If the spirit is willing it will be done

By Sgt. Annette B. Andrews
28th Public Affairs Detachment

LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq — Providing much needed supplies to the school children of Al Hatamia village near here, a group of Reservists, who made that delivery, nourished their warrior spirit Oct 16.

Soldiers from the 660th Transportation Company, 7th Transportation Battalion from Cadiz, Ohio, delivered 500 individually packed essentials to help give local children a better start in a life.

"They acted like they had never seen these things before," said Sgt. Rocco A. Elia. "Helping children here, in America and all over the world makes a better life and teaches the younger generation to get along."

The Soldiers agreed with each other that lending the Iraqis a helping hand demonstrates the good intentions of the American people.

On a typical day the 660th Trans. Co. hauls Class III fuel to forward operating bases. It's a long haul; a lot of road covered and these Soldiers thought for the past nine months that they were only seeing the worst events after leaving the gate.

So with 23 volunteers, the Soldiers gathered supplies that had been sent from all over Ohio and convoyed the short distance from LSA Anaconda to see an alternative part of Iraq.

"There was a genuine friendliness that I hadn't seen [before] in this country," said Capt. Joseph B. Shalosky.

Each Soldier wanted to see something different from the daily trials of improvised explosive devices, vehicle-born IEDs, small arms fire, rockets and land mines.

"I too want to see something good," said 1st Sgt. John C. Taylor in reference to the school supply distribution mission. "I want to know that what we're doing here means something."

The Soldiers, mostly gun teams that protect the convoys, said they know they are doing their part in rebuilding this country. Still, they needed that extra inspiration from the smile of a small child.

"Just to get a chance to see the kids that we are actually helping. To see what we are productively doing," said Desert Storm veteran Staff Sgt. William R. Herrmann while he interacted with the children. "When you're mostly dealing with insurgents going down the road - well, it's a different view of the mission, being here today."

The men and women of the 660th Trans. Co. watched the excitement filter through the school like a small fire about to turn wild. The smiles from children of all ages blazed as Soldiers handed out bags of goodies making warrior hearts burn.

"It was like bees going to honey," Taylor said of the gifts received.

"It's one of the only things we see that makes it all worthwhile. It makes [us] feel good and supports the reason why [we are] here."

The 660th Trans. Co., with the Army Materiel Command and 13th Corps Support Command Civil Affairs office - who also contributed supplies - undertook this joint venture to deliver items some children desperately needed for school, but as it turned out, it was more - a completely difference experience from the road.

"Hopefully, I got to make a difference in somebody's life," Elia said.

Since their arrival in February, the unit has suffered the loss of four service members in duty related incidents, 26 others have been injured and the Soldiers were still willing to convoy out on this humanitarian mission. They even had to turn away a dozen or so volunteers.

Editors Note: Sgt. Andrews is a member of the 28th Public Affairs Detachment from Fort Lewis, Wash. She is currently deployed to Iraq in support of the 13th Corps Support Command at LSA Anaconda and is the editor of the Anaconda Times newspaper.

 

news photo
(LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq) - 660th Transportation Company Soldiers unload 500 individually wrapped bags of school supplies for children in the Al Hatamia village school near LSA Anaconda, Iraq Oct. 16. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Annette B. Andrews)

news photo
(LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq) - Staff Sgt. Patricia K. Largent, 660th Transportation Company, while on a school supply distribution mission, is about to accept a piece of fruit from children at Al Hatamia village school near LSA Anaconda, Iraq Oct. 16. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Annette B. Andrews)