War on Terrorism

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Face of Defense: Soldier Keeps Base Clean, Functioning

By Army Sgt. Whitney Houston
Special to American Forces Press Service

Jan. 14, 2009 - A Carbondale, Ill., native serving in Multinational Division Baghdad leads an Iraqi work force here that ensures daily maintenance and improvement for soldiers and others occupying the small northeastern Baghdad base. "My day usually starts out with a handful of work orders that come into the mayor's cell from throughout the FOB, which usually dictate the day," said Army Spc. Joseph Cook of the 4th Infantry Division's Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Brigade Combat Team. "On top of that, we have this rather long checklist of things to be done on a daily basis around the FOB to keep it maintained and keep it running."

During his time here, Cook said, he has had many opportunities to improve the quality of life for soldiers. "Part of maintaining the FOB is to also trying to find ways to better the lives of those who live on it," he said.

After being asked about bringing a sporting alternative to the Striker Brigade soldiers, he looked up the regulation measurements of a basketball court and went from there. He was also involved in getting more phones and computers for the morale, welfare and recreation center.

Cook said working with the soldiers here is the best part of what's been a rewarding tour of duty. And his accomplishments have not gone unnoticed.

"To have him fall into a position where he didn't have any experience in leadership or management, and to excel at the rate that he did, is nothing short of an accomplishment," said Army Capt. Walter Zurkowsky, executive officer for Headquarters and Headquarters Troop. "He really has excelled, and has more than proven that he is a capable soldier."

(Army Sgt. Whitney Houston serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 4th Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team public affairs office.)

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