By Spc. Larry D. Wesley Jr.
Headquarters Company, 264th CSSB
CONTINGENCY OPERATING LOCATION SPEICHER, Iraq — Soldiers of the 264th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 15th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command Expeditionary from Fort Bragg, N.C., celebrated Black History Month with prayer, fun and talent here throughout February.
The 264th CSSB kicked off Black History Month with a prayer breakfast Feb. 6 led by Capt. Myron Johnson, the battalion's chaplain, commemorating the struggles and achievements of African-Americans. With a collaborative effort from Sgt.1st Class Lashay White, a native of Mobile, Ala., and senior ammunition logistician and equal opportunity leader for 264th CSSB and Lt. Col. Shatrece Buchanan, who serves as the 3rd Infantry Division equal opportunity officer, the 264th CSSB ended the month with an observance and play here Feb. 27.
Between those events were a talent show and a 5 kilometer fun run. Spc. Esmeralda Rodriguez-Ramirez, a truck driver from New York who works as a radio transmitter operator, said that the month-long observance was "a blast." She went on to say that her favorite part was "working with two wonderful women, Sgt. 1st Class White and Lt. Col. Buchanan." Rodriguez-Ramirez noted that this was her first time participating in an observance for Black History Month and acknowledged that she would love to partake in it again. She said it gave her the opportunity to meet different people. Alongside hundreds of other Soldiers and civilians, Rodriguez-Ramirez participated in the 5 kilometer fun run and won a free week of internet in a raffle after the run.
Sgt. James Benecke, the unit training clerk for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 264th CSSB from New York who participated in past observances, stated that "this year I worked behind the scenes and learned firsthand how tough it is to get everything set up and in working order."
He also gave his assessment of some of the Black History Month activities.
"I was unable to attend the prayer breakfast, but the run was a lot of fun. The whole unit seemed to have a good time, and the talent show really surprised me. There are a lot of talented Soldiers at COB Speicher. As for the final observance, I had a lot of work before and during the play, so I really didn't get a chance to enjoy it, but I heard good things and I can't wait to see the video."
Like Benecke, Rodriguez-Ramirez was unable to attend the prayer breakfast but cited that she was there for the rehearsals and that "listening to the music and songs made me really happy to know that no matter what culture we are, we haven't forgotten that God is still there for us no matter what, and we haven't forgotten where we come from."
Benecke went on to say that through these month-long events he learned about many of the economic champions of the black culture throughout America's history.
Benecke also said, "What I will remember most is the amount of effort put forth by the equal opportunity representatives and other leaders for the observances and activities. They really did a great job and motivated me to do my job better."
Rodriguez-Ramirez summarized her view of the events and the overall observance. "As a Hispanic, I was raised to always respect every culture. Being part of the Black History Month activities has given me a different outlook on things. It made me realize that no matter what color I am, I am able to help others, to bring smiles, and let others know that they aren't forgotten."
The events and observances sponsored by 264th CSSB were attended by thousands of civilian and military personnel, and throughout the course of the month helped others truly reflect on African-American culture and contributions.