220th Transportation Company. My stories from the trip, along with photo galleries and the transcript of a live chat I did there, are all gathered on the Keene Sentinel’s website at: http://www.sentinelsource.com/news/special_reports/mission_iraq/mission-iraq/collection_f098fd16-4bf3-11e0-8155-001cc4c002e0.html?success=1.

I also blogged during the trip on my travels and random observations at http://missioniraq.wordpress.com/.

Additionally, today my trip was featured on Emerson College’s homepage. Here’s the write up, by Carole McFall of the Emerson College marketing department: Emerson write up

The three-week trip was eye-opening and one of my most enjoyable reporting experiences thus far (only slightly edging out almost being squished by a falling ice-covered tree while covering the December 2008 ice storm).

A new, ordinary life

Ranger recovers, settles into ‘T-shirt and jeans’

By Casey Farrar
Sentinel Staff
Published: Sunday, May 30, 2010
Every day, Charles E. Nye drives to his office on a tree-lined street in suburban Houston, Texas.

The Fitzwilliam native, who describes himself as a “T-shirt and jeans kind of guy,” dons khakis and crisp button-down shirts at work.

He spends his days working as an operations support manager for Wapati Energy LLC, an oil company run by a friend and former military colleague.

He’s home every evening by 5, loves hanging out with his 8-year-old son, Caleb, by the pool and taking his wife out to dinner.

He frequently gets to see his children from a previous marriage, Dylan, 18, and Sarah, 16, who live in Dallas.

On Friday afternoons, he goes pistol shooting with his boss at a local target range.

Shooting is perhaps the only remnant of a life he once had — the life of an Army Ranger that took him to Panama, Afghanistan and Iraq.

He’s 41 and retired from the Army almost three years ago after serving for two decades.

He says he loves the time his new life allows him to spend with his family, but it’s different from the life he envisioned for himself.

It’s not a life he could have imagined until the day seven years ago he lost his left eye. Continue reading

220th Transportation Company follow up

See the whole “Mission: Iraq”series at www.sentinelsource.com/special_reports.

Family plans for deployment: Reservist, children cope with separation
By Casey Farrar
Sentinel Staff
Published May 11, 2010
 Most of what 10-year-old Korrigan Masterson recalls about her father’s two deployments to Iraq is the tearful goodbyes and joyous reunions.

The first time he left, in 2004, she stood at the door crying and asking him not to leave. She was 4.

Her 7-year-old brother Cole — who was just over a year old the first time their father, Staff Sgt. Benjamin J. Masterson of Keene, left for Iraq — most vividly remembers the day his dad came home from his second deployment in 2006.

He can still hear his sister screaming before she ran over and jumped into his arms.

Their most recent reunion with their dad was April 24.

It was the day Masterson returned home for two weeks of leave after spending nearly three months this year training at military bases across the United States with the Army Reserve’s Keene-based 220th Transportation Company. Continue reading

There’s no place like home

Keene man nears end of tour in Iraq

By Casey Farrar
Sentinel Staff
Published April 02, 2010
After spending five months in a desert landscape, his plane touched down in Hartford, Conn., in a snowstorm.

For nearly half a year, Staff Sgt. Joseph T. Phinney of Keene had only seen his wife and three daughters during regular Skype calls on grainy video streaming to his computer monitor.

But as he walked through the airport gate to begin his two-week leave from Iraq early last month, his wife Anna stood waiting for him. Continue reading

220th Transportation Company series: Part III

SAYING GOODBYE

After hugs and tears, attention turns to mission

By Casey Farrar
Sentinel Staff
Published February 05, 2010
This is the third in a three-part series on the Keene-based 220th Transportation Company.

On Thursday, friends and family members of soldiers in the Army Reserve unit gathered at the Lower Main Street base to send the group off to Fort Devens in Massachusetts.

The journey is first leg in a handful of training missions across the U.S., leading up to the unit’s deployment to Iraq later this year.

As they said goodbye to their loved ones Thursday, the soldiers transitioned from weekend warriors to full-time soldiers.

It began with the bark of an officer’s voice.

Suddenly, the men and women of the 220th Transportation Company were scrambling around the large, open hall at the Keene Army Reserve base, falling in line behind their platoon sergeants.

The sound of shuffling suede boots echoed off the concrete walls and floor. At the front of the group, two soldiers carried in the American flag and the unit’s red and gold flag.

This formation is the same way training begins every month for the 30 or so Army Reservists gathered at the base Thursday. It’s where the soldiers get their orders before going about weekend training missions.

Thursday afternoon, the unit began a different mission — one that will lead to Iraq by summer. Continue reading