Though they lived in neighborhoods less than five minutes apart and had mutual friends in high school, it took a war to forge a friendship between Capt. Walt Green and Capt. Stephen Albright.
"I thought it was completely ironic and a really small world that we ended up as roommates and good friends out here. This is the second year spent in Iraq for both of us," said Albright, a 1996 Lakeside High School graduate, who is the commander of the HHC 4-101 Aviation Regiment, 159th Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, in Iraq.
Green, a 1997 graduate of Westminster Schools of Augusta, returned from Iraq on May 15. He will be at Fort Rucker, Ala., from June until November attending the captain's career course.
The two met at Fort Campbell, Ky., before deploying to Iraq.
"I just walked in the operations office, and he was working with all the other guys. Then he asked me if I was from Augusta, and I replied that I was, and then he was like, I thought that name sounded familiar," Albright wrote in an e-mail.
Over the past few months, the two have discovered that their paths did cross while Albright lived in Jones Creek subdivision and Green lived in West Lake subdivision.
"While looking though an old photo album containing pictures of a Christmas party at a friend's house, (I knew the older sister, and he was friends with the younger brother), he saw that I was in the background of one of the photos. Kinda crazy if you think about it," Green wrote in an e-mail.
Albright said he will be in Iraq until October and having Green as a roommate part of the time has made the assignment easier.
"We have common things to talk about and watch. Walt almost annoyed me with all the Masters watching," Albright wrote. "When Walt's parents sent him a chocolate chip pound cake from Very Vera's catering for his birthday, I told him that my friend's little sister works there sometimes."
There are some churches and other groups that have sent items such as candy for the soldiers to give to the Iraqi children. As a way of saying thank you, the unit will send back American flags that have been flown in Iraq. The flags come with a certificate with the day the flag was flown and who flew the flag.
"I think the flags are a great way to share our appreciation with people at home and reinforce why we are over here on a personal level," Green wrote. "I sent two flags to a third-grade and kindergarten class (the teacher was my kindergarten teacher as well) at Westminster Schools."
There are times, however, when the Post Exchange in Iraq runs out of flags.
Albright has been corresponding with his former swim coach, Jeff Rout, at Greater Augusta Swimming, and told him about the situation.
Rout contacted Georgia Flag and Pennant Inc. and its owner, Keith Hendry, donated 10 flags for the unit to fly.
"There are good news stories everywhere," Green wrote in an e-mail. "There are many Iraqi people over here risking their lives daily by associating with us to move their country forward.
"The electricity is slowly coming on for more than a couple hours a day in Baghdad. The water is flowing in areas I remember used to be uninhabited. I've even seen a couple of trains running in the western regions which was a little surprising."
Albright returns to Fort Campbell in October.
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