Local Guardsmen celebrate Mardi Gras in Baghdad

Sgt. Rebekah Malone/Public Affairs
Members of the Louisiana National Guard’s 225th Engineer Brigade pose in front of their headquarters Feb. 24. The soldiers didn’t let a deployment to Iraq stand in their way of celebrating Mardi Gras this year.

BAGHDAD – For deployed soldiers of the Louisiana-based 225th Engineer Brigade, you can take the soldier out of the state, but you can’t take Mardi Gras out of the soldier.

Thanks to a generous donation of more than 170 care packages as part of “Operation Overseas Mardi Gras” from Soldiers’ Angels, an organization aimed at supporting deployed service members, the engineers were able to celebrate in style.

The boxes, each addressed to an individual soldier, were filled with decorations, beads, colorful masks, moon pies and, of course, well wishes.

“You could tell soldiers were happy to receive boxes full of moon pies, beads and other decorations,” said Lt. Col. Greg Parker of Gonzales. “The Mardi Gras décor and food provided joie-de-vive to experience Mardi Gras in Iraq.”

The headquarters building was decorated for more than a week as Soldiers opened their boxes and added decorations to the displays.

 “I received a T-shirt, mask, beads, fleur-de-lis and some candy,” said Sgt. 1st Class Janis Smith. 

The Winnsboro native gave her mask to members of a jazz band playing on Camp Liberty in celebration of the holiday.

Soldiers even gave the recipe for a Mardi Gras favorite, king cake, to the cooks in the dining facility.  While the interpretation wasn’t perfect, it definitely added to the electric atmosphere.

Soldiers, dressed in full-garb, celebrated as armored vehicle horns honked as they passed by the soldiers adorned in elaborate masks and costumes.

Louisiana soldiers said sharing Mardi Gras was the chance to share just a little piece of themselves, the state they represent and a culture rich with history and tradition.

“We can learn a lot from the Iraqi Culture, but we can also share ours at the same time,” Parker said. “Iraqi people love to celebrate just like we do.”

Members of the Louisiana National Guard’s 225th Engineer Brigade celebrate Mardi Gras at Camp Liberty, Iraq in style by dressing up in the traditional holiday attire of colored beads and masks while showing off their Louisiana state pride on Feb. 24. These soldiers recently entered the second month of their eight month Iraq tour. The engineers assist the Government of Iraq and Iraqi Security Forces with the building and construction of various projects throughout Baghdad.
 U.S. Army photo by Lt. Col. LaDenna Piper, 
225th Eng. Bde., 1st Cav. Div., MND-B