A member of the Army Reserve, Pilot reporter Neil McCabe departs Feb. 8 for three weeks of training, after which he will serve for one year in Iraq chronicling the lives of a unit of U.S. soldiers. Courtesy photo/ Sgt. Christopher Pisano, U.S. Army
BRAINTREE -- For the past five years, Neil McCabe’s byline has been a familiar one to Pilot readers. Beginning next week, however, that byline will be mostly absent from the paper for the next year, as McCabe heads off to serve with the U.S. Army in Iraq.
A member of the Army Reserve, McCabe received orders to mobilize Feb. 8 with his three-soldier unit, the 311th Military History Detachment which, after three weeks of training, will deploy to Iraq March 1. His mission will be to chronicle the lives and day-to-day experiences of a unit of soldiers over the next year.
According to McCabe, their unit will be “integrated into the command staff” of the 34th Infantry Division of the Minnesota National Guard -- the “Red Bulls,” as they are known -- currently stationed outside of Baghdad.
In order to provide the most accurate historical documentation, McCabe and his unit will “collect as much data, oral histories, memoranda, photographs and interviews as possible,” about significant events and send them to the Center for Military History in Washington, D.C. There, they will be digitally preserved to maintain an accurate historical account of the war in Iraq.
The soldiers of the 311th trained for this mission for four weeks last summer at Fort McCoy, Wis., as part of the Patriot Warrior exercise.