CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE BASRAH, Iraq - Four members of the U.S. House of Representatives paid a visit to Soldiers from their home states deployed to southern Iraq.

Representatives Thomas Marino, R-Pa., Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., John Sarbanes D-Md. and Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., took time out to visit Soldiers stationed at Contingency Operating Base Basrah.

The intent of the visit was to meet with host nation military and civilian leadership in Iraq. They came to discuss issues pertaining to the training and equipping of combat forces, combat operations, reconstruction efforts and the training of Iraqi Security Forces.

The delegates began the day by meeting with Basrah Provincial Reconstruction Team leader Barbara Leaf and Maj. Gen. Eddy Spurgin, commander of the 36th Infantry Division and U.S. Division-South.

After the morning meeting, the delegates sat down for lunch with 12 Soldiers from the 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, before departing attending a briefing about the current situation in southern Iraq, given by USD-S senior staff members.

Soldiers from the brigade arrived in February and officially assumed duties in southern Iraq in early March. Those at the luncheon were excited about the opportunity to meet their representatives in Iraq.

"It shows that they really care." said Spc. Eric Deloatch, a motor transport operator in A Company, 215th Brigade Support Battalion, a native of Baltimore. "It's been a long time since I was home, so I really want to talk about the current situation in Maryland like unemployment and the deficit and how he plans to improve things."

Some Soldiers wanted to take full advantage of the visit by making new political connections.

"It's great that they can come check on us. You never know when you might need their assistance in the future so why not build the bridge now." said Staff Sgt. Guelot Daccueil, a native of Rockville, N.Y., who is a tanker with A Co., 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment.

As the day wound down, the representatives took time to speak to Soldiers and pose for group photographs. The importance of their trip was not lost on the delegation as each member commented on Operation New Dawn and the gratitude they feel toward American Soldiers all over the world.

"We've actually been meeting with the troops, eating with them and coming out in the field with them to a certain extent has just increased my sincere and genuine respect for the military a thousand fold." Marino said. "We would not be the country we are today without them."