Friday, February 5, 2010

Welcome To Ali AB (COB Adder) Iraq

** Note: the following information covers the period of my deployment to Ali Base from Oct 09 - Apr 10. I am now back in Texas. If you know of anybody who is currently at COB Adder/Ali Base, who is blogging about it, please let me know via the contact form, so that I can link to them from this post ... thanks.


36.365_ali_ab_welcome_mural

I was tasked to put together a welcome letter for some of the new guys who will be replacing us over the next few months. As part of the project, I took a picture of the wall mural above; which is one of the first things you see when you get off the plane here. As I was taking the picture, I remembered back to when I first found out I was coming here. As soon as I got home from work that day, I fired up the old macbook, and did a search for Ali Air Base, COB Adder, and Tallil (yes, this place goes by all of those names). I found a few websites and blogs, but of course I wanted to know more (especially about quality of life stuff).

So, here's what we're gonna do with this post ...

I'll make this post, my repository for "things that are ok for me to share" about this location. Some useful posts/pictures have already been put up over the past couple of months ... some are still to come. I'll link them together as best I can, both now and with future updates. Now obviously I can't share "everything" that someone coming here might want to know ... this is a public blog, and I'm not going to write about anything that I wouldn't want the "bad guys" to read. That being said, I think there's enough that I can write about, that this many end up being a potentially useful resource. (note: if I know I'm going to make a post about a specific topic in the future, I will list it here, but without too much detail .. then edit this article to link to it when I put the new post up)

Ok, so where to start?

Living Conditions:



If you're in the military, you will either live in a tent, or a CHU (a small trailer). Most people live in CHUs, but if you're in the Army, or lower enlisted in the Air Force, you will probably have a roommate (most of the trailers have bunk beds). I'm not positive about this, but I believe all the civilians get their own rooms. The tents are mainly for transient personnel, either just getting here, or waiting for a flight home. They're big tents, and again, you'll most likely be sleeping on a bunk bed. Both the tents and the CHUs are climate controlled, so for the most part, you're not going to sweat or freeze too much. I can't promise it will stay this way, but as of right now, both here on the Air Force side, and when I stayed in the Army CHUs, lined was provided (so you probably won't use your sleeping bag while you're here). You can also get sheets, blankets and pillows from the PX and Shoppettes around the post. One bit of bad news, unless you're very high ranking, you're going to have to get dressed if you ever wake up in the middle of the night and need to take a pee ... outdoor plumbing is the norm.

Shopping:



There is already one big PX, and another one that should be finished before I leave in the Spring; as well as quite a few little shoppettes around the post. They're relatively well stocked with everything from socks and underwear, to toiletries; and even TVs, cameras, video game systems and computers. If you're coming here, you really don't need to pack too much extra stuff, as you can get just about everything you'll need here ... for pretty much the same price that you'd pay back home.

There are also a few local shops on the post. The first area is some trailers near the PX that sell things like rugs, blankets, electronics, and souvenirs. There's even a pretty cool Oakley store, that has things like sunglasses, backpacks and boots. There's also a place on post called the Ur market, that has many of the same items, but a wider variety. We also go out there for the "bootleg" DVD store. If your conscience will allow, you can purchase just about any movie or tv show you can imagine, for a very small price (like $2 for a movie, or $20 for a multiple seasons of a TV show).

Services on Post:



We have a finance office here on post, but for the most part, people try not to use cash. When you deploy, you'll get what's called an Eagle Card, which can be used the same as cash ... even down at the Ur market ... but which is much more secure. You can either set it up before you leave the states; in Qatar or Kuwait while you're waiting for your flight to Iraq; or even at the local finance office once you get here. You can also use your debit/credit cards in the PX and at the Market, but it's not advised. There have been cases in the past (in Iraq, not necessarily here) of credit card numbers being stolen. A more likely concern, especially if you use your card at the market, is that you may have to pay additional fees for a foreign purchase and/or currency transaction.

There are also several hospitals on post, that are able to handle everything from routine colds and sprained ankles, to full blown emergencies. And yes, unfortunately, you can also get all of your shots here ... so if you're due for an anthrax booster while you're here, they're gonna track you down ... sorry.

We do have a legal office here on post. Hopefully you took care of most legal matters during your pre-deployment preparation ... but if something comes up while you're here, these guys can still help you with things like powers-of-attorney.

There is a main post office here on base, as well as smaller mail rooms in most units. Outside of the holiday season, mail usually gets between here and the states in about 2 weeks.

When it comes to doing your laundry, you have a couple of choices. Most of the living areas have a trailer with washers and driers for those who want to do it themselves ... but the lines are usually long, and you risk "losing" your stuff if you don't stay with it the whole time. Most people turn their clothes in to one of the many KBR laundry drop-off points around post. The turn around time is usually 2-3 days. For those who live in the Air Force bedrock area, you can also bring your clothes to Lulu's, and usually get it back the next day.

Last but not least, there are a least a couple of chapels on post ... both on the Air Force and Army sides of the base ... and with chaplains of a variety of denominations. I know that in the bedrock chapel near where we live, there is some sort of activity going on pretty much about every night ... not just Sundays.

Recreation:



There is plenty to do here on COB Adder/Ali AB as far as recreation goes. There are two main Rec Centers on post ... one run by the Army, and then the Hot Spot here in bedrock, run by the Air Force. They've got big screen TVs, game rooms, computers, phone rooms, pool tables, dart boards, a library, and probably several more things I'm not remembering off the top of my head. They also keep a good calendar of activities. The Air Force rec center has bingo, pool, spades and/or poker tournaments almost every night of the week. We also get some concerts and events as famous stars come through to preform (again, especially during the holidays).

The other thing people here spend a lot of time doing is going to the gym. There are at least 3 big gyms here on the post, with free weights, treadmills, stationary bikes, and even classes on things as basic as aerobics or as advanced as P90x. And even for those who don't go to the gym to workout, the weather here (at least right now) is nice enough that many people jog on the roads.

Food:



We have 3 dining halls here on the post, but they all pretty much serve the same menu. One of them is open for 22 hours a day though, so you can pretty much eat any time you want. Like many military DFACs (Dining Facilities) back in the states, we have a main line and a snack line. We also have a sandwich bar, and another section right next to it that alternates between pasta, pizza, wings and curry. Oh yea, and we can't forget the dessert and ice cream section. Lemon cake, chocolate cheese cake, and cookies & cream ice cream are my weaknesses. I have a diet and exercise plan, but thanks to all the good eating opportunities at the DFAC, I'll be lucky if I don't actually gain weight again during my time here.

The DFAC is free. But for those who don't mind spending a few bucks, we have a few restaurants on post. There are two Italian places, one called Ciano and the other called 6 pazzi (in addition to food, you can smoke the houka pipes and dance to latin music here). And the if you really miss the food from home, the px area has the standard Burger King, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and I think Popeyes. I personally haven't spent any money on food since I've been here, but apparently these food joints do pretty good business; especially the Italian places.

The Weather:



Depending on what time of year you're coming here, this can either be among the best places to be in Iraq; or the worst. In the winter time, the weather here is very nice. Sometimes it's a little chilly (mid 30s-hi 40s) in the morning, but even in the coldest months, the afternoon high temperatures usually get up into the mid 60s. Also, this far south, it only rains here about every 7-10 days. This is probably a good thing though, be cause when it does rain, it becomes a muddy mess. That said, this is true pretty much everywhere in Iraq, and further north, it rains much more often.

On the flip side, I can't think of many worse places to be in Iraq during the summer months. This area of the country is among the hottest, with not being uncommon for July and August temperatures to climb into the 130 deg F range. That being said, the 110-115 that they get further north doesn't feel much cooler. The real problem here in the summer time is the dust. Climatologically, this is also the dustiest region of of the country. When strong Shamal winds kick up, the northwesterly flow can bring in dust storms that reduce visibility to less than 2 miles for up to two or three WEEKS at a time. It's not fun.

Ok, that's about what I've got for now. But, I do plan to update this post (with links and more content) over the coming months, so you if it's of interest to you, you might consider bookmarking, and checking back from time to time.

todd

60 comments:

  1. Hi Todd, well Uncle Sam certainly seems to look after you guys. I would guess your British colleagues are a tad jealous?
    .-= Mike´s last blog ..Elephant Trek Northern Thailand Photo/Image =-.

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  2. Hi Mike,

    I think our British colleagues bugged out of here a year or two ago. We have a few Italians still on the post, but otherwise it's pretty much just us yanks. :-)

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  3. Todd, what are all the flags on that mural? (countries)

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  4. Those are country flags ... US, Iraqi, British, Australia and Italy.

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  5. Lower right is Italy? I was wonder about
    Romania or Andorra.

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  6. Oh, good catch ... you're right ... I forgot there used to be Romanians here. No Italian flag on that picture ... sorry

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  7. You can never tell with paint colors,
    most especially with fading in the
    desert sun.

    I also at first thought the white on
    the left was part of a flag, so that
    really confused me (she being the
    easily confused type LOL!!!!!!!!!!).

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  8. lol, I just never looked closely ... I know there are currently Italians here on this base, and I do know what the flag of Italy looks like ... I guess I just never paid enough attention to that part of the picture :-)

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  9. The 3 gyms do you no good if you live on the south side!!!!

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  10. Hi Lonnie,

    Good point ... but I think the new gym near LA10 is supposed to open sometime in the next month or so ... but you're right, since we don't live on that side, I haven't followed the progress too closely.

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  11. Good information. I will be there in a few months.

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  12. My son Daniel is on location there also. Good to have a frame of reference to the area and what is available.
    Thanks

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  13. Hi Daniel,

    It will be a bit hotter and dustier by then ... but still not a bad place to be deployed.

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  14. Hi Barbara,

    You're welcome. Glad you found the article helpful ... and I hope your son is doing well during his time over here.

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  15. Hey do you all have internet in your chu's? My husband's unit is coming over there soon & I'm hoping COB Adder will be similar to his last deployment... Also any word on whether they're going to start breaking things down bc of the "pull out"? Thanks!

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  16. Hi,

    Yes, we have Internet in the CHUs. It's $88 a month, and Slow ... but they are promising that we should get a fiber connection soon (it's satellite now), so that may make a difference. As for the draw down, I'm not really sure exactly what's going to happen ... and even if I did have some idea, it's probably not the sort of thing I would share here the blog (hope you understand).

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  17. We stateside folks resort to diverse items for information about Iraq. I work in a Library and found a DVD about Marines. It had some video from the first troops to enter Iraq/Baghdad (2003) and Fallujah. Giving some viewpoint of the country and battles. Quite a learning experience. Scary without truely being in the fight. Not for the faint of heart.

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  18. Hi Barbara,

    Thankfully, I do most of my learning about Iraq in much the same way. I'm here in the country, but my job does not require me to leave the post (other than the occasional flight to go to meetings or something).

    Being a flier, I'm sure your son gets to see a bit more of the countryside.

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  19. Todd,

    I don't know if our unit is the one replacing yours or not, but we just got here, and I wish that I'd read your blog while we were still in Kuwait! Awesome job describing the things to do around the base and how the base functions - everything you wrote is spot on!

    Fight to win!
    .-= SPC Creed´s last blog ..Bloggin' ain't easy =-.

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  20. Hey SPC Creed,

    I'm glad you found it helpful. I like your blog too ... the videos from Ft Bliss look like they'd be pretty cool; if the Internet wasn't so SLOW here, and I could actually watch them ;-)

    Are you planning to blog some about the post itself? ... or just your specific unit? Either way, I'm only going to be here for a couple more weeks. If you'd like, I can add a link to your site near the top of this post, so new people can find more current information after I'm gone. I'd imagine a few things are going to change around here over the next 6 months or so.

    I hope you and your fellow soldiers have a good (and safe) time during your deployment.

    Maybe I'll see you around post.

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  21. I found your article to be most informative. I live in Memphis, Tn. My grandson has just been deployed to Iraq. Presently, he is in Kuwait and awaiting orders for his trip to Iraq. How dangerous is it in Adder? He is going to be a military policeman. I pray for his and others safety.ic

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  22. Hi IC,

    When I came to Iraq the first time in 2007, my mom was pretty worried. I told her that in actuality, I'd probably be safer here than at home .. because I wouldn't have to drive back and forth to work every day.

    That prediction actually turned out to be pretty accurate then, and again on this deployment.

    All in all, COB Adder is a relatively safe place. No doubt, there are some people in the surrounding area who still don't like us very much, and might wish to do us some harm ... but honestly, you could probably say that about some places back in the States too.

    I hope your grandson has a good deployment.

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  23. Todd,
    My guys just arrived there a few days ago. They are 1BN 116 INF out of VA assigned to TF Overlord I believe. I didn't make the mission for medical reasons but I wanted to see what I could expect if I had made it. If you see one of my guys, they will be the ones with the yin yang patches, tell them I asked about them. I look forward to your updates.

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  24. Hi SFC Giles ... I'm actually outta here myself in about a week or so (headed back to Fort Hood) ... but in the mean time, if I see your guys in the DFAC or something, I will definitely give them your regards.

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  25. Todd,
    As a mother having a son in processing and will be going to your camp next week it was nice to read about the living conditions. I do feel some what better Thanks for serving our country..

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  26. Hi Kim ... you're welcome .. I'm glad you found the post helpful :-)

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  27. Todd,
    Thank you for the info and it what helpful. I have a few questions.....How are the showering facilities? Is there a laundry facility where i can do my own laundry or do i have to turn it in by another organization? Is there a wireless phone provider on post or should i get a phone while in Kuwait?

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  28. I am a soldier's Angel and my soldier is stationed here. I am ready to send packages and write letters. It is helpful to know where and what kind of facilities are there. you have been helpful.

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  29. I've been here a month...where's the hookah bar?

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  30. it's right over near the main PX

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  31. Todd
    I was wondering it you could tell me it internet was available in the CHU's or not. Or do you have to go a facility that has computers and internet for you.

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  32. Hi Alexander,

    When I was there, most of the CHUs had Internet in them ... you have to pay for it though.

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  33. Do you know when COB Adder will shut down? I am working with Books w Soldiers and want to send a pkg over, but am wondering when the 'drawing down' will be complete? Is there somewhere on the internet that posts that sort of thing? Thanks for any help!

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  34. Hi Dawn,

    It's already been over 3 months since I left, so even if I did have some idea then, I'm sure it's changed by now. That being said, my best guess would be that Adder will probably be around for at least another year or two ... since it was one of the bigger posts in the country. Your best bet is to contact Army public affairs ... they can probably help you determine the best way to make sure that your book continue to reach the desired audience even as the drawdown progresses.

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  35. I am currently at Adder and Todd's information is very accurate. The amenities scheduled to be completed over at LA10 have still not been done...typical KBR. I've not seen the AF amenities yet, but look forward to wandering over there when I have time.

    Dawn, I'm told you can can continue sending books until 31 December 2011.

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  36. Hi Contractor ... thanks for the update ... if ever have any additional relevant info to share, just let me know, and I'll be happy to post it here.

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  37. Thanks Todd. My son (Army) left tonight on his third tour in Iraq and will be stationed at COB Adder. Guess I won't have to worry about him getting enough to eat or having enough to do! He was raised in New Orleans, so he will love having a Popeye's nearby. Thanks again for the info.

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  38. Todd,
    Thanks for the info!
    I'll be heading over in a few months... it will be intersting to see how things have changes with the drawdown. (Hopefully not too much.)

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  39. My son-in-law is on his way there now and I told him to look for the Red Horse unit. Are there any Red Horse people there at Adder? Its a Air Force construction unit.

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  40. Hi Bill,

    There was a Red Horse unit when I was there ... but I'm not sure if they're still around now or not.

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  41. Todd,
    Thanks for Serving, as for myself I left COB Adder this past June, I was the NCOIC of HEREOS DFAC. If you happend to be still on COB Adder, stop by and tell them I said "HI!" unfortunately I don't have anyone's email address.
    COB Adder was my 2nd tour... and my last as I will be retireing living condiction then my last tour 04/05 up in FOB Spiecher, but not by much! LOL well Take Care,, Marc

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  42. I was there in 2008, and your right it wasn't a bad place to be deployed in. Sounds like nothing has changed since then except for a new BX/PX and a Gym. I was still living in a tent back then as they were building the new CHUs. Australians were just pulling out and we were friends with the Romanians on Camp Dracula. They make some great food by the way.

    P.S. my name is spelled correctly.

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  43. Todd,
    Thank you for the information, that and the repplies have made me feel much better about my husbands deploment to COB Adder. I am putting together a picture board about Iraq for our 5 children so that they will get a sense of where dad is. This site is very helpful, again thank you-

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  44. Hi Todd, My Daugther just went over so it helps to hear and read all that I can. So thank you for your information.

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  45. Hi Linda,

    You're welcome.

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  46. Hi Jackie,

    I'm glad you found it helpful .. hopefully your husband's deployment goes by quickly for you.

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  47. my son just got there in feb. this year (2011) thanks for the info
    I don't feel as bad for him now, just the job IS a little risky!! DUH!!!
    love more pics as you are allowed to post them,
    i'm on face book do you post stuff there?
    thanks again
    Joe
    proud daddy of a PV2

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  48. Hi Joe,

    I'm not actually there any more ... been back at Fort Hood for about a year now. That said, Ali AB being just about the furthest south, I would imagine it's the most likely to stay similar to what it was in 2009/2010 for the longest. Some of bases up north are going to get pretty "bare bones" as we pull out. In any case, I hope your son has a good deployment. And if he takes pictures, or has any good stories, send em my way .. I'll be happy to add links to this post (as apparently the search engines consider this a good source for COB Adder info ;-) )

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  49. Good morning or afternoon from The MEDEVAC side of the house, i am looking for the Materials Building on base. I was told thats where the stockpiles of gym equipment is located. our shifts are all the time and on a 3min. recall. so we are trying to build a mini/crossfit gym in our neck of the "dust". any Ideas ?

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  50. what kind of goodies would my son like that i can get here that he cant get there ? paper towels ? beef jerky ? any suggestions ? thanks brother.

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  51. Hi Clint,

    Unless I'm mistaken, there should still be a PX. Most goodies weren't a problem to come by, at least during my time there. Even books, magazines and movies were easy to get. I don't know if this will help, but one thing I woud have liked to have was those water bottles with the little fan on the front, so you can "mist" yourself. lol, bonus points if you send him a pink one ;-)

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  52. a pink one you say ! maybe get a laugh out of it but i wouldnt hear the end of it ....

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  53. Great blog and information about Adder! I was looking up information about Adder on google and your blog came up. My husband is about to go through his first tour there and I was eager to get some type of information about the weather conditions and how long mail would take to get there etc...but since it's being shut down soon, I am worried communication will be slim to none by Christmas time; which is awful since he recently became a new father 3 weeks ago and he will be missing his daughters first christmas....but hey thats the military for ya. Any positive info you have for him would be greatly appreciated :)
    Best wishes and thank you for serving our great nation!
    -fellow military family

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  54. Hi Amanda,

    It's been a year and a half since I was there. However, we do have one guy from our squadron who is currently at Adder. He should be back around the middle of October. If I get a chance, I'll try to "debrief" him on the current situation, and make some updates to this post. In any case, I hope your husband has a safe deployment. And congratulations on your new baby.

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  55. Amanda,
    I believe your husband will be just fine. There's no apparent downsizing going on here, just the opposite. As for the weather, temps have been in the 120's all week except for today when the sandstorm kicked up.

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  56. Todd,
    I just found this site and wanted you to know how very informative it is and really do appreciate it. I have a niece stationed at COB Adder for her 2nd tour in Iraq and should be returning state side Spring of 2012. Thanks to you, my niece,and all the other service personnel serving our great country! May God bless you all!

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  57. Hi Lorna,

    Glad you found it helpful .. I hope your niece has a has a safe deployment.

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  58. Thanks for the post, Todd. I recently became one of those "Soldier's Angels" and now I don't know what to send him since it looks like he has everything he needs! Do you have any suggestions now that it isn't Summer anymore?
    Thanks!

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  59. Hey man. I spent 6 months at Adder with the RED HORSE unit there. I loved my time there. I saw recently on CNN it's now a ghost town. It's a shame. A lot of good memories there.

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  60. HI every body iam saud i was interpreter with united states army in Tallil military base ali air base for long time then they sent me to omara city in hunter military base an also they sent me to cedar near to talli all of that tim were with the united states army it were very good but the important thing to me there where no body help me to get visa to go out of iraq and that was my dream and untill new i looking for this hand of help so if some body can help please i wait on saud556@yahoo.com

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