by Spc. Anna-Marie Risner133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
YETHRIB, Iraq, Nov. 10, 2005 -- Many troops serving in Iraq spend their time hunting insurgents and tracking down those who wish to hurt Coalition forces; but some Soldiers occasionally get the opportunity to show Iraqi people another side of the military.
Soldiers with Company B, 3rd Forward Support Battalion and Troop A, 5th Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, Fort Stewart, Ga., spent most of today getting to know schoolchildren near the town of Yethrib, Iraq, at a school Cav troops opened earlier this year. The Soldiers dropped off an assortment of supplies including notebooks, pencils, desks and shoes -- all of which were donated by FSB Soldiers’ families.
“Back around the April or May time frame [we decided] that we would try to adopt a school here in Iraq,” said Capt. Kate Jackson, commander, Co. B, 3rd FSB. “Several Soldiers’ parents got with their churches or other organizations they were involved with like their work and they all collected up … school supplies that these children could use.”
Security for the mission was provided by 5/7th, commanded by Capt. Joel Jackson -- marking the first joint operation for the husband and wife.The operation came to a head when Joel discovered his wife had a plethora of school supplies, but no school to donate them to.
“I walked into my wife’s office one day and she had all these school supplies and I’ve been wanting to do a school drop, and this is one of the areas where I really needed to do something for the people,” he said. “I asked her if she had a school lined up and she didn’t, so it evolved from there.”
Soldiers handed out bags of supplies, helped some children find new shoes for the cold months ahead, played games and interacted with Iraq’s younger generation -- a task many Soldiers feel is important to the country’s success.
“It’s great to be able to go out and meet the kids because the kids are the ones we’re really trying to make an impact on,” said Spc. Joseph Dupree, 5/7th Cav. “I know that if we can interact with the kids and help them to like us, the future generations will be a lot more open and cooperative with the United States.”
“It’s all about the relationships that you can build … for us to get out there and show that we do care and that we have a genuine interest in their well being,” Kate said. “Whether it was just a sticker or it was us playing soccer with them it lets them know that we do care.”
The day wrapped up with a game of soccer between Soldiers and children, followed by goodbyes and thank-yous as tanks and trucks rolled out of sight. Leaders hope their actions today will make a lasting impact on the children and the town.
“By [the families] taking the time to send the supplies over here and us taking the time to go out and interact with the children and to play games with them, they know that we genuinely do care,” Kate said. “At the national level, there’s a lot of efforts going on but to truly [be successful] it takes the boots on the ground, the daily interaction with them and especially with the children … hopefully that carries over to the other generations.”