Monday, January 22, 2007

Pizza Party Provided to Taji Troops

By Sgt. Jon Cupp, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

Jan. 22, 2007 – The generosity of an infantryman's parents, working in coordination with a major pizza restaurant's corporate office, a unit family readiness group, and a major shipping company, led to a feast for some soldiers here Jan. 18. Troopers from Company B, the "Bandogs," 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, dined on Little Caesars pizza shipped to them all the way from Detroit following a coordinated effort involving the Little Caesars Pizza Kit Fundraising Program teaming with L.S.S. Consulting, a global security consulting firm at which both parents of a Co. B soldier are executives, and DHL shipping, which worked with the unit's family readiness group at Fort Hood, Texas, to get the pizzas into the hands -- and stomachs -- of the soldiers.

More than 100 pizza kits, enough to make about 500 pizzas, were flown to Iraq and then shipped by DHL -- with the
Army's help via a military convoy -- and arrived here Jan 9. The kits were encased in a 42-cubic-foot refrigerated shipping container to keep them fresh for cooking later.

The whole pizza event came about when Walled Lake, Mich. native Pfc. James Timmons' parents, Ned and Mary Timmons of L.S.S. Consulting, decided to send their son and his fellow soldiers a taste of home. Ned and Mary teamed with the other companies and also paid the cost for shipping the crate.

"My parents first contacted me, so I knew (the pizzas) were coming," Timmons said. "There were a lot of people actually working to get these out here, and it lets us know that there are folks out there who are grateful for what we're doing out here."

He said he was amazed when he first saw the huge shipping crate at Camp Taji. "When I saw it, the only thing I could think was 'We're definitely going to be eating some pizza!'" Timmons said with a laugh.

The company's first sergeant explained the importance of the event to his soldiers. "This means a lot, and even though the guys can buy pizzas here, this is more heartfelt as it's chow from home," 1st Sgt. Damon Perez said.

"This really motivates the soldiers to see that people in the states really do care and support us."

The pizzas were cooked in a mobile field kitchen, which was brought to Bandog's motor pool for the occasion. The company enlisted the help of food service specialists from their battalion's Company E, who opened each kit and placed the sauce and the toppings on each pizza prior to cooking. It took about 20 minutes to cook each pizza.

"Doing this was no problem," said Staff Sgt. Brent Boodoo, senior food service operations sergeant for Co. E and a native of Brooklyn, N.Y. "We'll do anything to raise the morale of the soldiers."

Soldiers from Bandog Company spend most of their time in Iraq pulling security, going on patrols, doing humanitarian missions and assisting local Iraqi government officials with projects and other issues. The unit also searches for weapons caches and looks for improvised explosive devices, while at the same time assisting Iraqi
police and Iraqi army troops based at the Mushahidah police station.

More times than not, the soldiers find themselves working long hours, sometimes seven days a week, so the pizza break was well-earned, Capt. Adrian Spevak, Co. B commander, said.

"This (break) is well-deserved, as a lot of times they're pushed pretty Hard. ... They're out there when it's raining, when it's cold, and they'll be out there when it gets extremely hot. But they never complain about it," Spevak said. "They do a lot of events on a daily basis within the local (community) to make the lives of the Iraqis better. They're proud of what they do."

The soldiers said they were grateful to everyone involved in making the pizza break possible and that they enjoyed getting the "slice of home."

"This really tastes like home, and pizza always brings a smile to my face," said Spc. Abran Gonzalez, an infantryman with Co. B. "I never would have dreamed that I would be eating Little Caesars pizza in Iraq."

Sgt. Robert Yesia, Co. B commander's gunner, said he could not find words to express his feelings so he decided to make one up for this occasion.

"This is much better than anything else I've had in a while. It's fantastical," he said with a laugh.

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