CAMP PHOENIX, Afghanistan — Following the golden rule, members of the 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry Regiment have spent the past few months building relationships with local Afghan leaders to try to provide the most good for their neighbors.
More than a dozen members of the 181 walked the short distance to the village of Ud Khel, which borders the base to the south, in order to keep residents warm with jackets and blankets — collected through the Operation Outreach Afghanistan program — Jan. 18, 2011.
Ustad Bashir, an Ud Khel native and member of the local Afghan Youth Council, welcomed the Soldiers on the humanitarian aid mission outside his residence on the sunny, but brisk winter afternoon.
The mission empowers Bashir and shows good will among villagers, which could improve relations between Afghans and Americans and ensures the overall area is safe and secure for all.
Staff Sgt. Joseph Courchesne, a member of 1st Platoon who was patrol leader for the mission, said each of the 16 Soldiers carried a rucksack, which contained a total of 180 items of clothing, 40 winter blankets and some stuffed animals as well.
“There were about 200 people who came to us and then everything was gone,” Courchesne said, adding “We were invited by Bashir to come have kabobs for lunch the next time we came out to the village.”
Pvt. Douglas Nading, a rifleman from 1st Platoon, maintained perimeter security for the event. He quickly noticed the crowd of children who gathered in the alley when Soldiers began unloading their donations. Nading said all he could see were children.
Pfc.Carlos Tomazini, a rifleman from 1st Platoon who also maintained security, said the mission helped many of the villagers by providing warm clothes for the winter.
Bashir is also assisting the 181 with coordinating a construction project to clean the open sewers outside of a mosque in Ud Khel using local Afghan contractors.
On Feb. 1, members of 181’s 2nd Platoon returned to the village in vehicles for another humanitarian mission. They brought more supplies to the youth center and allowed Bashir to distribute them to the villagers in need.
Ud Khel is a village of about 10,000 people, mostly of Pashtun descent, with a growing number of small-business owners amongst a traditionally agricultural economy.