COB Basra roadways honor the fallen

367th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
Story by Sgt. Benjamin Kibbey

Date: 01.22.2010
Posted: 01.22.2010 01:47
News ID: 44253
COB Basra roadways honor the fallen

COB BASRA, Iraq — Passing along the streets and avenues on Contingency Operating Base Basra, one might not guess from where the names for them came, or the detail of thought put into assigning those monikers.

When the 34th Infantry Division first took over COB Basra from the British last year, none of the roadways were named, said Master Sgt. Jeffrey Vaske, senior engineering noncommissioned officer for the division.

Aside from the obvious inconvenience the situation created when trying to give directions around the post, it also posed a threat to safety, making it difficult for emergency vehicles to respond quickly to a crisis, said the Roseville, Minn., native.

In order to address this, the 34th Inf. Div. quickly set to defining a convention for naming the roads.

Prior to departing the U.S., the division anticipated the need to name facilities during their deployment, and developed a matrix of names of notable Soldiers from the division's past, Vaske said.

Included in this list were 34th Inf. Div. Soldiers who died on previous deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Soldiers like WWII Medal of Honor recipient 1st Lt. Beryl Newman — after whom the path is named — and retired Gen. John W. Vessey, who served with the division in WWII and was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and after whom the headquarters building is now named.

With the exception of MoH Beryl Newman Path and Airport Road, the streets and avenues of COB Basra are named for Soldiers from the 1st and 2nd Brigade Combat Teams, with the streets named for 2nd BCT Soldiers and the avenues named for 1st BCT Soldiers, Vaske said.

"We named them in the order they died, from West to East and South to North," he said.

The names chosen for the streets, avenues and path, along with details about the Soldiers, were submitted to Maj. Gen. Rick Nash, commander 34th Inf. Div. and United States Division-South, for approval, said Col. Ronald Albrecht, deputy chief of staff for the 34th Inf. Div.

Once the names had been decided on and approved, a local Iraqi company was contracted to print the signs, which can now be seen around COB Basra, Vaske said.

Naming roads, parks and buildings after fallen and otherwise notable Soldiers is a military tradition, Albrecht said.