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On the Border of Baghdad
By Master Sgt. Patricia Hughes, 177FW/SGP
TAG at Operation Jump Start

Smiling faces, happy people, something that seems to be in short supply in Iraq. All this can be seen at the Civil Military Operation Center (CMOC) on the border of Baghdad. Twice a week, a bus veers out of the Sather Air Base 447th Expeditionary Medical Squadron (EMEDS) parking area with a doctor, medical personnel and volunteers to assist the doctors and spend time with the Iraqi children.

These volunteers spend most of the time with the children coloring, playing on the swings in the yard constructed by the Civil Engineering team, or engaging in a game of soccer, mostly learning a new move or two from the children. It’s a good thing, children are children all over the world when you come down to it - they laugh, cry, are shy, warm and cute. The Center officially opened on Sept. 20 and is located inside the wire at the Army Special Forces Camp in Baghdad, Iraq.

Before it became the CMOC, the Radwaniyah Palace Complex building served as the town hall. While it is operationally under Army control, the 447th EMEDS team and volunteers from Sather Air Base offer medical care to the citizens of Baghdad.

According to Chief Master Sgt. Kenney L. Souders, Superintendent, 447th EMEDS, at Sather Air Base in Baghdad, the Army initially established the CMOC to assist the Iraqi people for claims against the military and also address their medical needs. When our Air Expeditionary Force first arrived in September, we were seeing about 25-30 Iraqis a day; four months later the number of people visiting the Center had doubled.

Subsequently, several Iraqi translators were hired to help out. As you can imagine the translation could get a bit confusing but the best care was always provided. Security is extremely tight at the Center, but patient care is non-judgmental.

Some faces become more familiar than others because not only of the medical care given, but because there is always a box of goodies that deployed Air Force member’s churches, families and organizations have sent. That box is always filled with candy, clothes, school supplies, hygiene items and toys. Soccer balls are a big hit with the children. The surroundings might be crushed in Baghdad but at the CMOC the spirits are always high.

TAG at Operation Jump Start

GENERAL SECURITY - Staff Sgts. Patrick Donohoe (left) and Jason Scalzi (center) served as Air Force Chief of Staff General T. Michael Moseley's (right) security detail during his visit to Kirkuk Regional Air Base, Iraq in February. Members of the 177th Fighter Wing Security Forces were assigned to the general and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Rodney J. McKinley as their special security detail. The Jersey Devils were assigned to the Quick Reaction Force, the only mobile response team available to respond to all points on base when needed. Photo courtesy USAF/PA.

Table of Contents
Volume 33 Number 1 Staff / Information
(c) 2006 NJ Department of Military and Veterans Affairs