By Spc. Dustin RobertsFebruary 23, 2009
BAGHDAD - Multi-National Division - Baghdad Soldiers serving with the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, can now work on their golf swing and tee-off the strains and stresses of deployment.
In a small ceremony at the Dagger Brigade's headquarters Feb. 8, 2nd HBCT leaders hit a few golf balls into the back of a sand-colored net to officially open the brigade's driving range.
Named the "Ridgefield Country Club Driving Range in Iraq," the range pays tribute to a group of golfing veterans in Ridgefield, Conn., who donated the equipment for the range.
"The men are friends of mine through my parents and in-laws and they are great supporters of the military," said Lt. Col. Christopher Beckert, deputy commander, 2nd HBCT. "When they heard that our brigade was deploying, they felt that one thing they could do to contribute to the morale of the Soldiers is send used golf clubs and used golf balls, along with some mats, so that we could set up a little area where Soldiers can relax and pass the time when they have free time."
Beckert, from Madison, Conn., knew the group of golfers in his home state sympathized with his Soldiers situation.
"They are all veterans themselves so they know what Soldiers go through, and they also understand that it is hard sometimes to be away for a long time without things to do," he said. "They knew that Soldiers need to pass the time in a combat zone; they thought one of the more constructive ways was to practice golf swings."
After the equipment arrived it took about eight Soldiers to construct the range in a two-week period.
"The materials came from all around the compound inside the tactical operations center and we got the net from the communications section of the brigade," said Staff Sgt. Justin Takach, who works in the operations section, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd HBCT. "I scrounged up foam and other things to use; like packing material for a base to stand on when hitting a few balls."
Takach, a native of Woodbine, N.J., always looks for improvement in his projects. The next step, he said, would be to paint a backdrop and place it at the back of the netting for target practice.
"It's a relief; a chance to escape for a bit from the ongoing of day-to-day life out here," he said. "It gives the Soldiers a chance to come out during the day, whenever they get a minute, to get a little taste of home."