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Old 05-29-2019, 12:53   #58
1stindoor
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Ft. Bragg
Posts: 2,561
Missed seeing you there. 7th SFG did a great job of welcoming everyone. Also had the opportunity to visit the teamroom (I didn't make the move to Eglin). The current team leader and team sergeant extended an open invitation to the family at any time. They also had a lot of historical photos in the teamroom...so I could see my ugly mug on the wall as well as several teammates from my time. Here are the comments I gave:

LTC, CSM, the Gonsalves family, Marsha, Julie, Cody, Dylan, and Blake. My Special Forces brothers in arms, and my old teammates of 785…the greatest dive team ever assembled. I want to first thank everyone in attendance here today that came out to pay tribute to Chad Gonsalves and the ultimate sacrifice he made to our Nation. I also want to thank the chain of command for asking me to speak on Chad’s behalf. I am certain Chad is looking down on us today and enjoying a good laugh because there’s probably more than a few people that still don’t know that…Chad was the guy that did it.

Chad came to my team in a very unique way.

Our company SGM came to me shortly after I took over as the Team Sergeant, this was in the fall of 2005. He said he had a Soldier he wanted to put on my team…but warned me that he would be my “leadership challenge.” He said he was belligerent, sarcastic, and generally could be a pain in the butt. I replied that he sounded just like a combat diver…and I wanted him. My first meeting with Chad went exactly like I expected. I told him that he had a clean slate as far as I was concerned…that as long as he did his job and protected his teammates, we would never have any issues….I’m pretty sure he was calculating exactly how long it would take to pull one of his pranks on me. If you ever served with Chad, you know his expertise as a SF guy was only exceeded by his sense of humor and good nature. Chad never hesitated to find a way to make training enjoyable by keeping you laughing. And his practical jokes, are the stuff of SF legend.

Feb 13, 2006 is forever imprinted on my brain. The IED explosion that killed 4 of our team mates is probably the most horrific thing I've ever witnessed.

The other ODA, that was at Cobra with us had just endured a long firefight and one of their gun trucks was pretty badly damaged and needed repair work and new tires in order to limp back home.

We rapidly formed a Quick Reaction Force and brought along a few others, namely our mechanic (Albert Montrond), Clint Newman, our CA guy (who was to be the driver of Chad’s vehicle), and our SOT-A Team Chief, Dazachacon (DZ). Riding in the turret of that vehicle was Chad Gonsalves. My senior Bravo, was supposed to take that position, but on that fateful day he was sick, and Chad immediately volunteered. The same way he volunteered for everything else. It didn’t matter if it was combatives training, vehicle training, or picking up additional skills as an impromptu 18F. Chad never hesitated to volunteer to help.
As we left the firebase Chad's vehicle led, followed by the team leader's, followed by my vehicle and then a small pickup with the ANA. Our team was notorious for being sarcastic on the radio and dogging each other. We didn’t practice “radio silence” we practiced “radio sarcasm.” But every time Clint Newman broke squelch we all shut up because we trusted him and knew he was putting out important information. From the time we left Clint would come up on the radio and point out key terrain, bad guy locations, previous IED locations and where he had "friends" in town. When we rolled through Deh Rawod everything took on a snail’s pace as Clint passed out historical contacts.

As we rolled through the river bed on that fateful day, Clint had everyone stop their vehicles. He got out of the vehicle and looked all around the area for signs of disturbance or wires. Seeing nothing we waved back to us and stepped back inside his vehicle…..His Humvee tire didn't make a full rotation when the explosion happened.

Chad, Clint, Montrond, and DZ didn't do anything wrong that day. Nothing. I wish I could say there was a long firefight or that someone had made a critical error. As ugly as it sounds, Chad was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was made worse for those of us left behind, because he volunteered to take the turret position that day.

There hasn't been one Feb 13 since, that my teammates and I haven't set aside time at the end of the day to toast Chad and the rest of our fallen teammates and share memories. Our lives are forever changed both by their service and dedication and their sacrifice. But this isn’t an event to talk about the horrors of that day, rather it is an event to talk about the man that was chosen to have a building dedicated in his honor.

I want to tell Chad’s family that Chad was the epitome of a Special Forces NCO, a leader that didn't hesitate to step up and accept more responsibility, a Green Beret that was technically and tactically outstanding at his job, a "sniper" with a M79 grenade launcher, a faithful and trusted teammate, and a man of conviction and courage, who volunteered to cover his teammates when another was unable. He was a man you could sit beside while in training or a man you could sit in front of as a student. He was a man you laughed with…even when you were his intended target….and we were all his target sooner or later. Most importantly he was a man that would watch your six in combat without wavering…even if it cost him his life. It’s for these, and so many more qualities, that this building is being dedicated for Chad Gonsalves.
Thank you.
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