Meadville Tribune

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May 30, 2009

SLIDESHOW: A local soldier's photos from Iraq

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Q: How have you and your men been received?

A: We have been welcomed all over this region of Iraq, from meetings with sheiks (local leaders) to doing dismounted patrols in the markets.

Q: Are Iraqis open and helpful or withdrawn and distrustful?

A: Most Iraqis are helpful when approached but they will stay back and not show aggression at all.

Q: Do you have a particular geographic area for which you are responsible?

A: Out brigade is based out of Taji, Iraq. We patrol the surrounding area with the Iraqi army.

Q: What are your goals in this area and how are you going about meeting them?

A: Our goals are helping establish the Iraqi Army and the Iraqi government prevent any hostile acts from taking place against U.S. and Iraqi forces. We have Iraqi Army personnel with us on our patrols, and we assist them on their patrols.

Q: What are your living quarters like and how often to you have access to e-mail and telephones to keep in touch with family and friends?

A: Most of us are in two-man rooms with two beds and air conditioning. Some of us have paid for Internet in our rooms. Others go to another building where the Internet is free. There is a phone center beside the PX (the base store).

Q: What has surprised you the most about Iraq? Why?

A: What crazy drivers they are! There are no painted lines on roads and they drive where they want — even in the wrong direction at points.

Q: We have a picture of you handing out candy to a bunch of kids. Is this something individual soldiers do or is it encouraged as a practice across the unit? When is it done?

A: We only do that while our vehicles are stopped. We give soccer balls and even stuffed animals to help build relations with the Iraqis. And yes, it is encouraged.

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