<b>FORWARD OPERATING BASE MAREZ, Iraq</b> - A group of children huddle together, giving each other small pushes and shoves, as they try to get to the front of the crowd. Their hands stretch upward, their eyes are wide and glistening with excitement, and their smiles are covering their entire faces. One child catches a soccer ball as it is passed into the crowd.

All because 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Soldiers teamed with Iraqi Security Forces to deliver soccer balls to children in Mosul, Iraq during a soccer ball drop, Dec. 11.

Command Sergeant Major Valmond A. Martin, 2nd HBCT, 3rd ID brigade command sergeant major, said visiting Mosul to hand out soccer balls to the children was a top priority on the Spartans' agenda.

"We were definitely excited to come out today; it's always good to see smiling, happy children," said Command Sgt. Maj. Martin. "Our Iraqi counterparts, the ISF, did a great job helping with security and making the event run smoothly. In Iraq, soccer is one of the most popular sports, so this is really big. A young kid with a soccer ball is the future."

To support the soccer ball drop, Soldiers from 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd HBCT, 3rd ID drove light medium tactical vehicles loaded with boxes of soccer balls to the drop site.

First Lieutenant Daniel Dubov, 3/7 Cav., 2nd HBCT said that the Soldiers were glad to help with the event.

"Doing these humanitarian-aid drops show the people of Iraq that Soldiers do really care, and that we are making an honest effort to help them in every way that we are able to, said 1st. Lt. Dubov. "The children loved us; they swarmed around us, smiling and happy, ready to get one of the soccer balls."

The first lieutenant also added that the ISF's professionalism and dedication also made the event a success.

"The Iraqi Army and the Iraqi Police were just great; they were extremely professional," said 1st. Lt. Dubov. "They also showed that they were well-trained, providing security and stepping in to take charge whenever needed. These guys have definitely come a long way, and their progress shows that they will only continue to get better."

Spartan Commander, Col. Charles E. Sexton, was also able to tour the city of Mosul with the city's mayor, Zuhayr Muhsin, and head sheik of tribe Ao-Arajiy, Muhson Hushim Ao-Arajiy, who both helped Spartan Soldiers hand out the soccer balls to the children.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16