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Carpenters in Afghanistan Improve Forward Conditions

By Staff Sgt. Bradley Rhen, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

FIRE BASE WAZA KHWA, Afghanistan, Jan. 20, 2005 – From sunup to sundown, the sounds of power tools and hammers pounding nails fill the air at this base in southern Paktika province.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Spc. David Baker, a carpenter from the 367th Engineer Battalion, uses a tape measure to check the dimensions on a new guard tower at Firebase Waza Khwa, Afghanistan. Photo by Staff Sgt. Bradley Rhen, USA

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Just about anything that can be made of wood shelves, tables, guard towers and generator shelters is produced daily by two soldiers from the 367th Engineer Battalion, a U.S. Army Reserve unit from Brainerd, Minn.

Staff Sgt. Brian Damon and Spc. David Baker are based out of Bagram Air Base with the majority of their unit, but were at this remote firebase working for a few weeks in late December and early January.

The conditions at the base were much more spartan than what they're used to at Bagram, but Damon and Baker did their part to help make life better for the soldiers who call this place home. Damon said he's glad he can help improve the quality of life for the soldiers here.

"It makes me feel real good to know that I'm here to help make sure the soldiers are comfortable and they're living a little easier," he said.

Damon said he enjoys working with wood and sees this mission as a break from his usual job as a heavy equipment operator and supervisor. "It's kind of a hobby of mine to do some carpentry on the side at home, so to do this is fun," he said.

For Baker, it was the second time during the deployment he came to a forward operating base for this type of mission. He said it's gratifying to stand back at the end of the day and see the soldiers using the things he and Damon built for them. "It's nice that I can help out in some way," said Baker. "Even though I'm not an infantryman, I might be able to help make their day when they get back from a patrol or something. Hopefully, everybody has a nice meal. They can sit down and eat instead of sitting on their bunk or looking for a chair."

(Army Staff Sgt. Bradley Rhen is assigned to Combined Task Force Thunder Public Affairs.)

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