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Iraqi, U.S. Soldiers Hand Out Toys, School Supplies

By Army Sgt. Waldemar Rivera
Special to American Forces Press Service

CAMP TAJI, Iraq, April 16, 2008 – U.S. and Iraqi soldiers made April 13 a happy day for Iraqi children at two schools near Taji, northwest of Baghdad.

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Iraqi soldiers from 1st Battalion, 34th Brigade, 9th Infantry Division, hand out toys at the Asim bin Omar school in Sab Al Bour, northwest of Baghdad, April 13, 2008. During Operation Bounty Hunter Pencil, the Iraqi soldiers worked with Company A, 225th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team “Warrior,” 25th Infantry Division, Multinational Division Baghdad, to hand out toys and school supplies to children. Photo by Army Sgt. Waldemar Rivera, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Multinational Division Baghdad
  

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Multinational Division Baghdad soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division’s 225th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team “Warrior,” and Iraqi soldiers from the 9th Infantry Division’s 1st Battalion, 34th Brigade, brought toys and school supplies donated by American children to the Iraqi students in a mission dubbed Operation Bounty Hunter Pencil.

Army 2nd Lt. Lauren Bowen, a native of Roscoe, Ill., and a platoon leader with Company A, 225th Brigade Support Battalion, conveyed the American children’s spirit of giving.

“These toys were sent to you children with lots of love from the American people,” Bowen told a classroom full of children at the Asim bin Omar school in Sab Al Bour.

The U.S. and Iraqi soldiers helped distribute the toys and school supplies among the rows of children in the classrooms. After the distribution of gifts was done and after a signal from the teacher, the children said, “Thank you very much” in English as a token of friendship.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Yvonne Barnes, a Lane, S.C., native, said it was an honor to deliver toys and school supplies from American children to the Iraqi children.

“It was my first contact with Iraqi children, and I was impressed of how well the children verbalized English phrases such as, ‘Thank you very much,’” said Barnes, the operations sergeant for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 225th Brigade Support Battalion.

Next, the convoy headed toward the That Al Natakhein school, also in the town of Sab Al Bour. Toys and school supplies were distributed among the students by soldiers from both armies, once again under the supervision of school officials.

The event closed with a promise from Bowen to return to both schools with more gifts from the American people.

(Army Sgt. Waldemar Rivera serves in Multinational Division Baghdad with the 25th Infantry Division’s 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office.)

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Multinational Corps Iraq

Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Sgt. 1st Class Yvonne Barnes, a Lane, S.C., native, talks to a child April 13, 2008, at the Asim bin Omar school in Sab Al Bour, northwest of Baghdad. Barnes, along with members of her unit and soldiers from the Iraqi army, handed out school supplies and toys to children as part of Operation Bounty Hunter Pencil. Barnes serves as an operations sergeant with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 225th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team “Warrior,” 25th Infantry Division, Multinational Division Baghdad. Photo by Army Sgt. Waldemar Rivera, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Multinational Division Baghdad  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy 2nd Lt. Lauren Bowen, a native of Roscoe, Ill., and a platoon leader with Company A, 225th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team “Warrior,” 25th Infantry Division, Multinational Division Baghdad, hands out school supplies April 13, 2008, at the Asim bin Omar school in Sab Al Bour, northwest of Baghdad, during Operation Bounty Hunter Pencil. The mission was shared with Iraqi soldiers from 1st Battalion, 34th Brigade, 9th Infantry Division. Photo by Army Sgt. Waldemar Rivera, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Multinational Division Baghdad  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageAn Iraqi child holds tight to her doll April 13, 2008, while her mother holds her at the Asim bin Omar school in Sab Al Bour, northwest of Baghdad. The child just received her new doll as part of Operation Bounty Hunter Pencil. The operation brought together soldiers from 225th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team “Warrior,” 25th Infantry Division, Multinational Division Baghdad, and Iraqi soldiers from 1st Battalion, 34th Brigade, 9th Infantry Division. Together, they handed out toys and school supplies to children. Photo by Army Sgt. Waldemar Rivera, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Multinational Division Baghdad  
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