News: 2-25th Aviation receives medal, combat patch, DFAC and PX
by Pfc. Durwood Blackmon
25th ID CAB PAO
TIKRIT, Iraq − Honorary guests joined Soldiers of Task Force Diamondhead, 2nd Battalion, 25th Infantry Division Combat Aviation Brigade who proudly received the Iraqi Campaign Medal and Soldier Sleeve Combat Insignia during a ceremony at Life Support Area (LSA) 11 on Sept. 30 at Contingency Operating Base Speicher.
The shoulder sleeve insignia was awarded to members of Task Force Diamondhead for actively participating and supporting operations against hostile forces.
The Iraqi Campaign Medal was also bestowed to those same Soldiers for their service in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"It is a great honor, one that can't be taken away from me or any of you, to wear the Tropic Lighting patch on my right Shoulder signifying combat service," said Lt. Col. Frank W. Tate, Unit Commander of Task Force Diamondhead, 2nd Btl., 25th ID CAB. "It is an even greater honor to have earned that right while serving with the volunteers that stand here today guarding the gates of freedom."
In addition to donning a new combat patch, Soldiers also welcomed two new facilities that will make life a little a more convenient.
Immediately following the ceremony, two ribbon cutting events unveiled a new mini post-exchange (PX) and dining facility for Soldiers of 2-25th Aviation.
"We've got several great things happening today," said Tate. "We have the official opening of a mini PX and the opening of a brand new dining facility here at Life Support Area (LSA) 10 and 11."
The first ribbon cutting was held for the Task Force Diamondhead's new PX. The new store is an advantage to Soldiers who usually endure lengthy trips by bus just to get basic provisions.
"This is a huge benefit to our Soldiers. We are a good distance from the greater part of post services." Tate continued, "Simple necessities like soap, magazines and things of that nature are now available. It's a big morale booster that the Army Air-Force Exchange Services (AAFES) brought these items to the Soldiers. We are very thankful to have it and the Soldiers are raving about having this facility close to where they work and live."
Pfc. Angie Kim, Black Hawk Mechanic, Delta Company, 2nd Btl., 25th ID CAB and Lt. Col. Tate inaugurated the new facility by cutting a ribbon draped across the entrance stairs.
The new exchange will not only provide basic needs but Soldiers can also make special requests for items available at the main PX on post.
"The intent is to improve the quality of life for Soldiers who are at a distant and remote location. It's a win-win situation and this new facility continues our mission of we go where you go," said Neils Jensen, Acting General Manager for Northern Exchange.
"It's important that we meet the Soldiers needs and provide basic services for them. However, if we have an item in the main store we will bring out special requests as much as it is available to the Soldiers. We are here for the troops."
As an additional bonus, a Pizza Hut drop off point was installed outside the new PX where Soldiers can purchase hot pizzas on Fridays and Saturdays.
"Even though our dining facilities provide great food for the Soldiers every now and again a little something special, like a pizza similar to what you could get back home, is appreciated by everyone," said Tate.
The 2-25th also welcomed a built from scratch dining facility which provides around the clock accessibility.
"This is a brand new dining facility. In our task force alone we have over 500 Soldiers with additional Soldiers that work for the 209th. These Soldiers currently have to take a bus or other means two miles to the aviation brigade dining facility to eat. This new facility will bring the same high quality food from the brigade dining facility right here to where the Soldiers are," said Tate.
In addition to painting their unit insignias on a concrete wall leading into the dining area, Soldiers also participated in a contest to name the new building.
The winning name, 'The Landing Zone' was submitted by Cpl. Frankie Shy, Echo Company, 2nd Btl., 25th ID CAB.
"This is a project that 2-25th took charge of from the ground up. It's also important for me because it was something I could put my name on by coming up with the title 'The Landing Zone'. It saves us a lot of time because we can now eat and get on with our mission. It cuts down on wasted man power," said Shy.
The added conveniences were quickly installed for the benefit of Soldiers at LSA 10 and 11. Without the help of Garrison Command and AAFES however, the new facilities may have taken a lot longer to obtain.
"Garrison command and AAFES have been instrumental in making this happen. We can't thank them enough. They immediately jumped in and helped to make this materialize. This is a huge benefit and a big morale booster for the Soldiers. I couldn't be more excited about these positive new changes and you can see the enthusiasm our Soldiers have," said Tate.