• MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq - Spc. Terry Autry (left) of Elizabethtown, N.C., a driver with Company D, 120th Combined Arms Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, headquartered in Wilmington, N.C. and Spc. Nelson Sanchez of Wallace, N.C., a mechanic with Company E, 230th Brigade Support Battalion, 30th HBCT, headquartered in Kinston, N.C., receive pay at Forward Operating Base Mahmudiyah, Iraq, which is south of Baghdad, July 24.  Finance technicians Spc. Justin McMaster (right) and Spc. Stephen Campo, both of Boston and members of 101st Finance Company, Massachusetts National Guard, are able to pay cash to Soldiers there once a month.

    MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq - Spc. Terry Autry (left) of...

    MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq - Spc. Terry Autry (left) of Elizabethtown, N.C., a driver with Company D, 120th Combined Arms Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, headquartered in Wilmington, N.C. and Spc. Nelson Sanchez of Wallace, N.C., a mechanic with...

  • MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq -- Sgt. William Stanly of Beulaville, N.C., a quality control non-commissioned officer for Company E, 230thBrigade Support Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat team, headquartered in Kinston, N.C., buys an iPod Touch from Sgt. Richard Leathers of Jacksonville, N.C., a recovery team member with Company E, at the Army and Air Force Exchange Service store at Forward Operating Base Mahmudiyah, Iraq, a base south of Baghdad, July 24.

    MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq -- Sgt. William Stanly of...

    MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq -- Sgt. William Stanly of Beulaville, N.C., a quality control non-commissioned officer for Company E, 230thBrigade Support Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat team, headquartered in Kinston, N.C., buys an iPod Touch from Sgt. Richard...

MAHMUDIYAH, Iraq -- Payday at Forward Operating Base Mahmudiyah, Iraq is a special event for Soldiers of 120th Combined Arms Battalion and Company E, 230th Brigade Support Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, as the few places to shop there take cash only.

Pay is posted electronically to the Soldiers' bank accounts at home and finance technicians visit the base once per month and can give Soldiers up to $600 in cash.

Ten minutes after finance set up in the Morale, Welfare and Recreation lounge used as a pay office July 24, Soldiers lined up around the corner to wait their turns.

"You watch what you spend," said Spc. Terry Autry of Elizabethtown, N.C., a driver with Company D of Wilmington, N.C., one of the first Soldiers in line for pay.

The lack of stores and limited amount of cash has one benefit, "I save a lot more when I cannot be tempted," said Autry.

Soldiers can shop in a one room plywood post exchange, which is part of the MWR building. "Soldiers walk out of finance and walk in here," said Sgt. Richard Leathers of Jacksonville, N.C., a clerk with Company E, 230th BSB, headquartered in Kinston, N.C.

The exchange was started through a loan of about $50,000 worth of items; all profits are used to buy more goods. Toiletries, nutritional supplements, energy drinks, snacks line the walls.

Change at the exchange is made with small paper disks good for 5, 10, and 25 cents at the exchange. Often Soldiers will tell clerks at the exchange to "keep the change" and it is donated to morale and welfare funds. The exchange does about $24,000 in business monthly.

The FOB also has Iraqi-owned businesses which include a cafAfA and two small stores offering snacks, a large selection of DVDs, televisions, satellite receivers and other consumer electronics. All are cash only.

"(The shops) provide interaction with local Iraqis," said 1st Lt. Danny Fitzpatrick of Charlotte, N.C., a scout platoon leader with Headquarter and Headquarters Company from Wilmington, N.C. "It helps build the local economy, they buy from Iraqi businesses."

The Iraqi stores provide a welcome variety from the dining facility and exchange offerings. "It makes life easier," said Fitzpatrick.

Page last updated Mon July 27th, 2009 at 16:31