Mideast Notebook: Troops find treasures among junk in Iraq
November 17, 2004
Their yards might consist of sand and gravel, but that doesn’t mean soldiers at a forward operating base near Mosul, Iraq, can’t benefit from finding a way to turn one man’s junk into another man’s treasure.
FOB Marez’s Community Activity Center now features its very own yard sale, a table loaded with goodies people are trying to sell. The recent stock included a soccer ball, computer case, used PlayStation 2, a box of nails and a lamp.
“It’s small,” observed Pfc. Jeremy Scott, with the 1st Battalion 24th Infantry Regiment, while on his way to the center’s Internet cafe.
Scott wasn’t too impressed with the prices. He could buy a PlayStation and have it shipped over for less, he said.
But at a small base, with no Army and Air Force Exchange Service store, it’s better than nothing.
“They need to have more,” Scott added.
Mortars and meatballs
If spaghetti and meatballs are on the dinner menu at FOB MacKenzie, don’t forget to wear a Kevlar.
It’s a part of local legend at this outpost east of Samarra that spaghetti and meatballs means mortars will fly. Twice in the early days of the 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment’s deployment to this base, enemy rockets landed inside the camp boundary on spaghetti day. Most recently, the mad mortarman struck again Nov. 5, the last time the cooks dished up spaghetti.
Interesting, too, that the rockets usually hit between 4 and 5 p.m., just as the kitchen folk are preparing to serve the evening meal.
The link is more folklore than fact. Rockets have accompanied other menu selections as well (such as Swiss steak on Nov. 10). The 1-4 Cavalry’s intelligence analysts, who slice and dice data on every enemy attack, have yet to discern a statistically significant pattern.
Then again, maybe these insurgents just don’t care for Italian.
Rusted cans and IEDS
Every day, 100 Iraqi “Adopt-a-Highway” workers scour the streets of Baqouba, Iraq, northeast of Baghdad, picking up trash in return for cash.
“Adopt-a-Highway” is a popular road beautification program in the United States, and leaders of the 1st Infantry Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team have imported a version of it.
This being Iraq, though, workers encounter some things that might send an American “Adopt-a-Highway” volunteer screaming for cover — like homemade bombs.
According to a recent 1st ID news release, the Baqouba workers so far have discovered 47 roadside bombs — presumably intended for U.S. forces — and reported them to Iraqi police.
Capturing the cup
While life in Iraq may not be all fun and games, some soldiers got to play a few games last week as they took time off from their often hazardous duty.
Soldiers at FOB Speicher tested their dribbling, passing and pulling abilities Friday during the Veterans Day Commander’s Cup competition.
The Delta Dawgs from 701st Main Support Battalion collected the cup, finishing first out of 12 teams. The daylong competition featured events such as basketball, football, volleyball and a 5-ton truck pull.
Morale, Welfare and Recreation organized the event.
Steve Liewer is currently embedded with the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq. Juliana Gittler has recently completed her assignment in Iraq and is returning to Japan.