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In the spirit of giving 
Lt. Col. Richard Johnson shakes the hand of in Iraqi corrections officer  
Lt. Col. Richard F. Johnson, commander of the 211th Military Police Battalion, Massachusetts National Guard, shakes the hand of in Iraqi corrections officer as Warden Hassan Al-Mohammadawi (center) looks on, Dec. 30, 2009. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Daniel C. Maes)
By Sgt. 1st Class Daniel C. Maes, 211th Military Police Battalion 

– U.S. Soldiers working at the Taji Theater Internment Facility and Reconciliation Center strengthened their partnership with their Iraqi counterparts through the simple act of giving here, Dec. 30.

Twenty-five Iraqi corrections officers were invited by the Taji TIFRC Warden, Mr. Hassan Al-Mohammadawi, and the 211th Military Police Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. Richard Johnson, to join the Soldiers of the 211th for an American-style holiday gathering at the battalion’s morale, welfare and recreation center.

This event was designed for the Iraqi and American leadership to show their appreciation for the hard work carried out by the Iraqi corrections officers and to present gifts for them and their families.

Mr. Al-Mohammadawi expressed his gratitude to the men and women of the 211th and to the Iraqi corrections officers in attendance. He let the corrections officers know that their work is very important and they were doing a good and honorable job.

Johnson welcomed the Iraqis and told them how the joint leadership team at the Taji TIFRC was concerned with their well-being as much as with their work performance.

“We reach out to you in friendship as well as work partners,” said Johnson.

“I talk frequently with your leadership; we talk about the things we need to do to make you successful in running the TIFRC,” he added.

The gift bags were put together with donations from the Soldiers of the headquarters company and the battalion’s subordinate units: Co. C, 1st Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment of Fort Myer, Va.; and the 23rd Military Police Company of Fort Drum, N.Y.

Through an interpreter, one of the Iraqi corrections officers said that until this day he had only known the hard-working side of American Soldiers and didn’t realize their hearts were so big.

“Today we want to give you gifts for your children and families to say thank you for your efforts and hard work every day,” said Johnson.