Sgt. Chris McCann
2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) PAO
Multi-National Division – Center
PATROL BASE LIONS’ DEN, Iraq — An armored unit recently packed up shop at Patrol Base Bataan, Iraq, south of Yusufiyah, and moved almost directly north to Patrol Base Lions’ Den – and are busily making it ‘home.’
“We moved in mid-July,” aid Staff Sgt. Chris Nuyen, a native of Kalamazoo, Mich., and the platoon sergeant for Headquarters Platoon, Company B, 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, out of Fort Benning, Ga. “There were a lot of interesting moving pieces going on – we sent guys up here to Lions’ Den early to build up the convoy, then the main body of Soldiers, and a trail party of the last few,” said Nuyen. The company is supporting the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), out of Fort Drum, N.Y
“The first Soldiers did the electrical and wiring, built doors, cabinets and morale computer cubicles, and picked up a lot of trash. Sweeping was a big one – it was pretty dirty.”
The new compound for the company used to be a school, but like most rural schools, it lacked heaters and air conditioners and other basic services.
“At Bataan, the sector was quiet for the most part – any place has its moments, but it was alright. The living conditions here are a lot better; we’re closer to Camp Striker, and we can get guys there on their down-cycle to go to the post exchange or morale, welfare and recreation assets. It just wasn’t feasible to do that from Patrol Base Bataan – it was an hour and a half drive.”
The improvements to living conditions may not look like much to someone in the United States, but they have a critical role for Soldiers.
“It helps that we’re not all living in the same bay, with 75 guys, all upstairs, with three air-conditioning units trying to keep up when it’s 120 degrees outside,” Nuyen said. “That just wasn’t working out well.” Now the troops are broken up with each section living in its own room, with a little privacy.
Pfc. Brian Bruett, a native of Atlanta, Ga., serves as a rifleman with the company.
“I walked in and thought, “Wow, this is a lot better,” Bruett said. “We’re getting to build it up the way we want to, too – we built toilets and a medical aid station, and dug fire pits – but mostly we’re working on the living areas.” Bataan has been turned over to the Iraqi Army now, and the Soldiers of Co. B that worked with them think they will do just fine with the patrol base, they said.
“They came out and we showed them how we did things at the forward battle positions,” Nuyen said. “We would say, ‘This is what you have to do here to secure yourselves’.”
The patrol base itself is in a water treatment facility, currently not in use but being repaired. The Iraqi soldiers will have to continue to make repairs to make the facility functional – getting it back online would enable it to service the majority of the Yusufiyah area, Nuyen said.
“When we were at Bataan, the locals didn’t bother us much because they didn’t want to damage the water facility,” Bruett said. “The Iraqi soldiers might get harassing fire, but the water plant protected us.”
“The move was good,” said Pfc. Steve Holwegner, an Abrams tank driver originally from Fort Collins, Colo. “The living conditions are better, and it’s good to be in an area where armor is more useful. I just hope we can make a difference in this area, too.”
Saturday, August 04, 2007
Sgt. Chris McCann