"Small Things with Great Love"
For U.S. service members, signing a wall is a time-honored way to say "I was here" and to share sentiments with anyone who happens to pass by. These walls are from a hospital at Joint Base Balad, Iraq. Many people, including some well-known leaders, signed them. The messages pay tribute to patients and medical staff who served in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.
The walls came from the "Warrior’s Lounge" at the U.S. Air Force Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility (CASF) at Balad’s Air Force Theater Hospital, where patients awaiting transport stayed up to three days. Patients and visitors were encouraged to sign the walls as an informal way to display unit pride, remember friends or just say "thank you."
During post-9/11 conflicts in Southwest Asia, the USAF maintained a CASF at Balad from 2003–2011. Air Force medical personnel treated more than 43,000 wounded or ill patients at Balad and moved them on to destinations in Europe and the U.S.
In 2010, plans to remove the walls led to efforts to save them. The Air Force Medical Service and others worked to preserve the walls, which first went on temporary display at a storage facility at Davis Monthan AFB, Ariz. The museum placed these sections on exhibit in 2016.
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