From 'golf' to guitars, Soldiers find ways to fill their limited free time
July 15, 2009
BAGHDAD - War can be stressful, and sometimes, Soldiers say, it's the littlest things that can have the biggest impact when finding some relief during their rare downtime.
At Joint Security Station Saydiyah in southern Baghdad, Soldiers of Company B, 252nd Combined Arms Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, take some of the comforts from home in simple activities to pass the time.
Free time is precious for the Soldiers, squeezed in between their missions, standing guard duty, and helping preparing meals.
Sgts. Dustin Butcher, Joseph Jones and Daniel Tripp share a tiny living space together and enjoy playing video games when not working.
"It's a little 'away from here' time," said Tripp, of Chapel Hill, N.C.
Sporadic clicking and beeps, and bursts of laughter and booing could be heard from the dimly lit room as they played a game of golf on their Xbox game system.
"I play every minute that we're not outside the wire," Butcher, of Wilson, N.C., said, joking about the time he spends playing video games. "We play first-person shooter games. You know, 'shoot 'em up' games, and we can't get enough of the golf game."
First-person shooters such as Ghost Recon and Call of Duty are their favorites, as are those from the Tiger Woods golf series.
The trio said they plan to expand their gaming hobby with other Soldiers at the JSS by linking Xbox game systems together so more players can battle at once.
Butcher said they have one additional connection set up with their neighbors in the living quarters beside them, and they plan to link even more together.
"I wish we had NASCAR," Jones, of Boomer, N.C. said. "That way we could play about six-wide on a 42-car field."
Spc. Norman Freese, a radio repairer from Baxter, Tenn., prefers writing to wargaming.
"I wrote poetry before, but just started writing the other stuff now," he said about his fantasy, fiction and science-fiction pieces. "It seemed like a good opportunity to do some other stuff I haven't done before."
Another Company B Soldier, Spc. Eric Trivett, from Hickory, N.C., enjoys playing an acoustic guitar in his down time. He said playing the guitar reminds him of home, which helps him relax.
"I got a couple of guitars at home," Trivett said. "And even though the ones I have at home are electric, it still makes me think of playing them."
Trivett works long hours in the company's tactical operations center, but he said he still makes time to play his guitar.
"It's hard 'cause by the time I get done, somebody's almost always asleep," Trivett said of his roommates. "I don't have a lot of time for it, but I still play a couple times a week at least."
"It just gives me something else to think about," Trivett said.