News: Manchu Soldiers hit the links
Story by Spc. Luisito Brooks
JOINT SECURITY STATION AQUR QUF, Iraq — Some would call having a shipping container full of golf balls and only two clubs ironic, but that's exactly the situation Soldiers from the Company A, 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment "Manchus," found themselves in.
It was only through the help of two embedded reporters, and the generosity of organizations and families from the Fort Lewis, Wash., area that they were able to address the matter and properly adjust their swing.
"We read the article in the Tacoma News Tribune, by Scott Fontaine, about our brave Soldiers of Able Company, 4th Bn., 9th Inf. Regt.," John Thompson, a military supporter from Fox Island, Wash., wrote in a letter sent to the unit. "We understand that they could use some golf clubs for the 50,000 golf balls they found."
Thompson and other readers who saw the article reached out to 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, for help, donating several sets of clubs to the unit.
Many Soldiers had no idea that a news article had been written about their particular situation, so when the golf clubs arrived, they were surprised.
"Wow, these clubs are really nice," said Spc. Miguel Franchini, a Company B, 702nd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, mechanic assigned to the Manchus from San Diego. "We really are thankful for all the support."
For the Soldiers who play golf on this small secluded joint security station, the clubs gave them something to look forward to at the end of a busy day here.
"[On] the days when we just get so busy and we are working 14 to 18 hours or more a day, it's good to get away just for a few moments and take our minds off work and hit a few golf balls," said Spc. Hardin Andrew, a native of Ontario, Ore., from Company B, 702nd BSB. "Hitting a couple of golf balls really helps me relax, especially when things get a little stressful."
The Soldiers have built a small area on a rooftop to hit the golf balls; something some of the Soldiers would love to build back stateside.
"I wish I could hit golf balls off the roof of my house back at home," said Capt. Keith Roberts, the company commander of Company A, 4th Bn., 9th Inf. Regt., 4th Bde., 2nd Inf. Div., from Dupont, Wash. "That would be really fun to do."
Not only were Soldiers hitting golf balls with the new clubs, but their Iraqi army counterparts got in on the action as well.
"I have never played golf before," said Capt. Nomas, the commander of Company 3, 1st Battalion, 24th Brigade, 6th Division. "It was real fun learning to play from the Soldiers, and I even hit the ball good one time."
The Soldiers said they were happy to have received the golf clubs, but they also understood that the organizations and families who sent them were sending something more than that.
"It wasn't just getting golf clubs that was great, but it was the fact that we were on the minds and on the hearts of people who care about the guys out here," said Roberts. "That's what's truly important to us."