“The Guardian Gazette”, October 2009



Story by Sgt. Ryan Twist

13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary)


IRAQ — OCT 30, 2009 — The Bataan Memorial Park is scheduled to officially open, Oct. 30, in a dedication ceremony at Contingency Operating Location Marez, Mosul, Iraq.


“The Bataan Memorial Park is being named for the Soldiers of the 515th Coast Artillery, New Mexico National Guard, that fought in the Philippines in World War II,” said Lt. Col. Kenneth Nava, the 515th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion commander. “My unit, the 515th CSSB, carries on the name and legacy of these men.”


Staff Sgt. Miguel Padilla, the maintenance non-commissioned officer with the 515th CSSB out of Rio Grande, N.M., said the Soldiers here represent past Soldiers of the 515th, leaving their families and jobs, just like those of past wars.


Padilla, a Rio Rancho, N.M., native, said the 515th's previous Soldiers came together as one unit, combining their skills and backgrounds to accomplish their mission. Now they work together, not just on the mission, but on creating a recreation space for themselves and those to come.


Sgt. 1st Class Tino C. Aguilera, a fuel operations assistant with the 515th, said the simple act of putting a park together here brought them peace.


“I wanted a place for the Soldiers of this battalion to congregate and maintain their sense of community while here in Iraq,” said Nava, a Belen, N.M., native. “The previously insignificant patch of dirt and gravel under a couple of eucalyptus trees in Mosul, Iraq, will become that place.”


Aguilera, a Tucumcari, N.M., native, said the future of the park includes a game room with card and board game tables, a barbecue area with a table and deck, a volleyball court, two horseshoe pits and a miniature putt-putt golf course.


Padilla said the Soldiers' jobs in combat environments are stressful, creating a need for recreation. This area will provide Soldiers with a way to escape from the daily grind of work, he said.


Nava proposed the recreation area and Soldiers began work, Sept. 21.


Aguilera said the Soldiers work hard, picking up new skills and using them to further the project.


He said Padilla gave them a foundation of wood-working skills. Aguilera said he relies on Padilla for direction because Padilla brought civilian construction experience with him.


Padilla said he is a superintendent of a construction company in New Mexico, which made him a perfect candidate for the job. However, his work here differs greatly from his work at home, he said.


“[At home] I have guys working for me and I'm not doing the work myself,” said Padilla.


Getting his hands dirty makes the job fun and easy, he said.


Pfc. Mark A. Credle, a truck driver with the 733rd Transportation Company out of Reading, Pa., and a Bayboro, N.C., native, said the units' good NCOs handle the carpentry work well.


“I do carpentry work at home, but nothing professional,” said Credle. “Right now, I'm just learning a little more. The more practice you have, the better you get.”


Padilla said the Soldiers enjoy the work and spending time with each other. They joke and hang out together, forgetting work outside the wire, he said.


Credle said teamwork has been vital to the Soldiers in this particular mission. He himself has learned how to present his opinions and ask for help, he said.


“I'm just trying to do anything I can to help out,” said Credle.