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Soldiers deliver water to parched Baghdad neighborhood

Army News Service

Release Date: 5/10/2004

By Spc. Bryan Kinkade

CAMP BLACK JACK, Iraq (Army News Service, May 10, 2004) -- A crowd of villagers moved toward the vehicles as they watched the 400-gallon water buffalo slowly cruise past them.

The Soldiers from Battery C, 4th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment were back, to provide water to the citizens of Sheik Fahed's Village, right outside the Baghdad International Airport.

This was the second time the Soldiers had been to this village. During their first visit, they spoke to the village's sheik and asked him how they could help his people. He said they would be grateful to have clean water.

"We thank them very much," the village's elder, Fahed, said in Arabic. "It's hard to get water here."

The children rushed out with giant buckets and old containers to hold the water as the truck stopped in front of their house. Some containers were little, old oil jugs and some were giant plastic trashcans. Most children remembered how the water buffalo worked, so once the truck stopped they were quickly filling their jugs with the fresh water.

"The reaction was a good success," Capt. David Carlile, the company commander, said. "We're providing them a much needed resource."

When the company first entered the village, the citizens were wary about their presence, Carlile said.

"Now, the majority is glad to get the water from us," he said. "They [usually] get their water out of a canal and it's pretty dirty. They're pretty happy to get fresh, potable water."

The unit plans to deliver water to the village until their water treatment center is fixed.

"Hopefully it will be up and running in a week or so," Carlile said. Civilians contracted out by the battery are fixing the treatment center.

While the Soldiers helped the children fill the containers, they spoke to them as well as they could. Some Soldiers spoke as much Arabic as they knew to the children and some of the children spoke a little English back. They also gave candy to the children.

Once the buckets were filled up and the buffalo was empty, the Soldiers were on their way back to camp. The mobile watering hole would reopen again in a few days.

(Editor's note: Spc. Bryan D. Kinkade is a member of the 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs staff.)

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