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Bucca thanks local Iraqi leaders
Photos and story by Maj. Jason Fetterolf, 2-113IB/PAO

CAMP BUCCA, Iraq - A joint U.S military leadership team representing Forward Operating Base Bucca hosted a first-time ever visit from sheiks, community leaders, Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police officials from the Safwan area at a belated Thanksgiving dinner Dec. 16, 2008, at the Camp Bucca Dining Facility.

The idea was to give thanks for sustained regional peace and to build a stronger partnership with local Iraqi leaders. An added benefit was realized when several sheiks said the visit completely erased their previous negative impressions of Camp Bucca, according to Louai Farhan, Bilingual-Bicultural Advisor.

“We found that everyone was welcoming; everybody tried to help us; everyone paid attention to us [in a respectful way],” noted Iraqi Army Lt. Col. Hasan Nadir Uda, Commander, 1st Battalion, 51st Brigade, 14th Division.

While not everyone at the event observed the same religion, language or cultural experience, interpreters and BBAs facilitated the U.S.–Iraqi communications and barriers were dissolved.

The master of ceremonies, Lt. Col. Mark A. Piterski, FOB Bucca Base Defense Commander, 2nd Battalion, 113th Infantry Regiment, read the invocation prayer in Arabic before a traditional American Thanksgiving meal was served.

“His recitation [Lt. Col. Piterski’s] and other phrases in Arabic during his welcoming speech before the audience have added an excellent atmospheric fragrance of friendship,” noted prayer author Farhan, who was raised in Iraq and later emigrated to the U.S.

After the prayer, the meal was served by 2-113th Infantry Soldiers. Food included traditional Thanksgiving fare: turkey, roast beef, mashed potatoes, yams, green beans, cranberry sauce, cakes, with the addition of an Iraqi staple, chai. Although traditional Iraqi food could have been served, American food was purposely served to further extend respect to the Iraqi guests.

Initially quiet when escorted on to Camp Bucca by 1st Lt. Jason Cornwell, 2-113th Infantry intelligence officer, the Iraqi sheiks became more comfortable as the event proceeded. “

…As the get-together wore on, their level of comfort increased dramatically…,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas J. Clark, 2-113th Infantry Battalion.

Not only did the dinner foster communications, it built a bridge for communications in the future.

“The greatest reward is the relationship-building,” said Clark. “What better way to ensure our security than to build a relationship with those occupying [the same] space?”

“’We must do this again’ was spoken by several Iraqi officials [before departing], to include the Safwan Town Council President Hajji Munadhil Shnain Minahi,” said Farhan.

Sgt. Shawn Pekrol, Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC), 2-113th Infantry Battalion, serves an Iraqi Army warrant officer, turkey during the Thanksgiving meal on Dec. 16.

Sheik Sa'ad (l) and Maj. Douglas Brockmann, Executive Officer, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2-113th Infantry Battalion, enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving meal at the Camp Bucca dining facility.


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Volume 34 Number 4 Staff / Information
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