By Sgt. Alun Thomas, 1st ACB PAO, 1st Cav. Div.October 19, 2009
CAMP TAJI, Iraq - As horseshoes and volleyballs flew through the air, the scent of fresh charcoal from a raging barbecue filtered around those who took part in the festivities.
Combined with booming music and laughter coming from every corner of the area, they formed the unmistakable sights and sounds of Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division enjoying some time away from the everyday routine, Oct. 16.
The day also gave everyone in the battalion a chance to unwind and forget the worries of their deployment, said Chaplain (Capt.) Chris Weinrich, from St. Louis, who helped set the event up.
"This gives Soldiers some much needed relief from all the hard work that they've done on the first six months of this deployment," Weinrich said. "They've done a great job working on Apaches and all the buildings, so hopefully, today they have fun."
The day's activities included a volleyball tournament and a sumo wrestling contest.
"We're going to have some Iraqi cuisine as part of our barbecue, show a movie and have a hail and farewell for the leaving Soldiers and those coming in," Weinrich said.
Weinrich added that it was encouraging to see the Soldiers enjoying these activities and praised the battalion's positive atmosphere.
"I haven't talked to many Soldiers coming to me with problems," Weinrich said. "One of the things I'm happy with here are the battle buddies. They do a great job taking care of each other."
"Things come up back home and sometimes Soldiers feel isolated," he continued. "That's when the battle buddies have stepped up and I'm really proud of all our Soldiers and our leadership."
Sgt.1st Class Alfonzo Branch, from Philadelphia, with Company E, said that taking time to relax can be difficult during a deployment.
"A lot of them have different stresses so the best thing for them to do is get out here and forget all their troubles and have a good time."
Soldiers take the place of family members during a deployment, Branch said, which showed during the event.
"This isn't just 'First Attack,' this is a family. We have our natural families at home, but there's nothing like having families and friends like we do here today."
"They are what you'd call my band of brothers," he said.