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In the Anbar province, Iraq, near the end of March 2019, four Utah National Guard soldiers saw a surreal yet familiar sight: the Salt Lake Temple drove into view on the Al-Taqaddum Air Base. The men were 45 miles from Baghdad and 20 miles from Fallujah, Iraq’s city of 200 mosques. In the heart of Iraq near one of Islam’s ultra-conservative strongholds, the green trees and glinting angel Moroni of Temple Square was one of the last things any of these men expected to see.

But Capt. Mark Kattelman, 1st Lt. Ron Beckstrom, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Tyler Hobbs, and Sgt. 1st Class Jason Townsend unexpectedly saw a transport van with the words “Historic Temple Square free tours courtesy van” crisply printed on the side above the image of the Salt Lake Temple and Tabernacle. For the men who had been deployed since May 2018, the sight brought an unexpected piece of home.

“Initially, it took me a second to recognize it was out of place,” Capt. Kattelman says. “It was special for us to see a reminder of the Salt Lake City Temple and a reminder of home.”

Kattelman continues: “Each member of our group took the opportunity to take a picture with the van, and we laughed about the circumstances that may have led to the van ending up there.”

Regardless of how a van from Salt Lake City ended up on the sandy plains of Iraq, it meant something to Kattelman. “Seeing the van to me was a reminder of home and what feels like home to me,” he says. “My faith and membership in The Church of Jesus Christ is special to me,” he says.

To read the full article on LDS Living, CLICK HERE.