Staff Sgt. Angela McKinzie
2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) Public Affairs
YUSUFIYAH, Iraq — In most communities it is common to have clean water available to drink and for recreational use. Often one can go through a neighborhood on any given day in the summer and see people watering their plants, washing their cars or playing in the sprinkler – all of which require running water.
But in Yusufiyah, Iraq citizens are lucky if they have enough water to survive a hot, summer day.
Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) teamed up with Soldiers of the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) to assist the people of Yuufiyah in repairing water pipes Jan. 23.
“The city services and the water minister asked for assistance in breaking the concrete above the pipes since they do not have a jack hammer,” said Capt. Chris Sanchez, a native of Los Angeles, Calif., who serves as the 4-31 civil affairs officer. “The people of Yusufiyah are served well by civil servants like the water minister.”
In order to help repair the pipes holes had to be made in the concrete.
“We are making four holes in the ground so that the water can be tested to see if it is potable,” said Pfc. Shawn Armstrong, a 2nd BSTB heavy equipment operator and native of Lewistown, Penn. “So far the mission has been great. It is good to help people and show them what we can do for them.”
As the BSTB Soldiers drilled holes in the ground, the 4-31 Soldiers and Iraqi Army soldiers from the 4th Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division secured the area.
“The Iraqi Army led the way and coordinated the security and worked with the residents to accomplish the mission,” Sanchez said.
The minister of water spoke of what it was like to help his own community.
“The sewer system is very old and it is a priority to reinstall it,” said Bilal Adbul Kareem Mohammed, the Yusufiyah minister of water. “I am happy to help my people, but they need to be healthy. Being healthy includes having potable water.”
As the team worked to drill holes in the ground, residents and Iraqi children gathered to watch. As the people stood around, one mother showed the Soldiers scars that were on her daughter’s body from an improvised explosive device detonation. The small girl only had four fingers as well – also from the IED blast.
“At one time the people of Yusufiyah could not come out to the streets because of the terrorists,” Mohammed said. “That is why it took so long to get the water pipes fixed. Yusufiyah’s area is secure enough to be able to do projects like this.”
Mohammed said the long-term plan was to build a water plant in the area.
After all the projects are complete the citizens of Yusufiyah should have potable water in their homes.