Soldiers visit college campus

Story by Maj. Jay R. Adams
13th COSCOM Public Affairs Office

HAMMOND, La — Soldiers deployed with the 13th Corps Support Command in support of Hurricane Katrina relief operations spent an evening on the Southeastern Louisiana University Campus Saturday.

The COSCOM Soldiers had been staying in a building supply warehouse for two days prior to their visit to the SLU Campus.

The Soldiers were evacuated to the storm-safe warehouse from the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport in anticipation of heavy winds and possible flooding from Hurricane Rita.

"Based on initial reports on Hurricane Rita, the JTF commander directed all components to execute survivability moves to locations where equipment and Soldiers will be protected from the storm, but close enough to respond to storm damage," said Lt. Col. Kenneth S. Lundgren, operations officer for the COSCOM.

While the Soldiers had adequate sleeping areas and field kitchens at the warehouse location, COSCOM leadership wanted to provide them the opportunity to take hot showers, do laundry, and sleep in an air-conditioned building.

"It was nice to sleep in a bed," said Pvt. Falon R. Thomas, a mechanic with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Special Troops Battalion, 13th COSCOM.

Thomas said," This is my first deployment, and aside from Basic[Combat Training], and A.I.T.[Advanced Individual Training], this is the longest I've ever gone without a shower."

"It was great to actually be in a place with hot showers," said Pfc. Paul F. Bosin, a lithographer with HHC, STB, 13th COSCOM.

Spc. Marcus J. Schwertner, a finance specialist with HHC, STB, 13th COSCOM said," The showers were much needed.especially for some people."

The Soldiers also had the opportunity to mingle with local citizens.

"The civilians in the surrounding area are very friendly and very gracious," said Spc. Anne M. Ogonowski, a multimedia illustrator with HHC, STB, 13th COSCOM.

The civilians' knowledge of the area also worked to the Soldiers' advantage.

"We were looking for a place to eat ice cream, and some of the locals helped us out by showing us how to get there," said Thomas.

More than anything, the trip provided the Soldiers a much needed reprieve from their efforts supporting relief operations.

"I thought it was great to get away from the warehouse and unwind," said Bosin.

"I thought the best part was that it got me out of [the warehouse]," said Schwertner.

The 13th COSCOM is serving as the Joint Logistics Command for Joint Task Force-Katrina.