Pennsylvania National Guard Soldiers deliver food to Abu Ghraib orphanage
July 1, 2009
BAGHDAD - Soldiers of Company C of the 2nd Battalion, 112th Infantry Regiment, "Paxton Rangers", 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Multi-National Division-Baghdad conducted a combined patrol through Abu Ghraib June 25 to disrupt insurgents in the area and improve their relationship with their Iraqi counterparts.
The area they patrolled is called the "1st of June" as Iraqis often name areas after significant dates in their history.
Leading the patrol was a platoon from the 24th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division. As a result of the agreement between Coalition forces and the nation of Iraq all combat operations are now conducted jointly.
One of the goals of these joint operations is training, another is to show the people that there is a transition happening as Coalition forces begin pulling back.
Part of today's mission was to take a small step in attempting to improve those relationships.
Under the guidance of Co C of the 2-112 "Paxton Rangers" dozens of bags of beans, rice, canned meat, bottled water and other supplies were given to the Iraqi Army Soldiers. As they began their patrol, they stopped at a number of houses handing out these bags and holding brief conversations with the residents.
They were surprised as they came to an unofficial orphanage and were surrounded by kids.
"Finding an orphanage right away was really good," said Staff Sgt. Andrew Fox from Reedsville, Pa., 2-112th. "We were really able to help some needy people."
Medical issues were discussed and the location was marked in order to bring back supplies and a medic.
As is often the case, once word starts getting around that things are being given away, a crowd starts to develop as the Soldiers came upon a medical clinic, little more than a small drug store next to a shop selling automotive fluids.
Stryker's and Iraqi Army trucks were setup around the area to provide security as Soldiers were sent in all directions in order to keep an eye out for possible attack.
Dozens of bags of food were unloaded as people started coming from all directions. The Iraqi Army soldiers kept order and quickly formed the people into a line. The residents thanked the soldiers as they left. Within just a few minutes the food was gone.
"Well, it's important to help get the community back on its feet. We work with the Iraqi Army in joint patrols," said Sgt. Sean Rawlings from Clearfield, Pa. "We're kind of like role models. Seeing the kids is the best part. They're a lot of fun."