Bernie Knight, and LTC ‘Bo’ Balcavage relaxing for a brief moment at the Drop Zone Café.
CSM Bernie Knight
Command Sergeant Major 1-501st PIR
Geronimo April Newsletter
Families and friends of the 501st PIR Paratroopers,
For most Geronimos the last month passed quickly.
The pace of the battalion has increased recently, making the
day fly by for all the Paratroopers. The fast-paced days
quickly become a week, and then a month, and suddenly we
are that much closer to being reunited with our family and
friends. One person on FOB Iskan who makes the fast pace
more relaxing for the Paratroopers is Chaplain Dan Hardin.
CH Dan Hardin, the one and only Geronimo Barista, and hot
chocolate maker extrordinaire.
Chaplain Hardin has provided great spiritual healing,
guidance, counseling, and support to all the Paratroopers of the
501st including me. I would like to extend a “thank you” to
Chaplain Hardin for all his efforts. God has blessed our
Paratroopers with a great Chaplain and assistant (SPC Garris).
Our Geronimo Spiritual Operations Center (GSOC) is a great
source of relaxation in our FOB, and not because it is some
fancy state-of-the-art facility. The GSOC is actually a large
tent with the Chapel on one end and a café on the other. We
named it “The Drop Zone Café”, in honor of our airborne
Just like our battalion and brigade, the Drop Zone
Café is unique to the Army. The 501st Parachute Infantry
Battalion was the first Parachute Infantry Battalion in the
Army; also the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th
Infantry Division is the only Arctic Airborne Combat Team in
the Army. Our Drop Zone Café is unique because it is all
about our Paratroopers, and features the Alaska theme. It
starts with our espresso bean that is roasted in Alaska by
Kaladi Brothers -the only coffee or espresso we brew. We
have many different Alaskan items hung about the café to
remind us of our home and the many people that support us.
The first item to go up was the Alaska flag and the plywood
cut out of Alaska mounted on the Coffee bar. The Alaska flag
hanging in the café is special due to the fact it was presented to
the 501st from the State of Alaska before deployment to
Afghanistan. Our Alaska flag has flown over the Capital in
Juneau, Alaska; FOB Salerno, Afghanistan; and now FOB
Iskan. We have many more Alaskan items: a license plate, a
moose crossing sign, a Kaladi banner, a post card with Mount
McKinley from Senator Don Young, and a bag of Kaladi
coffee hanging from a parachute that signifies the jump into
The café started with an idea from Chaplain Hardin,
that Paratroopers would have a place to sit and drink their
favorite coffee for FREE while relaxing. He has developed
this idea into an outstanding café that now offers many types
of coffee drinks, snacks, the Anchorage Daily Newspaper, a
Sci-Fi Movie night, and his personal favorite -the “Everybody
Loves Raymond” night. The Chaplain has improved the quality
of life and raised the spiritual well-being of FOB Iskan, the 501st ,
and our Paratroopers. This success is largely due to the many
friends who have decided to share their coffee, newspaper, gifts,
and love. Everyone appreciates Chaplain Hardin’s efforts; we
thank all who have contributed to the welfare of our
Paratroopers. Anyone interested in developing our café may send
their unique Alaskan item to Chaplain Hardin.
Chaplain Hardin is not only the Barista of FOB Iskan,
he also delivers a powerful message each week during his
religious service, and gives great counsel to anyone in need. I
personally enjoy the message more than others enjoy my singing.
Chaplain Hardin plays a mean guitar and sings very well. The
weekly message to our Paratroopers is delivered with precision
and accuracy. Chaplain Hardin brings Gods word to our
Paratroopers. This special Paratrooper is our Chaplain and we
are proud of his contribution to the battalion.