“From the moment I sat down to write this book, I immediately wanted to do something for the very young sons of our fallen.”
Command Sergeant Major (Ret.), Bart E. Womack, served in the United States Army with distinction for over 29 years. He is the recipient of two Bronze Stars, one for Valor. The story of the 2003 attack on his Company at the outset of the Iraq war is one many Americans likely do not recall. Embedded Enemy, authored by Sergeant Major Womack, is the true story of that attack against the men and women of Headquarters Company, First Brigade, 101st Airborne Division.
Shortly after deploying for Iraq, an unprecedented attack took place; the first of its kind in military history, and the first attack since 9-11 with the same motive and intent. The Bastogne Brigade was staged at Camp Pennsylvania in Kuwait where they prepared for combat.
During the early morning hours of March 23, 2003, a fellow American soldier, Sergeant Hasan Akbar, executed the unthinkable by throwing hand grenades into his Chain of Command’s tent. He then followed up with small-arms fire while officers slept. The aftermath killed two officers—Army Captain Christopher Seifert and Air Force Major Gregory Stone—and wounded twelve others. Six soldiers were evacuated, never to return – each one vital to the unit’s mission.
“Within hours of this attack, I stood in front of news cameras not only as the spokesperson for the unit, but as a victim who was five feet away from the initial grenades as they exploded,” reports Womack.
Despite the tragic losses and unfathomable cause, the Bastogne Brigade received movement orders to cross the border into Iraq just 48 hours after the attack.
Though it shocked America, the Armed Forces, and people around the world, the story received almost no media coverage in the days to follow, leaving Americans, fellow service members, and the family members, hanging on the edge for the details.
“Had you not seen the footage from the attack on television the first day, you didn’t know about the incident,” Womack explains. “This is what propelled me to tell this story. I wanted the world to know not only the blow-by-blow details but to learn from this attack. For us all to be more careful who we really trust and to digest the idea that threats to our personal safety might now come from the inside.”
Womack’s book is about how soldiers bonded together—as they instinctively do when tragedy calls—to rescue, treat, and evacuate their brothers in arms amid darkness, massive explosions, rapid gun fire, suffocating smoke, body ripping shrapnel, and total chaos. All this while simultaneously searching for a ruthless killer that had taken the same oath to defend the constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic—an “Embedded Enemy.”
To dig up the past, to expose the intimate and horrifying, never told details of his fellow comrades, scraping the scabs of potentially long-healed wounds of those injured, and more importantly the family members of those killed, Womack knew that some good had to come from this story.
Womack notes, “From the moment I sat down to write this book, I immediately wanted to do something for the very young sons of our fallen.”
Here is where the story becomes personal for this article’s author. A portion of the proceeds from sales of Womack’s book goes to the Benjamin Seifert Scholarship Fund. Benjamin is the son of late United States Army Captain Christopher Seifert, one of the two casualties in the attack.
Captain Seifert was a fellow Fraternity brother and founding father of the Theta Tau chapter of Delta Tau Delta at Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA. His legacy permeated the organization, and it was immediately vital our group rally to support Chris’ wife, Terri, and their then infant son, Benjamin.
A scholarship fund was established, and the Captain Chris Seifert Memorial Golf Outing is now held annually, with all proceeds of the event going toward Benjamin’s future.
The Good Men Project’s Guyhood section has celebrated The Month of the Military Child throughout April. It is only fitting we celebrate children like Benjamin Seifert, and his parents who made the ultimate sacrifice—Chris to his country and Terri to Chris’ memory and Benjamin’s care.
My sincerest gratitude, admiration, and love go out to Terri, Benjamin, and Chris, to the family of Major Gregory Stone, and to Sergeant Major Womack. May the sacrifices they made and continue to make inspire us to embrace and uplift the children of military men and women.
(Ret.) CSM Bart Womack distinguished himself as a consummate trainer of soldiers by consistently demonstrating the highest standards of military discipline, professionalism, and leadership ability. Since retiring, CSM Womack has worked in the entertainment industry, as an actor and a Military Technical Advisor for feature films and television. He volunteers his free time by mentoring Army ROTC Cadets. Additionally, he works with returning Veterans in the Saddles for Soldiers program, which through the use of horses, is designed to help veterans and their families better cope with the trauma and stressors that often come with returning from combat; long term depression, reestablishment of life skills, and readjustment into civilian life.
Purchase Embedded Enemy here:
Author’s Note: This article was written in collaboration with Sergeant Major Womack and printed with approval by Terri Seifert.