"Wagonmaster" Soldiers bring toys, school supplies to Iraqi kids
April 21, 2010
JEDELLAH SOFLA, Iraq - Soldiers of the 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), brought soccer balls, jump ropes, sports drinks, stuffed animals, notebooks, and various other toys and school supplies to the children here April 12.
The Fort Hood-based logistics unit operates primarily out of the nearby Contingency Operating Location Q-West and regularly visits the village to bring supplies and gifts to the people, especially the children, as a gesture of goodwill.
For some of the Soldiers, like Spc. Jeff Stewart, a Schaunburg, Ill., native and all source intelligence analyst for 15th Sust. Bde., the trip was a rare chance to leave their office and mingle with their Iraqi neighbors.
"A lot of people in a unit like this might not feel like they help the Iraqis," Stewart said, explaining how he and others often don't see how their jobs affect the Iraqi people.
"Every Soldier should do what we did even if only for ten minutes. Just giving a binder to a little girl and seeing her smile - it makes the whole deployment worthwhile," he said.
Stewart expressed his hope that the Iraqi children would positively remember when the American Soldiers came with gifts and said that doing so made him feel like he made a difference.
For Master Sgt. Celia Feller, a Farmington, N.M., native and the brigade's day battle noncommissioned officer in charge, this was her second trip to visit the children of Jedellah Sofla.
"It's a rare opportunity as well as an eye opener," she said, claiming that it helped to remind her of how fortunate Americans are to have the opportunities that they do.
Feller, like Stewart, said that her job didn't allow her to leave the base very often to see how the average Iraqi lives and enjoyed the chance to help people. She also explained how this and other experiences service members may have while in Iraq can help them grow, such as exposure to a different culture.
"I think it's awesome we're able to provide them school supplies and things that will help them along the way and maybe put a smile on their face," Feller said. "I'm glad that our command supports the foundation of the future."