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Former Sill Soldier Arranges Reunion with Old Unit

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FORT SILL Okla_ A retired sergeant from the 2nd Battalion, 18th Field Artillery at Fort Sill wants to reconnect with soldiers he fought with 10 years ago in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He's using social media to do it.

Retired Sergeant First Class Mark Winburn said he and a fellow soldier recently created the 2-18 Field Artillery 10 Year Reunion Facebook page to help them to do so.

Mark Winburn said he was among the nearly 500 soldiers sent overseas for a little over a year to help with that mission in 2003. He said they were one of the first US units deployed there to help bring peace to the area.

Winburn said Facebook has helped him reach about half of them. I went to the website and saw some of the photos, many showing a bond Winburn said can't be broken: brotherhood.

Winburn said that's the first word that comes to mind when he looks at the hundreds of photos of 2nd of the 18th Field Artillery on Facebook. He said he served 24 years in the army and spent his last eight with the unit, before retiring in 2004.

He said it's a 10-year reunion he is looking forward to.

"It's going to be amazing to see old friends, see how they've changed and see what direction their life went since they retired or discharged and find out what they doing now," Winburn said. "It will be an emotional event."

Winburn said about 500 soldiers spent 13 months there, confiscating ammunition and weapon systems from the Iraqi armies, so they could not be used against US allies. He said that mission forged a long lasting bond amongst soldiers.

"When you spend that much time with your comrades in a hostile zone, possibly getting attacked or being attacked at any time, especially the missions of recovering ammunition and weapons, there were some issues, but when we put ourselves on that line together, we're going to be bound at the hip for life," Winburn said.

Winburn wouldn't go into detail about the issues, just that everything worked out in the end. It's something he hopes social media will help create, too.

"As everyone was joining that page, everyone that was a member was downloading pictures," Winburn said. "Some of them were very serious. Some of them were extremely very funny, but it's all good memories for us."

Winburn said right now, about half of the battalion has committed to the reunion, which is scheduled for June 21st here in Lawton.

For more information go to 2nd of the 18th Field Artillery 10 Year Reunion on Facebook or contact Mark Winburn at 580-695-0994.



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