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News of the 1st Infantry Division

Miami native Sgt. Danil Ramirez, a team leader with Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, talks with several children in the streets of western Baghdad July 26. Ramirez and his unit were part of a joint operation with Iraqi Security Forces to disrupt insurgent activities in the area. Photo by Spc. L.B. Edgar, 7th MPAD

Miami native Sgt. Danil Ramirez, a team leader with Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, talks with several children in the streets of western Baghdad July 26. Ramirez and his unit were part of a joint operation with Iraqi Security Forces to disrupt insurgent activities in the area. Photo by Spc. L.B. Edgar, 7th MPAD

A higher-res version of the photo is available here (worth it for the expression on the kid's faces).

BREAK TIME: 'DESTROYERS' CHERISH DOWNTIME AT FALCON

By Sgt. 1st Class Robert Timmons
4th IBCT, 1st Inf. Div. PAO

BAGHDAD - The green tent ruffled as a hot wind blew through Forward Operating Base Falcon. Soldiers of "Destroyer" hunkered down inside. They were not hiding from the wind - they were spending their downtime any way they wanted to.

For the Black Lions of Company D, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, the little "me" time they have is spent unwinding - for some it's by watching movies and for others it's playing games or just shooting the breeze.

The Soldiers patrol the West Rashid restive neighborhood of Bayaa aiming to keep the area "safe and running smoothly," said 1st Platoon Sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Kirk Reynolds, a 44-year-old native of Chipton, Iowa. When they aren't hunting for roadside bombs, murderers and other threats to Iraqi peace, the unit calls Falcon home.

Although they live in tents, the Soldiers do the best they can to make it as homey as possible.
"The Soldier makes the best of his time," said Huntington, Texas-native, 1st Sgt. Darrell Snell, the Destroyer's senior noncommissioned officer. "Because they live in tents, privacy is hard to come by, but they make do."

And they make do.

Behind 12-feet-high concrete barriers, the Destroyers live in large green tents separated into small cubicles by ponchos, poncho liners, blankets or whatever they can get to create makeshift walls that give just a little privacy. "I am getting used to it," said Cpl. Neill Hernandez, a squad leader with 1st Platoon, who lives with nine other NCOs in his tent. "Us
infantry guys aren't expected to have a lot of space. "It doesn't bother me all that much," the Houston native said. "It would be nice to have more privacy but I can do without it for a little
while." Though living in a tent for months on end would make most Americans cringe, Hernandez said he has been provided the comforts most in the States take for granted.

His small living space has enough room for a desk, on which sits a picture of him and his fiancee of two years, Keu Thi Lee; a computer with wireless Internet capability that allows him to talk online to her and play games with friends.

Though they live on cots, the Destroyers have mattresses, some with sheets other with sleeping bags. One Soldier even has his mattress festooned with a special pillow he received from home. For Sgt. Robert Savant, the pillow has special significance because it has the hand prints of his daughters Julie, 7, and Cadence, 3, painted on the front. Along with the pillow, he has a green stuffed animal his wife Lindsey gave him to accompany him on his previous deployment.

Like other Destroyers, Savant cherishes his free time, which he uses to catch up on sleep and talk to his Family. "It's very important to me to talk to my Family," he said. "They are my
life. It must have been tough living in a time when there was only letters. I guess I just joined during a time of technology." Unfortunately, the closeness of tent life can be grating at times, but Soldiers say having technology around helps ease the rigors of combat.

"It helps out a lot having Internet in the tent," Savant said. "It means the Soldier can stay in his own comfort zone and have more privacy when talking online." He added that Soldiers get by with what they have and can't worry about what it's like to live in a more robust place.
"We have to make do," he said. "We would like to live in a trailer or barracks, but we have to make do with what we have."

About the only things Soldiers love more than playing video games and talking to their Families is receiving mail. For Savant he is expecting a care package from his wife. "She is sending me a box of pictures," he said with a smile. "She sends me a couple each week."

A care package delivered to one Soldier can mean a whole bunch of goodies for the platoon, as Soldiers pass around whatever they don't need out of the packages. While watching movies and talking to their loved ones through Falcon's call center may seem mundane to most, but it brings joy to the troops until they go on their next mission.

"We have to be constantly ready," Hernandez said. "There are times when we have downtime but we may have to go out because another platoon is in trouble. The worst part of downtime is getting the word to go." On this day the Destroyers of 1st Platoon didn't get the word to go and
were able to use the hot Sunday afternoon to unwind and prepare for another day in a tough sector of Baghdad.

2 Comments

This isn't very relevant, but I saw the reference to 1/28, the "Black Lions". When did the 1/28 change duty? When I was at Fort Jackson in 1993, 1/28 was up the hill a bit as a training unit.
 
CCO - when the Army went to the ARFORGEN process of unit readiness management and the related force-structure changes, as a part of the rotation of units around the world some brigades and associated units got re-orged into different divisions. The new "brigade-centric" organization has the division headquarters reverting back to an almost Civil War style role, though that is a gross over-simplification.