Published 9:29 pm Monday, August 16, 2004
By By Arthur McLean
There's no Wal-Mart in Iraq, but that doesn't mean Sgt. Harold Martin can't go shopping.
Martin, of Atmore, serves in Company A of the 711th Signal Battalion in Iraq.
"I do the same thing here I do at home, working for the telephone company," Martin said. "I'm running telephone lines to handle phone, Internet, the whole thing." Martin has worked as a lineman and installer for 35 years.
When it comes time to buy a few things at the compound, there's the Haiji market. Iraqis come to the camp and set up tables, "it's like a flea market," Martin said. "You can buy souvenirs, radios, batteries, just about everything that you need."
They sell Coca-Cola in cans with Arabic printing on one side and English on another. "They sell barbecued chicken, all kind of food, but you won't catch me eating any of it," Martin said.
"You can trade and dicker with them. You pay with American currency. They won't take Iraqi currency," Martin said. Most of the vendors go to Baghdad to get their wares.
Other Iraqis work with the 711th, performing jobs from helping with the battalion's irrigation projects to other work.
Martin said the irrigation project is coming along nicely. "Things are starting to turn green around here, and the dates are almost ripe. Soon, the locals will come and start gathering the dates. We get to talk to them every day."
Martin's wife is JoAnn, and they have a daughter Stephanie and a son Christopher.
Martin said heat is still a problem, with temperatures reaching 120, but the men and women are doing well.
"I love everybody and we appreciate the prayers," Martin said.