Staff Sgt. John Gordinier
332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq – It's 7:48 p.m. local time as more than 100 Airmen and Soldiers begin to swarm into the Housing 6 Red Tail Recreation Center here in hopes of getting a seat to watch their new commander-in-chief, Barack Obama, take the oath of office during the presidential inauguration Jan. 20.
"I think he is going to do great because he has many good ideas, and I think he will take chances to improve America," said Senior Airman Elizabeth Sarabia, 332nd Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron non-destructive inspection lab technician deployed from Homestead Air Force Base, Fla. "I'm from Los Angeles and my immediate family back home is being affected by the unemployment and economic problems. What the president says in his inaugural address is very important to me, because I need to hear something to give me hope for my family's future."
Army Chief Warrant Officer Bernard Guisti, an engineer technician with the 326th Engineer Battalion deployed from Fort Campbell, Ky., walked into the recreation center after his shift to check his e-mail when the live broadcast of the presidential inauguration caught his eye.
"It's great I'm here witnessing history," the Plymouth, Mass., native said. "I'm interested in what President Obama is going to say in his inaugural address.
"More importantly, I want to hear his thoughts on America's economic problems and the conflict in Iraq," Guisti added. "We could use some changes, and I think he is the right man for the right job."
At approximately 8 p.m. Iraq time, (noon EDT), when Obama took the oath of office, service members here stood up to cheer and clap for the 44th president of the United States.
During President Obama's inaugural address, the recreation center was completely silent except for an occasional whisper. Everyone focused their attention on the words of their new commander-in-chief.
The president's words were most important to Sarabia, who said she received the hope she was looking for.