LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA, ANACONDA, IRAQ -- (DEC 3, 2007) --After spending a little time in Task Force Ready's newly renovated theater, you might think you're in a multiplex cinema back home. With its plush stadium-style seating, a booming surround-sound system, full-size movie screen and a real popcorn machine, the theater offers Task Force Ready Soldiers some much-needed respite from the dust, noise and activity outside.

"Aviation is an inherently dangerous and detail-oriented profession, so it's important that our Soldiers have as many places to unwind as we can give them," said Task Force Ready Commander Lt. Col. Jack Bone. "When you're watching a movie, you're in a different world - at least for that hour and a half."

Task Force Ready, 5th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, inherited the theater from an Alabama Army National Guard unit, which built it as a briefing space. Its movie theater look was designed to fit into the battalion area's Main Street theme, complete with a boardwalk and false store fronts.

While the basic framework for the theater was already in place, it required a few improvements and amenities to make it a full-fledged entertainment facility. To make that happen, Capt. Virginia Seigel, the battalion's logistics officer, enlisted some help from the home front, via her family's online message board.

Relatives, friends and supporters responded with more than $4,000 worth of donations. Seigel's uncle, Terry Melot of Phoenix, Ariz., fired back with this e-mailed pledge of support:
"It gives us great pleasure to be able to add a little something to the enjoyment and morale of our troops abroad. One popcorn machine, four cases of snap packs (of oil, salt, and popcorn) for the machine and 1000 popcorn bags are on their way to you."

Melot was a military aviator in the Vietnam War, logging more than 200 flight hours over enemy territory as an Army Cessna O-1 Bird Dog crew chief. He's now a business owner, a private pilot and an ardent supporter of troops overseas, according to his niece.

"I'm lucky enough to be related to some great and generous people," Seigel said. "It shows that there are a lot of people back home who are really excited about helping out Soldiers and want to show their support in a meaningful way."

Soldiers of the unit's renovation and upgrade team handled the carpentry involved in turning the space into a movie theater, adding a projector mount, installing the sound system and building a popcorn stand.

While the theater was primarily renovated for and by the Soldiers of 5-158 Aviation, other units can contact the 5-158 operations and training section (S-3) to reserve it on a space-available basis.