Monday, August 21, 2006

LITTLE THINGS CAN MEAN A LOT

By T,F. Boggs
Apr 9, 2006
www.boredsoldier.blogspot.com

My name is Tim Boggs and I am a sergeant in the Army.
I’m serving on my second deployment to Iraq. When I
reflect on my experiences in my first deployment, one
particular story sticks out above the rest.

I was stationed in southern Iraq near the port of
Umm Qasr. We purified water, supplied fuel, and did
what we could to help improve the quality of life for
soldiers there. During the summer the temperature was
excruciatingly hot, sometimes reaching upward of 140
degrees.

After I had been there a few weeks, I noticed that several
Iraqi families had moved into tents right next to ours. It
wasn’t long before some of the people in my unit began to
interact with the families. We soon found out why they
were living by us. One of the families had helped the
military and was living there in fear of reprisals from
anti-American forces. Another family, a mother and her
three small children, were living there to escape their
abusive husband and father. Several of the soldiers
including myself became particularly fond of the kids
in this family. We would give them snacks and make sure
they had enough food and water.

The longer they stayed at our base the more they became a
staple in our lives. The oldest kid learned English rapidly,
albeit English taught by a bunch of soldiers. He could
brighten up anyone’s day with his smile and often reminded
us why exactly we were halfway across the world, fighting
in a foreign land, to free an entire nation from an evil
tyrant and also to help the Iraqi people lead a better life.

Their mother appreciated that we played with her kids and
watched them for her from time to time. We spent a lot of
time with the family and began to teach the mother English.
We treated them exactly like we would our own family and
cared deeply about them.

After several months of living in a tent, we were able
to move the family into one of the buildings on our small
camp. The powers that be at the base found a bed for them
and some small amenities, like a television and toiletries.
The rest of the stuff they needed was supplied by the
friends and family back home of one woman in my unit.

All in all, we spent a good ten months with the family.
We were sad to leave them but grateful for the experience
of not only helping them out but also having the opportunity
to form a relationship that crossed over cultural boundaries.
We could see the good changes that we knew we were bringing
to these people who greatly needed and appreciated our help.
I will be forever thankful for the experience and I hope
that one day the kids will grow up to appreciate American
soldiers and all that they did for their country. I honestly
feel like the kids in Iraq will be our greatest asset in
years to come.

Many of our greatest efforts have gone toward helping them
live a better life, whether it is rebuilding their schools,
giving them toys and candy, getting them proper medical
attention, or simply playing games with them. My hope for
Iraq lies in the next generation. Through the efforts of
some amazing soldiers, I believe a seed has been planted
that will one day bloom into a mass of young children
raised on knowing the kindness and gentleness of American
soldiers. When that time comes I believe we will finally
enjoy the fruits of our labor in the Middle East.

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