(Photo by Nancy Nelson)
The whole ordeal has been rather confusing for most of us who don't completely understand the inner workings of the military and how they do things. Most of what we hear on the national news about Operation Iraqi Freedom doesn't clarify where our local soldiers are and what it is they do. Jim Hammer, Human Resource Manager for Tyson Foods has built an web site to help families understand more about our presence in Iraq.
The site was born out of simple information seeking for he and his wife's good friends Becky and Mark Patterson whose son Nate is serving in the 3rd Infantry in Iraq. Patterson's mom was concerned about where her son was stationed and what his company was responsible for. After searching for some basic information Hammer found that there was a lot to be learned for everyone.
Hammer went about setting up the web site so his good friends could check in on the web site and keep track of their son and learn other information about a variety of things regarding Iraq. The site is mainly geared toward the 3rd Infantry and started out as a basic informational site which has grown in a way that it provides a multitude of links to various other sites for anyone wanting to learn more about Operation Iraqi Freedom.
A person logging onto the site will be able to see our local time, military time and what time it is in Iraq as well as the weather. Then you can click on a link of your choice depending on what you are searching for. You can click on a link that will give you a high resolution satellite image of any location in Iraq. You can access a list of soldiers and their count down for returning home. In military jargon they call it being 'short'.
Among some other items you will find are support videos that parents can listen to. Links to free stuff for soldiers and their families. Web logs (blogs) from soldiers of the 3rd Infantry. There are also tag boards to offer suggestions for the site and if a family member wants their soldier on the site they simply have to email Hammer to the address listed on the web site.
Hammer himself served in the Army Signal Corp. from 1960 to 1964 serving in countries such as Korea, France and Germany. Even though he served his country when it wasn't war time, Hammer says, "I really admire these young kids going over there and doing this." Hammer feels good about being able to do something to help those soldiers and their families.
Hammer works on the site in his spare time usually late at night and continues to work on the site as he gets requests. He has learned a lot about building web pages and about our presence in Iraq.
Since starting the web site, Hammer has been able to track the use of the site. From Jan. 28 of this year the site has had 5,425 hits and 14,105 total page views since February, which means that people have accessed the sited clicked on a link and returned to the site. On average the site receives about 70 hits per day.
Hammer uses his personal web page space that comes with most Internet service providers to build the site. To check out the site log on to www.ncn.net\~hammer\iraq.html. The site provides much needed information for families and soldiers alike.