Al' Anwar School

Story by Spc. James Truitt
13th COSCOM Public Affairs Office

If children are the future, Iraq's future was all smiles April 5, during the grand opening of a rebuilt school in the village of Al' Anwar near here.

The school, sponsored by Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th Corps Material Management Center, 13th Corps Support Command, began construction March 8 and took three weeks and approximately 33 thousand dollars for completion.

According to Capt. John Wishart, the HHC commander, Bahr Al Arab School was in total ruin.

"When I went to the school initially, I was very surprised," said Wishart. "I had horses as a kid and they lived in better conditions than what these children went to school in."

"There was no electricity in the rooms and the windows [had been replaced] with cardboard boxes," Wishart said. "There was a hole in the ground used as a toilet and there was defecation all around the bathroom area. I had never seen anything as bad as that school."

Wishart also said that some of the school walls had crumbled, the ceiling leaked, and there were signs of water damage.

After making several more trips to the village, Wishart began coordination with the 13th COSCOM Civil Affairs to hire Iraqi contractors to rebuild the school.

According to Wishart, the funding for the project came from the Commander's Emergency Relief Program.

Presently the school has electricity and ceiling fans in every room, chalkboards, new windows, gravel to keep the dust down, four bathrooms, and a coat of new paint.

"I am very happy with how the school looks and pleased with the American soldiers who have done this," said Saif Ibrahim, a sixth-grader at the school, through a translator. "This is all very good."

"This school before was in ruins, but now you see all the kids and the villagers are very happy because the coalition forces fixed the school," said Mohammad Udah, school headmaster, through a translator. "From the first moment the coalition forces came to our village, they came here and promised to fix our school and that is exactly what they did."

"I am very grateful for all forces and all the Soldiers who cooperate with us," added Udah.

The 13th COSCOM and LSA Anaconda commander, Col. (P) James Chambers presided at the school's ribbon cutting ceremony.

"Our legacy will be that when we leave [Iraq], we'll leave this place better than when we arrived," said Chambers. "Together we have taken that first step by giving these children an environment in which they are free to learn."

The school at Al' Anwar is the first of many Iraqi restoration projects to be completed by 13th COSCOM units.


Sgt. Maj. Daniel Elder
Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Elder shakes hands with Al' Anwar children during the grand opening of the village's newly refurbished school, April

A plaque commemorating the grand opening of the newly renovated school located in Al' Anwar, April 5.

Col. (P) James E. Chambers and Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Elder
Col. (P) James E. Chambers, Commander of the 13th COSCOM and LSA Anaconda, and Command Sgt. Maj. Daniel Elder, Command Sgt. Maj. of the 13th COSCOM and LSA Anaconda Pose for a picture with local school children, April 5.