Soldiers leaving Iraq, unloading ammunition
November 5, 2011
CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq -- They waited to the last minute to turn in their ammunition, but that was to be expected. No Soldier wanted to be the last one in Iraq without it.
But ever since the White House announcement that all troops will be out of Iraq, and home for the holidays, there has been a mad rush to unload it and that has kept the personnel at the ammunition supply points very busy.
Rodney Stingerie and Suzanne Greenway, 402nd Army Field Support Brigade, are responsible for handling the ammunition that is turned in at Camp Liberty from all the Forward Operating Bases closing down around Baghdad and determining whether it's serviceable or tagged for disposal.
"We get between ten and fifteen short tons each week. That's more than half a million dollars worth of ammunition," said Greenway, chief of surveillance. "Some of this stuff has been in theater since the beginning of the war. They were just hanging on to it."
"And we are seeing a lot more amnesty, maybe six to eight turn-ins a day, which should have ended at the beginning of the month, but we keep accepting it. We have to," said Stingerie, explosive safety expert.
Stingerie and Greenway have been married for 25 years and they have been working together in the Army ammunition business for 23 of those years. They volunteered to deploy to Iraq in support of the drawdown and they are working at a pace that is unparalleled in their careers.
Twelve-hour days, seven days a week is the norm and the work is physical. They break down pallets of ammunition, inspect it, classify it and re-pack it for shipment or for demilitarization.
"I've lost forty pounds in the ten months I've been here," said Stingerie. Greenway said she lost 6 pounds. They agree the work is physically exhausting, but the experience has been invaluable.
"This has been a great learning experience. Hands on with the ammo and training Soldiers in this environment gives us a much better perspective on what we do back home, " said Greenway.
Soon they'll be heading back to the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant, in Oklahoma. That is where they work and soon they'll be able to pursue the small things they have sacrificed during deployment.
"I'm a shopaholic, "said Stingerie. "I miss shopping."
"I just want a bath," Greenway said.