Photo Information

Service members and civilians escape the cold and file into the great room at the Morale, Welfare and Recreation center aboard Al Asad Air Base, Iraq for Neo Soul Night Dec. 4, 2009. Throughout the night, audience members took to the stage to recite some of their own poetry written over the course of their deployment.

Photo by Cpl. Triah Pendracki

Deployed service members bring soul to Al Asad

12 Dec 2009 | Cpl. Triah Pendracki

Service members and civilians filed into the mood-lit great room at the Morale, Welfare and Recreation center aboard Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, for a night of soul and poetry, Dec. 4, 2009.

Neo Soul Night gave more than 200 audience members the opportunity to get up on stage and share their thoughts and feelings through the art of poetry.

Some were easily related to the stresses of deployment, emphasizing missed family and friends. Others were lighthearted, referencing one service member’s love for chicken and attractive women at the dining facility.

“I’ve always liked to write, and when I heard about the event, I decided to give it a shot,” said Army Pfc. Derwin Lester, a medic with 47th Transportation Company. “I definitely want to come out again if there is another one.”

Staff Sgt. Urgelio Romain, the staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of Non-Destructive Inspection at Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 26, was one of the main event organizers. He has also helped with other successful events on Al Asad, like the street ball tournaments and bodybuilding competitions.

Event organizers encouraged all audience members to try their hand at poetry and to give their support to the service members on stage.

“I was absolutely happy with the reception from the crowd and honestly never expected quite a turn out,” said Romain. “I would have to thank everyone who helped me with putting all of this together and also everyone who stepped up to the [microphone] and contributed to the event.”

These types of events give service members the opportunity to let loose and relax in an often stressful environment.

“I feel that these events are a great morale booster because it allows us to come together and expose the talents that we never get to see,” added Romain. “These events help build cohesion and allow us to relax if just for an hour or two, which may be just enough to recharge that battery to get back in the fight.”