Soldiers get feel for Iraqi history at ancient monastery
Soldiers escaped the pressures of war recently by indulging in some history. They visited the ruins of a monastery at Forward Operating Base Marez in Mosul, Iraq, that resembles a castle.
The Dair Mar Elia Monastery, named after Mar Elia, a monk who studied in Turkey, was a successful center of Christianity until 1743, when Tahmaz Nadir Shah tried to destroy it and killed all of the inhabitants. Remnants of 1,500-year-old pottery are scattered in several rooms on the ground level of the site, which has come to be known as St. Elijah’s Monastery. The monastery shows damage from combat in the fall of 2003 when an Iraqi armor unit used it as a command post against coalition forces.
Touring the monastery helps soldiers get a feel for the culture and rich history of Iraq, according to Chaplain (Capt.) Jeremiah Catlin, who accompanied soldiers with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division on a recent visit to the site.