Amenities Give Soldiers Home Away From Home in Iraq

By Army Sgt. Rodney Foliente
Special to American Forces Press Service

CAMP ECHO, Iraq, Sept. 30, 2008 - Although most would rather be at home, soldiers from the 4th Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team here are enjoying the comforts and amenities of life at their temporary home away from home.

Warhorse soldiers from 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment; Company C of the 204th Brigade Support Battalion; and the 2nd Brigade Combat Team Special Troops Battalion are based here.

"This is going to be my new home for the deployment, and it's better here than I thought," said Army Spc. Chau Nguyen, an automated logistics specialist with the special troops battalion's Headquarters and Headquarters Company.

Nguyen, who calls Boston home, said the comforts available here help the soldiers deal with being away from home.

Although the camp offers fewer amenities and on a smaller scale than most previously deployed soldiers experienced on their last tour, Camp Echo boasts more features than the Warhorse soldiers expected.

"We'll work as hard as we can to improve the quality of life here. We're at the initial phase right now, but there will be significant changes within the next six months or so," said Army Sgt. 1st Class Erin Langes, Camp Echo mayor, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2nd Brigade Combat Team.

Soldiers have access to free laundry services, a free Internet cafe, a phone center, a convenience store, a coffee shop, a movie theater, a Morale, Welfare and Recreation center and a gym. Brigade officials plan to expand the MWR and gym facilities and add more equipment, enlarge the Internet cafe, phone centers and laundry facility and add a convenience store with concession stands.

Soldiers here live in or are moving into containerized housing units with beds, electricity and air conditioners, though most arrived expecting to live in tents for quite a while. Brigade officials are working on establishing wireless Internet availability at the housing units as well.

Hungry soldiers can fill up at the dining facility, with food available 24 hours a day.

The food is good, with a wide variety of choices available, said Army Spc. Kenneth Hill, a medic with the brigade personal security detachment team, as he played a game of billiards. Hill comes from Columbus, Ga.

"The living conditions are pretty comfortable, and everybody says the quality of life will get better," said Army Sgt. Leif Wood, a senior radar operator with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment, attached to 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment.

He'd rather be home, he said, but overall there isn't much to complain about here.

"I think the family members back home should know that we're doing fine and trying to have a good time," said the Colorado Springs, Colo., resident. "They've got things you can do on your off time, and that keeps the morale up."

(Army Sgt. Rodney Foliente serves in the 4th Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office.)

*Related Sites:*
Multinational Corps Iraq [ ]
Amenities Give Soldiers Home Away From Home in Iraq [ ]