News: A little hard work makes 1161st Company area feel more like home
CAMP TAJI, Iraq — As units arrive in theater and throughout their deployments, the improvement of unit areas can become a task and for some units remains a task. Soldiers from the 1161st Transportation Company out of Ephrata, Wash., currently serving under the 541st Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 96th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), have taken on this task and turned it not just into area improvement but also made it into a place for Soldiers to hang out and enjoy some recreation.
According to Sgt. 1st Class Charles Garcia, from Moses Lake, Wash., and the platoon sergeant for 2nd platoon, the project, which began several months ago started with the simple task of relieving the overcrowding in a small gazebo used to get out of the sun and occasional rain. Staff Sgt. Paul Tackett, a Lakewood, Wash. resident, and a 2nd platoon squad leader, took the lead for the planning, resourcing, and oversight of the project. "It started out as just a suggestion — so I started planning. I thought it would be a good opportunity for the Soldiers to learn how to build and use tools. Being military, I was taught that you leave areas in better shape than you found them in; so we have."
Garcia said that Paul created a layout to make a much larger gazebo. "I think it has brought the platoon closer together as a whole. It gives the Soldiers a place to gather that reminds them of home and they enjoy that," Garcia said.
1st Lt. Clayton Erickson from Hunters, Wash., and the platoon leader said, "Second platoon was very fortunate to have Staff Sgt. Tackett in the platoon to help accomplish this mission. Tackett, a carpenter on the civilian side, created some plans to change the small gazebo which was already here when we arrived. He decided to add on to create a bigger gazebo with a walkway that connected with the smaller one. His knowledge, skills and help from 2nd platoon Soldiers allowed him to complete the task by the end of October."
The Soldiers now enjoy the spacious new gazebo that not only provides shade from the sun but keeps them out of the rain. "I like it because it's peaceful; since it's so spacious, you can go to one area of the gazebo and be alone if you want. It's a five star smoking area and place for people to hang out. It's like a pub without the beer," said Cpl. Karl Lee, a Tacoma, Wash. native and heavy truck operator in the unit.
Second platoon didn't stop there — they decided to make a horseshoe pit, a volleyball court and a remote control car track. "The horseshoe pit has become a great holiday barbeque tradition that Soldiers from the whole company have found to be fun and relaxing," said Erickson. The company christened the completion of the projects with a Halloween bash back in October which included a horseshoe tournament, craziest hat contest and a game of volleyball, according to Erickson.
According to Garcia, the RC car track was another of Tackett's creations. "The company currently has nine Soldiers with a total of 13 cars that run on the track when it isn't raining and is available for anyone on Camp Taji to use; it is in a common area on post next to the 1161st TC's motor pool," Garcia said.
Pfc. Raymond Sicking, from Grand Coulee, Wash., and a heavy vehicle operator in the company said that racing his car on the RC track is a great way to relieve stress and occupy spare time. "It's just fun," he said.
1st Sgt. David Luther, of West Richland, Wash., and the company first sergeant said, "Second platoon's beautification project led by Staff Sgt. Tackett has given the unit Soldiers an excellent common area within the company to hang out. The gazebo, volleyball court and horseshoe pit are all top notch."