Soldiers, civilians enjoy new recreation facility

By Spc. Leah R. Burton
28th Public Affairs Detachment

LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq — The new Morale, Welfare and Recreation facility here opened with a flourish Nov. 23. Construction crews finally completed the more than 28,000 square foot steel structure, after almost eight months of tussling with transporting building materials on dangerous supply routes, contractual changes and regular mortar attacks.

The facility is open to all service members and civilians with the proper government issued identification card, but service members take priority.

"We're trying to get everything to a higher standard," said Rodney Washington, MWR recreation supervisor.

"We're trying to get away from the tents because they're dirty and uncomfortable. They're not suitable. It's hard to cool them. It's hard to heat them."

In addition to the high level of maintenance the tents required, they were not conducive to the Iraqi weather conditions and didn't provide an effective escape from the elements.

"The wind here is so much stronger than the tents are able to handle," Washington said. "In a tent, we're still basically in the elements, so we've given the Soldiers a nicer facility."

The new facility is equipped with a library, an electronic game room, a concert hall, an Internet café and a lounge where Soldiers can eat their food from Burger King, Pizza Hut, Subway or one of the dining facilities in a comfortable atmosphere.

The facility already has six pool tables, four pingpong tables, two foosball tables, two air hockey tables, two electronic dartboards, two double shot basketball goals and indoor plumbing.

"It's going to be a very busy place, because we're going to have a lot of good stuff here," Washington said.

In coming weeks, the facility will add a quarterback throw, skiball, shuffleboard, a miniature bowling alley, a dunking booth and a 106-inch projection screen for large sporting events like the Super Bowl. Washington hopes to have these attractions by the end of December.

"I think it's a first-class facility, this one and the one on the other side of post. I think it'll improve the quality of life for Soldiers, and the Soldiers deserve it," said Brig. Gen. James E. Chambers, 13th Corps Support Command and LSA Anaconda commander.

The concert hall will be used not only for concerts, but also for theme nights and as a television room with four big screen televisions.

The library has a large assortment of books for Soldiers to read, and couches where they can kick back and relax. Patrons are free to take the books with them. There is no check out process in place. The staff encourages Soldiers to donate any reading material that they have no further use for.

The Internet café has 34 computers. Six ports will be left open for personal laptops. The time limit for computer use is 30 minutes.

Because the library and Internet café are fully carpeted, the staff requires patrons to remove their shoes before entering those rooms. There are shelves outside the rooms to store shoes.

The electronic game room has six Playstation 2s, six Xboxes and 12 computer gaming stations where Soldiers can play against each other. The facility has games for the gaming systems that can be checked out with a valid ID card. Soldiers can also bring in their own games.

The staff asks that patrons refrain from bringing in their own joysticks, because they tend to get mixed up with the MWR equipment.

For the more traditional type of games, the facility also has a wide array of board games ranging from Monopoly to Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

After the grand opening of the facility, Soldiers flooded the rooms of the building, some in awe of what eight months of work yielded.

"I think of the new facility as a home away from home," said Sgt. Eric Quiroz, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 13th COSCOM. "You come in from an environment that's hostile and full of danger. This gets you away from the everyday hardships when you're over here in Iraq."

 

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(LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq) - Sgt. Cleven Davis and Sgt. Carlos Parrish, 1171st Transportation Company, shoot hoops at the double shot basketball goals at the MWR facility Nov. 23. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Leah R. Burton

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(LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Balad, Iraq) - Spc. Frank Padilla, 961st Quartermaster Company, prepares to launch the air hockey puck at his companymate Spc. Maribel Silva at the MWR facility Nov. 23. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Leah R. Burton)