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Soldier Serves to Honor Family

By Army Spc. John A. Martinez
Task Force Centaur

KHOST PROVINCE, Afghanistan  – A radar dish malfunctioned Sept. 15 near Combat Outpost Chamkani here, a small outpost located in a remote, mountainous region near the Pakistan border. A repair team was summoned for the risky task of crossing a mountain in a hostile environment to replace it.

 

http://www.defense.gov/DODCMSShare/NewsStoryPhoto/2011-10/scr_110915-275-001.jpg
Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher B. Sutton adjusts a lightweight counter mortar radar system at Combat Outpost Chamkani, Afghanistan, Sept. 15, 2011. U.S. Army photo by Spc. John A. Martinez

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Within an hour, the team diagnosed the system, replaced the radar, and was ready to move on to the next mission.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher B. Sutton, a fire finder radar operator from Kankakee, Ill., led the team. He’s assigned to Task Force Centaur with the 1st Infantry Division’s Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 6th Field Artillery, 3rd Brigade Combat Team.

Sutton, a 14-year Army veteran, works with intricate computer systems known as lightweight counter mortar radar. The main function of the system is to detect incoming mortars and identify their firing location.

“I love this job and everything that comes with it,” he said. “This job saves lives.”

Part of that job is making sure the system is in good working order, he said.

“The LCMR is a tool well suited for the fight coalition forces are currently engaged in with insurgents,” said Army Spc. Magella Correa of Kahaluu, Hawaii, one of Sutton’s team members. “Because of the LCMR’s ability to detect and designate where enemy mortars are fired, we are able to find and counter-fire on the insurgent that attacked us.”

Sutton said he started his career primarily to “see the world through a secured job.”

As he matured, so did his desire to care for his growing family, which now consists of his wife, Tiffany, son, Christopher, and daughter, Icis.

Working long hours and being constantly on the move isn’t easy. For Sutton, however, his family plays a large part in why he does this job.

“It’ s hard to be away from them, especially missing out on my son’s soccer games and my daughter’s gymnastics and piano lessons, but they understand this is my job,” he explained. “This is what I do to take care of them, as well as the nation as a whole.”
Since Sutton’s team, based out of Forward Operating Base Salerno, is in constant demand, they are never in one spot for long. He stays in contact with his family as much as possible via Skype.

“I’m based at FOB Salerno, but I don’t live there – I visit,” Sutton quipped. “Wherever they need us, we go.”

Most of Sutton’s time is spent making the journey to a number of different combat outposts, he said. The team is constantly on the move, and gets warm welcomes at several of the more remote outposts, such as Chamkani.

“It’s a great honor to know you are recognized for doing good work,” he said.

Being a fire finder radar operator isn’t easy. It requires its technicians to be highly knowledgeable about the equipment to be able to troubleshoot the dish, Sutton said.

“As with most jobs, skills are perishable,” he explained. Sutton said his team stays sharp by staying busy.

“Most soldiers get their training through classes and reading,” he said. “We get ours through actual hands-on experience, and in most cases, while under duress.”

Sutton said leading his team and being a soldier isn’t a 9-to-5 job.

“Being a soldier is being dedicated to the military lifestyle and our country,” he said. “It’s more than wearing a uniform. It’s about sacrifice, hard work, and doing everything you can to wear the uniform with pride. To me, every soldier’s job is an important one.”

Army Warrant Officer Bryan Nelson of Longview, Texas, said Sutton is “a hard-charging, mission-first leader.”

Sutton credits his family with inspiring him to do what needs to be done regardless of how tired he may be or how dangerous the task.

“My family looks at me as their hero, so I work hard on being that person for them,” Sutton said. “My son told me ‘Dad, you’re my hero,’ and because of his words, I do everything I can to do things better than before, because I don’t want to ever let my family down.”

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About Posted by Susan Bainbridge

At age 6, Susan was destined to be a journalist and photographer. In 1980, Susan founded Bainbridge News and The Bainbridge Chronicle Newspaper. Bainbridge News specializes in Military and National Politics, including Military Funerals and Burials and Political Funerals and Burials. Susan has covered the White House, the Pentagon and Capitol Hill. She has covered every president from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama. Recognized for her versatility, Susan has also covered finance, crime, civil rights events, marches, sports, musical events and more. In 1990, she established Bainbridge Photography, an On-Location photography company. In addition to military and political events, including Military and Political funerals and burials, Bainbridge Photography expanded into covering ALL funerals and burials, receptions, weddings, real estate, inventory, insurance, portrait, head shot, pets, fire and Hazmat. Miss Bainbridge believes in going the extra mile. "My Clients always come first." In 1980, Susan began her career in Washington, D.C., working for WMZQ Radio as a reporter and guest hostess from 1980 to 1985. Intrigued by radio, Susan wanted to write, freelancing for radio, television and print newspapers, including AP, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, The Northern Virginia Sun, The Press-Republicanand The Bainbridge Chronicle (established by Susan Bainbridge). In 1986, Susan worked at WDCA-TV Channel 20 as a guest hostess for "Eye On Washington." From 1990 to 1994, Susan reported and anchored for "The Arlington Weekly News." Additionally, she produced a segment for the G. Gordon Liddy Radio Show. A prolific writer, while in high school in 1977, Bainbridge wrote an episode for NBC's "Little House on The Prairie" entitled "Laura's Best Friend." Though the show's producers did not use the script then, NBC producers encouraged Susan to pursue a writing and journalism career. Susan is a member of the National Press Club, the National Press Photographer's Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. Susan Bainbridge's recognitions include from former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush and Bill Clinton, former First Lady Nancy Reagan, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the late actor Lorne Greene, among many others. BAINBRIDGE NEWS was founded in 1980 by Susan Bainbridge (a sixth generation writer), a third generation journalist, a first generation photographer and a fourth generation entrepreneur. She is the first generation to establish a news business. Bainbridge News is dedicated in honor of Miss Bainbridge's late grandfather and idol, Mark S. Watson (The Baltimore Sun editor and war correspondent from 1920 to his death in 1966).

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