By Staff Sgt. Megan P. Lyon, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division Public Affairs
FORWARD OPERATING BASE KONDUZ, Afghanistan – When Soldiers deploy, what to do during the rare time off is not something many spend time thinking about.
But thanks to the work of Capt. Tony Hampton, chaplain for 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment deployed from 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, N.Y., and numerous volunteers, Soldiers have a spot at the FOB Konduz United Service Organizations to get away from it all, even if it’s just for an hour or two.
Long before members of the Soldiers stepped off the plane, coordination had begun to secure “a bit of home away from home” for the Soldiers.
“Before we left Fort Drum, I contacted the USO and asked if they would send us a USO2GO pack,” said Capt. Hampton. “When we arrived on the ground, boxes started appearing.”
Inside those boxes was everything a Soldier could ask for to be entertained.
According the USO’s webpage, inside of the USO2GO delivers the USO’s most popular services to troops in the remote and restricted areas. Included are beanbag chairs, snacks, and coffee, toiletries, DVDs as well as gaming platforms.
“Everything you see in the USO, came from the USO2GO packs that they sent us, said Capt. Hampton.
When Soldiers first arrived, the building set to house the USO had been left unattended and required several days to renovate. During that time the interior was painted, new furniture brought in and arranged in the building. Different areas were set up to accommodate numerous activities including a section to watch movies or play video game, a reading area, a ping-pong table, a foosball table and a music area complete with guitars and a karaoke machine.
“The greatest thing for me is just seeing the Soldiers coming and having a place to relax,” said Capt. Hampton. “They can watch a movie, play a and get something to eat. Just seeing them come in, get off their feet and relax is the biggest reward to me.”
The decision to update the facilities was an easy one for the chaplain.
“Part of my job description for the battalion is the morale and spiritual welfare of the Soldiers, said Capt. Hampton. “If they go out there and fight, when they come back in, they should have some where that feels somewhat like home, that they can come and relax.”
“They can come in here and watch movies or play video games, “said Pfc. Andrew Taylor, 1st Brigade, 87th Infantry Regiment medic, who volunteers his time to help run the USO.
“It’s like a slice of home in a way,” he added.