First Lt. Phil Schupp looks over the schoolyard and talks to the principal of Thakir Iraq school in Qarghuli village while doing an assessment there, April 8. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Tony M. Lindback)
PATROL BASE INCHON, Iraq (April 15, 2008) – New windows and heat have improved the Thakir Iraq school, but coalition forces’ greatest contribution has simply been security.
On, April 8, Soldiers from 4th Platoon, Company D, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, visited the school in Qarghuli village to check on progress.
The Soldiers live and operate out of Battle Position 151, near Patrol Base Inchon, just down the road from the school and stopped in to check renovations and assess what else could be done to improve the learning environment.
Company D has made renovations such as the windows and heat; new fixtures for the classrooms and restrooms are pending final bids.
“Helping the children is hopefully going to make a lasting impact in not only improving life for people here, but also improve the relationship between the U.S. and Iraq,” said Harpers Ferry, W.Va., native 1st Lt. Phil Schupp, platoon leader for 4th Platoon.
The principal of the school said the biggest help to the school was security.
“We have more than 800 students; only one year ago we had 175 students not in school each day because of the violence,” the principal said. “Now our classes are full.”
After two Soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, went missing in the area, security stepped up significantly. A strengthened Iraqi army and coalition presence resulted in diminished insurgent activity.
“I remember seeing a woman with a broom beating a man planting an improvised explosive device,” said Capt. Wasim Abid el Hadi, commander of 3rd Company, 4th Battalion, 25th Brigade, 6th IA Division. “I knew things were changing when I saw that.”
Since Qarghuli is no longer a safe haven for insurgents and violence has dropped significantly, humanitarian projects such as the school renovations have been possible. The government of Iraq, taking note of changes in the area, sent more teachers and resources to the school.
While improving the school is one of numerous projects Company D is involved in to help the Qarghuli area, Schupp said, it may leave the longest-lasting impression.
“The kids we’re helping with these improvements are going to be the people in charge of things in the future,” he said.