Giving thanks for partnership
November 30, 2009
FORWARD OPERATING BASE WARRIOR, KIRKUK, Iraq- Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, and their Iraqi Security Force partners broke bread together and dined on turkey, stuffing, and other Thanksgiving trimmings at Joint Security Station McHenry in Kirkuk province, Iraq, Nov. 24.
"The concept was a fellowship dinner celebrating relationships between 1st Bn., 8th Cav. Regt., and our partnered commanders in the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police," said Maj. Warren Sponsler, the executive officer of 1st. Bn., 8th Cav. Regt.
The event was attended by brigade and battalion commanders from three different IA brigades, as well as commanders of 22 different IP stations, and other key IP leaders in the area.
"The intent was to show our gratitude for the common bonds we've built over the past eleven months by providing a traditional Thanksgiving-type dinner," said Maj. Sponsler.
Soldiers from 1st Bn., 8th Cav. Regt., prepared all the food, served it, and even brewed traditional Iraqi Chai tea that was served before and after the meal.
"It was a very happy occasion," said Lt. Col. Abdulla Ali, the director of the Joint Coordination Center in Dibbis, Iraq. "This was the first time I have got to have thanksgiving at McHenry."
"It is very important for us to share things with the U.S.," he said. "Anything we do, we try to share with them. We have a good relationship."
Abdulla compared this event to the Kurdish holiday of Nowruz on March 21, which celebrates Kurdish independence. He said the two events are very similar in that people come together to eat, talk and spend time with one another. Abdulla shared his most recent Nowruz holiday with his U.S. partners and was glad he had the opportunity to share in a traditional American holiday with them also.
"I have fed the U.S. Soldiers many times, and it is good to have them feed me for once," he joked.
For 2nd Lt. Muhammed Akmed, an officer with the 2nd Battalion, 47th Battalion, 12th Iraqi Army Division, this holiday was a good way to wrap up the last 11 months of partnership he has shared with these Soldiers as they prepare to redeploy to the U.S.
Following the dinner, the Iraqis were presented certificates of appreciation from Lt. Col. David Lesperance, the commander of 1st Bn., 8th Cav. Regt., for their assistance and partnership with the battalion throughout the year.
"This is a really nice celebration, and I am very happy to have participated in it," Lt. Col. David Lesperance said. "We have had a really good partnership and cooperation, and this is a great way to end that."