By 1st Lt. Peter M. Owen
724th Engineer Battalion Public Affairs
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - Eleven Soldiers in the Chippewa Falls-based 724th Engineer Battalion-Task Force Badger celebrated Mother's Day differently this year than in years past.
Battalion Commander Lt. Col. David O'Donahue and Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Genz wanted to make sure all the moms deployed with Task Force Badger would still be recognized on the holiday that honors them. The 11 Soldiers in question arrived at the battalion headquarters Sunday (May 9) without any idea what was in store.
"We wanted to do something special for these young women," O'Donahue explained. "Their situation is so special because they are young mothers with young children. Everyone that deploys makes sacrifices - however, their sacrifices are unique."
O'Donahue and Genz greeted the women, wished them a happy Mother's Day and announced that they would be treated to a Mother's Day dinner. In addition to the military dining facilities, Joint Base Balad features commercial restaurants with options available for purchase.
After arriving at Ciano Italian Restaurant, the women ordered food and immediately engaged in casual conversation with O'Donahue and Genz. The evening featured a relaxed atmosphere with a variety of conversation topics, including Spc. Jennifer Denhartog instructing Genz on how to use Facebook.
"I thought it was very generous of them to take us out - I really enjoyed the quality one-on-one time with the leadership," said Sgt. Andrea Wahl of Chippewa Falls, who is on her second deployment and has a two-year-old daughter.
The group dined on pizza, calzones, pasta and steak while enjoying the relaxed atmosphere. Dining at a different location and being recognized gave these hardworking mothers a brief respite from their duties that support Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"One of the most special things for me was being able to treat these women to a meal," Genz said, "and seeing the bonding take place between mothers on the day where they deserve special treatment."