By Sgt. Robert Yde
1st Cavalry Division public affairs
BAGHDAD, Iraq – To mark the end of Ramadan, soldiers from throughout the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division took part in the traditional Eid celebration by handing out meals and gifts to residents in central Baghdad.
Eid is a traditional Muslim holiday observed at the completion of Ramadan to celebrate the achievement of advanced piety practiced over the course of the previous month by fasting from sun up to sun down.
“It’s something that Black Jack has done across its battlespace, and we were fortunate to be able to offer that to the people in Yarmouk today,” said Lt. Col. Michael Tarsa, commander of 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment.
Tarsa and his soldiers were at Yarmouk Hospital to provide security and assist in the distribution of meals to both the patients and the staff.
More than 200 meals were passed out between Yarmouk Hospital and a nearby group home for mentally disabled children.
The meals, which were prepackaged, were provided by the Taha-Kubba Group, a nonprofit organization.
“There are people fighting for good things here,” said Nadia Al Ezzi, a business development manager. “We want to show the world what the Iraqi people can do.”
Al Ezzi said that her company frequently distributes meals to groups such as hospitals and orphanages, and that being able to assist in providing Eid meals was special because the holiday is synonymous with the ideals of brotherhood and cooperation.
Tarsa said that being able to share the Eid meal with the patients and staff of Yarmouk Hospital was particularly important for his unit because, while their relationship is good, it has also had its challenges in the past.
While artillery soldiers were providing meals, other units in the brigade were providing heaters and blankets to local leaders to disperse.
“We figured with winter coming they could use the heaters and blankets versus a meal, and it would help them get through the winter,” said 1st Lt. Benjamin Brown, a platoon leader for Echo Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment.
Brown said that he and his soldiers conducted the deliveries over two days with the assistance of Iraqi army soldiers, and focused their efforts on a particularly poor part of Kindi populated by squatters.
“It feels good, but the main thing is that they see there is hope,” Brown said. “No matter how bad their life has been, they see that there is hope, and it motivates them to make things better.”
Blanket and heaters were also provided to five mosques in the Haifa Street area by soldiers from Papa Troop, 4th Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment.
“We’ve learned that giving them to the mosques and having the mosques distribute them is smarter,” Staff Sgt. Ted Bradley said.
Like Brown, Bradley said that he hopes the items will sustain the people through the upcoming winter.