Mideast notebook: Relief's many forms: IVs, tobacco, video games
Stars and Stripes June 4, 2003
Cure for the heat
BAGHDAD, Iraq — Baby, it’s hot outside.
But there’s one thing that soldiers in Baghdad know is a cool, refreshing treat … an IV.
“It feels nice and cold going in,” said Spc. Bernard Visocchi, a 1st Armored Division soldier who recently was treated to an intravenous dose of fluids after a long day of guard duty.
“You feel like a whole new person,” said Visocchi, 24, of Attleboro, Mass.
Medics throughout the city are spending a lot of time treating soldiers who bake all day in the 100-degree-plus weather.
One 1st AD soldier said his friend stuck a small thermometer between his bulletproof vest and his skin. He let it cook for a minute.
“It was 130 degrees under the plates,” Staff Sgt. Donte Hubbard said.
More than a pinch
BAGHDAD, Iraq — Post exchanges are few and far between at Army camps in Iraq. But that’s not keeping the soldiers of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment from getting their nicotine fix.
Thanks to 1st Lt. William Earl, 2nd ACR soldiers living in Thawra, northeast Baghdad, have all the Copenhagen and Skoal smokeless chewing tobacco they want.
Before leaving the regiment’s home base in Fort Polk, La., Earl wrote a letter to U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. asking for a pinch or two. The tobacco firm was much obliged to sponsor the 2nd ACR, America’s oldest Army regiment. The company sent the them a case of the stuff.
The soldiers are much more relaxed now, Earl said. And they don’t risk burning down their camp with the careless flick of a cigarette butt.
“It’s the simple things that make it for a lot of these guys,” said Earl, 25, of Tacoma, Wash.
U.S. Smokeless Tobacco is sending more chew whenever it’s needed, provided, Earl said, it only goes to soldiers older than 18.
“Just tell them we said ‘thanks,’” Earl said.
A different classroom
GARAWE, Iraq — Army Spc. Charles Peters laughed when children from the impoverished mountain village of Bastora took his hand and led him into a tiny stone house and asked him to jump in on of their favorite pastimes: playing Sony PlayStation.
“These people don’t have running water, no food, but man, they’ve got a PlayStation. How does that happen?”
But he conceded — and joined in for a round of the electronic soccer game.
“Well, it wasn’t fair. They made me be America, and they were Brazil. I didn’t have a chance,” laughed the 20-year-old college student, who had to put aside his studies at University of Massachusetts to come to Iraq.
Peters, an activated reservist with the 443rd Civil Affairs Battalion out of Rhode Island — but now working under the 404th Civil Affairs Battalion set up in northern Iraq — at first didn’t want to come to this Middle East nation.
“Who wants to leave home and go to war?” he asked. “But now I’m glad I did. This is good experience for me. I’m helping rebuild a nation.”
Peters, who was midway through his sophomore year before being mobilized, joined the Reserves after “a bad first year in college,” he said. “I didn’t see me changing, and I figured the Army would help me mature a bit. It has.”
And after he gets his liberal arts degree — in a subject yet to be determined — he plans to go Army.