‘Warrior’ receives four-day pass to Qatar

| March 7, 2011 | 0 Comments

Cpl. Robert England
2nd Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs, 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Division-North

25th ID

25th ID

CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE WARHORSE, Iraq – The synapses in my brain fired relentlessly, struggling to contain the impending sensory overload, as I took in the sights, sounds and smells of my surroundings.

A warm breeze carried the sweet scent of tobacco smoke exhaled by patrons at hookah lounges throughout the marketplace. Outdoor dining patios showcased a variety of foreign cuisines that challenged my open-minded approach toward trying new food. The clinking of my identification tags against my chest served as a faint reminder for me to maintain my bearing and to put my best foot forward with each step I took.

As an American Soldier, it is my duty to always place the mission first. As a Soldier on deployment, I have found it difficult to do anything besides that.

Fortunately, the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, “Warriors,” 25th Infantry Division, whole-heartedly believes in rewarding Soldiers for their tireless efforts day-in and day-out. I experienced this first-hand when I was rewarded with a four-day pass to Qatar.

The most exhausting portion of the entire trip was the movement from Iraq to Qatar, which included a four-day layover at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.

At Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar. I received an in-processing briefing almost immediately before being shuttled to Camp As Sayliyah, the base that provided my housing needs and other basic accommodations for the duration of my pass. I was subjected to another in-processing brief at Camp As Sayliyah before I was free to enjoy myself.

The briefings highlighted base rules and common courtesies to be aware of, if I chose to embark on any of the numerous adventures sponsored by the Morale, Welfare and Recreation office at Camp As Sayliyah.

I had the full intention of making the most of my four-day pass to Qatar.

I was forced to weigh my options: wake up early to partake in the morning adventures or switch the alarm clock to the off position to catch up on some sleep. The absence of duties liberated me from the screeching tyrant that forced me out of bed for the first five months of my deployment to Iraq, so I decided to forego the morning adventures in lieu of recharging my batteries.

After awakening of my own accord every day, I chose an afternoon activity. I visited two malls within Doha, along with an indoor and outdoor market, where traditionally conservative garments contrasted bold architecture.

I also enjoyed a leisurely boat ride into the heart of the Persian Gulf. During the early evening cruise, the wooden boat passed by the outskirts of Doha; the neon lights illuminating the unique structures jutting from the busy cityscape. About 40 minutes into the voyage, the boat dropped anchor. Passengers donned swimsuits and dove into the cool, clear water under spotlights mounted on the boat, while the crew prepared a banquet.

Camp As Sayliyah also offered enough amenities to make the four-day pass just as enjoyable in a more relaxing fashion on post. Chili’s restaurant served a familiar taste of American dining. The gym provided an outlet for dedicated service members to maintain physical fitness during their passes. The MWR common area boasted ping-pong and pool tables, arcade games and a substantial movie selection to assist in the relaxation process.

On the eve of my fourth day, I reluctantly packed my gear. The next morning, a temperate climate bid me farewell, as I boarded an Air Force C-130 headed for Kuwait.

Despite my initial angst upon returning, a feeling of relief swept over me. I realized that all the amenities and creature comforts I indulged during my four-day pass to Qatar did not amount to the feeling of being “home” with my comrades here.

(Editor’s Note: This is a Hawaii Army Weekly web exclusive.)

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Category: Deployed Forces, News

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