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Military Pitches In to Help Special Olympics

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RALEIGH — A military operation is under way in West Raleigh. TheNational Guardand theArmyare on a special mission for theSpecial Olympics World Summer Games, as they turn an old prison into a thriving city.

"About 700 soldiers and airmen will be here," said Col. Jack Baily. "There will be about 20 people per tent."

A former correctional facility looks more like a large-scale Boy Scouts' camp. The military unit built a tent city to house support troops for the Special Olympics.

The camp will hold military police for security, engineers for building projects, transports for getting people around, and a band that is playing in the closing ceremonies.

How will 700 soldiers sleep, eat and work out of the sweltering canvas caves?

"Even though some of the troops will be living in tents, they will be air-conditioned," Baily said.

The effort to cool off, and the feeling of doing something good, is a driving force behind the deployment to Blue Ridge Road.

"I have not had any complaints about coming up here in June and July and working in the weather conditions. Everybody seems to be really excited," Baily said.

As soldiers call the area "home" and prepare for 30,000 "guests," they have a scoreboard in the middle of the compound for some athletic inspiration.

"[The scoreboard] was left over from the prison days," Baily said. "I don't think we will have much of a chance to worry about the athletics out here and worrying about the score."

An engineering battalion will be among the first residents of the tent city. They will spend the weekend building an 11,000 square foot roller-skating rink in Dorton Arena for the Special Olympics.


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