News: First Cup offers CAB soldiers morale boost
Story by Sgt. Daniel Schroeder
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - Laughter breaks the background silence in the room as a group of soldiers burst out laughing while watching a movie. A soldier checks his watch, gets up from a comfortable couch, and heads for a counter in the next room. He slowly refills his mug with hot coffee, replaces the lid, opens the door, and walks out of the First Cup and into the early morning hours of Kandahar, Afghanistan, for the long work shift ahead.
The First Cup is a place where visitors can find an array of items and services to fulfill their spiritual needs or relax after a day at work. It is comprised of a coffee counter, movie lounge, library, internet café, phone room, and a gaming lounge all comprised of donations from various people and organizations.
“The 25th Combat Aviation Brigade’s motto is ‘We Fly for the Troops,’ here, our motto is ‘We Serve the Troops,’” said Chaplain (Capt.) Mike Derienzo, chaplain for 2nd Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, 25th CAB. “It’s a privilege to have a place like this to meet the spiritual needs of the soldiers, and to allow them to have a place to unwind after a hard day at work.”
MWR, USO and other groups and individuals who have donated items that remind soldiers of home have helped make the First Cup a relaxing and enjoyable environment. One example is Holy Joe’s Café from Wallingford, Conn., who donated coffee makers and continues to ship coffee for the troops to enjoy.
“The First Cup was established by the 159th CAB as a place for soldiers to relax,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Kent Walker, 25th CAB Chaplain. “This place was built by soldiers, is managed by soldiers, and is overseen by the chaplains.”
Under the 25th CAB supervision, the First Cup has remained open 24 hours a day in order to serve approximately 500 soldiers a day who stop in for a quick break.
“I come in here a couple times a week to either watch some movies or talk to my family,” said Pfc. Antoine Malcolm, an automated logistics specialist with B Company, 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry from the Minnesota National Guard attached to 25th CAB. “I like it because it’s a quiet, peaceful place to get away for a bit and to watch some movies. I told some of my co-workers about what this place has to offer.”
Chaplain Walker was happy to hear the soldiers tell him the First Cup helps boost their morale through the small luxuries and services it provides.
“It is a privilege to have a place like this to meet the spiritual needs of the soldiers,” Derienzo said. “The First Cup is a great opportunity to meet those needs and to serve the troops serving our country.”