Tuesday, August 09, 2005

In the Sandbox...

Iowa soldier helps rebuild Iraq
"On a typical day in south Baghdad, Capt. Christian Neels spends his days meeting with Iraq contractors and visiting job sites, inspecting the work, and coordinating different materials for different projects. Things are going well, he says, although the sand gets dull.

"I kind of get tired of seeing the desert," said Neels, 28. "Wherever I go, I think of the soil back home."

Neels, a Letts native, has been stationed in Iraq as part of the U.S. Army Reserve's Third Battalion, 7th Infantry since February of this year. In that time, he's been involved in everything from basic infrastructure improvements, from waterworks to sewage networks, to helping supply clothing for children's soccer leagues. He's been in the military, including his time in the Reserves, for 11 years.

"We opened up a small sewing school," he said. "There's not a lot of job opportunities for the local population (where he is stationed)."

He said the school, run by a neighborhood council, trains unemployed women with some skills to earn a wage.

This isn't Neels' first time overseas, he's also served for two years in Korea, said his mother, Pam Lee. Lee said that Neels plans to marry a Korean woman sometime in the next month, when he has leave in Georgia.

"This is what kind of kid he is," Lee said. "A couple of years ago, when he graduated from college, he got a Camaro that was just his pride and joy. He called us from Korea and asked us (Lee and father Dick Lee) if we could make his car payments. I said, ‘What's the problem, you don't have money?' And he told us that a lot of guys in his unit hadn't been able to get Christmas presents, so he started buying them for everyone, and the next thing you know he was out of car payment money. We laughed, and we told him we'd pay it, but next Christmas he had to do a little more budgeting.

Before he arrived in Iraq, Neels said he anticipated more combat operations, but he's found that things are more peaceful than expected." (The rest of the story)

...Ft. Campbell girls...
one, two, three, four, five

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