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Soldiers Take Break From War Rigors in Afghanistan

By Army Cpt. Kenya V. Saenz
Special to American Forces Press Service

FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHARANA, Afghanistan, April 22, 2008 – Soldiers of Task Force Pacemaker, deployed from Fort Lewis, Wash., celebrated spring earlier this month with an organizational day.

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Soldiers bear the stains of taking part in a pie-eating contest during the “Spring Break 2008” festival at Forward Operating Base Sharana, Afghanistan. U.S. Army photo
  

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Dubbed “Spring Break 2008!,” the event gave soldiers a break from the rigors of their deployment and allowed them a chance to relax, hear live music, eat barbeque and even take part in a pie-eating contest.

Soldiers enjoyed live music from the 101st Airborne Division rock band, “Out of Uniform.” They performed for the first time here April 10. The band, led by Army Staff Sgt. Carlos Llanes from Miami, played everything from rock and hip-hop to country and Latin.

“Our mission changes when we are deployed; instead of the Army Band doing ceremonies and historic events, we are here to support our troops and bring ‘home’ to them,” Llanes said. “I was surprised how the chains of command had fun with the soldiers and, for one moment, forget that we were in Afghanistan. This was a great opportunity to support our deployed soldiers.”

“I enjoyed putting on the show and having the crowd respond. It is a nice way to support troops,” said Army Spc. Jessica Krzmarzick, the group’s lead female vocalist.

"Affording the soldiers of Task Force Pacemaker and other members of FOB Sharana a little down time at the 14th month in their deployment was a great morale booster,” said Army Maj. James Delapp, the Task Force Pacemaker executive officer.

“These soldiers have worked extremely hard constructing new facilities for soldiers throughout [Regional Command East] and deserved to let their hair down and have some fun," Delapp said.

In addition to hearing live music and eating good food, Task Force Pacemaker soldiers also played flag football and soccer games, and had a chance to dunk their leaders in cold water. Soldiers also rode a camel and had the opportunity to get their picture taken on it.

Task Force Pacemaker provides general engineering services, assured mobility, and survivability operations to coalition forces in support of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force and Afghanistan. The task force is getting ready to transition the mission to 62nd Engineer Battalion, from Fort Hood, Texas.

(Army Cpt. Kenya V. Saenz is assigned to the Task Force Pacemaker Public Affairs Office.)

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Spc. Jessica Krzmarzick, from “Out of Uniform,” the Combined Joint Task Force 101 rock band, sings for soldiers of Task Force Pacemaker at the “Spring Break 2008” festival at Forward Operating Base Sharana, Afghanistan. U.S. Army photo  
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Click photo for screen-resolution image“Out of Uniform,” the Combined Joint Task Force 101 rock band, performs at the Task Force Pacemaker “Spring Break 2008” at Forward Operating Base Sharana, Afghanistan. U.S. Army photo  
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