Story and photo by Capt. Sean Kirley, 2nd ACR PAO

Sgt. Maj. Samuel Rhodes, 2nd ACR, distributes a tee shirt to an Iraqi child at the Virgin Mary Primary School in Najaf, Iraq. The Soldiers of 2nd ACR are working to help rebuild local neighborhoods. (see photo below)


NAJAF, Iraq -- The 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment spent a year in Baghdad, helping the people of that city rebuild their lives and regain their livelihood. When the “Dragoons” received orders to move into southern Iraq, they continued to help Iraqis living in Najaf. The people of this city have been receptive of the troopers, and the “Iron Dukes” of 2nd Battalion, 37th Armor Regiment.

On May 20, elements of Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2nd ACR, visited a school on the outskirts of Najaf to distribute school supplies, boxes of candy, and t-shirts that had the words “prosperity,” “progress” and “Iraq” in English and Arabic.

The three-vehicle convoy, led by Sgt. Maj. Samuel Rhodes, arrived at the Virgin Mary Primary School just before noon. Immediately, throngs of children, led by a few teachers, surrounded the Soldiers. As Rhodes, Sgt. 1st Class Robert Kerry and Spc. Matthew Mabry began to distribute the gifts, the children laughed and cheered, hauling bags of school supplies into a hallway.

Rhodes was then escorted on a quick tour of the school. He wrote down in detail deficiencies and the needed improvements pointed out by the school’s headmaster. Projects recommend by Rhodes include renovation of the latrine, air conditioning, and a daily supply of water for the school. Also, many windows needed to be replaced and general repairs made.

“We will be back tomorrow,” he told the students and teachers. “And we will keep coming back until this work is complete.”

The next day, the renovations started. The regiment plans to continue to help the community by distributing 1,000 pairs of shoes, 1,000 shorts and shirts, and 750 humanitarian aid bags. The contents of the humanitarian bags include foodstuff, toys, and clothing. Other rural neighborhoods and schools will receive these bags and renovation project.

The Dragoons continue to lead the way in helping the Iraqi people live safer, more secure and prosperous lives.