UR, Iraq - More than 230 Soldiers with the 121st Brigade Support Battalion visited the archaeological remains of Ur, Nov. 12, near Contingency Operating Location Adder, Iraq.
Lt. Col. Gene G. Henke, the chaplain with the 732nd Combat Service Support Battalion, out of Tomah, Wis., said while the ziggurat is the most visible landmark in the area, the real treasure for several different religious cultures is the birthplace of the biblical figure Abraham in the remains of Ur, referred to in biblical times as Ur of the Chaldeans.
Henke, a Brookfield, Wis., native, said the story of Abraham can be found in the Bible in Genesis 12-25, and he is mentioned throughout the Bible. Abraham is recognized as the father of Judaism and an important figure in Islam and Christianity, he said.
The tour offers Soldiers an opportunity to learn more about the culture of the area in which they are deployed, said Henke.
"It is a once in a lifetime opportunity, one of those opportunities that would not be afforded us without the military," he said. "It is really one of the unspoken benefits or blessings that the military provides. We are ... able to encourage and provide support for the establishment of freedom and democracy ... and at the same time it takes us to a corner of the world ... I would never have the opportunity to go to."
First Lt. Aaron R. Hrabovsky, the officer in charge of intelligence with the 121st BSB, went on the tour of Ur with his unit. He also said he believed going to the sight gave his Soldiers the chance to learn about the area in which they are deployed.
"We walk to work every day and see it and I know people talk all the time about wanting to be able to make a trip over there," he said. "While you are here ... you are never going to get that opportunity again."
Learning more about the history of the area also gives Soldiers an appreciation for the local nationals, said Hrabovsky.
"I know it helps me, seeing where they came from, knowing where the Iraqi culture started and how it got its roots," he said. "For the young Soldiers, hopefully it does help them to see where they came from, that, yes, this culture is capable of great things, and hopefully we can get them back on track to that again."