Kentucky Army National Guard Unit helps Iraqi widows and children

SSG Travis Dugan, 301st Chemical Company, 2nd Platoon, PSD
SSG Travis Dugan, 301st Chemical Company, 2nd Platoon, PSD
SPC John Wayne Hall, 301st Chemical Company, 2nd Platoon, PSD
SPC John Wayne Hall, 301st Chemical Company, 2nd Platoon, PSD

Posted by Christi Reynard email

BAGHDAD - The National Guard's 301st Chemical Company, 2nd Platoon, Personal Security Detail (PSD), from Maysville, Kentucky got into the spirit of the holiday season, by delivering food, toys and clothes to the Dar Al Salem widow's camp paid for by their own funds.

"I have a bitter sweet feeling about this camp and I wish circumstances like these didn't exist," said Staff Sgt. Travis Dugan, 34, from Maysville, Ky. "I just feel grateful that I can bring a smile to these deserving faces."

The Dar Al Salem widow's camp is refuge to as many as 150 families.  Established more than two years ago, it takes in women and children of Soldiers and Policemen who have been killed or kidnapped, never to be seen again.

"I feel like I'm a small part of something bigger," said Staff Sgt. Jonathon Smith, 31, convoy commander, from Flemingsburg, Ky. "Maybe if everyone does their part, then we may be able to accomplish our mission."

Many members of the 301st feel the same way. "I hope the Iraqis use our example to do their part too," said Smith.

Soldiers like Spc. John Wayne Hall began to greet the children, showing them attention and compassion, and trying help as much as he could.

"Once we realized that we were coming, we gathered up everything we could," said Hall. "When we help these people we help ourselves and if we have to give of ourselves, then count me in."

The harsh conditions of the camp moved many of the Soldiers.  At times, there is no water and electricity, and many of the widows have no income at all.

"When I see these kids and how they have to struggle, I try not to get emotional," said Spc. Kelly Goode, 39, from Louisville, KY. "I have kids at home and when I look into these children eyes I see my own."

Soccer balls were the hot item.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 12,000 Kentucky National Guard Soldiers and Airmen have deployed in support of Global War of Terror. The Kentucky National Guard currently has nearly 350 troops in Afghanistan, Iraq and around the globe.

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