Iraqi men load bags of ammonium phosphate fertilizer into the backs of their pickup trucks in the village of Mustafar, Iraq, March 25. Soldiers of the 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), brought two truckloads of the bags for disbursement. (U.S. Army photos by Spc. Chris McCann, 2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI) Public Affairs)
2nd BCT, 10th Mtn. Div. (LI)
MUSTAFAR, Iraq — The village of Mustafar, Iraq, teems with children and farmers hailing the trucks of U.S. Soldiers coming in, March 25.
The Soldiers, with the 1st Squadron, 89th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), brought two and a half truckloads of ammonium phosphate fertilizer from Camp Striker, Iraq, to the farmers a few miles away.
Abdul Nebi Mahdi Hassam Al-Shemeri, the head of the newly founded farmers’ cooperative, and his son, Salam Abdul-Nebi, helped organize the distribution.
“I help, but my father does most of it,” Salam said. “We live here and farm vegetables to sell – our family has been here for about 17 years.”
Capt. Adam Sawyer, a native of Reading, Pa., and the commander of Troop C, 1-89, helped about 50 farmers build their own cooperative.
“They’re recognized by the Iraqi government now,” Sawyer said. “The co-op has tractors and equipment that they share. They expressed interest in getting some fertilizer, and so (Abdul-Nebi) is here to make sure that only the members of the co-op get it.”
The chance to get out was fun for the Soldiers as well.“I feel like I’m actually doing something,” said Sgt. Ethan Jones, a native of Boyertown, Pa., and a welder. “I’m not just back in the rear, doing nothing. I’m getting out and seeing more of the scenery. And I think the Iraqis are very appreciative of what we’re doing.”
“We’re tired but happy,” said Abdul-Nebi. “We’re very happy that you came to serve us like this and bring so many supplies. Before, many people used to say that the Americans were no good, but now, seeing how much you help us – everyone is changing their minds.”
Pfc. Victor Calhoun, a native of Macon, Ga., and a driver with Troop D, said he’s been enlightened about Iraqi culture on these missions too.
“The more I do it, the more I enjoy it and understand that I’m actually part of helping them,” Calhoun said. “It’s good to see that we bring a variety of things they need. And today I saw the locals working together, instead of just asking for a handout. There were children involved, Iraqi police – everyone was working together.”
One of the Iraqi policemen, Samir Ali Kalaf Kenaani, joked with the local children and pulled security along Abu Ghalan road.
“I’m very happy to serve our people. We hope to serve more and more – the people here are very poor.”
Samir joined the police force to help the country, he said.
“Well, I joined for the salary too, but mostly to help my country,” Samir said, laughing. “It’s dangerous sometimes, but it’s dangerous in Iraq to be a civilian too. Mostly we just want to get the area to be safe. It will take time, but we’ll get there.”