Beating heat a little easier second time around IraqPlants love it; people aren’t so sure. As the summer heat kicks up, Twin Ports residents are taking dips in Lake Superior, hefting air conditioning units into place and learning to tune out the drone of fans. But heat is relative.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Plants love it; people aren’t so sure. As the summer heat kicks up, Twin Ports residents are taking dips in Lake Superior, hefting air conditioning units into place and learning to tune out the drone of fans. But heat is relative.
For members of the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 950th Engineer Company, currently serving in Iraq, heat equals 110 degree days and 87-degree nights. It’s a dry heat that wicks moisture right off the skin with a chance breeze, according to Sgt. First Class Marc Makela with the 950th. Approximately 100 soldiers from the company, based in Superior and Spooner, are supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom overseas with the 724th Engineer Battalion.
The troops weather the heat by taking advantage of shade and carrying ice on missions. Hydration is critical.
“Drink water, a lot of water,” said SPC Tuttle of Superior, a driver/gunner with the 950th’s Third Platoon. SPC Connolly, a robot operator with the Third Platoon, seeks out shade where he can find it.
The local soldiers aren’t roughing it as much as they did seven years ago during their first deployment to Iraq with the 724th. At that time, they slept 20 soldiers to a tent.
“Today, we have hard shell structures with air conditioning and water that can be cooled,” Makela said. On Joint Base Balad, there is even an ice plant that cranks out frozen chunks to send on missions.
“Staying in buildings, although small, is a very nice change,” Makela said.
The Wisconsin troops celebrated Veterans Day and the Fourth of July with special flag flying ceremonies and a day off to cook out on a grill. As they shared the food, Platoon leaders and sergeants were able to spend some down time with the soldiers.
Recently, the Northwoods Support Team of Adopt-A-Soldier Platoon, based in Spooner, sent a box of individual packages filled with granola bars, gum, cool ties and other supplies for the 724th.
“Little items like this are much appreciated,” Makela said.
Soldiers can get nearly everything they need on base, he said, but “batteries seem to be the hot commodity nowadays.” The items they most often run out of are lithium “AA” and CR123A 3V batteries that are used for night vision sights and other equipment.
A few soldiers from the 950th have returned home as part of the Responsible Drawdown of Forces to meet the requirements established by President Barack Obama’s strategy. But the rest of the company and the 724th expect to continue their mission until early 2011 as originally scheduled.
“Our soldiers remain focused on their missions as they maintain a high level of morale,” Makela said. He thanked the people of Superior and Spooner for their continued support of the troops.
For more information on the Northwoods Support Team, contact Darlene at (715) 635-2930, e-mail email@example.com or Lynda at (715) 635-6237, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.