Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Good News from Iraq: 6 Feb 2008

From 1AD Task Force Iron, Task Force Iron Soldier teaches Latin dance class to deployed troops in COB Speicher, Iraq. (h/t KJ, who emailed me her suggestion; this is her Soldier)

SFC White dancing with one of his studentsTIKRIT, Iraq – One, two, three … five, six, seven …

He swayed to the left and he swayed to the right as his students looked on in amazement. He swung around and his students started to mimic his movements. He stopped to help them.

He looked at his watch. There was just a few minutes left before the salsa dancing class would be over and Latin Night would commence.

“Okay, great job. All of you have improved and are ready to show your new talents tonight,” he said. “If no one has any questions, then that is all I have this week.”

He watched them as they began to leave and noticed a student staying back trying to improve his steps.

“I can’t dance,” the student said. “Maybe I should give up and not dance tonight.”

“Don’t worry, I’m staying until you get it down,” he said.

One, two, three … five, six, seven ….

‘I understand soldiers can get so busy’

Federico White II, a sergeant first class in Bravo Company, Special Troops Battalion, 1st Armored Division, can trace his kindness way back to a boyhood tranquil lifestyle in Laramie, Wyoming.

His mother, Iva, never wavered in giving her love and kindheartedness to Federico, his little brother, Reynaldo and her husband Fred.

“She has always been there for us,” said Federico, who has served in the military for 23 years. “She’s had a helping hand in our lives, and she helped the Salvation Army many times a week. I admire her love for us and others.”

His father, Fred, was instrumental in many students’ lives at the University of Wyoming, retiring from the zoology department.

“My dad was very strict, but he always made time to take me fishing,” said Federico. “He would talk to me about his life during our fishing adventures and I learned what a wonderful man he truly was. He loved to be there for his family.”

His little bother, Reynaldo, is studying at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas to become a math professor and serves as a counselor for troubled kids.

“My brother has been an inspiration because of what he does for the troubled kids,” Federico said.

1AD Soldiers having fun dancing.With a household full of humanitarians, its no wonder Federico can freely give his time to help others learn how to dance … in Iraq.

That’s right.

The 1st Armored Division based in Wiesbaden, Germany deployed to Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq last fall, and Soldiers were looking for a way to wind down from the daily rigors of war.

Federico, who has taught Latin dancing classes in North Carolina, Colorado, Germany and Korea, was quick to offer them the chance to learn how to Latin dance.

“I understand Soldiers can get so busy out here and I just wanted them to have something to relax,” he said. “Most of them want to learn to dance, but are afraid to take that first step.”

So one could find Federico feverishly helping, instructing and teaching Soldiers how to Latin dance every Friday night at the main Morale, Welfare and Recreation building. The class, which started with a handful, now is so packed that Federico added assistants to help him.

“Word is spreading about this class and that is why it’s so big,” he said. “But it doesn’t matter because I enjoy helping others learn this great art. I hope many others come to class because being in a war zone is very stressful. Hopefully, this class can help them not focus on being away from their families.”

One, two, three … five, six, seven …

‘A sense of satisfaction’

The crowd was dancing to the blaring music out the speakers. As expected, the room turned Latin dance hall was packed. At every corner Soldiers could be found listening to the Latin song playing or dancing to its beat.

He stood near the back of the dance hall, so he could see all of his students dancing.

He waved at those who saw him.

He felt a sense of satisfaction because they were enjoying themselves in spite of being in a war zone.

He looked around the room for the student who almost quit.

He found him laughing, smiling and dancing.

Just then, Federico left the dance hall.

One, two, three … five, six, seven …