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The 101st Airborne Division on Rail Station Project in Mosul, Iraq

The 101st Airborne Division on Rail Station Project in Mosul, Iraq
By Carol Luten, The Home Depot, Doings

Mosul, Iraq - Major Matthew D. Redding, Division Transportation Officer for the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army, contacted the National Defense Transportation Association (NDTA) in late July requesting their assistance for a project he and a team of military engineers decided to undertake. The 101st Airborne, which is stationed in Mosul, Northern Iraq, requested supplies to help refurbish the Mosul Railroad Station.

According to Major Redding, the Mosul Rail Station was originally built by the British after WW1 and served to link many of the outlying "border forts" with the southern port city of Basra on the Arabian Gulf. The Iraqi people used the trains as a means to commute between Mosul, the third largest city in Iraq, and Baghdad prior to the current war in Iraq. However, the overall maintenance of the system has been bankrupt for many years and capital improvements to the facilities were based on the heavy industry and military uses for the rail system. In fact, the rail line in most sections still has the original hardware with regard to railway ties and rails.

Hertz Corporation and DHL sit on the board of the NDTA, which led them to become involved in the project. Hertz Corporation contacted The Home Depot for assistance with procuring materials to refurbish the railway station. Through the generosity of 30-plus American companies, organizations and the local community, support for the project was overwhelming.

It took only approximately six weeks from the idea's conception until the materials arrived in Baghdad. Twelve pallets of supplies were sent to Iraq, with nine of the pallets containing building materials and three pallets stocked with personal care items for the troops. The approximate value of the twelve pallets was $26,500. DHL flew the pallets directly into Baghdad and later to the Mosul airstrip free of charge.

"We have already been able to make improvements to the rail facility through some of the funding projects that we have here," stated Major Redding. "The tools and supplies you donate will go a long way toward giving the Rail Station manager the long-term ability to conduct his own repairs and maintain his facility."

Approximately four weeks after the arrival of the supplies, Assistant Division Commander, Brigadier General Schloesser and Major David Preston of the 101st Airborne Division held a presentation ceremony with Mr. Akram, the Northern Regional Manager of the Iraqi Republic Railroad and fellow associates in Mosul.

Redding contributes the success of the project to having a concrete and tangible plan, specific project requirements that were clear, volunteers and donors who were passionate and a goal that was worthy.

"Iraq is a fascinating place. The people have a diverse and rich history and because of our soldiers, a very bright future," said Redding. "Your efforts are greatly appreciated and the generosity of all involved is part of the bright future that the people share. Our soldiers, as you know, are a shining example of our nation's values - honor, courage, dedication and generosity. Each day, they face danger without hesitation because they know that the nation supports them and the mission here is just."

The list of donors is: Glidden Company, U.S. Bosch, John Deere, Rubbermaid, Linzer, ZEP Commercial, 3M, Kimberly Clark, Norton, Porter Cable, Ridgid/Emerson, Ryobi Tools, Stanley Tools, Milwaukee Tools, ITW Brands/Buildex, Energizer, Spectrum Brands, The Home Depot, Penn Camera, The Washington Post, Price-Costco, Ratner Companies, Solar Cosmetic Labs Inc., Fetco Home Decor Inc., L.F. Jenning Construction, Hertz, DHL, The National Defense Transportation Association, Mary Riley Styles Library (Falls Church, VA), The Merrifield Home Depot Employee Fund and numerous private families.