BAGHDAD (Army News Service, April 13, 2010) -- While Soldiers from the 7th Cavalry Regiment were assisting Iraqi Security Forces with security they each took time out to present three schools with new books April 11.

"Today we went on a book-drop mission to try and give the Iraqi schools English-Arabic books," said Sgt. Alexander Hudson. "The benefit is the Iraqis see the U.S. and ISF working together to help Iraq as a whole."

With the atmosphere of a 'bring-your-child-to-work-day,' Soldiers found the situation reversed and sat with Iraqi school kids and rehearsed vocabulary. Their attempts created smiles and laughter among the children.

"I feel like this is an important mission," said Spc. James Shapiro. "As this is my first deployment, I was expecting a lot more firefights, but stuff like this is important. It not only shows the Iraqi kids that we care about them and their future, it also helps give them an education."

Soldiers and ISF members alike carried in the Arabic Scholastic books to each headmaster's office. Members of the school thanked the ISF and Soldiers profusely for providing the much-needed books. For the scouts of the squadron, this was a scenario that required both security and friendly behavior.

"All my guys are professionals," said Hudson. "That's my focal point. When we go out - let's say for a book drop - our discipline level is so high that we can hold our weapons down. You don't always have to be in an offensive position, but we are always watching our sectors. You can greet and smile, but you are always on guard."

Hudson, who has been on four deployments, three to Iraq, pinpointed the changes he has seen in the nation.

"I was here when the war started and for the first elections," he said, "So, I've seen a lot of differences. We used to have improvised explosive devices popping off all the time ... you really don't see that stuff as much here in Baghdad."

Hudson's viewpoints have passed on to Shapiro, who could be seen pulling security, playing with children and hauling books into the mission.

"I think this transition from combat to assisting operations is important because this country will finally stabilize and there will be less violent actions against one another," said Shapiro. "If we can help stabilize the nation, younger generations will have a better life."

"It was heartwarming to see the kids' smiles," said Shapiro. "I get a feeling of accomplishment out of these missions. When I can go and see a result like that, I know this deployment was worth it."

(Spc. Jared Eastman serves with the 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs Office.)

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