Fiddler's Green: Blackjack Soldiers combine vision, sweat
August 20, 2010
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq - To the average cavalry trooper, "Fiddler's Green" is a legendary imagined afterlife where there is perpetual mirth, a fiddle that never stops playing and dancers who never tire. Its origins are obscure, although some answers point to the Greek myth of the Elysian Fields as the inspiration.
To Task Force Blackjack, 4th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fiddler's Green is no myth, and its origins are well known. Fiddler's Green is an MWR facility where TF Blackjack Soldiers go to play before retiring for the day.
The facility is the brainchild of 1st Sgt. Timothy Bolyard, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 4th Sqdn., 10th Cav. Reg., and was built by Sgt. Guy Monighetti, Blackjack assistant project manager, 4th Sqdn., 10th Cav. Reg.
"I've heard great things from various people, mainly Soldiers, who enjoy the fact they don't have to go clear across post to use an MWR. Soldiers can stop by before or after a mission and enjoy a few minutes of games," said Bolyard.
For Soldiers, tension can get high during a deployment and having a place to relax among friends can make a difference. At Fiddler's Green, located in Camp Dracula [on Contingency Operating Base Adder], Soldiers relieve physical and mental stress by reading, working out, playing games and watching movies. Outside, Soldiers can utilize an area specially designed for CrossFit workouts or stay in the SPAWAR Internet and phone cafAfA to communicate with loved ones back home.
"It's a great place to get to know some of the guys. I get to hang out with them, work out, and chill," said Pfc. Billy Ray Holder Jr., TF Blackjack protective service detail.
Before Fiddler's Green became a happy refuge for Soldiers, it was a repository for broken equipment, trash and rubbish. Bolyard and Monighetti saw the building as an opportunity.
With some Soldiers' help, the building was cleared out, painted and ready for modification within a week. The job was too big for a single person, so Monighetti used it as an opportunity to teach Soldiers some new skills.
"I taught the guys basic carpentry skills," said Monighetti. "Stuff like how to use the tools safely, how to cut straight lines and how to properly utilize a hammer."
The construction and installation of equipment took one week to complete. The only things left were finding an electrical power source and an original name.
The name came as naturally to the cavalry troopers as a mounted patrol. Monighetti and his trade-school apprentices created a sign for the doorway, in traditional red and white cavalry fashion.
When it came time to etch a name into the wood, Monighetti asked for suggestions.
"The guys started shouting out [some pretty choice titles] due to how hot it was that day and how much work the project was requiring. Some said it wasn't quite hell, but close," said Monighetti.
This description of that day's circumstances is actually the exact description of "Fiddler's Green," in the Cavalrymen's Poem. Without hesitation, Monighetti declared, "Fiddler's Green it is."
Soldiers who choose to dismount at Fiddler's Green discover that, while the fiddlers do eventually stop fiddling and the dancers stop dancing; they usually have a pretty good time in the facility they built themselves.
"From a leadership perspective, I just want Soldiers to enjoy their time here the best they can. I think having an MWR [nearby] helps," said Bolyard.