Friday, October 17, 2003

Friday night is party night at Delta House.

Chicken is grilling in the barbecue pit, drinks are chilling in the cooler, tunes are blasting on a boombox, and guys have stripped off their shirts to play beach volleyball or sink into the pool...

Welcome to the home of Battery D, 319th Field Artillery Regiment, whose 155 members patrol some of the nastiest parts of Iraq all week but still find time to relax at a Friday night blowout.

“This is a big morale booster,” said Sgt. Rodderick Johnson, 21, of Atmoor, Ala., a Battery D soldier. “[Tonight] not everybody’s thinking about their jobs.”...

...They bought two large kiddie wading pools from a merchant in Kirkuk, fortified them with sandbags and filled the pools with water. Within a few hours, the battery had instant relief from the 125-degree desert heat in late August.

Mitchell’s cooling-off scheme grew when he saw a pyramid-shaped bunker outside the barracks’ back door.

He persuaded some engineers to dig a small pit next to the bunker, then lined the hole and the sloping face of the bunker with plastic tarps to hold water. They ran a hose to the top of the pyramid, and opened what is probably Iraq’s only water slide.

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