Working it out
Staff Sgt. Matthew Spivey of the 101st Sustainment Brigade works out at the nrely renovated gym at the Lifeliners Morale, Welfare and Recreation Center. The brigade has done major improvements to the MWR facilities across the board. (photo by Sgt. 1s... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan - The 101st Sustainment Brigade is acting on a mantra as old as the Army: "Leave things better than when you found them."

Since arriving on Bagram more than four months ago, the "Lifeliners" have made several improvements in the brigade's area of the airfield, including renovating the headquarters, expanding the aid station and building up the grounds around the Lifeliner Lounge, a Morale, Welfare and Recreation facility.

The Lifeliner Lounge, endearingly referred to as the "L3" by the Soldiers here, is barely recognizable from the area assumed this past November.

"When we got here, it was below average and lacked any room," said Sgt. James Croghan, a member of the repair and upgrade team. 'There was no pride in it."

The overhaul of the L3 and nearby gym gives the Soldiers better facilities to work out, hang out with their battles and play games.

"MWR stand for morale, welfare and recreation," said Pfc. Keon Muldrow, a member of the staff at the L3. "The best thing is morale. If you have a place where everyone has an outlet, it's going to improve with all the movies, cards and video games. With every improvement, it makes it feel more at home, because we did it."

During deployments, Soldiers can fall into a routine of work, eat, PT, and sleep. The L3 offers them an escape from the humdrum repetition of life on Bagram.

"We want to have an area where the Soldiers can get out of their B-Huts and spend time together and build camaraderie, whether it's a game of spades, working out or playing Madden," said Master Sgt. Michael Negron, noncommissioned officer in charge of the operations section, 101st Sust. Bde. , who oversees the improvement projects.

The repair and upgrade team works on the projects, with the assistance of the mission support platoon and the personal security detachment. They have renovated the gym, by adding a cardio room, new equipment and a second floor, with plans for a deck in the near future. Inside the L3, they are in the process of completing an internet cafAfA with 20 computers and 10 phones for Soldiers to call home, web chat with their families and surf the internet.

"The guys like the projects that go towards the majority, that go to helping everyone out," Negron said.

From the internet cafAfA to the laundry room to the theater, the team is taking it on one room at a time. As the walls are painted, TVs and computers are moved in and more books and games are sent from the States, the Soldiers slowly convene on the L3 to kick back and relax.

"What we're doing as a unit is the whole concept of 'improve your foxhole' and make it better than when you came in," Negron said. "The whole intent is to give Soldiers something to do, give them a place to relax, and stay out of trouble."

The countless improvements made by the team should stand tall for the next unit, as well as the several other servicemembers across Bagram.

"We want to leave a history of our time here, especially on the walls," Negron said. "The Soldiers can hang up a picture or a poster and write on the walls so we can leave our mark here."

The job is never quite finished. Once the internet cafAfA is up and running, the team plans to add a deck to the gym and to pave the volleyball court in preparation for summertime, outdoor activities.

"A lot of people didn't think it was possible," Negron said, "but we did it."