Stars and Stripes reporter James Warden photographs a game of checkers between Lt. Col. Christopher Vanek, commander, 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regt., and Hawijah's Sons of Iraq contractor Khalaf Ibrahim Ali, in a downtown market recently. The game was meant to help convince local Iraqis the time is right to start leading normal lives again. Photo by Staff Sgt. Margaret C. Nelson
Peaceful board game reflects declining violence in IraqJul 08, 2008
BY Staff Sgt. Margaret C. Nelson
HAWIJAH, Iraq (Army News Service, July 8, 2008) -- Two middle-aged men enjoyed a friendly afternoon game of checkers in a busy marketplace, while shoppers and foot traffic passed by.
A similar scene wouldn't warrant a double-take in any town in the United States. But this game stood out for who was playing and where. It was Lt. Col. Christopher Vanek, commander, 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry and Sons of Iraq leader Khalaf Ibrahim Ali across the board from each other -- neither in body armor -- sitting in an area once nicknamed "the Anbar of the North."....
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