We went out to the village where the tank got stuck, about 3 km northeast of Fallujah. The area is a dirt road farming village of concrete or mud brick houses strung along a single road which runs from a cemetery to a ‘T’ intersection. The people have gotten to know the Marines since the tank spent a week there before we could pull it out. They were friendly to the Marines who already felt bad about trashing their canals and fields while trying to unstick the M1A1. When we went out to pay damage claims for all the lost crops and date palm trees and torn up roads, we saw a lot of kids around and met a few of them. This made us think of the SoA stuff, especially the soccer balls and frisbees, we had been sent and had back on Camp Fallujah.
The next time we went to visit the village, we took as many of the soccer balls and frisbees as we could find into the open space in the back of our hummers (around chow, water, ammunition, radio batteries, etc.) When we arrived at the village and parked the HMMVWs in the center, some shy but curious kids were peeking out from doorways or looking out their windows. But when we pulled out the soccer balls and handed the first one out, they started coming out like ants to a picnic.
None of them wanted frisbees at first, all really wanted the soccer balls. But when we ran out of soccer balls and kept handing out frisbees they would line up to take them, sometimes trying to get more than one, and many making sure their little brothers or sisters got one as well. They didn’t know what to make of the frisbees at first, holding and throwing them like dinner plates, but once they had a little professional military education on how to operate the frisbee and were checked out on it, a lot of them became surprisingly good surprisingly quickly. I spent almost 45 minutes tossing the disc with one very young girl who got to be quite accomplished.
Some of the kids’ parents and some of the older kids who could read did pick up on the friendship message and would point to the English and then point to the Arabic and give us a thumbs up to show that they understood that they meant the same thing in both our languages.
This took place at a time when we were being shot at in most every other place we went so it was particularly gratifying, and it was nice to have something good to give them. Other things they seem particularly crazy about are sunglasses (they always want ours) and colored pens.
A big thanks to all of the bloggers and readers supporting Spirit of America, in this and other projects, as they work to help our troops make a difference in Iraq.