It started as a do over: Fix that dreary National Guard armory recreation room where members of the 1222nd Sapper Company say goodbye to their spouses before deploying overseas.For the most part, the soldiers and their spouses didn’t gather too long in the rec room. They wouldn’t sit on the worn, old, dirty sofa and chairs in the rec room. They wouldn’t let their kids sit on the floor; Some soldiers opted to shoot pool on a table that had one leg supported by a stack of military books or watch a small TV.
The room wouldn’t do. It wasn’t good enough for the soldiers of the 1222nd Sapper Company who left their families behind to protect others. That’s why Sgt. First Class Ralph Castle started working on a dream, Operation Hush, to give the rec room a “do over.”
“Originally, I just hoped to clean it up,” Castle previously told The Fort Mill Times.
Last December, a Fort Mill interior designer Jane Ann Maxwell came up with a master plan for that do over that would include comforts of home, such as a couple TVs, a section for children, designated space for a kitchen area, some plants and a coat of warm paint.
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Nearly five months later, Operation Hush – a surprise for the soldiers of 1222nd Sapper Company who were on their third Afghanistan deployment dodging road explosives – was in the making.“I’m tickled to death,” Castle told the Times last May. “The room is finally taking shape. They went from taking a soldier’s dream of cleaning it up to (creating) almost a sports bar like feel.”The Fort Mill community and others rallied behind Operation Hush, volunteering labor, skills, supplies and furniture to renovate the room into a haven where spouses can plan birthday parties for their children or surprise baby showers or just cry when the need is there.
The new rec room with its vanilla paint, a specialized 1222nd Sapper Company mural, wall TVs, new pool table and areas designated for children and adults made a soldier who formerly stood at attention stand in awe.
“I’ve been here 25 years,” Sgt. First Class Edward “Eddie” Hynes, a 25-year National Guard member said after he spied the room for the first time since deploying. “No unit I’ve been in has a room set up for the soldiers. I’m proud of the room. We’ve got something to brag about.”
Then he smiled just like Castle. A room is finished. A dream is realized, boosting morale for the soldiers of the 1222nd Sapper Company.