2nd BCT soldier's plea to the world: 'Buy us beer'
CAMP HABBANIYAH, Iraq — To Sgt. Dale Rogers of Company C, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, the near beer that soldiers sometimes get in Kuwait and Iraq tastes like something drained through a wet sock.
But that’s the closest the beer-loving Strike Force (2nd Infantry Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team) soldier will get to his favorite drink during the next few months of his deployment in Iraq.
The cyber-savvy soldier, though, has plans to make up for the lost consumption during mid-tour leave to Qatar and when he and his mates return to the States next year. And it won’t cost him a cent.
Rogers is the creative force behind www.beerforsoldiers.com, a Web site which allows true patriots to buy soldiers a beer online. The shaved-headed infantryman set up the Web site in February just before he joined 1-503 in South Korea, where the unit was based before deploying to Iraq last month.
“I knew I was going to Korea, and I knew I was going to be thirsty. I didn’t want to drink alone and I didn’t want to pay for it out of my own pocket,” he said.
Plenty of people are willing to buy soldiers a beer, said Rogers, who often receives free drinks from grateful citizens at bars back home in the States. And even more appear willing to pony up because the Internet is involved, he said.
“People will pay for anything on the Internet. A guy dropped his MP3 player and people gave donations to fix it,” he said.
Beerforsoldiers.com allows beer buyers to click on links that charge their credit cards for anything from $2 for a “40-oz. ghetto beer” to $6 for a “tall beer from the bar,” to $7 for a six-pack. Other donation options include $10 for a “pitcher” or $20 for a “keg club.”
The site includes dozens of photographs Rogers takes of soldiers enjoying the free beer.
“I go to a pub where there are 20 to 30 soldiers around the bar. I ring the bell and say: ‘Free beer for everybody.’ The bartenders think I’m crazy. I get to meet new people and new soldiers and I will buy two or three rounds,” he said.
One night Rogers spent more than $800 on free beer for soldiers at Outback Steakhouse and Gecko’s bar in Itaewon, South Korea, he said.
“A lot of times I had to spend out of my own pocket. I’d buy a round and the Web site would buy a round. Now it’s getting to the point where the Web site buys all the beer,” he said.
Extra beer funding is provided from the sale of T-shirts with the message: “Hold my beer while I kiss your girl” and “www.beerforsoldiers.com” stamped on them, he said.
“They sold like hot cakes,” Roger said. A Korean T-shirt shop owner “made a bunch more,” he said, “and he is still selling them now, I’ll bet.”
Soldiers in Iraq crave beer, women and high-speed Internet connections, in that order, Rogers said. And near beer does not compensate for the lack of the real thing.
“People still drink it and imagine it tastes like beer but to me it tastes like [something unmentionable] drained through a wet sock. I am dying for a real beer,” said Rogers, who updates beerforsoldiers.com and another, more serious patriotic Web site — rangerjarhead.com — at the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Internet café on Camp Habbaniyah.
Beerforsoldiers.com costs $120 a year to run but pulls in from $200 to $600 per month in beer money, Rogers said. At that rate it should have accumulated almost $5,000 by the end of Strike Force’s Iraq tour, he estimates.
Some of the money will buy beer for soldiers during mid-tour leave in Qatar. The rest will be spent on a homecoming party, he said.
“I’m going to rent a hotel banquet room and have a big beer-for-soldiers bash where the public is invited. Just fly there or show up and drink free beer paid for by the Web site and thank soldiers in person,” said Rogers, who plans to publish details of the event on beerforsoldiers.com.