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Big Apple of Kuwait reopens

Army News Service

Release Date: 3/24/2004

By Spc. Marc Loi

CAMP NEW YORK, Kuwait (Army News Service, March 24, 2004) -- After three months of not having any visitors, Camp New York is starting to fill its vacancies again.

Camp New York was rebuilt in early December to provide facilities for service members coming through Kuwait during the Operation Iraqi Freedom rotation of troops, which began in January and will last through May.

Situated in the middle of the Kuwaiti desert, the camp boasts some of the amenities a person would have in New York City, including a 1,000-seat dining facility, 9,500 beds, 21 shower trailers, 318 portable restrooms and 110 trash dumpsters. Heaters and air conditioners run by power generators also are available.

The camp has a mayor, Raul Ramirez. Though he's no Michael Bloomberg, the U.S. Army major said the pride in the camp's name is just the same.

"We take great pride in knowing that we represent both New York City and the people of the state. It brings a lot of pride to the people working here in this camp," said Ramirez, of Corpus Christi, Texas. "This is a small town, with a post office, medical facilities, finance. Almost everything the Soldier needs is here."

Just like running New York City, or perhaps even any other small towns, the challenge in running Camp New York is getting the support of other leaderships, Ramirez said.

"The biggest challenge is interfacing with the leadership of our customer units -- getting the leadership on our side so the camp functions. It has to be a mutually supporting relationship," he said.

This includes getting the support from smaller communities for events that involve supporting Morale, Welfare and Recreation activities, keeping the camp clean and protecting its residents.

"We have to ask the tenant units to chip in with manpower for a number of 'self-help' activities," he said. "They contribute people for such services as force protection, the DFAC, enforcing field sanitation, even bagging at AAFES when the lines get long."

But to run a city is one thing, and to build a city is another. Like Rome and New York City, Camp New York wasn't built in a day. Compared to those cities, Camp New York was built much quicker -- in one-and-a-half months.

Most of the time spent wasn't to rebuild the camp, but to coordinate with different contractors to bring in tents and other equipment to provide comfort to the Soldiers, said Maj. David Arellano, project engineer for the facility engineering team here.

As quickly as Camp New York sprang up, it will disappear just as quickly. By May, the camp will no longer be needed and will be shut down again, Arellano said. But should there come a need to use Camp New York again, the Big Apple of Kuwait will be brought back up.

For now Camp New York is up and running.

"We think of ourselves as a flagship camp, with a connection to the attacks of 9-11," Arellano said. "Our feeling is you can take us down, but you can't keep us down."

(Editors Note: Spc. Marc Loi is a member of the 13th Public Affairs Detachment)

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