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September 30, 2005

‘Mountain Man’ knows ins and outs of training center

MARINE CORPS MOUNTAIN WARFARE TRAINING CENTER, BRIDGEPORT, Calif. (Sept. 30, 2005) -- Collectively, there are thousands of years of active duty experience among the 900-plus Marines from 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, assigned to Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, who are currently conducting training exercises at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, Calif., in preparation for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/EDBDF193CF3FC2B38525708D00048DD9?opendocument


Submitted by: MCB Hawaii
Story Identification #: 2005930204944
Story by Sgt. Joe Lindsay

MARINE CORPS MOUNTAIN WARFARE TRAINING CENTER, BRIDGEPORT, Calif. (Sept. 30, 2005) -- Collectively, there are thousands of years of active duty experience among the 900-plus Marines from 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, assigned to Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, who are currently conducting training exercises at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, Calif., in preparation for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

But perhaps no Marine here, with the exception of instructors or former instructors, has seen more of Bridgeport’s rugged training landscape than Sgt. Jason Butler, 1/3 assistant operations chief and a native of Salt Lake City, Utah, who is making his fifth appearance at MCMWTC. This training site is considered by many to be the toughest proving ground outside of actual combat in the Marine Corps.

“I first came out here from Camp Pendleton in ‘97 with 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, as a young pfc,” said Butler. “It turned my world upside down that first time. I had no impact, no idea. Now I’m considered an old vet at Bridgeport. I know these mountains. Not enough to conquer them, no man can do that, but enough to survive them and to help others survive them.”

This pre-deployment exercise marks the third time Butler has trained in Bridgeport with a battalion. He also attended the Mountain Leaders Course and the infamous Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape Course here as well.

“Having a seasoned Marine in Bridgeport with experience in the mountains like Sergeant Butler gives us insight into what works and doesn’t work out here,” said Capt. Jer Garcia, 1/3 assistant operations officer and a native of Honolulu. “In fact, he is considered so valuable by the command that we’ve got him in the Command Operating Center filling the COP (command operational picture) billet. What that means, basically, is that Sergeant Butler knows what’s going on with all facets of this training, from tracking where the troop movements are taking place to what and how many supplies they need to accomplish the training mission. We needed someone who understands the big picture out here, and he fits that bill perfectly.”

If Butler understands the “big picture,” then it might be safe to say his wife, Melody, understands the “big screen.”
“My wife appeared in two episodes of “Lost” last season,” said Butler. “She’s trying to break into acting and has also been in several commercials. I’m so proud of her because she does it all while raising our two daughters, Madison, who is nine years old, and Macy, who is seven years old, while at the same time running her own business.”

It seems like Madison may take after her mother, while, according to Butler, Macy appears to be more a “chip off the old block.”

“Madison recently appeared in a television commercial that aired locally in Hawaii,” he said. “But Macy says she wants to join the Marines when she’s older.

“We’ll see.”

For Butler, the most difficult aspect of being a Marine is not the rigors of an arduous training regime, but rather, the long periods of separation from his family.

“The deployments are getting better now, since my girls are old enough to understand why Daddy has to go — but it’s still hard. What makes it all worth it is knowing that I’m doing my part to ensure that my children are able to grow up in a country that is free, where they can be anything they want to be,” said Butler. “When I was a little kid, I didn’t want to be an astronaut, fireman, policeman or pro football player like all my friends. I wanted to be a doctor. That hasn’t happened yet, but I haven’t given up on that dream. I feel like I’ve learned so much about first aid and treating and evacuating injured Marines here that I could kind of qualify as a ‘Mountain Medicine Man.’ I just want my daughters to be able to have their dreams come true.”

Part of Butler’s motivation in joining the Marine Corps instead of going straight to college and medical school was the deep sense of responsibility he felt in carrying on his family’s legacy of serving the Corps.

“My great-grandfather was a Marine and served in China during the Boxer Rebellion and in World War I. My grandfather was in the Corps in the Pacific during World War II, and my father did three tours in Vietnam as a Marine,” said Butler, now himself a fourth-generation Marine. “I never felt like it made me better than anyone else. I mean, a Marine is a Marine, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t give me a sense of pride.”

That sense of pride carried by Butler, whether accomplishing a task his superiors place in front of him, or helping a younger Marine become a better Marine, is something that doesn’t go unnoticed by those who serve with him, or by the promotion board for that matter. Butler was selected to pick up staff sergeant on Sept. 21, and will most likely pin on his new rank either Saturday, or when 1/3 returns to Kaneohe Bay.

“Having any Marine, no matter what their rank, like Sergeant Butler, is a great asset. But the fact that he is an NCO, and soon to be Staff NCO, helps me out dramatically here, because he’s endured the conditions in Bridgeport, and he knows how important small-unit leadership is in a mountain environment,” said Gunnery Sgt. Steven Brunner, company gunnery sergeant for 1/3’s Headquarters & Service Company and native of St. Petersburg, Fla. “His experience in this environment provides us with a source of knowledge for all Marines here, from officer to Staff NCO to junior Marines.”

If anyone should know how vital it is to have a Marine like Butler with experience in the harsh environment that is Bridgeport, it is Brunner. As a sergeant, he served here as a sergeant instructor, teaching mountain operations at MLC from 1992 to 1997, and then as a staff sergeant and gunnery sergeant. He did another tour here from 2001 to 2004, finally departing as the chief instructor for the entire training facility before making a permanent change of station move to Hawaii and 1/3.

But even those who are deployed to Bridgeport for the first time have gained from Butler’s tutelage.

“Myself and the majority of the Marines, especially the lance corporals and below, have never been here before,” said Lance Cpl. Ivan Barnes, a 1/3 machine gunner from Altus, Okla. “It’s all new to us, and there is so much to learn. It helps having someone like Sergeant Butler around to show us the ropes.”

There is another reason Barnes is glad to be serving with Butler.

“Sergeant Butler is a big, strong guy, and you know when he is telling you something that he means business,” said Barnes. “But every now and then, when he is correcting us or guiding us, he’ll crack a smile and ease the tension. The Marines under him really appreciate his approach. He gives us respect, and we respect him even more for it. I hope I can be that kind of sergeant someday.”

Dragon Eye flies high to maximize surveillance

JALABAD, Afghanistan (Sept. 30, 2005) -- Marines and Sailors from 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, use the Marine Corps Dragon Eye, the smallest functioning unmanned aerial vehicle, in an effort to minimize friendly casualties and maximize surveillance during missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/B61B1B03D657E3DA8525708D0007F6C9?opendocument


Submitted by: MCB Hawaii
Story Identification #: 2005930212659
Story by Sgt. Robert M. Storm

JALABAD, Afghanistan (Sept. 30, 2005) -- Marines and Sailors from 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, use the Marine Corps Dragon Eye, the smallest functioning unmanned aerial vehicle, in an effort to minimize friendly casualties and maximize surveillance during missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

“The Dragon Eye is a good tool, if used properly. It’s excellent for short-range recon and can easily be taken on a patrol to further increase a squads abilities,” explained Sgt. Henry M. White Jr., infantryman, from Grady, Ark. “It’s great for taking pictures of supposed improvised explosive devices found on roads.”

The Dragon Eye, basically, is a small remote-controlled airplane that carries two real-time video cameras. With the Dragon Eye, Marines and Sailors have a tool that allows them to see farther over rough terrain, fits in a backpack, and can be taken with them and used anywhere. Marines and Sailors in enemy territory may face danger approaching from unexpected directions. With the Dragon Eye, they can easily launch a system that will give them up-to-date reconnaissance that encompasses a vast area, giving them a distinct advantage.

“I can get more intelligence in five minutes than a squad of Marines can get in two hours,” said Cpl. Joshua L. Britner, mortarman, about the Dragon Eye. “It’s also a lot safer than sending a squad.

“During testing of the Dragon Eye, they had an entire company shoot at it in flight for two days,” said the Freemont, Ohio native. It only took four hits, but was never shot down.”

The Dragon Eye is designed to be disassembled into five separate pieces and be hand carried. The fiberglass and Kevlar constructed craft is capable of independent flight.

When disassembled to its five components: fuselage, tail, nose and two wings, it is easily transportable. Its two forward and side angle cameras can take video in black and white, color, and infrared for nighttime operations. The battery provides up to 60 minutes of flight time at 35 mph, and the aircraft has a flight weight of roughly 5 pounds. The Dragon Eye is made primarily with commercial, off-the-shelf materials, so even if destroyed by enemy fire it is easily replaceable.
The Dragon Eye’s size and ease of use allow for greater diversity when planning missions.

“We can launch it into the air with a bungee cord in under 10 minutes,” said Britner.

“The Dragon Eye can be used for other types of missions besides recon, since the eye can give precise coordinates, you can call for indirect mortar or artillery fire on a location.”

Banshees of VMAQ-1 ensure smooth transition for Navy partners

AL ASAD, Iraq (Sept. 30, 2005) -- The Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 1 Banshees, based at Al Asad, Iraq, are playing host to two Navy squadrons supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom from late September to early October.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/A1D982CB5B77BFAA8525708C003B18C0?opendocument

Submitted by: 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing
Story Identification #: 200593064529
Story by Cpl. James D. Hamel

AL ASAD, Iraq (Sept. 30, 2005) -- The Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 1 Banshees, based at Al Asad, Iraq, are playing host to two Navy squadrons supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom from late September to early October.

As Navy Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 135 transferred operations to VAQ-141, the two squadrons needed a land base because of a carrier gap, a situation caused by aircraft carriers rotating in and out of the area of responsibility.

When the USS Chester W. Nimitz, the home of VAQ-135, left the Persian Gulf, the squadron left behind two jets to help VMAQ-1 successfully execute the electronic warfare mission. The USS Theodore Roosevelt, the home of VAQ-141, is on its way to the Persian Gulf, but won’t arrive until next month. The Shadowhawks of VAQ-141 came to Al Asad to relieve their Navy counterparts and allow them to return to their ship.

The rotation allowed operations to continue without forcing any squadron or service member to stay in country longer than necessary. The Shadowhawks hit the ground running, beginning combat missions the day after their arrival. Such quick assumption of missions was no doubt aided by having two squadrons aiding their transition.

“Having VAQ-135 here when we arrived to get a face-to-face turnover was excellent,” said Navy Lt. Bryan Gunkel, a pilot with VAQ-141. “Between them and VMAQ-1, the transition will appear seamless to the troops on the ground, who we’re supporting.”

But while it may seem seamless to the troops on the ground, preparing a Prowler for combat missions in Iraq is anything but easy. To accomplish the distinct mission Operation Iraqi Freedom requires, Prowlers are outfitted with a new tactical jamming pod, the weapon in their electronic countermeasure arsenal.

Marines from VMAQ-1 have been teaching those from VAQ-141 how to operate and maintain the pods. Colonel Mark E. Wakeman, commanding officer of VMAQ-1, said one of the requirements to operate the newly outfitted Prowlers is for an aircrew that has spent time in Iraq to teach a new aircrew that hasn’t. His Marines have been filling that double role to VAQ-141.

“They’re catching on pretty quickly,” said Cpl. Jaa E. Tucker, an electronic countermeasures technician from VMAQ-1. Besides his daily task of keeping the Prowlers flying, he’s been passing his knowledge to his Navy counterparts. “We show them how to service the pod and troubleshooting steps.”

And while Tucker and his fellow Marines have taught the Sailors their jobs, others within the squadron have dealt with the logistics of adding seventy people, albeit temporarily, to their squadron.

“We’ve had to establish billeting, vehicles and working spaces, so there’s a lot of prior coordination so they can get in here and start operating from the start,” said 1st Lt. Mike Monette, an administration officer and electronic countermeasures officer with VMAQ-1.

Yet, the Marines of VMAQ-1 can rest easy knowing their extra work has aided the mission and ensured a more efficient transition for their fellow Prowler squadron.

“The Marines of VMAQ-1 have made our transition from the Theodore Roosevelt to Al Asad easy,” said Navy Lt. Warren Van Allen, an electronic countermeasures officer with VAQ-141. “Not only have they taken us under their wing, they’ve shared everything from working spaces, to critical mission data, to treats from supporters back home. I can’t say enough about them.”

Inspections are only part of office’s duties

MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii (Sept. 30, 2005) -- It begins with a phone call informing the unit commander of their impending visit. Once they get there, it’ll take them only a few days to inspect every function of a unit.

http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/E804FA6B6D12E8AA8525708D000677C6?opendocument


Submitted by:
MCB Hawaii
Story by:
Computed Name: Gunnery Sgt. Claudia M. LaMantia
Story Identification #:
2005930211038

MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii (Sept. 30, 2005) -- It begins with a phone call informing the unit commander of their impending visit. Once they get there, it’ll take them only a few days to inspect every function of a unit.

“Basically, we are the eyes and ears for the commanding general,” said Lt. Col. Loren D. Barney, base inspector. Alongside his deputy, Master Sgt. Sheldon A. Comer, he serves as the custodian of the Inspector General’s Office, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay.

To assist with, and establish the unit’s level of readiness, they conduct informal staff assist visits on a recurring basis and the formal Commanding General’s Inspection biennially. The duo leads a group of about 25 Marines — each an expert in his or her field — armed with checklists from Headquarters Marine Corps as they tour all sections.

“The inspections and investigating any fraud, waste or abuse, are our main focus of effort,” said Comer, a Detroit native.
But their to-do list is comprised of much more.

The IG office is composed of six Marines: Barney, Comer, Master Sgt. Milton White, Staff Sgts. Petronella Williams, Shama Hernandez and Lance Cpl. Phillip M. Cox. Collectively, their mission is to handle complaints, give permissions and help foster peace and harmony — but that’s only a portion of what they do.

“We often mediate when there’s a contention with customer service, nuisances or the use of inappropriate language,” added Comer.

Permissions are reviewed for those wanting to run a small business from base housing and when someone wants to post signs to announce events like garage sales, birthday parties and homecoming celebrations. In addition, they assist with domestic disturbances, which are treated with confidentiality — unless there’s a criminal act involved. From time to time, they also aid with request masts from Headquarters Battalion and Marine Corps Air Facility to the commanding general.

Base beautification and maintenance of Building 216 are top priority for Hernandez and his temporary group of six to eight working party Marines and Sailors. Of that group, Hernandez is the only permanently assigned member of the IG office. The others are assigned for one-month stints before returning to their sections, and a new group of temporarily assigned Marines replaces them.

“I like to call ourselves; the catch all or on-the-spot fix-it crew,” said Hernandez, a Hereford, Texas native. Removing items that wash up on shore, cleaning up rubbish and downed tree branches from the common roads and parks, handling recyclables, fixing doors, repairing windows, making display cases and doing spot landscaping for the commanding general’s building are some of the things they face everyday.

Even with a plethora of tasks, the members of this shop say they are confident they can take care of just about any situation.

More information about the Base Inspector’s office is available at www.mcbh.usmc.mil/inspector/isdir.htm.

Sport of spear fishing gains in popularity among Marines and Sailors

MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii(Sept. 30, 2005) -- Spear fishing, a very popular sport in Hawaii, is growing in popularity among Marines and Sailors aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/5591927A58C112FE8525708C006E3F55?opendocument


Submitted by:
MCB Hawaii
Story by:
Computed Name: Lance Cpl. Roger L. Nelson
Story Identification #:
200593016411

MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii(Sept. 30, 2005) -- Spear fishing, a very popular sport in Hawaii, is growing in popularity among Marines and Sailors aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

“It’s great to do on the weekend and just gets my mind off of the work I have to do all week long,” said Pfc. Timothy J. Regan, traffic management specialist, Traffic Management Office, MCB Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay. “I started off just snorkeling but always saw people in the water with these spears. I wondered how they worked, so I went out and bought one and fell in love with the sport.”

Regan, a Boston, Mass. native, explained the experience was one of the most exciting things he has done in his life.

“There is actually a lot more to the sport than you would think,” said Regan. “You have to learn all the rules and regulations or else you could end up being arrested. Also, you have to know the techniques and different things you need and the fish you can and can’t spear.”

Randy Fallau, marine technician, Aaron’s Dive Shop, said a lot of fish are good to eat but may carry a toxin that will get a person sick if eaten.

“Honestly, one of the best ways to figure out what kind of fish you can eat is to go to a fish market and figure out what they sell,” said Fallau, a Kailua, Hawaii native. “This will give you the best idea of what is okay to eat. Parrotfish are good eating; however, please keep in mind that some fish carry toxins. For example, Papio, a tasty fish, may carry toxins, the bigger they get.”

The rules and regulations for spear fishing range from what kind of fish can and cannot be speared to what kinds of spears and equipment you can use to spear the fish. Also, a “bag” limit is set, which limits how many of a certain kind of fish a person is allowed to take home after one day of spear fishing.

For example, anyone spear fishing can harvest a maximum of 20 Papio and Ulua per person in one day or one trip.

In some areas of the United States, a saltwater fishing license must be obtained before a person can go spear fishing, but in Hawaii, this license is not required.

Regan said the most common tools needed to spear fish are fins, snorkel, mask, and a catch bag.

“That’s the cheap way to go, too,” said Regan. “It can be a pretty expensive sport, if you get into buying scuba-diving gear and a lot of other things that will make your chances of spearing ‘the big one’ higher.”

Regan explained the difference and variety in the types of spears and spear guns that can be purchased for the sport.

“I like to use what’s called a Hawaiian sling spear,” said Regan. “It has a big rubber band on the end of it that you hold in your hand, then you pull back on the spear and let go when you see a fish you want to shoot. There are other types of spears, but this one is easy to use and does the job just fine for what I use it for.”

Other spears that are commonly used are pneumatic spear guns, pole spears and sling spears, all of which can be made out of different materials. Common materials are aluminum, wood and stainless steel.

Hawaii has a diverse population of fish, which makes every place a good spot for the sport, according to Regan. Areas where you will usually find people spear fishing are Shark’s Cove at North Shore and North Beach at Kaneohe Bay.

“I personally like spear fishing at North Beach on base,” said Regan. “It’s a close drive and has some really nice fish. The only bad thing is that if you go out too far, you have to bring a marker for protection — that’s in case a boat drives by. The driver will know that there is a person in the water. Just another safety precaution.”

Fallau explained that a spear fisher and other divers must have dive flags. If the diver is surfacing around the flag, he must not surface more than 50 feet away from the flag or marker. Boats must allow at least 200 feet between the boat and a dive flag.

“Even though there are a lot of rules and things you have to know before going, it’s still fun,” said Regan. “It helps with my tan and gives me something to do.”

Marines Complete Hurricane-Relief Mission

NAVAL AIR STATION NEW ORLEANS, La., Sept. 30, 2005 – A specially tailored Marine task force ordered to the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina is headed home after wrapping up its work in some of the region's most devastated communities.

http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Sep2005/20050930_2900.html

American Forces Press Service

NAVAL AIR STATION NEW ORLEANS, La., Sept. 30, 2005 – A specially tailored Marine task force ordered to the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina is headed home after wrapping up its work in some of the region's most devastated communities.

More than 1,200 active-duty Marines will return to their home base at Camp Lejeune, N.C., in the coming week and resume preparations for a scheduled deployment in the spring.

The departing Marines, part of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, were among thousands of troops summoned by the president to bolster relief efforts in the desperate days following Katrina's impact.

"The intent was clear," said Marine Col. John Shook, commander of Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force St. Bernard, named for the Louisiana parish that would become the focus of the Marines' efforts. "Do whatever we could to help save lives and ease the suffering of those who survived. We approached our mission with a sense of purpose and accomplished what we set out to do."

In the first two weeks following the Aug. 29 storm, the Marines searched more than 5,000 homes; rescued 610 stranded residents; transported nearly 1,500 other displaced citizens; delivered two million pounds of supplies; and cleared debris from more than 1,000 homes, schools, and municipal buildings.

Their efforts began just hours after the levees burst, as Marines from the 4th Assault Amphibian Battalion and the Corps' Anti-Terrorism Battalion rushed to the scene from their bases in the stricken area.

On Aug. 30, Marine helicopters and amphibious vehicles began pulling survivors to safety.

Most of those rescues were carried out by the task force's air component, composed of Marines of the Reserve 4th Marine Air Wing and their active-duty counterparts from the 2nd Marine Air Wing, who flew in on Sept. 1 to help.

During three days of nearly continuous daylight sorties, four UH-1N Huey utility helicopters -- working in tandem with a mix of heavy-lift CH-53Es and medium-lift CH-46Es -- plucked 446 people from rooftops, highway overpasses, and other hard-to-reach high ground where residents had taken refuge.

As the helicopters began their three-day run, an advance team from the headquarters element of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit arrived at the air station here to pave the way for additional forces.

At the same time, nearly 300 Marines from MEU Service Support Group 24 -- constituting the bulk of the task force's logistics component -- were making their way down the Atlantic coast on two naval vessels launched from Norfolk, Va. They brought with them an array of engineering equipment well suited to disaster relief and humanitarian assistance, including forklifts, large trucks, Humvees and water-purification devices.

By the evening of Sept. 4, some 700 Marines from 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, had arrived.

As Marines and sailors continued to pour into the region -- the task force would soon swell to 2,500 -- leadership shifted to Maj. Gen. Douglas O'Dell, commander of the New Orleans-based 4th Marine Division, a reserve unit.

The Marines fanned out to three areas initially: Michoud, just east of New Orleans; Slidell, east of Lake Pontchartrain; and Picayune, just over the state line in Mississippi. They would later move most of the task force to Michoud, keeping the anti-terrorism battalion in Slidell.

Most of the Marines spent the ensuing week wading through St. Bernard Parish, just east of New Orleans, rendered a swamp after water levels in some sections of the parish rose to 15 feet in the storm's wake.

Using amphibious vehicles called "amtracs," members of 1/8 and 4th Assault Amphibian Battalion -- joined by local police and soldiers from the 169th Colorado National Guard --- churned through the fetid, flooded streets in search of survivors.

After multiple sweeps that included a stop at every structure in the parish, the Marines completed their search Sept. 13, having rescued 78 residents.

The mission in St. Bernard Parish was brought to a formal close five days later with a memorial service honoring parish residents who died in the storm and its aftermath.

"We were determined to do as much as we possibly could in the time available to us," Shook said. "We set out to make a difference, to offer a lifeline, to give the local leaders enough time to get their feet under them again."

As they spent what appeared to be their final few days in Louisiana clearing roads, removing debris from homes, schools and key government facilities, and helping leaders in both St. Bernard and St. Tammany parishes prepare for the return of business owners and residents, Hurricane Rita bore down on the Gulf Coast. The Marines repositioned themselves to ensure their own safety and enable a rapid response wherever Rita came ashore.

The morning of Sept. 24 bore witness to the new path of destruction cut by Rita across southwest Louisiana and coastal Texas.

The Marines of the anti-terrorism battalion were directed to Lafayette, La. Driving through the remnants of Rita's foul weather, they arrived within hours of the storm's impact. They synchronized their efforts with soldiers from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, who had come from New Orleans to help.

By the evening of Sept. 25, the Marines had rescued 26 people in New Iberia, La.

Farther west, Marines from 1/8 moved ashore from the USS Iwo Jima to help the devastated town of Cameron re-establish the parish courthouse as the center of local relief efforts.

Shook said the Marines' response was critical in helping the Gulf Coast recover from what he called "this double-whammy hurricane attack."

"The Marines are tired, but proud of the difference they made," he added.

As the Marines return to North Carolina this week, they will immediately pick up where they left off, readying themselves for an intensive pre-deployment training program due to begin in December.

Most of the Marines, including 1/8 and MSSG-24, are scheduled to deploy with the 24th MEU in the spring.

(From a Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force news release.)

Related Site:
2nd Marine Expeditionary Force

Roanoke Marines return

Near a makeshift memorial for their only dead brethren, the Marine reservists of B Company returned home Thursday to a joyful reunion with their families, including some babies born while their fathers were in Iraq. (4th CEB)

http://www.roanoke.com/news/roanoke/wb/34294

The Roanoke-based unit was activated in January for the first time since the 1991 Persian Gulf War. View photos

By John Cramer
981-3140
The Roanoke Times

Near a makeshift memorial for their only dead brethren, the Marine reservists of B Company returned home Thursday to a joyful reunion with their families, including some babies born while their fathers were in Iraq.

Among them was Cpl. Aaron Forbes, who cuddled his newborn daughter, AnMarie, as his wife, Jennifer, looked on.

"It's a great feeling," said Forbes, whose Roanoke-based B Company, 4th Combat Engineer Battalion, 4th Marine Division, spent the past seven months in Iraq. "I had to wait a long time to hold her."

Nearby was a concrete traffic barrier that had been turned into a hand-painted memorial for Lance Cpl. Jourdan Grez of Harrisonburg, who was killed by a roadside bomb in May.

The painting included Grez's name, a U.S. flag and his helmet, boots, rifle and dog tags.

Maj. John Knapp, B Company's commander, said his unit accomplished all of their missions in Iraq but regretted the death of Grez and the serious wounding of four other Marines.

"This is a great group of Marines," Knapp said. "They did everything that was asked of them."

When the Marines arrived in buses at the Naval and Marine Corps Training Center in Northwest Roanoke, they found hundreds of relatives and friends waiting under sunny skies with flags, balloons and welcome-home signs.

When they got off the buses, they were wrapped in teary embraces.

Lance Cpl. Ronnie Earle, a George Mason University student from Lynchburg, kissed his girlfriend, Lauren Stephens of Charlottesville, and petted her dog, Lexi, a Chihuahua, whom Stephens carried in her purse.

"I can't describe my feelings," Stephens said, crying.

Sgt. Justin Whiting of Roanoke hugged his parents, brother, girlfriend and other relatives.

"It's an amazing feeling, being home," he said.

Forbes, whose civilian job is being a police officer in South Boston, didn't say much as he held his newborn child.

"I just want to hold her," he said.

B Company, which was activated in January for the first time since the 1991 Persian Gulf War, included men from many civilian backgrounds, including college students, engineers, lawmen, businessmen, farmers, carpenters and laborers.

About 60 of the 90 Marines who went to Iraq returned Thursday.

The rest are due to return next week.

In Iraq, their duties included clearing land mines, doing construction and other engineering tasks.

Thousands of Southwest and central Virginians -- active duty, reservists and National Guard troops -- have been deployed since Sept. 11, 2001, including more than 2,000 who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Military ready to raid five western towns

BAGHDAD -- Iraqi and U.S. forces are preparing to seize five towns along the Euphrates River near the Syrian border that have fallen under the control of terrorists, an Iraqi official said yesterday.

http://washingtontimes.com/world/20050929-114709-8230r.htm

By Paul Martin
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
September 30, 2005

BAGHDAD -- Iraqi and U.S. forces are preparing to seize five towns along the Euphrates River near the Syrian border that have fallen under the control of terrorists, an Iraqi official said yesterday.
"Just as with our Tal Afar operation, D-Day is not announced until well after we go on in -- and you can take it that D-Day has either happened or is about to," the official said on the condition of anonymity.
Tal Afar is a village on the Syrian border that U.S. forces say was effectively rid of "terrorists and foreign fighters" earlier this month in a U.S.-Iraqi offensive. But many of the insurgents escaped.
In the five towns now under insurgent control, a ruthless Taliban-style regime has been imposed, a U.S. Marine commander told an embedded American reporter.
"For the time being, they run these towns," Lt. Col. Julian Alford, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines Regiment stationed outside the western Iraqi town of Qaim, told reporter Anna Badkhen of the San Francisco Chronicle.
The U.S. and Iraqi governments have stepped up their criticism of Syria recently because of its failure to curb the movement of foreign militants across the porous 450-mile border.
Iraq's al Qaeda leader Abu Musab Zarqawi has boasted over the Internet that the five towns have become "The Islamic Republic of Qaim."
The towns are Ubaydi, Qaim, Sada, Karabila and Dulaym al-Husayba.
The area comprises desert broken by lush riverside fields. It is populated by about 100,000 Sunni Arabs with a long tradition of cross-border smuggling activities.
Marines just outside Ubaydi told the Chronicle reporter that they come under attack every time they approach it and that U.S. troops do not enter the town, where the insurgents appear to have free rein.
The highway leading into it is marked with anti-American and anti-Iraqi government billboards signed by "al Qaeda organization."
One large metal billboard warns people not to become "spies."
Another billboard says, "Our religion will not be strong without the book and the sword."
By late last night, the U.S.-led coalition had not responded to queries about the five towns.

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On lookout for insurgents, Marines yearn for home

Outside Sada, Iraq -- As the crimson sun rolled behind the Taraq an-Naja Mountains, a group of U.S. Marines scraped their shovels across the infertile, rocky soil of western Iraq, trying to set their mortar launchers deeper into the dust. (3/6 Wpns Co)

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/09/30/MNGH3F0HJ61.DTL

Anna Badkhen, Chronicle Staff Writer

Friday, September 30, 2005

Outside Sada, Iraq -- As the crimson sun rolled behind the Taraq an-Naja Mountains, a group of U.S. Marines scraped their shovels across the infertile, rocky soil of western Iraq, trying to set their mortar launchers deeper into the dust.

In the Euphrates River valley before them twinkled the white and yellow lights of Sada and Karabila -- key Iraqi towns near the border with Syria controlled by fighters loyal to insurgency leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Marines from the 1st Mobile Assault Platoon, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment camped out Thursday on a moonless night in the desiccated expanse overlooking the towns, setting up mortar firing positions and keeping an eye for any insurgent movement inside the settlements.

As they set up their mortars, the Marines discarded the metal bindings of 81mm ammo cases, leaving the long metal strips on the ground like some strange petrified seaweed mysteriously beached onto the Iraqi desert. On the bottom of a dry riverbed, salt reflected the receding light. A lightning flash, an early sign of fall, lit up the horizon over Sada, and a thunderclap followed.

Then darkness enveloped the encampment, and all became smells and sounds.

A Marine laughed in the distance. Another one, closer, lit a cigarette, which glowed orange in the dark. Dogs barked in Sada, and a donkey screamed. A humvee smelled of diesel fuel. A muezzin started a solemn call for the evening prayer. Somewhere, a car sped down a road. From time to time, helicopters roared overhead. Marines whispered loudly over the racket of rotors.

Cool wind carried noises across the shadowy desert, and Marines listened and sniffed in the darkness.

"Night is different," said Gunnery Sgt. Derrick Link, 32, as he listened to the static on the humvee radio, a lifeline for his platoon to battalion commanders. "You rely on different senses in the night. Your hearing instead of your sight. Everything sounds a lot closer than it is."

Night is also a time to contemplate and reminisce. The Marines talked about home.

Navy medic Michael Larson, 30, talked about 19th century Russian writers ("I love Gogol!") and food.

"I used to make focaccia bread, with olives and Parmesan cheese," he said. "I'd make pasta Alfredo. I love to cook. Make the whole course.

"When I go home, it will be, like, my girlfriend, food and my daughter, these three, nothing else."

Pfc. Dale Fellows, 19, talked about his girlfriend, too. She was a year ahead of him in high school in upstate New York, and now she goes to Northeastern University in Boston. She is an intern at the Boston Globe.

Link talked about his 9-year-old daughter, Samantha, who started cheerleading classes this year.

Stephen Thomson, 30, talked about his dream to go to medical school to become a radiologist.

"They work in teams, and they really know their anatomy, and I'm very interested in anatomy and physiology," he explained.

At 9 p.m., desert wind kicked up dust and carried it across the encampment. The temperature dropped from the daytime's 95 degrees to 62 in a matter of minutes. Marines materialized out of the opaque darkness, stopping by Link's truck to chat, rest and smoke. Some moved on, disappearing in the blowing sand; others stayed to seek the comfort of companionship.

"They rarely attack in the dark," Lance Cpl. Jared Treadway, 22, consoled himself, his shoulder-mounted launcher leaning against Link's humvee.

Link disagreed.

"Last time we stayed overnight, last week, the first night we got hit pretty bad," he said, standing near his humvee, which was parked facing the lights of Sada.

But this time the troops were luckier. An orange trace of a lone mortar round arched out of Sada at about 5:30 a.m., injuring no one.

"Maybe they are just waiting it out; maybe they're feeling there's a big fight coming, they just don't know when," Link said. "That's what I would have done."

At 1 a.m., the Marines start digging foxholes next to their humvees.

Earlier in the evening, when their convoy crept through the desert, the Marines had watched the tracks that crisscrossed the desert: humvee tire tracks; small tracks, from gerbils or mice; and larger ones, from foxes or stray dogs. The ones to watch out for were human tracks -- possible signs that someone had laid a roadside bomb in the fine, ankle-deep dust.

But where they finally made camp, the dirt was packed hard and strewn with small rocks, making the wasteland look like the surface of the moon.

Next to the passenger door of his humvee, Link drew a rectangular shape on the ground with the tip of his shovel, and forcefully stabbed the ground. The shovel went in less than one inch.

"F -- ing not good," he muttered. He took off his Kevlar helmet and his body armor. "This ground is hard as a f -- ing rock. There's no f -- ing way."

But he continued to dig, as did the troops around him. For several minutes, the air filled with the sound of metal scraping against rock.

At one point, Thomson stepped away from the 3-inch-deep hole he had managed to gouge in the ground, contemplating his work.

"It's like digging a grave," he says. "I'll lay in my little grave, I'll put my sleeping bag on top of me, and I'll be warm. I've found out that the deeper you dig, the warmer it gets."

"Last time we were out," he continued, "the first day, I dug like a champion. The second day, I didn't dig deep enough, and I was cold."

He paused, then smiled.

"I talk about digging as though I'd been digging graves all my life," he said, shaking his head.

Soon, everyone except for the Marines pulling guard duty was lying in the foxholes they had managed to dig. It became so quiet that the ticking of Link's wristwatch filled the air.

Then there were steps.

A Marine carrying a backpack walked past Link's humvee, looking lost.

"I'm just freaking -- oh yeah," he said, remembering something, and walked away.

Link stretched out in his foxhole and fell asleep. Two hours later, the muezzin's call for prayer once again filled the dark predawn air.

"Wake up, wake up, prayer is better than sleep," the muezzin called in melodious Arabic.

The Marines' night in the desert was over.

E-mail Anna Badkhen at [email protected]

Sweat Hog earns Bronze Star

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, SC -- Master Sgt. Donald Parrish, the officer-in-charge of explosive ordnance disposal for Marine Wing Support Squadron 273, was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with combat distinguishing device for Valor for his actions in Iraq in a ceremony aboard the Air Station Sept. 14.

http://www.dcmilitary.com/marines/hendersonhall/10_39/national_news/37416-1.html

by Cpl. Anthony Guas
MCAS Beaufort

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, SC -- Master Sgt. Donald Parrish, the officer-in-charge of explosive ordnance disposal for Marine Wing Support Squadron 273, was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with combat distinguishing device for Valor for his actions in Iraq in a ceremony aboard the Air Station Sept. 14.

Lieutenant Gen. John F. Sattler, the commanding general of I Marine Expeditionary Force, awarded the medal on behalf of the President to Parrish, recognizing him as "an absolute critical element to the ability of coalition forces to neutralize insurgent activity in the Babil and Al Anbar Provinces of Iraq."

"I feel very humble," Parrish said. "I was just simply there doing my job. It was very demanding and everybody stepped up and did there job out there."

Although the Adrian, Ga., native is happy about receiving the award, he believes his Marines deserved it more.

"I have mixed feelings, because my Marines deserve to be here with me, if not before me," Parrish said.

From Sept. 2004 to March 2005, Parrish served as the Team Leader for the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Platoon for Combat Service Support Battalion 1. He led his Marines in the destruction of 60 weapons caches, the disposal of 25,024 unexploded ordnance items and 226,000 small arms. In addition, he rendered safe 518 Improvised Explosive Devices within a 22-day period, many times under intense enemy fire.

Before joining the Marine Corps, Parrish had a scholarship to the Art Institute of Atlanta, but declined the scholarship and instead opted for life in the Marine Corps.

I tried looking at things realistically and couldn't see myself disciplined enough to go through school," Parrish said. "I joined the Marine Corps because every other service seemed generic. I wanted something different."

The 18-year veteran has served as an EOD technician for 15 years. He joined the Marine Corps in 1987 and was an Anti-Tank Assault man before transferring to EOD.

Parrish saw his first tour of the Lowcountry and his last as a grunt in 1989, when he served as a range coach aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.

"The only way I saw myself staying in the Marine Corps was by laterally moving to public affairs or EOD," Parrish said. "I liked the idea of dealing with media. While EOD would provide a greater challenge, there are so many aspects. I liked that fact that you could always learn something new."

After completing the screening process in 1990, Parrish began his EOD career. He went to the first phase of EOD School in January 1991 and completed the second phase in August.

Parrish saw his first combat action with the EOD platoon, 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Force Service Support Group from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejuene, N.C, in support of I Marine Expeditionary Force. He was then sent a second time to serve as a Team Leader for EOD Platoon, Headquarters and Service Company, Combat Service Support Battalion 1, Combat Service Support Group 11, 1st Force Service Support Group, 1 Marine Expeditionary Force, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom II.

"I took a team of six EOD technicians and a corpsman to Camp Al Asad," Parrish said. "Our primary mission were responses for Al Asad, the city of Hit, Rawa and Haditha. We responded when they found Improvised Explosive Devices, land mines and weapons caches. We also assisted with the destruction (of the devices)."

The mission soon changed for Parrish and his Marines. In October, they started to pull forces for Fallujah, according to Parrish.

"On Oct. 27 we were on a convoy to Fallujah, to start taking operations there," Parrish said. "When we got there everything was hectic. Our mission was to check apartments, which were supposed to be rigged to blow."

Before arriving at the apartments, Parrish and his platoon destroyed multiple IED's planted all around their target's perimeter.

"We cleared at least 6 IED's within a quarter of a mile," Parrish said. "We then cleared the streets and the apartments. The apartments were so close together that we literally could go rooftop to rooftop."

Parrish and his platoon found everything from weapons to clothing. Some of the buildings had remote rockets on the rooftops that were aimed at the street, according to Parrish.

"Imagine every third house being full of something," Parrish said. "We had to get in and blow the buildings up. We couldn't take our time with everything, because we had three or four things being called in."

In addition to keeping an intense pace, Parrish and his platoon had to deal with the firefights going on in the background.

"We could stand on the rooftop and see all the fighting going on," Parrish said. "Sometimes we had to back up pretty far to blow a building and ended up at the edge of the firefight. We had to fight and then return back to our mission."

Although it was a chaotic situation, Parrish credits his Marines' performance.

"I went in very optimistic, although when they briefed me they told me that they expected a 30 percent casualty rate," Parrish said. "We were going into a situation where the insurgents knew we were coming and set up traps for us."

After receiving the Bronze Star, Parrish still feels that his best accomplishment was having his Marines make it back alive.

"We were going into the worst-case scenario and I was just hoping for me and my Marines to get back alive," Parrish said. "I attribute my success to my Marines, they did an outstanding job."

Soldiers Can Tell Americans the Good News Directly Through The American Legion

INDIANAPOLIS, Sept. 30 /U.S. Newswire/ -- In an effort to tell the positive stories of daily accomplishments by our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan directly from the perspective of the American soldier, The American Legion today launched its "Letters to America from the Front" initiative.

http://releases.usnewswire.com/GetRelease.asp?id=54331
9/30/2005 9:18:00 AM

To: National Desk

Contact: Joe March or Wade Habshey, 317-630-1253 or 317-748-1926 (cell), or Ramona Joyce, 202-263-2982 or 202-445-1161 (cell), all of The America Legion

INDIANAPOLIS, Sept. 30 /U.S. Newswire/ -- In an effort to tell the positive stories of daily accomplishments by our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan directly from the perspective of the American soldier, The American Legion today launched its "Letters to America from the Front" initiative.

"America needs to hear the good news first hand from those who are fighting the war in Iraq and Afghanistan," said Bock. "It's about time that the American public hears about the positive things our soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and coastguardsmen are doing for our country and for the Afghani and Iraqi people."

In support of the Legion's Resolution 169 (Support for the War on Terrorism), National Commander Tom Bock is inviting all family members, spouses and friends of our soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan to share letters from their loved ones fighting the war on terror

"The focus that we are looking for in these letters is positive energy," said Bock. "We want to share with America their success stories, acts of kindness to the Iraqi and Afghani people (especially children), camaraderie and most important, their love of God and country."

As a new addition to The American Legion Web site, "Letters to America from the Front" submissions from troops will tell of all the good things happening in Iraq and Afghanistan that are not reported in the media.

Letters can be viewed at http://www.legion.org/. Click on "Letters to America from the Front" in the upper right hand corner of the screen. Submit letters for posting to [email protected]

"I urge all Americans to visit the Web site and see for themselves the tremendous accomplishments of our young men and women in uniform," Bock said. "And I ask our fighting forces around the world to take this opportunity to speak directly to America and tell it like it is."

To kick off this new initiative that will reconnect America with brave troops serving our country, Commander Bock has posted a letter from his son, Adam, currently serving in Iraq.

http://www.usnewswire.com/

Pace Becomes First Marine JCS Chief

FORT MYER, Va. -- Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace was sworn in Friday as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, becoming the first Marine to hold the nation's highest military post.

http://www.newsday.com/news/politics/wire/sns-ap-joint-chiefs-chairman,0,7431349.story

By Associated Press

September 30, 2005, 12:34 PM EDT

FORT MYER, Va. -- Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace was sworn in Friday as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, becoming the first Marine to hold the nation's highest military post.

Pace succeeded Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, who retired after 40 years of military service, including two years as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs and four years as the chairman.

At a retirement ceremony on this ceremonial post adjacent to Arlington National Cemetery, President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld thanked Myers for his service. Bush noted that Myers became chairman just weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and oversaw the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

"He helped design a broad and innovative military strategy to win the war on terror," Bush said. "His leadership and flexibility were essential to the liberation of Iraq, and to adapting our tactics to defeat the terrorists and help Iraqis build a peaceful democracy. "

Bush also praised Pace, saying he looked forward working with him. The Joint Chiefs chairman, by law, is the senior military adviser to the president and the secretary of defense. He commands no troops and is not in the formal chain of command, which extends from the president to the defense secretary to combatant commanders.

Pace, who was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and raised in Teaneck, N.J., had served the past four years as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs. He was the first Marine to hold that position and also is the first to be chairman.

Corpsmen, nurses take to the sky, treat fallen Marines

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, OKINAWA, Japan (Sep. 30, 2005) -- More than 40 corpsmen and nurses from units all over Okinawa spent Sept. 26-28 learning about the En Route Care System (ERCS) during the 26-hour Naval En Route Care (NERC) course.

http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/1BA5A7A7AEAC3A538525709000288EB7?opendocument


Submitted by:
MCB Camp Butler
Story by:
Computed Name: Lance Cpl. Erin F. McKnight
Story Identification #:
200510432259

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, OKINAWA, Japan (Sep. 30, 2005) -- More than 40 corpsmen and nurses from units all over Okinawa spent Sept. 26-28 learning about the En Route Care System (ERCS) during the 26-hour Naval En Route Care (NERC) course.

The course, approved in January by Marine Corps Combat Development Command, teaches methods of caring for critically wounded Marines who need medical attention during transportation from the point of injury to a medical facility, explained Lt. Cmdr. Tony P. Catanese, assistant director of Medical Lessons Learned, Naval Operations Medical Institute (NOMI), Pensacola, Fla.

The NOMI-trained instructors came from various stateside commands and spent more than eight hours teaching students the basics about the ERCS and in-flight patient treatment.

The ERCS is compiled of equipment such as a vital signs monitor and a ventilator that monitors a patient’s vital signs and helps keep them stable throughout the flight. The framework is attached to the casualty’s stretcher and holds the system in place over the patient’s body.

Instructors briefed students on the physiological issues of flight, such as how varying altitudes and helicopter movement patterns can affect a patient. They also covered how to manage critical injuries such as amputations, chest trauma and spinal injuries.

Students also got hands-on experience with the ERCS, and even practiced using stretchers to load dummies and equipment onto CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters. The instructors presented participants with real-world scenarios to help them learn how to react to different situations, explained Catanese.

“The course objectives are to instill critical thinking skills and teach them to use the equipment properly,” Catanese said. “Not every patient is the same. It’s definitely not ‘textbook.’”

The final day of training was the most critical, according to Lt. Scott E. Avery, the training officer for 3rd Medical Battalion.

The corpsmen and nurses boarded one of two Sea Knights manned by Marines with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 265, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. Students used stretchers to load dummies or fellow service members onto the helicopters, secured the stretchers inside the aircraft and took their seats for takeoff. Once the helicopters were airborne, students practiced new techniques using medical knowledge they gained from the class.

“Without that practical application portion, this whole evolution would be useless,” Avery said.

The HMM-265 Marines were glad to help out, according to Maj. Victor Chin, the outbound logistics officer for the unit.

“They needed time in the air, and I know these guys don’t get to fly much, so we were definitely happy to support this,” Chin said. “Plus, it’s better to train when nobody’s shooting at you.”

Petty Officer 3rd Class Paul N. Barnachea, a corpsman with 3rd Med. Bn. was excited about the opportunity to learn about the ERCS, he explained.

“My chief asked me if I wanted to go, and I said ‘Yeah, of course!’” Barnachea said. “I’ve never been around this type of aircraft before, so it’s interesting.”

Teams trained by NOMI have already conducted NERC courses at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and Camp Pendleton, Calif., Catanese added.

“The NERC course gives (corpsmen and nurses) an opportunity to be more familiar with (the ERCS),” Catanese said. “The first time somebody touches the equipment shouldn’t be when they actually have to use it on a casualty.”

At odds over body armor reimbursement

Pentagon has still not acted to pay back parents a year after Congress 'demanded action.'

http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0930/dailyUpdate.html

By Tom Regan | csmonitor.com
More than a year after the US Congress told the Defense Department to reimburse parents who had bought body armor for their sons or daughters serving in Iraq, the Pentagon "still hasn't figured out a way" to reimburse them. The Associated Press reports that soldiers and their parents are still spending "hundreds, sometimes thousands" of dollars on armor that "the military does not provide."

Senator Chris Dodd (D) of Connecticut said he will "again try to force" the Pentagon to obey the reimbursement bill that it "opposed from the outset and has so far not implemented."

[Dodd], said he will offer amendments to the defense appropriations bill working its way through Congress to take the issue out of the hands of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and give control to military unit commanders in the field.

"Mr. Rumsfeld is violating the law," Dodd said. "It's been sitting on the books for over a year. They were opposed to it. It was insulting to them. I'm sorry that's how they felt."

Marine Corp Times reports that under the law passed last October, Congress had until this past Feb. 25 to develop a way to implement the reimbursement plan. The amendment that Dodd had originally added to a military appropriations bills authorized, but did not require, the military to reimburse families up to $1,100 for the purchase of armor and other safety gear "not provided by the military. The Corp Times adds that the Pentagon "never paid a dime," and military officials have said they are still "working on the regulations."

Sen. Dodd has the backing of major military and veteran groups for his plan.

“We share your disappointment that the Defense Department still has not implemented it 11 months after it was enacted,” said retired Vice Adm. Norbert Ryan Jr., president of the Military Officers Association of America.

Retired Army Master Sgt. Michael Cline, executive director of the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States, said the Pentagon’s refusal to pay is hard to understand, given the 91-0 vote by the Senate last year in favor of Dodd’s original proposal ... “How many of those killed [in Iraq and Afghanistan] could have been saved with the proper equipment?” Cline said.

The Associated Press reports that one father, who only wanted to be identified by his first name, Gordon, because he feared "retaliation" against his son who is serving in Fallujah, spent over $1,000 two weeks ago to buy lower body armor.

"I wouldn't have cared if it cost us $10,000 to protect our son, I would do it," said Gordon. "But I think the US has an obligation to make sure they have this equipment and to reimburse for it. I just don't support Donald Rumsfeld's idea of going to war with what you have, not what you want. You go to war prepared, and you don't go to war until you are prepared."

Pentagon spokeswoman Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke said Thursday the department "is in the final stages of putting a reimbursement program together and it is expected to be operating soon." But defense officials would not discuss the reason for the delay.

In August the Pentagon announced it was replacing body armor for US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan in order to withstand "the strongest of attacks from insurgents." Armor replacement began more than a year ago and will ultimately cost $160 million. The plan would last another year, the Pentagon said at the time, and would "upgrade" the protection used by more than 500,000 soldiers, civilian employees and news media.

USAToday.com reports that the Justice Department has launched a criminal probe into whether Second Chance Body Armor (which the government started working with in 2001) knowingly provided defective bulletproof vest to the military and the White House. The Pentagon had bought some of the vests for "elite troops."

Problems came to light two years ago when the Michigan-based company recalled 130,000 vests because of degradation problems with Zylon, a bullet-resistant fabric used in its vests. The vests were upgraded and returned.

But in June the company issued a bulletin to police departments warning that its vests could fail and result in "serious injury or death." It estimated that about 100,000 of its vests remained in circulation.

The company is cooperating with the investigation.

Finally, Newsday reports that Rumsfeld also found himself in trouble with many police departments across America after he compared the "infiltration of insurgents into Iraqi security forces" with "comparable problems" encountered by US police forces. "It's a problem faced by police forces in every major city in our country, that criminals infiltrate and sign up to join the police force," Rumsfeld testified to the Senate Thursday. But a police spokesman felt differently:

"The secretary's comment was flippant and reflects a fundamental lack of understanding about what American police departments are all about," said Bill Johnson, executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations.

"It's absurd to equate the idea that background checks may occasionally miss a shoplifting charge or somebody who smoked dope as a kid with a person who wires themselves with explosives and blows themselves up in a dining hall," he added.

Seagoing Marines gather for final depot meeting

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif.(Sept. 30, 2005) -- The United States Seagoing Marine Association, in its largest gathering since World War II, attended a morning colors ceremony and Company M's graduation Friday.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/AF769DF712E5DC498525708C005630EB?opendocument


Submitted by:
MCRD San Diego
Story by:
Computed Name: Pvt. Charlie Chavez
Story Identification #:
2005930114126

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif.(Sept. 30, 2005) -- The United States Seagoing Marine Association, in its largest gathering since World War II, attended a morning colors ceremony and Company M's graduation Friday.

The 211 Marines and spouses first attended the colors ceremony, then they viewed a graduation ceremony similar to what they marched in years ago. Some Seagoing Marines at the graduation completed boot camp when the M1-Garand Rifle was still in use and fired during the graduations.

"I miss the rifles so much. They made everything so nice," said Seagoing Marine Chuck Kane. "I guess they can't have them for graduation because of security."

The Seagoing Marines share a significant bond with the depot because from the 1930s through the 1980s, Sea School was located where the Coast Guard weather station is now, according to William R. Graham, the association's finance officer.

The school was set in place so that Marines with no knowledge of how to serve on a ship could get proper training and understanding before joining their Navy brethren abroad. Sea School's highlight was when then-President John F. Kennedy conducted a formal inspection on the students in the early 1960s.

"The ceremony and the depot are still as beautiful as when I was here before," said Seagoing Marine Joe F. Cody.

Robert Vanderveen, a Seagoing Marine, said this was probably the last association meeting on the depot becausethe school has not been active in more than 20 years, so no new members join.

Marine battalion heads to North Carolina; will meet with Cheney

For a few months, some of them were part of Lucky Lima, the nickname given to an Ohio-based Marine unit that had left for Iraq in January and, for a time, had not suffered any casualties or injuries.

http://www.the-dispatch.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050930/APN/509300550&cachetime;=5

By NATALIE GOTT
Associated Press Writer

For a few months, some of them were part of Lucky Lima, the nickname given to an Ohio-based Marine unit that had left for Iraq in January and, for a time, had not suffered any casualties or injuries.

But by the end of their deployment, the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines had lost 48 servicemen, including nine from the battalion's Lima Company in the deadliest roadside bombing of U.S. troops in Iraq.

The battalion, made up of about 1,000 reservists, is returning to the United States now. A large group of the Marines was set to arrive at Camp Lejeune on Friday. Vice President Dick Cheney plans to join them at the base Monday for a luncheon, the White House announced Friday.

The battalion left for Iraq in January. In March and April, two of the battalion's companies lost three members in as many attacks.

In May, the battalion lost five more reservists in small arms fires and a roadside explosion. Lima Company lost its first Marine, Cpl. Dustin A. Derga, 24, in a May 8 attack.

More losses came throughout June and July, with a deadly roadside bomb that took three reservists June 9, indirect enemy fire that killed two July 10 and grenade fire that killed two on July 28.

August proved to the be the deadliest month for the battalion, particularly the once-lucky Lima Company.

Enemy fire killed five members of the battalion on Aug. 1. Two days later, nine of the Lima reservists were among 14 Marines killed in a roadside bombing.

Overall, 16 Lima Company reservists died in Iraq, and about two dozen were injured, Master Sgt. Stephen Walter said.

Thirteen other permanent members of the battalion were killed. A Navy corpsman and 18 other Marines who were temporarily attached to the group also died.

Of the 48 that were killed, half were from Ohio.

The Marines will spend about five days at Camp Lejeune before they return to their home bases in Ohio, West Virginia and New York for more public festivities. The Marines Corps urged families not to travel to North Carolina because of the debriefing.

Troubled Osprey could fly missions for Marines by '07

The Marines' V-22 Osprey, the helicopter-airplane hybrid that has survived a rocky two decades of development and controversy, could be carrying Marines on combat missions in Iraq or Afghanistan within two years, military officials said Friday.

http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2005/10/01/news/top_stories/18_26_089_30_05.txt

By: DARRIN MORTENSON - Staff Writer

The Marines' V-22 Osprey, the helicopter-airplane hybrid that has survived a rocky two decades of development and controversy, could be carrying Marines on combat missions in Iraq or Afghanistan within two years, military officials said Friday.

The Pentagon this week gave Boeing Co. and Textron Inc.'s Bell Helicopter division the green light to start building 400 of the $100 million aircraft, 360 of which are slated for Marine units.

Capt. Jerome Bryant, a spokesman for Marine air programs at the Corps' headquarters in Virginia, said Friday that the first squadrons of Ospreys are destined for East Coast-based Marines, who will probably be the first ones to try out the hybrid aircraft in combat.

The Osprey is a tilt-rotor aircraft that takes off and lands vertically like a helicopter and can cruise at the speed and range of an airplane.

Though its development was plagued by problems, including crashes that killed more than 20 Marines, military officials say the Osprey has been redesigned and will be key to its operations.

Units on the West Coast, including Miramar Marine Corps Air Station, Camp Pendleton, Twentynine Palms and Yuma, won't get the new aircraft until fiscal year 2010, Bryant said.

The new Ospreys won't completely replace the existing West Coast fleet of CH-46 helicopters until 2014, he said.

Marines 'jumping' for Osprey

The Osprey can carry up to 24 combat-loaded Marines as far as 500 nautical miles and can be refueled in midair, allowing it to travel to more than 1,000 nautical miles in a single mission.

Marine leaders, desperate for a transport helicopter to replace its existing Vietnam-era fleet, have hailed the hybrid as an aircraft that will revolutionize the way Marines fight wars ---- allowing them to "jump" or "leap" deeper and faster into enemy territory.

Camp Pendleton's highest-ranking general, I Marine Expeditionary Force commander Lt. Gen. John Sattler, has been a strong proponent of raising a fleet of Ospreys for the Marines.

Sattler, who led tens of thousands of local Marines in Iraq last year and will lead more than 10,000 back to Iraq in a few months, said the Osprey would be key to operations in Iraq right now.

"(You) would actually be able to put yourself at the right place at the right time without having substantial forces, forward operating bases, forward arming and refueling points throughout the area by virtue of having the capability that an aircraft like the Osprey gives you," he told a panel of military analysts and Marine officials at the American Enterprise Institute in August.

"I'd love to have it," he said. "I'd like to have it right now."

A bumpy flight to approval

While Marine leaders got the production go-ahead they have wanted, the mass production and deployment of the Osprey is bound to be as controversial as its development.

Critics still call it an expensive death trap for battle-bound Marines.

The V-22 has been hobbled by design problems since the Navy started the research and development in the early 1980s.

The program was temporarily halted by then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney in 1989, when Cheney and other defense officials said it was too pricey to be practical.

Test flight crashes over the next decade killed several of the most experienced Osprey pilots and crew.

Then, in 2000, two Ospreys crashed in separate incidents, killing 23 Marines and jeopardizing the entire program.

Those accidents were followed by reports that Marine officials had falsified maintenance records and evaluations, and that contractors had certified parts and gear that were substandard. Several Marines were later found guilty of misconduct and the commander of the V-22 test squadron was relieved of command.

Under more intense scrutiny by the military, Congress and the media, the flights resumed even as a design flaw that was a factor in at least one of the earlier crashes was deemed inherent to tilt-wing design.

The problem, often called "vortex ring state," allowed the aircraft to fall into its own rotor turbulence and lose control during fast descents at low air speed ---- a type of maneuver that is key for combat helicopters.

Some still say nay

In final tests this year, military officials said they had tempered the rotor turbulence problem with new computer software that alerts the pilot if he or she is in the dangerous turbulence and then takes over to slow the descent.

A report by the Congressional Research Service published in January acknowledged that many of the touted virtues and values of the Osprey were still being debated.

Eric Miller, a military investigator for the Washington, D.C., watchdog group Project On Government Oversight, says that even after the latest testing and certification, he's among those who are still not convinced.

"It's still a dangerous aircraft," Miller said by phone Thursday.

Miller said he has spoken with pilots, crew members and people who have been involved in the test flights who say the computer solution to the "vortex ring state" problem takes critical control away from the pilot.

He said the computer-dominated aircraft is fast in cruise mode but does not easily make aggressive, evasive maneuvers needed in a combat situation.

The Osprey also has no defensive weapon system, an omission on which military leaders have been reluctant to comment.

Miller said he believes the Marines need a new helicopter so badly that they have been blinded to the Osprey's flaws.

He said the enthusiasm for the technology ---- which may have commercial applications ---- combined with the mounting budgetary investments in its development created a momentum that inevitably ensured the production of an Osprey whether it was combat ready or not.

"Once these programs get going, it's like a snowball going downhill," he said. "It's hard to stop."

Troops asked to have faith

Despite such lingering doubts, military officials have asked Marines to trust in the Osprey.

During the recent final round of operational evaluations, Pendleton's 1st Marine Division commander, Maj. Gen. Richard Natonski, said he felt safe when he flew an Osprey.

"I wanted to come out here to look you in the eyes to tell you that this is a good aircraft," Natonski told a group of Marines in April, according the Marines' news service.

The troops were loading onto one of the aircraft with full battle gear and weapons for an evaluation flight in Twentynine Palms.

Natonski promised them that the design glitches implicated in the pair of crashes in 2000 had been fixed.

"That was a different aircraft," he said, according to the Marine publication. "They've completely redesigned the engine pods. They've put in new computer software, and today the aircraft you're flying on ---- the one I flew on ---- has been completely redesigned."

He let them know how they should feel.

"I'm not afraid to fly in it," he said, "and I know you are not, either."

After a final round of operational evaluations that concluded this summer, including missions launched from ships and from land, the Osprey passed the Defense Acquisition Board's final review, giving the Pentagon the OK to start full production.

Officials said 48 of the new aircraft could be ready each year, replacing the entire fleet of CH-46E helicopters in about 10 years.

Contact staff writer Darrin Mortenson at (760) 740-5442 or [email protected]

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Marines head home after hurricane hitch

ST. BERNARD PARISH, La. (Sept. 30, 2005) -- On Aug. 29, Hurricane Katrina made landfall and left a path of destruction along the Gulf Coast from the panhandle of Florida to the Mississippi Delta.

http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/5FE0FF6BA2D0DE438525708C00457665?opendocument

Submitted by: 24th MEU
Story Identification #: 200593083842
Story by Cpl. Rocco DeFilippis

ST. BERNARD PARISH, La. (Sept. 30, 2005) -- On Aug. 29, Hurricane Katrina made landfall and left a path of destruction along the Gulf Coast from the panhandle of Florida to the Mississippi Delta.

As the nation realized the scale of the disaster, the Marines of Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force St. Bernard, named for the Louisiana parish that would become the focus of efforts, were preparing to respond.

Aircraft and Marines from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461 deployed to Pensacola, Fla., to begin rescue and evacuation missions.

Reserve Marines from Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas; Jackson and Gulfport, Miss.; Bessemer and Huntsville, Ala.; Chattanooga, Tenn., and Jacksonville Fla., began to converge on the Gulf Coast with helicopters, Assault Amphibian Vehicles, 7-Ton Trucks, Humvees, communications gear and hundreds of helping hands.

As the reserve elements landed in the region, the Marines and Sailors of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit command element, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, and MEU Service Support Group 24, flew from North Carolina to marry up with their equipment to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

"As forces arrived from all directions, they worked across Mississippi to focus on St. Bernard Parish," said Col. John E. Shook, SPMAGTF St. Bernard commanding officer. "We observed the devastation by helicopter from the upper Gulf Coast down to the Shell Beach area of St. Bernard Parish. We knew we had an awesome task before us, and a responsibility to act quickly."

The 2,300 Marines and Sailors who made up SPMAGTF St. Bernard worked tirelessly to aid the people of the devastated region. After three weeks, they had all but completed their Katrina-related work when Hurricane Rita struck. Again the Marines would answer the call.

1/8, 4th Tracks search flooded streets, broken communities

About one hour after Katrina's massive eye had passed Gulfport, Miss., two Assault Amphibian Vehicles based there - part of 3rd Platoon, Alpha Company, 4th Assault Amphibian Battalion -- received their first mission.

"The mission required the unit to proceed to a Biloxi police station being utilized as a makeshift command center," said Lt. Col. Kent Ralston, 4th AA Bn. acting commander. "They linked up with their search-and-rescue team and carried them into the Point Cadet area of Biloxi."

The Gulfport AAVs operated for the next six hours, rescuing scores of residents stranded on rooftops. The next day, the AAVs were dispatched to a Navy retirement home to deliver water, set up a retransmission site, and evacuate any wounded retirees. Upon their arrival, the AAVs of 3rd Platoon transported two elderly men to a hospital about 12 miles away after ambulances could not reach the area.

"Both gentlemen were in critical condition because they had fallen down two flights of stairs trying to evacuate," Ralston said. "Once they arrived at the Gulfport Memorial Hospital, they were both stabilized and admitted."

During the first four days in Mississippi, the AAVs of Alpha Co. operated throughout the cities of Biloxi, Gulfport, Diberville, Pass Christian, Long Beach, Henderson Point, Waveland, and Bay St. Louis.

On Sept. 2, Bravo Company, 4th AA Bn. landed at Stennis International Airport in Hancock County, Miss., to conduct search-and-rescue missions.

Due to the high waters and limited access in flooded parts of St. Bernard and Orleans parishes, 4th Tracks moved to the NASA Space Center at Michoud, La., to team up with Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, on Sept. 4.

Using their amphibious tractors, the Marines of Bravo 1/8 and 4th Tracks began search-and-rescue efforts in areas of the city where the floodwaters reached up to 15 feet.

While 1/8's Bravo Co. was floating down the streets of Orleans and St. Bernard parishes, Alpha and Charlie Company were conducting similar missions in the cities of Picayune, Miss., and Slidell, La.

"We worked for and with the mayor, city officials and emergency responders," said Lt. Col. J. Scott Alley, commanding officer of 1st Battalion, 8th Marines. "We manned relief sites, passed out food and water, cleared municipal buildings, fire departments and police departments, and helped residents clear their yards of debris and fallen trees."

Each day, in addition to their help with clean-up, all the companies of 1/8 were involved in the vital task of finding and rescuing those left in Katrina's wake.

"In the first four days of search-and-rescue operations, we rescued more than 78 people," said Maj. Henry June Jr., inspector instructor for Bravo Co., 4th AA Bn. "It was very difficult for any other wheeled vehicle to get through these communities. We are the only tracked vehicles that can float, so we could maneuver through the water to conduct our searches."

Departing from their base camps in the morning and working all day in the hot, humid temperatures of the Gulf region, the Marines patrolled relentlessly along miles of debris-strewn roads on 7-ton trucks, AAVs and on foot. [e1]

"I kept getting calls over the radio, 'Can we stay longer, can we stay out here,'" Alley said. "They did not want to leave until the job was done. Their enthusiasm and work ethic were very impressive."

'Super G' lends a heavy helping hand

Providing support to both the Marines of SPMAGTF St. Bernard and the residents of New Orleans, the Marines of MEU Service Support Group 24 made two weeks of non-stop aid-and-relief operations possible.

Within two days of receiving the call to support the relief effort, the Marines and heavy equipment of MSSG-24 had embarked on the USS Shreveport and USS Whidbey Island and steamed for the Gulf Coast.

After conducting an amphibious landing in Biloxi, Miss., on Sept. 5, MSSG-24 pushed out to Slidell to support the emergency operations center there.

"(Some) of the Marines and Sailors worked internal logistics, providing support for other Marines operating in that area," said Lt. Col. Joel H. Berry, commanding officer of MSSG-24. "We also task-organized capability sets to go out and address missions within the community."

Marines loaded up on 7-ton trucks and headed out to work with city officials to clear yards and streets. Dump trucks hauled away rubble and fallen trees, bucket trucks helped clear fallen branches from power lines, and wreckers towed away flooded vehicles.

"Most of the work in Slidell was manpower-intensive," Berry said.

On Sept. 10, MSSG-24 moved from their base camp in a furniture warehouse in Slidell to join up with 1/8 at Michoud.

There, the Marines of MSSG-24 provided vital heavy-equipment support to St. Bernard Parish.

"Our Marines and Sailors have provided manual labor to help the residents of these communities," Berry said. "We've helped to clear dozens of square blocks in St. Bernard in order to make access to their homes a bit easier."

They also supplied all the 'life support' and logistics for the camp and operated the landing zone as well.

"We were able to enhance the quality of life at the various camps and locations the Marines have been operating from," Berry said. "We operated a decontamination site for the Marines coming back from missions in town, ran ...water-purification units that provided 25,000 - 30,000 gallons of clean water each day for shower and laundry services, and provided maintenance support for all the vehicles."

Composed of more than 70 different military occupational specialties, Berry said the Marines and Sailors of MSSG-24 came together as a team to support both the Marines and the community.

"Their work ethic and attitude has been awesome since the beginning," Berry said. "I could not be happier with how we came together to accomplish all that we have in the past couple of weeks."

Residents find rescue on the wings of the 'ACE'

On Aug. 30, just hours after broken levees unleashed a torrent of water on the communities of the New Orleans area, Marine helicopters based in the stricken area began pulling survivors to safety.

Coming together as Task Force Aviation, Marine aviation assets from the 4th and 2nd Marine Aircraft wings operated under Marine Aircraft Group 42 to support SPMAGTF St. Bernard.

Logging more than 930 flight hours during 620 sorties, the CH-53E Super Stallion, CH-46E Sea Knight and UH-1N 'Heuy' helicopters of Task Force Aviation played a critical role in not only search-and-rescue efforts but also the logistics of the operation.

"Before we had official orders to come down here, units started flying their helicopters down here to begin search-and-rescue," said Lt. Col. Richard D. Thompson, the task force's acting operations officer. "For the first three to four days, our aircraft would launch up, tell the Coast Guard air command and control their capabilities, (and) the Coast Guard would tell them where they could help."

Task Force Aviation aircraft plucked stranded residents from rooftops, transported patients from New Orleans hospitals to other medical facilities and moved people from collection points and evacuated them from the area.

During those first vital days, the task force rescued more than 440 people and evacuated nearly 1,500 others.

"During the first few days, SAR was the heart of the mission," Thompson said. "As the battalion and other units arrived and the main effort transitioned from SAR to recovery and clean-up, we focused on cargo, equipment and troop movement."

In order to supply and resupply base camps separated by miles of impassable roads, the aircraft of Task Force Aviation moved more than 930,000 pounds of supplies and equipment and more than 4,300 passengers.

The aviation ground support Marines of the task force also played an essential role in the success of the mission.

Marines from Marine Wing Support Group 47 worked from locations at Naval Air Station New Orleans, Michoud, Stennis International Airport and Slidell to refuel aircraft, operate water-purification equipment and showers, and set up and maintain communications.

Although not an organic part of Task Force Aviation, the KC-130 Hercules transport aircraft from Marine Aerial Refuler Transport squadrons 234, 252, 253, and 452 made the entire deployment of forces to the Gulf Coast possible.

"We've had more KC-130 support here than I have ever seen in my Marine Corps career," Thompson said. "They provided all of our mobility to deploy down here, most of our logistical support, and the ability to manage and redeploy our capabilities."

Thompson said the ability to remain flexible and adapt to the fast pace of developing operations is what allowed the task force to accomplish as much as it did.

"That's something Marines have always and will continue to bring to the table," Thompson said. "We are able to work around and through any obstacle to get up and running in order to accomplish any mission."

America's force in readiness

In two weeks, the Marines of SPMAGTF St. Bernard searched more than 5,000 homes, rescued 610 stranded residents, delivered two million pounds of supplies, and cleared debris from more than 1,000 homes, schools and municipal buildings.

"Though we arrived without a formal mission, the intent was pretty clear," Shook said. "Do whatever we could to help save lives and ease the suffering of those who survived. We approached our mission with a profound sense of purpose and accomplished what we set out to do."

As they spent what appeared to be their final few days in Louisiana clearing roads, removing debris from homes, schools and key government facilities, and helping leaders in both St. Bernard and St. Tammany parishes prepare for the return of business owners and residents, Hurricane Rita bore down on the Gulf Coast. The Marines repositioned themselves to ensure their own safety and enable a rapid response wherever Rita came ashore.

The morning of Sept. 24 bore witness to the new path of destruction cut by Rita across southwest Louisiana and coastal Texas.

The Marines of 4th Anti-Terrorism Battalion were directed to Lafayette La. Driving through the remnants of Rita's foul weather, they arrived within hours of the storm's impact. They synchronized their efforts with soldiers from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division, who had come from New Orleans to help.

By Sunday evening, the Marines had rescued 26 people in New Iberia, La.

"We were determined to do as much as we possibly could in the time available to us," Shook said. "We set out to make a difference, to offer a lifeline, to give the local leaders enough time to get their feet under them again."

Air Station strikes gold, wins energy conservation award


MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, SC (Sept. 30, 2005) -- With the continuing increase in the cost of living today, and the strain placed on natural resources, the Air Station has been doing its part to conserve energy, and was recently awarded for its efforts.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/8D9D78EE6961B3498525708F0051B3B7?opendocument


Submitted by: MCAS Beaufort
Story Identification #: 2005103105224
Story by Cpl. Anthony Guas

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, SC (Sept. 30, 2005) -- With the continuing increase in the cost of living today, and the strain placed on natural resources, the Air Station has been doing its part to conserve energy, and was recently awarded for its efforts.

Fightertown was one of 23 military installations and one of five Marine Corps bases that were awarded a Gold level of achievement by the Secretary of the Navy.

The gold level of achievement indicates that a military installation has a very good-to-outstanding energy management program, has implemented significant energy projects during the reporting year and has demonstrated reductions in MBTUs, (a standard unit of measurement for natural gas and provides a convenient basis for comparing the energy content of various grades of natural gas and other fuels), in recent years.

“We have to submit a report to Headquarters Marine Corps every year on energy usage and projects that we completed,” said Neil Tisdale, the Air Station maintenance utilities director. “They usually go up for recognition. This award basically says that you’re doing a good job with your energy conservation.”

The gold star is one level above the blue star, which indicates that an installation has a well-rounded energy management program, while the platinum level indicates that a military installation has an outstanding energy management program.

Fightertown received this award for putting an Energy Savings Performance Contract in place, according to Tisdale. The Air Station partnered with the Trane Corporation in an $11.1 million ESPC contract to install geothermal technology.

Under the contract, the Air Station installed a micro-turbine co-generation plant that produces 1.5 mega watts of electricity and makes about nine million BTUs per hour of heating water, according to Tisdale.

“This is used to heat the barracks, medical, dental and the mess hall,” Tisdale said. “The contract also allowed us to install a chilled water plant that provides cooling water for air conditioning at the barracks complex and the mess hall.”

The new chilled water plant makes chilled water at a significant lower amount of energy, according to Tisdale. In addition to the new heating and cooling systems, geo-thermal heat pumps were installed in 38 buildings aboard the Air Station.

“These heat pumps are better than conventional air conditioning units because they exchange their energy with the ground-transferring heat to the 65 degree earth is much easier than transferring it to the 95 degree outside air,” Tisdale said. “ We have also replaced the lighting in all the hangars with energy-efficient high intensity fluorescent lighting.”

The ESPC is integrated with the Air Stations Energy Monitoring and Control System, according to Tisdale

“We are able to monitor everything from the energy management system,” Tisdale said. “Like the air conditioning and some lighting to make sure that everything is working properly.”

The system has a load shed scheme that allows it to contact polls to analyze how much energy is being used, according to Bill Rogers, an engineering technician for the Air Station.

“If the energy starts to exceed a certain limit, (the load shed scheme) raises the set point on the thermostat to maintain a constant energy usage during peak periods,” Rogers said. “It also makes maintenance a lot easier.”

Before this system was in place, the Air Station had to maintain people on staff to monitor operations 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to Rogers.

“This system cut down on that,” Rogers said. “Now it all can be monitored from a computer in the office or at home. Getting the micro-turbine plant also cut six man years of labor.”

The combination of the ESPC and the system is saving the Air Station more than 100,140 MBTUs and $1,170,000 annually, according to Tisdale.

“The Air Station has been reducing its energy usage by 12 percent each year over the last few years,” Tisdale said. “This is a good thing because we are spending less money, while gas and other electrical rates are rising.”

This award is not the first recognition the Air Station has received. The Air Station has been saving energy and receiving awards for the past couple of years, according to Tisdale.

Due to the Air Station’s exceptional energy program, the Fightertown has won three distinct awards: The Secretary of the Navy Energy award, and the Department Of Energy’s Facilities Energy Management Program and Show Case designation awards, according to Tisdale

“When we submitted for the award, most of the energy saving projects were still in construction,” Tisdale said. “If possible we can get the big award next year.”

Tisdale believes that the contract and all the money spent on energy saving efforts are well spent.

“We appreciate any recognition we can get,” Tisdale said. “I feel it makes the Air Station look good. Anytime we can make the Air Station look good that’s great.”

MCMAP tests recruits' toughness, character

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Sept. 30, 2005) -- Before combat comes combat training. Aboard the depot, drill instructors give recruits a course integrated with the rest of recruit training that teaches recruits about close-hand combat.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/E2916C7982ABC6DD8525708C00542123?opendocument


Submitted by: MCRD San Diego
Story Identification #: 2005930111855
Story by Lance Cpl. Dorian Gardner

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Sept. 30, 2005) -- Before combat comes combat training. Aboard the depot, drill instructors give recruits a course integrated with the rest of recruit training that teaches recruits about close-hand combat.

The Marine Corps Martial Arts Program is exactly that - a program that compiles different techniques with different weapons, including the M-16 A2 service rifle with a bayonet. There is also a weapons of opportunity class.

The program was introduced into the Marine Corps and became a part of recruit training in early 2000. According to Sgt. Sergio Esquivel, Instructional Training Company close combat drill instructor, the program is proficient.

"Because it is basic motor skills, it is something the Marines can remember," said Esquivel. "The program also takes into consideration the gear we will be wearing in combat. Even under the physical and mental stress of combat, Marines can remember the moves."

From the basic warrior stance to the angles of movement to leg sweeps and chokes, safety is always taken into consideration. ITC instructors observe training to make sure recruits execute the moves using the proper techniques and safety precautions.

"Safety always depends on what the event is," said Staff Sgt. John Johnson, ITC drill instructor. "We take into consideration the type of ground if we are doing break-falls, to mouth pieces, helmets and flak vests. There is always a corpsman and a safety vehicle standing by."

In order to receive a tan belt, recruits must meet the minimum requirements of 27.5 hours in MCMAP training. To facilitate the process of obtaining their belts, the hours are augmented into other parts of recruit training.

On the obstacle course, recruits run a number of different low and high obstacles. While waiting to move onto the next obstacle, recruits practice pad drills to help retain moves.

During the third phase of boot camp, recruits are tested on their knowledge of the program. For three hours, a series of recruits will go through different stations to demonstrate the proper techniques. Passing the MCMAP test is a graduation requirement.
"(Its purpose is) to sustain recruit training," according to Esquivel. "MCMAP does not only teach close combat, but develops mental character and physical discipline."

Once recruits graduate with their tan belts, they will be able to train for higher-level belts. The gray belt follows the tan belt, but Marines will not be able to proceed higher than a gray belt until they become noncommissioned officers.


September 29, 2005

October Proclaimed Crime Prevention Month in Hawaii, Marine honored for services

U.S. MARINE CORPS FORCES PACIFIC, CAMP H. M. SMITH, Hawaii (Sept. 29, 2005) -- Hawaii Lieutenant Governor James R. “Duke” Aiona, Jr. signed a proclamation commemorating Crime Prevention Month October 2005 and McGruff’s 25th Anniversary in Crime Prevention, Sept. 27.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/E44B37F36B8215678525708C0008E73D?opendocument

Submitted by: Marine Forces Pacific
Story Identification #: 2005929213714
Story by Lance Cpl. R. Drew Hendricks

U.S. MARINE CORPS FORCES PACIFIC, CAMP H. M. SMITH, Hawaii (Sept. 29, 2005) -- Hawaii Lieutenant Governor James R. “Duke” Aiona, Jr. signed a proclamation commemorating Crime Prevention Month October 2005 and McGruff’s 25th Anniversary in Crime Prevention, Sept. 27.

McGruff the Crime Dog, along with programs like Drug Abuse Resistance Education and Drug Education for Youth, have been molding the young minds of America’s youth for many years.

“Programs, like the McGruff Truck, are a great asset to crime prevention,” said Aiona. “I know I’m preaching to the choir, because you are the ones who are working to keep this state safe, and who have dedicated your time and efforts to teaching others how to do their part.”

For Sgt. Nathan J. DeWeerd, who was recognized for his services to the Mcgruff program, the best way to teach people about crime prevention is to get them while they’re young.

DeWeerd, a military policeman at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, does his part by teaching children as a DARE instructor and a DEFY mentor.

“The biggest reason we do the DARE program, and others like it, is to help children make better decisions, not just how to say no to drugs,” said DeWeerd, who teaches DARE to 3rd and 5th grade students.

The curriculums of these programs show children the effects of poor decisions, such as drug and alcohol abuse. This information helps the children make an educated decision. Rather then just telling them what’s right and wrong, it shows them.

“If you just tell the children to say no and they don’t know why, what’s keeping them from eventually just finding out why?” asked DeWeerd.

Aiona and DeWeerd both say that crime prevention is not just for the young. It is imperative that adults learn how to better protect themselves as well.

“It’s the duty of every citizen young and old to do their best to prevent crime,” said Aiona.
For this reason, the MP’s at MCBH offer crime prevention classes and even house walkthroughs for anyone who wants to learn how to better protect themselves, their families and their property.

“If the person wants to better protect their house and everything in it, we will come by and check out the house. We can give them pointers and show them the things they may be doing wrong,” said DeWeerd.

Since October is Crime Prevention Month, the Military Police Department will be focusing on teaching the public about crime prevention. However, they are willing to give crime prevention classes whenever they’re requested. Those that want to take advantage of these services should call 257-8556.

According to Deweerd, all of these things are necessary to reduce crime, but according to him, the focus should be the children.

“If I teach 1,000 children and 999 of them choose a life of crime, but one listened to what I had to say, then it would have been worth it,” said DeWeerd.

Payday advance takes more than it gives with 3,650 % APR

U.S. MARINE CORPS FORCES, PACIFIC, CAMP H. M. SMITH, Hawaii (September 29, 2005) -- It is a week until payday, and Lance Cpl. Joe Schmoe has found himself between a rock and a hard place. He’s spent the last of his money, but hasn’t filled his car up with gas to get back and forth to work.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/66BAAE149CA126198525708C000B76CE?opendocument

Submitted by: Marine Forces Pacific
Story Identification #: 200592922513
Story by Sgt. Danielle M. Bacon

U.S. MARINE CORPS FORCES, PACIFIC, CAMP H. M. SMITH, Hawaii (September 29, 2005) -- It is a week until payday, and Lance Cpl. Joe Schmoe has found himself between a rock and a hard place. He’s spent the last of his money, but hasn’t filled his car up with gas to get back and forth to work.

No need to fear, on fumes he coasts into the local payday advance lender. What he doesn’t know is the $100 he just borrowed is coming at an extremely high price.

If he borrows $100, pays a $10 fee and pays it back in a day, it comes out to a 3,650 % annual rate, according to the APR schedule. The APR schedule calculates rates based on 365 days, amount advanced and total fees.

Most cash advances take the money out of your account on payday. In this case, that would make the $100 loan have a 521.43 % APR over a seven-day period, according to the APR schedule.

“It is quick, easy money. There is no need for credit, because they have your post-dated check,” said Paul Velanger, director of Navy Marine Corps Relief Society, Pearl Harbor. “They know they will get their money.”

The real problem lies beneath the surface.

“They aren’t addressing the real problem when they use payday advances,” said Ed Josiah, a Personal Financial Management Counselor at Marine Corps Base, Hawaii. “They are addressing the symptom.”

Both Velanger and Josiah agree payday advances become a vicious cycle.

“They get the loan, but don’t address what is causing the problem, and then they have to do it all over again next payday,” said Josiah. “They don’t understand the cost of ownership.

“They may think that they can make a $300 car payment, but they don’t think about the costs of owning that car,” he added. “They don’t account for insurance, gas and registration.”

Josiah goes on to explain that Marines should really take a look at what they are spending their money on. He gave percentages to help Marines take a look at their spending.

“At a minimum, they should put 10 percent into savings. Marines shouldn’t spend more than 70 percent on living expenses,” said Josiah. “Living expenses should include food, shelter, transportation, childcare and utilities.”

He then went on to explain what limits Marines should set for their credit spending.

“They shouldn’t spend more that 20 percent on their credit debt. If they are, they should really take a look at what they have,” said Josiah. “Often, they use the credit card the same as a payday advance. They use it to fill the gap.

“Their credit cards end up being a crutch,” He added. “They should really come by my office or seek financial services.”

Free services are afforded at both NMCRS and the Marine Corps Community Services, Personal Financial Management Program.

“We are not here to tell someone how to live,” said Josiah. “We point out areas of concern. We are here to give them advice and the tools necessary to get out of debt. If they need more extensive help, we can refer them to credible agencies.”

Josiah warns Marines thinking about going online to fix their debt.

“They don’t know who is on the other side of the screen. They prey on those who are desperate,” Josiah said.

Velanger added, “Online lenders are the same ball game as payday advance. They average 300 to 500 percent.”

“Whether Marines are in financial trouble or not we encourage them to set a budget,” said Velanger.

He added, “Not only do we offer counseling for service members in time of need, we do budget counseling and also baby budgeting for expecting parents.”

For more information or to sign up for a class call the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society, Pearl Harbor at 423-1314, MCBH at 254-1327 or Personal Financial Management Program at 257-7783

S. Dakota offers bonus to veterans

PIERRE, S.D. --
The state of South Dakota is paying a veterans bonus of up to $500 to certain military personnel who were legal residents of the state for no less than six months immediately preceding entry into the Armed Forces, who are currently on active duty or were honorably discharged from the Armed Forces, and who served on active duty during one, or both of the following periods.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/releaseview/A6276D0783945EE28525708B0047D620?opendocument

United States Marine Corps

Press Release
Public Affairs Office
South Dakota Veterans Bonus Program ;
500 E. Capitol
Pierre, SD 57501
[email protected]
(605) 773-7251
Contact:

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Release # 0929-05-0904
S. Dakota offers bonus to veterans
Sept. 29, 2005

PIERRE, S.D. --
The state of South Dakota is paying a veterans bonus of up to $500 to certain military personnel who were legal residents of the state for no less than six months immediately preceding entry into the Armed Forces, who are currently on active duty or were honorably discharged from the Armed Forces, and who served on active duty during one, or both of the following periods.

For service between the dates of Jan. 1, 1993 through Sept. 10, 2001 payment will be made only to those who served overseas and were awarded the Armed Forces Expeditionary medal, Southwest Asia Service medal, Kosovo campaign medal or any other United States campaign or service medal awarded for participation in combat operations against hostile forces.

All active duty between the dates of Sept. 11, 2001 through a date to be determined, qualifies for a bonus payment.

Application forms may be obtained by writing to: SD Veterans Bonus, 500 E. Capitol, Pierre, SD 57501 or by calling us at (605) 773-7251. If you have E-mail access you can request a form by writing to
[email protected] Be sure to include your name, street or PO Box number, city, state and zip code .

Oliver North: Send in the Marines

Washington, D.C. - "Send in the Marines." For more than two centuries, those words -- or something similar -- have been uttered hundreds of times by our nation's leaders when it became necessary to protect American lives, property, interests and security. But in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, "Send in the Marines," may take on a whole new meaning.

http://www.military.com/opinion/0,15202,77908_1,00.html
September 29, 2005
Washington, D.C. - "Send in the Marines." For more than two centuries, those words -- or something similar -- have been uttered hundreds of times by our nation's leaders when it became necessary to protect American lives, property, interests and security. But in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, "Send in the Marines," may take on a whole new meaning.

This week, while hundreds of square miles of storm-devastated Louisiana and Mississippi are still inhabitable, the House Government Reform Committee began hearings into what went wrong in responding to Katrina. Unfortunately, before we have even determined what went wrong, “official Washington” -- meaning the Bush administration and the Congress -- seems to have already come up with the answer. For future disasters, send in the Marines -- and the Army, Navy and Air Force.

In response to reporters' questions, President Bush said, " I want there to be a robust discussion about the best way for the federal government, in certain extreme circumstances, to be able to rally assets for the good of the people." He went on to ask, "Is there a natural disaster of a certain size that would then enable the Defense Department to become the lead agency in coordinating and leading the response effort?" The Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Virginia's “Senior Senator” -- who ought to know better -- has said, “I believe the time has come that we reflect on the Posse Comitatus Act,” in urging that the President and Secretary of Defense be given “correct standby authorities” to manage natural and perhaps man-made disasters.

These are the reactions of national leaders -- and many in the public -- who were misled by the hyperventilated claims of local politicians and authorities that “more than 10,000 are probably dead,” that “rapes and murders” were occurring in the Superdome and that “all law and order have broken down” in New Orleans. We now know that the death toll is a fraction of that forecasted by state and local officials. And while there were well-documented cases of looting, the homicides and rampant sexual assaults that were reported -- but never verified -- by the mainstream media were, for the most part, untrue.

Nonetheless, Washington wants to “fix” the problem. But before we decide that the 10 th Amendment to the Constitution has no meaning whatsoever, and give our already stretched Armed Forces yet another mission, all the helpful politicians on the Potomac need to take a deep breath. The suggestions that the Pentagon become the “lead agency” for disasters undoubtedly sounds good to those who watched live on cable news as the mobilized National Guard, 82nd Airborne, 4th Infantry Division, 8th Marines, USAF transports and half a dozen U.S. Navy ships supplemented the U.S. Coast Guard in the disaster.

The men and women of our Armed Forces were efficient and effective. They did a great job in New Orleans -- as they have done on every operation in which I've been a participant or observer for the last forty years. They did what they were ordered to do and did it well. As one young soldier told me, quoting one of our FOX News slogans -- “This is what we do.”

But is this what we want our military to be doing? Before we decide to rescind the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, put the Secretary of Defense in charge of disaster relief and give this -- or any other President -- more federal power over our state and local governments, serious questions need to be answered and the facts should be known.

First, neither this President nor any other needs more “legal” or legislated authority to send U.S. troops into the teeth of a disaster. Every President's aides carry PEADs -- Presidential Emergency Action Documents -- draft Executive Orders giving the Chief Executive broad authorities in the midst of a declared national emergency. In May of 1992, President George H. W. Bush issued such an order at the request of California governor during the “Rodney King riots” in Los Angeles. His Executive Order 12804 suspended the proscriptions of Posse Comitatus to allow Army and Marine units to “restore law and order.”

Second, the military is already tasked to provide -- under the provisions of the “Stafford Act” -- significant material support to governors and other jurisdictions which make such requests of the President in the midst of a declared emergency. Understandably, the Commander-in-Chief does not relinquish control over the federal troops being used in such circumstances.

Most importantly, we need to avoid degrading the readiness of our 1.4 million soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. Today, 395,000 of them are deployed overseas -- 170,000 of them fighting a war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Every time we take a rifleman or a radio from preparation to fight, we place them in future jeopardy. Helicopters, trucks, communications equipment and people all wear out. When and where do we want them trained in domestic law enforcement?

In 1991, at the time of the first Gulf War, the U.S. Army had eighteen active duty divisions. Today, there are only ten. Ronald Reagan's 600-ship Navy has been whittled down to 280 "deployable battle force ships." The Air Force currently fields thirteen active duty fighter wings, half of what is was just fifteen years ago. What is the "extreme...

circumstance" in which they are to be used for domestic disasters instead of preparing to fight?

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a "disaster" is defined as "Hazards that impact on human lives, causing adverse physical, social, economic or even political effects that exceed the ability to rapidly and effectively respond." Do we also want U.S. troops prepared to respond to tornadoes, hurricanes, forest fires, earthquakes, mudslides and, according to one FEMA medical disaster manual, incidents like the Exxon-Valdez oil tanker spill -- defined as a "property only" or "environment only" disaster?

Those who are debating what needs to be done to mitigate the consequences of the next “extreme circumstance” need to answer these questions before the answer becomes: “Send in the Marines.”

Marine and wife save 2 from desert heat

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. (Sept. 29, 2005) -- A Marine and his wife rescued two Yuma area teenagers from dehydration in the desert behind the foothills Sept. 17.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/3493F615A94D71468525708C0080BBB9?opendocument

Submitted by: MCAS Yuma
Story Identification #: 200593019266
Story by Lance Cpl. Robert L. Botkin

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. (Sept. 29, 2005) -- A Marine and his wife rescued two Yuma area teenagers from dehydration in the desert behind the foothills Sept. 17.

Master Sgt. Brian Benbow, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron operations chief, and wife Maria Benbow, were in the area with a metal detector, a hobby Benbow says they enjoy occasionally, when they saw 15-year-old Kelby Carley halfway up one of the mountains east of the foothills.

“We just take a metal detector out into the washes and creek beds and see what we can find,” said Benbow, a native of Cottonwood, Calif. “We had just started out into the foothills and we saw someone walking up on the side of the mountain.”

Benbow said he and his wife didn’t pay much attention to him until he started waving his shirt like a flag. Benbow and his wife then drove his jeep as far up into the hills as he could to reach Carley, until he was in shouting distance.

“I called across to him and asked him if he needed help,” said Benbow. “He said he was out of water, wasn’t feeling well, was dizzy, lightheaded and had been vomiting. That told me right away he was dehydrated.”

Benbow said he told Carley to sit down and grabbed a bottle of water from his cooler and started climbing across a ravine to reach Carley. Once he reached Carley he had him drink some water and started maneuvering him down the mountain towards his jeep.

“He just stood on the (side of the mountain),” said Benbow. “He was yelling, but I couldn’t hear what he was yelling until I got up there. He was yelling his buddy’s name.”

This is when Benbow learned there was another boy, who chose to remain unidentified for this story, out there with Carley. Benbow then called 911 and gave them specifics on where he was in order to help them find the other boy.

The two had started out at 6 a.m. with a backpack containing water and a cell phone in case of an emergency, said Carley’s mother Brenda.

Carley said he and his friend ended up leaving the backpack somewhere on the side of the mountain in order to cut down on the weight they had to carry up the mountain. Later, when the two had been in the sun for an hour, they looked for the backpack but were unable to find it.

“I started getting dizzy and passing out,” Carley said. “We were out there for six hours, but we were in the sun for only about an hour and a half.”

While Benbow was retrieving Carley, his wife Maria looked for the other boy and found him after about 15 minutes on the other side of the ridge Carley was on, said Benbow. Maria then took more water to the other teenager while Benbow drove the jeep closer to where they were.

“(The other boy) wasn’t as bad as the first one,” said Benbow. “He was a little bit more coherent, but he was still weak and had been throwing up.”

Rural/Metro met Benbow and his wife near the scene at Avenue 15E to receive the boys and ensure they received any medical aid needed.

The boys could have gotten hurt if Benbow and his wife hadn’t been there, he said. Parts of the mountain that they were on were quite steep, and in their weakened condition they could’ve fallen, which would have been a major problem since the area isn’t very well traveled.

“I was so surprised that anyone was out there,” said Carley. “I couldn’t get to him because I was so weak. I guess he’s my childhood hero. If he would not have found us, we probably would have died.”

SMP Marines get more than a Luau

WAIKIKI, Hawaii(Sept. 29, 2005) -- As training intensifies, select Camp Pendleton Marines in the Single Marine Program here were afforded the opportunity to take a break from military life and go to Hawaii Aug. 31 - Sept. 8.

http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/2EC751DA37E9A9E58525708A00689F95?opendocument

Submitted by:
MCB Camp Pendleton
Story by:
Computed Name: Lance Cpl. Ray Lewis
Story Identification #:
200592815245

WAIKIKI, Hawaii(Sept. 29, 2005) -- As training intensifies, select Camp Pendleton Marines in the Single Marine Program here were afforded the opportunity to take a break from military life and go to Hawaii Aug. 31 - Sept. 8.

The program not only allowed Marines from Camp Pendleton to get some fun in the sun, but also took Marines from Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif., Marine Corps Air Stations Miramar and Yuma, Ariz.

The Marines’ only expense was $40 for a luau, but it was a small price for a free stay at the Ohana Waikiki West Hotel, which was close to Waikiki beach.

Although there are rumors that SMP is a strict program, Alex De Los Santos, SMP coordinator says otherwise.

“Most Marines think it’s a structured program, but it’s not so. We take trips (and) outings,” Santos said.
The Marines boarded a KC-130 Hercules military aircraft Aug. 31 at MCAS Miramar and departed for their island destination.

Snacks and drinks helped the Marines smooth out the bumpy eight-hour plane ride.

When they got off the plane, the Marines stretched to the sky as they debarked the aircraft.
Before boarding the bus to the hotel, the Marines were hugged by warm sun, and kissed by affectionate raindrops.

After changing into tank tops and flip-flops, Camp Pendleton Marines headed for Shark’s Cove at North Shore for snorkeling and cliff diving.

The Marines then traveled a short distance to Waimea Valley Audubon Center, there they saw wildlife and splashed under a waterfall.

On the way back the Marines stopped at the Dole Pineapple Plantation for fresh pineapple treats and souvenirs. The visit to Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial were the highlights of the trip.
Many Marines were amazed as they toured the memorial that is above the sunken ship that still lies beneath Pearl Harbor.

“Just hearing thousands of people died is one thing but seeing their names in granite is another,” said Cpl. Zachary M. Foster, a bulk fuel specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters and Support MCAS Camp Pendleton, and a member of SMP executive council.

Where most things in Hawaii would be topped off with pineapple, Marines topped off the trip with a luau-a-night of Hawaiian food and entertainment.

“It’s nice to get away from the workday, especially deployments,” said Cpl. Savanah J. Service, a warehouse clerk with Combat Service Support Group 15 and a member of SMP executive council.

When it was time to get back on the KC-130, the Marines took one last look at paradise before they boarded the plane for yet another eight-hour ride to MCAS Miramar.

“It’s good to have a program like this because the trips (give) us (a chance) to see stuff we’d like to see but can’t afford to,” Foster said.

“I would recommend this program to any Marine who wants to save money and have fun,” said Cpl. Daniel K. Roselli, administrative clerk with Headquarters and Headquarters and Support Squadron,
MCAS Camp Pendleton and SMP president for Camp Pendleton.

For more information on how to join the Single Marine Program log on to: http://www.mccscamppendleton.com/recreation/single_marine.html Or contact Alex De Los Santos at (760) 725-6722

Ammo techs rid mortars of deadly gas

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif.(Sept. 29, 2005) -- Ammunition technicians here help make dangerous, expired ammunition safe for Marines preparing for deployment to Iraq. (1st FSSG)

http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/78377D9C17838D6A8525708A006959E6?opendocument

Submitted by:
MCB Camp Pendleton
Story by:
Computed Name: Lance Cpl. Ray Lewis
Story Identification #:
2005928151042

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif.(Sept. 29, 2005) -- Ammunition technicians here help make dangerous, expired ammunition safe for Marines preparing for deployment to Iraq.

Thanks to the efforts of Marines from the 1st Force Service Support Group, ammunition can be used without wait.

The Marines detoxified mortar rounds last month using a standard process to renew the explosive ammunition.

In nine days, a 10-man crew of 1st FSSG ammo techs repackaged a total of 1,838 mortar rounds from here and Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms.

Since gas discharges from the shells as Marines detoxify them, they must wear gas masks and suits while working with the $636,000 worth of ammunition, said Chief Warrant Officer William E. Lanham, officer in charge for 1st FSSG’s Ammunition Supply Point.

“We save Marines’ lives,” said Lance Cpl. Leif J. Johnson, an ammunition technician for 1st FSSG’s Ammunition Supply Point.

That’s because Marines could be exposed to the toxic gas while waiting for the ammunition to ventilate, said Johnson.

“Mortar men had to wait for 10 minutes before using the rounds,” said Lanham. “In combat you don’t have time to air out rounds, you have to use them right away.”

Without live, functional mortars, training for mortarmen awaiting deployment could have been compromised, said Cpl. Jared A. Hebert, a mortarman with 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, who has deployed twice to Iraq.

“It’s like never firing a rifle and saying, ‘your good’,” said Hebert. “You’re going to need all the practice you can get, because over there (Iraq) it’s the real thing.”

Although the process enhanced combat and training readiness for Marines in Iraq now, it is actually part of a large-scale endeavor by Marine Corps Systems Command to detoxify all contaminated ammo. All bases with contaminated ammunition were ordered to perform the one-time detoxification process, said Lanham.

The process included airing out, scrubbing and repackaging the bowling pin-shaped mortar rounds into metal ammunition cans.

“We also (wrap) the rounds with Gas-Absorbent Modules,” said Sgt. Stacy L. Houser, an ammunition technician section leader with 1st FSSG.

Gas-Absorbent Modules, which are red plastic rings snapped around the neck of the round, top off the process to ensure the ammunition stays non-toxic by absorbing phosphine gas.

After the ammunition cans were sealed, many of the rounds were prepared for shipment to Iraq.

The remaining rounds are in storage until 1st Marine Division requests them for training.

With the detoxification complete, the ammo techs have saved the Marine Corps hundreds of thousands of dollars and raised Camp Pendleton’s readiness to a whole new bar.

Residents compete in Commissary's FoodFactor

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan (9/27/2005) -- The Station Commissary hosted a mouth-shoveling, pizza-throwing and pie-in-face smearing FoodFactor event in recognition of the Single Marine Program's 10th anniversary, Sept. 25.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/D216EC94CC3C914085257093001B8940?opendocument


Submitted by: MCAS Iwakuni
Story Identification #: 20051071046
Story by Lance Cpl. Cristin K. Bartter

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan (9/27/2005) -- The Station Commissary hosted a mouth-shoveling, pizza-throwing and pie-in-face smearing FoodFactor event in recognition of the Single Marine Program's 10th anniversary, Sept. 25.

The event, sponsored by the Defense Commissary Agency, was specifically honed to get single and unaccompanied members into the commissary to better familiarize themselves with the stores benefits and win prizes. This was the commissary's way of encouraging the single and unaccompanied Marines to utilize what it has to offer them.

"Since most of the E-6's and below have a meal card, they really are paying out of their pocket for groceries, so these programs are to help them learn how to get the most out of their shopping dollar," said Tech Sgt. Christopher A. Valgardson, 374th Communications Squadron, Operating Location B, site chief and Portland, Ore., native. "Because they live in the barracks, they really can't take advantage of the savings from the case lot sales or prepare their own food. The vendors look for other ways to encourage commissary use, so they sponsor programs like our FoodFactor event."

The spaghetti covering, egg-splattering event started with four, food-fun outdoor games. The Spill or Spell had contestants empty a cup of pudding into their mouth (without the use of utensils) sprint 20 yards to an opposite table and spit the pudding out to spell the initials S-M-P on a pallet. Each letter required one cup of pudding.

"The hardest part was trying to open the pudding cups really fast before the others came back to the table," said Seaman Elizabeth L. Voegtlin, Navy Mobile Construction Battalion 74 utilities and Biloxi, Miss. native. "I liked the challenge a lot. I was really close to winning, but it took some time to get my last pudding cup open. Oh well, maybe next time."

The Grapefruit Shot Put had contestants gagging, as they had to bite off the skin of a grapefruit then toss it "Olympic shot put" style. The Discus Pizza Toss consisted of contestants tossing a frozen pizza. The catch, both hands and the pizza were covered with spaghetti sauce. The last outdoor event was the Egg Scramble. Teams of two contestants would start out three feet apart and begin tossing an egg. Whoever broke the egg would be disqualified until only one contestant remained.

"The biggest thing is to try to catch it with your fingers and not so much with the palm of your hand," said Chief Petty Officer David Harfmann, NMCB-74, assistant officer in charge and winner of the Egg Scramble. "Your arms should be fading away from the egg as you catch it."

After the last spray of an egg, the contestants headed indoors to continue on the FoodFactor challenges. The indoor events consisted of skill games such as the String Cheese Pull, the Commissary Scrabble and the Scavenger Hunt.

Obviously the most amusing indoor events were the Melon Munch and the Treasure Pie. In the Melon Munch event, four participants were given a small melon. Contestants could only use their teeth to take off the outer layer of the melon. The first to finish eating it wins.

The Treasure Pie event had contestants smashing their face in a whipped cream pie for five "treasures," a lime, prune, radish, onion and hot pepper. The first to get all five treasures and eat them, won.

"The treasure pie event was a 'piece of cake,' or should I say pie?" said Lance Cpl. Jonathan W. Haley, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron air traffic controller, winner of the Treasure Pie event and Dallas native. "I knew I would win because I love to eat. It's like my favorite thing to do. All I did was bury my face in and sucked as much of the whipped cream as I could, like a vacuum cleaner."

The prizes of the event consisted of two JVC MP3 players, gift certificates, concert tickets, t-shirts and hats.

Overall the event was a hit. Contestants were racing around with shopping carts, smashing their faces in pies, meticulously pulling apart string cheese and laughing the whole time.

"The turn-out far exceeded anyone's expectation, with great support from family members to cheer on the competitors," said Valgardson.

Abizaid Details al Qaeda's Long-Term Goals

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29, 2005 – Al Qaeda terrorists hope to drive American influence from the Middle East and install a global Muslim leader in Saudi Arabia, Army Gen. John Abizaid said today.

http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Sep2005/20050929_2887.html


Abizaid Details al Qaeda's Long-Term Goals
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 29, 2005 – Al Qaeda terrorists hope to drive American influence from the Middle East and install a global Muslim leader in Saudi Arabia, Army Gen. John Abizaid said today.

Speaking during Senate testimony, Abizaid, chief of U.S. Central Command, said al Qaeda's objectives are clear. "They believe in a jihad, a jihad to overthrow the legitimate regimes in the region," he said. "In order to do that, they first must drive America from the region."

Al Qaeda believes the most important prize is Saudi Arabia, which is home to the holy shrines in Mecca and Medina. If al Qaeda terrorists manage to take control of Saudi Arabia, they will try to create and expand their influence in the region and establish a caliphate, Abizaid said.

The term harkens back to the immediate successors of Muhammed and means a land led by a supreme secular and religious ruler. Al Qaeda insists that re-establishing a caliphate would mean that one man, as the successor to Muhammad, would possess clear political, military and legal standing as the global Muslim leader.

Abizaid said al Qaeda would then apply a very narrow, strict interpretation of Sharia, Islamic law, not believed in or practiced anywhere else in the world today. Such conquest in the Middle East "would certainly allow al Qaeda and their proxies to control a vast oil wealth that exists in the region," he said. "They intend to destroy Israel in the process, as well."

The next goal would be to expand into non-Arab Islamic countries. This would include the middle of Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia, the general said. The organization would operate from these areas and also from cyberspace. He said al Qaeda uses to Internet to transmit their hatred. "They aim to take advantage of open societies and will strike at those societies when they are ready at their time and place of choosing," he said.

In an allusion that is probably distasteful to American companies, Abizaid said al Qaeda is not a monolith like IBM. Rather, it is a franchise operation like McDonald's. This makes it very difficult to cut off the head of the organization. The group uses any and all means to further its goals: drugs, smuggling, so-called charitable organizations and others.

To beat al Qaeda and affiliate organizations requires military action but also "all elements of international and national power to put pressure throughout the network over time in order to squeeze the ideology, defeat its sources of strength, and ultimately allow the good people of the region to have the courage and the ability to stand against this type of organization," Abizaid said.

The United States and its coalition allies are doing this, he said. The key to success is helping the people of the region develop the will and capabilities to challenge al Qaeda. The "long war against terror" will be won by "self-reliant partners in the region who are willing to face the enemy within their own countries," he said.

U.S. and coalition forces must remain in the region long enough to "stabilize Afghanistan, stabilize Iraq, continue to deter Syria and Iran, and protect the flow of oil vital to all the peoples of the world and the economies of the region," he said.

The United States must make it clear that America has no territorial designs. "We must make clear that we fight with them out of mutual respect and mutual benefit," Abizaid said.

3/1 Company L conduct sweeps near dam

HADITHA DAM, Iraq (Sept. 29, 2005) -- The Marines with Company L, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, conducted a company-sized sweep before dawn on Sept. 25 of areas near their home here.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/DA7C85A7F6C78C908525709F002A82F3?opendocument


Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 2005101934420
Story by Cpl. Adam C. Schnell

HADITHA DAM, Iraq (Sept. 29, 2005) -- The Marines with Company L, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, conducted a company-sized sweep before dawn on Sept. 25 of areas near their home here.

With frequent mortar attacks on the dam, the company set out to sweep suspected areas where most of the attacks were coming from. Their mission: locate and kill the enemy and seize any weapons caches.

They encountered enemy contact shortly after the sweep began. The sound of small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades echoed through the little village.

“We knew when they fired at us, we were going after them,” said Cpl. Brenden M. Wright, a Lansing Mich. native and squad leader for the company.

Wright continued, “It was a wake-up call for some of the Marines. Even with a company-sized element there, [insurgents] still fired at us. They obviously mean business.”

After taking fire from houses inside of the village, the Marines maneuvered so they could eliminate the threat in the area. They searched each target house to find any weapons or people responsible for the attack.

“We detained a few people who we believe were responsible for firing at us,” said the 21 year-old Wright. “We also found excess weapons in a few homes.”

Helping the Marines find weapons caches and explosives was Euro, a military working dog trained to find explosives. Also along for the sweep were combat engineers toting metal detectors to search for weapons underneath the dusty ground.

“Our mission was to sweep the palm groves with Company L where there was weapons found recently,” said Lance Cpl. Brandon M. Mitchell, a New London, Wis. native and combat engineer with the battalion. “Even though we didn’t find much, it was still good to get the new guys out there so they can get the experience in a combat environment.”

“The mission was definitely a success,” commented Wright. “We checked out some areas of interest and all of our guys came back safe.”

The Marines worked from dawn to dusk to make the area surrounding the dam a safer place to live for them and the local villagers. This wasn’t the first long day they encountered so far and it won’t be the last.

“We are going to continue to deter the insurgency in this area and make sure this isn’t a stopping point for terrorists moving through the country,” said Wright.

DoD contractors approved to use Quantico's Medal of Honor Golf Course

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. (Sept. 29, 2005) -- All Department of Defense contractors working full-time aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico are now authorized to play golf at the Medal of Honor Golf Course.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/B97AE9E37578AF20852570910066FE12?opendocument

Submitted by: MCB Quantico
Story Identification #: 2005105144457
Story by Cpl. Justin Lago

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. (Sept. 29, 2005) -- All Department of Defense contractors working full-time aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico are now authorized to play golf at the Medal of Honor Golf Course.

The announcement was made Sept. 15 by the MOH Golf Course committee with the approval of Quantico’s base commander and chairman of the golf course committee, Col. James M. Lowe.

Lowe’s decision was approved in the interest of the committee and for the DoD contractors, according to Marine Corps Community Services head of Recreation Business and Activities, Beth Kranz.

Statistics of the golf course show low numbers of patron players and there were grounds to allow more people to golf. The committee expects plenty of available tee time for all players,” Kranz said.

“The wider variety of people now able to visit the course will widen our business at the pro shops and at the golfer’s restaurant, Mulligan’s, by far,” said Mike Bassette, assistant golf professional at the MOH Golf Course. “I see the decision to allow the DoD contractors to play here as a positive outreach to the workers on base.”

The new policy will allow these contractors to play along-side the current DoD members holding government employment positions on base here. The contractors are required to show DoD identification at the Pro Shop, and will pay the same advertised fee as DoD civilian employees.

“We are trying to get the word out to the public,” said Kranz. “We’ve already had DoD contractors who play on our courses but they also fell into the category of retired Marines. Now, this way, the whole group can enjoy playing. DoD contractors can now plan events for unit functions within their shop for morale or a unit outing.”

Supplements: Concerns outweigh benefits

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. (Sept. 29, 2005) -- “Increase your muscle mass by 30 percent in four weeks.”

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/18C41CFE4C02B1F785257091006748CF?opendocument


Submitted by: MCB Quantico
Story Identification #: 200510514488
Story by Cpl. Sara Carter

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. (Sept. 29, 2005) -- “Increase your muscle mass by 30 percent in four weeks.”

“Get bigger biceps in two weeks.”

“Lose inches, gain muscle.”

Looking in most muscle magazines, supplement companies promote their product to those who are looking to bulk up quickly. Each company claims they will make people bigger, stronger, and more muscular in a matter of weeks. Some even boast people will see results in days.

Sure, people might gain a couple inches of muscle on their arms and legs in a short amount of time. But are they really taking the time to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of supplement use?

“Contrary to popular belief, there are no benefits to using supplements,” said Jacquelyn Bedwell, Semper Fit registered dietitian. “I am 100 percent against the use of supplements. The only people who should take supplements are people with very serious illnesses.”

According to Bedwell, supplements do not enhance athletic performance. Actually, they are harmful in the long run.

The disadvantages of using supplements:

-- They are not regulated by the Federal Drug Agency; therefore, companies do not have to disclose information on their contents. There could be very harmful substances in the products.

-- They are very costly. It is healthier and safer to get essential nutrients from foods. Also, if people eat a well-rounded diet, including the proper amount of calories from all of the food groups, they provide their bodies with all the nutrients they need. This means most of the supplement will be flushed out of the body through the kidneys. Essentially, it becomes a waste of money.

-- They pose a danger to the user’s health. They can damage the kidneys, possibly permanently. They can also cause an increase in cholesterol and liver enzymes, putting an individual at higher risk of cardiovascular disease and liver damage. Some supplements act as a stimulant, which is dangerous to the heart.

-- They dehydrate the body.

There are many different types of supplements on the market, including protein powders and shakes, weight gainers, and energy drinks.

“If a person is still determined to take supplements after learning the potential side-effects, then they should take supplements for a very, very short time,” said Bedwell. “Preferably, supplements should not be taken at all.”

The main selling point for supplements is usually the protein portion. Because muscle is made of protein, people automatically assume the only way to get bigger muscles is to give the body more protein, when this, in fact, is untrue.

“I do not think supplements work,” said Bedwell. “Our bodies naturally have enough protein to lay down more muscle. We need to just eat enough protein to replenish everyday losses. The average person only needs between 50-90 grams of protein (per day).”

The amount of protein people need is determined primarily by their gender and size, said Bedwell.

The only way to increase muscle mass is to work out, focusing on all the elements of fitness: flexibility, cardio-respiratory endurance, muscle strength, and muscle endurance.
Bedwell believes individuals taking supplements do see results, but they are not from the supplements: they are from working out.

“Body builders go crazy with using supplements and don't know the various risks they are putting their bodies through,” said Bedwell. “They are very strict with their workout schedules and do see results. But they do not know that the results are coming from working out, not from the supplements. Because of this ignorance, they advertise what they think is making them stronger, but have no scientific evidence to back up their statements.”
Because of the potential side-effects, workouts should be done without the use of supplements, Bedwell explained.

“I recommend that Marines do not use supplements at all,” she said.
There are some supplements Marines are not allowed to use, including steroids, ephedra and androsteindione.

“I do think there are a great deal of people using supplements,” said Bedwell. “The reason for this is because there currently are not regulations on who calls themselves a ‘nutritionist,’ meaning if anybody feels they know about nutrition, they can give recommendations and advice. The only qualified person who can give science-based information is a registered dietitian.”

There are many dangers associated with taking supplements, and Bedwell hopes people will research the supplements before taking them.

“I just would like for everyone to learn the true facts about supplements before jumping into taking them,” said Bedwell. “The dangers are very real and very serious. It doesn't necessarily take many, many years for these side-effects to take their toll. It can happen in a short amount of time.”

Helicopter halved to serve as museum exhibit, training aid

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. (Sept. 29, 2005) -- Being sawed in half is usually the first step toward the scrap yard for an aircraft, but for one Navy helicopter that served Vietnam Marines in a former life, being bisected begins the fulfillment of two very different destinies.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/9716F47EB5A0D0B38525708F0053839E?opendocument


Submitted by: MCB Quantico
Story Identification #: 2005103111211
Story by Cpl. Jonathan Agg

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. (Sept. 29, 2005) -- Being sawed in half is usually the first step toward the scrap yard for an aircraft, but for one Navy helicopter that served Vietnam Marines in a former life, being bisected begins the fulfillment of two very different destinies.

The rear half of the CH-46D Sea Knight helicopter will serve at the National Museum of the Marine Corps as an entry way to a realistic Vietnam War exhibit depicting Hill 881 South near Khe Sahn. The front of the helicopter will continue to serve as a training aid for Marine Helicopter Squadron 1 airframe and powerplant mechanics here.

Lin Ezell, director of the National Museum of the Marine Corps and former executive officer of the National Air and Space Museum, said the decision to keep the front half of the helicopter in service was an easy one to make.

“We’re at war and there is an active need for aircraft and powerplant mechanics to train,” said Ezell. “Here, we’ve got a real machine, and it’s real hands-on training.”

While at least one other museum expressed interest in displaying the front of the helicopter, Ezell said it would better serve as a training tool than as an exhibit piece.

Mitch Garringer, the head of restoration for Marine Corps Museums Branch, said the arrangement to transfer the front of the CH-46D to HMX-1 is a product of the longstanding relationship between Museums Branch and the presidential helicopter squadron.

“We’ve been working with HMX-1 for years,” said Garringer. “They have two cranes, and people need to get hours on the cranes. So, to help assist in their training, we’re giving them this front half, the gear box and a rotor head. And they can use it to simulate putting the rotor head on and taking it off before they actually do it on a real aircraft. Instead of turning it over to (Defense Reutilization Marketing Office), someone’s getting use out of it.”

Staff Sgt. Silver Archer, HMX-1 Support Program’s division chief, first proposed the idea of using the CH-46D’s front half for training, and said it will help leathernecks at Marine Corps Air Facility Quantico practice with the Pettibone and Entwistle aircraft maintenance cranes on site.

“It definitely helps us. If they had DRMO’d it, it would have just been a waste,” said Archer. “We had been looking for an alternate means to get these guys certified on the cranes that we use, and this was something I thought we could set up a training course with.”
Ezell said preserving only part of an aircraft is not at all unusual, and in the case of the CH-46D, maintaining the entire aircraft for display in the National Museum of the Marine Corps would not be feasible, nor necessarily appropriate.

“Not every lighthouse, not every leather flight jacket, and not every helicopter can be preserved,” said Ezell. “There aren’t museums enough nor money enough to preserve everything. A museum’s role is to preserve something that represents the period, the events and activities enough to tell the story. And you do so in perpetuity. If you decide the front half of that helicopter is so important that it belongs in the museum, you pledge to take care of it forever.”

Ezell said aircraft associated with missions of historical significance or individual acts of heroism are treated with greater care and restored, if possible. An example of such an aircraft in the museum’s inventory is the UH-1E Huey helicopter flown by Maj. Stephen W. Pless (then captain) near Quang Nai, Republic of Vietnam, on Aug. 19, 1967. After the daring rescue of three Army aircrew members who had been left behind by their pilot and overrun by the enemy, Pless was awarded the Medal of Honor. His copilot, crew chief and gunner each received the Navy Cross for the action. Pless’ Huey is being restored by the museum.

Former Marine hook up Gunny's hog

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. (Sept. 29, 2005) -- Marines are a proud bunch. A lot have Marine Corps stickers or motivational license plates on their vehicles. But how many Marines have a motorcycle customized or painted entirely with a Marine Corps theme?

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/B62CA77245670C048525708F00572610?opendocument


Submitted by: MCB Quantico
Story Identification #: 2005103115153
Story by Cpl. Sara Carter

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. (Sept. 29, 2005) -- Marines are a proud bunch. A lot have Marine Corps stickers or motivational license plates on their vehicles. But how many Marines have a motorcycle customized or painted entirely with a Marine Corps theme?

Gunnery Sgt. James Marsh, an instructor at Officer Candidate School, has his Harley Davidson sporting that “moto” look.

“I feel highly motivated and proud that I’ve joined the most elite force in the world,” said Marsh. “When I ride my bike, everyone will know I am a Marine.”

Marsh bought a 1989 Harley Davidson Softail Custom in St. Louis five years ago. It was yellow with black tiger stripes.

“It was an ugly bike,” said Fred Stewart, a former Marine and one of the designers of Marsh’s bike. “It was in pretty bad shape.”

Marsh bought the old bike from a fellow leatherneck who couldn’t care for it anymore and was trying to find a good home and owner.

“I thought that I was the right one for the job,” said Marsh, “so I decided to buy it from him.”

Marsh was linked up with Stewart through another Marine and a bike shop.

Marsh contacted Stewart and Skip Nace, who works side-by-side with Stewart, and they agreed the bike was worth working on.

“I took my bike to have it serviced and had a couple of beers with Fred and Skip,” said Marsh. “I also took them some Marine Corps memorabilia.

“When I went back to pick (up the bike) so I could ride it, Fred came to me and told me he would love to do a Marine Corps theme with my bike,” Marsh explained. “He said him and the fellows would love doing it.”

After two days of persuading his wife Lisa, who was skeptical about letting Stewart and Nace do a Marine Corps-themed bike, she finally gave in.

Marsh and his family moved to Quantico in March and the bike remained in Missouri.

“I was very comfortable leaving my bike in Missouri,” explained Marsh. “But I am a Marine who loves to ride motorcycles and let the fresh air just hit my face. I was kind of down because I wasn’t able to ride.”

It took five hard weeks to get the bike into good shape. But, because Stewart and Nace had to wait for some of the parts and Marine memorabilia to continue with the bike, it took almost five months for the bike to be complete.

The shifter lever is made of brass and says “Marine Corps.” The gas tank is swathed by a painting of a Marine Corps saber, white cover and white gloves draped on the American flag.

Enlisted and officer swords cross on the front of the bike. And “grenades” on the back of the bike are functioning tail lights and turn signals.

“This is a one-of-a-kind bike,” said Stewart. “We won’t build the same bike twice.”

Once the bike was complete, Marsh expected to make the trip back to Missouri to pick it up, but Stewart and Nace had another idea in mind.

Stewart, Nace and their wives packed up the bike and drove it to Quantico to surprise Marsh with it.

When Marsh turned his bike over to the shop he knew the theme for his bike was going to be about the Marine Corps, but he had no idea what the bike actually looked like.

After repeated attempts to get Stewart and Nace to send him a picture or describe what the bike looked like, Marsh knew he would have to be patient and wait until the bike was done.
Once the bike arrived at Quantico, Marsh was in awe and knew that it was well worth the wait.

“It is awesome!” said Marsh with a huge smile.

Because there are so many unique characteristics to his bike, Marsh finds it difficult to pick out one feature as his favorite.

“If I had to choose, I would pick the tank because it is symbolic of the whole Marine Corps,” said Marsh. “It represents both officer and enlisted. That’s the reason there is no rank insignia anywhere on the bike.”

Marsh is grateful Stewart and Nace took so much time and effort to create such an indescribable bike for him.

“I think that these two gentlemen and the rest of their crew are awesome,” said Marsh. “They are former Marines and they love being about the Marines, talking to them about the old and new times. I am glad that I’ve met them and they will be my friends for life and also my brother in arms.”

Now when Marsh straps on his helmet and takes his “moto” bike for a ride, everyone he passes knows he is a proud Marine.

First national commemoration held since July 1979 for POWs,MIAs


MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (Sept. 29, 2005) -- “Once captured, there is no comprehending what goes through your head,” said former Marine and Vietnam prisoner of war, Walter W. Eckes, 59, who spoke at the Camp Pendleton Naval Hospital’s 15th annual Prisoner of War/Missing in Action remembrance ceremony Sept 16.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/35183A40EC3789818525708A006B2EC4?opendocument
Submitted by: MCB Camp Pendleton
Story Identification #: 2005928153043
Story by Lance Cpl. Antonio Rosas

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (Sept. 29, 2005) -- “Once captured, there is no comprehending what goes through your head,” said former Marine and Vietnam prisoner of war, Walter W. Eckes, 59, who spoke at the Camp Pendleton Naval Hospital’s 15th annual Prisoner of War/Missing in Action remembrance ceremony Sept 16.

The first national commemoration for POWs/MIAs was July 18, 1979. Since then, Congress has passed yearly resolutions for the tribute. But in 1996, a presidential proclamation designated the third Friday in September as National POW/MIA Recognition Day.

For the commemoration in 1991, the hospital planted a tree as a living memorial to the 10 Navy corpsmen still missing in action, some since 1963.

“It may only be a statistic for some, but it’s a terrible tragedy to someone who knows that individual (a prisoner of war),” said Navy Capt. James J. Ware, acting commanding officer, Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton.

Today, more than 25 feet tall, the tree serves as a reminder to the families and friends of those still unaccounted for that they are not forgotten. Families, retired servicemembers and current military leaders gathered for the event in order to acknowledge that those still unaccounted for will not be forgotten.

Eckes, one of a few servicemembers to successfully escape from a POW camp during the Vietnam War, described to the crowd of more than 100 teary-eyed people, his experiences at a POW camp.

“Every prisoner was treated differently. Fear is always in your mind. Basically they (the guards) could do anything they wanted to us, and that included torture,” said Eckes.

Although his hair has grown to a considerable length past his shoulders, Eckes continues to maintain the Marine spirit that helped keep him alive as a POW and speaks at colleges across the nation about his experiences.

“If there is something that I took from my experience it is that whatever you take on, don’t quit,” Eckes said.

In 1998, the Defense Auth-orization Act made it a law that the POW/MIA flag be flown on Memorial Day, Armed Forces Day, Flag Day, Veterans Day, Independence Day, and POW and MIA Recognition Day.

Kinser students donate money for Katrina assistance

CAMP KINSER, OKINAWA, Japan (Sept. 28, 2005) -- Students from Kinser Elementary School show off some of the money they have collected to support the ongoing relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina, the most destructive tropical storm in recorded U.S. history, in the school’s lunchroom Sept. 28.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/72634572302A431B8525708B0007774E?opendocument


Submitted by: MCB Camp Butler
Story Identification #: 2005928212132
Story by Pfc. Terence L. Yancey

CAMP KINSER, OKINAWA, Japan (Sept. 28, 2005) -- Students from Kinser Elementary School show off some of the money they have collected to support the ongoing relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina, the most destructive tropical storm in recorded U.S. history, in the school’s lunchroom Sept. 28.

The students have been taking donations during their lunch periods for more than a week and have collected over $1,000. After the hurricane, members of the local community immediately started collecting money in order to help in any way they could.

According to Chuck Miller, assistant station manager for the American Red Cross office on Camp Foster, as of Sept. 28, the Red Cross station here has received approximately $42,000 in donations from local units, organizations, service members and families, including $3,000 from the local Japanese community.

Japanese officer candidates get to the ‘Corps’ of artillery

CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan (Sept. 29, 2005) -- More than 130 Japanese officer candidates visited an artillery battery to learn about Marine artillery Sept. 27.

The Marines with L Battery, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, hosted cadets with the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force as part of the Japanese Observer Program. The candidates were taught the functional areas of an artillery battery including a M-198 155mm Medium Towed Howitzer demonstration, and Marine Corps crew-served and personal weapons familiarization.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/9016497317BA1C4C8525708B00198805?opendocument

Submitted by: MCB Camp Butler
Story Identification #: 200592903852
Story by Pfc. C. Warren Peace

CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan (Sept. 29, 2005) -- More than 130 Japanese officer candidates visited an artillery battery to learn about Marine artillery Sept. 27.

The Marines with L Battery, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, hosted cadets with the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force as part of the Japanese Observer Program. The candidates were taught the functional areas of an artillery battery including a M-198 155mm Medium Towed Howitzer demonstration, and Marine Corps crew-served and personal weapons familiarization.

“Most of these young Japanese (service members) haven’t decided which field they want work in,” said Sgt. Maj. Hideki Akamatsu, the JGSDF III Marine Expeditionary Force liaison. “The school wants them to see as many fields as possible so they can make an educated decision after they graduate from (Officer Candidates School).”

The day began with a briefing from the battery commander, Capt. David L. Padilla. He taught the cadets the history of III MEF and provided them an overview of their current status.
Following the brief, the Marines of L Battery demonstrated how a Marine artillery battery provides support in combat. The battery received a simulated call for support, then targeted and fired on the mock enemy.

“The students learn a lot from the Marines every time we have a joint event with them,” said Lt. Col. Masaoki Kumashira, the assistant chief of education with the JGSDF OCS.

After the demonstration, the Marines taught the cadets howitzer fundamentals, and how to operate a MK-19 40mm machine gun, M-2 .50 caliber machine gun, M-240G medium machine gun, M-249 squad automatic weapon, M-16A4 service rifle and the M-4A1 carbine.

“Events like this give us a chance to forge a relationship with the Okinawans,” said Capt. Padilla. “They need our support and we need theirs. One day we may fight side-by-side.”

Americans, Okinawans come together to enjoy food, family

CAMP KINSER, OKINAWA, Japan (Sept. 29, 2005) -- Service members and their families shared a day of sunshine with members of the Urasoe City Chamber of Commerce to experience food, fun and games during the 3rd Kinser Family Friendship Day Sept. 24 at Roberts Field pavilion.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/4657A2F2F40F1F5E8525708B001C6973?opendocument

Submitted by: MCB Camp Butler
Story Identification #: 200592911020
Story by Cpl. Martin R. Harris

CAMP KINSER, OKINAWA, Japan (Sept. 29, 2005) -- Service members and their families shared a day of sunshine with members of the Urasoe City Chamber of Commerce to experience food, fun and games during the 3rd Kinser Family Friendship Day Sept. 24 at Roberts Field pavilion.

The festivities started with a game of softball between the Japanese and American teams. The Chamber of Commerce team defeated the Camp Kinser team, 7-5.

After the game, Col. Paul Greenwood, Camp Kinser commander, welcomed the guests and expressed his appreciation to the citizens of Urasoe City for their long history of hospitality and friendship. He then asked everyone to enjoy the culturally diverse food.

The Urasoe Chamber of Commerce brought portable grills to cook Okinawan specialties like pan-fried noodles called yakisoba and grilled chicken skewers called yakitori. Another local favorite was sushi, which everyone seemed to enjoy.

According to Katsuya Tomikawa, a Chamber of Commerce member, the exchange of food is very important aspect of friendship that helps bring people closer to one another.

“Food is something everyone can relate to and enjoy,” Tomikawa said. “We want to taste American food, and we also want Americans to enjoy Japanese food. This helps us to understand each other and become closer as a community, regardless of our history.”

The food and drinks were, for the most part, provided by the Chamber of Commerce, but servicemembers and their families brought their favorites for their new Okinawan friends to enjoy.

“The Americans brought out a little bit of everything,” said 1st Lt. Lee Taylor, officer in charge of Camp Kinser camp services. “There was lasagna, chili, chicken wings and baked beans, but the Okinawans really loved the deviled eggs and cakes. The eggs were gone real quick.”
Nearly 130 Okinawan and American attendees participated in a traditional Okinawan dance, led by the Urasoe Chamber of Commerce women’s group.

After the damces, the Okinawans and Americans challenged each others’ strength in arm wrestling matches.

As the sun set, the event moved to Roberts Field for the dizzy izzy competition and three-leg races, where Americans and Okinawans were paired together on a team.

“It was so fun to play with all the Americans,” said 6-year old Youto Mekaru, who got to see the camp for the first time. “I loved doing the dizzy izzy because it was so hard to run straight without falling. I had a great time today.”

The entire event was organized for adults and children with an emphasis on the children and family, explained Manabu Yara, president of the chamber.

“It’s very important for children, Okinawan and American, to develop relationships very early,” Yara said. “These type of events help bring different families together.”Americans, Okinawans come together to enjoy food, family
Submitted by: MCB Camp Butler
Story Identification #: 200592911020
Story by Cpl. Martin R. Harris

CAMP KINSER, OKINAWA, Japan (Sept. 29, 2005) -- Service members and their families shared a day of sunshine with members of the Urasoe City Chamber of Commerce to experience food, fun and games during the 3rd Kinser Family Friendship Day Sept. 24 at Roberts Field pavilion.

The festivities started with a game of softball between the Japanese and American teams. The Chamber of Commerce team defeated the Camp Kinser team, 7-5.

After the game, Col. Paul Greenwood, Camp Kinser commander, welcomed the guests and expressed his appreciation to the citizens of Urasoe City for their long history of hospitality and friendship. He then asked everyone to enjoy the culturally diverse food.

The Urasoe Chamber of Commerce brought portable grills to cook Okinawan specialties like pan-fried noodles called yakisoba and grilled chicken skewers called yakitori. Another local favorite was sushi, which everyone seemed to enjoy.

According to Katsuya Tomikawa, a Chamber of Commerce member, the exchange of food is very important aspect of friendship that helps bring people closer to one another.

“Food is something everyone can relate to and enjoy,” Tomikawa said. “We want to taste American food, and we also want Americans to enjoy Japanese food. This helps us to understand each other and become closer as a community, regardless of our history.”

The food and drinks were, for the most part, provided by the Chamber of Commerce, but servicemembers and their families brought their favorites for their new Okinawan friends to enjoy.

“The Americans brought out a little bit of everything,” said 1st Lt. Lee Taylor, officer in charge of Camp Kinser camp services. “There was lasagna, chili, chicken wings and baked beans, but the Okinawans really loved the deviled eggs and cakes. The eggs were gone real quick.”
Nearly 130 Okinawan and American attendees participated in a traditional Okinawan dance, led by the Urasoe Chamber of Commerce women’s group.

After the damces, the Okinawans and Americans challenged each others’ strength in arm wrestling matches.

As the sun set, the event moved to Roberts Field for the dizzy izzy competition and three-leg races, where Americans and Okinawans were paired together on a team.

“It was so fun to play with all the Americans,” said 6-year old Youto Mekaru, who got to see the camp for the first time. “I loved doing the dizzy izzy because it was so hard to run straight without falling. I had a great time today.”

The entire event was organized for adults and children with an emphasis on the children and family, explained Manabu Yara, president of the chamber.

“It’s very important for children, Okinawan and American, to develop relationships very early,” Yara said. “These type of events help bring different families together.”

Anthrax vaccine offered to service members

CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq (Sept. 28, 2005) -- Starting in October, Marines, Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen here will have the option of beginning the anthrax vaccination program.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/E3293B31ED7383BE8525708B0026DD48?opendocument

Submitted by: 2nd Force Service Support Group
Story Identification #: 20059293430
Story by Lance Cpl. Joel Abshier

CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq (Sept. 28, 2005) -- Starting in October, Marines, Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen here will have the option of beginning the anthrax vaccination program.

Anthrax, an acute infectious disease caused by the spore-forming, rod-shaped bacterium called bacillus anthracis, is becoming a threat that may be used as a potential weapon against service members while deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to Petty Officer 1st Class Kathryn P. Coleman, an independent duty corpsman at the Battalion Aid Station with Headquarters and Service Battalion, 2nd Force Service Support Group (Forward).

The BAS will hold instructional briefs about the disease itself and the vaccine during weeks to come.

“We are trying to help [service members],” the Marysville, Calif., native said. “You never know when anthrax could be used against us.”

Anthrax cases can occur in three forms, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The forms are cutaneous infection, which is contact to bare skin; ingestion of undercooked or raw, infected meat; and breathing in airborne spores.

“Anthrax is some real bad stuff,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class David L. Brown, a corpsman at BAS with Headquarters and Service Bn., 2nd FSSG (Fwd). “If you get infected, there is little that can help you.”

Some symptoms of anthrax include, but are not limited to; severe breathing problems and shock, swollen lymph nodes, painless ulcers appearing on the skin with a black center, nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, fever followed by abdominal pain, severe diarrhea and vomiting blood, according to the FDA.

Everyone has the option of refusing the shot; however, without the vaccination there is a heightened chance that the individual will be more vulnerable to lethal anthrax infection, Brown explained.

“We want everyone to weigh their choices on whether they want to receive the vaccine or not,” the Washington D.C. native said. “It is serious business, so reading up on [Anthrax] will help you decide if you want to get the shot or not.”

Some individuals should not receive the shot if they have a moderate or severe illness, women who are pregnant, people with a possible history of latex sensitivity, people infected with HIV, if the individual has or previously had Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) or people who have recovered from an anthrax infection, according to the FDA.

Members of the Armed Forces are vaccinated for a variety of potential threats and the anthrax vaccination is another tool to assist the military with its mission noted Petty Officer 2nd Class John M. Curry, a corpsman at BAS with Headquarters and Service Bn., 2nd FSSG (Fwd).

“We’re in a business where you never know what your enemies are going to expose you to,” the Havre de Grace, Md., native said. “As medical professionals, we encourage service members to receive the vaccination due to its proven effectiveness.”

The FDA-licensed schedule for anthrax vaccine is six doses given over an 18-month period, according to the anthrax Emergency Use Authorization pamphlet, which is available at the BAS. Six doses are needed for full protection, however, if the patient gets a dose earlier than scheduled, their risk of exposure to anthrax changes and will have to reconsider whether to continue the vaccination process.

For more information concerning the anthrax vaccine, visit http://www.anthrax.mil.

“Black Three” rides again

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq (Sept. 29, 2005) -- One team of Marines operating with 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, bound together after facing the effects of a deadly improvised explosive device here.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/EBF018154D47E2988525708B002FEB55?opendocument

Submitted by: II Marine Expeditionary Force (FWD)
Story Identification #: 200592944324
Story by Lance Cpl. Josh Cox

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq (Sept. 29, 2005) -- One team of Marines operating with 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, bound together after facing the effects of a deadly improvised explosive device here.

While conducting routine operations with the tanks May 1, the gun truck, known as “Black Three,” was hit by an IED. Marines from Headquarters Platoon, Bravo Company, 2nd Tank Bn., 2nd Marine Division affected by the explosion, Lance Cpls. Jamby Perez and Brandon Wells, and Sgt. Brent Sheets, were riding in the vehicle when the blast occurred.

“It went off right beside our truck,” said Sheets, the truck’s vehicle commander. “We really didn’t have any good way to detect that it was there because the side of the roads were covered in trash.”

Perez, who is a motor transport operator with Bravo Company, said when the IED detonated, the boom was so deafening he temporarily lost his hearing, except for intense ringing in his ears.

“All I heard was sirens,” said Perez, describing his ear’s reaction to the blast. “It was like a police car. I didn’t hear the actual IED go off.”

When Perez realized what was going on, he and others rushed to help fellow Marines who were injured.

“I looked to my right and saw my vehicle commander, Sgt. Sheets,” said Perez, who was piloting the armored humvee at the time of the blast. “Sgt. Sheets was able to get out of the vehicle, but he just collapsed. He was bleeding from his nose and he couldn’t move his knee. I saw my gunner (Wells), and he was dripping blood, but I just didn’t know where it was coming from. He was walking around because he was so hyped up.”

Marines of “Black Two,” another humvee operating with Bravo Company, did what they could to calm and aid their injured teammates until they could be evacuated from the scene.

The “Black Three” driver came out of the explosion unscathed.

“I was the only one who didn’t get hurt,” said Perez. “The biggest two pieces of shrapnel that went through the truck missed me by inches. It would have taken half of my leg off. That’s pretty scary.”

After the attack, Perez was able to return to duty within a week, while the other Marines of “Black Three” recuperated from wounds received in the explosion.

“It took me about two weeks,” said Sheets. “I missed one mission.”

According to Sheets, Wells was back in the turret three weeks later.

“We were able to overcome it through each other, giving each other support,” said Perez. “We were kind of scared of going back out there. Somehow we were just able to overcome it.”

Sheets said the incident made him angry, and he was ready to get back into the fight as soon as he could.

“It makes you push a lot harder when you are out in the field to find the bad guys, because you don’t want that stuff to happen to any other Marine,” he said.

There is something special about the bond the “Black Three” Marines created supporting 2nd Tank Bn., in Iraq, and an IED didn’t stop the team from thriving through the rest of the deployment.

“The bond that we have, I never thought it was possible,” said Perez. “Our crew has never been separated.”

Sheets said the Marines who serve as a quick reaction force for the tanks, dubbed “The Rat Pack,” are a close-knit group in the battalion.

“I think honestly out of everyone in Bravo Company, we have a really good bond because we are always the ones going out with the tanks and clearing these buildings, and we depend on each other a lot more,” said Sheets. “When you go clear buildings and you have that man covering you while you are going in, there is a bond that gets a lot thicker.”

“Black Three” has been very instrumental during operations while attached with 2nd Tank Bn.

“If tanks have a certain mission, we will be the ones to clear houses in that area so the tankers don’t have to dismount,” said Sheets. “We get more involved with the ground than they do. If a tank breaks down, we will go out and set up security for the tanks while they are fixing the problem in the field.”

A deadly IED wasn’t enough to break the bond among the Marines of “Black Three,” or enough to stop the mission of Bravo Company in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

EDITOR’S NOTE
Please feel free to publish this story or any of the accompanying photos. If used, please give proper credit to the writer/photographer, and contact us at: [email protected] so we can update our records.

Supporting the warfighter: MCCS deploys with Okinawa Marines

PYONGTAEK, South Korea(Sept. 29, 2005) -- Leaving Okinawa for a few weeks or months and traveling to another exotic southeast Asian country sounds like a great vacation, but not if you are going on a deployment and sleeping on cots in the jungle.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/819E9CA7C4F6FFF78525708B00196730?opendocument

Submitted by:
MCB Camp Butler
Story by:
Computed Name: Sgt. Nuntavong
Story Identification #:
200592903728

PYONGTAEK, South Korea(Sept. 29, 2005) -- Leaving Okinawa for a few weeks or months and traveling to another exotic southeast Asian country sounds like a great vacation, but not if you are going on a deployment and sleeping on cots in the jungle.

Marine Corps Community Services Deployed Operations helps III Marine Expeditionary Force Marines keep busy during their off time by bringing them a few comforts from home, according to Jokim M. Davis, assistant operations officer.

“We are here to provide (morale, welfare and recreation) services to forward-deployed Marines,” Davis said. “We want you to feel like you’re back in Okinawa as much as possible.”
Some of the “comforts of home” that MCCS brings to a deployment are Internet access, a telephone calling center and gym.

Internet services are contracted by MCCS with a local service provider. They provide Internet access, wireless networking and printing capabilities free to service members 24-hours a day.
“I was surprised to see MCCS out here (in South Korea) with us,” said Lance Cpl. Marcial Q. Gutierrez, an administrative clerk with Headquarters and Service Battalion, 3rd Force Service Support Group. “It’s great to be able to e-mail my family while I’m (on temporary additional duty.)”

The telephone center is a telecommunication service that provides service members with the ability to make local or international phone calls. This service is also locally contracted by MCCS.

If a gym is not located at your TAD location, MCCS will make one for you. The gym may include free weight equipment like dumbbells, barbells and plates; resistance-training machines; and cardiovascular devices like stationary bicycles, treadmills, elliptical trainers and stair climbers.

“Having a gym on deployment helps me keep in shape,” said Gunnery Sgt. Robert D. Chaldekas, a maintenance chief with 7th Communications Battalion.

Encouraging physical fitness, MCCS also conducts a Sports Day, in coordination with unit commanders, sponsoring events like basketball, softball, soccer, football, running events and various competitions. Trophies are awarded to the top performers.

MCCS has provided these services to III MEF Marines for more than six years at exercises such as Cobra Gold in Thailand, Ulchi Focus Lens in South Korea, Crocodile in Australia and Operation Unified Assistance, also in Thailand.

“When there’s little to do outside, this keeps (the service members) busy and gives them a place to spend their off time,” Davis said.

According to Richard E. Poulin Jr., the deployed operations officer, when Marines and Sailors utilize MCCS facilities and services on Okinawa, those profits fund the free services and activities at their deployment site.

To find out if MCCS will be at your next deployment, contact MCCS Deployed Operations at 645-9346.

New Fairfield Marine 'grateful' for experience in Iraq campaign

Tom Mack, a 25-year-old Marine lance corporal who returned to his home in New Fairfield this week after a seven-month stint in Iraq, knows what that means. The war never goes away.

http://news.newstimeslive.com/story.php?id=74900&category;=Local

By Brian Saxton
NEW FAIRFIELD – A woman strapped with explosives and disguised as a man blows herself up outside an Iraqi army recruiting center, killing at least six people and wounding 30.

A U.S. Marine from the 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force dies from a non-hostile gunshot wound near Fallujah.

The news from Iraq never seems to get better. The grim headlines that emerged Wednesday were par for the course.

Tom Mack, a 25-year-old Marine lance corporal who returned to his home in New Fairfield this week after a seven-month stint in Iraq, knows what that means. The war never goes away.

"I still feel involved with it," Mack said. "I'm just sorry I'm not there to do something about it."

Mack, who was based only 15 miles southwest of Fallujah, experienced his own share of danger and emotion on the battlefield.

"We came under fire and there were friends that I lost," he said. "There were even times when I thought I might not make it back myself."

Still, it was an experience Mack says has turned his life around.

"I feel more grateful now for the things that I have and for the country I live in," he said. "I feel I'm a stronger person and more independent in myself."

Born and raised in Bedford, N.Y., Mack originally attended Plymouth State College in New Hampshire to study music.

"I planned on becoming a musician because there was a lot of musical talent in my family, but then I felt the need for a change," Mack said. "I wanted to do something that I would never forget. I wanted to make something of myself and become the sort of person I am today."

With a war raging in Iraq, Mack said he suddenly felt "a strong urge to stand up and serve my country."

Mack, who joined the Marine Corps in 2003, was shipped to Iraq in February and spent most of his tour as a rifleman and diesel engine mechanic with a unit that supported forward base operations.

"I remember feeling a bit nervous but more excited when I first went there," Mack said. "I'd always believed in the war. I still do. We should remember that those who have died served a cause and are greatly missed wherever they are now."

Like most of his comrades, Mack said he was comforted in Iraq by "the great outpouring of support" he received in the form of letters, phone calls, e-mails and care packages

"I received letters from people I didn't even know," he said.

Mack's sister, Samantha, 16, a junior at New Fairfield High School, and brother, Taylor, 14, an eighth-grader at the middle school, were among his regular correspondents.

"Of course we were worried about him because he was in danger, but if a family has faith, it will pull them through," Samantha said.

Samantha said she noticed some of the changes a service career and seven months in Iraq have made in her brother

"I think he really grew up over there," she said. "He seems happier now and very proud. When he walks into a room, a light seems to go on."

Mack's father, Tom, 51, has also seen a difference in his son.

"His life has made a 180-degree turn since he enlisted," Tom Mack Sr. said. "He's matured and he's become more disciplined. I think the Marine Corps has given his life balance and structure. I couldn't be more proud of him."

Sitting on the family porch beneath a cluster of oak trees, the younger Mack said Wednesday he plans on spending the next two weeks of his leave catching up with friends and playing golf with his father.

Family, friends and dozens of other New Fairfield residents turned out in the town shopping center Monday night to give Mack the kind of homecoming they've given to other servicemen returning from Iraq.

"It was one of the most wonderful things that's ever happened to me," he said. "I certainly didn't expect it. It made me feel the job I did had been worth it."

Contact Brian Saxton

at [email protected]

or at (203) 731-3332.

Pilot error blamed in deadly Iraq crash

Human error caused a helicopter crash in western Iraq in January that killed 26 Hawai'i Marines and a sailor, according to an investigative report released yesterday on the deadliest crash in more than two years of combat in Iraq.

http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050929/NEWS01/509290341/1001/NEWS

Advertiser Staff and News Services

Human error caused a helicopter crash in western Iraq in January that killed 26 Hawai'i Marines and a sailor, according to an investigative report released yesterday on the deadliest crash in more than two years of combat in Iraq.

The crew of the California-based CH-53E Super Stallion became disoriented when weather turned bad and visibility was quickly reduced, and flew the helicopter into the ground, the Los Angeles Times reported. The crash killed the Hawai'i Marines, a Navy corpsman and four crew members based out of California.

The Jan. 26 crash occurred at 1:20 a.m. local time in a sandstorm near Rutbah, a corner of Iraq that touches the Syrian and Jordanian borders.

The crew apparently did not realize the helicopter had begun banking to the left rather than flying straight ahead, the newspaper said, citing the report released by the Marine Corps.

The helicopter was taking troops to western Iraq to help protect polling places during the Iraqi election when it crashed. A second helicopter made the trip safely.

The families of two of the Kane'ohe Bay Marines who died in the crash said yesterday they had not received copies of the 400-page report, which was released out of a staff judge advocate's office in California.

"I would like to have known. I would still like to know, and I would have rather had it before the press," said William Etterling, whose son, Lance Cpl. Jonathan Etterling, 22, was one of the Marines on board.

The Ohio man isn't upset, though, and has nothing bad to say about the Corps. The news that human error was the official cause wasn't a surprise.

"I knew that. I talked to the (Marine) sergeant about that when we were standing by the casket," Etterling said.

Manfred Klein of Michigan, whose son, Lance Cpl. Allan Klein, 34, was killed, also had not seen the report, but said he understands there can be delays in the release of information.

For both families, the acute pain of their loss eight months ago has been dulled only slightly.

"It isn't like it was in the beginning," Klein said, "but there's not been a day that goes by, and possibly not an hour, that I don't think about him."

Etterling said it's been "very difficult."

"We're dealing with it, and we get up every day and we do what we're supposed to do," he said, adding that his community has been very supportive.

The Hawai'i Marines were with the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, which fought house-to-house through Fallujah in November, and lost 46 Marines in total while in Iraq.

Kane'ohe Bay officials yesterday said the regiment had just learned the crash report was out and had not seen it.

The report stated the pilot of the second helicopter, Capt. Norman T. Day, whose responsibility included providing updated weather information for both crews, has been taken off flying status. According to the report, Day did not provide such information to the doomed helicopter crew, the Los Angeles Times said.

In a transcript of an interview with Day, a Marine investigator told him that he might face dereliction of duty charges. But the report as issued does not say whether charges are being brought.

Day told the investigator that the bad weather "definitely snuck up on me."

"I don't think there is anything I could have done differently," Day told the investigator. "Other than turning around at the first sign of a little bit of weather, but I don't think that is an option."

Day said that turning around and returning to base was not possible because both helicopters were low on fuel and were close to the intended destination, Rutbah. To save time, the helicopters had not taken on fuel at a midway stop.

Etterling said he still has questions about the crash that likely won't be answered by the report.

"I was given to understand they had been having problems with sandstorms, and that they were even grounded the first day and didn't leave the base," he said. "The next day, they flew anyway. That's what I was told. Why did they fly if they had already canceled one day?"

Some families wondered if a missile shot down the helicopter. A bright flash was seen by people aboard the accompanying helicopter — which may have been able to fly just outside the sandstorm — when the Super Stallion went down.

Key sections of the 400-page report have been redacted for what authorities say are national security concerns, the Los Angeles Times said. Among the items not publicly disclosed were two recommendations by the investigating officer that were not endorsed by the commanding general of the 3rd Marine Corps Air Wing. It is not clear what those recommendations were.

The flight crew and the helicopter were from Miramar Marine Corps Air Station in San Diego, the headquarters of the air wing. All 31 troops died instantly, according to a medical report.

The crash occurred 2.9 seconds after a warning system alerted the crew that it was on a collision course with the ground. It is not unusual for a crew flying in murky weather over terrain without distinguishing features to not realize that their craft is off course, the report said.

A previous investigation into the April 6 crash of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan, which killed two Schofield Barracks soldiers and 16 others, said that aircraft ran into a severe dust storm, and the pilots became "spatially disoriented." They over-controlled the craft and it crashed, the report said.

The Iraq crash report also suggests that crew members — while qualified in the use of night-vision goggles — may have been overly confident of their ability to see the ground through their goggles.

"This is similar to driving your car too fast at night and not detecting hazards in the road in time to stop," the report said.

"Whether it was pilot error or whether it was something else, it doesn't change anything," Etterling said.

His son, the Marine he calls "just an all-around good kid," is gone.

"He's not a kid, he's a man," he added, "but he'll always be my kid. Every time I see a little shaved-head kid running around, his ears sticking out, little squeaky voice, I think of Jon."
Advertiser military writer William Cole and The Los Angeles Times contributed to this report. Cole conducted the interviews with the families. Reach Cole at [email protected] tiser.com or 525-5459.

Return to Iraq3

FALLUJAH, Iraq—When the Marines attacked through the city last November, inside 17 houses they found cell blocks, chains screwed into ceilings, blood-splattered walls, the flags and propaganda pamphlets of al-Qaida, and mutilated corpses. There was a torture house somewhere on just about every major street—one torture chamber for every 20,000 residents. The Jolan district in the northeast, where the 2nd Iraqi Battalion was working, had the highest incidence of intimidation and killings. (2/7)

http://slate.msn.com/id/2126905/entry/2127032/

FALLUJAH, Iraq—When the Marines attacked through the city last November, inside 17 houses they found cell blocks, chains screwed into ceilings, blood-splattered walls, the flags and propaganda pamphlets of al-Qaida, and mutilated corpses. There was a torture house somewhere on just about every major street—one torture chamber for every 20,000 residents. The Jolan district in the northeast, where the 2nd Iraqi Battalion was working, had the highest incidence of intimidation and killings.

South of the Jolan, Lt. Col. Joseph L'Etoile and his 2nd Battalion of the 7th Marine Regiment were steadily making inroads against the insurgent infrastructure. Why? Because the leaders of some of the major tribes were turning against the terrorists. While Capt. Juwad of the 2nd Iraqi Battalion was rousting the residents of Jolan Park after an assassination, L'Etoile had agreed to an evening meeting with two prominent sheiks who had a deal to propose.

After dark, L'Etoile drove down the main highway, passing the mural painted a year earlier in memory of Lt. Col. Suleiman. Suleiman had commanded an ill-trained city militia. He had insisted that his soldiers and their families could not survive in the city if they cooperated with the Americans or with the Iraqi officials in Baghdad. Instead, he set out alone to restore order. When the insurgents attacked the Iraqi police station, he fought them off. Then Abu Musad al-Zarqawi moved into town and persuaded the head local insurgent, a radical imam named Janabi, to lure Suleiman to a mosque. Trusting the imam, Suleiman came to the mosque without his soldiers. He was seized, tortured, and killed, and the next day the terrorists passed out videotapes of his agonizing death. When the city was taken in November, the Marines and the Iraqi army painted a mural on a concrete slab on the main highway, saying: "Suleiman—Hero of Iraq."

Any resident cooperating with the government of Iraq or with the Americans was risking death. Yet two prominent sheiks had asked for a private meeting. L'Etoile arrived at their compound. No lights were turned on in the section. Through their night-vision goggles, the Marines saw Iraqis at different posts, tracking their movements.

Once they were inside the compound, a few lights came on. Colorful rugs were spread on a close-cropped lawn between two attractive villas. On the porch of one villa sat a small BMW roadster wrapped in a dust cover. Two sheiks greeted L'Etiole. Both asked that their names not be revealed. One was reed-thin, a constant smoker in his late 60s. The other, with more ample girth, was in his 50s and got right down to business. "One of the Farhan brothers is out of jail," he said. "I saw him in the market last week."

L'Etoile was not happy with the news. It had taken months to arrest several Iraqis implicated in the murder of Col. Suleiman. Now one of them had been released.

"A suicide bomber tried to kill my older brother [a respected tribal elder]," Sheik Ample continued. "They killed my son with a bomb last Tuesday. Do you know why? Because my older brother urged that we vote for the constitution and not be left out of this new government."

"There are two groups of insurgents," the sheik said, "and they are feuding. Omar Hamady of the Albugutna tribe left a bomb on the road near the farm of Khasem Muhna of the Ju Ara tribe. He wanted you Marines to arrest Muhna. Then Hamady would have no rival on this side of the river."

L'Etioile's translator, Darawan Faris, drew a sketch to confirm where the two insurgents lived. Faris, a fan of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, had applied for American citizenship after serving for years with the Marines in Iraq. He knew most of the sheiks and city elders. The names of these insurgents were new to him. They were outsiders, from south of the Euphrates.

"They will try to kill us again," the other sheik said. "A bomber will drive up at night and blow us up here when we are sleeping."

L'Etioile looked around. A car bomb would smash the small compound, which seemed so tranquil and secluded, to bits. "We have patrols," he assured the sheiks.

"No," they said. "You cannot be here all the time. Our sons and nephews live here. We want you to stay away. Give us a piece of paper so we can be armed."

L'Etioile considered the request. Unlike in the rest of Iraq, no one in Fallujah is permitted keep a weapon in his house. L'Etoile asked how many permits were needed. When the sheiks gave a number, he agreed.

The sheik asked for one more thing—a pass for his older brother. It was dangerous to wait in the long lines entering the city.

"He will have a card equivalent to mine," L'Etioile said. "All my Marines will be informed. He will not wait wherever he goes."

The gesture of respect and understanding pleased the two sheiks, and the meeting ended with a meal of chicken and saffron-flavored rice.

Driving without lights back to his base, L'Etioile explained his reasoning.

"The irahibeen [terrorists] killed the sheik's son and tried to kill his brother," he said. "It makes sense to let them protect themselves. They didn't ask for an excessive number of weapon permits. That means the enemy isn't numerous—and the sheiks know who they are."

"That bit about not waiting in line,'" Sgt. Maj. Michael Barrett said, "reminded me of Sonny in The Godfather waiting at the toll booth and getting shot."

Later, Faris, the translator, picked up on the analogy to the Mafia. Like many of the translators with American infantry battalions on the front lines, Faris was wary, if not totally cynical, about grand concepts for dealing with the insurgency.

"Let me tell you something," he said to a journalist. "Here in Fallujah we're up against some hard guys. There's a lot of talk about the vote and that stuff, but those guys aren't going to change. They're feared. They like that power. We could offer them a good job on construction, paying even better money, and they'd never take it. Never. They're killers. They're gunmen. That's what they are, and that's how they see themselves."

******

October marks the 30th month American soldiers have been in Fallujah. Now there is far less violence and open fighting. The three major changes are the aggressive morale of the Iraqi soldiers, the absence of the toughest terrorists who were led by Zarqawi, and the emerging hostility between a major tribe and the local insurgents.

On the other hand, it is the insurgents and not the police who control the market places, and the mostly Shiite soldiers of the Iraqi army don't feel welcome in the city. Intimidation and individual killings persist.

Rebuilding is everywhere. Electric power is fairly steady. There are far fewer improvised explosive devices. Iraqi army soldiers are patrolling, both with the Marines and on their own. A goodly percentage—perhaps 30 percent or more—of the 150,000 voting-age residents are expected to vote in mid-October. Even if most vote against the constitution, it will be a protest by the ballot and not the bullet. On balance, the city is much more secure than in the past.

What the city lacks is a Gary Cooper from High Noon. Col. Suleiman was a genuine hero and nationalist, a former combat leader from the Saddam era who decided that Fallujah would benefit by embracing the new Iraq. He opposed Zarqawi and he intensely disliked the jihadist zealotry of Janabi, the local imam. For that, he was tortured and executed. Now Fallujah is relatively secure, given the high number of American and Iraqi soldiers.

Killers still lurk in town, though. As yet, no Sunni Iraqi of Suleiman's stature and determination has stepped forward to say: This is my city, and I'm going to ensure it does not slip back into the hands of Islamist fundamentalists or foreign terrorists. Fallujah needs a tough, determined local leader.

Marine Gets Warm Welcome Home From Iraq

Lance Corporal Michael Larin says it's good to be back home. Away from the bullets, bombs and bazooka blasts he's used to waking up to. Today, NewsChannel 3 was at Palm Springs International Airport when Larin saw his family for the first time in months. We have their reunion and some exclusive footage of the action in Iraq.

http://www.kesq.com/Global/story.asp?S=3913215&nav;=9qrx

Lance Corporal Michael Larin says it's good to be back home. Away from the bullets, bombs and bazooka blasts he's used to waking up to. Today, NewsChannel 3 was at Palm Springs International Airport when Larin saw his family for the first time in months. We have their reunion and some exclusive footage of the action in Iraq.

Call it a motivational video for Marines in Fallujah a unit on assignment in the Iraqi city captured this footage then spliced it together with music to share with other Marines.

We got to see it, thanks to this man, Lance Corporal Michael Larin on this day, the 20 year old Palm Desert resident came home.

"I'm really excited,” said Lance Cpl. Larin. “I'm really nervous right now."

His mother, Maria says "I'm very happy, happy. It's very emotional to see him to hold him I love him very much."

His brother Jose Chavez says Michael hasn't changed much in six months since being deployed to Iraq.

"He's been gone a long time and to see him after a whole year it's sentimental, you know?" said Larin’s brother Jose Chavez.

The lance corporal says the best part of being abroad is coming back to his family.

"You get homesick, you know, out there, just missing everybody, things you used to do."

But he has grown a bond with fellow Marines. When they're not dodging bullets and firing mortars, a couple of them dabble in making hip hop videos.

Larin will rejoin that team soon enough. He's only here on leave. But in the meantime, he says he wants to spend some quiet time with mom, his brother and friends.

MU band honors Marine band alum killed in Iraq

OXFORD — The 110th Battle for the Bell between Miami University and the University of Cincinnati began with a somber remembrance for one of their fallen brethren.

http://www.journal-news.com/hp/content/news/stories/2005/09/28/HJN0929CIFUENTES.html
By Ken-Yon Hardy

JournalNews

OXFORD — The 110th Battle for the Bell between Miami University and the University of Cincinnati began with a somber remembrance for one of their fallen brethren.

The MU band on Wednesday remembered Lance Cpl. Michael Cifuentes, a former five-year band member who died in August while serving in Iraq.

“Mike was a five-year member of the band and it was something I really wanted to do,” said David Shaffer, MU band director. “Not only for Mike, but for his family because the band was a huge part of Mike’s collegian life.”

For 3 1/2 minutes, the fans at Yager Stadium silently paid respects to the former Oxford resident as a slide show brandishing his image appeared on the stadium’s Jumbotron as the band played “God Bless the USA.”

The 25-year-old has been terribly missed, said his fiance, Tara Reynolds, but she appreciated the kind gesture from the MU family.

“I think it was beautiful. Everybody wants to honor Michael and his family in some sort of way,” she said. “I think it is so nice because it was something that was so meaningful to Mike. They honored him and gave him a nice tribute.”

As the band formed a gigantic USA formation on the field, band alumni circled the current members carrying American flags.

“I’m really glad that Dave (Shaffer) organized this for everybody,” said Andrea Smiley, who played in the band with Cifuentes. “It’s not exactly a closure, but it’s was a very fitting tribute for Mike.”

Christa Hobe of West Chester Township said she was glad the university took time to have the tribute for Cifuentes.

“I think that it was awesome that band was able to take time and the athletic department allowed them to have time to do this for Mike,” said Hobe, another bandmate of Cifuentes.

Cifuentes, who earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2002, worked as a substitute teacher at Talawanda Middle School and was enrolled in graduate school at Miami studying math education before his January departure to Iraq.

The 1998 graduate of St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati was killed Aug. 3 near Haditha, 140 miles northwest of Baghdad. The 25-year-old was one of 14 from the Ohio-based 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines killed in the attack.

Of those who died, nine were from Cifuentes’ Columbus-based Lima Company. Five of the men were natives of Southwest Ohio.

“It’s the least we can do for Mike,” said Shaffer. “He’s a Miami grad. He’s an Oxford resident. (We wanted to) give him a few minutes for something that he spent five years of his life being involved in.”

Contact Ken-Yon Hardy at (513) 820-2190, or e-mail him at [email protected]

Returning vets face post-traumatic stress

Before his death, Marc Cowe spent most of his time in the Weston home he shared with his wife and their five young sons.
Sometimes he'd take the boys to Walden Pond. Sometimes he'd leave his house and return to Vietnam.
"As things went along, he'd go out on night missions," said Meg Cowe. "He'd come home with black stuff on his face. He wouldn't tell me where he'd been. (Story of Army Vietnam Vet.. good information on PTSD)

http://www2.townonline.com/weston/localRegional/view.bg?articleid=334715&format;=&page;=4

By Julia Spitz/ Staff Writer
Thursday, September 29, 2005

Before his death, Marc Cowe spent most of his time in the Weston home he shared with his wife and their five young sons.
Sometimes he'd take the boys to Walden Pond. Sometimes he'd leave his house and return to Vietnam.
"As things went along, he'd go out on night missions," said Meg Cowe. "He'd come home with black stuff on his face. He wouldn't tell me where he'd been.
"He started drinking more. I had concerns. I just went from day to day and hoped things would be OK," said Cowe. "There were a lot of times it wasn't OK."
Her husband killed himself with a single shot in April 1997.
"Post-traumatic stress syndrome has been around as long as there has been war," said Lyndon Jones, a social worker and team leader at the Worcester Vet Center. "PTSD is what we call it."
There were 217,893 veterans nationwide being compensated for PTSD in September 2004, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. The bulk are Vietnam veterans, 161,028, followed by World War II, 25,061, and the Gulf War, 13,524. Figures for Iraq and Afghanistan are not yet included.
"PTSD is every war's problem," said Bruce Linnell, executive director of the MetroWest Veterans Outreach Center in Marlborough.
"It is not an illness. It is an injury. It is something you incur because of combat," said Jones. "These are hidden wounds."
A highly decorated Marine from Lawrence was sent to Bridgewater State Hospital last month to determine if those wounds made him fire a shotgun at a crowd of nightclub-goers last weekend.
Sgt. Daniel Cotnoir, 33, who was named "Marine of the Year" for his service in Iraq, pleaded innocent to attempted murder.
"This incident in Lawrence is immensely tragic," said Marlborough Veterans Agent Gary Brown. "Hopefully the government, in this case the state of Massachusetts, will help him. I hated to see him go to Bridgewater."
But the Veterans Administration hospitals aren't locked facilities, he said.
"I wish someone would go in and find the fingerprints on the glass that was thrown through his window that set him off."

Witnesses said someone threw a bottle through Cotnoir's apartment window, the kind of incident that could trigger PTSD.
For Marc Cowe, the triggers were "thunder, loud noises, certain times of year," said Meg Cowe. "His best friend was killed on his birthday. For years we weren't allowed to celebrate his birthday.
"When his VA review was coming up, he got stressed out. He was afraid they'd take away his benefits. Sitting in front of a board trying to determine how disabled he was was humiliating for him. He had a lot of shame about his post-traumatic stress."

Marc Cowe joined the Army in 1965. He earned three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, a Silver Star and other medals during his time as a sergeant in charge of a combat photo unit.
"In his first week (in Vietnam), all of his men were killed," his widow said last week.
During an attack on his base, he shot and killed two men he thought were Vietcong.
The Army exonerated him. He wasn't able to exonerate himself.
During a flashback, "he didn't usually know who I was," said Meg Cowe. "He was feeling and thinking and hearing things that didn't involve me. He was feeling cornered and scared. He was in attack mode. He seemed hyper alert. I'm guessing he was looking for the enemy.
"One time I took him to the emergency room. The emergency room physician was Asian. Marc was quite frightened and wouldn't let (the doctor) near him."
"There are many ways" PTSD shows itself, said Jones, the Worcester social worker. "They are very angry, they feel helpless, they don't trust others, except maybe another soldier. There are issues of communication. They also don't like crowds. They avoid crowds. They don't like to feel they can't get out. There's depression. There's anxiety.
"Everyone may be affected differently," he said.
"One vet might be more hyper-vigilant than another, always checking his perimeter, another might have more trouble with nightmares," said Linnell, director of the Marlborough center, but there are certain symptoms common enough to define the disorder.

They include nightmares and flashbacks, difficulty sleeping, feelings of detachment or estrangement, according to the Veterans Affairs Web site, and frequently occur with disorders such as depression, substance abuse, memory and cognitive problems.
Getting help
"What we are seeing here (at the Worcester center) is a flood of Vietnam veterans who never before sought treatment," said Jones. "We are also seeing veterans of World War II and Korea. This war has re-traumatized veterans from other wars who never sought treatment.

"I don't think the general public is aware of what these veterans are experiencing. They really don't know what the effect is on that person, their family, their friends."
There's a lot of people who don't know about PTSD, said Linnell.
"We work with the entire family, the veteran, the veteran's spouse, the veteran's children, parents of deceased veterans," said Jones. "We have an open door policy. It's a safe place to come to. They don't have to pay for it. They've already paid for it with their (service). They don't have to feel shame about coming for help.
"We will do whatever we can do to help them. They are the ones that are keeping our country together."
"The biggest problem with PTSD is stigma," said Matt Vogel, aide to U.S. Rep. Martin Meehan, D-5th.
The Pentagon has endorsed a media campaign proposal that would include senior officers talking about their experiences with stress. That's one of the keys to reducing the stigma and helping soldiers and veterans, Meehan said.
"I really believe the mental health of our servicemen and women in Iraq and Afghanistan will be the most important issue in the coming years," said Meehan, who has filed legislation that would mandate PTSD screening for returning soldiers and increase funding for veteran services.
"Marc spent two years inpatient in Bedford VA's behavioral unit," said Meg Cowe. "They didn't understand his symptom-ology and he didn't either. Everything he'd spent two years learning in the military they tried to have him unlearn it."

Linnell agrees, saying it's a mistake "for the general public to assume the VA is doing everything they can for these guys, because they're not ... They don't have the funding. If people want to do something they should call their congressman" and push for more money for veterans' care.
"Through the VA we spend $3 billion a year on mental health," said Meehan. "We might have to double that to do it correctly, but we owe it" to our servicemen and women.
Julia Spitz can be reached at 508-626-3968 or [email protected]<

Marines turn up the heat for airmen on Okinawa

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, OKINAWA, Japan(Sept. 28, 2005) -- Firefighters have a common enemy, regardless of the color of their uniform. Marines recently assisted airmen in order to maximize training against this dangerous foe.

http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/202545B63AA7E1568525708B0004DE20?opendocument

Submitted by:
MCB Camp Butler
Story by:
Computed Name: Pfc. Terence L. Yancey
Story Identification #:
2005928205310

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, OKINAWA, Japan(Sept. 28, 2005) -- Firefighters have a common enemy, regardless of the color of their uniform. Marines recently assisted airmen in order to maximize training against this dangerous foe.

Aircraft Rescue Firefighting Marines with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, recently coordinated with Kadena Fire Emergency service airmen in order to conduct simulated aircraft fire training at the Marines’ burn site Sept. 23.

Kadena’s training facilities are undergoing repairs, so the Marine Corps’ aircraft rescue firefighters opened up their training facility to the airmen.

The airmen, who are part of the 18th Civil Engineer Squadron, are tasked with the responsibility of responding to aircraft crashes and flight line fire emergencies like their Marine counterparts.

According to Tech. Sgt. Alton Robinson, a firefighter with Kadena Fire Emergency Services, the unit was able to coordinate with the Marine Corps’ Aircraft Rescue Firefighting team in order to get this essential training done.

The ARFF Marines provided fire trucks and supervised the Airmen’s’ training. In the past, the ARFF team has also opened their fire pit to other services and agencies.

“Anytime another service or organization needs to use the pit we try to accommodate them,” said Chief Warrant Officer-2 Danny Rominger, emergency services officer with Aircraft Rescue Firefighting branch, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, MCAS Futenma. “We’ve opened up training to Marine Wing Support Squadron 172, 9th Engineer Support Battalion and the Army. We’ve also done cross training with Marine Corps Bases Japan’s fire department.”

According to Rominger, MCAS Futenma is one of the last Jet Propellant 5 fuel pits still in operation. Most other firefighting units switched to pits fueled with propane, which can be extinguished much easier. The benefit of using JP5 is that the fire is more realistic and takes longer to put out.

“In a real emergency we’d use foam, which would put the fire out in seconds,” Rominger said. “In training we actually work harder than we’d have to in an actual situation, to make sure we’re prepared.”

Military aircraft rescue firefighters are required to do aircraft burn training twice a month.
“It was great getting to interact with the Air Force and see how they operate,” said Lance Cpl. Chad E. Glaser, an aircraft rescue firefighter with H&HS;, MCAS Futenma.

Marines and Airmen in the firefighting field attend the same formal occupational school at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas. The school teaches the basics of fighting aircraft and structural fires and first aid.

According to Robinson, however, the training never ends, as service members are constantly training and improving their skills.

September 28, 2005

MCIs getting high speed

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif.(Sept. 29, 2005) -- Camp Pendleton-based Marines preparing to replace II Marine Expeditionary Force units in Iraq now have a more high-speed option to complete their military education.

http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/75789117499EBCE08525708A006ABA4F?opendocument

Submitted by:
MCB Camp Pendleton
Story by:
Computed Name: Sgt. Enrique S. Diaz
Story Identification #:
2005928152545

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif.(Sept. 29, 2005) -- Camp Pendleton-based Marines preparing to replace II Marine Expeditionary Force units in Iraq now have a more high-speed option to complete their military education.

The Marine Corps Institute now offers Marines the opportunity to complete their correspondence courses by testing online, sending a scanned answer sheet by e-mail, or faxing a copy of the answer sheet.

Previously, Marines in Iraq could only send the completed tests by mail.

That process would take three to five weeks, with the packages occasionally getting lost during delivery, said Cpl. Dale R. Vogel, a professional military education assistant at the Marine Corps Institute in Washington, D.C.

According to the MCI website, tests submitted by mail are graded within 24 hours of receipt and the scores entered in the system within 48 hours.

Now a training noncommissioned officer can administer tests to Marines anywhere and anytime, so long as he has the exam, a computer with Internet access and command unit verification report (UVR) access.

As soon as the Marine finishes the test online, it is immediately graded and the score is entered within 24 hours, said Vogel.

Training NCOs who want access to the command UVR must have their senior leadership, O-3 and above or E-8 and above, request the password for the program, said Vogel.

Complimenting the grading improvements, most courses can now be downloaded from the MCI website, making it easier for Marines to take their study material with them anywhere they go.

Future plans by the Marine Corps Institute include adding the exams to the electronic test process. This would virtually eliminate the need for a Marine to need any paper-based media, said Vogel.

Camp Pendleton Marines interested in learning more about the command UVR will have an opportunity to speak directly with representatives from MCI early next year as they are tentatively scheduled to visit the base during March.

In the meantime, Marines can go to www.mci.usmc.mil or call 800-MCI-USMC for more information.

Marine recounts deadly incident in Iraq

Think female Marines are any safer than their male counterparts in Iraq?

Tell that to Sgt. Alisha J. Harding.

http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/73eb34dd23c1b84d8525708a00690aad?OpenDocument

Submitted by:
MCB Camp Pendleton
Story by:
Computed Name: Lance Cpl. Ray Lewis
Story Identification #:
200592815720

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif.(Sept. 29, 2005) -- Think female Marines are any safer than their male counterparts in Iraq?

Tell that to Sgt. Alisha J. Harding.

“It just wasn’t our day,” said Sgt. Alisha J. Harding, reflecting on the fateful day when she and 12 other servicemembers be-came the target of a car bomb in Fallujah, Iraq, June 23.
Harding, along with 11 Marines and one sailor, were traveling to Camp Fallujah in a 7-ton truck when the
vehicle was hit.

“We were on the way back … from working entry control points searching Iraqi women,” said Harding, a multi-channel radio operator with Headquarters Battery, 11th Marine Regiment.

In Iraq, many female Marines are tasked with searching Iraqi women as a show of respect for the local culture and customs.

As Harding and the others approached the first entrance coming into Fallujah, an unknown vehicle containing three people advanced toward Harding’s 7-ton truck. After initially halting at the request of the Marines, the vehicle turned out and left the area.

Suddenly, the vehicle containing a man, a woman and a child and two propane tanks sped for Harding and the other servicemembers, striking the side of their truck.

“I remember distinctly hearing the explosion – a hiss, then the bomb – a big explosion,” said Harding.
Harding said she then saw a ‘big ball of fire’ coming toward the truck with ‘tons of black smoke.’

“I wasn’t scared or nothing but adrenaline was definitely pumping,” she said.

“My main concern was getting the (hurt) females out of the area,” she added.

Five Marines and one sailor were killed in this incident.

With a contused knee, second- and third-degree burns, Harding rolled out of her truck, grabbed other wounded female Marines and took them to safety behind the truck.

“Then I grabbed more (females) and led them to the other 7-ton in front of us,” Harding said.

Harding said her injuries didn’t stop her from moving forward even after the incident.

“I just put my pack back on and kept going,” she said.

“I’m ready to go back out (to Iraq). It’s my job – it’s what being a Marine is all about,” she said.

Harding encourages other other Marines to stay resilient during deployments.

“Stay strong and keep your mind in the game because you’ll never know what duty you’ll get,” she said.

Humanitarian heroes homebound after creating ripples of hope in Iraq

CAMP BAHARIA, Iraq (Sept. 7, 2005) -- On the verge of coming home, they still remember their first impressions of Fallujah in early March. It was desolate, ruined, and filthy. The staccato sound of gunshots and tank cannons still seemed to echo through the abandoned city streets and crumbled buildings months after major conflict had ended.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/E961AED9438A9BDC8525708B0000F0AF?opendocument

Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 2005928201016
Story by Cpl. Mike Escobar

CAMP BAHARIA, Iraq (Sept. 7, 2005) -- On the verge of coming home, they still remember their first impressions of Fallujah in early March. It was desolate, ruined, and filthy. The staccato sound of gunshots and tank cannons still seemed to echo through the abandoned city streets and crumbled buildings months after major conflict had ended.

"It looked like something out of post-World War II Germany," stated Sgt. Matthew Dreher, a 25-year-old reservist from Arlington, Va. "Everything was destroyed and there was really nobody walking about the city streets."

It was this portrait of misery that Dreher's six-man civil affairs unit, Team 3, Detachment 2, 5th Civil Affairs Group, set out to repaint immediately after their arrival here.

The provisional reserve unit, created in January, came armed only with their rifles and a rudimentary knowledge of how to accomplish the massive task before them; helping rebuild a city in shambles and restoring the area's broken infrastructure.

Dreher said Team 3 members had received hasty pre-deployment classes while in the states on Iraqi culture and how to conduct Civil Military Operations (CMO). But much of their knowledge of performing humanitarian missions was drawn from their civilian occupations. Policemen, firefighters, engineers and civil workers all came together as Team 3 to embark on their humanitarian mission.

Seven months after first arriving here, the Marines reflected on the progress and community growth they helped bring about, a success not created by the team's efforts alone.

"Every project we did in these areas, we accomplished with the help of the Iraqi government and local contractors," explained Maj. Chris E. Phelps, Team 3's leader. "We merely worked as project managers and facilitators behind the scenes, sort of like the wizard behind the curtain in 'The Wizard of Oz.' Our goal was never to come here to do things for the people, but to help set up their government and infrastructure enough so they could do it themselves. Ultimately, we worked to 'fire' ourselves and make ourselves obsolete."

Altogether, Phelps' team spent $4.85 million dollars on 38 completed, ongoing or projects pending approval by the local government. These community projects affected the Northern Fallujah area and nearby Saqlawiyah, a rural township miles outside the city.

In Fallujah alone, Team 3 coordinated with local officials and contractors to remove 200 tons of rubble from the city streets.

This beautified the area and made the flow of foot and vehicle traffic more efficient, while also eliminating places for terrorists to stash improvised explosive devices.

Additionally, Team 3 helped contract a local mine-clearing company to de-mine the fields surrounding Fallujah's train station. Insurgents previously occupying the city placed these explosives here in hopes of deterring the Coalition Forces' advance, Phelps said.

He added that Iraq's Ministry of Transportation wanted to improve roads near the previously mined field, but needed it cleared before labor commenced.

Notable also is the progress and democratic social reform Team 3 Marines helped bring about in Saqlawiyah. This farming community had remained nearly untouched by the military's helping hand until April, when Coalition and Iraqi forces began operating in the area.

"When we first got to Saqlawiyah, the people didn't know the fighting in Fallujah was over," said Staff Sgt. Darian Patterson, Team 3's staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge. "You had (displaced) people living inside schools, because they had nowhere else to go."

Many of these citizens' temporary residences were in disrepair, Patterson continued. In Saqlawiyah's al-Dahr school's restroom, there was one working toilet and no sinks for their 160 students.

"In the U.S., we never see raw sewage, especially not at places with kids, such as schools," Patterson stated. "My wife is a social worker, and all I could think about was how she would go ballistic in a place like this."

Working alongside Saqlawiyah's city council, the team began addressing the school’s sanitation and structural flaws. Thirty-three schools in the community received first aid kits, and local contractors refurbished the al-Dahr facilities. Now, the school has running water, four new toilets and two new sinks.

The Saqlawiyah medical clinic was another site Team 3 helped improve. The Marines and stateside nongovernmental organizations would routinely donate and distribute thousands of dollars worth of medical supplies there, including syringes, laboratory gloves and sanitizer solution.

In May, the team facilitated the clean-up of a biohazard material dump site behind the clinic, along with bringing biohazard waste incinerators to prevent future buildup.

Navy Seabees working with Team 3 had also erected an information read board outside the clinic, where the two- to- three hundred residents who visit the clinic daily can read about upcoming community events.

"We always appreciate the help we receive from the CAG and our good cooperation with the Marines here," stated Dr. Ayad al-Hadithy, one staff member at the clinic. "They have helped us restore many vital services to this clinic and its patients."

Approximately $1.5 million dollars will also be invested to renovate the local water plant and the piping that transports it to the surrounding areas, a system Phelps said has seen no maintenance in more than 30 years and has been sickening some of the populace with cholera.

Nearly one million dollars was also spent on revamping the city's power system by installing new power lines and transformers to ensure that as many residents as possible have electricity in their homes. This system had been untouched in 25 years, and the restoration will affect tens of thousands of residents here, said Majeed Na'amah Khalifa, a member of the Saqlawiyah city council.

It is Khalifa's own body of legislation that is to thank for many of these projects coming to fruition, Phelps said. Since late April, when Marine and Iraqi military leaders first met with the council, Phelps said he has noticed vast improvements in the local officials' relationships with their community.

"The CAG had started to back off from our more active role in city affairs lately, because the Saqlawiyah city council is speaking to the council in Ramadi and making a case for their people's needs," he continued, explaining how Saqlawiyah's representatives bring up community projects their people would like to see accomplished to the governing body in the provincial capital city. "Council members would tell me that local people now stop them on the streets to thank them and say, 'Hey, you're really representing me.'"

Working in conjunction with the local government and Team 3 were the Marines of Company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment and Iraqi Security Forces. Together, they provided a secure environment for police forces to reenter Saqlawiyah. Since 2004, the community had been lacking civil law enforcement personnel. Currently, approximately 70 policemen patrol the streets while operating out of a headquarters safeguarded from insurgents by Company A Marines and ISF personnel.

"I feel that everything came together in Saqlawiyah in the end," Phelps stated. "All the good things that happened in that area were a direct result of what the Marines on this team did with the community. Saqlawiyah was our little slice of the war."

After months of tirelessly conducting civil military operations, Patterson said Team 3 will leave Iraq richer for the experience of having aided an emerging democratic nation. Almost as valuable as the infrastructure they started helping restore is the personal growth each Marine underwent here.

"I know I came here with a closed mindset, not wanting to care about the people and only wanting to do my job to get home," he continued. "Meeting people like Dr. Ayad and our 'terps' (interpreters) changed all that. This job made us all remember that we're warriors as well as human beings. I'm excited about getting home to my wife and son, but I know we'll be leaving some great friends behind."

"We came here thinking we would help hundreds, but we ended up helping thousands," Dreher added. "We put our hearts and souls into this job for the past seven months. Now we see people walking down the streets and markets open for business. I feel like I'll leave a big piece of my life back here."

The team will depart Iraq in late September upon being replaced by members from the 6th CAG, who will continue their legacy. Phelps said his Marines will return to their respective parent reserve commands, and the provisional 5th CAG will be disbanded "to go down in Marine Corps history."

Now, Team 3 leaves Iraq with one of Phelps' favorite quotes in mind, that of 18th century philosopher Edmund Burke stating, "The only thing necessary for evil to exist is for good men to remain silent and do nothing."

These six men took these words to heart during their time in Iraq, and learned that even a small team operating in a country ravaged by war and insurgency can create a ripple of hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Marine upbeat on Iraq's future

A Marine lieutenant colonel who served as a military adviser in Iraq said more progress is being made in Iraq than news media report.

http://www.reflector.com/local/content/news/stories/2005/09/28/20050928GDRIraq.html
By T. Scott Batchelor, The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A Marine lieutenant colonel who served as a military adviser in Iraq said more progress is being made in Iraq than news media report.

Russell Jamison Jr. used photographs, a video and accounts from his time in Iraq during a presentation to the Conservatives, Arise! Political Action Committee during the nonpartisan group's meeting Tuesday at Ryan's Family Steak House.

The 44-year-old Bronze Star winner, stationed at Camp Lejeune but scheduled to go back to Iraq, said he came back from his tour "very optimistic."

"Now is not the time to be fainthearted," Jamison said.

Action there is part of the war on terrorism, he said. Jamison was overseas from October to May.

He told the nearly 40 people who showed up for the talk that he was in the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists flew a plane into the building.

"I'll never forget that day, and I have no question in my mind why I was over in Iraq," he said.

Instead of shaking the foundation of the United States, "the terrorists now find Americans at their best," Jamison said.

The Islamic terrorists who attacked America and who are battling troops in Iraq and Afghanistan believe the United States is Satan, and "nothing we do will persuade them otherwise," he said. They must be "hunted down, rooted out and destroyed: There is no other alternative."

The lieutenant colonel had some close calls while in Iraq, including one incident when a terrorist exploded his car bomb in front of Jamison's Humvee, causing one Marine to lose an eye.

Jamison said there are many positive developments in Iraq, including the training of more than 100,000 troops, which was part of his mission. "These are Iraqi troops, they are led by Iraqis."

The vast majority of terrorists causing problems in the country – Jamison says they are not "insurgents" – are from other countries such as Syria and Jordan, he said.

"The clear majority of the Iraqi people are trying to get their country back together" after the reign of Saddam Hussein, he said.

The major news outlets don't paint an accurate picture of the situation in Iraq, Jamison said.

"Where is the truth teller in Iraq?" he asked. For example, Jamison said the tough battle to roust the enemy out of Fallujah was widely covered by print and broadcast journalists.

"How many of you have seen a report on Fallujah lately?" he asked. Jamison said water service has been restored in the city, electric power is on for 16 hours a day, three hospitals are operating, as well as the police station and schools.

The news media don't report on every airplane that lands safely for good reason, because that's routine, Jamison said. But the progress in Iraq isn't routine and should be reported and placed in context, he said.

He said the media's focus on Cindy Sheehan, the mother who's son was killed in Iraq and who is calling for withdrawal, is another example of a lack of focus.

Though Jamison said he respects her right to voice her opinion, "She is aiding and abetting our enemy."

Committee member Rachel Sturz asked if negative reports about the ongoing war in Iraq cause morale problems for troops.

"In the overall scheme not at all," Jamison said. "Your too busy to worry about what's being said back here," he said.

Greg Dority asked Jamison what he thought about members of Congress calling for a withdrawal time frame.

Americans should trust that "there is a plan," Jamison said, though commanders and officials aren't openly sharing it for security reasons. Key to troop withdrawals is training the Iraqi army, he said.

"That's going to take some time," he said.

There is still "a lot of bad over there," Jamison said. "It's astounding what Saddam did to those people."

T. Scott Batchelor can be contacted at [email protected] and 329-9567.

Veteran Marine completes Sniper Course

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (Sept. 28, 2005) -- Gunnery Sgt. Jeff Chang was called up to active duty just over a year ago and has been busy ever since.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/CB057AE7F7AE55188525708A006BD187?opendocument
Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 2005928153739
Story by Cpl. Athanasios L. Genos

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (Sept. 28, 2005) -- Gunnery Sgt. Jeff Chang was called up to active duty just over a year ago and has been busy ever since.

Chang, now 38, was called up at the age of 36 to prepare for a deployment to Iraq where he would be working with the Scout Sniper Platoon. He would make it official graduating from the school here Sept. 28 as one of the oldest Marines to ever make it through the course.

“I knew from the get-go I would be at a physical disadvantage,” Chang said. “I knew I would be competing with Marines that were almost half my age.”

The Fort Wayne, Ind., native decided to see a prior service recruiter and re-enlist to follow the path he felt was necessary. Many years ago Chang got out of the Marine Corps in what he called “the pinnacle of his career” after deploying to Operation Desert Storm and wasn’t sure if he was going to come back.

“I was in the perfect retirement situation when I got out,” Chang stated. “It was like a coach who retires after getting three Super Bowl rings.”

His decision join the Corps again led him to Iraq and then here to be certified as an official Marine Corps Scout Sniper.

Chang arrived here knowing all to well that he was going to be looked at in a different light than the normal Marine going through the course. He knew he was going to struggle physically because of the age difference, but with his prior experience as a sniper on the SWAT team of his local police force, he would fill in the gaps.

“At first I struggled to keep up, but I also expected my previous training and experience to pay off,” Chang stated. “I have some training under my belt, have been to Iraq as a sniper, and at times I was the sole sniper with the police force back in Fort Wayne, Ind.”

The scout sniper program is one of the many schools offered at the School of Infantry. Leadership is a main focus for the advanced courses such as the sniper’s course. Chang came into his scenario with more experience than most of his peers. His time as a police officer and deployment to Iraq with a sniper platoon added to his wealth of knowledge he brought to the table.

“I was the scout sniper platoon sergeant in Iraq, and I was placed in that billet based on the training and experience I had in my civilian career as a police officer,” Chang said. “In the last five years I have been to six different civilian law enforcement sniper schools.”

Chang has seven children and a wife at home who have given him their full support in following his goals in life despite a busy schedule over the past year and a half. Chang has maintained his professional career as well as his personal life. He went from being home with his family everyday to being away for a 10-month deployment and a 10-week school.

“There is no doubt that none of this would have been possible without my family, and by that I mean my wife,” Chang said. “On the one hand this is a personal accomplishment, but the bigger picture is that my wife and my children sacrificed 10 times more than what I did.”

Now that Chang has completed a deployment and school, he has planned to return home to Indiana and continue his job with the Fort Wayne Police Department and discuss with his wife the possible options the Marine Corps may have to offer in the near future.

Out with the old...Torii Teller turns final page, transitions to Internet

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan (Sept. 28, 2005) -- As you all may already know, the Torii Teller, your devoted, weekly reading material, is bidding its last hand, as this is the final hard-copy issue.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/B973DAF4B7ADF7B38525708B000F2000?opendocument

Submitted by: MCAS Iwakuni
Story Identification #: 2005928224512
Story by Lance Cpl. Cristin K. Bartter

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan (Sept. 28, 2005) -- As you all may already know, the Torii Teller, your devoted, weekly reading material, is bidding its last hand, as this is the final hard-copy issue.

This newspaper will be our way of honoring the Torii Teller's dedication to the community providing information, laughs and smiles over the past 50 years.

No more will you have to deal with crumpled and missing pages, or an old edition. The new, and might we add improved, Torii Teller will be all electronic, updated daily with stories of news, features and sports events. Just by the click of your mouse yourself, family back in the States and friends in different countries can check out what is going on here, in Iwakuni.

Now, let's take a walk through the past and see how the Torii Teller has evolved over time, taking its many steps into the future.

Back in the 1950's, when the Pink Ladies and Thunderbirds were ever so popular, the Torii Teller was a magazine. During this time there were no computers or amazing machines that would copy a paper with the push of a button. There were diligent Japanese employees, who had no comprehension of the English language, picking individual letters from a box and placing them in their proper order to form words.

Once a page was complete, a combat correspondent would go through the galley and proof read it. Each galley would usually have more than 75 errors on it. This was the tedious weekly process that it took to keep the Station residents informed.

Outside of the Torii Teller office at that time, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni was the Station that harbored United Nations forces at the start of the Korean Conflict. Because of Iwakuni's tactical proximity, it allowed UN pilots the opportunity to fly on a daily basis in support of the leading edge troops in Korea. Iwakuni was deemed the "Gateway to Korea."

April 1, 1952, MCAS Iwakuni was actually U.S. Air Force Base Iwakuni. A few months later the torch was passed on to the U.S. Navy, which cleared the way for the First Marine Aircraft Wing headquarters. In the midst of Iwakuni's transitions, America shifted as well.

In the early 50's, men were the breadwinners and women, who attended "Civics classes" to learn how to be proper, were the housewives. Most agreed right from wrong, there were no shades of gray; everything was black and white. Once the Elvis Presley's rock n' roll era took over in the mid to late 50's, children had voices, the fashion was drastic and the music and hairstyles were all that mattered. Kids would go to drive-in movie dates and play backseat bingo (necking in the back seat of a car), or go to a high school dance to do the mashed potato, twist and the pony.

In 1956 the cost of a coke was 10 cents and a gallon of gas was 23 cents. The average income for a four-person family was $5,319. Ten years later, in 1962, the 1,400-acre Air Station was named MCAS Iwakuni. The Torii Teller, still a magazine, followed up on the Vietnam War making sure to give Station residents up-to-date information. This was also the decade when female Marines first stepped foot on the Station.

As time went on, the Torii Teller remained a magazine until July 7, 2000, when it morphed into a newspaper. For the past five years Station residents have used the weekly newspaper as their way of getting the inside scoop of past, current and future events. It has been our goal, as combat correspondents, to provide you, the readers, important information. With the Torii Teller moving into the future of digital news, we hope the transition will be smooth and easy. Bear with us as we get our Web site updated. We all thank you for all of the support you have provided us throughout the years.

Moonlighters recall accomplishments, changes after completing second successful tour in Iraq

AL ASAD, IRAQ (Sept. 28, 2005) -- When duty in Iraq called twice in two years, they were ready and continued their steadfast support of the Iraqi people and their desire to live in freedom. (HMM 764/ MAG-26/ 2nd MAW)

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/C5AE280A8631BD8C8525708A002E25A5?opendocument

Submitted by: 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing
Story Identification #: 20059284242
Story by Cpl. Cullen J. Tiernan

AL ASAD, IRAQ (Sept. 28, 2005) -- When duty in Iraq called twice in two years, they were ready and continued their steadfast support of the Iraqi people and their desire to live in freedom.

The Moonlighters of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 764, Marine Aircraft Group 26, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, have recently finished their second deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

HMM-764 is a reserve CH-46E Sea Knight squadron based out of Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The Moonlighters will be returning to the United States after flying 3,800 mishap-free combat hours, transporting 14,918 passengers and hauling 26,972 pounds of cargo.

“Our primary mission was assault support,” said Lt. Col. Jacques Naviaux, the commanding officer of HMM-764. “Seven days a week, 24 hours a day, we were ready to move Marines, Soldiers and Iraqis throughout the area of operations.”

In a country where the roads are plagued with improvised explosive devices, the Moonlighters provided a much safer mode of transportation, flying Marines over the IED threat.

“We were able to save lives by being here,” said the San Diego native. “Seventy percent of our missions were flown under the cover of darkness. The Marines of HMM-764 thrived in a combat environment.”

Although Marines can sometimes get complacent at Al Asad, Naviaux said that the enemy threat is very real.

“We had a rocket land on the flightline, damaging three of our aircraft,” said Naviaux. “We were able to repair them over here, but it served as a reminder to all the Marines that we are in a combat zone.”

Marines throughout the squadron will go home with war stories, memories of turning wrenches in 120 degree heat, and many different experiences from two deployments into combat zones.

“I remember one time during (Marine Corps Marital Arts Program) training,” said Cpl. Deborah Myatt, an administrative clerk with HMM-764 from Lancaster, Calif. “It was 10 a.m. and we were finished for the day. We all put our hands in for the motivational cheer and boom, (indirect fire) goes off real loud and real close. I found out later it hit a gunnery sergeant in the face and she was later awarded the Purple Heart.”

While deployed, the Moonlighters didn’t let the high operational tempo stop them from training. They earned 60 different higher belts in the MCMAP, attended college courses, fired and carried the M-1014 Joint Service Combat shotgun, trained new crew chiefs and had eight combat meritorious promotions.

“Their maturity, confidence level and the way the Marines carry themselves has been extremely professional,” said Sgt. Maj. Daniel D. Townsend, the sergeant major of HMM-764. “It was a phenomenal task keeping the aircraft constantly flying and every Marine in the squadron attributed to that effort. We had great support from MAG-26 and Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron-26. The entire 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing welcomed us with open arms. It was a total team effort.”

The Columbus, Ohio, native, said the back-to-back deployments were especially hard on the families of reservists who do not live close to a Marine Corps installation. He said the Moonlighters’ Key Volunteer Network was fabulous and the communication from Al Asad to the United States was consistent.

“It was a good, quick seven-month deployment,” said Myatt, who is the current noncommissioned officer of the quarter for HMM-764, MAG-26 and 2nd MAW. “The time went by fast because we were constantly working, training and learning. We lived in a building with a cement roof, so I felt safer sleeping at night.

“While I’ve been here I’ve matured, and thought more about my life and career goals. If I don’t pick up sergeant and make it to the drill field, I know I want to be in the reserves for at least 20 years.”

Some of the Moonlighters said their second deployment wasn’t as exciting as their first, but they all are ready to get back to their families and loved ones.

“You make do with what you have,” said Cpl. Jarred Bolin, an avionics technician with HMM-764. “We have already been through this, under harder conditions. Now at Al Asad, we have running water. Even if the water isn’t clean enough to drink, it’s a luxury. Getting the birds up to fly missions was a fast-paced mission and we transported a lot of troops.”

According to Townsend, the Marines will leave Iraq with an experience level head and shoulders above what it was, as well as a couple pounds sweated out on the flightline in the desert heat.

“I’m a better Marine and I think a better person,” said Myatt. “One day at the (dinning facility) we met some people who spoke broken and had been tortured under the Saddam’s regime. One didn’t have an ear, and another’s brother had his tongue cut out of his mouth. Talking to them, I realized it’s not about (weapons of mass destruction) or fighting, it’s about people. People shouldn’t have to live in fear.

“These people didn’t have the freedom of speech we take for granted in the United States, like the right to protest. They are fighting to have their own country now. I think the Iraqi police are so brave. They put their lives and their family’s lives on the line every day so they might one day live in freedom.”

Security force sets sights on range

U.S. MARINE CORPS FORCES PACIFIC, CAMP H. M. SMITH, Hawaii(Sept. 28, 2005) -- The U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, Security Augmentation Force conducted their first quarterly training exercise at the combat pistol course, Puuloa range, Sep. 23.

http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/0a935fdb84e028de8525708b001142b2?OpenDocument
Submitted by:
Marine Forces Pacific
Story by:
Computed Name: Lance Cpl. R. Drew Hendricks

Story Identification #:
200592823831

U.S. MARINE CORPS FORCES PACIFIC, CAMP H. M. SMITH, Hawaii(Sept. 28, 2005) -- The U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, Security Augmentation Force conducted their first quarterly training exercise at the combat pistol course, Puuloa range, Sep. 23.

The SAF Marines are specially trained to assist security forces already attached to the base in any emergency situation, or if the base goes to a higher threat condition.

“We need the SAF just in case anything threatens the base or if something like 9/11 happens again,” said Sgt. Matthew E. Nale, the noncommissioned officer in charge of training the SAF.

This specific course is meant to go beyond the scope of annual training and re-qualification to give the Marines a more combat-oriented experience.

Training like this is used to help Marines hone their skills to prepare them for activation, according to Nale.

During the course, Marines shot 6,000 9mm rounds from several different positions, distances and courses of fire.

They also had to become especially proficient in failure and exposure drills.

“Failure drills are, simply, where the shooter puts two rounds to the chest and one to the head. It is the most effective way to bring down a target,” said Cpl. Daniel Rosales, a member of the SAF and a supply clerk here.

Exposure drills are used to simulate an assault on a building. The Marine walks the line with his weapon at the alert. The targets, which are lined up along side of the firing line, will randomly turn. The Marine will then face and engage the target with a failure drill.

This drill forces the Marine to keep a level head while at the same time maintaining speed and accuracy.

“The purpose of this is to get the Marines out of the qualifying mindset and allow them to get a glimpse of what it might be like in combat,” said Nale. “In combat, there are no rules and no one is going to be there to tell you how to put rounds on target; it has to be instinct.”

Each course deals with a different aspect of shooting. One requires the Marines to shoot on the move, another at close range, and the most challenging involves the Marines firing from their backs.

“Being on your back in combat is never a situation you want to find yourself in,” said Sgt. Shane D. Oltman, a member of the SAF and a supply clerk here. “Even so, it’s good to train for it so you know what to do if it does happen.”

The MARFORPAC training office wants to do as much combat-oriented training as possible. They’re calling on Marines who are willing to put in a little hard work and have some fun while doing it.

“This was definitely motivating training. We didn’t just step up to the line and shoot, we were able to do some things that actually resembled combat,” said Cpl. Jonathan E. Knight, an administrative clerk and a SAF member here.

According to Nale, this training is focused on preparing the Marines to react quickly and without hesitation when the time arises for them to use their pistols. This requires them to be completely comfortable with their weapon.

“The reason I think this is so important is because I have been in combat with Marines from a variety of non-combat-arms jobs who are put into life or death situations and they have no clue how to react,” said Nale, referring to the many occasions where he provided security for non-infantry Marines.

No matter what the Marine’s job is, he has to be prepared for combat. The SAF can provide quality training to anyone willing to volunteer. Any Marine interested in joining their ranks must first send the request up their chain of command.

“Butcher, baker or candlestick maker, it doesn’t matter who you are, you need training like this,” said Nale. “Iraq is not going anywhere and neither is Afghanistan, you have to be ready and to do that you need to train hard like these Marines did today.”

National Guard unit gets defensive for Marines

AL ASAD, Iraq (Sept. 28, 2005) -- Army soldiers have been getting defensive around Marines in the Al Anbar province of Iraq, but only for a good cause (2nd LAAD Marines)

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/261F2ED5D65CAF378525708A003A2D39?opendocument

Submitted by: 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing
Story Identification #: 200592863526
Story by Cpl. Micah Snead

AL ASAD, Iraq (Sept. 28, 2005) -- Army soldiers have been getting defensive around Marines in the Al Anbar province of Iraq, but only for a good cause.

Soldiers from the 1st Battalion of the 109th Infantry (Mechanized) took over force protection operations in and around Al Asad, Iraq, in August. The Scranton, Pa., Army National Guard unit assumed responsibilities for interior and convoy security from the Provisional Security Battalion Marines of 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion.

“It has been an interesting deployment so far,” said Army Staff Sgt. Brian Hagy, a squad leader and Lexington, Ky., native. “This is our first time working with Marines so we weren’t sure how it was going to go. But, we worked really hard to prepare and things have been good so far. We’ve always been on the same team, just this time we’re a lot closer than normal.”

The unit was augmented by Soldiers from other states including Kentucky, Tennessee and Maryland. After being activated in January, they spent six months training for their mission at Camp Shelby, Miss., and Fort Irwin, Calif. The training not only prepared them for their mission here, but taught them to rely on each other as well, said Army Cpl. Anthony Brandi, a radio operator and repairman.

“It was tough, but worth it out here,” the Tobyhanna, Pa., native said. “We had a lot of time to get to know each other, work as a team and practice the same things we’re doing now.”

The security detail does not limit the Soldiers to manning guard posts and checking for proper identification. The battalion’s companies rotate responsibilities for interior security and convoy security missions. During convoy missions, Soldiers escort Marines and other personnel out of Al Asad, secure whatever location their mission calls for and escort everyone back into base.

D Company recently escorted engineers and other personnel from Marine Wing Support Squadron 272 and Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 24 to Baghdadi for repairs on Al Asad’s pipelines for water.

“This was the third time my company has done the water pipe repair,” said Army Capt. Jeff Cole, D Co. commander and Berea, Ky., native. “The company we relieved did it several times. We provide clear and secure (support) before the repair team arrives and then provide security while they conduct the repairs.”

The performance of the Soldiers on these missions has been outstanding, said Cole.

“I had high expectations of my Soldiers, and they have exceeded them,” Cole said. “They learn quickly and adapt well to change.”

While the Soldiers have settled into their roles, they are far from becoming complacent and keep a constant thought in mind, said Cole.

“Security, security, security,” Cole said. “I always tell my Soldiers not to become complacent, no matter how many times we do this or any other mission. We cannot take anything for granted out there. Also, I am thinking about my next move and how to remain flexible in case I have to FRAGO (change) the plan.”

Other personnel who fall under the battalion’s blanket of security are the Marines of the 6th Civil Affairs Group. The Marines assess battle damage and arrange reparation payments with Iraqi citizens affected by fighting with insurgents. They also seek out community leaders to assist the locals in any way they can. The protection provided by the Soldiers allows the Marines to operate without threatening the Iraqis they are trying to help.

“Sometimes I’m a pay agent, other times just a representative of Civil Affairs. But, every time we try and introduce ourselves to the elders and see what the children or the community needs,” said Cpl. Jayson Wolcott, civil affairs noncommissioned officer and Greenville, S.C., native. “So far it’s been very enjoyable being able to talk to the troops from various units and listen to their experiences.”

For the Soldiers of 1-109, an average day may mean standing post in an observation tower or kicking in doors to root out insurgents but thoughts of the future are never far from reach.

“Every time we go out, I am focused on completing our mission,” said Hagy. “Because I know every mission completed brings me one step closer to being home with my wife and daughter. That’s all the motivation I need.”

Return to Fallujah2

FALLUJAH, Iraq—When a rocket-propelled grenade was fired near their fortified house in the Jolan district of Fallujah, the Marine advisory team and their Iraqi soldiers went to investigate. Finding that the shooter had fled and that the dust-caked residential area was quiet, Lt. Col. Jim MacVarish, the senior adviser on Mobile Training Team 7, returned to his house to plan the next day's operations. (1/6 Marines)

http://slate.msn.com/id/2126905/entry/2126990/

From: Bing West
Subject: City of Discontent
Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2005, at 3:42 AM PT

FALLUJAH, Iraq—When a rocket-propelled grenade was fired near their fortified house in the Jolan district of Fallujah, the Marine advisory team and their Iraqi soldiers went to investigate. Finding that the shooter had fled and that the dust-caked residential area was quiet, Lt. Col. Jim MacVarish, the senior adviser on Mobile Training Team 7, returned to his house to plan the next day's operations. The advisers live in a fairly defensible compound, with open space to the north and south. To the east, 15 feet away on the other side of the compound wall, was another two-story house occupied by a large Kurdish family. Usually, at twilight children were playing in the driveway. Tonight there were none.

"Where're the kids?" MacVarish asked the sergeant major of the Iraqi battalion he was advising.

"The irahibeen [terrorists] just killed the father at his work downtown,'" the sergeant major said in a measured tone. "The family is packing to leave."

The sergeant major was also a Kurd. The bereaved family had relatives in his village and would depart for there the next morning. The irahibeen had broken the legs of the dead man's brother five days earlier, a warning to leave their home of 30 years and get out of Fallujah. They were Kurds, and they lived next to the Iraqi soldiers and their infidel advisers.

MacVarish, a Marine reservist who taught high-school physics in Massachusetts, was angry and frustrated.

"We don't know who did it," he said. "All we can do is offer the widow a little rent for the house. At least she'll have some money coming in. We'll tell our comptroller we need the house for security. Hell, it's true. We'll occupy it. The last thing we need is terrorists moving in next door. This is a bad neighborhood."

The Jolan district has the worst reputation in a city with a bad reputation. Laid out in a square grid of wide boulevards, Fallujah comprises 2,000 blocks of courtyard walls, tenements, two-story concrete houses, and squalid alleyways. Half-completed houses, garbage heaps, and wrecks of old cars clutter every neighborhood. In March of 2004, four American contractors were murdered and their burnt bodies dragged through the souk and strung up on a green trestle bridge. The Marines were ordered to seize the city. But when the fighting began, U.S. and Iraqi officials lost their nerve as Al Jazeera painted a grim picture of civilian casualties and ferocious fighting. The Marines were ordered to pull back, and the terrorists ruled the town. Last November, the Marines smashed their way back in.

The terrorist headquarters was in the Jolan, the district leading to the green trestle bridge. The Marines fought down the alleys and streets, leaving destruction in their wake. Less than a year later, the Jolan had sprung back to life. The shops near the trestle bridge were overflowing with electrical appliances, satellite dishes, bright pottery, heaps of fruits and vegetables, open-air markets, crowded cafes, and swarms of semi-employed men and youths. Piles of bricks lined the sidewalks as residents repaired their houses.

But an aura of intimidation and hostility hung over the Jolan. When a journalist asked if he could take a few pictures, the Marines and Iraqi soldiers readily complied—by blocking off traffic so the journalist wouldn't be shot.

As the grieving Kurdish family left the city the next morning, MacVarish decided to go into the heart of the Jolan. It was a gesture to show that the murder had not intimidated the Iraqi soldiers. Capt. Khodar Juwad, commanding the 3rd Company in the 2nd Battalion, eagerly agreed. His soldiers would go to the site of the worst torture house in the city, near Jolan Park where the insurgents had their headquarters until they were pushed out of the city last November. Juwad picked out the house using a detailed photomap. Perhaps a terrorist gang in the neighborhood, if surprised by the sudden appearance of soldiers, would shoot instead of hiding among the residents on the streets. While MacVarish called Marine Battalion 1/6 to have a Quick Reaction Force standing by, Juwad chose a route in and out of the park that required no backing up or going down the same street twice.

In four vehicles, the Iraqi platoon raced down a labyrinth of back streets and screeched to a stop in front of a house that had a pronounced cement balustrade. A frightened man quickly opened the iron door in the courtyard wall while passers-by disappeared into their houses. No, the man said, he did not own the house. It was empty, so he had moved in. The Iraqi soldiers walked to the rear, where, they believed, a dank, dirt corridor had once led to cells smeared with blood and feces. Instead of a dirt floor and molding walls, there was clean parquet and white-washed walls. You built over the cells, the soldiers said. No, no, the man exclaimed in delighted relief, you are looking for the torture house. That was next door, not here. Same house as this, but it's gone.

To avoid questions about ownership of the house, he rushed out, banged on the courtyard door of a nearby house, and scooted away. Across the street, workmen were placing scaffolding on a new brick house that would not look out of place in a middle-class neighborhood in Palm Springs. A large man in a white dishdasha opened the door and Cpl. Ahmed Brahin, 20, confronted him.

Brahin, a Shiite, had joined the Iraqi army when he was 13. Somehow, in April of 2003, he had latched onto a Marine battalion on its way to Baghdad. A born linguist, he had remained with Marine units for the next 30 months and spoke the Marine patois with the ease of a grizzled gunnery sergeant. Brahin hit the man in the dishdasha with a barrage of fast questions, shaking his head at each answer.

"He's giving me the usual Fallujah jive," Brahin said. "His mother owns the property across the street. Used to be a good house, until the Marines destroyed it. So, they're rebuilding it from scratch, and the Marines won't give them any dough. Says it's bull that it used to be torture house. This is a fine neighborhood. The Marines are the problem."

Showed a computer picture of the house standing after the battle, the man shrugged. Well, maybe the Marines didn't destroy it entirely. Anyway, it's gone now, and it was never used for torture. The next picture showed a cell inside the house. Yes, the man said, his brother was insane, apt to kill people. So, he locked him up to protect the neighbors. He was shown a picture of a second cell. Yes—he had locked up two homicidally inclined brothers. He himself had fled when the fighting started and left his brothers behind. The Marines came and shot them. Shown a picture of a dead man in the cell, he said yes, that was his brother. But he wasn't shot. His legs were cut off. Who did that? The man shrugged.

"Time to move," Brahin said. "This guy's lied to us long enough. If we question him any longer, the irahibeen will kill him on general principle."

Brahin walked down the street as if looking for another address.

"They're all the same," he said. "They know who controls the Jolan. Besides, they hate the Iraqi soldiers as much the Marines. We're Shiites, outsiders. I feel it every day in their eyes. Anyone tells us anything, he'll die. [The insurgents] can't stand up to us in a fight, though."

As the patrol walked away, three young schoolgirls passed by the site of the torture house. They clung together and looked sideways at the spot.

Third IED attack doesn’t faze TOW sergeant


CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq(Sept. 28, 2005) -- Most Marines in Iraq consider themselves lucky when they walk away from one improvised explosive device attack, but two, or even three? (2nd Tanks)

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/DF6E77E7496450A58525708A004225EE?opendocument

Submitted by:
II Marine Expeditionary Force (FWD)
Story by:
Computed Name: Sgt. Christi Prickett
Story Identification #:
20059288230

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq(Sept. 28, 2005) -- Most Marines in Iraq consider themselves lucky when they walk away from one improvised explosive device attack, but two, or even three?

Sergeant Matthew P. Dalrymple, team leader, 2nd TOW Platoon, 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, is just like any other Marine in his unit. Except for the slight scarring on his right hand, the large bruises on the underside of his arm or the small, freshly bandaged shrapnel wounds, no one would guess he is recovering from his third IED attack.

It’s business as usual now for the Chillicothe, Ohio native. No big ceremonies were given for the two Purple Hearts he’s received since April.

“I don’t need any ceremonies,” said the 26-year-old. “I just got the certificates in formation, and that was that.”

Nicknamed Dallas in high school because of the hard time people have pronouncing his name, Dalrymple is on his second deployment to Iraq in four years. The first one brought no injuries to him.

“The difference between the first and second deployments are the tactics the enemy is using,” he said. “During the initial push, we were fighting an army. Now we’re fighting terrorists. We didn’t have armored vehicles or anything like that the first time because IEDs weren’t a threat.”

Looking at pictures of the vehicles he was riding in during the blasts, Dalrymple doesn’t seem affected by any of the events. The first IED blast was in April, while the second was in July, and the third in September. He talks about each photograph while recalling what went on minutes after each attack.

“The corpsman bandaged up my hand after the first one,” he said, looking at the small scars he has on his finger now. “The second attack I can hardly remember and the third one could have been a lot worse had the IED gone off even a second earlier.”

Dalrymple received follow-on treatment and physical therapy at Fallujah Surgical to regain full movement with his right middle finger, which was injured in the first blast. He is grateful to the doctors on the outcome of his finger, and remembers what he was thinking as he was getting operated on.

“The normal reaction after you get hit is to get the guys who got you,” he said. “That’s what I was thinking when I had to go in.”

According to his platoon commander, Dalrymple is a vital part of the team.

“If IEDs are out there then you can count on Sgt. “Dallas” to blow them up for us,”
said 1st Lt. Sean D. Gobin. “He has always reacted aggressively against the triggerman, which proved successful during his second IED attack in which his crew destroyed the IED team.”

Aggressiveness is something the Marines in the platoon have been taught since training for this deployment began.

“Being aggressive has been our key to success in hunting down the insurgents,” said Gobin. “The Marines have to be able to think and act faster than the insurgents do.”

Dalrymple feels the Marines are doing good things here.

“I do think we’re changing Iraq,” said Dalrymple, a black belt in tae kwon do. “I think the Iraqi’s want [the insurgents] gone as much as we do. They just don’t have our capabilities. If we deter the insurgency in a certain area, things start to get better there.”

Dalrymple and his fellow Marines covered a large area of Al Anbar province, including Ferristown and Amariyah during 2nd TOW platoons six month deployment here.

“We did dismounted and mounted patrols, cordon and searches, cache sweeps and [main supply route] security,” Dalrymple said. “We’re out all the time, depending on the mission.”

The areas included many insurgent hot spots, which puts the platoon in the heart of what the war on terror is all about. Add to that the threat of another attack, and Dalrymple is a great example of a fearless Marine.

“What gets me out of bed each day is knowing we have a job to do,” said Dalrymple. “I enjoy what I do. I was in the reserves before I came on active duty, so I knew what I was getting into.”

When returning home, Dalrymple has a surprise waiting for him.

“My wife had our first baby in August,” he said with a smile. “I can’t wait to see him.”

EDITOR’S NOTE
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Former Marines start their own fashion line

ORLANDO, Fla. - (KRT) - When the two Marines met at Camp Lejeune, N.C., in the spring of 2001, their hair was cropped military-style close.

http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/newssentinel/living/12762056.htm

BY JEAN PATTESON

The Orlando Sentinel

ORLANDO, Fla. - (KRT) - When the two Marines met at Camp Lejeune, N.C., in the spring of 2001, their hair was cropped military-style close.

Today, Jon Proechel and Patrick Reed wear their hair long and shaggy, rock-video style.

Their hairdos aren't the only things that have done an about-face since the ex-Marines settled in Orlando three years ago. They've also swapped guns for scissors, salutes for air kisses, and uniforms for outfits that are head-turning trendy.

These former Marines are now self-taught fashion designers, investing about $10,000 of their savings in the endeavor, and they are launching their first collection of hip, military-inspired, his-and-hers styles under the label Poetic Rage.

They dream of owning a chain of boutiques someday. But for starters, they'll sell their collection of shredded jeans, camo-patched jackets and canvas pistol belts on their Web site, poeticrageclothing.com. It will be open for business by the end of September.

Military-inspired fashion was huge when Iraq was first invaded, says Paige Blackwelder, co-owner of trendy Tuni boutique in Winter Park, Fla.

"It's not as big now, but there's still a definite military theme going on," she says. "I've seen a lot of jackets for fall with metal buttons and epaulettes. Diane von Furstenberg is doing these great tiered skirts in olive with striping that look military-influenced."

A top seller in her store this summer was "a cute camouflage cropped pant," says Blackwelder.

On a recent sweltering afternoon, the Poetic Rage design duo are shooting images for their Web site in downtown Orlando, Fla. Their staging area is Antigua, a club on Church Street. Clothes and combat boots are scattered over the dance floor. A tattooed model sits on a barstool as a makeup artist dabs purple glitter shadow onto his eyelids. A photographer fiddles impatiently with her camera.

"Let's go, let's go," barks Reed, as two female models emerge from a restroom-turned-dressing room wearing tank tops and skirts trimmed with camouflage patches. "Jon, see if they need any more accessories."

One thing Reed hasn't forgotten from his time in the Marines is how to give orders.

"I was in a position where I had to delegate: `Do this, do that,'" he says. "I like it when things are planned, go smoothly."

He's learning, however, that fashion shoots rarely proceed with military precision. After the inevitable problems - one model's shoes are too big, another's jacket is too small - they're ready to start shooting.

Reed, who is not as buff as the two male models, solves the jacket problem by modeling it himself. A swipe of eyeliner, a spritz of hairspray, and he's ready for his close-up.

After their meeting at Camp Lejeune, Reed and Proechel were assigned to the same six-month "float" in the Mediterranean. But they didn't hang out together, and their personal styles couldn't have been more different.

Proechel, 26, blond and laid-back, was into designer fashion. The slender, frenetic Reed, 25, preferred the hip-hop look.

"We weren't even on first-name terms," says Reed.

Proechel, who is from Upstate New York, joined the Marines in 1997. During his four years of active service, he served in 19 countries, came within hearing distance of combat during a brief stay in Kosovo, and was discharged two days before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

He ended up in Orlando because his parents moved here, and he wanted to study acting at the Lisa Maile school. To pay his rent, he took a bartending job on International Drive.

One day he called a buddy who was still in the Marines. The buddy put Reed on the line.

"I talked about bartending, acting classes," says Proechel. "He said he was also interested in acting and wouldn't mind bartending. After that, we talked every few weeks."

Reed, who is from Tennessee, was discharged in the summer of 2002. His four-year stint in the Marines included three weeks at Gitmo, the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"When I got out, I packed my life in my car and drove straight to Orlando," he says.

The two rented a house near I-Drive and tended bar together. They went to the same concerts, patronized the same hairdresser. And they started modifying their jeans and T-shirts, giving them a distinctive vibe with military-style patches, name tags and hand-stenciled graphics.

"Whenever we'd go out, people would look at us weird," says Reed. "We were different. We had our own style. People often mistook us for a gay couple."

Friends and acquaintances also asked where Reed and Proechel bought their clothes.

"We started doing designs for them, just as a hobby," says Proechel. "Then about a year ago we got serious about Poetic Rage."

No one was more surprised than Proechel's father, Bob Proechel, president of the American Safety Council in Orlando.

The pair are "talented young men who think outside the box," he says. "And the most amazing part: They've never asked me for a penny. They're doing it on their own."

Reed explains the Poetic Rage name:

"We wanted to use our initials, P and R, so we came up with all kinds of combinations, words starting with P and R.

"Poetic Rage is an interesting oxymoron. Everybody has a poetic side and a rage side, a light and dark side. We liked the way it sounded," he says.

The designing Marines have learned by doing. They incorporated their business, took out an occupational license and found suppliers of basic garments_jeans, shirts, track jackets.

Proechel learned to use a sewing machine. Reed experimented with fabric paints. Together they interviewed seamstresses and Web-site designers.

Their home's upstairs became their design studio and office. It's where they sketch, shred, sew and paint, listen to music and swap ideas.

The UPS truck shuttles up and down the drive. It hauls away shirts to be embroidered with slogans such as IT'S OK2B DIFFERENT. It delivers bundles of beanies, bracelets, blue jeans.

To test consumer reaction, Proechel and Reed took a sampling of their designs to the Vans Warped Tour concert in Tampa in early August.

Even though they slashed their prices, charging about $10 for items that eventually will retail for closer to $25, they cleared $600.

"That's a lot of $5 and $10 items," says Reed.

A best seller was their "Gitmo" T-shirt, featuring a giant key on the front, and a bird behind bars on the back.

Annie Gordon, a friend of Reed from Nashville, Tenn., owns a Gitmo shirt.

"It's military- and music-influenced, but it's also art," says Gordon, 25, an administrative assistant. "To me, I'm wearing art."

Chris Meyer, one of the design team's models, was able to keep all the clothes he wore during the photo shoot. His favorite is a black baseball cap with the Poetic Rage logo.

"It's the name people like," he says. "It's very catchy. All the stuff is pretty cool."

There is a military or patriotic twist to most of their designs, Proechel says - stars, stripes, eagles. "But it's not obvious unless we explain it."

The fashions aren't designed to make a statement about war, he says. "They're just reminders of our time in the military, most of it good. We'd never change the experience for the world, and there are times when we miss it - the camaraderie, the organization."

Being in the Marines "helped me mature a lot," says Proechel. "It makes me strive harder, concentrate more on trying to make something successful."

Besides, he says, "If it wasn't for the Marines, we'd never have met. Never had the drive to do something as crazy as Poetic Rage."

U.S. patrols draw fire as border towns empty

Outside Al-Ubaydi, Iraq -- From a short distance, the town of al-Ubaydi looked peaceful, even serene. Poplar trees and date palms threw shade on cookie-cutter concrete houses nestled in the silt-rich valley of the Euphrates River. The turquoise onion dome of a sandstone mosque presided over the town's southern frontier, just 300 yards north of the dusty hillock where Marine Sgt. James Sawyer's armored humvee stood. (3/6 Marines)

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/09/28/MNGF8EV3UF1.DTL

Anna Badkhen, Chronicle Staff Writer

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Outside Al-Ubaydi, Iraq -- From a short distance, the town of al-Ubaydi looked peaceful, even serene. Poplar trees and date palms threw shade on cookie-cutter concrete houses nestled in the silt-rich valley of the Euphrates River. The turquoise onion dome of a sandstone mosque presided over the town's southern frontier, just 300 yards north of the dusty hillock where Marine Sgt. James Sawyer's armored humvee stood.

That was until an 82mm mortar round came screaming through the air, biting into the parched wasteland about 100 yards in front of Sawyer's vehicle. Another round whooshed past, kicking up dust and spewing shrapnel up to 300 yards behind it. A third overshot the humvee by 200 yards. Immediately, Sawyer's position came under automatic weapons fire from behind a gray storage building in front of the mosque. "We saw rifles firing at us from behind the corner of the house, but we didn't see actual people, and we didn't pursue them," said Sawyer. "I'm not going to take my personnel in four vehicles into that town."

The sudden attack came from insurgents loyal to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his organization, al Qaeda in Iraq, who have boldly taken over al-Ubaydi and at least four other key western Iraqi towns in this western corner of volatile Anbar province, U.S. Marines and local residents say.

Marines of the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines Regiment, who are stationed in the area, say they come under attack every time they approach al-Ubaydi, and no U.S. troops enter the town where the insurgents appear to have free reign. The highway outside the town, on the border with Syria, is marked with anti-American and anti-Iraqi government billboards signed by "al Qaeda organization."

One signs reads: "Our religion will not be strong without the book and the sword."

Local residents interviewed at two Marine checkpoints outside al-Ubaydi described what amounted to a reign of terror inside their town.

"I myself buried six men they had executed and left by the side of the road," said Alallah Ahmed Mahmoud, 47, a worker at the local phosphate factory. He said one of the dead had been beheaded, the others shot in the head, execution-style.

"We were told that they had been helping Americans and the Iraqi army," said Mahmoud. He was fleeing al-Ubaydi, taking his wife and three young daughters, because it was unsafe there, he said.

Marines manning a checkpoint on the ancient Silk Road, which runs along the Euphrates River and past al-Ubaydi, said they have heard similar stories from local residents.

"We've heard some reports that they are getting out and executing people, and they are not being particular about whom they execute: women and children as well as adult males," said Gunnery Sgt. Dave Ruble, 36. The accounts could not be independently confirmed.

Ruble said cars laden with family belongings had been passing through the checkpoint for days as residents flee al-Ubaydi and four other towns that Marine officers say insurgents now control: Al-Qaim, Sada, Karabila and Dulaym al -Husayba.

"They feel like there's a fight coming, and they don't want to hang out for a fight," Ruble said.

Some al-Ubaydi residents said insurgents were using the town's mosque as a headquarters where they plot attacks on U.S. troops.

"They use the mosque to make plans, and they don't let us inside," said Abud Mahmoud Abu Mahal, an old man who was fleeing the town with his teenage son.

Mahmoud, the phosphate factory worker, said insurgents had posted signs throughout the town telling local residents about the correct way to pray and ordering them to wear traditional dishdashas, the long traditional robe, instead of Western-style pants and shirts, which the signs describe as haram, or sinful.

On Tuesday, Marines attached blocks of C4 explosives to a blue metal billboard that read, in yellow and white letters: "A spy brings shame on his tribe. Al Qaeda organization."

"This is basically a sign warning people not to collaborate with the Americans, so we're gonna blow it up," said Sgt. Derrick Link, 32, from Michigan.

If the Marines and the fleeing townspeople are to be believed, the insurgents' tactics are having some success. Several residents, who refused to give their names when interviewed at Marine checkpoints, said everything inside al-Ubaydi and other towns in the area was normal. They denied that insurgents had taken control of the area and were enforcing strict Islamic law there or that there was any fighting or executions in the area.

"A lot of them are afraid to talk to us because they're afraid the insurgents will kill them," said Lt. Chuck Hayter, 26, from Montana.

So far, the Marines have done little to challenge the insurgents.

Because they come under fire every time they approach, no U.S. soldier has been inside the town since June, when a group of about 400 Marines "made it about six blocks into Ubaydi, and they didn't have enough firepower" to counter the weapons of the insurgents holed up inside the town, said Lt. Brian Fischer, 23, from Florida.

"They had to retreat," Fischer said.

Lt. Col. Julian Alford, commander of the 3rd Battalion, said the Marines were planning a large joint counterinsurgency operation together with Iraqi troops. But he did not say when the operation would take place. As of Tuesday, there were no signs of Iraqi forces in the area.

For now, Marines maintain a permanent checkpoint about 1.5 miles south of the town and camp out at a desert outpost they call Battle Position Belleau Wood -- a cluster of berms and shipping containers half-dug into ankle-deep fine dust and covered with sandbags and camouflage netting, surrounded by a 7-foot wall of dust and rocks. The outpost, which the Marines set up 12 days ago, is being shelled by mortars almost daily, Fischer said.

"The job here is to just have the presence," he said.

Occasionally, the Marines launch what they call "presence patrols" near the town, to see what kind of firepower their enemy has. On Tuesday, during one such patrol, a platoon led by Sawyer, a 27-year-old from Maine, came under attack just outside al-Ubaydi. None of the 15 Marines on patrol was hit, nor was it known whether their return fire had killed or wounded any of the insurgents.

"Looks like a quiet little neighborhood," Sawyer said in the afternoon, when his platoon revisited the spot where they had come under attack several hours earlier. "Until you start getting shot at," he added, studying the town through the scope of his M-16 rifle.

E-mail Anna Badkhen at [email protected]

Military provides counseling to traumatized

The military does a phenomenal job of providing counseling for soldiers who might be traumatized after wartime deaths of those they serve with, said Dodge County Sheriff Todd Nehls, who recently spent a year in Afghanistan as a colonel in the Wisconsin National Guard.

http://www.wisinfo.com/thereporter/news/archive/local_22781603.shtml

By Patty Brandl
the reporter [email protected]

The military does a phenomenal job of providing counseling for soldiers who might be traumatized after wartime deaths of those they serve with, said Dodge County Sheriff Todd Nehls, who recently spent a year in Afghanistan as a colonel in the Wisconsin National Guard.

Sgt. Andrew Wallace, of Oshkosh, and Spc. Mich-ael Wendling, of Mayville, died Monday when their convoy hit an improvised explosive device (IED) in southern Iraq.

Losing a friend to something like an IED shouldn’t happen, but it does, Nehls said. And despite the tragedy, soldiers must deal with it and move on.

When casualties occur, commanders usually arrange a standard ceremony right away so the soldiers can pay their respects.

“As soon as you go through the ceremony and say goodbye, it’s back to work as usual — because you have to,” he said. “It helps the healing to stay busy.”

Nehls said National Guard units tend to be closer knit than regular Army.

“You have Guard units where soldiers have been together five, 10 or 20 years,” he said. “Two high school classmates riding in the same vehicle — you don’t get that in the Army, and you don’t get that in the Marines. The Guard keeps them all together. That’s the way it should be — you fight together the way you train.”

Nehls said soldiers from the Fond du Lac and Ripon areas made up a large part of the 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry Regiment.

“It was all local kids in that unit,” he said. “When something happens, it impacts our area in a major way.”

Nehls said there will soon be about 3,000 Wisconsin National Guard troops serving in the Middle East.

“We have two infantry battalions there right now,” he said. “One is getting ready to come home, and another is getting ready to go over there.”

Despite the deaths of their fellow soldiers, Wisconsin Guard members love what they’re doing, Nehls said.

“Even after a tragic event like this, you would be hard pressed to find any that would say, ‘Bring me home,’” he said. “These deaths are a constant reminder that we should not take freedom for granted. The price to remain free and keep our country free at times comes with a price. These soldiers paid that price for all of us. They are heroes. May they never be forgotten.”

'It is still pretty dangerous out there'

Navy doctor reflects on service in Iraq. (served with 3/8)

http://www.mtexpress.com/index2.php?issue_date=09-28-2005&ID;=2005105502

By MATT FURBER
Express Staff Writer

Lt. Ryan Frieder, a Navy doctor serving with the U.S. Marine Corps in Iraq, returned home on leave this month to visit with family, friends and classmates of Wood River High School's Class of 1993.

Frieder, 30, has been serving just east of Fallujah, Iraq. He arrived there in January, following a major offensive in the area that occurred on Nov. 4, 2004.

"Since January 2005, the camps have been fairly safe. Out on the roads it is still pretty dangerous out there," he said in an interview between mountain bike rides with his brother. "We had about 45 of our Navy hospital corpsmen leaving the base on a daily basis to do patrols, re-supply, re-stock, recover vehicles that had broken down—a wide variety (of tasks) in addition to triage and care of Marines and Iraqi civilians."

Frieder, who is serving as a Navy doctor with the 3rd Battalion of the 8th Marine Regiment, said one of the big problems was when insurgents fired at the U.S. military or Iraqi forces, the mortar rounds and other ordnance often would cause civilian casualties. Frieder said soldiers and civilians alike would be brought back to the base where trauma experts could treat them.

"We would go through lulls with only minor shrapnel wounds, ruptured eardrums or broken bones."

Then, he said, there were weeklong periods with numerous fatalities.

"They coincided with us pushing into a community," he said, explaining that although his group was largely responsible for securing Al Karmah, a city about the size of Twin Falls northeast of Fallujah, the military would push forward to establish new bases, which would cause increased pressure on insurgent groups.

"Our policy was anybody we injured we helped," he said, explaining that he is not scheduled to return to Iraq. In fact, following his current leave, he will be preparing for a tour of the Mediterranean Sea and the Persian Gulf as part of a Marine expeditionary unit, which is trained to respond to any type of mission when called.

"I have a little sense of relief," he admitted about not going back to Iraq. "But, I'm not going to pat myself on the back until it's all over."

Before his deployment to Iraq, Frieder served in Haiti, where he carried out missions to give health care to children.

"Our Marines didn't have to worry about security as much down there, so they were more feasible," he wrote in an e-mail last spring in a dispatch that he sent after having a rare opportunity to care for some of the children.

Frieder said much of the success for the Marines has been based on intelligence tips from locals.

"We apprehended about 550 people. For 350 we had sufficient evidence to send them to Abu Ghraib Prison," he said, explaining that sometimes the military would fly Marines to Baghdad to testify.

Frieder said that there were about 700 Iraqi troops assigned to his battalion.

"They were divided amongst our line forces," he said, hopeful that eventually Iraqi troops will be able to maintain security at least in the area around Fallujah. "The Iraqi soldiers did a great job. The Iraqi public is more willing to cooperate with them. They are able to pick up on different dialects, accents. It was very beneficial to have those guys. Marines are pretty close to the Iraqis—a lot of them live on the same bases. They patrolled together for seven months. They made huge steps forward in our area. We've seen they can have a huge impact on the battle space."

Frieder said the Iraqi soldiers carry the same gear as the Marines, but that they typically carry AK 47s confiscated from insurgents rather than the standard M16s used by U.S. troops.

Frieder still has two years of required military service, and the battalion he is serving with next will be trained to mobilize rapidly where needed. In Iraq, his job was to supervise some 60 enlisted Navy corpsmen, who, like Army medics, tend to ailing troops on the front lines.

Sometimes called a "Med float," Frieder considers his next tour considerably lighter duty compared to his Iraq experience. He estimated that 75 percent of his Marine colleagues were involved in some type of roadside action or mortar attack.

"Some of the guys had multiple close calls," he said, adding that he could count at least 100 combat-related injuries to U.S. soldiers. He said about six of the medics working under him received Purple Hearts. "There was one who lost his right leg below the knee and one who suffered severe inhalation injuries."

Frieder estimated that his Marines suffered eight combat fatalities. He remembered also that during his tour of duty a Department of Defense interpreter died from drowning after a Humvee crashed in a canal road.

Frieder said there are a number of soldiers currently being treated at the Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland and others in San Antonio, Texas.

"They are definitely in a recovery process," Frieder said, explaining that many of the injured resist being medically separated from service. "Most of these guys want to stay in."

Frieder said he was hopeful that in his area in another year the Iraqi soldiers might be able to maintain stability, but he said in other parts of Iraq the battle is very difficult.

"My personal belief is that without a ruler there, I think it's a power vacuum. Dozens of factions are vying for power. A lot of innocent people are dying when insurgents are trying to attack us."

Frieder said in his opinion the need is to help people get to the negotiation table and substitute violence for political power.

He said the Marines decreased the level of violence 75 percent around Fallujah. Violent incidents dropped from 160 incidents per month to 40 incidents per month by July.

Frieder said that from a professional standpoint his experience in Iraq has been a good lead to anesthesiology training he has planned when he gets out of the military. On a personal level, he said he looks forward to traveling during peacetime, but he has little interest in going back to Iraq unless conditions change. "It would be awesome to visit Baghdad someday. But, conditions now are not amenable to sightseeing."

Frieder said one of the greatest things about his military experience has been the support he has felt.

"People have such a great support for the troops, regardless of their position on the war or the Bush administration," he said. "Most of the troops over there are 19 to 21 years old. It is a hostile environment. It's nice for them to go home and have people support them. They will flat out say this is awesome."

He said the most frustrating part of combat for the Marines was not being able to see the enemy.

"Losing your cool is not going to win this war. Being calm is what is going to do it," he said. "This is an information-driven war. Time will tell whether or not it was the right thing to do."

For now, Frieder is looking forward to his duty at sea and not returning to Iraq.

"There is a slight chance if all hell breaks loose I might have to go back."

Encinitas Elks serve up a good time to Marines

ENCINITAS ---- After two back-to-back combat tours in Iraq, 22-year-old Marine Sgt. Rene Escobar said he is often touched by the simple gestures of civilians who reach out to thank him and his fellow Marines. (3rd AAB)

http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2005/09/28/news/coastal/20_10_559_27_05.txt

By: DARRIN MORTENSON - Staff Writer

ENCINITAS ---- After two back-to-back combat tours in Iraq, 22-year-old Marine Sgt. Rene Escobar said he is often touched by the simple gestures of civilians who reach out to thank him and his fellow Marines.

Escobar was one of about 30 Camp Pendleton Marines and Navy corpsmen who were lavished with lunch, free beer and many warm pats on the back by North County residents Tuesday at Encinitas Elks Lodge 2243.

"This is probably the best way they could say thanks ---- I mean, just inviting us over like this," he said, clutching a drink fresh from the open bar.

"But that's not why we do it," he said. "We don't ask for much."

About 45 members of the lodge and friends from a local American Legion post packed individual "love bags" ---- because they were "made with love," as one woman put it ---- full of homemade cookies, toiletries and other treats for each Marine and sailor.

Almost all of the troops, members of Pendleton's 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, have been to Iraq at least twice.

Seeming a little stiff at first ---- the Marines dressed in khaki service uniforms and sailors in their whites ---- as they mingled with the mostly senior members of the lodge, the troops soon warmed up to their hosts, swapping war stories with veterans and indulging others in endless questions about families, hometowns and combat.

"We love it," said Lance Cpl. Donnie Chapman, 21, of Cape Cod, Mass., his cheeks flushed by either his icy drink or the series of hugs and kisses on the cheek given by some motherly Elks.

Ruth Osborn, a former Marine sergeant who organized Tuesday's midday mixer, said the residents of Encinitas and communities to the south don't have the same opportunities to talk to Marines as do residents in the communities that surround Camp Pendleton.

"These people are a little more eager about the Marines," she said of her group's members as she directed her 24-year-old granddaughter in some of the prelunch arrangements Tuesday.

Her Korean War veteran husband, 77-year-old retired Marine Gunnery Sgt. Norman Osborn, said he participated in the lunch because "once a Marine, always a Marine."

He said he and other residents just wanted to show support.

"They feel like they can do their part, which in this war they haven't really been able to yet," he said.

"It just needs getting done," said Marilyn Taranto, after making sure an empty-handed Marine got a drink. "Somebody's got to give these guys the honor and respect they deserve."

After some initial socializing, the lunch bell rang and the troops lined up to load plates with fruit salad and green beans, chicken, rice and ham.

Some drenched their meals with an extra ladle of hot gravy at the behest of 66-year-old Encinitas resident Barbara Dodd. She and her husband, Korea veteran Dave Dodd, prepared the food.

Johnny Johnson, 82, a Marine pilot who said he flew 63 missions in World War II, sat near 20-year-old Navy Corpsman Giancarlo Fenner of Baltimore, and next to Marine Cpl. Mark Galindo, 21, of Bakersfield.

"Were you in the invasion?" Johnson shouted across the table to Fenner, leading the group into a series of war stories they swapped over platefuls of meat and gravy.

Fenner said it was fun talking to old-timers who fought in conflicts that he had only read about and heard retold in Marine and Navy lore.

"It's good to share all this history ---- theirs and ours," he said later.

Johnson marveled that Galindo, only 21, and so many of the other young troops had been to Iraq twice.

"Been there, done that," Galindo said of his most recent tour in the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi. He and Johnson, though separated by more than 60 years, seemed fast friends.

He said the effort by Encinitas residents to thank him and the others was "awesome."

"It's awesome to see the support that just about every community in the country gives us," he said, before turning back to more stories and food.

Before the gifts were handed out and the Marines stood onstage with a microphone to introduce themselves, retired Marine Col. Jack Kelly took a break from the bar to say a few keynote remarks to the troops.

"What you are seeing here today is ordinary Americans, people who want to take time out to say 'thank you,' " he said.

He blasted the media for not reporting more accomplishments in Iraq and said the Marines were defending America against "the devil."

"(Americans) should get down on their knees and thank God that we have men like you defending our country," he said.

Contact staff writer Darrin Mortenson at (760) 740-5442 or [email protected]

Command structure changing at Cherry Point


CHERRY POINT - Marine Corps changes in command structure become effective Saturday and mean one less general for Cherry Point.

http://www.newbernsj.com/SiteProcessor.cfm?Template=/GlobalTemplates/Details.cfm&StoryID;=23805&Section;=Local

September 28,2005
BY Sue Book View stories by reporter
Sun Journal Staff

CHERRY POINT - Marine Corps changes in command structure become effective Saturday and mean one less general for Cherry Point.

The first such reorganization in more than a decade follows similar moves by all other branches of the service and internal discussion for more than a year.

"The Marine Corps is realigning the command of our bases and stations to improve command and control and provide better support to the operating forces," said Capt. Mike O'Connor, head of the facilities branch at the Navy Annex in Washington.

He said the under secretary of the Navy approved the plan Sept. 6.

Goals include improved readiness, streamlined communications, better joint forces alignment, improved unitization of regional assets and infrastructure, and potential savings through economy of scale.

Headquarters for the eastern segment of the new command will be at Camp Lejeune, "and the base commander at Camp Lejeune elevates to Commanding General of Marine Corps Installations East," O'Connor said.

Gen. Robert C. Dickerson now commands Camp Lejeune and will be the first in that position. His current base command position is filled by a colonial, who reports to MCI-East, as will base command posts at Cherry Point, New River and Beaufort, S.C., as well as Marine Corps Air Facility Quantico, Va., Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Ga. and Blount Island Command in Jacksonville, Fla.

The position of commander of the Second Marine Aircraft Wing will still be headed by a general, presently Maj. Gen. Thomas L. Moore, and will still be based at Cherry Point.

The general position assigned to command Cherry Point since that base was commissioned May 20, 1942 as Cunningham Field will now be "used by the Commandant of the Marine Corps for the Global War on Terrorism," O'Connor said.

Brig. Gen. Charles S. "Steve" Patton, the last general to occupy the Cherry Point Commanding General billet, was deployed to Iraq early this year after assuming command in August 2004. The assignment, his fourth at Cherry Point, followed work as deputy director of warfare integration assessment under the chief of Naval Operations at the Pentagon.

Col. David Buland has served as acting commander since that time and is expected to continue in that capacity following deactivation ceremonies Friday at Cherry Point.

Ceremonies for the Camp Lejeune command changes, including commissioning MCI-East, are slated for Tuesday.

The Marine Corps expects the realignment, which was "kept very internal" to avoid any appearance of connection to the 2005 Defense Base Realignment and Closure process, to "have no job losses associated with it and has to be implemented with existing resources."

Sue Book can be reached at 635-5666 or [email protected]

Base-X, Inc. Donates Nearly $100,000 In Shelters To Hurricane Relief Efforts


Shelters Go To FEMA For Command And Operation Centers

http://www.rockbridgeweekly.com/rw_article.php?ndx=1915

By Patte Wood
Staff Reporter

Base-X Inc has donated nearly $100,000 of Shelters to FEMA to help with Hurricane relief efforts. The donation includes large shelters to provide the infrastructure for two complete command and operations centers. The command centers, located in Louisiana, will be used to facilitate communications and coordinate operations between the federal, state and local governments.

“It was absolutely the right thing to do”, says James Maurer, President of Base-X Inc. located in Fairfield. “We decided immediately to make the donation. Base-X shelter products are designed specifically for use in these types of situations and we felt it was our responsibility to do what we could to provide some assistance.”

In addition to the donation by Base-X, FEMA has taken delivery of an additional 75 large shelters. Base-X was able to deliver them immediately from inventory.

Several military operations are currently on site using Base-X shelters and products including the US Army 82nd Aviation Brigade, US Navy Field Deployable Preventive Medicine Unit, USMC 24th Mobile Expeditionary Unit, and the US Army Corps of Engineers unit, Ft Bragg, NC. The Deployable Joint Command Center (DJC2) has a command post in place near New Orleans. Base-X has personnel in place along side the military units proving support and ensuring operations are running smoothly.

The Base-X lightweight, rapidly deploying tactical shelters are used extensively by every branch of the U.S. Military and utilize patented folding frame technology for superior speed, strength and durability. Base-X offers worldwide distribution of all of its products. The company’s focus remains consistent and singular: adapting its products to the ever-evolving missions of its customers.

Marines plan two-day, 230-mile run on Okinawa

Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Wednesday, September 28, 2005

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Headquarters and Service Battalion, Marine Corps Bases Okinawa, will host the 230-mile USMC Birthday Commemorative Run this year to honor the Marine Corps’ birthday.

To continue reading:

http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article;=31859

Marine commandant awards 11 Purple Hearts in Afghanistan

By Steve Mraz, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Wednesday, September 28, 2005

MEHTAR LAM, Afghanistan — Eleven U.S. Marines who were wounded during mid-August in eastern Afghanistan received Purple Hearts during a ceremony Monday. (2/3)

To continue reading:

http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article;=31866

September 27, 2005

Marine on leave from Iraq expresses support for U.S. role

The wish expressed on the giant yellow ribbon on top of Brooklyn Bagels has come true.

Marine Lance Cpl. Trent Dyer has returned safely from Iraq.

http://http://www.mlive.com/news/muchronicle/index.ssf?/base/news-7/112783416158590.xml&coll;=8&thispage;=2

Tuesday, September 27, 2005
By Steve Gunn
CHRONICLE STAFF WRITER

The wish expressed on the giant yellow ribbon on top of Brooklyn Bagels has come true.

Marine Lance Cpl. Trent Dyer has returned safely from Iraq.

Dyer's parents, Denny and Cookie Dyer of North Muskegon, had the ribbon erected on top of their Whitehall Road restaurant last winter, when they learned their son was shipping out to Iraq.

The words on the ribbon were simple but powerful: "Keep my son safe."

Dyer is not only safe, but he's been making the most of his time away from the stressful lifestyle of the war zone.

Almost as soon as he returned on leave, Dyer and his wife, Katie, headed for a 10-day vacation in the Dominican Republic. The two had been married less than a year when Dyer shipped out, so the vacation was extra special.

"I had to tell my family that I needed this time to reunite with my wife," said Dyer, 21, a 2003 graduate of Reeths-Puffer High School. "It's hard, because you become so dependent on each other, then all of a sudden you're gone for seven months.

"We had a great time. It was like a first date again."

But looming on the other end of the homecoming is the inevitable return to Iraq. Dyer is fully aware that he will be going back in February.

"It's hard," said Dyer, who will be-come a full corporal Saturday. "I don't necessarily want to go back. It's like life stops when you're there. But I know I have to go back, so all I can do is make the best of it."

It's not that Dyer doesn't like the military. On the contrary, he said he's found the experience rewarding.

He enlisted in the Marine Corps out of high school, and left for basic training a few months after graduation.

He was stationed in North Carolina, attached to a helicopter division. By February of this year he was in Iraq, stationed at a base in Al Asad, less than an hour's drive from Baghdad.

Dyer has not seen the worst of the violence in Iraq. Most of the time he stays on base, doing maintenance work on helicopters. He's also been training on board helicopters to become an aerial observer.

But there have been moments that severely tested his nerves.

"We don't see a lot of active combat, but we get mortared and rocketed a lot on base," Dyer said. "At times it gets scary. Anything can happen to you. You can be sleeping, and all of the sudden you hear a loud boom."

Dyer recalls taking part in a traveling military convoy that was attacked by insurgents.

"It's just random people, nothing organized, and they just pop out, start shooting, then run away," he said. "When it first happens, you just react. But when it's over with, and there's time to sit down and think about what just happened, it's crazy.

"It gives you some sleepless nights. And it gives you a new perspective on life, all the stuff you take for granted. You realize it all could end at any moment. You realize life is precious."

Dyer said he's strengthened by his faith in the American cause. He believes the U.S. invasion was necessary, and he's proud of the service the military provides the Iraqi people as they struggle to develop a democracy.

"I know a lot of people don't agree with us being there, but when you see what we're doing, and realize that the majority of Iraqis are happy we're there, it gives you a good feeling," Dyer said.

That aside, Dyer admits he had to force himself to stop counting the days until his leave began. When it finally arrived last month, he said it took too long to get back to the United States. There was a holdover in Kuwait, then a stop in Germany. That's too many stops for a homesick soldier, he said.

"They told us we'd be home in about two days, but when you're in the military, you know some things are too good to be true," Dyer said. "We finally got back about a week later. And the travel in between, the days went by so slow."

After several weeks with family and friends in Muskegon, Dyer and his wife returned to North Carolina. Dyer will spend the next four months on base, helping to maintain helicopters. Then in February it's back to Iraq, hopefully for the last time.

"We've heard that it will be going on for years. Then we heard that this might be the last time we go back," he said. "I guess you just don't know until the last minute."

In the meantime, Dyer would like people to remember his wife, both of their families, and all the other military families that wait and worry in obscurity.

"It's just as hard being here alone as it is being there alone," Dyer said. "I think people overlook that. Families should get the recognition they deserve. They go through a lot of mental pain."

Masters’ in psychology helps Master Guns lead troops, create leaders

AL ASAD, IRAQ (Sept. 27, 2005) -- The languages of the brain are pictures, sounds, feelings, tastes and smells. Under the stress of living in a combat zone, these languages become razor sharp. Marines in Iraq must be constantly vigilant of their surroundings and the personnel around them.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/93078E258BA4B411852570890049A70C?opendocument

Submitted by: 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing
Story Identification #: 200592792428
Story by Cpl. Cullen J. Tiernan

AL ASAD, IRAQ (Sept. 27, 2005) -- The languages of the brain are pictures, sounds, feelings, tastes and smells. Under the stress of living in a combat zone, these languages become razor sharp. Marines in Iraq must be constantly vigilant of their surroundings and the personnel around them.

Throughout his deployment in Al Asad, Iraq, Master Gunnery Sgt. William H. Butler, the acting sergeant major of Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 2, has been teaching Psychology classes to members of the military, giving them a knowledge base to deal with mental issues that may arise in a combat zone.

“We all go through issues out here,” said the Margate, Fla., native. “Understanding psychology gives Marines support dealing with stress, social and work-related issues. Whether the problem is theirs, or the Marines they are in charge of, it gives them a better knowledge of people and their real problems.”

Butler’s interest in psychology coincides with his interest in people and being a leader of Marines. He earned a bachelor’s degree in social psychology in 1997 from Park University and a master’s in counseling psychology from Capella University online in 2002.

“People are the neat part of living,” said Butler. “Nothing is perfect all the time. Leaders need to accept that and get a knowledge base, don’t assume anything. You need to go beyond the basic counseling the Marine Corps gives you, because some of the issues that come up are beyond a basic scope.”

While serving as the avionics chief for Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 14 in 1994, Butler was the senior person for more than 350 Marines. Every morning he would see Marines who were having problems.

“I didn’t know, or understand how to deal with some of the problems I faced,” said Butler. “I wanted to better help the Marines I was working with. I figured if I take some psychology classes I would be able to give a fair, educated opinion.”

According to 1st Lt. Marlisa M. Grogan, Marine Aircraft Group 26’s adjutant and education officer, Butler has put a great deal of effort into getting the word out. He has made the opportunity for everyone to take classes and has been very helpful with the education program on base.

“His classes are both educational and entertaining,” said the Wayne, N. J., native. “He’s a character, someone who certainly has a positive presence here. I know his classes are popular. He has a way of getting his students excited and involved with the subject matter.”

For Marines who desire to take advantage of their educational benefits or want to get their minds off their daily duties and tasks, Butler’s classes offer a world of opportunities.

“It helps keep my mind stable,” said Cpl. Dante P. Freeman, a supply warehouse clerk with MWHS-2. “Preparing for tests and quizzes, studying, it all helps time go by a bit faster. We also get the benefit of learning an interesting subject matter and earning college credit.”

The New Haven, Conn., native, compared the class to small example of the Marine Corps. He stated that the students are from a wide variety of military occupational skills, squadrons and ethnicities, but all share the same desire to improve themselves and work on their education.

“These classes have opened my mind to new ideas,” said Sgt. Carlos Aguilar, supply clerk with Marine Aircraft Group 26, who has taken both Interpersonal Communication and Introduction to Psychology. “I’ve learned new methods, and new ways that help me better understand people and the Marines under my charge. The classes are very upbeat, and Master Guns (Butler) has a unique style of teaching that is very inactive.”

The Buena Park, Calif., native, said the class is a comfortable environment to be in after a long day of work, and after being out of school for six years. He is very glad he took the opportunity when it was there.

Between leading MWHS-2 in a combat zone and teaching his classes, Butler makes time to volunteer and counsel patients at Al Asad’s hospital.

While in a combat zone, Marines must be mentally ready to experience life-threatening or extremely distressing situations. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder can cause them to feel intense fear, horror or a sense of helplessness.

Butler’s knowledge of the different languages of the brain have not only helped the Marines here, but he has installed a knowledge base in all the Marines who have attended his classes. When he leaves Iraq, he will leave behind a legacy of not only counseling and educating Marines, helping them earn college credit, but creating leaders who better understand their troops and their human problems.

Friends reunite overseas after three years

Hunter spent much of their first two years at Ole Miss side-by-side.

The friends lived in the same dorm their freshman and sophomore years and passed the time by attending a lot of backpacking and road trips together with friends from the Ole Miss ROTC.

http://www.thedmonline.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2005/09/27/43395686c13d4

Ray Nothstine

September 27, 2005

Hunter spent much of their first two years at Ole Miss side-by-side.

The friends lived in the same dorm their freshman and sophomore years and passed the time by attending a lot of backpacking and road trips together with friends from the Ole Miss ROTC.

Then Hunter left Ole Miss in his sophomore year in favor of active duty in the Marine Corps.

Nothstine didn’t start his spring semester that year, either.

While Hunter completed two combat tours in Afghanistan as an active duty Marine, Nothstine was deployed to the Al-Anbar province of Iraq in early February 2005.

Nothstine joined the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, India Company for his deployment in Iraq. As a crew chief on an amphibious assault vehicle, which is used to carry and support the infantry in combat operations through the cities and towns of Al-Anbar Province, he was part of numerous combat operations.

Hunter deployed to Iraq in late August for his third military deployment but his first venture to Iraq. He, too, was attached to the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, India Company as an assault man. Nothstine knew Hunter was part of 3/6 but wasn’t sure if he was with the company that was coming to his camp in Iraq. When Hunter got off the trucks that brought him on the convoy to his new home for six months, he saw a sign that pointed west and said “Oxford: 6,723 miles.”

The old friends saw each other for the first time in three years at that Marine base camp in Al-Anbar Province, and they have been spending time together and encouraging each other through their deployment ever since.

“We are working hard at trying to bring lasting security to Iraq,

Marines issue equipment to Georgian soldiers

KRTSANISI, Republic of Georgia (Sept. 27, 2005) -- Georgia Sustainment and Stability Operations Program U.S. Task Force logistics Marines have been issuing the Republic of Georgia’s 22nd Light Infantry Battalion 275 types of equipment ranging from weapons, vehicles and uniforms to pencils, folding chairs and mess kits.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/ABF4394177E070C3852570890044CF82?opendocument

Submitted by:
Marine Forces Europe
Story by:
Computed Name: Staff Sgt. Jonathan C. Moor
Story Identification #:
200592783135

KRTSANISI, Republic of Georgia (Sept. 27, 2005) -- Georgia Sustainment and Stability Operations Program U.S. Task Force logistics Marines have been issuing the Republic of Georgia’s 22nd Light Infantry Battalion 275 types of equipment ranging from weapons, vehicles and uniforms to pencils, folding chairs and mess kits.

The ongoing gear issue at the Krtsanisi National Training Area, Republic of Georgia, which began Aug. 17, is almost complete, according to 1st Lt. Marcelino Hsie, the GSSOP logistics officer and native of Tucson, Ariz.

According to Hsie, the gear has been permanently issued as a donation to the 22nd Battalion under parameters the GSSOP mission, which is to assist and enhance Georgia’s military capability to sustain its contribution to the effort in Iraq.

Georgia’s GSSOP trained troops form part of the dedicated force called for in UN Security Council Resolution 1546 to protect UN forces in Iraq.

Georgia needs the assistance, due to the Georgian military’s limited resources.
“These guys came to us with pretty much nothing except a set of cammies and their (weapons),” said Hsie. “We’re just trying to properly equip them.”

The gear issue will cover all aspects of equipment needed to professionalize a battalion. The individual soldiers have already received the majority of their individual issue.

“We gave them the full issue that a military soldier would need just to do his job and do it properly,” said Gunnery Sgt. David Harris, the GSSOP logistics chief and native of Tell City, Ind. “It’s extremely important due to the fact that they will be properly equipped to fight the battle, and it gives them the morale of looking like soldiers and having the equipment to do the job.”

The supplies were donated to Georgia by the United States and several other nations through the Georgia Sustainment and Stability Operations Program. Hungry donated small arms. The Czech Republic and Romania contributed ammunition.

According to Hsie, approximately $4,000 in gear per soldier was given to each of the 558 members of the 22nd Battalion in addition to gear issued to the unit such as trucks, and general-purpose tents.

“We gave them three (Russian) 5-ton Ural 4320 Cargo Trucks, six British Land Rovers, three hard top and three soft top, and one Land Rover ambulance purchased from a vendor in Turkey,” Hsie said, highlighting some of the more costly items.

Other categories of equipment issued to the 22nd Battalion were administrative supplies such as paper, dry-erase boards, markers, and cleaning supplies such as brooms and disinfectant.

“We gave them all their training supplies too, all their targets, ear plugs, pasties and other equipment required to run a range,” Hsie explained.

The battalion was also outfitted with office furniture, and standard of living amenities like kerosene heaters for use in the winter.

One of the challenges that arose during the issue process was with the first-aid kits. When the kits arrived it was determined that they were not adequate for the Iraq mission.

“The first aid kits were really small. Our medical personnel determined that they would be insufficient for their mission, so they’re ordering ones like our IFAKs (Improved First Aid Kits),” Hsie explained. The first aid kits that arrived in the initial order will be issued to non-deploying units.

According to Harris, something that stood out in his mind was the Georgian soldiers’ appreciation for the gear they were given. “The majority of it is just the attitude, saying ‘thank you.’ You can see it in their eyes as their going through the line. They’re happy to be getting the equipment we’re giving them”

“Because they’ve never had anything, everything they get they take great care of,” Harris explained. “They don’t like getting their uniforms dirty or anything like that because they only have two or three sets.”
The Georgian soldiers’ appreciation for the new gear extends beyond their personal equipment to the unit items issued to the 22nd Battalion. While the Land Rovers are currently being used for daily battalion functions, the original shipping plastic can still be seen covering the seats in an effort to preserve the quality of the vehicles as long as possible.

Harris concluded, “They take nothing we give them for granted. They’re very appreciative and they take extremely good care of their things.”

Marine's wish honored as mascot comes home

Kathy Wright can't replace her Marine son who was killed in Iraq, but later this week she will honor his request and adopt the company mascot, a dog named Beans. (enterer's note: 3/25)

http://www.cleveland.com/news/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/cuyahoga/112782215664580.xml&coll;=2&thispage;=2

Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Michael Sangiacomo
Plain Dealer Reporter

Kathy Wright can't replace her Marine son who was killed in Iraq, but later this week she will honor his request and adopt the company mascot, a dog named Beans.

Just weeks before Cpl. Jeffrey Allen Boskovitch, 25, was killed by small-arms fire outside Haditha, Iraq on Aug. 1, he emailed his mother about Beans.

The dog got the name because Boskovitch and his fellow Marines bought the mixed-breed pup from Iraqi villagers for a quarter and three jelly beans.

He hoped to bring the dog home with him when his tour of duty was up in August. Boskovitch was killed Aug. 1 along with five other Marine snipers.

Barring complications, his wish will come true when Beans arrives at the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment headquarters on Snow Road in Brook Park sometime this week.

Initially, the Marines and the military said it was against regulations to bring Beans to the United States on a military transport.

Wright's efforts to cut through red tape eventually led her to the Pentagon, to the office of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Michael W. Hagee.

"Gen. Hagee told the mother he would get it done," said Hagee's spokesman Maj. Jason Johnston. "He put his staff on it and it has been worked out.

The dog will be on her way. If Beans can comfort the mother of a fallen Marine, then it is our pleasure to help."

Maj. Jenny Potter, a spokeswoman for the Brook Park headquarters, said the dog's arrival is due toWright's determination.

"She wanted this to happen, and she worked on it until she pushed it through," Potter said.

Wright said she will bring the dog to her home as soon as it ar rives, but will isolate Beans from her other dogs, Chloe and Daisy.

"We'll keep her separated until I can have some blood tests done to make sure she is not carrying any illnesses from ticks or sand flies," she said. "I know everyone will get along."

She said she still believes Beans is part of her son's unit and that she will share the dog with the local Marines.

"If they want me to bring her to watch them march or train, I'd be glad to," she said. "Beans belonged to the whole company, not just my son."

She said getting Beans will provide a bit of relief.

"It's bittersweet," she said. "Beans is not a replacement for my son, but a welcome addition to my family."

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:

[email protected], 216-999-4890

Dismay overshadows relief as rescued survey wreckage

DELCAMBRE, La. — There comes a point when the exhilaration of being rescued from your home fades into the reality of an uncertain future. Albert St. Pierre hit that wall on a sunny, wind-whipped Sunday evening the day after Hurricane Rita turned sections of Louisiana's low-lying coastal parishes into flooded ruins...

"If a Marine doesn't have a mission, he'll create one," Cope says...

http://www.fresnobee.com/columnists/mcewen/story/11270398p-12021008c.html
By Bill McEwen / The Fresno Bee

(Updated Monday, September 26, 2005, 5:59 AM)

DELCAMBRE, La. — There comes a point when the exhilaration of being rescued from your home fades into the reality of an uncertain future. Albert St. Pierre hit that wall on a sunny, wind-whipped Sunday evening the day after Hurricane Rita turned sections of Louisiana's low-lying coastal parishes into flooded ruins.

"It ain't looking so good," St. Pierre says. "I fell through the floor of my trailer three times walking through. My trailer is shot."

St. Pierre, who runs a sandblasting crew, says this after using a flatbed truck to ferry himself and neighbors to their still partially submerged homes in tiny Delcambre.

One of the neighbors, Dawn Breaux, cries as she holds her son in her lap. They're sitting on the back of the flatbed. A plastic clothes basket holds what she saved from the trailer: clothes, tennis shoes, a box of cereal.

"It's horrible," says Breaux, a convenience store clerk. "That's all I could get."

Because Hurricane Katrina ruined New Orleans, leveled Biloxi, Miss., killed more than 1,000 people and ignited debates about everything from racism to pork-barrel politics, Rita seems tame in comparison.

But if you live near the sugar-cane fields and canals of New Iberia and Vermilion parishes, Rita was the big one.

"We woke up at 4 o'clock in the morning, there wasn't water at all," Charlene Guidry says. "At 5:30, it was coming in the house."

At 6:30, the Vermilion Parish sheriff showed up in a dump truck. Twelve adults, three children and five dogs jumped aboard.

"I've never been so glad to see a dump truck," Guidry says. "I was proud to ride in that dump truck."

Guidry has lived off and on in Delcambre for 35 years. Standing on the back of St. Pierre's flatbed, she points to the house where she was raised and the homes of longtime friends. She turns and points in the opposite direction at railroad tracks.

"This is the first time we've had water come rushing over the tracks. There wasn't that much water with Lilly."

Brock Rivet stops to ask a unit of Marines on a search-and-rescue mission whether his quad can make it through the water to check on a relative's house. Then he talks about his 160-acre spread.

"I wasn't expecting this," Rivet says. "My house is off the pillars right now, floating against a fence, and my fiancée is losing her mind."

Also lost: half of his 100 cattle.

"No insurance," he says. "I just never got it. We're relying on FEMA."

There also comes a point when the exhilaration of rebuilding cities and towns gives way to exhaustion. A unit of 20 Marines and reserves from Knoxville, Tenn., has been in Louisiana since Sept. 3. Several of them served in Iraq.

"We asked for volunteers," Gunnery Sgt. Jeff Cope says. "Naturally, you're going to get the guys who are just back from Iraq. They'll volunteer for everything."

Their first hurricane mission was clearing debris and fallen trees in Slidell, a city that took the brunt of Katrina's winds and the tidal surge from Lake Pontchartrain. Last week, they left Slidell, where they lived in tents, and were headed home until Rita loomed over the Gulf Coast. They convoyed to Jackson, Miss., and awaited the call.

Sunday, with just two hours' sleep, they showed up in Delcambre, eager to pull stranded people from their homes. But people here are resourceful. Sheriff's deputies, firefighters and local residents in boats left them little to do. The folks on St. Pierre's flatbed did their part by taking two dogs from a tree and moving them to safe ground. Eight people were rescued Sunday, all before the Marines arrived.

"If a Marine doesn't have a mission, he'll create one," Cope says.

Sure enough, several of his men jump off their 7-ton transport truck and free a coralled horse in water reaching his chest. They walk the horse out to the road, where he eagerly munches on grass poking through the water.

But the horse's owner isn't around, and there's no place to take him. Cope orders them to put the horse back in his corral.

The Marines look for gas leaks, which are handled by local firefighters, and other animals to rescue. They do help pull several residents in a swamped boat to higher ground.

Near the end of the assignment, they total their day's work. They had saved a horse, a dog, a cat and two ducks. But the horse, dog and cat were still in the receding waters, awaiting their owners.

"Two ducks, that's it," says a tired Marine in the back of the truck.

After three weeks in Louisiana, they're ready to go home.

So is St. Pierre, who doesn't know where home is.
The columnist can be reached at [email protected] or (559) 441-6632.

ROBOTS IN COMBAT

Remote-control warfare: How PlayStation 2 saves U.S. lives

http://www.decaturdaily.com/decaturdaily/news/050927/robots.shtml


By Eric Fleischauer
DAILY Staff Writer
[email protected] · 340-2435

Col. Edward M. Ward supervises a military program that spends millions on cutting-edge technology. When he hears that an explosion obliterated one of his technological wonders, he just smiles.

Don't bother asking the Marine for apologies.

"I can get more robots," Ward said at a Decatur Rotary Club meeting Monday. "I'd rather a $120,000 robot get blown up than someone's son or daughter."

As Rotary members used remote control devices to put two such robots through their paces, Ward, based at Redstone Arsenal, explained that the military began taking its robotics programs seriously after it deployed troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The impetus, he said, was the improvised explosive devices that claimed the lives of so many U.S. soldiers.

"We needed unmanned vehicles, and we needed them fast," Ward said.

He explained how the devices save American lives.

U.S. soldiers arrive at an apparently vacant house in a war zone. Without a robot, soldiers might draw their guns, break down the door and, covering each other, search the premises.

"But the bad guys are pretty adept at hiding in closets with guns," Ward said.

Maybe the house has no enemies inside, but it does contain an explosive device designed to detonate when the soldiers get close.

The end result of both scenarios was often dead Americans.

Replay the scene, this time with robots developed through a joint Army-Marine program.

Rather than entering the house, a soldier can toss a Throwbot inside.

Ward demonstrated by tossing a one-pound, dumbbell-shaped device, with a flexible antenna, onto the floor of the Holiday Inn. Safely outside and up to 100 feet away, soldiers can control the $2,000 robot's movements, wheeling it through the house while watching the video images from its search on a laptop-size device. An ambush averted.

Same house, but an explosive ordnance disposal team suspects an explosive device is inside. This time they send in a robot with tank-like treads and a claw on a 7-foot extendable arm.

As it enters the house, the $120,000 robot carries C-4 explosives in its claw. Upon locating the bomb, the bomb-disposal team members remotely drop the C-4 next to it. They then try to disarm the bomb, also remotely. If the disarmament is unsuccessful, they detonate the C-4, which explodes the enemy's bomb as well.

Worst case scenario

The worst case scenario is a dead robot. The soldiers, up to 150 yards away, are safe. The devices are so successful that soldiers use them for about 45 missions a day in Baghdad alone.

Ward is the logistics chief of the Robotic Systems Joint Project Office at Redstone Arsenal.

Robotic weapons systems have long been the subject of science fiction, but the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan created an urgent need for the real thing.

The military was not too keen on the contraptions, Ward said, "until they ran out of Afghanis to search the caves."

Now there are 2,400 robots operating in Afghanistan and Iraq. By the end of the year, Ward said, there will be 3,000. The military is using 22 different robotic systems.

Ward thanked the parents in the group for contributing to the education of robot-wielding soldiers.

PlayStation 2

"Those PlayStation 2s really do the trick," he said, in training soldiers to operate the devices. "I bought 200 of them for training in Iraq. I have a feeling I'll be questioned about that one day."

One Rotarian asked whether his grandson, glued to PlayStation-style video games morning to night, was preparing himself for a successful career in the military.

"Only if he can make it through this little thing we call boot camp," replied the skeptical Ward.

Ward said the casualties in Iraq have made believers of military brass. Beginning Oct. 1, Ward and his colleagues will have $62 million at their disposal. "This is the Army's future," Ward said.

Bomb detonations and remote surveillance are not the only functions performed by robots. One called Fido can "smell" the presence of explosives. Another tank-like robot serves an important function in patrolling Iraq's 380 ammunition dumps, reducing the number of soldiers that must remain on guard.

The TALON robot, armed with a weapons platform, allows soldiers to shoot accurately while standing 1,000 yards away. The military, which first used it in Bosnia, has used it in about 20,000 missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to its developer, Foster-Williams.

Ward said another robot under development could play an important role in returning injured soldiers to base. If a squad of 13 Marines loses two of its members to injury, Ward explained, four more must return them to base by stretcher. The remaining seven make an ineffective fighting force. Ward anticipates robots that can return the injured to base without jeopardizing the ongoing mission.

Ward, a retired Marine, was called back to duty in Iraq. He returns for a second tour Oct. 25.

"My job," Ward said, "is to put technology in harm's way."

Following Dad, or Mom, into service appeals to many

Ever since he was a little boy, Michael Marzano would practice marching in his father's old uniform.

http://pittsburghlive.com/x/style/family/s_378079.html

TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Ever since he was a little boy, Michael Marzano would practice marching in his father's old uniform.

"Because of me, he always wanted to enlist," says his father, Albert Marzano.

While he grew up and attended high school, Michael talked about joining the U.S. Marine Corps. His father had been a Marine from 1968 to 1972, and had served in Vietnam in 1969.

Michael spent four years on active duty and joined a Marine Reserve unit in 2003. And while many people were looking for a way out of military service, Michael couldn't wait to get into action.


In December 2004, he volunteered to help fill a hole in an Ohio reserve unit being deployed to Iraq.

"He felt bad he didn't go to Iraq the first time in," says Marzano, of Greenville, Mercer County.

Out of the millions of children whose parents were veterans, many choose military service of some kind, following a parental lead. With 3 million veterans living in Pennsylvania, the second highest proportion of veterans in the country, there are thousands of local soldiers currently following in a parent's boots. Upon returning from action, experts say, that parental experience can help in making the transition to a stable home environment.

Military service has been seen as a rite of passage for centuries, and there is nothing quite like making a parent proud. Even at a tender young age, the seed of influence can find fertile ground.

"If a child found a uniform in the attic with medals and insignia, it would open the door to the possibility of serving," says military sociologist Dr. Morten Ender, who has been teaching at the United States Military Academy for the last eight years.

"A lot of veterans recall on their service with fondness and memories of camaraderie," Ender says. "They reflect well on the armed forces, and children would pick that up."

Since World War II, Ender says, a person with three years of military service has done better socioeconomically than a counterpart without service.

"Children see their parents doing well and join the armed forces to get experience or go to college," Ender says.

The Pentagon reports that Americans in the armed forces make up 0.4 percent of the population, making the nation's military activity less conspicuous than the times of World War II and the Vietnam era, when up to 6 percent of Americans were in uniform. Although enlistment rates in the U.S. Army dropped off in the first half of 2005, re-enlistment rates are up and are highest among combat units in Iraq.

Breaking the stereotype of soldiers, daughters are putting on uniforms as well. Angela Clay, of Carnegie, served for three years in the armed forces 20 years after her mother did.

"I wanted to thank the people who served for me," Clay says. "I wanted to return the favor to the future, after my family gave a lot."

Clay's mother, Cathy Chesno, was likewise influenced by family members.

"My father was in the Navy in World War II, and my brother was in the Marines," Chesno says. "When we visited him in training, I said 'Oh, no. The hell with this.' "

But despite her initial reaction, Chesno joined up as an Air Force medic in 1970. Her daughter served in the Army from 1993 to 1996. The two are often seen in parades commemorating holidays, and they are the only female veterans at American Legion Post 82.

"I'm so proud of my daughter and her decisions," Chesno says.

With a significant number of veterans' children enlisting and re-enlisting in the military, the face of military psychology has also changed. Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. is already reporting post-traumatic stress disorder cases among Iraq veterans.

However, experts say this generation of soldiers is bound to fare better than their parents.

"Soldiers going to Iraq are more prepared to cope with combat in part because their fathers fought in Vietnam," says Ron Conley, director of Allegheny County Veterans' Services.

The war in Iraq and on other fronts is similarities to Vietnam insome ways: a mix of urban and rural combat and an enemy that often remains invisible until it is too late.

For all the stability that a parent can pass on, a son or daughter may not escape a parent's pain.

"Children of veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder are more vulnerable to it themselves," says Col. Stephen Cozza, chief of psychiatry at Walter Reed.

Cozza believes that "it could go either way" when it comes to a veteran parent's influence on a soldier child.

"The parent creates a road map for the child to deal with similar challenges," Cozza says.

"It would be helpful for soldiers to have an interaction when they return to their fathers to talk about the war," Conley says. "Vietnam vets didn't have that opportunity."

Another opportunity for Iraq veterans is a greater social acceptance upon their return than their Vietnam counterparts.

"Vietnam vets got the image of lone, psychotic figures in society," Ender says. "A large number of homeless people are Vietnam vets because they couldn't get the help they needed."

Ender believes that, with the proper federal funding going to supportive communities, returning soldiers will be more able to move on than their Vietnam counterparts.

That will never happen for Sgt. Michael Marzano, who was killed by a suicide bomber in western Iraq on May 7. He was 28. He is buried at St. Michael's Church in Greenville, where his father visits him every day.

"I know I'm the reason he went into the Corps," Marzano says. "I just want him to come back."

Michael Mastroianni can be reached at [email protected]

Remembering the lost, honoring their lives

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (Sept. 27, 2005) -- MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – The memorial ceremony started with everyone taking their seats as music played and pictures of the fallen Marines were displayed.

http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/lookupstoryref/20059279122

Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 20059279122
Story by Cpl. Athanasios L. Genos

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (Sept. 27, 2005) -- MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – The memorial ceremony started with everyone taking their seats as music played and pictures of the fallen Marines were displayed.

Family members, fellow Marines and friends all gathered together to honro the heroes from 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division in a ceremony here Sept. 22.

“Not one of these men would have wanted to be called a hero,” explained Lt. Col. Stephen Neary, battalion commander. “Many of them after being injured wanted to continue the mission and ensure the mission was accomplished.”

Eight Marines were honored during the ceremony for the ultimate sacrifice they and their families made for their country. Scriptures were read and friends spoke to the families on behalf of each Marine.

“It takes family, friends, good times and bad times to shape such outstanding men,” stated the battalion chaplain, Navy Lt. Robert E. Bradshaw.

Families of the lost had a chance to hear about their sons, brothers and fathers as Neary, Bradshaw and a few Marines came forward to speak about their brothers-in-arms. Hearing the Marines speak brought tears to many family members and fellow Marines in attendance.

“Few people truly live life,” Bradshaw said. “Our fallen brothers, each of them lived with a purpose and lived for others…they did not simply exist, they lived.”

Each of the Marines who gave his life was more concerned about how his fellow Marines were doing and was very adamant about being back in the fight with them.

“Once they realized they were going to be evacuated, another concern would arrive; they were more concerned about leaving their brothers behind on the battlefield and [that] they couldn’t stay with them,” Neary explained.

Many of the men who died joined after the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001. They were among the men and women who decided to join and do their part for the country.

“They answered the national call by our President when he said ‘Americans do not have the distance of history, our responsibility to history is already clear’ these men understood this calling and sense of responsibility and joined the Marine Corps,” Neary stated. “These Marines will live on as long as there is a 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines.”

The Marines honored in the ceremony were Pfc. Stephen P. Baldwyn, Gunnery Sgt. Terry W. Ball, Lance Cpl. Marcus Mahdee, Lance Cpl. Robert T. Mininger, Cpl. John T. Olson, Lance Cpl. Michael V. Postal, Lance Cpl. Taylor B. Prazynski, and Lance Cpl. John T. Schmidt.

“Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world, but the Marines don’t have that problem,” Ronald Regan, former President of the United States of America.

Marines present new facet to advertising campaign

MARINE CORPS RECRUITING COMMAND QUANTICO, Va.(Sept. 27, 2005) -- On October 1, the Marine Corps will debut its latest television commercial, “Diamond,” in front of a nationwide television audience. The commercial is set to air on ESPN during the first commercial break after the kickoff of the scheduled NCAA College Football game that starts at 1200 EST.

www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/1F73283566FA4EF185257089005637F0?opendocument

Submitted by: Marine Corps Recruiting Command
Story by: Computed Name: - MCRC Public Affairs
Story Identification #: 2005927114144

The release of the new television commercial, “Diamond,” also coincides with the release of a refined Marines.com Web site. The redeveloped Web site serves as the, ‘31st second,’ for the television campaign, providing additional information to interested young men and women on the opportunities that exist in the Marine Corps.

Every three to four years the Marine Corps refreshes it television commercials. This new commercial follows, "The Climb," released in February 2002. The streamlined commercial and Web site are designed to assist prospective applicants to contact a Marine Corps recruiter.

The commercial will air on network and cable television to include ESPN, CBS, MTV, Spike, BET and Galavision (Spanish language version). It will also air in movie theaters nationwide. The redesigned Web site will be viewable on Oct 1 at http://www.marines.com.

Dog serving as Brook Park Marines mascot coming home

BROOK PARK, Ohio - The mascot of this town's beloved battalion that lost 14 Marines in the Iraq war is on his way to his new home.

http://www.ohio.com/mld/beaconjournal/news/state/12755405.htm

Associated Press

BROOK PARK, Ohio - The mascot of this town's beloved battalion that lost 14 Marines in the Iraq war is on his way to his new home.

Beans, so named because he was bought by members of the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines from Iraqi villagers for 25 cents and three jelly beans, has been adopted by a mother of one of the fallen.

"It's bittersweet," Kathy Wright said. "Beans is not a replacement for my son, but a welcome addition to my family."

Her son, Cpl. Jeffrey Boskovitch, was killed along with five other Marine snipers from his unit on Aug. 1, just days before his tour of duty was to end. The deaths were among 14 in late July and early August from the battalion based in this Cleveland suburb.

Just weeks before Boskovitch, 25, was killed by small-arms fire outside Haditha, he e-mailed his mother about Beans, saying he hoped to bring the dog home with him when his tour was up.

Barring complications, his wish will come true when Beans arrives at the battalion's headquarters this week.

"She wanted this to happen, and she worked on it until she pushed it through," Maj. Jenny Potter, a spokeswoman for the Brook Park headquarters, said of Wright.

The military at first said it was against regulations to bring Beans to the United States on a military transport. But Wright's efforts led her to the Pentagon and the office of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Michael W. Hagee.

"Gen. Hagee told the mother he would get it done," said Hagee's spokesman, Maj. Jason Johnston. "He put his staff on it and it has been worked out. The dog will be on her way. If Beans can comfort the mother of a fallen Marine, then it is our pleasure to help."

Wright said she will bring the dog to her home as soon as she arrives, but will isolate Beans from her other dogs, Chloe and Daisy.

"We'll keep her separated until I can have some blood tests done to make sure she is not carrying any illnesses from ticks or sand flies," she said. "I know everyone will get along."

She said she still believes Beans is part of her son's unit and that she will share the dog with the local Marines.

"If they want me to bring her to watch them march or train, I'd be glad to," she said. "Beans belonged to the whole company, not just my son."

---

Military Mascots: http://www.militarymascots.org/

Al Qaeda to residents: 'Leave or die'

(CNN) -- U.S. Marines took down a sign warning Iraqi citizens not to cooperate with the Americans. The blue sign with yellow writing bears the signature of al Qaeda in Iraq, the terrorist group led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. It stood along Iraq's desert highway leading into Qaim, near the Syrian border. (RCT-2)

http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/09/27/alqaeda.threats/

Marines report threatening fliers in western Iraq

From Arwa Damon
CNN
Tuesday, September 27, 2005; Posted: 11:08 p.m. EDT (03:08 GMT)

(CNN) -- U.S. Marines took down a sign warning Iraqi citizens not to cooperate with the Americans. The blue sign with yellow writing bears the signature of al Qaeda in Iraq, the terrorist group led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. It stood along Iraq's desert highway leading into Qaim, near the Syrian border.

Such signs have been reported in other cities around the region, which includes Husayba, New Ubeydi, Karabila and Sa'dat, Col. Stephen Davis, whose forces operate in the western Al Anbar province, told CNN.

The Marines have also received reports of fliers telling residents of Sa'dat, west of Qaim, to leave the city or die, said Davis, the commander of the Marines Regimental Combat Team 2. And Marines have seen civilians leave, he added.

Some fliers urge citizens to join the holy fight and condemn Iraq's government and the offensive in Falluja last year. They promote the organization's alleged attacks in the region and claim insurgents have killed tens of thousands of U.S. troops.

Zarqawi, who has a $25 million reward on his head, has claimed that al Qaeda in Iraq has taken over the Qaim area, hailing it "The Islamic Republic of Qaim."

Meanwhile, a man believed to be al Qaeda in Iraq's number two operative was killed during a weekend raid in southeastern Baghdad, Iraqi and U.S. officials said Tuesday. (Full story)

Iraq's national security adviser, Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, called the killing the most important "get" since the seizure of Saddam Hussein in December 2003.

Last week, an alleged driver for two al Qaeda in Iraq leaders was captured, the U.S. military said. (Full story)

For months, Davis said, Marine forces have played a game of cat and mouse with the insurgency up and down the Euphrates River valley. Given the size of the region, which is 30,000 square miles, Marine forces have been stretched thin. And cities seized from insurgents by coalition forces are reoccupied by the insurgents, once coalition forces have withdrawn.

The except is the city of Hit, because it has a permanent U.S. and Iraqi presence after coalition forces took control two months ago.

Davis said that numerous airstrikes and intelligence-driven raids have eliminated many insurgent leaders in the area and caused significant damage to their networks and infrastructure. He emphasized that new network leaders are inferior to their predecessors.

A coalition strike against an al Qaeda-linked safe house killed one such leader about three weeks ago, Multi-National Forces said. (Full story)

Operation Green Light, conducted in the Baghdad area, about 15 miles north of Hit, destroyed an insurgent cell believed to operate along the Hit-Haditha corridor. The three-day operation ended on Tuesday with the detention of a dozen people.

The cell was believed to be a strong arm of the intimidation campaign, conducting small arms fire attacks against the Al Asad air base and planting roadside bombs.

Cell members were also believed to be facilitators -- bringing in foreign fighters from Syria, providing safe houses and supplying weapons, Davis said.

Insurgents seize 5 towns near Syria

Camp al Qaim, Iraq -- A senior U.S. Marine commander said Monday that insurgents loyal to militant leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had taken over at least five key western Iraqi towns on the border with Syria and were forcing local residents to flee. (3/6)

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/09/27/MNG99EUI391.DTL


Militants loyal to al-Zarqawi tell residents in 'death letters' to abandon their homes
Anna Badkhen, Chronicle Staff Writer

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Camp al Qaim, Iraq -- A senior U.S. Marine commander said Monday that insurgents loyal to militant leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had taken over at least five key western Iraqi towns on the border with Syria and were forcing local residents to flee.

In an interview with The Chronicle, Lt. Col. Julian Alford, commander of the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines Regiment stationed outside the western Iraqi town of al Qaim, said insurgents in the area had been distributing flyers they called "death letters," in which they ordered residents of this western corner of volatile Anbar province to leave -- or face death.

"Basically, the insurgents say if they don't leave they will ... behead them," said Alford, who took command this month of about 1,000 Marines stationed in the dusty desert area populated by roughly 100,000 Sunni Arabs.

"It appears that al Qaeda in Iraq is kicking out local people from a lot of these towns out there," he said. Alford said he did not know why the insurgents were forcing townspeople to leave, but he estimated that as many as 100 families per day were passing through a Marine checkpoint just east of the troubled area, their cars packed with their belongings as they flee east alongside the Euphrates River on the ancient Silk Road.

Two weeks ago, Marine spokesmen denied initial reports that insurgents had taken control of the area and were enforcing strict Islamic law, whipping men accused of drinking alcohol, burning a beauty parlor and shops that sold CDs and executing government workers for collaboration with the Iraqi government.

But Alford told The Chronicle that fighters linked to al-Zarqawi had been in complete control of these ancient smuggling communities for at least the past month, and that neither U.S. nor Iraqi forces held any sway over the swath of land that abuts Iraq's desolate, porous 450-mile border with Syria. Washington has repeatedly accused Syria of providing a safe transit route for foreign fighters headed for Iraq.

He estimated that between 300 and 400 insurgents were operating in the area. Most of them, he said, are foreign fighters who have crossed into Iraq through the border with Syria.

"For the time being, they run these towns," Alford said.

He said he could not confirm reports that insurgents had been executing suspected American sympathizers.

"We have seen a number of extra graves when we fly over in a helicopter, usually after we have killed" insurgents, he said.

Marine units stationed outside al Qaim and four neighboring towns perched along the Euphrates River -- Dulaym al Husayba, Karabila, Sada to the west of al Qaim, and Al Ubaydi to the northeast -- do not venture into these towns, Alford said. Insurgents open fire at any Marine patrol that approaches the town lines. No Iraqi soldiers or police officers operate inside the towns.

Marine units patrolling close to town limits "have seen a lot of guys in black pajamas and black ski masks and with weapons, and we've killed a number of them," Alford said.

Insurgent forces have in the past controlled major towns in Iraq, especially in the so-called Sunni triangle north and west of Baghdad, including Fallujah, Ramadi and, most recently, Haditha.

Alford believes that intensive attacks by U.S. forces on their strongholds in Ramadi and Fallujah, two Euphrates River cities, respectively, 120 and 140 miles downstream from al Qaim, has pushed fighters west toward the border with Syria. In the border area surrounding al Qaim, he said, "they found their last foothold."

Alford said he was expecting to launch a joint offensive against the insurgents holed up in al Qaim and the surrounding towns after the arrival of about 3,000 Iraqi soldiers in the area. He did not say when the Iraqi troops were scheduled to arrive, saying only that it would be "soon."

"They're dangerous, and they're extremely adaptive, but they can't beat us and the Iraqi army," he said.

Alford said he wanted to make the area safe enough to set up polling stations ahead of the Oct. 15 referendum on the new Iraqi constitution.

Also, he said, insurgents have posted signs across the area warning residents not to participate in the referendum. Having areas where insurgents intimidate thousands of people against voting in the referendum significantly undermines the desperate attempts by the United States to engage Iraq's disenfranchised Sunni Arabs in the nation's political process.

E-mail Anna Badkhen at [email protected]

Mass Casualty Drill ensures Marines, sailors are more than capable

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan (Sept. 27, 2005) -- Blood oozes from an injured leg and screams of pain shriek throughout the crash site.
Sirens, flashing lights and chaos fill the area, while Station firefighters rush in, grab the wounded Marine and bring him to safety.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/B9FD69B58DE0A04F852570900006C824?opendocument


Submitted by: MCAS Iwakuni
Story Identification #: 200510321144
Story by Lance Cpl. John S. Rafoss

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan (Sept. 27, 2005) -- Blood oozes from an injured leg and screams of pain shriek throughout the crash site.
Sirens, flashing lights and chaos fill the area, while Station firefighters rush in, grab the wounded Marine and bring him to safety.

This was the site for the Station's annual mass casualty drill designed to test the capabilities of Aircraft Recovery and Firefighting, the Provost Marshall office, the Branch Medical Clinic, and the Station Fire Department, Sept. 27.

The drill entailed two separate accidents; the first scenario was a helicopter crash and the second involved two motor vehicles in a simulated crash due to drivers unsafely slowing down to gawk at an accident in a questionable and unintelligent way, often termed 'rubbernecking.'

The drill produced 11 simulated casualties, made up of Marines covered with pseudo blood giving the flight line an early Halloween kind of eeriness.

"The purpose of the drill is to conduct annual training in response to an aircraft mishap or incident involving a large number of casualties," said Gunnery Sgt Dan Ryley, Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting section leader.

The Branch Medical Clinic considers an incident involving three or more casualties to be a mass casualty situation. The event is not intended to be graded, but to make sure the Marines are proficient at what they are doing, according to Ryley. "The casualties used fake blood like in Hollywood to make the drill as realistic as possible," added the Orlando, Fla. native.

Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting arrived on the scene first and provided preliminary support to both accidents until help arrived from the Station Fire Department.

"There was great communication between everyone," said Ryley. "Right when the two ARFF trucks got to the scene, they immediately split off into two different directions to cover both accidents, while tag teaming with the fire department."

After ARFF and the Station Fire Department rescued the casualties amid the chaos, the military police were called in and controlled the traffic while the corpsmen rushed in and gave care to the patients.

"We usually see one patient at a time, it can get overwhelming with 11," said Navy Lt. Seth J. Sullivan, flight surgeon.

The exercise was a success for all the agencies that were involved, according to Ryley.

"We do need to work on certain things, and training like this makes us one step closer to getting the wrinkles ironed out," said Sullivan.


September 26, 2005

'He Was Always A Joy to Be Around'

KIRKLAND - When terrorists launched the Sept. 11 attacks, a young man in Kirkland made a decision. Lance Cpl. Shane Swanberg decided to join the Marines, so he could make a difference.

http://www.komotv.com/stories/39437.htm

September 26, 2005

By Molly Shen

KIRKLAND - When terrorists launched the Sept. 11 attacks, a young man in Kirkland made a decision.

Lance Cpl. Shane Swanberg decided to join the Marines, so he could make a difference.

He was killed in Iraq this month. But Swanberg is still making a difference in the lives he left behind.

"There's one word in my mind that describes Shane Swanberg, and that word is loyal," said Pastor Jim Fowler at Swanberg's memorial Monday.

Shane Swanberg was loyal to friends, family, God and country.

"Shane loved his country and was moved by 9/11," Fowler said. "And he was loyal to his country, to the point he ended up paying the ultimate price."

The Juanita High School graduate had been in Iraq for just 10 days, when a mortar shell hit his compound, killing him.

He joined the Marines after the 9/11 attacks. That's the loyalty to country that inspired his friends and family.

It even inspired strangers who gathered outside his service to pay their respects.

"I live up the street and when I saw it was real close to me, I thought, 'If this were my son, and I do have a son in college, I would want people to come out and honor him,' " said Teresa Osteyee. "So I'm going to do this even for someone I don't know."

Inside the church, Shane was remembered most for his loyalty to God. His friend and pastor described him as someone who loved to worship, and who loved life.

"No matter what, he was always a joy to be around. A tremendous joy to be around," Pastor Fowler said.

Fowler urged friends and family to learn from Shane, to be loyal in relationships. They will also be loyal to his memory.

Swanberg was stationed in California. He's now buried at Tahoma National Cemetery near Kent.

Commandant visits Hawaii Marines

JALALABAD, Afghanistan (Sept. 26, 2005) -- The Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Michael W. Hagee, accompanied by the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. John L. Estrada, on Sept. 26, visited the Marines and Sailors of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, who are currently deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/F30E6380C1365A228525708D0008E47D?opendocument

Submitted by: MCB Hawaii
Story Identification #: 200593021377
Story by Sgt. Robert M. Storm

JALALABAD, Afghanistan (Sept. 26, 2005) -- The Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Michael W. Hagee, accompanied by the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. John L. Estrada, on Sept. 26, visited the Marines and Sailors of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, who are currently deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Escorted by Lt. Col James Donnellan, battalion commander, and Sgt. Maj. Robert J. LaFleur, battalion sergeant major, the top leaders interacted with the “Island Warriors” during their visit.

Gen. Hagee promoted two Marines, combat meritoriously, and awarded six Purple Heart Medals to Marines and Sailors who had been injured during combat operations.

“All the focus is on Iraq, so it’s nice to know we’re remembered in Afghanistan,” said Lance Cpl. Carlos C. Plata, nuclear biological chemical specialist, from Plainview, Texas.

Plata was one of the Marines who was awarded the Purple Heart Medal for his injuries sustained when his vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device.

While visiting the Marines, the general talked about the future of the Marine Corps and also conducted a question and answer session.

The first topic discussed was the future of deployments, with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, scheduled to be the second to last Marine infantry battalion deployed to Afghanistan.

The commandant also discussed the Marine Corps’ intent to continue working toward a two-to-one deployment schedule and then, optimally, to a three-to-one rotation schedule instead of the current one-to-one, referring to days spent at home versus days spent deployed.

Gen. Hagee also explained to the battalion how the integration of Reserve units for deployments helps to alleviate some of the stress on active duty units.

Also discussed were changes in technology and Marine Corps policies for the future. Ideas such as equipping every Marine with a radio, night-vision devices and ACOGs, or even the possibilities of every Marine having a day- and night-vision capable scope, which would eliminate the need to change out the scopes.

The changes also included updated tactics being taught at the schools of infantry with a heavier emphasis on patrolling.
“We’re empowering NCOs to make policy,” said the general “You Marines in the field are the ones who will be determining policy for future Marines. The decisions you make will last.

“The future holds a greater likelihood of irregular wars fought in urban environments. Wars will no longer be force-on-force, battalion-on-battalion. The enemy has seen that they know they will lose that way. We have to be prepared to fight against thinking enemies using asymmetric tactics,” he continued.

The Marines and Sailors were glad for a chance to hear the news about changes in policies straight from the commandant and sergeant major of the Marine Corp.

Staff Sgt. Michael R. Kirby, supply chief, from Roanoke, Ala., said, “I think it’s great that both the commandant and the sergeant major came and greeted the Marines and Sailors and allowed time for questions in order to give us information about the future of the Marine Corps.”

1/3 wraps up mountain warfare training

MARINE CORPS MOUNTAIN WARFARE TRAINING CENTER, BRIDGEPORT, Calif. (Sept. 26, 2005) -- The Lava Dogs of 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, wrapped up an arduous training regime in the frigid, high-altitude mountains that make up the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, Calif., Sept. 26, with the completion of a Battalion Field Exercise that some Marines called the hardest training they had ever been through.

http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/5EA96C35819DE2608525708D0001EA5A?opendocument


Submitted by:
MCB Hawaii
Story by:
Computed Name: Sgt. Joe Lindsay
Story Identification #:
2005930202055

MARINE CORPS MOUNTAIN WARFARE TRAINING CENTER, BRIDGEPORT, Calif. (Sept. 26, 2005) -- The Lava Dogs of 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, wrapped up an arduous training regime in the frigid, high-altitude mountains that make up the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, Calif., Sept. 26, with the completion of a Battalion Field Exercise that some Marines called the hardest training they had ever been through.

Sept. 27 was spent cleaning weapons, hot washing gear, and conducting a massive battalion-wide field day at the base camp before being treated to a warrior’s barbeque and hitting the racks for the first warm, full-night’s sleep many of the Marines had had since arriving in California, Sept. 13.

On Wednesday, the Marines departed en masse by bus for a nine-hour drive to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif., where they will continue their pre-deployment training by taking part in a Combined Arms Exercise in preparation for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan where they will serve in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

“I’ve been in the Marine Corps over 25 years, and this is some of the hardest, most challenging training the Marine Corps has to offer,” said Sgt. Maj. Michael Berg, 1/3 sergeant major and Iraq veteran from Plymouth, N.H. “Marines haven’t had a shower in over a week. They’re dirty, they’re filthy, and they need haircuts, but the motivation and morale has been just unbelievable. It’s definitely hard, challenging training up here — training that tests your mind and intestinal fortitude — that’s for sure.”

Marines of various ranks throughout the battalion echoed the sentiments of their sergeant major.

“At times it was almost unreal being here. It was like my body and my mind were in a constant struggle, arguing with each other on who was going to quit first,” said Pfc. Richie Butcher, a 1/3 Nuclear Biological and Chemical specialist from Cook, Wash., who already has one combat tour to Iraq behind him. “At times I didn’t think I was going to make it, but that Marine Corps pride just gets a hold of you and won’t let go, and you just keep pushing forward.”

1st Lt. Matt Bronson, an Iraq veteran from Berry, Mass., and the executive officer for 1/3’s Headquarters & Service Company, said that while he understands the physical pain and mental torment that sometimes seeped into the Marines’ heads, the bottom line remained that “no matter how hard the terrain is, they’ve got a job to do, and they can’t let the terrain and cold mess with their minds into thinking it’s too difficult for them.”
Still, Bronson was quick to admit that the training was no joke.

“It is intimidating,” said Bronson. “Down at base camp (6,700 feet down) you look up to the mountains — the highest one we train on is 11,000 feet (Lost Cannon Mountain) — and they are definitely intimidating. Then, you look on a map, and the contours are pretty nasty, but once you get out there and start hiking up them, you gain confidence in your ability to make it to the top.”

One 1/3 company, Alpha, made it to the top — literally.

“During the Battalion FEX, all the companies had their orders and their missions to accomplish,” said 1st Sgt. Jerry Fowler, Alpha Company first sergeant and a Iraq veteran from Moore, Okla. “All the companies worked in coordination as a team during the FEX, sweeping, clearing, patrolling, and setting up LPs (listening posts), OPs (observation posts), and establishing defensive perimeters against other Marines who were posing as aggressors. While Charlie Company held a blocking position, it was Alpha Company’s job during the training scenario to search a hostile village, at which point our intel (intelligence) discovered information that there was a weapons cache on the top of Lost Cannon Mountain.”

Lost Cannon Mountain. If the Marines of Alpha Company had never heard of it before, they surely won’t forget it now — all 11,000 feet of it.

“If this is the type of mountain we’ve got to operate on in Afghanistan, I don’t think I’m going to like Afghanistan,” quipped Pfc. Daniel Kembe, a wry smile forming through his alternately sun-baked and half-frozen cracked lips. The 1/3 shoulder-fired multipurpose assault weapons gunner from Seattle was quick to get serious; however, when discussing the feeling of accomplishment he and his fellow Marines felt upon locating the hidden weapons cache after reaching the summit.

“There is no quit in the Marines from 1/3,” said Kembe, who is preparing to make his first combat deployment. “As much as we joke around, like, ‘Hey, carry my pack for me,’ I’ve yet to meet a Marine who would actually let another Marine hump (carry) their gear for them unless they were seriously, and I mean seriously, hurt. All of us making it to the top, and accomplishing our mission by finding the insurgents’ weapons cache gives us a feeling of confidence that’s hard to describe. We know what we are doing here. We are training for war. There’s no way around that. It’s serious business, and we will be ready.”

And though the training was serious and difficult, when the mission was accomplished and the weapons cache destroyed, the Marines of Alpha Company gathered atop the summit of Lost Cannon Mountain, and — like conquering mountaineers who had just scaled Mt. Everest — unfurled the company colors and posed for a group photo to commemorate their feat.
“Everyone feels good about it,” said 2nd Lt. Will Mangham, 1/3 Alpha Company forward observer and a native of Mobile, Ala. “We made it to the top of the highest peak in the training area. These views are so expansive, almost like a painting. I am sure that years from now the Marines will remember the majesty of them long after they have forgotten the physical hardship it took to get here.”

Capt. Thomas Kisch, company commander for Alpha Company and a native of St. Louis Park, Minn., said he couldn’t be prouder.

“I am proud of my Marines from Alpha Company, of course,” said Kisch, “but I’m equally as proud of all the Marines from 1/3 who are out here getting trained and ready for combat.

“The Battalion FEX was a culminating event where we put all the knowledge and hard work we’ve received, since arriving here, into one evolution. The performance of the Marines was outstanding, but we still have to not only maintain this level, but more importantly, build on it as we move on to Twentynine Palms and back to K-Bay.”

For his part, 1/3 Commanding Officer Lt. Col. James Bierman, from Virginia, said he couldn’t agree more, but with one caveat.

“Our training evolution at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center here in the mountains of Bridgeport was a success overall,” said Bierman. “The battalion came a long way in a lot of critical areas. This is a great foundation to build on, but it is only a foundation. We will continue our training and continue perfecting what we have learned. Our Marines need to realize that however hard they thought the training was here, it is not as hard as Afghanistan will be.”

Senators draft new rules for Guard activation

A Senate committee plans to apply new rules for the activation of National Guard troops during a natural disaster as part of the 2006 defense appropriations bill.

http://www.airforcetimes.com/story.php?f=1-292925-1135276.php

By Rick Maze
Times staff writer

A Senate committee plans to apply new rules for the activation of National Guard troops during a natural disaster as part of the 2006 defense appropriations bill.

Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, chairman of the Senate defense appropriations subcommittee, said Monday he is working with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., on rules governing how Guard troops can be called up for disasters that occur in neighboring states.

Governors already have clear authority to mobilize their own state forces, but in a major disaster, additional forces from neighboring states might be needed. Stevens and Feinstein are both concerned with the possibility of major earthquakes in their states.

Stevens said having clear rules for when troops could be called up, and whether they would be under federal or state status, would be prudent planning.

Stevens hopes to have a proposal ready Wednesday to be considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee for addition to the defense bill.

Stevens’ subcommittee approved a $440.2 billion defense appropriations bill Monday, a measure certain to create controversy because it is $7 billion less than the amount requested by the Bush administration and $939 million less than the 2005 budget.

Those reductions were made without large cuts in programs by dipping into a $50 billion wartime contingency operations fund to pay for some recurring programs. This budgetary diversion will help the appropriations committee by freeing up money for nondefense programs that otherwise would face significant cuts.

The bill approved by the subcommittee has $95.7 billion for military personnel programs, which includes an increase of 20,000 active-duty soldiers and 2,000 active-duty Marines, as approved earlier by the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Also included is money for the proposed 3.1 percent across-the-board pay raise; $622.5 million for additional recruiting and retention incentives; and $422 million in extra funding for National Guard and reserve equipment.

The funding bill will not be finished by Saturday, the start of the new fiscal year, but lateness on the bill is not unexpected. Congressional leaders are working on an interim spending bill to keep the government running until a final bill is approved.

Stevens said he has been told by military officials that a regular appropriation will be needed “early in November” because of the expense of ongoing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Return to Fallujah

FALLUJAH, Iraq—Marine Staff Sgt. Gordon Van Schoik of Battalion 2/7 found the two insurgents digging under the hardtop of Route Boston at 8 in the morning. The discovery wasn't luck. Weeks earlier, a little farther down the highway, an improvised explosive device had blown up under a Humvee, killing Pfc. Romano Romero, 19, of Long Beach, Calif. He was the 160th American to die in that violence-racked city and the first fatality suffered by 2/7.

http://slate.msn.com/id/2126905/entry/0/#ContinueArticle

From: Bing West
Subject: The "Oil Spot" Theory of Counterinsurgency
Monday, Sept. 26, 2005, at 11:37 AM PT

FALLUJAH, Iraq—Marine Staff Sgt. Gordon Van Schoik of Battalion 2/7 found the two insurgents digging under the hardtop of Route Boston at 8 in the morning. The discovery wasn't luck. Weeks earlier, a little farther down the highway, an improvised explosive device had blown up under a Humvee, killing Pfc. Romano Romero, 19, of Long Beach, Calif. He was the 160th American to die in that violence-racked city and the first fatality suffered by 2/7.

A wide strip of blacktop running straight southwest from Fallujah, Route Boston is flanked by thick groves of palm trees that provide cover for terrorists armed with explosives. Boston was often closed to traffic, demonstrating that the insurgents, defeated in pitched battle, could successfully revert to classic guerrilla tactics. One option to reduce the threat of IEDs was to remove the vegetation. But clearing acres of trees would deprive thousands of farmers of shaded pastureland for their livestock.

Instead of cutting down the trees, the battalion commander, Lt. Col. Joseph L'Etoile, set out to track down the people who had set the mine. This was L'Etoile's third "pump," or deployment, to Iraq. Half of his 1,000-man battalion had at least one prior pump. Drawing on that experience, L'Etoile sent out 96-hour patrols through the countryside along the highway. Every day, dozens of Marines scoured the palm groves, checking farms and back roads, thinking like guerrillas about hide sites and escape routes. At night, the Marines moved to their own hide sites, sent out night patrols, got up in the morning and moved on, usually startling farmers accustomed to seeing Americans only on the roads.

On the second day of his patrol, Staff Sgt. Van Schoik was leading 26 Marines through a farmyard a few hundred yards from where Pfc. Romero had been killed. Van Schoik noticed that the cars on Route Boston were slowing down and then driving away at high speed. Approaching the highway slowly, the Marines noticed a spot where the swamp reeds were bent over. In the mud near a culvert, they found a cache of a dozen artillery shells—about 800 pounds of high explosives, enough to rend the stoutest armored vehicle.

When they saw the insurgents, the drivers had hastily fled. Van Schoik sent a squad across the highway to cut inland and set up a blocking position. He took the rest of his force, spread out, and then noisily surged forward, searching through the undergrowth. Van Schoik never saw the two insurgents—the digger with a shovel and his guard with an AK-47—break cover on the other side of the road and race toward their safe house, a farm in a palm grove several hundred meters away. When the Marine blocking force stepped into view in front of them, the insurgents tried to escape across an open field and were shot down.

"They don't expect us to be walking, day after day," Van Schoik said. "They thought once they got away from the highway and over a few irrigation ditches, they were safe."

The battalion's sergeant major, Michael Barrett, drove up and congratulated the Marines. Barrett had accompanied Pfc. Romero's body back to Long Beach, where he was laid to rest in a ceremony attended by his extended family from Mexico. Barrett made a mental note to send an e-mail to Romero's parents.

Last November, Fallujah was the scene of the fiercest battle in the 31-month war in Iraq. That battle, which stretched over several weeks, ended with more than a thousand dead insurgents, including hundreds of foreign jihadists, and thousands of buildings destroyed. Since then, over 150,000 residents have returned, every street is lined with piles of bricks as houses are rebuilt, the markets are bustling, and the streets are patrolled by Iraqi police and soldiers, supported by two American battalions.

Most of the insurgents who survived the November battle have fled. Scattered cells of terrorists remain, hiding among the population and fighting by placing IEDs inside the city every other day or so. About half these explosive devices are spotted before they are electronically detonated by a cell phone or garage-door opener.

Firefights, for which Marines train assiduously and engage in with a fierce zest, have become rare in the Fallujah area. Coping with IEDs is now the main tactical challenge for the American forces in Iraq. Nothing is more frustrating to a combat unit than confronting IEDs without being able to strike back. Eliminating the IED team that had probably killed Pfc. Romero provided motivation for more patrolling. Each day, the battalion averaged 17 foot patrols, plus 12 mounted patrols and "cordon and knocks" of two city blocks. Arrests from these combined efforts averaged one a day. With L'Etoile keeping his Marines fully employed, morale was high. The battalion's re-enlistment goals for 2005 had already been exceeded.

Later that day, L'Etoile visited the vehicle-control points limiting access to Fallujah. The greatest current danger in Fallujah is the suicide murderer driving a vehicle packed with explosives. Ten months ago, Fallujah exported suicide bombers on a weekly basis. Now, the terrorists try to sneak suicide bombers into the city. Every vehicle is searched before entering. Inside the city are more checkpoints, roving patrols, and cement and dirt barriers.

L'Etoile next visited a registration center where military-aged males lined up to be issued the ID cards required in the city. Through these separate pieces—patrols, check points, identification cards—L'Etoile was putting into effect the essentials of counterinsurgency in an urban setting: First, establish a zone cleared by heavy force (this occurred in November), then cordon off the zone, patrol constantly, do not permit civilians to possess weapons, identify the residents, and arrest the remaining insurgents.

Malaya in the 1950s is often cited as an example of a foreign power combining with a weak indigenous government to crush an insurgency. In Malaya, the British forcibly resettled Chinese Malaysians, insisting they live inside villages where they could be accounted for. In Fallujah, the counterinsurgency tactic is the opposite: preventing outsiders from freely entering the city, rather than preventing the city residents from leaving.

The Mao Zedong doctrine of guerrilla warfare of the 1950s envisioned guerrillas moving by foot from the mountains and rice paddies to encircle the government troops in the cities. In Iraq, the terrorists live in the cities and adjoining population centers and rely on cars to gather for an attack and to escape. This is the first major insurgency where civilian cars are the main means of transportation for the insurgents. Monitoring and restricting vehicle movement has emerged as a key task for the government forces.

What is sometimes called the "oil spot" theory of counterinsurgency has been applied to Fallujah: Clear and hold one spot, then expand to another. In Malaya, there were 20 soldiers and policemen per 1,000 civilians. In Fallujah, portions of two American and three Iraqi battalions occupy the city, providing a security ratio in line with the Malayan experience.

Fallujah was the bastion and the symbol of the Sunni-based insurgency and the sanctuary of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and like-minded terrorists. In November, they were crushed in the fiercest house-to-house fighting since the Vietnam War battle for Hue City in 1968. In November, Marine squads engaged in more fights inside houses than have all the SWAT police teams in the United States in the past decade. Since November, the two U.S. battalions in Fallujah have shifted from high-intensity fighting, for which the American force was trained and equipped, to the tedious, messy conditions that confront an army occupying a restive, hostile population. IEDs account for about 70 percent of American casualties. The insurgents have learned to avoid direct firefights. This is frustrating for soldiers and Marines trained to close in on and destroy the enemy.

Most American combat units are deployed to truculent Sunni cities, where they encounter IEDs, glares, or blank stares. In the Shiite south and the Kurdish north, where the population was oppressed by Saddam, they are not needed militarily. So, American soldiers receive neither the gratitude of those liberated by the overthrow of Saddam nor the satisfaction of mission accomplishment that comes from engaging and defeating an enemy force in conventional warfare.

American battalions like L'Etoile's have demonstrated the experience, adaptability, and determination to drive the insurgency down to the level currently seen in Fallujah, while maintaining morale. This is a testament to the leadership from corporal to colonel and to the singular spirit of the American infantryman.

For American forces to withdraw, however, confidence must be instilled in the new, mainly Shiite, army. That is an altogether different task. There are not enough American battalions to apply the oil-spot method throughout the Sunni Triangle. Given a concentration of effort, there are quantitatively sufficient Iraqi forces to expand the oil-spot approach to the 20-odd Sunni cities, plus Baghdad, that comprise the heart of the insurgency. The issue is the quality of Iraqi security forces, not the quantity. The Iraqi army was disbanded in May of 2003. American forces are providing on-the-job training to a new army. The sooner that is done, the sooner American units come home.

Raytheon wins $5.3M Marine Corps contract

Raytheon Co. has been awarded a $5.3 million contract for an advanced air defense guided missile systems launcher for the U. S. Marine Corps.

http://biz.yahoo.com/bizj/050926/1169218.html?.v=1

Monday September 26, 2:05 pm ET

Raytheon Co. has been awarded a $5.3 million contract for an advanced air defense guided missile systems launcher for the U. S. Marine Corps.

The Complementary Low Altitude Weapon System, or CLAWS, combines a low-altitude air defense with rapid deployment, high firepower, all-weather standoff capability to defend against threat aircraft, cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles in global and regional conflicts beyond the range and capabilities of currently fielded U.S. Marine Corps air defense systems.

CLAWS is currently conducting government operational tests.

Work will be performed in Raytheon's Integrated Air Defense Center in Andover, Mass., and is expected to be completed June 2006. Raytheon Co. (NYSE: RTN - News) is based in Waltham, Mass. Its Integrated Defense Systems is based in Tewksbury, Mass. Raytheon reported $20.2 billion in sales for 2004; it employs 80,000 people worldwide.

Published September 26, 2005 by the Boston Business Journal

A Night of Chaos: Marine Mobile Assault Platoon stirs up enemy

CAMP AL QA’IM, Iraq (Sept. 26, 2005) -- While cooking up a meal, ready to eat field ration on the evening of Sept. 21, Seminole, Fla., native Cpl. Sean D. Thompson, 23, anti-tank assaultman and hummer driver, heard a hollow thump in the distance. (3/6) (RCT-2)

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/08444938023E55D58525709F002C0944?opendocument


Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 200510194059
Story by Sgt. Jerad W. Alexander

CAMP AL QA’IM, Iraq (Sept. 26, 2005) -- While cooking up a meal, ready to eat field ration on the evening of Sept. 21, Seminole, Fla., native Cpl. Sean D. Thompson, 23, anti-tank assaultman and hummer driver, heard a hollow thump in the distance.

“That sounded like a mortar,” he said.

“No, no way,” said 30-year-old Coventry, R.I., native Lance Cpl. Billy W. Karwoski from up in the turret of his hummer.

Sitting in the passenger seat, keeping to himself, 21-year-old Quincey, Mass., native Lance Cpl. Collin T. Wolf, radio operator, sat dutifully monitoring the platoon and battalion radio nets.

The three Marines served as part of the 1st Mobile Assault Platoon, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. First MAP was on a mission to interdict and disrupt insurgent forces southeast of Ubaydi, a town seeded with enemy forces, in the Al Qa’im area of operations.

“MAP generally tends to be a general support asset within the battalion,” said 1st Lt. Jeremy S. Wilkinson, a 30-year-old native of Cambridge, Ohio and platoon commander for 1st MAP. “We’re comprised mainly of machine gunners, anti-tank assaultmen and [tube-launched, optically-tracked, wire-guided missile] gunners. We conduct screens, blocks and reinforce dismounted infantry.”

Suddenly, the earth shook as a mortar round smacked into the ground amidst the vehicles comprising the 1st MAP. Seconds later, a second mortar round landed. Wilkinson came running back to his vehicle ... interrupted in his talk with his platoon sergeant about a possible patrol.

After a third round landed, Wilkinson made the decision to break contact.

As the platoon began moving out of the impact area, a burst of enemy rifle fire snapped at vehicles One and Two, according to Wilkinson. Vehicles One and Two were both up-armored hummers that were affected little by the rifle fire. The Marines continued to break contact.

To the east of the platoon’s position, a large water tower sat atop a hill, in view of the Marines of MAP. At the bottom of the water tower sat two small buildings.

“While breaking contact to the south, vehicles One and Two took fire from the water tower,” recounted Wilkinson. It was at that time Wilkinson decided to unleash his Marines.

The platoon pulled up into a position, straddling the water tower.

“Open up on that water tower. Pepper the ... out of it!” said Wilkinson. Immediately, vehicles within the platoon opened fire on the tower and the buildings at its base.

Rounds exploded from the platoon’s machine guns. M-249 squad automatic weapons, M-240G medium machine guns, and MK-19 automatic grenade launchers sent tracers and armor-piercing rounds into and through the structures at the base of the tower. Inside vehicle Three, occupied by Wilkinson, Thompson, Wolf and Karwoski, the cab filled with smoke as Karwoski cranked out M-240G rounds in controlled bursts.

Below, the Marines prepared cans of 7.62 mm ammunition to pass up to the gun when Karwoski called for it. Black links and gold shell casings jingled as they fell to the cab floor. Hoots and hollers emanated from the Marines below, cheering him on.

Wolf remembered how he felt.

“I was pumped up. You train for this constantly, preparing for when it happens. It was like, ‘finally, it happened.’”

The platoon kept up a constant, heavy stream of fire on the buildings until Wilkinson gave the order to cease fire.

After a few minutes, the platoon continued on. Later, while sitting in his driver seat relaxing after the fight, Thompson looked to his right and saw his chow still sitting their hot and ready to be eaten.

Okinawa Marine shows maturity and professionalism in instructor billet

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, OKINAWA, Japan(Sept. 25, 2005) -- Soaring through the clouds at nearly 25,000 feet off the ground and traveling more than 400 mph can give life a different look to life. Something different is exactly what one Marine stationed with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, wanted when he signed his enlistment papers.

http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/E5F1C4D5C9C388A785257088003EC92D?opendocument
Submitted by:
MCB Camp Butler
Story by:
Computed Name: Cpl. Martin R. Harris
Story Identification #:
200592672547

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, OKINAWA, Japan(Sept. 25, 2005) -- Soaring through the clouds at nearly 25,000 feet off the ground and traveling more than 400 mph can give life a different look to life. Something different is exactly what one Marine stationed with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, wanted when he signed his enlistment papers.

Cpl. Bradley Partridge has accumulated 1,200 flight hours in the past 19 months as a crew chief and crew chief evaluator for the UC-12F and UC-35 passenger aircraft. As an instructor, he trains enlisted personnel, who are usually of much higher ranks, on how to carry out their duties as crew chiefs for H&HS.;

“I was a little timid about instructing at first,” Partridge recalled. “As a lance corporal, I was being asked to instruct mostly (noncommissioned officers) and (staff-noncommissioned officers). I always tried to be respectful. Maturity is a big part of teaching and learning.”
Growing up in Bloomington, Minn., Partridge stepped out of the crowd and declared himself and individual by joined the Marine Corps on April 22, 2002. His decision to make a change in his life and defend his country came after the terrorist attacks on the world trade center.

After recruit training and military occupation specialty school, Partridge arrived in Okinawa as and administrative clerk. Little did Partridge know that the Marine Corps would soon give him responsibility of maintaining a $7 million aircraft.

Partridge was selected by the squadron to attend a crew chief school in Pensacola, Fla., to learn the UC-12 aircraft. He returned to Okinawa and began honing his knowledge of the aircraft. After returning, Partridge showed such proficiency and high level of maturity as a crew chief he was recommended to be a crew chief evaluator for the UC-12 and UC-35.

“Cpl. Partridge was selected for the position of crew chief evaluator because of his extremely high level of maturity,” said Lt. Col. David Ashby, commanding officer, H&HS;, MCAS Futenma. “He has trained nearly half of the 13 crew chiefs we have, and has taken it upon himself to learn the (Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization) publication, which he uses as a training syllabus.”

A crew chief is entrusted with the responsibility of making sure the aircraft is running correctly and all the passengers are safe, Partridge explained.

“Passenger safety is our number one concern,” Partridge said. “That’s our bread and butter.”
According to Staff Sgt. Chad McCammon, quality assurance chief, aircraft recovery section, H&HS;, MCAS Futenma, Partridge is easy to learn from because of his attitude and his in-depth knowledge of the aircrafts.

“Partridge knows the aircraft’s systems inside and out and he really loves what he does,” said McCammon, who was trained by Partridge. “There is nothing on the aircraft that you could ask him about that he wouldn’t be able to tell you exactly what it is and how it works, without even touching a book.”

Garnerville Marine talks to kids

Marine Sgt. Irene Gregoriades, a huge smile on her face, would have hugged the dozen Willow Grove Middle School kids who crowded around her in the school hallway Wednesday, but instead chased them away to their classes as they were beginning to clog the passage.

http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050926/NEWS03/509260353/1019

By THE JOURNAL NEWS
THE JOURNAL NEWS

Marine Sgt. Irene Gregoriades, a huge smile on her face, would have hugged the dozen Willow Grove Middle School kids who crowded around her in the school hallway Wednesday, but instead chased them away to their classes as they were beginning to clog the passage.

"Nicky! Is that your sister?" boys and girls called as they passed by 12-year-old Nicholas Gregoriades, whose own grin was at 100 watts.

"You should be in class," said Irene Gregoriades, making shooing motions with her white-gloved hands, her dress blue uniform with its red piping in perfect order, her black patent-leather shoes reflecting lights.

"Half of these kids I was a camp counselor for when I was in 11th and 12th grade," the 22-year-old sergeant said as she walked through the crowd of kids and into a nearby classroom, her mother and aunt in tow. "I know all these kids. They wrote to me when I was in Iraq."

She and many others who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, come to visit the schoolchildren who write them when they're in town to say thanks.

"I think it's a great thing, in that what we really talk about these days is a world connection for our students," said Michael Gill, principal at West Haverstraw Elementary School. "Supporting our soldiers is such a wonderful thing, regardless of the set of circumstances. These are our students; these are their friends and relatives and cousins. This is a fact of life. It's a reality, and for us to show a little realism in the classroom ... is a good thing."

Sgt. G, as the enlisted men and women call her, returned home to Garnerville on Sept. 18, although she'd been back in the United States since Aug. 16. She had spent seven months deployed in Al Asad, Iraq, with the Marine Combat Logistics Battalion 2. Last week, she was eager to meet, thank and talk with the youngsters who had written to her while she was away from home. She returns to stateside duty in about a week.

Last spring, students in Kristen Rodriguez's third-grade class at West Haverstraw Elementary School began writing to Gregoriades as part of the school's Support Our Soldiers program. The third-graders chose Gregoriades because she's the cousin of classmate Taylor Facciola.

At the same time, Nicky Gregoriades' sixth-grade English class also decided to write to Sgt. G to show their support for the Gregoriades family.

Last Wednesday, Sgt. G walked into the fourth-grade classrooms of West Haverstraw Elementary teachers Jodi Hoyt and Patricia Marino to thank the children who had written to her as third-graders.

The visit also was a surprise to 9-year-old Taylor, who hadn't seen her cousin since she left for Iraq last year. When Irene Gregoriades walked into Taylor's classroom, Taylor ran to give her a hug that caused both of them to laugh with tears in their eyes.

Nancy Facciola, Taylor's mother and Sgt. G's aunt, had arranged the surprise and had trouble steadying the palm-sized video camera she had brought to record the visit because of tears in her own eyes. Nancy Gregoriades, Irene's mother, admitted privately to missing a lot of sleep when her daughter was in Iraq and couldn't take her eyes off her oldest child as she took command of the classroom and immediately got the children settled quietly before answering questions.

"It's nice she came," said Julius Ward, 8. "Because it feels like we really know her."

Sgt. G then went on to Willow Grove Middle School in Thiells to speak to students in her little brother's seventh-grade English class, many of whom had written to her when they were in Debra Orlando's sixth-grade English class. Orlando was a special guest for the discussion and received her own share of hugs.

"I cannot say enough how amazing those letters were," Sgt. G told the middle schoolers. "To know that there's kids out there who don't forget — no matter how hard your day, you read those letters and it's amazing. It overcomes everything."

Viola Marcelin, 11, said she found Sgt. G "amazing" and said she was interested to hear what someone who had been in Iraq had to say about conditions there.

"It's the soldier's point of view, which is different than what you see on the news," she said.

While some soldiers love meeting the kids who have written to them, others didn't like reliving their experiences, especially not with kids, Sgt. Gregoriades said.

"The kids, they want to know what's going on. You can't try to paint this picture-perfect story because it's not," she said. "Some see more things than others, and some have a tough time dealing with the differences. I did in the beginning."

White Plains Marine returns home from Iraq


Shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, John Schneekloth was drinking a beer with some buddies when he told them he was going to join the U.S. Marine Corps.

http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050926/NEWS02/509260307/1022/NEWS06


By DIANA BELLETTIERI
THE JOURNAL NEWS

Shortly after Sept. 11, 2001, John Schneekloth was drinking a beer with some buddies when he told them he was going to join the U.S. Marine Corps.

Evan Gould, one of Schneekloth's best friends since childhood, bet Schneekloth $100 that he wouldn't go through with it.

Boy, was he wrong.

By noon the next day, Schneekloth had already enlisted. And after surviving boot camp at Parris Island, S.C., he was deployed to Iraq in February.

(Gould, meanwhile, still hasn't paid up.)

"It was something I felt I should do," said 29-year-old Lance Cpl. Schneekloth, a White Plains High School graduate. "I thought it was better that I go because I'm a little older than the 18-year-old kid who hasn't been able to see and do as much as I already have."

After serving in Iraq for the past seven months, Schneekloth's family and friends welcomed him home yesterday with a barbecue at his parents' White Plains house. A banner hung from the front doorway, calling Schneekloth a hero. Red, white and blue balloons and American-flag tablecloths decorated the backyard.

The homecoming, however, was bittersweet because Schneekloth's wife and 5-month-old son could not be there. They are currently living in Korea. Schneekloth is flying to Korea on Sunday to be with his wife, Young, and to meet his son, Jacob, for the first time.

"I really can't wait to see my wife," Schneekloth said, "but I really, really can't wait to see my son."

Heidi Schneekloth, John's mother, said the summer was the most difficult time of her life. Of course, she said, she is thrilled her son is home and she prays for the safe return of all those fighting in the armed forces.

"When I heard he was going to join the Marines, I was in disbelief. I still am, but I support my son," said Heidi Schneekloth, 62, a real estate agent. "I think it made a man out of him."

In Iraq, Schneekloth was based in the country's largest province, Al Anbar, which shares borders with Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. He would go door to door in various communities, searching for weapons, gathering intelligence and forging relationships with residents.

"They wouldn't hesitate to invite you into their homes and show you that they didn't have anything, but that's it," he said. "They're scared to tell you anything else."

More aggressive campaigns, such as Operation Matador, had Schneekloth's battalion joining with others to raid thousands of homes to confirm the presence of foreign fighters who had crossed into Iraq from Syria. On the first day of Operation Matador, Schneekloth and his men met unexpected resistance in Ubaydi, and a member of his battalion was killed.

Schneekloth said losing a friend in combat is not too different from losing a friend in civilian life. But in war, he said, you want to justify a person's death and make sure his or her life wasn't lost in vain.

Liam Tully, who's known Schneekloth since they were 6 years old, said he looks up to Schneekloth and admires his dedication. But, he said, he's always looked up to his friend, who hasn't changed much since joining the Marines.

"You can't change John," said Tully, 28, a mortgage broker. "The question is how John changed the Marines."

Schneekloth might return to Iraq in seven months. Although he wouldn't mind going back, he will probably move his family to New York after his four years of active duty are fulfilled on Feb. 18, 2007.

With a degree from the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, N.Y., and experience as a restaurant manager, he would like to open a restaurant or bar in Westchester.

"You leave (Iraq) knowing that there's always going to be work to be done," said Schneekloth, who currently lives in Jacksonville, N.C. "But I won't lie. You'll always want to go home."

Marine's career soars high, keeps birds in the sky


MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, OKINAWA, Japan (Sept. 25, 2005) -- Soaring through the clouds at nearly 25,000 feet off the ground and traveling more than 400 mph can give life a different look. Something different is exactly what one Marine stationed with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, wanted when he signed his enlistment papers.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/E5F1C4D5C9C388A785257088003EC92D?opendocument

Submitted by: MCB Camp Butler
Story Identification #: 200592672547
Story by Cpl. Martin R. Harris

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, OKINAWA, Japan (Sept. 25, 2005) -- Soaring through the clouds at nearly 25,000 feet off the ground and traveling more than 400 mph can give life a different look. Something different is exactly what one Marine stationed with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, wanted when he signed his enlistment papers.

Cpl. Bradley Partridge has accumulated 1,200 flight hours in the past 19 months as a crew chief and crew chief evaluator for the UC-12F and UC-35 passenger aircraft. As an instructor, he trains enlisted personnel, who are usually of much higher ranks, on how to carry out their duties as crew chiefs for H&HS.;

“I was a little timid about instructing at first,” Partridge recalled. “As a lance corporal, I was being asked to instruct mostly (noncommissioned officers) and (staff-noncommissioned officers). I always tried to be respectful. Maturity is a big part of teaching and learning.”

Growing up in Bloomington, Minn., Partridge stepped out of the crowd and declared himself an individual by joining the Marine Corps on April 22, 2002. His decision to make a change in his life and defend his country came after the terrorist attacks on the world trade center.

After recruit training and military occupation specialty school, Partridge arrived in Okinawa as and administrative clerk. Little did Partridge know that the Marine Corps would soon give him responsibility of maintaining a $7 million aircraft.

Partridge was selected by the squadron to attend a crew chief school in Pensacola, Fla., to learn the UC-12 aircraft. He returned to Okinawa and began honing his knowledge of the aircraft. After returning, Partridge showed such proficiency and high level of maturity as a crew chief he was recommended to be a crew chief evaluator for the UC-12 and UC-35.

“Cpl. Partridge was selected for the position of crew chief evaluator because of his extremely high level of maturity,” said Lt. Col. David Ashby, commanding officer, H&HS;, MCAS Futenma. “He has trained nearly half of the 13 crew chiefs we have, and has taken it upon himself to learn the (Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization)publication, which he uses as a training syllabus.”

A crew chief is entrusted with the responsibility of making sure the aircraft is running correctly and all the passengers are safe, Partridge explained.

“Passenger safety is our number one concern,” Partridge said. “That’s our bread and butter.”

According to Staff Sgt. Chad McCammon, quality assurance chief, aircraft recovery section, H&HS;, MCAS Futenma, Partridge is easy to learn from because of his attitude and his in-depth knowledge of the aircrafts.

“Partridge knows the aircraft’s systems inside and out and he really loves what he does,” said McCammon, who was trained by Partridge. “There is nothing on the aircraft that you could ask him about that he wouldn’t be able to tell you exactly what it is and how it works, without even touching a book.”

Reserve Marine keeps recon rolling


AL AMARIYAH, Iraq(Sept. 26, 2005) -- After graduating high school in 1992, and attending community college for one year, Gerald Garcia transitioned into the civilian work force. (2nd Marine Division, 3rd RECON Echo Co. Iraqi Security Force Plt.)

http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/029a7099179361a68525708800300464?OpenDocument
Submitted by:
II Marine Expeditionary Force (FWD)
Story by:
Computed Name: Lance Cpl. Evan M. Eagan

Story Identification #:
200592644428

AL AMARIYAH, Iraq(Sept. 26, 2005) -- After graduating high school in 1992, and attending community college for one year, Gerald Garcia transitioned into the civilian work force.

Bouncing between jobs in corrections and skilled labor for nearly seven years, the Tivoli, Texas, native, had a long held dream of becoming a member of the Corps.

When Garcia decided to act on his dream at the age of 25, he feared his window of opportunity had passed.

Because of pain he experienced in his knee, he was unsure of whether his body would be able to handle the rigorous training Marine Corps boot camp subjected to its recruits.

With a ‘nothing to lose’ attitude, Garcia left for Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego in 1999 to follow his dream.

“The Marine Corps is the best military service there is and I wanted to be a part of it,” said the 31-year-old. “I had an MRI [Magnetic Resonance Imaging] done and nothing came back that was wrong, but I was still a little bit worried because I had some pain. But, it was something that I always wanted to do and never went through with. I also wanted to see if I could still do it at an older age than most recruits.”

Because he chose to be a reservist, he knew he would be stationed with one of the San Antonio-based units within 4th Reconnaissance Battalion, 4th Marine Division. However, instead of becoming a reconnaissance trained Marine, Garcia opted for the Nuclear, Biological and Chemical military occupational specialty.

“I didn’t know how my knee would hold up with the recon training,” he said. “So I decided to do NBC.”

Now the rank of corporal, Garcia is assigned to Iraqi Security Force Platoon, Echo Company, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division.

When stateside, Garcia is the NBC noncommissioned officer for the unit and is in charge of training for all NBC related matters, however, in Iraq he has filled a new duty.

“I inventory all equipment, run the gas chamber and mask confidence course to make sure the Marines stay up to date with their annual training back in San Antonio,” he said. “Out here [Iraq] I am a driver for the ISF Platoon.”

Garcia arrived in Iraq earlier this year with his unit, who is attached to 3rd Recon, and worked in the Reconnaissance Operations Center until he was recruited to be a driver with ISF Platoon.

“The ISF Platoon had a shortage of Marines so they pulled me from my other duties in the ROC,” he said. “I had a humvee license but I didn’t drive much in the states. I really didn’t have too much experience with the humvee.”

Since joining the platoon, which formed more than three months ago to train Iraqi Army soldiers and give them experience working next to Marines, Garcia has been a part of every major operation.

“I was excited to have the opportunity to do it,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been over here. I have definitely honed my driving skills.”

When he returns home next month, Garcia plans on spending time with his family and getting back to work at the Comal County Sheriffs Office in Texas.


Gold Star day honors mothers of fallen soldiers

Utahns show respect: Ceremony gets to the heart of the nation's heroes and their families' sacrifices

http://www.sltrib.com/utah/ci_3062476

Utahns show respect: Ceremony gets to the heart of the nation's heroes and their families' sacrifices
By Rebecca Walsh
The Salt Lake Tribune

DRAPER - When an American soldier is killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, a mother somewhere will get the knock on the door she's been dreading.
She will cover the blue star in her window with gold and begin the process of trying to heal her heartbreak.
It's a scene immortalized in films about wars gone by and a tradition overshadowed at times by reports of suicide bombers and peace protests.
Sunday was Gold Star Mothers Sunday - a day Congress set aside in 1936 to honor the mothers of fallen soldiers. And the families of Utah soldiers - including about a dozen Gold Star Mothers - gathered quietly at the National Guard Headquarters for the first time in five years, to listen to the fife and drums, to politicians and to one of their own.

The concert and dinner were not organized to counter huge protests this weekend in Washington D.C. and across the country, said Candace Chilcott, president of the Utah chapter of Blue Star Mothers of America. But if Sunday's gathering somehow dampens the message of Cindy Sheehan and the Gold Star Mothers for Peace, Chilcott said, so much the better.
"A lot of the nastiness would go away if a little more gratitude was shown to the families who raise these soldiers," Chilcott said. The Orem mother has two sons and a son-in-law in Iraq. Her daughter served 18 months there. "We all kind of see ourselves there. Any day, any minute, we could be putting a gold star over our blues ones."
Gold Star Mothers of America was founded by Grace Siebold, a Washington, D.C., mother whose son George was killed during World War I while volunteering for Britain's air force.
The group provides support for the families of soldiers and organizes service projects to help veterans and active-duty soldiers. Utah's Blue Star Mothers have made hundreds of cooling bands for soldiers serving in the desert climates of Iraq and Afghanistan. The only outward sign of their sacrifice is the small banner with a blue or gold star hanging in their front window.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have created about 2,000 Gold Star Mothers.
Janet Norwood is one. Her son Byron was killed in Fallujah last November.
"I know I represent your worst nightmare," Norwood told the crowd of about 100 family members gathered Sunday in Draper. "None of us want to become a Gold Star Mother. Most of us don't want to be a Blue Star Mother either. But that's not our choice to make."
Norwood and her husband, Bill, came from their home in Texas to meet their son's commanding officer, Christian Wade.
Both Wade and Norwood blame the media for focusing on protesters and body counts, rather than reporting American soldiers' heroism.
Wade, a marine who has served four tours of duty in Iraq, told of a corporal from Colorado. Although his leg was pinned in a Humvee, he cried when Wade told him he was going home.
"I could not imagine why he would not want to leave this terrible place," said Wade, crying himself. "There were no reporters to tell you of his loyalty, courage and bravery. I don't think some of them would have cared."
Wade said the "greatest tragedy of this war" is the media's focus on controversy. "Whatever your views on this war, look beyond what you hear. The truth hides behind the television facade," he said.
Despite palpable anger at the media, Sunday's concert was meant to boost the families of Utah soldiers. The 3rd California Volunteers from Fort Douglas, a fife and drum corps dressed in Civil War regalia, played "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" and "Yankee Doodle." Composer Kurt Bestor serenaded Norwood with an impromptu lullaby. Speakers including Congressman Jim Matheson and Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. the sacrifices of the mothers and fathers in the crowd.
"You represent duty, honor and country," said Murray Mayor Dan Snarr. "You are my heroes."
Ashley Franscell/The Salt Lake Tribune

Christian Wade, a marine who has served four tours of duty in Iraq, gets emotional while telling the story of one soldier's loyalty during the Gold Star Mothers Sunday ceremony for moms of fallen troops.

Military notes

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Robert H. Wershing and Marine Corps Cpl. Zachary J. Zierden participated in a communityrelations project during a port visit to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where Marines and sailors volunteered to paint hallways and do repairs at a women's shelter.

http://miva.sctimes.com/miva/cgi-bin/miva?Web/page.mv+1+local+47554

Military notes
Times staff report

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Robert H. Wershing and Marine Corps Cpl. Zachary J. Zierden participated in a communityrelations project during a port visit to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where Marines and sailors volunteered to paint hallways and do repairs at a women's shelter.

Wershing, a 2002 graduate of Long Prairie-Grey Eagle High School, is on the amphibiousassault ship USS Kearsarge, homeported in Norfolk, Va.

Zierden, son of Ronald C. Zierden of Avon and a 2002 graduate of Albany Area High School, is with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit based at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

U.S. Navy Seaman Amanda M. Yager and Airman Daniel D. Slivnik were deployed on the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt based in Norfolk, Va.

Yager is the daughter of Douglas and Mary Yager of Sauk Rapids. Slivnik is the son of Stephen and Dorothy Slivnik of St. Joseph and a 2003 graduate of Sartell-St. Stephen High School.

U.S. Army National Guard Pvt. Andrew P. Randall, son of Jerry and Karen Randall of Princeton, graduated from basic andadvanced training at Fort Sill, Lawton, Okla.

Randall is a student at Princeton High School.

U.S. Air Force Cadet Jeff O. Bohlman and Cadet David J. Puchalla II completed basic training and received the rank of cadet fourth class at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Bohlman is the son of Jon and Debra Bohlman of Sartell, and a 2005 graduate of Sartell High-St. Stephen School.

Puchalla is the son of David and Judima Puchalla of St. Cloud, and a 2005 graduate of Cathedral High School, St. Cloud.

Kyle Nguyen, a 2001 graduate of Little Falls High School, graduated from Officer Candidate School, Fort Lewis, Tacoma, Wash., and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army National Guard.

Nguyen is the son of Patricia Langer of Sartell and Minh Nguyen of Little Falls.

Eric C. Athman and Jared A. Krantz-Odendahl graduated from the U.S. Army ROTC Leader Development and Assessment Course at Fort Lewis.

Athman is the son of Charles and Donna Athman of Sartell, and a 2001 graduate of Sartell-St. Stephen High School.

Odendahl, son of Jeff Odendahl and Mary Krantz of Little Falls, is a 2001 graduate of Little Falls Community High School. He is a student at Northeastern University, Boston.

U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Five Douglas Frank, a 1977 graduate of Sauk Rapids High School, was promoted to his current rank with the Army Special Forces Branch at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Frank, son of Neva Frank of Sauk Rapids, started with the Minnesota Army National Guard in St. Cloud. He has had numerous overseas assignments, including in Panama, Afghanistan and Iraq.

U.S. Army Pfc. Brandy L. Burt, daughter of Doug Burt of Holdingford, graduated frombasic training at Fort Jackson, Columbia, S.C.

Burt is a student at Holdingford High School.

Military Notes appears on Mondays. Items can be mailed to Military News, St. Cloud Times, P.O. Box 768, St. Cloud, MN 56302. Or, you may e-mail them to [email protected] Photos must include names and addresses on the back and must specify whether they are to be returned.

County public defender offers helping hand to U.S. Marines


BULLHEAD CITY - Steve Brandon works as a Mohave County public defender but is spending his spare time helping Marines deployed to Iraq. Bradon's non-profit charity, Mohave Military Charity, Inc., has a Web site that offers information to anyone wishing to help donate items to these Marines.

http://www.mohavedailynews.com/articles/2005/09/25/news/local/local3.txt

By DAN KELLY

Sunday, September 25, 2005 7:26 PM PDT

BULLHEAD CITY - Steve Brandon works as a Mohave County public defender but is spending his spare time helping Marines deployed to Iraq. Bradon's non-profit charity, Mohave Military Charity, Inc., has a Web site that offers information to anyone wishing to help donate items to these Marines.

"The charity, right now, is basically just the Web site," Brandon said.

"We don't accept any money or donations. We just provide a more convenient way for people to support the troops by seeing the requested items from the Marines, and then pointing them (donors) to the Web site where they can buy and ship items to the Marines' address listed on the Web site."

Brandon said he is proud to help service members, but he needs more help.

"I personally spent several hundred dollars shipping them supplies," he said, "but I always knew my resources were finite, and that there was only so much I could do by myself. So, I set up the charity and Web site to see if I could get others on board."

The Web site, www.mohavemilitarycharity.org, offers information on where to mail items of support to marines of Marine Wing Support Squadron 372 from Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Some requested items are multitools, flashlights, folding or straight blade knives that can be attached to gear, candy, camouflage bandanas or arctic cool bandanas, dry snacks like trail mix, nuts and dried fruit, DVDs, Play Station 2 games, stick up air fresheners, magazines or books, minilight thumb lights, micro lights (red, white or blue), Beretta M9 9 mm high-capacity 15 round magazines (made in Italy are best), Kevlar Shorty tactical Gloves or BlackHawk Hellstorm SOLAG gloves (Medium or large), Special Operations Heavy-duty clip-on kneepads (Desert tan), carabiner clips (for hooking gear on), cold weather gloves (must be solid black) and any type of gortex or other water-proof material.

"I know the men and women over there (serving in Iraq) would really appreciate it if people just sent them one item from their list," Brandon said.

Brandon plans on expanding the Web site in the future, and said it is more than just a charity Web site.

"I'm also doing this to provide well-deserved and long-overdue recognition to the veterans of Mohave County," Brandon said. "I have posted pages for both the Veterans of Foreign War and American Legion, and they and other veterans are welcome to contact me via the e -mail address at the Web site.

"I eventually want to be able to post pictures of the members of the groups, perhaps along with selected photos of their past to remind us of their courage and sacrifices," he said.

Items should be mailed to CWO2 Newton, James R, MWSS 372 Eng. Co., HE Ops, MWSS 372 Eng. Co., HE Ops., Unit 42020, FPO/AP 96426-2020, Al Taqaddum, Habbaniyah, Iraq, Postal Code 263.

The U.S. Postal Service takes 10-14 days, and Federal Express takes around four days, according to the Web site.

For information, e-mail Mohave Military Charity, Inc., at [email protected]

4th AT Battalion responds to Rita

NEW IBERIA, LA.-- (Sept. 26, 3005) -- The Marines of the 4th Anti-Terrorism Battalion voluntarily mobilized from their reserve headquarters in Bessemer, Al., to lend a helping hand to the city of New Orleans after Katrina crashed through the metropolis. Starting in Biloxi, Miss., the storm chasers made a sweep south to the Gulf of Mexico and following Hurricane Rita, started moving east to their final destination in New Iberia, La. From there, they decided to stick around to see what kind of punch Hurricane Rita would pack.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/2C1978F434CB0D248525708A00040DF1?opendocument

Submitted by: 24th MEU
Story Identification #: 2005927204417
Story by Sgt. Tracee L. Jackson

NEW IBERIA, LA.-- (Sept. 26, 3005) -- The Marines of the 4th Anti-Terrorism Battalion voluntarily mobilized from their reserve headquarters in Bessemer, Al., to lend a helping hand to the city of New Orleans after Katrina crashed through the metropolis. Starting in Biloxi, Miss., the storm chasers made a sweep south to the Gulf of Mexico and following Hurricane Rita, started moving east to their final destination in New Iberia, La. From there, they decided to stick around to see what kind of punch Hurricane Rita would pack.

The Battalion was getting ready to move out after dealing with the after-effects of Katrina when they heard about the potential hazards being brought on by the new storm. They traveled to Jackson, Miss., to wait out the storm safely, and as soon as the skies began to clear, they attacked the Gulf Coast once again with their Humvees, seven-ton trucks, food, water and helping hands.

According to Sgt. Maj. John R. Price, battalion sergeant major, the Marines arrived on site and worked through the hours of darkness to be ready to start search and rescue operations in the morning.

“We’re a big pickup team and everyone is pointed in the same direction,” he said, referring to the massive accomplishments made in coordinating all the manpower and machinery available.
Rita was an unexpected surprise to many of the Marines, but they were ready and waiting to do their part if need be.

“I think every able-bodied person should be down here helping if these people said they need help,” said Lance Cpl. Bryan Lucas, a rifleman with 4th AT Battalion from Birmingham, Al.

Because the Marines had already fought off the destruction left by Katrina, they were seasoned experts in hurricane recovery when Rita rolled overhead. While the damage left by the second storm was significant, it didn’t faze the working crew.

“Katrina was a lot worse that what I see here,” said Lucas, speaking of his four-day stay at New Iberia, just south of Lafayette. “The only problem here is the floodwater. There isn’t a lot of destruction, and most of the people here still have power.”

Price agreed the damage was minimal, but it was still worth the visit to make sure everyone fared the storm.

“We did everything we, as Marines, can do,” he said confidently, “We moved debris out of the road and away from people’s homes. We also handed out food and water to anyone who needed it.”

The damage was minimal enough the Marines were ready to pull out of New Iberia almost as quickly as they came. After pulling some quick patrols through the town, they focused their efforts on consolidating their equipment for their movement home.

Okinawa Marine is wounded in action, praised at home

CAMP COURTNEY, OKINAWA, Japan(Sept. 26, 2005) -- Lance Cpl. Christina J. Humphrey received the Purple Heart Medal for the wounds she suffered in Iraq during a ceremony on Camp Courtney Sept. 23.

http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/FC4ACB83A43FDD9D8525708B00067565?opendocument

Submitted by:
MCB Camp Butler
Story by:
Computed Name: Pfc. C. Warren Peace
Story Identification #:
2005928211032

CAMP COURTNEY, OKINAWA, Japan(Sept. 26, 2005) -- Lance Cpl. Christina J. Humphrey received the Purple Heart Medal for the wounds she suffered in Iraq during a ceremony on Camp Courtney Sept. 23.

Humphrey was returning from Fallujah, Iraq, as a member of the Female Search Force attached to Regimental Combat Team 8, when a vehicle collided with their 7-ton truck June 23. The attackers’ vehicle contained an improvised explosive device that detonated upon impact.

The 22-year-old Chico, Calif. native, sustained burns and an injury to her back during the attack that killed six Marines and wounded 13.

Humphrey is a motor transport operator with Truck Company, Headquarters Battalion, 3rd Marine Division.

Commandant and Sergeant Major of Corps visit TQ

CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq (Sept. 26, 2005) -- The Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Michael W. Hagee, and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Sergeant Major John L. Estrada, visited Camp Taqaddum Sept. 25.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/221EDDB45EFFC1028525708A00128E5E?opendocument

Submitted by:
2nd Force Service Support Group
Story by:
Computed Name: Lance Cpl. Wayne Edmiston

Story Identification #:
2005927232240

CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq (Sept. 26, 2005) -- The Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Michael W. Hagee, and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Sergeant Major John L. Estrada, visited Camp Taqaddum Sept. 25.

Gen. Hagee and Sgt. Maj. Estrada visited Camp Taqaddum to thank the Marines and Sailors for their efforts and gain a better understanding of what can be done to help Marines better accomplish their mission in the future. The Commandant expressed gratitude and support on behalf of the American public and public officials in the United States.

Gen. Hagee commented that other military officials ask him how their service can be like the U.S. Marine Corps; he attributed that to the Corps’ unparalleled performance on the battlefield.

He continued by saying the Marine Corps faces new challenges everyday, but assured the Marines that the Corps will dominate the battlefield of the future.

"The battlefield of tomorrow will look a lot like the battlefield in Iraq, and it will be similarly an ever-changing battlefield," he said. "We will rely on our small unit leaders, our corporals and sergeants, to make strategic decisions on the battlefield.”

Gen. Hagee emphasized the importance of training Iraqi forces and how it will ultimately decrease the Corps’ operational tempo here in Iraq as Iraqi Security Forces develop the capability to defend their own country.

“The Marines currently providing security and stability in Iraq will be replaced by trained Iraqi units,” Gen. Hagee said.

He also mentioned that new equipment for the individual Marine will be provided in the future. M16-A4 service rifles for all Marines and better armored vehicles were among the items on the list.

“We will continue to make sure our Marines are properly equipped with both gear and training, to meet the ever-changing challenges of the modern battlefield.”

The Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps expressed his gratitude to the Marines and Sailors on behalf of various members of Congress and private individuals he has come in contact with since becoming the senior enlisted Marine in the Corps.

Sgt. Maj. Estrada continued by saying, "I talk to individuals all the time who tell me how proud they are of our Marines...you are inspiring the people at home in America.”

Sgt. Maj. Estrada also commended the Marines and Sailors how their job during ongoing Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom directly contributes to the Marine Corps’ recruiting and retention efforts.

The sergeant major emphasized to the warriors that by them being the best it encourages others to want to emulate them.


Sgt. Maj. Estrada encouraged the Marines to continue fighting the good fight, and that the outcome will be a positive one.

“America is much safer because you are here eliminating terrorism in Iraq,” Estrada said. “The Marine Corps today has met and exceeded the standards set before us by the brave heroes of the past.”

For many, hearing the senior officer and enlisted leader of the Marine Corps speak to them was an unexpected treat.

“It was my first time hearing them speak and I found it very informative,” said Cpl. Michael J. Krzystofczyk, a member of the personal security detachment, 2nd FSSG (FWD).

September 25, 2005

Oregon/SW Washington Marines Return

Salem, Ore. -- Over 100 Marine reservists from Oregon and Southwest Washington returned home from Iraq this weekend.

http://www.koin.com/news.asp?RECORD_KEY%5bnews%5d=ID&ID;%5Bnews%5D=4659


Were Stationed In Iraq


Salem, Ore. -- Over 100 Marine reservists from Oregon and Southwest Washington returned home from Iraq this weekend.
They were welcomed back at a celebration on Swan Island where about 500 family members waited for them Friday.

The Oregon and Washington members of the 6th Engineering Support Battalion were in Iraq for more than seven months. They were stationed at the Al Asad air base, between Fallujah and Ramadi.

They cleared land mines and rebuilt roads.

Northern Virginia college student serving as Marine in Iraq

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- College students across America are in class, studying, working on projects and preparing for mid-term exams in a couple of weeks.

http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/7014C6F24B30BA528525708700753D6B?opendocument
Submitted by:
II Marine Expeditionary Force (FWD)
Story by:
Computed Name: Cpl. Ruben D. Maestre
Story Identification #:
2005925172034

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- College students across America are in class, studying, working on projects and preparing for mid-term exams in a couple of weeks.

While some students are enjoying college football rivalries and other festive fall activities, at least one college student from northern Virginia is taking a break from his classes and instead is getting a hands-on course as a Marine in the heart of Al Anbar province in Iraq.

“I decided to do the [Marine] reserves since I wanted to go to college,” said Cpl. Gary W. Babcock, who, when not serving active duty in Iraq, is a college student studying at Northern Virginia Community College, in Sterling, Va.

The son of a career civil servant father who worked as a civilian for the Navy, Babcock had aspirations of becoming a Navy pilot when he was younger. In school, he was involved with basketball and drama at Faith Christian High School where he graduated in 2002.

As he got older, his goals changed but his desire to serve his country didn’t. With the permission of his parents, he joined the Corps at age 17.

“I always wanted to be in the military,” said Babcock, now on the verge of his 21st birthday in Iraq. “I always thought it was cool when I was younger and as I grew older, I wanted the leadership experience.”

Graduating from boot camp and Marine Combat Training in 2002, he trained as a food service specialist. Completing his military occupational specialty school, Babcock was assigned with 4th Combat Engineer Battalion, 4th Marine Division, based in Baltimore before being activated to serve with II Marine Expeditionary Force, Headquarters Group, II MEF (FWD), in March 2005.

At Camp Fallujah, Iraq, Babcock has had guard duty at dining facilities and at watch towers on the camp perimeter. Currently serving as sergeant of the guard for one dining facility here, the task is long and tedious, but the college student majoring in business administration has no regrets being here.

“I didn’t have any problems with [deploying],” said Babcock. “It’s a good experience and I’m glad I’m here to support the [service members] supporting the people here.”

Six months into his deployment, Babcock looks back to the lessons he has learned since becoming a Marine. He mentions leadership, self-confidence and a greater ability to work with others as examples of knowledge gained.

“Since I’ve been in the Marine Corps, I’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons,” said Babcock. “I’ve learned to think for myself…to interact with other people that come from different places and get along without having problems.”

With the help of the Montgomery G.I. Bill, Babcock plans to continue working toward an associates and then bachelor’s degree in business administration once he returns from his deployment to Iraq.

EDITOR’S NOTE
Please feel free to publish this story or any of the accompanying photos. If used, please give credit to the writer/photographer, and contact us at: [email protected] so we can update our records.

Gold Star Families Lead Rally to Support Troops Their Mission

WASHINGTON, Sept. 25, 2005 – Their message was simple: "We support our troops," said rally organizer Kristinn Taylor. "We love them and we support their mission."

http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Sep2005/20050925_2844.html
By Petty Officer 3rd Class John R. Guardiano, USN
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 25, 2005 – Their message was simple: "We support our troops," said rally organizer Kristinn Taylor. "We love them and we support their mission."

"We know that what they are doing is just and noble," he added. "We remember what happened on Sept. 11. We know that it's because of the sacrifices that they are making day in and day out, night and day, that we have not had another terrorist attack on our soil."

"Keep doing what you're doing," agreed Kevin Bush of Reston, Va. "We all love you; we all support you; and it's worth it."

Kevin's Mom, Jan Bush of south New Jersey, echoed that sentiment: "Hi, guys! Don't give up," she said. "We're with you; we're backing you; and we know that you're going to succeed."

"How could you not be here?" asked Ann Baish of McLean, Va, as she fought back tears. "They're our troops. And we need to stand by them and let them know over there how much we do support them. ... There are just so many Americans that are proud of our troops," she explained, "and we just came out because we want them to know it."

In fact, rally participants were united in their belief that the media give too much attention to critics of the war, while deliberately downplaying the deep reservoir of public support that U.S. troops -- and their mission -- actually enjoy.

"Overall, Americans support our troops no matter what," said John Wroblewski, whose son, Marine Corps Lt. John Thomas Wroblewski, died in Ramadi, Iraq, April 6, 2004.

Yet, according to Debby Argel Bastion, "the news seems to, for some reason or other, sensationalize, I think, the very few people who really don't have an understanding of what's going on over there, and who oppose what we're doing" in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Her son, 28-year-old Air Force Capt. Derek Argel, died May 30, 2005, when his plane crashed in eastern Diyala province. He and his special tactics squadron were training the Iraqi air force and identifying for them emergency landing sites. Argel, three other U.S. military personnel, and one Iraqi officer, 34-year-old old Capt. Ali Abass, were buried in Arlington National Cemetery in August.

Those who support the troops "are quiet and silent types," said 21-year-old Air Force Airman Ryne Regan. "So you don't hear a lot from us, but we're out there in big numbers. That's why a rally like this is so important: to let our guys know we're behind them." Regan, who waved a large American flag, said he is deploying to Iraq in two weeks.

Gold Star family members said that older, full-time soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are unfazed by the negative media coverage of Iraq and Afghanistan. "They're professionals, and they stay focused on the mission," Wroblewski explained. But according to Bastion, "for the younger men that are over there and maybe struggling a little bit -- maybe it's their first time over there - Derek would say, 'It is just terrible for their morale.'"

Argel told his mom that "we have to focus on telling them that that is not the way that the general public feels. The general public loves us and loves what we're doing."

For that reason, advised Reed, "Don't pay attention to what's going on in the media. Pay attention to what's coming to you in the care packages and the letters and the e-mails. That's the sentiment of the American people, not what you see in the media today."

Some Iraq war veterans at the rally cautioned, though, that that's easier said than done.

"You know, when we were in Iraq and saw the people back home protesting us, it killed us, you know. It took away from it a little bit," said 28-year-old former Army Spc. Ryan Bowman, who served 12 months in Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division, from February 2003 to February 2004.

Bowman, who hails from Philadelphia, attended the rally with his friend and fellow Iraq war veteran, 27-year-old former Army Sgt. Michael Lilli, also of the 101st. Bowman and Lilli are no longer active-duty soldiers.

Bowman was married two days ago. However, Bowman postponed his honeymoon to attend the rally, because, he said, "I've got to be there. My wife knows why; she knows the reasons. She couldn't' come, but ... our friends are over there now; and I've got to be here to support them."

Lilli, who hails from Baltimore, choked up and fought back tears as he recounted a particularly poignant moment in Mosul, Iraq. He and his team were clearing a series of hard-fought city blocks, he said, when a young Iraqi boy who spoke English fairly well volunteered his services as a translator.

"He was with me and my team as we were clearing one of these buildings," Lilli said, "and he asked me if he could take a picture of Saddam off the wall. And I said, 'Sure, go ahead.' And he put it on the ground and he started stomping on it."

Lilli had to pause to regain his composure. The memory of that moment clearly stirred in him great emotion. But the Iraqi child was stomping on the picture "because Saddam had his family killed," Lilli said. "And I saw in him why we were there. ... They need us to be there. And you'll never see that on the news."

Diane Von Ibbotson lost her son, Army Cpl. Forest Jostes, in Iraq. He had been setting up a medical evacuation point for fellow soldiers who were wounded and were trapped in an abandoned building in Sadr City. "We're here for our troops," she said. "They have our back over there and we have their backs right here."

Portland, Ore., native keeps night watch going

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- When the majority of people aboard the camp are preparing for bed, there are Marines scattered throughout walking their post. These protectors stand watch in the stillness of the night with their weapons loaded, providing security against those who might do harm to the members of the camp. (II MEF HQ)

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/4246FA64E3799ADE85257087006DC321?opendocument
Submitted by: II Marine Expeditionary Force (FWD)
Story Identification #: 2005925155853
Story by Cpl. Ruben D. Maestre

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- When the majority of people aboard the camp are preparing for bed, there are Marines scattered throughout walking their post. These protectors stand watch in the stillness of the night with their weapons loaded, providing security against those who might do harm to the members of the camp.

One of those on guard, Lance Cpl. Glade L. Wallen, 29, is just one of many who stands watch every night, fighting complacency, sleepiness and boredom in order to provide the security necessary for a base in the heart of Al Anbar province.

“I walk my post back and forth and I try to think about things,” he said of what he does to stay alert as his thoughts drifted to home and his young son.

Nearly 6 feet tall with an average build, Wallen’s story has been filled with personal struggle and pain. His mother died after a long fight with cancer nearly eight years ago.

Before joining the Corps, the Portland, Ore., native had a newborn son and he moved with his family throughout Oregon, Utah, Nevada, California and Washington state working as a food service manager in the restaurant industry and doing other side jobs.

“I was caught up with work, supporting my family,” said the trained food service specialist assigned to the Food Service Section, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Headquarters Group, II MEF (FWD). “I was working two to three jobs at the time.”

Partly in search of financial stability and partly a personal dream, Wallen went to boot camp in May 2003.

“My son and his mom moved [away] and I was at a down point in my life,” said the 1995 graduate of Timpview High School in Provo, Utah. “My expenses were above my income when a recruiter approached me and it was something I had wanted to do.”

Wallen could have gone into another branch of the military with a shorter boot camp or he could have applied to the job programs the federal government offers.

Instead, he joined the Marines.

“I wanted the benefits but it wasn’t the main reason why I joined,” said Wallen. “I wanted the title of Marine.”

Since graduating from boot camp, Wallen has had some set backs. During military occupational specialty school, a personal medical condition surfaced and had to be physically evaluated for several months. After being cleared, Wallen reported to II MHG, leaving 10 months later for deployment to Camp Fallujah, Iraq.

Quiet and soft spoken, Wallen takes his challenges in stride by taking them ‘one day at a time.’ One aspect of the Corps that continues to stand out to him is the camaraderie shown amongst Leathernecks.

“One of the things I like about the Marine Corps is the sense of brotherhood,” he said. “The sense that we are there for each other and like brothers we may not always agree but we’ve got each other’s back.”

Wallen is scheduled to return back to the states early next year. After the end of his term, he is contemplating using his Montgomery G.I. Bill to pay for his studies into computer graphics.

EDITOR’S NOTE
Please feel free to publish this story or any of the accompanying photos. If used, please give credit to the writer/photographer, and contact us at: [email protected] so we can update our records.

Troops Coming Home

This week, Marshall County will prepare to welcome home it's Marines. (3/25)

http://www.wtrf.com/story.cfm?func=viewstory&storyid;=5411


Posted 9/25/2005 11:07 PM

This week, Marshall County will prepare to welcome home it's Marines.

Story by Shauna Parsons Email | Bio

After a 7 month stay in Iraq, it's time for one local Marine Regiment to return to the Ohio Valley. The Kilo Company, a part of the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment is set to return to the U.S. sometime this week. Those Marines and Sailors will be reporting to Camp Lejeune, NC for post deployment training for 7 to 10 days and then they will travel back to the Naval Marine Corps Reserve Center in Moundsville. The Kilo Company was mobilized on January 4th and deployed to Iraq in March. Stay tuned to 7 News for continuing coverage...

Copyright 2005 West Virginia Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

3/7 Marines and ISF plan, execute raid

AR RAMADI, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- Marines from 1st and 3rd Squads, Company L, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment and members from the local Iraqi Security Forces recently participated in a raid to capture four men suspected of attacking Coalition Forces during the previous month. (3/7 Lima)

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/0C03E4C6CAE71FF5852570A000399C16?opendocument

Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 2005102062915
Story by Cpl. Shane Suzuki

AR RAMADI, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- Marines from 1st and 3rd Squads, Company L, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment and members from the local Iraqi Security Forces recently participated in a raid to capture four men suspected of attacking Coalition Forces during the previous month.

The targeted house was located at the end of a large field and surrounded on the each side by rows of houses and storefronts. To complete the mission, the Coalition Forces were dropped off at the south end of the field and sprinted across approximately 300 yards of open ground to the home.

“Tonight’s mission was a joint operation between the Americans and Iraqis to raid and capture a suspected insurgent,” said 2nd Lt. Walter Larisey, , 1st platoon commander for Company L.

Despite intelligence warnings about possible insurgent activity in the surrounding neighborhoods, no counter-ambush occurred during the approach to the house. Once the area was blocked off, members of both the ISF and Company L moved into the house to detain the suspects.

Once inside, the ISF calmed the residents of the home and searched through documents looking for anything incriminating.

“I think it went well,” said Capt. Rory Quinn, commanding officer of Company L. “We had the ISF with us, which always creates an element of friction because of the language barrier. However, having them along provides a tremendous benefit when we’re in the house.

“Being able to plan, execute and successfully extract from the mission despite the language barrier was difficult, but we pulled it off.”

Although it adds another layer of complexity to a mission already made difficult by the darkness, working with the ISF is a priority for Quinn and his company. According to Quinn, they try to incorporate the ISF into missions at least once a week and are working on plans to increase that number.

“(Working with the ISF) happens as much as you make it happen,” said Quinn. “We try to do it every other mission, sometimes more sometimes less. But the plain fact is the better they get, the less often we will come back to their country.”

Once back at base, the Marines and ISF debriefed each other to find out what they can do better to both prepare the ISF for missions as well as anticipate potential problem areas for future missions. After the debrief, Quinn commented on how well he thought the mission went.

“It was a definite success,” he said. “We detained three individuals; two of them had a pretty fair resemblance to who we were looking for. Add to that the use of the ISF and their increasing abilities, I think tonight went very well.”

A son is sent to war

Kenton Dial heads for Iraq, and the hearts of his Sylvania family go with him

This is the third in an occasional series

These stories mark universally common experiences in our lives, the seemingly mundane events that, in fact, are some of the most meaningful moments of human existence.

http://toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050925/ART16/509240321

FROM: toledobade.com, Toledo, OH
Article published Sunday, September 25, 2005

Kenton Dial heads for Iraq, and the hearts of his Sylvania family go with him

This is the third in an occasional series

These stories mark universally common experiences in our lives, the seemingly mundane events that, in fact, are some of the most meaningful moments of human existence.

Turning 21. Divorce. Sending off a child. Death. Buying a house. Marriage.

These are the kinds of "ordinary" occasions that Blade columnist Roberta de Boer will chronicle throughout this year in a uniquely up close and personal style, as she spends time with local people to learn about Life.

In that no-man's-land between the airline counters and the security screeners, a family sat lined up along a row of rigid black chairs.

Not many people were at the airport yet, not that early, but the ones there were all in motion. Freshly shaved business travelers, airline and airport employees, families toting bulky carry-ons and cranky toddlers - all strode past without so much as a glance at this family, father-sister-mother-brother, quiet and motionless in the increasingly kinetic morning airport din.

The father, Lenny DePew, sat at one end, a silent bookend. In fact, in the hour or so since the car pulled away from his Sylvania house, he'd hardly said a word, and that wasn't like him.

The daughter, Katelyn DePew, fought a wave of sleepiness that would have swamped any 10-year-old plucked from bed and taken on a long car ride through inky, middle-of-the-night darkness.

The mother, Cathy DePew, gripped a 20-ounce coffee cup from a Speedway station. Her usual make-up missing this morning, the skin beneath her eyes was that opalescent blue-gray which belongs to the sleepless. She alternated between issuing bright smiles and furiously gnawing the inside of her left cheek. If anyone had asked her what she was doing, she would have said: I am not crying.

The son, Kenton Dial, was the other bookend. He perched on the very edge of his chair - feet planted wide, elbows on knees - leaning as far forward in that chair as a person could without falling off. A new iPod was strapped around his left bicep, ready to travel. In the baggy cargo shorts that twentysomethings wear, he looked bound for college.

But of course, he wasn't.

That haircut, that jarhead "high and tight," gave him away as a United States Marine.

"I'm at peace," the new warrior said softly, after his mother went off to find an airport bathroom. "I'm happy. If this is the last time I see everybody, I'm ready. It's weird. I just feel at peace."

Earlier, walking from the parking lot to the airport terminal, his mother jabbered nervously about doing the boy's laundry.

"You know, you wash all their underwear and T-shirts, and then they only take one pair. I feel like we're sending our kid away to camp."

But in the autumn of 2005, the U.S. death toll nears 2,000 in Iraq. It is as far from summer camp as any American 21-year-old in uniform can get.

Born again
"I thought if you didn't pick infantry, you weren't a real Marine," Kenton told me the first time we met. This was August, over lunch. His mother insisted he show up not in a T-shirt, but in something with a collar.

Besides, he added, in that tone young people use when explaining the obvious: "I get to blow stuff up. I get to shoot awesome weapons. It's cool."

When a kid who just turned 21 and still has zits on his forehead says something like that, you think you already know all there is to know about him. But over the course of his nearly three-week leave back home, you learn yet again what a mistake it is to make assumptions about people.

Oh, it's not that Kenton can't easily be summarized. He can - and is, in one of his all-time favorite books, Making the Corps, by Thomas E. Ricks, a Pulitzer Prize-winning military correspondent.

Of the new Marine recruits Mr. Ricks profiled on Parris Island, he found many had arrived from "part-time lives": a few hours here and there at low-wage jobs, a few courses now and then at a community college.

"They are, with a few exceptions," Mr. Ricks observed, "denizens of the bottom half of the American economy, or on the way there … Most of them knew they were heading for mediocre jobs at wages that will always seem to lag behind inflation."

By the time Kenton left for boot camp late last year, he was working at a Kroger store part-time, taking courses at Owens Community College, and living with his parents and little sister in the family's home in the Centennial Farms subdivision. Did Mr. Ricks' characterization of Marine recruits include him, I wondered?

"In a lot of ways, it does," Kenton said. "After I got done with high school, I had classes at Owens for, like, two or three hours a day. And then I would work maybe four hours a day. The whole rest of the day - I mean, my [high school] friends were at Ohio State and BG. I was just sitting around the house, playing video games, watching TV, sleeping. Not going anywhere with my life."

And yet, unlike other recruits who might just as easily have joined, say, the Air Force as the Marines, by the time Kenton Dial arrived at boot camp he'd spent years dreaming of the moment.

Like so many little boys, he played with G.I. Joes. But did other mothers literally pry toy soldiers from the death grip of their son's stubby little fingers, long after the boy succumbed to sleep?

This boy had always wanted to be in uniform, but not until his sophomore year of high school did he realize he wanted to be a Marine - an epiphany born of savvy military marketing.

"One night, I went to the Marine Corps Web site. It's changed from what it was then. It used to - I mean, it's still very cool - but it looked so hard, and so, like, savage and rough and tough. I really got obsessed with it."

The very next day, he went to the library and picked up "anything I could" about the Marines. These included two books he loves so much he later bought them to take to Iraq: Anthony Swofford's Jarhead, and Making the Corps.

The latter, Kenton said, "takes you inch by inch through boot camp, through Parris Island, so you know everything you're getting into. I was like, this is really intense. I can't wait to do this."

He was, by his own account, a high school "wall flower." He tried football, but didn't fit in with the jocks. He was an OK student with a 2.4 grade point average, whose outlook on schoolwork might as well have been, Never let it be said I didn't do the least I could do. He didn't get invited to the parties, and went to few dances; no surprise, his favorite TV show was Freaks and Geeks. When word got around school that he had USMC aspirations, Kenton Dial - who stood 5-foot-8 and weighed 270 pounds - got an awful lot of crap.

"I thought Marines were, like, superheroes, and when I started telling people I wanted to be a Marine, they would, like, blow it off … I like being different, so when I saw this [Web site], it was like, 'I can be different.' And definitely people respect Marines. I definitely didn't have any respect. I was really just a funny guy, and I wanted to be taken seriously."

For the first time in his life, Kenton set himself a goal: To lose enough weight to join the Marines. This was no small task for a guy who was overweight since childhood, never exercised, didn't care for fruits or vegetables, lived on chicken wings and fast-food, and thought four Hot Pockets made a dandy midnight snack.

Suddenly, it was all Slim-Fast and salad, and Kenton would be the first to tell you there were highs and lows during those months when he shed 70, 80 pounds.

And then there was the conditioning. It wasn't enough to be trim; the Marines have fitness requirements, too, and these were an obstacle to Kenton. When he first hit the treadmill, he could only last 15 minutes.

Soon after graduating from Northview High in December, 2003, problems crept up with his girlfriend, his first real love. That spring they broke up, Kenton said, and "that's when I started getting really motivated about the Marines."

"Come back and see us when you can do three pull-ups," the recruiter had told him. Kenton installed a pull-up bar in his room. By autumn last year, he was waiting his turn to ship out to Parris Island for the start of a four-year enlistment.

Any Marine will tell you that, with all due respect, their branch of service ("the few, the proud") is sharper, more demanding, more rigorously trained, and just, well, better than the other branches of the United States military. When Kenton read this passage from Making the Corps, it was like a tuning fork reverberated:

"In a society that seems to have trouble transmitting values, the Marines stand out as [a] successful and healthy institution that unabashedly teaches values to the Beavises and Buttheads of America … The Corps takes kids with weak high school educations and nurtures them so that many can assume positions of honor and respect."

The little boy who once wouldn't release toy soldiers from his slumbering grip is now a young man with a new "USMC" tattoo on the inside of his left forearm. It took nearly two hours, cost $80, and made Lenny mad. When anyone asked to see it, Kenton always extended his arm to make a very tight fist that just happened to flex his new muscles.

Coming as he does from a deeply religious family, a day without prayer is unfathomable to Kenton - yet boot camp was his true conversion experience.

Kenton Dial went to the Marine recruit depot on Parris Island, South Carolina, and it was there that he was truly born again.

On Election Day 2004, Cathy was winding down her day at Wildwood Athletic Club, when her usual water aerobics were cut short by a phone call from Lenny.

"You'd better get home," he advised. "They want Kenton tonight."

He wasn't due at boot camp until after Christmas! He couldn't go tonight. She'd planned the whole holiday season!

On the way home, she did what she always does for comfort. She prayed. And then a kind of inner stillness overtook over her, along with this realization: First, I've taught him all I can; second, he will not be alone.

"You have to let the kite string out," is how she explained it to me, this acknowledgment that, yes, it was time for Kenton to leave home - even if that meant boot camp during wartime.

Lenny, meanwhile, was less certain about his son's departure. Well, stepson, really. But as words go, stepson sorely underestimated Lenny's love for that boy.

He remembered coming home one day - Kenton was 9, it was just a year or so after Lenny and Cathy married - and there were all those photos of Kurt Dial, face down on the boy's bed.

Why, Kenton?

I didn't want to hurt your feelings, Dad.

Pictures of your father will never hurt my feelings. I'm sorry he died, Kenton. But he will always be your father, and I want you to always love him. You know, you can love us both, Kenton. It's OK.

All right, Dad.

"Well, you're not going," Lenny told Kenton after the boy hung up the phone. But even as he said it, Lenny must have known the futility of trying to keep a 20-year-old man home against his will.

When Cathy got home, there was a family discussion - if Kenton would just stay another month at Owens, he could finish out the whole semester! - but no, the boy was going, like it or not.

And so they gathered at the computer to draft the recommended power-of-attorney papers, giving the parents control over every detail of the boy's life, except the details of his departure. The TV droned in the background with presidential election results. It was, Cathy said, "surreal."

Then Kenton ran around town saying goodbye to friends. His parents went upstairs to bed; if they slept at all, it didn't leave them rested. They were up hours before dawn. His mother kept going over what he'd said: "This is like Christmas, Easter, and my birthday all rolled up together!"

That's how bad he wanted it.

"And that's how he got into the Marines," Cathy said. "That night, he was gone."

When the recruiter came calling for Kenton around 3:30 a.m., off he went.

This boy, who couldn't drive a stick shift, was off to become a Marine? This boy, who couldn't make his way to Cedar Point unless Lenny printed directions from Mapquest (and who then complained because he got no directions for the way home), this boy would be trained for war? This boy, who, Cathy once whispered to me in an aside (and really, she prefaced, she shouldn't even be saying it), this boy who didn't really need to shave every morning, this boy would be issued a weapon?

Cathy watched Kenton walk out the front door, get into a government-issue sedan, and, just like that, leave home.

"He never looked back," she marveled. "Not once."

Just a fender-bender, one car tapping the rear end of another at the always-busy intersection of Monroe and Secor. No harm done.

Nevertheless, the flustered man who hit the young married couple's Chevy Citation tripped over himself apologizing.

He was very sorry. But, see, his son was a Marine, and that terrorist suicide bombing they just had over in Beirut - yeah, at least 200 Marines were killed. And his son was over there - oh, no, the boy wasn't in the bombing. But he was so worried about his son. So … preoccupied. Anyway, he was very sorry - especially her being pregnant and all! Was she sure she was OK? Really?

This was October, 1983, before "terrorist" and "suicide bomber" were commonplace words. Cathy liked to joke that Kenton's enlistment can be traced to that moment. She was barely two months along when that man rear-ended her late husband's car, and somehow an invisible USMC bug was transferred deep within her oldest child's soul.

With Kenton shipped out, she empathized even more with the man who so long ago mindlessly bumped into the Dials' car.

"I really have to watch myself now," she said last month, soon after a cop gave her a warning for speeding on King Road. "I totally understand that man now."

None of this is what she planned for Kenton, her "joy boy." She'd been saving for the boy's college education ever since his fourth-grade year. He was supposed to be knocking around some tranquil campus right about now, and she was supposed to be worrying about his grades, about whether he was eating right and getting enough sleep - not about whether his Marine-issue flak jacket is sturdy enough for Iraq.

And the infantry! What was that boy thinking!? What was wrong with being an MP, or maybe a guard at the White House?

"Kenton just for some reason chose infantry. That's the front line! He's an 'assault man.' Some of the stuff I heard from him about boot camp, I just told him, 'Tell your dad. I don't want to know.' "

The Marines see Pfc. Kenton Dial as a well-trained, highly disciplined warrior. His mother sees a dimpled eighth-grader who sobbed so hard when his pet rabbit died that he very nearly choked.

She wasn't sleeping too great. Sometimes she got up extra early and went downstairs. She read her Bible, prayed, wrote in her journal. On Aug. 5, soon after 20 Marines (14 from Ohio) were killed in Iraq, Cathy was beside herself when she picked up her pen at dawn and wrote.

Oh, families of these dear boys whom you now grieve. My heart aches for your loss. I can't imagine your pain. … Pray for your enemies, Jesus said. I can only do this in obedience, God. My head tells me I must, my heart is stony to them.

When Kenton came home last month for a 19-day leave, the clock inside her head counting down his departure ticked so loudly sometimes she couldn't hear herself think.

They had these talks, she and Kenton, these gruesome, necessary, what-if talks. Where would he want to be buried? Aw, mom, whatever's easiest on you. But I wanna be buried in my dress blues! And what if he's wounded? No big deal, Mom. They've got amazing prostheses now.

She wondered: Is he trying to prove something to himself? Is he even realistic about this war? Are any of them, for that matter? He was always such a compliant kid. That's why he's a good grunt, he told her: "I do what they tell me."

Well, he sure didn't do what she and Lenny told him to! They'd tried hard to talk him out of enlisting, especially after Sept. 11. Go to college, they'd said. You can join later - as an officer! You'll go in at a higher rank. You'll make more money. Please, Kenton, just put it off for a while.

Aw, Mom! C'mon, Dad …

"I trust God with all my heart, but I just want to go run and hide," Cathy said. She told me of a few instances when she experienced an inescapable, suffocating sensation of feeling "cornered," and it occurred to me she was describing panic attacks.

And yet the war in Iraq is something Cathy endorses. To her, sending the American military to fight stateless terrorists is not just a step toward global peace - it is the very embodiment of the age-old struggle between good and evil.

"I see this between God and Satan in this world. I believe the Word of God that says Jesus will return - I don't know if it's a thousand years from now, but I believe - and, prior to that return, Satan is going to give it everything he's got. Terrorism feeds into Satan, who I very much believe is alive and at work on this planet."

The Sunday of Labor Day weekend, the whole family took comfort when the pastor at their church, the Cathedral of Praise, called them to the altar. The laying of hands on Kenton, the petition to God for His watchfulness - it gave the family much-welcome peace.

And it made Cathy and Lenny even more determined to work on the new Ministry to Military Families that they're launching at the church. Veterans from earlier wars, current military families - so many of them, Cathy realized, and all so isolated from one another.

She reminded her son that while in Iraq, he would be in the very cradle of civilization, where Moses and Abraham once walked. And while religious conversion should not be part of the military mission, Cathy said, if, on the other hand, the presence of U.S. troops gives the Gospel entry, well, "God loves every single one of them, and He wants them to know His son."

Do such absolutist beliefs, I asked Cathy, maybe give her an oddly sideways insight into Muslim extremism? And, in the face of two sets of absolutes, which prevails?

"Exactly! It's a Holy War! A jihad. I've told Kenton, you're here training to go over there and kill some mother's son, who believes just as strongly and is willing to sacrifice her son. God hears that woman's prayers just like he hears my prayers. In that regard, I have to leave it at what I know from reading my Bible: that Jesus Christ was His one and only son."

She looked at me, smiled, and gave an almost sheepish shrug.

"I know you're sitting there listening to me, thinking, 'She's talking out of both sides of her mouth,' " said Cathy, who worried later she'd come across as a "right-wing wacko."

On the other hand, Cathy DePew refused to pass judgment on Cindy Sheehan - that grieving war mother, Bush protester, and national lightning rod for what pollsters say is growing anti-war sentiment. Indeed, she feels sympathy for that other mother. Empathy, even; Cathy easily appreciated Cindy's point of view.

So, is there maybe more gray than meets the eye in this black-and-white world we create, this world where we try to summarize everything with yellow ribbons?

Like mother, like son, perhaps; Kenton, too, offers sometimes surprising contradictions.

For one thing, the lifelong overweight kid grew to embrace the boot camp motto: Pain is weakness leaving the body.

And, as a prospective recruit impatient for his turn to enter boot camp, he was thrilled to go to the Sports Arena last October for a Pearl Jam concert - part of the "Vote for Change" tour in which lead singer Eddie Vedder personally appealed to his fans to turn a war-mongering George Bush out of office.

The Marine warrior who's proud to be in Iraq hates Arnold Schwarzenegger-style action movies. Not for him, automatic weapons and huge explosions. He'd rather watch The Big Lebowski, American Beauty, and "21 Grams, have you ever seen that? I love that! Such a beautiful, emotional movie. That's what I'm big on: human emotions."

He was the gung-ho recruit who wrote fretful letters home from boot camp, worried about keeping his "Christian values" in an environment that, as he later described it to me, placed "a lot of emphasis on killing people, and just, you know, slaughtering, and just being a murderer, and a cold-blooded killer and everything like that."

But the "boot" Marine now on patrol in Iraq expects it will be easy to kill: "I definitely think it's going to be instinct. If I walk into a room and someone's holding a rifle, I'm just going to shoot him. I mean, that's just how it is."

Yet when I asked this Marine which scared him more, getting killed or getting wounded, he said: "I'm more afraid of making a mistake, of pulling the trigger when it didn't have to be pulled, or not pulling the trigger when it should have been pulled. That's what I'm most afraid of."

He's a pro-war Marine who reported nearly paralyzing ambivalence about the last presidential election. "When Bush was up for re-election, I definitely considered voting for Kerry," he said. "I think Bush handled the first part [after Sept. 11, but before the Iraqi invasion] pretty well. Don't get me wrong. There was a lot of BS and a lot of shadiness, saying 'mission accomplished' and it's gotten worse. But the way I rationalize it, Washington will never be a straight place, and if you think that way, you're naive."

The Marine who trained last month for desert conditions at Camp Wilson (in the Marine Corps' Twentynine Palms combat center in California's Mojave Desert) spent his free time there reading the Bible. But he also reported great "respect" for Islam: "Anyone who prays five times a day, who will stop what they're doing and take time to pray - [at] Camp Wilson, they played Islamic prayers over loudspeakers. I'd never heard that before. I think it's very musical, very soothing. That's kind of a bad thing, in a sense, because I paid a little too much attention to that, instead of maybe watching what I was supposed to."

During his leave last month, Kenton was forced to distill both Operation Iraqi Freedom and many of his personal beliefs into language easy enough for school children to grasp. His mother asked him to put on his uniform and visit Katelyn's classroom, and while he complained that he didn't want to be anyone's show-and-tell, he did it, anyway. Afterward, he admitted enjoying the kids' questions.

Why are we at war?

"There's this evil guy named Saddam, and he pretty much took all their money away from them. After a while, we just got fed up with it. We're just trying to make it so they can have it like we have it over here."

Was boot camp fun?

"There's some fun times. Anybody know what paint-balling is? There's a lotta training with paint ball, so it's a lotta fun."

Where are you going?

"We're going to a place called Fallujah. I don't even know where Fallujah is, but that's where I'm going to stay. Where I'm going - I'm not sure how big it is, but it's a big city - and the area where we're going is, like, the slums."

What are you going to do there?

"We're going basically to keep the peace."

How long has the war been going on?

"That's a good question. I don't really know that."

Are you scared?

"I'm a little scared. Yeah, I'm a little scared. But we trained hard. We're definitely ready. We definitely want to do this."

As the airport began to hum with life, it was Cathy who said it first: "Well, Kenton, maybe you should …"

Her voice trailed off, but they all promptly rose from the row of chairs. It was time to send the boy off.

Maybe we've seen too many stylized World War II movies or something. But when we send 'em off to war now, there's no crowd scene of jubilant well-wishers down at the old hometown train depot. When we send 'em off to war now, it's just a small knot of people in a close embrace, standing off to the side of a wide airport hallway, utterly unnoticed by hurried people passing by.

"It's just seven months, you know," Kenton chided his mother. "I'm coming back, you know."

A pause, and then those dimples appeared, along with Kenton's trademark devilish humor: "Just remember to go to church. And, don't do drugs. Whatever you do, Mom, don't do drugs."

The tension broken, everyone laughed. It was the breathy laughter of anxious people, but it was laughter nevertheless.

Hugs. Kisses. More hugs.

And then Kenton walked away.

He passed uneventfully through the metal detectors. He joined a growing line of people, where he fiddled with the earbuds of his iPod. I do not need to report that Cathy and Lenny fought tears, and that one of them was more successful than the other, but only just barely.

But I will tell you this: This time when Kenton Dial left home, before he disappeared around the corner on his way to Gate A6 and beyond, this time he looked back.

Contact Roberta de Boer at: [email protected]
or 419-724-6086.

Marine pick sez age before duty

The Marines have offered Lucie Wood Saunders the chance to be all that she could be and become "one of America's elite warriors."

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/local/story/349552p-298239c.html

NEWS WIRE SERVICES

The Marines have offered Lucie Wood Saunders the chance to be all that she could be and become "one of America's elite warriors."

Saunders isn't sure she's up to the challenge. She's 77 years old.

"I love the image of me doing pushups," said Saunders, the retired head Lehman College's anthropology department.

The Marines tried to recruit Saunders, who lives in Upper Nyack, because they are looking for a few good men and women with Arabic language skills.

Saunders said she did anthropology fieldwork in Egypt more than 40 years ago and learned enough Arabic to "order something simple" at a restaurant.

Similar letters signed by Marine Brig. Gen. W.E. Gaskin were accidentally mailed earlier this month to 105,000 people who should have been eliminated because of their age.

"We've taken full responsibility for this," said Jay Cronin, a management director for the Atlanta office of J. Walter Thompson, the advertising agency that has handled the Marine Corps' recruiting account for the last 58 years. "The taxpayers and the Marines won't be charged."

"We worked through a subcontractor and told them to give us the universe of Arab language speakers," Cronin said.

"There were a couple of 70-year-olds, one in North Carolina and one in Tampa, who called and said they were happy to help," Cronin said.

The maximum age for a military enlistee is 35.

Originally published on September 25, 2005

Pfc. Ramon Romero, 19, remembered for 'decisive character'

LOS ANGELES Friends and family are mourning a Marine from Los Angeles who was killed in Iraq

http://www.kesq.com/Global/story.asp?S=3895311&nav;=9qrx

LOSANGELES Friends and family are mourning a Marine from Los Angeles who was killed in Iraq.
Nineteen-year-old private first class Ramon Romero died August 22nd when a roadside bomb went off near his military vehicle in Fallouja.

Romero, a graduate of Huntington Park High School, wanted to study criminology and become a police officer after leaving the military. His mother, Maria Romero, said her son became interested in law enforcement because his family used to live in Watts and were routinely burglarized.

Maria Romero said that Ramon would call home almost every day and she would sleep with the telephone on the side of her pillow so she wouldn't miss his calls.

Ramon Romero was buried with full military honors August 30th at Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier. He also is survived by his father, Juan, a 17-year-old brother, Bernardo, and a 16-year-old sister, Yajaira.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Honors at last to fallen Marine

FOXBORO -- It was a day they waited almost 40 years for -- to welcome home and bury their brother and friend.

http://www.thesunchronicle.com/articles/2005/09/25/city/city1.txt

FOXBORO -- It was a day they waited almost 40 years for -- to welcome home and bury their brother and friend.

And on Saturday, as hundreds lined the street, waving flags and saluting the funeral procession, family and friends laid a fallen Marine to rest under a tree, next to his parents, during a somber and emotion-filled morning.
It was the funeral that Marine Lance Cpl. Joseph Cook should have had when he died in combat on May 10, 1968, at age 19, during the Vietnam War on Mother's Day weekend.

Cook's mother and father did not live to see their son come home, but family members who attended Saturday's service were able, finally, to have what many families of those who go Missing in Action may never have -- the peace of mind that comes with knowing what happened.

Ft. Collins, Colo., native “cleared hot” in Iraq

HIT, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- As insurgents continue to launch attacks on multinational forces, Marines continue to beat them back using every means possible to include close air support. (4th RECON attached to 3/25)

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/B84FA89DACB521BF8525708700420848?opendocument

Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 20059258114
Story by Cpl. Ken Melton

HIT, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- As insurgents continue to launch attacks on multinational forces, Marines continue to beat them back using every means possible to include close air support.

While calling in air strikes on targets may seem like something out of a movie, for Sgt. Aaron J. Maxwell, a tactical air control party chief, it is his life.

Maxwell, a member of Albuquerque, N.M.’s 4th Reconnaissance Battalion, has helped fight the insurgency while working with 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment by making sure the ground troops have an ‘eye in the sky.’

“If something happens to the squad and they need a clear route back to their base we can help them,” said the Ft. Collins, Colo., native.

Besides helping with patrol routes, he also calls in for shows of military force, keeps track of the air schedule and stays in direct contact with any aircraft assigned to the unit. This allows him to point out friendly troops and suspicious areas in the city to the aircraft overhead.

If an air strike is required, he considers the bombs destructive force to avoid collateral damages, proportionality and positive identification, before "clearing hot" to use the ordnance.

Recently he played a pivotal part in the surveillance of a car bomb and the extraction of the Marines it separated.

“We were looking for any targets and giving out all the friendly positions when we noticed a vehicle on a bridge. It exploded right after,” the 22-year-old said. “Soon after that we received word that Marines were on other side of the bridge, so we scrambled to extract them. The helicopters gave them cover until they could be extracted.

“It felt good to have a chance to help save those Marines’ lives.”

While he often calls in the bombs and some casualty evacuations for Multi-National Force members, he has even had to call in for an evacuation of an insurgent.

“We received information from our tip line of a man having a VBIED (vehicle-borne improvised explosive device) and when we got there he was still setting it up so they engaged him,” the 2001 graduate of Los Lunas High School in N.M. said. “They had wounded him and he surrendered so they had to call in for medical attention for him.

“It felt awkward helping someone who was trying to kill us, but we had accomplished our mission and could not let someone suffer after they were defeated. That’s what separates us from them.”

Maxwell even helped navigate a squad to an insurgent’s house after one of their forward operation bases took fire.

“After they were attacked, I contacted a section of F-18s who were running ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) in the area and gave them the description of the vehicle and the direction they were heading. They found a vehicle that matched the description and followed it to a house,” Maxwell said. “Then I gave the information to the watch officer and requested a squad to check out the house. The air units continued to survey the house until the squad arrived.”

After searching the house, they ran a gun residue test on the men inside. They detained two men who tested positive. Another great example of how air and ground work together to accomplish the mission.

Since this past spring, his job as being “the link between the ground and the air” has enabled him to travel all over the Al Anbar province helping saves lives and fight the insurgency.

His versatile job allowed him to work with all different types of jobs and people, something he says he will never forget. As he is always ready for his next mission, he looks forward to one more…the journey home.

“After I found out I was deploying this year, I set two goals for myself. First was to leave Iraq knowing that I did my best to complete my mission,” he paused smiling. “The other is to take my favorite actress, Elisha Cuthbert, to my Marine Corps Ball. However, I am happy knowing that I did my job damaging the insurgency and helping save Marines’ lives.”


Ward, Ark. native doubles up in Iraq

CAMP KOREAN VILLAGE, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- After re-enlisting into a new job field in the Marine Corps, Cpl. Ebern H. Wiley deployed to Iraq where he found himself not only working as a mechanic but also filling a billet from his old field.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/0EBD4B6C2F1E31EA85257087003E4029?opendocument

Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 200592571956
Story by Lance Cpl. Zachary W. Lester

CAMP KOREAN VILLAGE, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- After re-enlisting into a new job field in the Marine Corps, Cpl. Ebern H. Wiley deployed to Iraq where he found himself not only working as a mechanic but also filling a billet from his old field.

Wiley, a light armored vehicle mechanic with Maintenance Platoon, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, works to repair the battalion’s LAVs and also plays a part in the base’s corrections facility.

As a mechanic, the 26-year-old Marine puts new engines and transmissions in the LAVs and he also runs the parts storage facility that houses all of the parts for the vehicles.

“I make sure all the parts are serialized and in the computer, so they are easy to find. I make sure everyone gets the parts that they need,” Wiley stated.

As a corrections Marine in Iraq, the Ward, Ark., native handles the detainees that are brought to the camp from the surrounding areas.

“I’ve handled over 300 detainees. I also make sure that my guys are following the rules to keep them out of trouble,” Wiley explained. “I also ensure that all the paper work is in order.”

He is also responsible for the well-being of the detainees.

“I make sure the detainees are following the rules and regulations that they are supposed to follow, and I make sure that they are kept clean and have food and water,” he said.

Wiley switched to a career in mechanics after completing his first enlistment as a corrections Marine.

“I started looking around to see what different jobs I could do,” he said. “Most of my jobs before I joined the military had something to do with mechanics. I decided to work on LAVs.”

The Cabot High School graduate was a diesel mechanic before joining the Marine Corps and was used to doing small engine repairs.

“It was a lot different. I had to get a lot more in-depth into the engine. Doing this allowed me to get more experience in something that I was always curious about,” he stated.

Even though Wiley is working in two jobs during his first deployment to Iraq, he feels he is making more a difference here than he did back in States.

“Working out here is completely different than back home,” Wiley explained. “Back there you are watching over other military members that have done something wrong. Out here you feel like you are doing more and making a difference.” Wiley said.


New marksmanship training on Okinawa sets sights on combat readiness


CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan(Sept. 25, 2005) -- Marines scheduled for the rifle range will see big changes to the marksmanship training program beginning Oct. 1.

http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/B05709639610DD9685257088001D1BE6?opendocument
Submitted by:
MCB Camp Butler
Story by:
Computed Name: Cpl. Jennifer L. Brown
Story Identification #:
200592611756

CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan(Sept. 25, 2005) -- Marines scheduled for the rifle range will see big changes to the marksmanship training program beginning Oct. 1.

Fiscal year 2006 will be used as a test model to improve the marksmanship training program, according to Chief Warrant Officer 2 Martin W. Dankanich, officer in charge of the Camp Hansen Known Distance course.

Shooters will now fire the Known Distance course the Corps uses in recruit training. However, the three phases of marksmanship training have been modified into what are now called four tables.

Table I is basic rifle qualification, Table II is basic combat marksmanship, Table III is intermediate combat marksmanship and Table IV is advanced combat marksmanship.

During Table I, Monday and Tuesday will be preparatory days, and Wednesday will be qualification day, with no exceptions for qualifying early.

“Although we have taken a day away from qualification, we have compensated by adding additional rounds,” Dankanich said. “Shooters will receive five extra rounds at the 200-yard, slow fire and can use them in whichever positions they choose.”

Shooters will fire 90 rounds during tri-fire Monday, 80 rounds Tuesday and 50 rounds Wednesday.
Scoring will also be converted from a 0-65 point method to a system in which shooters can score a maximum 250 points.

“Originally, there was to be a conversion chart since (the two recruit depots) and The Basic School at Quantico were the only duty stations using the three-digit system,” Dankanich said. “Now the Marine Corps has enabled the rest of the Marine Corps to use the three-digit scoring system.”

Shooters must score 190-209 to qualify as a marksman, between 210-219 for sharp shooter, and 220-250 for expert.

Thursday is an introduction to Table II, basic combat marksmanship. There will be a three-hour period of instruction consisting of classroom time and dry fire, and shooters will practice basic combat marksmanship.

Table II consists of shooting multiple targets with limited exposure from a 25-yard distance, vice 300 yards, with a much faster firing time limit. Shooters will go through the stages of fire and walk down the 25-yard range with a condition one weapons and score their own targets, he added.

“Safety must be on (the shooters’) minds at all times,” Dankanich said. “We are training them to think and be aware because that is exactly what we would ask them to do if we sent them to Iraq.”

With the new basic combat marksmanship training, how well the shooters perform will affect their overall score. If a shooter fails Table II, his score will fall to the minimum marksmanship level.

“During the old field fire phase, Marines got nothing out of it but dirty weapons,” Dankanich said. “With basic combat marksmanship, if a shooter does well, there is no increase in his score, but shooters must pass in order to keep their score.”

Tables III and IV are exercised as required by individual units, Dankanich explained.
“We have implemented Tables III and IV into the marksmanship training package, but it will only be required for specific units,” Dankanich said.

Table III includes gas masks and unknown distance night fire, and Table IV is used to enhance the professional marksmanship training program.

With the new range requirements and transitions, Marines will now have to think about their skill level and decide with the coaches how to increase their proficiency, Dankanich said.
“Marines are smart,” he stated, “It’s about time we’ve given them the opportunity to think for themselves in rifle training.”

In addition to the changes in the Known Distance course, improvements have also been made in the sitting, kneeling and standing positions to help increase the shooters’ proficiency and give them greater flexibility.

“We are trying to get away from concentrating on score,” Dankanich said. “Our focus now is more on proficiency. While in a shooting position, a Marine can modify to compensate for his own handicap. The individual’s positioning will be determined between the shooter and the coach.”

Shooters will be allowed to place their forward hand on the slip ring and use their choice of slings, as well as shoot with any rifle in the M16 or M4 families.

I think the changes are good,” said Sgt. Jerome W. McCray, an assistant commanding general’s driver with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron-1, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing. “I’m looking forward to finding positions that will help me shoot better.”

“We now have a program that can be tailored to Marines’ basic needs,” Dankanich said. “The Marines are going to enjoy it and look forward to doing it again and again.”

Dearborn Marine's team engineers new ways to help Iraq

FALLUJAH, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- Give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime. That's a philosophy Marines like Cpl. Mike Goebel take to heart.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/F0547D22379C5826852570870040CD41?opendocument

Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 200592574748
Story by Cpl. Mike Escobar

FALLUJAH, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- Give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime. That's a philosophy Marines like Cpl. Mike Goebel take to heart.

As a Marine with 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, his job was to help rebuild and secure the area; now, his efforts have shifted to helping the nation's own security forces take charge of this daunting task.

On Sept. 5, the 24-year-old Dearborn, Mich. native and his fellow Marines took another step toward reaching their long-term goal. Armed with shovels, spools of wire and a bulldozer, 2nd Platoon, Company A, 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion personnel erected a new observation post, or OP, along the Euphrates River from which the Iraqi soldiers will look out for terrorist activity.

Goebel and the Marines plowed down the soldiers' old post and built a better, more fortified one. OP Kilpela, named after one of the unit's engineers who was killed this past June during an improvised explosive device's blast, provides the troops better visibility and protection as they scan the nearby streets and the riverbed's surrounding farm fields.

"The Iraqi soldiers’ old post wasn't elevated or very stable," stated Goebel, who first honed his engineering skills while working as a foreman for a waterproofing company. "We built them this hardened bunker so they can be secure against attacks as they look out at the rooftops and the fields."

In addition to its height, OP Kilpela offers soldiers layers of protection from some of the worst threats here: small arms fire and vehicle-borne IEDs.

According to Gunnery Sgt. David Dickens, 2nd Platoon's staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge, OP Kilpela's location has seen a substantial amount of insurgent activity.

The road running parallel to the Euphrates has been the site for numerous IED attacks on military convoys. It is surrounded by marketplaces and numerous side streets, which provide insurgents a variety of hiding spots, Dickens said.

The heaps of rubble and garbage that litter the riverbed also provide terrorists convenient spots in which to conceal IEDs. In the past, 2nd Platoon personnel have posted signs asking citizens not to dump garbage there by making them aware of the roadside bomb threat. The construction of OP Kilpela is their latest effort to help their Iraqi counterparts quell terrorist activity here.

The engineers spent approximately five hours erecting this post. The Iraqi soldiers will continue fortifying it by stretching protective wire around the perimeter and placing sandbags atop the guardhouse.

Although they toiled underneath the blazing summer sun, Goebel said he and the Marines were motivated to know that their hard labor is preparing the local soldiers to better take charge of their nation's security.

"In the long run, the small things we do, like building this OP, will give the Iraqis increased confidence to take on…this area's security," he stated.

ISF soldiers get Rules of Engagement training at Camp Ripper

CAMP RIPPER, AL ASAD, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- The reconnaissance company of the 7th Iraqi Battalion recently received a rules of engagement class from Maj. Michael E. Sayegh in the effort to provide security and stability to their country. (RCT 2)

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/D6982BC228A71FDA852570870045D9AB?opendocument
Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 200592584257
Story by Cpl. Ken Melton

CAMP RIPPER, AL ASAD, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- The reconnaissance company of the 7th Iraqi Battalion recently received a rules of engagement class from Maj. Michael E. Sayegh in the effort to provide security and stability to their country.

“They were very attentive and inquisitive during the period of instruction,” said Sayegh, Regimental Combat Team-2’s judge advocate. Sayegh’s job consists of providing legal guidance for the commanding officer in regards to operational law, rules of engagement, the use of force, war crime investigations and detention operations.

Because of his expertise, Sayegh was tasked with providing Iraqi Security Force soldiers with a rules of engagement class that was comprehensive and easily understood.

“My Marine, the translator, and myself conducted the sustainment training,” said the 1994 Seton Hall University graduate. “We handed out laminated rules of engagement cards in Arabic and explained everything as we would to our own Marines.

“We covered rules governing the use of deadly force, proper handling of detainees and to overall maintain their dignity by removing themselves from potentially dangerous positions.”

Second Marine Division provided the materials that Sayegh and his Marines at RCT-2 converted into material that the Iraqi soldiers could easily and quickly understand.

“We wanted the Iraqis to be able to understand the use of deadly force in accordance to the Laws of War,” said the Jacksonville, N.C. native. “By the end of the class, they all understood what was presented to them and they will apply it if the next mission calls for it.”

22nd MEU underway for final predeployment exercise

ABOARD THE USS NASSAU (Sept. 25, 2005) -- The Marines and Sailors of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) recently boarded the amphibious assault ships of the Nassau Strike Group for their Certification Exercise (CERTEX).

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/B7EAE6A64D48BDAA85257087005C35D5?opendocument

Submitted by: 22nd MEU
Story Identification #: 2005925124710
Story by Cpl. Christopher S. Vega

ABOARD THE USS NASSAU (Sept. 25, 2005) -- The Marines and Sailors of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) recently boarded the amphibious assault ships of the Nassau Strike Group for their Certification Exercise (CERTEX).

CERTEX, formerly known as the Special Operations Capable Exercise, or SOCEX, is the culminating event of the MEU’s pre-deployment training.

“I’m glad the training is almost finished,” said Cpl. Ernesto A. Holguin, of Huntington Park, Calif., a wireman for the MEU Command Element. “I am ready to deploy.”

CERTEX tests the MEU's Marines and Sailors ability to rapidly respond to a variety of situations and missions they may face during the unit’s upcoming deployment. If the MEU is successful, it will be designated as “Special Operations Capable” (SOC).

“During this training exercise, there is no room for mistakes,” said Lance Cpl. Phillip Ramirez, a Jacksonville, Fla., native serving with Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 2nd Marine’s 81-mm mortar platoon. “This will make a big difference in the type of missions we can take on during our deployment.”

In addition to its Command Element and BLT 1/2 the 22nd MEU consist of its Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261 (Reinforced) and MEU Service Support Group 22. The MEU and the Nassau Strike Group are scheduled to deploy later this year as Expeditionary Strike Group 8, which consists of a landing force, three amphibious assault ships, two destroyers, a cruiser and a fast-attack submarine.

For more information on the 22nd MEU, visit the unit’s web site at http://www.22meu.usmc.mil.


MPs stay step ahead of insurgency’s efforts

CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq (Sept. 22, 2005) -- “Is everybody in condition one?”

“Yes sergeant!”

“Alright, let’s move.”

CLR25 2nd FSSG

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/AC4C3BC5F096D64985257087004A8C1B?opendocument

Submitted by: 2nd Force Service Support Group
Story Identification #: 200592593415
Story by Sgt. Josh H. Hauser

CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq (Sept. 22, 2005) -- “Is everybody in condition one?”

“Yes sergeant!”

“Alright, let’s move.”

And with that simple exchange the Marines of Alpha Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 25, 2nd Force Service Support Group (Forward), roll past the final entry control point of Camp Taqaddum for yet another security patrol on Iraq’s dangerous and sometimes deadly roadways.

These Marines are tasked with traveling and clearing the various routes surrounding Taqaddum and searching for improvised explosive devices, insurgents and any suspicious activity.

Sergeant Kevin E. Brock, 3rd platoon squad leader, has been on these missions before. He’s currently on his second tour here. His experience extends back to a seven-month tour he pulled here a year ago. With no Little Tennessee River or rolling hills of lush, green forest, the Iraqi desert is a far cry from the Monroe County, Tenn., native’s roots. Instead of a glimpse of the Appalachian Mountains to the west, Brock’s senses take in a much different landscape: one littered with sand, garbage and the constant threat of danger on the horizon.

“You got a vehicle on the right,” Brock yells to his gunner and then again into the radio for the rest of the convoy.

The vehicle is stopped a safe distance from an upcoming intersection and waiting for the patrol to pass before proceeding.

“Most vehicles will pull off the road when they see us coming,” Brock says. “The ones that don’t are usually the VBIEDS [vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices].”

The patrol continues on to the first of many checkpoints. Finally, the military police come to a halt.

Brock’s driver, Lance Cpl. Joseph J. Clinton, peers through the vehicles bulletproof glass for any signs of danger before stepping out. Clinton, Brock and the rest of the patrol dismount and search the area for any unusual objects, a difficult task with the large amount of trash lying about. Clinton, a military policeman and 20-year-old Phoenix native, is the fifth generation of his family to serve the United States in a time of war and commented that spotting danger in Iraq is a constant learning experience.

“I ask questions,” Clinton says pointedly. “It’s important to have someone like Sergeant Brock to learn from and help mold your senses. You get to the point where you notice if something is unusual or just doesn’t seem right.”

After scouring the area, their search turns up nothing but a beetle which hurries from their footsteps as they return to their vehicles. The Marines mount up and continue on down a desolate stretch of road. As they proceed to the next checkpoint, Brock tries to describe the knack he has developed for seeing what most people would consider nothing.

“I don’t know how to explain it,” Brock says, referring to the task of searching for IEDs. “You just get to know what you’re looking for.”

The Marines take in everything around them, constantly communicating and looking for trouble.

“You notice something different today Clinton?,” Brock quizzes his driver.

“Traffic’s not as busy today, sergeant,” he replied.

Even the volume of traffic is a noted sign that trouble could be just around the bend.
The Marines repeat the process at the next checkpoint. This time Brock’s gunner shouts, “Three Iraqi males in a black Ford Taurus, sergeant; they’re being checked.”

After a few moments, the gunner yells, “They’ve been searched and let go, sergeant.”

“Alright. Let’s go,” Brock shouts to Clinton.

“We have good gunners,” Brock said. “They’re about the busiest guys on the convoy.”

Private First Class Chris L. Clark is the gunner aboard Brock’s vehicle. He stands for the entire patrol, his head just barely breaching the top of the turret, a Browning M2 .50-caliber machine gun at his fingertips. His eyes continuously scan the roadsides and horizon for movement and ensures the distance between the convoy’s vehicles doesn’t change without his knowing. He knows the reality of his situation.

“When I’m up there I see threats,” the 22-year-old Cape Coral, Fla., native said. “There are people out here who want to kill me and my fellow Marines. You’re always in a combat zone, even when you’re sleeping in your rack. Anything can happen.”

Even still, Clark hopes to return to Iraq after his tour is complete in order to pass his knowledge on to future military policeman deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“This is what I joined the Marines to do,” he said. “I want to come back and be the experienced guy. It’s a good feeling.”

After reaching and clearing the final checkpoint the Marines head back to base, their mission complete only after everyone returns safely. Today they found no IED’s and the roads are clear, no cause for alarm, but that doesn’t change their dedicated vigilance.

“Some days are busy, some days are slow,” Brock says. “But you gotta’ treat every day like it’s busy. Because the day you don’t is the day they get you.”

Stranded squad fights way to extraction point

HIT, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- While on a routine patrol pushing out from their field operation bases here, a squad of Marines with 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment faced a dire situation.


Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 200592595535
Story by Cpl. Ken Melton

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/38AC7249130A57B985257087004C8051?opendocument

HIT, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- While on a routine patrol pushing out from their field operation bases here, a squad of Marines with 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment faced a dire situation.

Fourth Squad, 3rd Platoon, Company I, found themselves stranded from the rest of their battalion when an insurgent’s car bomb damaged a bridge blocking their passage back to the nearest firm base.

The Marines were on routine operation when things began to turn chaotic within a matter of minutes.

“We were on the east side of the river preparing to patrol back to the FOB when we heard huge explosions and a volley of fire,” said Galion, Ohio, native, Cpl. Robert G. Dockstader, a 34-year fireteam leader with the squad. “We got word over the radio that our FOB was under attack from the same side of the river we were on.”

The squad, in an effort to flank the enemy and relieve the FOB, proceeded through a palm grove along the river toward the insurgents.

“It was like a scene from a movie moving along the brush like that,” said Lance Cpl. Thomas O. Calamita, a 19-year-old infantryman and Cheektowaga, N.Y., native. “We could hear the fire from ahead of us so we began to close in on them.”

As they closed in on a house, they could see the friendly fire coming from the other side of the river.

“We were moving slowly when I heard something whiz past and I hit the deck,” said Lance Cpl. Brandon L. Keene, a 23-year-old radio operator and Hamilton, Ohio native. “We pulled back into a better position and began to engage them by doing fire and movement actions.”

After the insurgent threat was eliminated, the Marines signaled the FOB across the river to let them know where their position was. As they began to move back toward the bridge, they saw a vehicle sitting in the middle.

“We knew it was an SVBIED because of the way it was positioned and when we re-established communication with the FOB they confirmed our beliefs,” said Lance Cpl. David A. Burns, a 23-year-old Greenville, Penn., native and infantryman. “They began engaging the vehicle while we moved toward the traffic circle in the nearest neighborhood.”

Upon approaching the usually busy traffic circle, they noticed no one was around and some shop doors open. They were setting up a position to wait for directions from the FOB when they began taking fire from the surrounding buildings.

Helicopter support soon arrived and flew low to provide them with as much supporting fire as possible.

“When we reached the house, an explosion came from the direction of the palm groves,” said Pfc. Macan J. McBurney, a 26-year-old Austin, Texas native and infantryman. “A few minutes later, we heard a huge explosion and knew that the SVBIED had exploded.”

Once again, they began to move through the hostile area to secure a landing site for their extraction. Before long they boarded the helicopter and breathed a sigh of relief as they reflected on what had just happened.

“We realized that everything we learned in SOI (School of Infantry) we had done in one day,” said a smiling Cpl. Eric R. Hamilton, a 24-year-old Bemus Point, N.Y. native and fireteam leader. “As dangerous as that was, we were all excited by the fact that we got a chance to use all of our training and lived to tell about it.”

Upon their return to Camp Hit, they heard about all the attacks and how little effect it had on them.

“For a huge coordinated attack they failed horribly,” said Calamita, a 2004 McKinley High School graduate. “No Marines died and those that were injured either will or have returned to the fight.”

“We ambushed their position and they failed to hurt anyone with two explosives,” Keene, a 2000 Hamilton High School graduate said. “The only thing they accomplished is keeping our skills sharp and our willingness to fight up.”


Company I responds to SVBIED attack

HIT, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- “Incoming, SVBIED!” is the last thing Marines remember hearing before a huge explosion rocked the building. (3/25 I co.)

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/7721ECC22313FA1E85257087004DAA71?opendocument
Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 200592510819
Story by Cpl. Ken Melton

HIT, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- “Incoming, SVBIED!” is the last thing Marines remember hearing before a huge explosion rocked the building.

The Marines suddenly found themselves picking themselves up off the floor and scrambling for gear as the world around them became engulfed in dust, debris and machine gun fire.

Company I, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment reacted to the unprovoked attack without hesitation and quickly laid down fire that sent their attackers fleeing.

“I was on rooftop security when a rocket flew over the top of our position,” said Lance Cpl. Eric A. Hults, a native of Potsdam, N.Y. and a fire team leader with 1st Platoon. “I looked down, saw a vehicle speeding toward us and went to an attack position to engage it when I realized the main guns were not firing,” he continued.

“The .50 cal had jammed and I did not have time to perform an immediate action check, so I grabbed my SAW (squad automatic weapon) and opened fire,” explained 23-year-old Lance Cpl. Christopher J. Marchewka, an Alden, N.Y., native. “It all happened so fast, it felt like something from a movie and then it exploded.”

Inside the building, two floors beneath them Marines from 2nd Platoon were getting ready to conduct a patrol when they heard the warning yell and machine gun fire. A few ran to fighting positions at the end of the hallway while others geared up and prepared for the worst.

“I saw the vehicle approaching and that our .50 cal was not firing,” said Rochester, N.Y., native, Lance Cpl. Christopher W. Simpson, an infantryman with 2nd Platoon. “I was able to get a couple of rounds off before I saw the yellow flash of the explosion.”

“The next thing I remember was looking at the ceiling and wondering if everyone was alright,” said Cpl. Joseph J. Dougherty, 26, a fireteam leader with 2nd platoon and Angola, N.Y. native. “We were all knocked unconscious for a minute, and when we woke up, all we heard was gunfire so we got up and got back in the fight.”

Marines took fighting positions behind sandbags and engaged the numerous enemies that had taken up positions in the surrounding buildings. Some insurgents were on rooftops were they could observe the battle through binoculars.

“I saw an observer and engaged him,” said Dougherty, a 1999 graduate of Lake Shore Central High School. “Then I realized I was barefoot in my flak and helmet. I held my position until someone else came and then I went and retrieved the rest of my gear.”

Dougherty was not alone in this action, as many Marines rushed to fighting positions with minimum gear knowing that every minute they were not firing could mean their defeat or the death of another Marine.

“I woke up on my back with debris all around me and saw that more than two dozen Marines had rushed to our aid and had taken fighting positions,” said Hults, a 2000 Alden High School graduate. “It felt really good to see them up there.”

“It was like a long blink in time, I don’t remember hearing the explosion, but I remember the heat on my face,” said Marchewka, a 2001 Chittenango High School graduate. “One minute there’s a truck, the next there is just a crater. It was like a nightmare.”

Combat lifesavers and corpsmen began a casualty collection point and other Marines were dispensing ammunition.

As others rushed from floor to floor checking on their Marines to see if they needed ammunition, Dougherty and others had begun to bring out their explosive ammunition.

“I grabbed some high explosive rounds for my M-203 and returned to a previous fighting position,” said Dougherty, a sophomore at Eerie Community College.

Remaining vigilant, the Marines began to assess the situation taking in account the damage and their wounded. A temporary aid station was set up in an adjacent room to the heavily damaged field aid station.

Engineers arrived within the hour and began refortifying the base, while the corpsmen treated numerous casualties even with all their equipment destroyed.

Marines, even those who were injured, began to help clean up and fix things that were broken. By day’s end the main defenses were repaired, all the injured were medevaced and the Marines were still in a fighting mood.

“All of our training paid off and everyone clicked. The corpsmen, the ISF soldiers, the Army Soldiers and the Marines,” said Simpson, a 1997 Pittsford Mendon High School and 2002 West Virginia University graduate said. “No one rested and everyone did more than their part during and after the attack. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.”


CMC, SMMC visit warriors on front

AL ASAD, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- General Michael Hagee, 33rd Commandant of the Marine Corps, and Sgt. Maj. John L. Estrada, 15th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, visited Al Asad, Iraq, Sept. 25.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/1AC82DA7C3811C8285257089002E8EFB?opendocument

Submitted by: 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing
Story Identification #: 200592742832
Story by Cpl. James D. Hamel

AL ASAD, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- General Michael Hagee, 33rd Commandant of the Marine Corps, and Sgt. Maj. John L. Estrada, 15th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, visited Al Asad, Iraq, Sept. 25.

The two leaders’ visit brought them to other Marine Corps installations throughout the Al Anbar province, as they checked on their Marines fighting the War on Terror.

After arriving in Al Asad, the two ate an early morning breakfast with Marines chosen different units within the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Fwd). At the end of the breakfast, Estrada announced and recognized the 2nd MAW (Fwd), “Marine of the Quarter.”

Corporal James F. Aguilar, the Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 2 noncommissioned officer of the quarter and Camden, NJ, native, said the breakfast offered a unique opportunity to pick the brain of the most senior Marine in the Corps.

“It was interesting to sit there and hear his thoughts about the Marine Corps and Iraq,” he said. “Having him ask us what we thought was pretty cool. It’s pretty humbling sitting across from all those stars.”

After leaving the dining facility, Hagee and Estrada presided over a town hall meeting for Marines and Sailors from Al Asad.

“Anytime I get to come to (this area of responsibility), it is the highlight of my time as Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps,” Estrada told the assembled crowd. “This is where you all are doing Marine Corps things. This is why you signed up.”

Estrada thanked those who had served multiple tours in Iraq, and thanked the leaders of Marines especially.

“I always say this, the Marines of today are better than ever,” he said. “(Even war veterans) look at you as setting a new standard.”

The commandant asked the Marines how they were doing, and they replied in unison, “Ooh-Rah.”
“That’s right,” he told them. “You’re right, you all are doing well. I’m really proud of you.”

The commandant fielded questions about the future of Marine Corps’ aviation assets, including the CH-46 and MV-22 osprey.

Hagee also told the Marines that when he meets leaders from other military services, they always compliment the quality of individual Marines.

“They tell me one thing, ‘we want to be just like you,’” he said. “You all set the professional standard for the warrior class.”

Nonstop war duty tests Marines

KANE'OHE BAY — Less than four months ago, Lt. Col. Norm Cooling and his 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines were getting ready to leave Afghanistan after a seven-month deployment.
(includes 3/3 and 1/3)

Nonstop war duty tests Marines

By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer


http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2005/Sep/25/ln/FP509250341.html

KANE'OHE BAY — Less than four months ago, Lt. Col. Norm Cooling and his 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines were getting ready to leave Afghanistan after a seven-month deployment.

Many of the 1,000 Hawai'i Marines humped heavy loads through remote mountain valleys, camping for days on patrols.

Parts of Paktia Province fell to 20 below zero, and one 3/3 company operated practically in arctic conditions at 11,000 feet.

Their reward should have been seven months' "stabilization" in Hawai'i. Instead, they're on a hectic and compressed training schedule for a return late this winter or early spring to combat — this time in Iraq.

It's the same tempo for some other units at Kane'ohe Bay, and the same story across the Corps — Marines preparing for repeat deployments with minimal breaks in between, and families fretting anew at home.

Cooling, 41, will be on his third war deployment in three years — Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq.

The 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, which fought house-to-house through Fallujah last November and lost 46 Marines and sailors to the Iraq deployment, is in California receiving mountain warfare training for a deployment to Afghanistan in January or February.

The CH-53D Sea Stallion helicopter community, meanwhile, is preparing for squadron-sized rotations to Iraq, although a deployment order has not been received.

Sgt. Ted Ramos, 28, a 3/3 Marine, has a training schedule for Iraq that includes several days a week spent in the field; "fire and movement" range practice; road marches; trips to Pohakuloa Training Area on the Big Island, and a full month to be spent on desert training at Twentynine Palms in California between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Then the Afghanistan veteran goes to Iraq.

"At times it is stressful, and you almost want things to slow down to where you can catch your breath," said Ramos, of San Antonio.

But the India Company Marine also says the high tempo is necessary to be prepared.

"It's not just me that I'm worrying about. I have my Marines underneath me that I have to keep at the same pace," Ramos said. "If we were to start to slack off, and slow the tempo down to where we're not getting as much as we should out of training, I think it would really affect us when we got on the ground over there."

In some respects, the Iraq deployment has been easier to prepare for than Afghanistan, Cooling said. Then, the battalion had only 3 1/2 months notice before heading to Afghanistan.

Still, Cooling describes the training regimen as "fast and furious."

All companies stay in the field Tuesday through Thursday in the Kahuku training area, at the Kane'ohe Bay Marine Corps base, at Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, or at Dillingham Airfield.

The Marines practice live fire at Ulupau crater at the Marine Corps base, at Pu'uloa near 'Ewa Beach, at the Army's Schofield Barracks and, last year, at Makua Military Reservation — a use they hope to repeat.

There's a lot of cooperation with Schofield — and some training schedule juggling. Because of Stryker Brigade projects at Schofield, some ranges are closed until 4:30 p.m., and the Army is using Marine Corps ranges, officials said.

Dan Geltmacher, the Marine Corps Base Hawai'i training area manager, said the Marines "are doing an awful lot of training in a short period of time."

"There are challenges, just like any place," he said. "But they are getting it done. They are doing their weapons qualifications here and they do maneuver training here. They do their basic annual qualifications that are required, combat or no, and then they go to California and get the final touches."

Cooling said going to Twentynine Palms gives his battalion the opportunity to spend a full month in a desert training environment. There's also a Military Operations on Urban Terrain site.

"The disadvantage is that's another month of deployment away from our families," he said. "It's very hard on the families, but we've got to strike a balance between the training that's necessary to get their husbands and fathers prepared for a combat zone and the time that they rightfully need to prepare their families (for a deployment)."

Approximately half the battalion that was in Afghanistan moved to different duty stations, 124 Marines extended to go to Iraq, and as much as 35 percent are new recruits.

Better training could come to O'ahu in the form of an "urban terrain" facility that would have mockups of European, Middle Eastern and Asian city blocks, an elevator shaft, a sewer system that could be navigated, and a prison.

A Military Operations on Urban Terrain site, planned for nearly 40 acres at Bellows, could cost up to $35 million but hasn't been funded. It remains the Marines' No. 1 priority for a training area improvement on O'ahu.

Ramos, who has a girlfriend in Texas who's not at all happy he's going on a second combat deployment, joined the Marines in 1996, got out in 2000, and re-enlisted in 2004 because he felt "it was a duty of mine to come back to the Marine Corps and do my part" for the country.

The two combat deployments and the intensive training in between haven't been much of a problem for Ramos, but he isn't pledging any longer term commitment to the Corps beyond this enlistment — at least for now.

"I look at it this way," he said. "It all depends on how things are when I come back from Iraq. With the blessing of God I'll come back with a good straight head and everything I left with, and then I'll determine (my future) from that."

Reach William Cole at [email protected]

Alpha 1/6 HQ Marines keep the line ready to fight

SAQLAWIYAH, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- In post-war Iraq, prolonged firefights and urban house-to-house conflict are uncommon. The country's roadways, however, remain perilous as insurgents continue lacing them with homemade roadside bombs to target passing U.S. and Iraqi military convoys.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/1CBB7014BCC5B38085257087003F4ECC?opendocument

Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 200592573129
Story by Cpl. Mike Escobar

SAQLAWIYAH, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- In post-war Iraq, prolonged firefights and urban house-to-house conflict are uncommon. The country's roadways, however, remain perilous as insurgents continue lacing them with homemade roadside bombs to target passing U.S. and Iraqi military convoys.

It's a danger that comes with the territory for Marines like Cpl. Daniel McNeill and his fellow warriors with Company A, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment.

Twenty-one-year-old McNeill and 20 other personnel comprise their company's Headquarters Platoon, a contingent of troops whose job skills range from mortar men to radio operators to truck drivers. Together, these Marines and Navy corpsmen support their infantry brethren as they conduct counter-insurgency operations in Saqlawiyah, a farming community on the outskirts of Fallujah.

"We've done well over 500 convoys during our time (six months) here, during which we've been 'IEDed' three times," said McNeill, referring to insurgent attempts to attack the platoon's supply and logistics convoys using improvised explosive devices. "It happened to us twice while we were on a run to get morning chow."

Everyday, these Marines risk their lives as their convoys take them miles away from rural Saqlawiyah to their battalion's headquarters outside Fallujah to pick up food, mail and supplies for their company.

McNeill said providing logistical support is only one of Headquarters Platoon's multiple functions.

"We go on every company-sized operation and every raid the company does," the Marianna, Fla. native continued. "Not only do we add an extra rifle platoon to the mix, but we provide a detainee handling team, casualty evacuation capabilities, and re-supply runs during certain missions."

While the company conducts operations, they are monitored by their headquarters element.

"It's our job to keep the company COC (combat operations center) running," the 22-year-old Sacramento, Calif. native continued. "We keep comm up with the battalion, troubleshoot our radios, and assist the watch officer to track patrols that are out. If a squad on patrol is having problems with their comm gear, we'll troubleshoot them via radio."

Communicators like Alvarez also played a pivotal role in helping their company set up their base of operations when they arrived here in April. As the infantrymen filled sandbags and stretched concertina wire to fortify their position, Alvarez laid out wire for communication from various outlying guard observation posts to the base COC. Now, he said, rooftop and perimeter sentry posts are equipped with field telephones directly connected the company’s command center.

While the communicators help monitor the battle, Petty Officer 3rd Class Justin Mannick oversees the company aid station. Inside this makeshift hospital, corpsmen can treat injuries ranging from skin infections and colds to gunshot and shrapnel wounds.

"Marines can come in here any time of day, because this station works as a 24-hour hospital," Mannick explained. "We meet all their basic care needs here. Normally, though, the corpsmen on the line take care of everything. My docs are on auto-pilot when it comes to taking care of Marines."

Personnel within Headquarters Platoon also keep accountability of the company's troop strength and help process intelligence data gathered by Marines in the field to forward on to higher for further analysis.

Many of the Marines performing the platoon's assorted tasks are mortar men by trade. Though they stay ready to rain destruction on the enemy from afar, these infantrymen primarily serve as augments for Headquarters Platoon. Their job is to perform general purpose and miscellaneous tasks to keep the company operating smoothly, McNeill explained.

Through their tireless support, this 21-man platoon has played a huge role in enabling Company A's operational success, and will continue to do so during their last several weeks in Iraq, McNeill said.

"We're working hard, just like everyone else here, to keep things running," he added. "If we weren't here, it would be a lot rougher on the line platoons, because they would have more duties to perform and watches to stand. The fact that we’re here enables everyone in the company to get a little extra sleep."

Honoring Their Own

AR RAMADI, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- It’s the hardest thing to do, especially in a brotherhood as close as the Marine Corps. Saying good-bye to one of your own, a fellow Marine lost on the battlefield. The Marines of 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment recently paid their respects and honored their own when a memorial service was held for Lance Cpl. Shane Swanberg, who died from indirect fire Sept. 15.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/DEE48C4045B53F7C85257087004E4812?opendocument

Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 200592510152
Story by Cpl. Shane Suzuki

AR RAMADI, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- It’s the hardest thing to do, especially in a brotherhood as close as the Marine Corps. Saying good-bye to one of your own, a fellow Marine lost on the battlefield. The Marines of 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment recently paid their respects and honored their own when a memorial service was held for Lance Cpl. Shane Swanberg, who died from indirect fire Sept. 15.

The ceremony was a solemn one, with many Marines from the battalion attending. The ceremony became especially poignant when one of his best friends, Lance Cpl. Seth Williams gave a speech honoring his lost friend.

“I have never met a more genuine, nicer person then Shane Swanberg,” said Williams. “I know he’s looking down on us now and smiling.”

Swanberg was born in Tacoma, Wash., March 7, 1981. After graduating high school in the Tacoma area, he joined the Marine Corps at the age of 21. After spending time with 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment and with 1st Tanks, he was transferred to Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines in January of 2005. Once there, he was assigned to the Combined Anti-Armor Team.

“He was always wondering how I was doing,” said Williams. “He always wanted to know if he could do anything for me, or any of his friends.”

Another member of his CAAT team, Cpl. Chris Harmon, agreed with Williams as they remembered their friend.

“He was so laid back, he always had a smile on his face,” said Harmon. “I met him six months ago when I came to CAAT Red. We immediately became very good friends.”

The ceremony concluded with the traditional roll call, where the company first sergeant calls roll of the fallen Marines squad.

“Lance Cpl. Del Toro.”

“Here.”

“Corporal Chris Peichoto.”

“Here”

“Corporal Chris Harmon”

“Here”

As the three Marines names were called, they placed Swanberg’s rifle, helmet and boots on a podium with his photo on it.

“Lance Cpl. Shane Swanberg. Lance Cpl. Shane Swanberg. Lance Cpl. Shane Swanberg.

“I report one Marine killed in action. Lance Cpl. Shane Swanberg, killed Sept. 15 in Ar Ramadi, Iraq.”

When the ceremony concluded, Williams said what seemed to be a consensus among the Marines honoring their friend.

“He was the best man I’ve ever known,” said Williams.

Trial by fire, incoming Marines come under attack

AR RAMADI, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- As part of continuing operations to eliminate the insurgency in Ar Ramadi and to help acquaint the incoming 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment to the neighborhoods they will be responsible for, 2nd Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment recently conducted a number of patrols to find both insurgents.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/71235B9E2B07222F85257087004EAE11?opendocument

Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 2005925101923
Story by Cpl. Shane Suzuki

AR RAMADI, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- As part of continuing operations to eliminate the insurgency in Ar Ramadi and to help acquaint the incoming 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment to the neighborhoods they will be responsible for, 2nd Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment recently conducted a number of patrols to find both insurgents.

The patrols are part of the normal operations that the Marines of 1st Battalion, 5th Marines have undertaken since arriving in the city more than seven months ago. However, now that 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines is here, the incoming squads and platoon leaders have begun accompanying the battalion’s patrols to see how the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines handled objectives such as searching cars, spotting improvised explosive devices and raiding suspected hiding spots of insurgents.

“A lot of insurgents live in this area,” said 2nd Lt. Tyler Holt, Platoon Commander, 2nd Platoon, Company A. “The more we can show the incoming Marines, the better.”

Their first mission did exactly that as the Marines raided a suspected home of an insurgent supporter and provided a tour of the Government Center. The second patrol however, would provide experience of a different sort.

While en route through the city, Holt thought he saw an IED on the side of the road. He called in the suspected roadside bomb to the Explosive Ordnance Detachment based at Camp Hurricane Point and directed the platoon to wait at the nearby Government Center.

Soon after EOD confirmed the IED and eliminated the threat, the Government Center came under attack from small arms fire. A firefight lasting approximately 10 minutes began between the Marines providing security for the Government Center and the insurgents.

“When the firefight died down, we pursued the attackers but were unable to find them,” explained the Chicago native. “However, while in pursuit, units again came under fire. Once again, the enemy retreated and we pursued.”

While the Marines did not capture the insurgents who attacked them, Holt still considered the pursuit a success.

“We taught the enemy that it’s going to take more than cowardly attacks to intimidate us,” the 24-year-old explained. “They learned that we are going to respond with overwhelming force and that we are going to win.”

Lance Cpl. Chase Newland, a rifleman for 2nd Squad and Bellefourche, S.D. native, agreed with Holt and considered the missions both successes.

“I suppose it would have been better if we had found what we were looking for, but we all made it back safely, which is most important,” said the Bellefourche High School graduate. While we’ve been here, we have taken a lot of bad people off the street and have taught them a lesson.”

All in all, in spite of the attacks, the missions had gone well, said Holt. The main objective was to go through the city, search for the enemy and teach 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines the lessons they had learned over the seven months they had spent in the area.

“We’ve shown them some of the teachings we’ve learned through trial and error,” said Holt. “I consider that a success.”


3/7 corpsmen go back to basics

AR RAMADI, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- On the battlefield, the difference between life and death is often very small. Little things like proper first aid skills and administration of ‘buddy aid’ often prove to be the difference between Marines coming home safe or not at all. (3/7)

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/7780F210986B6FEB85257087004F21E8?opendocument


Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 2005925102420
Story by Cpl. Shane Suzuki

AR RAMADI, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- On the battlefield, the difference between life and death is often very small. Little things like proper first aid skills and administration of ‘buddy aid’ often prove to be the difference between Marines coming home safe or not at all.

While Navy corpsmen are usually attached to every unit that goes on a patrol, convoy or raid, sometimes it’s those few precious moments before the corpsmen can make it to the injured Marine that will make the difference. To help Marines understand the importance of these skills and to show them the basics of the new Individual First Aid Kit, two corpsmen from 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment’s battalion aid station recently conducted a class on the IFAK and the new tourniquet system being given to Marines deployed to Iraq.

“These classes are pretty important for every person deployed,” said Seaman Apprentice Jeremy Trythall, a hospital-man apprentice here. “We are trying to show everyone exactly how to use their IFAK, just in case something happens.”

The class took place in the Camp Hurricane Point chow hall, a camp on the outskirts of Ar Ramadi. The class was informal, and provided plenty of opportunities for the members of the class to ask questions.

“They asked a lot about the quick clot agent included in the IFAK,” Trythall said. “They were also interested in the new tourniquet that is being handed out to the Marines here. Overall, I would say the class went very well.”

The class started off reviewing basic first aid skills, then emphasized the importance of applying proper first aid skills in a combat environment. Being able to save fellow Marines during combat is just as important as being able to fight and shoot, said the 23-year-old from Raymondville, Mo.

The Marines in the class, a mix from Headquarters and Service Company and Company K, all seemed to come away with a little more confidence in their ability to perform first aid under pressure.

“The class was good for the Marines here, I think,” said Lance Cpl. Micah Garza, a cook currently assigned to the guard force here. “I know I feel more confident in the IFAK and what to do with it.”

Classes like these will be given periodically throughout 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine’s deployment, said Trythall.

“It’s important simply because if their buddy is injured and a corpsmen isn’t close by, they need to know what to do,” he said. “Corpsmen aren’t always around and with the proper knowledge, Marines will know what to do and won’t freeze up.”



Bloomington, Ind., native follows family footsteps

AR RAMADI, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- Some people know, even as a small child, what they want to do with their life. Lance Cpl. Chris Snell has wanted to be a Marine for as long as he could remember, and now his dream has come true. (3/7 Wpns CAAT)

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/FCAD069EE0F09A4485257087004FEC37?opendocument
Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 2005925103258
Story by Cpl. Shane Suzuki

AR RAMADI, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- Some people know, even as a small child, what they want to do with their life. Lance Cpl. Chris Snell has wanted to be a Marine for as long as he could remember, and now his dream has come true.

Snell, a 21-year-old from Bloomington, Ind., is a mortar man with Black Platoon, Combined Anti-Armor Team, Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment.

“The military was the only thing for me,” he said. “I wanted to do it since I was a little kid, so I guess it’s no surprise that I am in Iraq now.”

The Bloomington High School South graduate comes from a family rich in military traditions, including an uncle who served more then 20 years in the Navy, his father who was in the Air Force and his grandfather who served in the Army during World War II.

“For me, the decision was easy,” he said. “I left for recruit training right after high school and have enjoyed the Corps ever since. I want to be a lifer.”

In addition to knowing he wanted to be a Marine his whole life, he also realized that being an infantryman was the only thing that would make him happy.

“Infantry was the most interesting thing to me,” said Snell. “I always wanted to do the hard job, the most important job.”

This deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom is his second tour in Iraq. He served in an earlier deployment to OIF with CAAT Blue.

Getting ready for his second deployment though, was no easy task. The CAAT Black team was formed before this deployment and it took a lot of training to make sure they would be ready for the challenges ahead.

“The training was pretty intense,” he said. “It gets you ready though. Anytime we need to raid a house, we know what to do. The training also got us super familiar with our weapons systems and our jobs in the trucks.”

The CAAT teams, which are often used as the quick reaction force of the battalion, use humvees with weapons mounted in turrets on top of the vehicles. Knowing what to do, where to go and how each person in the truck is supposed to react is the first step towards a successful mission.

However, the other mission in Iraq, helping setup a new democracy is something that Snell says he is proud to be a part of.

“We are out here changing the hearts and minds of little children,” he said. “We are showing the younger generation what democracy is. We are helping them understand freedom.”

Even though he acknowledges that his job is to “get the bad guys out,” he says he joined the military to do more then deploy and see the world.

“I think if people want to serve their country, they absolutely should,” he said. “That’s why I am in the Corps, to serve my country and to serve those men who served before me.”


A Dog Day Afternoon in Al Qa’im.

CAMP AL QA’IM, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- One of the common aspects of operations in the Al Qa’im area of responsibility is the routine discovery of hidden weapons caches, mines, explosives and even insurgents.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/23E7594EF63E36C48525708700545E69?opendocument
Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 2005925112131
Story by Sgt. Jerad W. Alexander

CAMP AL QA’IM, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- One of the common aspects of operations in the Al Qa’im area of responsibility is the routine discovery of hidden weapons caches, mines, explosives and even insurgents.

Helping with that search is a pair of unique Marines, unlike any others.

“Sometimes it’s like our dogs are here for a [morale, welfare and recreation] purpose,” said Phoenix native, Sgt. Jerrod M. Glass, military police working dog handler, 2nd Military Police Battalion, Regimental Combat Team – 2. “People like to pet them. I think it reminds them of home”

The dogs aboard Camp Al Qa’im, Spike and Ali, however, are not here for the morale of the troops. Their job consists of sniffing out bombs, improvised explosive devices and weapons caches.

“We go out on all kinds of missions; raids, vehicle check points, cordon and knock missions,” said Glass. “We guard detainees, we do it all.”

Glass is the handler for Spike, a three-year-old, 70-pound Belgian Melinios who is very aggressive for his size, said Glass.

“We call him ‘Son of Satan’,” said Philadelphia native, Cpl. Jeffrey S. Beck, Glasses fellow military police working-dog handler, referring to Spikes’ aggressive personality.

Beck, 20, is the handler for Ali, a four-year-old, 110-pound German Shepherd whom he lovingly refers to as ‘The Gentle Giant’ for his calm demeanor.

“He lets people come up and pet him,” said Beck.

On missions, however, the dogs provide a good mental deterrent, said Glass.

“It’s a big deal around here for people to see dogs like this,” he added, referring to the local Iraqis. “Just having the dogs present, they know not to mess around.”

Both dogs came with their handlers from their home base of Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Calif. While in Iraq, however, they support the 2nd Military Police Battalion. Handlers are always with their dogs, no matter where they may deploy or for how long, said Glass.

Becoming a working dog handler is something held in high regard among military policemen, he said.

“You get picked out of [military police] school. It’s challenging and a more advanced thing than regular police work,” he explained.

According to Beck, he was asked to be a dog handler because he was the honor graduate at military police school in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

There are approximately 200 handlers in the Marine Corps.

The dogs are used as military police working dogs until they reach the age of nine or 10. After which, the dogs are considered eligible for retirement.

Dogs that are unable to maintain their effectiveness are let go. Dogs with passive personality traits can be adopted by their former owner, while the more aggressive dogs are generally put to sleep.

One of the primary responsibilities of being a dog handler is maintaining the health of the dogs.

“We go over them each day, making sure they’re healthy,” said Glass. “We look them over, give them baths and brush them. All handlers are taught first-aid for dogs so we can give them a splint or whatever they need.”

The dogs drive themselves hard on missions, according to Glass. The handlers monitor them to make sure they don’t over do themselves and make sure they get enough water, especially out in a desert environment.

Both Spike and Ali are generally fed with regular dog food, similar to what is bought at grocery stores. However, the dogs sometimes get fed a little extra.

“During a mission [Ali] wouldn’t eat his normal food and I was getting worried, so I cut up an [Meal, Ready to Eat] and fed it to him. He ate it up,” said Beck. “For a while I would mix food from an MRE like a grilled chicken breast with his food and he’d eat it up.”

Both Glass and Beck also receive care packages from concerned individuals in the United States, most of which is filled with food and treats for the dogs.

However, everything within the Camp Al Qa’im military working dog section isn’t positive.

“Spike and Ali don’t get along,” said Glass. “They’re both alpha-males so they are always competing for top dog. We have to keep them separated.”

Despite Spike and Ali’s general dislike for one another, the bond between the handler and his dog is remarkable.

“I can’t see myself ever leaving him,” said Beck, referring to Ali.


San Francisco native keeps Marines talking


CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, RAMADI, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- Corporal Jessica L. Curtis knows the roads here like the back of her hand.


http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/AF93C0F69FB9D33E8525708700556858?opendocument


Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 2005925113252
Story by Sgt. Ryan S. Scranton

CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, RAMADI, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- Corporal Jessica L. Curtis knows the roads here like the back of her hand.

The 21-year-old San Francisco native should. She travels them daily in convoys taking supplies back and forth through the western region of Iraq several times per week.

Curtis said she’s been on more than 100 convoys since she got here seven months ago. As the communications chief for Truck Company, Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, she is responsible for ensuring the Marines driving in the convoys can talk to each other and coordinate their movements. Traveling the various improved and unimproved roads presents a challenge for Marines maneuvering their vehicles through traffic. Vehicles strung out across long stretches of highway and along city streets provide an easy target for insurgents. The vulnerability of convoys makes synchronizing their movements vital to the safety of the Marines.

“People don’t understand how important [communications] are out here,” Curtis said. “No one thinks about it until they don’t have it. Then it sinks in.”

Curtis also maintains the systems that block and prevent the detonation of roadside Improvised Explosive Devices. She’s logged more than 6000 miles on the roads and said she never feels unsafe. She finds solace in the fact that her fellow Marines are providing security on each convoy. She’s encountered numerous IED’s while on the road, but said that each convoy’s security element has always identified them.

“We always catch it before anything happens,” Curtis said. “We’re either really good or we’re lucky.”

Curtis said if it’s the latter, she isn’t worried about her luck running out. Her confidence in her fellow Marines ability to handle any situation keeps her calm and collected on the road.

“Everyone out here works together,” Curtis said. “I know if anything happens I’ll be okay because everyone knows how to react and they’ll all do their jobs. So I’m not worried when I’m out there. I’m not complacent. I just have faith in my security team and the people I work with.”

The Marines in her unit form a tight-knit group. They rely on each other for support and work together as a team. She acknowledges the importance of her job but said she also realizes the role she plays is just one part of a larger effort.

“I feel like I’m doing something for the team here,” Curtis said. “We all work together to get things done. [Truck Company] does a lot of background work. If the power goes out, it’s because we didn’t refuel the generators. If people don’t get their repair parts, it’s because we didn’t pick them up. We have a pretty important role here.”

Curtis said what is truly important to her is not what she does, but what she is a part of. She wanted to be a Marine since she was 14-years-old. She attended an all girls catholic school in the Visitation Valley area of San Francisco. Mercy High School was a far cry from the Marines, but she said she has always wanted to do something different.

“Ninety percent of the girls I went to high school with graduated and went to college.” Curtis said. “I wanted to do something adventurous; I guess it was because I watched too much Discovery Channel.”

Curtis’s need for adventure keeps her on the road. She said it’s the same reason she plans to make a career of the Marines.

“I’ve had good days and I’ve had bad days, but there have been a lot more good ones.”



RS Portsmouth Poolees get a taste of Boot Camp

MARINE CORPS RECRUITING STATION PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (Sept. 25, 2005) -- Nearly 200 poolees and 70 Marines turned out for Marine Corps Recruiting Station Portsmouth’s Fourth Annual Mini Boot Camp Sept. 24-25. For the second year in a row the event was held at Blue Hills Reservation in Milton, Mass. The two-day event included classes on close order drill, an introduction to the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, field hygiene and gear silencing.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/07E2F43D655CBE5485257099004797B7?opendocument


Submitted by: 1st Marine Corps District
Story Identification #: 200510139158
Story by Staff Sgt. Ken Tinnin

MARINE CORPS RECRUITING STATION PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (Sept. 25, 2005) -- Nearly 200 poolees and 70 Marines turned out for Marine Corps Recruiting Station Portsmouth’s Fourth Annual Mini Boot Camp Sept. 24-25. For the second year in a row the event was held at Blue Hills Reservation in Milton, Mass. The two-day event included classes on close order drill, an introduction to the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, field hygiene and gear silencing.

The events kept poolees motivated and gave them a small taste of what to expect at recruit training.

According to RS Portsmouth Pool Coordinator Gunnery Sgt. Cory Mitchell, “The Mini Boot camp allowed the poolees to get together, build camaraderie and brotherhood. It also gave them opportunity to interact with drill instructors and experience first-hand what will be expected of them at Parris Island.”

The mini boot camp was an experience that most would not soon forget.
“Scream! That’s not screaming, scream!” shouted Drill Instructor Sgt. Richard C. Donathan 1st Recruit Training Battalion Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C.
Donathan’s intensity and animated-like movements set the pace for the afternoon’s close order drill classes.

“These poolees need to get used to having the drill instructors in their face,” said Donathan. “This is just a little taste of what they need to expect at Parris Island.”
“Nothing they do will ever be perfect,” added Staff Sgt. Daniel S. Perry 3rd Recruit Training Battalion MCRD Parris Island, S.C. “The drill instructors will always be pushing them.”

But the poolees didn’t mind being pushed; in fact the time with the drill instructors was their favorite part of the event.

“The drill instructors were incredible and their intensity was awesome,” said poolee Frank Grenham, a 17-year old from Dedham, Mass who goes to recruit training June 19.
“Just hearing their voices and seeing how we all reacted to them was intense,” said poolee Dominic Golini, a 17-year old from Wakefield, N.H. “It was hard not to be overwhelmed by the experience.”

The main purpose of the Mini Boot Camp was to prepare the poolees for recruit training and success as Marines, said Mitchell. The poolees did not forget that.

Along with the close order drill classes, poolees learned field hygiene and gear silencing with Staff Sgt. Jason Fournier, a recruiter from Recruiting Substation Manchester, N.H. Poolees were also given an introduction to the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program by Staff Sgt. Jeffery Langella the staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of RSS Southern Maine.

After the afternoon’s classes, poolees got to witness a reenlistment an awards ceremony, received a motivational period of instruction from RS Portsmouth Commanding Officer Maj. T. Shane Tomko and spent a chilly night in the field with manyb of them getting their first taste of an MRE (Meals Ready to Eat).

In the morning, poolees participated in a 5k-road race running with the recruiters and fellow poolees from their recruiting stations.

When the Mini Boot Camp was over the weekend was deemed a success.

“I joined the Corps to serve my country and contribute to the war effort,” said poolee Nick Xiarhos from Yarmouth Port, Mass who leaves for recruit training June 20. “Our generation has a chance to make history and I want to be part of that.”

Marines award Bronze Star posthumously to Jerabek family

HOBART, Wis. - The Marines awarded the Bronze Star Saturday to an 18-year-old soldier who was killed in Iraq trying to protect his fellow Marines.

Posted on Sat, Sep. 24, 2005
http://www.duluthsuperior.com/mld/duluthsuperior/12735175.htm

HOBART, Wis. - The Marines awarded the Bronze Star Saturday to an 18-year-old soldier who was killed in Iraq trying to protect his fellow Marines.

Pfc. Ryan Jerabek, of Hobart, died in an ambush in Ramadi, Iraq on April 6, 2004.

His parents, Ken and Rita Jerabek, accepted the Marine Corps' fourth-highest medal for bravery - the Bronze Star - during a ceremony at their Hobart home.

"Combat will test everything a person is made of," said Marine Capt. Sean Schickel, the former commanding officer of Jerabek's unit - Echo Company, Second Battalion.

"Character is finding yourself in an enemy ambush against impossible odds and immediately employing your weapon into enemy positions as Ryan did, so that your fellow Marines can get out from under a massive amount of enemy fire and have a chance to fight," Schickel told the 125 people at the home.

"Character is being shot to the ground as enemy bullets strike you in the shoulder and getting back up to fight as Ryan did, while most others would have stayed down," Schickel said.

"Character is continuing to give everything you have until that final moment. That's what Ryan did. That's why he has earned this award."

Rita Jerabek said she feels the loss of her son everyday, but takes solace in the award from the Marine Corps that her son loved so much.

"It signifies the respect he has gotten from his peers and those he served with," she said.

Team “Ghost Rider” storms through Fallujah to provide security

FALLUJAH, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- Breakups can be painful. For Cpl. Joseph Mahoney, however, he claimed to have found something bigger and better after the final farewells were said.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/E02A4B257FAD74AA85257087001C0C80?opendocument
Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 20059251622
Story by Cpl. Mike Escobar

FALLUJAH, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- Breakups can be painful. For Cpl. Joseph Mahoney, however, he claimed to have found something bigger and better after the final farewells were said.

The 21-year-old Lynn, Mass. native and 22 other Marines were separated from comrades they had lived and trained with for several months to create a new unit; one mobile, flexible and skilled enough to battle the unpredictable insurgency here.

They are 4th Combined Anti-Armor Team, Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. Mahoney, a 2004 Lynn Vocational Technical High School graduate and his brothers-in-arms became a team in late April to provide security for Fallujah’s streets and surrounding rural areas.

“When we first came together, everyone hung out with the people they knew from their old platoons,” said Mahoney, a machine gunner by trade and a vehicle operator with the team. “It didn’t take us long to come together, though. Now, it’s just like being with our old platoons, if not better.”

Reliance on each other is one strength “Ghost Rider” Marines use everyday to accomplish their difficult operations. From looking for terrorist activity on roads leading into the city, to patrolling Fallujah’s streets, men like Mahoney toil underneath Iraq’s blistering sun to secure the previously war-torn city.

“Sometimes, we’ll have really boring days when nothing happens. We still keep our awareness up to expect the worse, though,” Mahoney stated. “We do our best to change things up to keep insurgents guessing, but it still gets very repetitive out here.”

Nevertheless, these Marines have seen their fair share of action during their five months together. “Ghost Rider” Marines claim such accomplishments as unearthing nine roadside bombs, capturing one IED triggerman and one IED planter, and detaining several other insurgents wanted by their battalion.

This CAAT is also the only group of Marines in their battalion to have engaged insurgents with automatic weapons, such as .50 caliber Machine Guns and MK-19 automatic Grenade Launchers. The Marines used these heavy guns to sink boats on a river from which terrorists were attacking them.

When not patrolling and on the offensive, Mahoney and his fellow Marines maintain vigilance over a roadway connecting Baghdad and Fallujah.

“We drive out here in the middle of nowhere to look for things that could conceal IEDs, like boxes and animal carcasses,” Mahoney explained. “We’ll move into our positions and observe for people stopped along the side of the road or setting stuff down.”

For hours on end and into the night, the team scans the unchanging horizon to keep other drivers and their own convoys safe.

Thanks to their platoon’s vigilance, battalion personnel reported the number of IED attacks on Mobile to have significantly decreased since the unit arrived here in mid-March.

“My Marines are focused on finding, capturing or killing the enemy,” stated Gunnery Sgt. Walter Diggs, platoon commander. “We’re always practicing and conducting rehearsals to prepare for these missions. When they’re doing (these missions), my guys think to themselves, ‘This is for the Marines who’ve been hurt out here.’”

In April, one Weapons Company Corpsman was killed in action when his vehicle was struck by an IED (improvised explosive device). Three Marines with Mahoney’s battalion have also perished in IED explosions.

Months later, the battalion’s Marines and Sailors keep their memories of fallen friends alive as they continue bringing security to a still-turbulent nation.

Mahoney said his team will finish out their deployment, content with having played a vital role in securing the still-infant democratic nation of Iraq.

“We can leave here knowing that we did our part to keep our areas safe,” he said.


Company L patrol Hit to disrupt insurgency

HIT, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- Corporal Andrew C. Britten and other Marines with 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment participating in Operation Sword conducted presence patrols near the newly constructed forward operating base in Hit.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/066C117AB9E25FB585257087001E09EA?opendocument
Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 20059251286
Story by Cpl. Ken Melton

HIT, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- Corporal Andrew C. Britten and other Marines with 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment participating in Operation Sword conducted presence patrols near the newly constructed forward operating base in Hit.

As part of Regimental Combat Team-2, Operation Sword is an attempt to sweep and clear the city of insurgents in order to establish a permanent presence there for Iraqi Security Forces and other military elements.

Britten, a fireteam leader with 1st platoon, Company L, led the way for his squad through back alleyways and wooded areas.

“Usually we come to cities and perform cordon and knock missions with follow-on patrols,” said the 23-year-old Racine, Wis., native. “But now we’re here to stay and we conduct these patrols so they can get used to us.”

A few days earlier two vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices detonated near one of the FOBs and one by a main traffic circle in town.

With this in mind, the Marines remained alert as they marched through the city streets and narrow back alleys.

“We hardly ever have to use an escalation of force,” the 2000 William H. Orlick graduate said. “The locals usually wave off any approaching traffic before they come too close.”

As they patrolled through the city their presence was noticeable, but it did not deter the day-to-day life of the citizens.

During security stops, Marines and local people engaged in light conversation. Children continued their games and people shopped at stores with out fear.

During some points during the 2-hour patrol, they handed out toys to the children. Marines even stopped at local shops to purchase refreshments and talk to citizens.

“Some people came out and asked us questions as others waved in passing,” said the senior from Ohio State University. “It feels good that we are staying here in the city.

“The town seemed to have been heavily influenced by the insurgents and now that we are here they have gone into hiding and they are losing their grip.”

With the main operation concluded, Marines will continue to run numerous patrols in hopes of gaining the people’s trust and flushing out remaining insurgents.

“We are denying them sanctuary and paralyzing their movements by doing this,” Britten said. “This mission’s huge success was solely because of our tireless efforts to put an end to the insurgency so everyone can have a chance to live their lives safely.”


Springfield, Mass., police officer serves in Iraq

CAMP RIPPER, AL ASAD, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- The police motto, ‘To Protect and to Serve,’ is often lettered across police vehicles in many towns and cities in the United States. As Marines with Regimental Combat Team-2 begin to police this area of Iraq for insurgents, one sergeant knows this routine all too well.

Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 200592511612
Story by Cpl. Ken Melton

CAMP RIPPER, AL ASAD, Iraq (Sept. 25, 2005) -- The police motto, ‘To Protect and to Serve,’ is often lettered across police vehicles in many towns and cities in the United States. As Marines with Regimental Combat Team-2 begin to police this area of Iraq for insurgents, one sergeant knows this routine all too well.

Sergeant Michael H. Lusczc, a sergeant of the guard for the security element with RCT-2, left from protecting and serving his home town, in order to protect and serve Iraqis.

Lusczc is a Marine reservist and civilian police officer. He brings his experience to the Marines in Iraq so they can perform their jobs better here.

“These people over here need us,” Luszcz said. “I know that my community is a better place because of me and my fellow officers’ actions. Now, I’m trying to make it safe for the Iraqi people as well.”

He made the decision to serve his community by first serving his country. At the age of 16, he decided to join the Marine Corps when he was eligible, which was only a year later.

“My father was in the army during Vietnam, so I kind of wanted the military experience,” the 30-year-old said. “I knew I wanted to be a Marine because I loved the way they always presented themselves. As soon I turned 17 I signed up knowing that I was going to be part of the best.”

He became a military policeman after completing all of his basic training and knew it would continue to be his career after he finished his tour of duty.

“I love helping people,” the 1992 Ludlow High School graduate said. “When you do something good in this job field everyone remembers you for that. It’s not like in some places where you do something that helps everyone out and no one even says ‘thank you.’ A little recognition goes along way.”

After he completed his first tour of duty, he joined the Individual Mobilization Augmentation that allowed him to choose his reserve training dates and deployment schedule.

“The program is great because I have the chance to train with the active duty Marines and it gave me a chance to get my associate’s degree in criminal justice from Springfield Technical College,” the Springfield, Mass., native said.

During his reserve status, he was able to get a job as a deputy chief at the Hampden County Police Department. He continued to work there until he decided it was the time to do something for his country and himself.

“I was voluntarily recalled in November,” he said. “I was surprised it took as long as it did, but I am glad I got my chance to do something more to help win the war on terror instead of watching it helplessly on TV,” he said smiling.

Upon arrival in Iraq, he realized how important this mission is and it reassured him that he and his fellow Marines were doing the right thing.

“I’m used to dealing with crime where I come from, but it’s nowhere near as serious as it is here,” he said. “On the first convoy I went on we hit an IED (improvised explosive device) and that was the real eye-opener. I want to give these people the opportunity to be able to travel on the streets without worry of things like that,” he said.

Luszcz’s time in country will be over in September, but he knows the war on terror will continue. Because of that, he plans to do something a little extra for the Corps when he gets back.

“I plan on becoming a recruiter’s assistant when I get back home. That way when potential Marines come in I can give a first hand account of what the situation is like in Iraq and why it’s necessary to be there,” Luszcz said. “Also, I will stay on the police force, because I know the only way to keep our home safe is to protect and serve there as I did over here.”

Celebrity events offer some welcome relief

September has been a difficult month for Americans.We watched in horror the catastrophic wrath of Hurricane Katrina as she decimated the Gulf Coast of the United States.

http://www.jdnews.com/SiteProcessor.cfm?Template=/GlobalTemplates/Details.cfm&StoryID;=35289&Section;=Opinion
September 25,2005

September has been a difficult month for Americans.We watched in horror the catastrophic wrath of Hurricane Katrina as she decimated the Gulf Coast of the United States.

Our community came together as it always does raising money, sending supplies and constantly seeking ways to help those who were subjected to this monster storm and its aftermath.

In addition to the visible charitable efforts to assist, perhaps our greatest contribution came in the form of our United States Marines.

Battle-hardened troops, many recently back from Iraq or Afghanistan, were sent to the Gulf Coast region to provide humanitarian aid to those dealing with the abject misery wrought by this awful storm. Regardless of the mission, we fully understand and embrace the phrase, "Send in the Marines." When they arrive, there is never a doubt things will improve - and so they have.

As if the disaster along the Gulf Coast wasn't enough, our own region had a wet and windy encounter with Mother Nature as Hurricane Ophelia made her way up the East Coast. She was the hurricane that wouldn't die. She twisted, turned, sped up, slowed down and generally created annoyance and frustration in her wake.

When she finally arrived, she did some pretty significant damage to coastal communities while sparing those of us who lived a bit further inland.

As this is written, the Gulf Coast was preparing for the onslaught of yet another major hurricane - Rita. The evacuation for this storm alone turned out to be a trying and even deadly process.

Are you beginning to feel like it's time for a much-needed break? If so, you are certainly in luck.

Beginning this Thursday, the Celebrity Players Tour will return to Camp Lejeune for the 2nd Annual Marine Corps Celebrity Invitational.

While some reading this may be thinking, "Golf - I'd rather watch paint dry." Better think again. You may not be a golfer, but would you pass up a chance to talk to the likes of NFL quarterback Mark Rypien or tennis great Ivan Lendl? How about USA gold-medal hockey player Mike Eruzione or Hall of Fame professional bowler Marshall Holman?

These are just a few of the great athletes who will be in town to compete in the MCCI.

According to its Web site, "The Celebrity Players Tour was organized to provide a competitive format for athletes, entertainers and other celebrities in an area that was different than the field in which they became famous." It's a bit like Tiger Woods taking the mound at a New York Yankees' game.

More than just golf

Golf will be played in two events - a pro-am and a celebrities-only tournament from Sept. 29 through Oct. 2. In addition to golf, there will be tennis clinics hosted by Lendl and Cliff Richey, bowling clinics with Holman and Walter Ray Williams Jr. and, yes, a golf clinic with major league baseball players Rick Rhoden and Scott Sanderson.

As if all this weren't enough, the base will host Family Night with the Stars on Saturday, Oct. 1 - and an event that will feature an autograph tent, sports memorabilia tent, food and, of course, fireworks. Perhaps best of all - everything is free and open to the public. According to organizers, even admission to the base will not require the usual stop for a pass - unless security conditions change.

Though my memory isn't what it used to be, I do recall the comments made by the athletes and entertainers who participated in last year's inaugural event. Virtually all of those well-known figures spoke of being so honored to spend time with the brave men and women who make up our military services.

Imagine, here are celebrities, some of whom are world-renowned, speaking of the Marines and sailors who populate our area with such respect, even awe. To say this should warm your heart is an understatement. After all, these are our neighbors, friends and even family to whom they refer.

There is little doubt of the sincerity of the celebrities' comments. Consider this, the CPT has only 12 events this year and one of them is right here in our backyard.

In addition to honoring us with their presence, the tour has raised millions of dollars for local charities in its nine year of existence. The beneficiaries of this year's MCCI are Project Care, which provides help to the families of military personal who are deployed, and Disabled Sports USA, which provides sports and recreation opportunities to service members with permanent physical disabilities incurred in the war on terror.

We are privileged indeed to have in our midst a group of distinguished athletes and celebrities who are taking time out of their busy lives to improve the lives of others.

Yes, I know your yard is a mess - so is ours - but don't let that keep you home. Give yourself a break. Raise your spirits. And show our guests the hospitality for which this community is famous.

Onslow County resident Bonnie Throckmorton is the consumer affairs columnist for The Daily News and a frequent contributor to the op-ed page. She can be contacted via e-mail at: [email protected]

Patrolling with U.S. Marines builds Afghan troops' skills

By Steve Mraz, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Sunday, September 25, 2005

ALINGAR, Afghanistan — U.S. Marines and Afghan National Army troops had just finished meeting Thursday afternoon with local police officials in the eastern Afghanistan town of Alingar and were getting ready to continue their combined patrol through Laghman province.

To continue reading:

http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article;=31803

Back home, safe and sound

Col. Thomas F. Qualls stepped off the CH-46 Sea Knight, dropped to his knees and spread his arms.

His family ran into them.

http://www.jdnews.com/SiteProcessor.cfm?Template=/GlobalTemplates/Details.cfm&StoryID;=35276&Section;=News
September 25,2005
BY CHRIS MAZZOLINI View stories by reporter
DAILY NEWS STAFF

Col. Thomas F. Qualls stepped off the CH-46 Sea Knight, dropped to his knees and spread his arms.

His family ran into them.

Qualls, the commander of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, brought more than 2,100 Marines and sailors home with him Saturday as the MEU arrived at Camp Lejeune after a six-month deployment.

While they trained with allied militaries, conducted support operations in Iraq and were even targeted by rockets while at port in Jordan, the most memorable moment of the deployment for Qualls was returning home after a job well done.

"My proudest moment is right here," he said. "It's today. We had no loss of life or limb whatsoever. Today is my proudest accomplishment."

It was also a proud moment for families and friends, many of whom got a chance to see their Marine or sailor as the sun rose and landing craft skimmed onto Onslow Beach from distant Navy ships.

"He told us he didn't want us to come here," said Diane Rouchon, the mother of 1st Lt. James Rouchon from Washington, D.C. "He didn't want us to be emotional, and I don't think he wanted to be emotional. But I just can't wait to see him."

Becky Shinevar and Tanika Prince of Michigan, the mother and sister of Lance Cpl Brandon Sterle, got a wave from him as his amphibious assault vehicle drove past their sign that read: "Welcome Home Brandon!"

"He's my baby," Shinevar said.

While the MEU did not see combat in Iraq or Afghanistan, the deployment was more in line with a traditional MEU deployment. In many ways, the MEU is the essence of what the Marine Corps does: it's able to operate from air, sea or earth and is capable of sustaining itself.

"It reminds us of our roots," said Lt. Col. Robert G. Petit, the commanding officer of 2/8. "That's been our bread and butter, and it's good to get back to it."

While the attack at Aqaba, when rockets flew over the USS Ashland and USS Kearsarge, got a good deal of attention in the U.S., Qualls said they were undeterred by it. The exercises being conducted with the Jordanian military went on without a hitch.

"The ship did a remarkably good job getting underways," Qualls said.

"And they even came back for us," Petit said with a grin.

Good thing, because if they hadn't, it would have made it more difficult to reunite Lance Cpl. John Robinson of Echo Company, 2/8 with his girlfriend, Rebekah Whitton.

Now that he's back on American soil, Robinson said he plans to spend his leave with his family back in Columbia, S.C.

"I'm headed home, going to spend time with the family and enjoy being 21," said Robinson, who marked his 21st birthday while in Kuwait.

Summing up the preparations and the actual deployment, which took a year in all, Qualls said he's pleased how it turned out. But mostly, he's excited to watch his Marines and sailors reunite with their loved ones, including 36 babies born to MEU spouses since they set sail.

"Life hasn't stopped back here," Qualls said. "It continues raging on."

Contact staff writer Chris Mazzolini at [email protected] or at 353-1171, Ext. 229.

September 24, 2005

Fundraiser held for injured West Michigan Marine

(Wayland, September 24, 2005, 6:00 p.m.) Community members came out Saturday to help raise money for a local Marine injured while serving in Iraq.

http://www.woodtv.com/Global/story.asp?S=3893819&nav;=0Rce

(Wayland, September 24, 2005, 6:00 p.m.) Community members came out Saturday to help raise money for a local Marine injured while serving in Iraq.

Marine Corporal Dustin Howell of Wayland was severely injured in an explosion while looking for mines about 60 miles west of Baghdad.

He suffered severe injuries, including a shattered kneecap and hand, and he lost an eye.

A fundraiser was held Saturday at the Wayland VFW to raise money for his recovery and help his family.

Mud run supports families of fallen Marines

(Columbia) September 24, 2005 - Members of the community came together Saturday to help families of marines killed or injured in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

http://www.wistv.com/Global/story.asp?S=3893678&nav;=0RaP

(Columbia) September 24, 2005 - Members of the community came together Saturday to help families of marines killed or injured in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Teams of four sweated and strained their way through the mud run this morning at Fort Jackson.

It's a four mile course filled with mud and obstacles that require running, jumping climbing, crawling and determination.

All money raised goes to marine families in need.

Marine reflects on injuries, tour in Iraq

AKRON, Ohio -- Richard "Ricky" Paul Turner sat on a couch at his mother's home and flipped through snapshots he took in Iraq.

http://www.onnnews.com/Global/story.asp?S=3893111&nav;=Lrzs

ONNNEWS.COM
AKRON, Ohio -- Richard "Ricky" Paul Turner sat on a couch at his mother's home and flipped through snapshots he took in Iraq.


"This is Cpl. Lindemuth. ... This is Montgomery," he said as he pointed to their pictures.

He was referring to Lance Cpl. Brian Montgomery and Cpl. Michael Lindemuth, fellow Marines who died in Iraq.

"We lost a lot of Marines, and I lost a lot of good buddies," he said.

"I don't even know the number."

Turner, a lance corporal, is home in Akron after a month and a half in hospitals in Iraq, Germany and the United States, having undergone more than 10 surgeries.

He was wounded in Hit, Iraq, on Aug. 1 when a suicide bomber blew up a car and struck the Humvee that Turner was in. In that attack, one Marine was killed and two others _ Marine Lance Cpl. Arturo Cordova of a Buffalo, N.Y., unit, and Navy Hospital Corpsman James Alunni, a Chagrin Falls firefighter _ were also wounded.

The sandy-haired Marine turned 21 while in Iraq.

Back at home, he wore a white T-shirt and baggy black shorts, and on a table next to the couch were several bottles of prescription pills he must take throughout the day for his injuries and pain.

Turner's right eye is gone.

He has little feeling in his right foot.

His left arm is in a cast because his wrist was shattered.

Still buried in his legs, back, arms and feet are pieces of shrapnel.

"I got way too many pieces to count," he said. "It would take all day to count it."

He walks with a cane and hopes he will get feeling back in his foot.

He says he has lost 40 pounds from muscle atrophy since his injury.

Turner, a Firestone High School graduate and a reservist with the 3rd Battalion, 25th Regiment, 4th Division, left for Iraq in January with a group of about 1,000 reservists that included Marines based in Akron, Brook Park, Columbus and Moundsville, W.Va., as well as Buffalo.

He was part of the Brook Park Headquarters and Service Company when he left, but in Iraq he was attached to the Akron Weapons Company.

Turner was wounded after he and the three others volunteered to try to find Cpl. Jeffrey Boskovitch, a sniper from Cuyahoga County who was missing. Five other snipers had been found killed.

"Marines don't leave Marines behind," Turner said.

"We figured, let's make a difference. We wanted to do our part. If that was me out there, I would want everyone who can to come and help me."

But Turner and the others were attacked before they could locate the Seven Hills Marine, whose body was discovered later.

Turner arrived home Sept. 9 but must return to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., in about a month for a few days, when he will get his artificial eye.

He feels good knowing that the Marines he went to Iraq with are packing to come home. They are expected back in the United States at the end of the month and back in Ohio in October.

"I am glad my guys are coming home," he said.

He talked more about the Marines who died. "I can recall instances with each of them _ conversations we had," he said.

In all, 30 Marines who left with the huge Reserve force from the 3rd/25th, including six from Akron's Weapons Company, died during the deployment. Fifteen other Marines who were attached to the 3rd/25th overseas were also killed during the deployment to Iraq.

He remembers several days he spent with Lance Cpl. Daniel Nathan Deyarmin Jr. of Tallmadge, who died with the other snipers on Aug. 1.

Turner said he was put in charge of Deyarmin and another Marine at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, Calif. They guarded gear while other Marines were gone for several days of training. "It was just us," he said.

They fooled around, played cards and hung out the whole time, he said.

Among his photographs is a shot of Sgt. James Graham III of Oklahoma, who died in the attack in which Turner was wounded.

Turner said he initially didn't know how badly he had been hit.

But soon he realized his shirt was filling up with blood. "My camies were getting redder and redder," he said.

He said he lost more than four pints of blood. "I got real dizzy, real lightheaded."

He felt as if he was passing out and told his comrades he just wanted to sleep.

Marine helicopters came to rescue him and the other two wounded Marines.

One of the rescuers told him he had to drink water, so the rescuer poured water into his mouth to keep him awake.

"I kept conscious the whole time," Turner said.

After returning home to mend, he went out with friends on three nights straight to downtown Akron bars and nightclubs.

"People come up and ask me about it," he said. "People come up to me and say, `Man, what happened to you?' and they keep on thanking me all night long."

They say, "Thank you, man, thank you, man, I love you, man," he said.

He said he is self-conscious about the eye he lost.

He covered it while he was talking to one young woman at one of the bars. The woman asked why he was covering his eye, so he showed her and told her what had happened. She told him it didn't look bad at all, he said.

"I just want to get my fake eye," he said.

Before he left for Iraq, he had planned to become a policeman. With his injuries, he isn't sure whether that will happen.

He plans to go to college and is thinking about law or marketing and business.

When asked what he thinks will ultimately happen in Iraq, he said he hopes the United States finishes the job it started and doesn't pull out. "Everything we have done would be in vain," he said.

"All we worked for and all the guys that have died would be for nothing. We are working towards freeing those people and getting a government up and getting things running smoothly."

He believes Iraq has been put on a back burner in the news since Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, and he wants America not to forget those still at war and those who are still being wounded and killed overseas.

"They don't talk about the guys that are over there fighting, the guys that are risking their lives day in and day out," he said. "It's like they kind of forgot about them."

For now, at the home of his mother, Lori Turner, the young Marine said he is glad to have time to do nothing and to rest.

"I don't think I've ever been this glad to be home," he said.

"When I go out, I don't have to worry about getting blown up or shot."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Kansas Marine's team, stateside charity bring about big changes in Iraq

SAQLAWIYAH, Iraq (Sept. 24, 2005) -- The crisp air heralded the arrival of a new day, one filled with renewed hope and fresh beginnings for the citizens of Saqlawiyah. This farming village on the outskirts of Fallujah had remained nearly untouched by the military's helping hand until April, when Coalition and Iraqi forces began operating in the area.

http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/37909245016F373E852570860023BC45?opendocument
Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 200592423019
Story by Cpl. Mike Escobar

SAQLAWIYAH, Iraq (Sept. 24, 2005) -- The crisp air heralded the arrival of a new day, one filled with renewed hope and fresh beginnings for the citizens of Saqlawiyah. This farming village on the outskirts of Fallujah had remained nearly untouched by the military's helping hand until April, when Coalition and Iraqi forces began operating in the area.

As U.S. Marines and Iraq's own troops patrolled the streets, one Shawnee, Kan. native's team of civil affairs specialists was spearheading a mission to assist in toppling the weakened insurgency.

On Sept. 7, 35-year-old Maj. Chris E. Phelps' Marines executed a three-pronged operation of goodwill and charity to help empower the local government in dealing with the terrorists, while gaining the trust of the residents they represent.

Team 3, Detachment 2, 5th Civil Affairs Group, a group of five mobilized reservists who have worked approximately seven months alongside Iraqi leaders to restore Iraq's infrastructure, and military officials met with local government representatives to discuss security concerns and ongoing infrastructure redevelopment projects during the operation's first phase.

This was the eleventh such discussion that has taken place since April 27, when Marines first met with the city council. Since then, Phelps said he has seen considerable progress both in the city and in the way the community leaders and Marines interact with one another.

"I felt great coming out of this meeting, like it had all come together in the end," stated the 1993 University of Kansas graduate, whose civil affairs team is slated to return to the U.S. in late September. "Never in the seven months that we've been here had I heard any Iraqi tell us 'thank you' for what we do, except for today's city council meeting, when they said it to me twice. We've come a long way with the council since we started our meetings from scratch in April."

This gratitude is a direct result of the progress men like city council member Majeed Na'amah Khalifa and his fellow Saqlawiyahans have seen take place here since their first interaction with Marines.

"My community suffered much when U.S. forces pushed through Fallujah (in late 2004). CAG worked with us to restore and improve many of the essential services we have needed since then," stated Khalifa, who serves as the assistant to the city council's chairman, Sheik Abdul Jabbar. "We have sat together and discussed our problems many times to find the perfect solutions."

Notable among the progress city officials, local contractors and Phelps' team worked together to bring about were the improvements in the community's water purification and power distribution system.

Approximately $1.5 million dollars will be invested to renovate the local water plant and the piping that transports the water to the surrounding areas. A system that Phelps said has seen no maintenance in more than 30 years and has contaminated some of the populace with cholera.

Nearly one million dollars was also spent on revamping the city's power system. New power lines and transformers were installed to ensure that as many residents as possible have electricity in their homes. This system had received little repair in 25 years, and the restorations will affect tens of thousands of residents here, Khalifa said.

Once the city council meeting concluded, Team 3 headed out to Saqlawiyah's medical clinic, another site they helped rehabilitate during their time here.

There, the team handed Dr. Ayad al-Hadithy three pallets of medical supplies, including items such as syringes, laboratory gloves, and needle holders.

The more than $4,000 worth of supplies, as well as the shipping costs to freight them overseas, were paid for by Heart to Heart International, a non-governmental organization based out of Olathe, Kan.

Phelps said he had contacted his friend and former classmate Dan Neal, project manager for Heart to Heart International, about Saqlawiyah's severe shortage of medical supplies. Upon hearing this, Neal worked with the association's president and founder, Dr. Gary Morsch, and employees to pay for and ship these supplies out to a people in need.

"We get great benefit from these medicines, because we are always short on them here. This supply today will last us approximately one month," al-Hadithy said. "We always appreciate the help we receive from the CAG and our good cooperation with the Marines here."

Phelps said this donation of medical supplies is especially significant because relatively few NGOs currently operate in Iraq.

Stateside officials also recognized the importance these acts of charity play in winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi public.

"This (donation) symbolizes the spirit of the United States of America, and our military heroes in particular," wrote Kansas state senator Pat Roberts in a letter thanking Heart to Heart International for their contribution to Iraq. "Where others would oppress, our soldiers save lives. As a former Marine myself, I want to say, 'Thank you and Semper Fi' to Heart to Heart International and Major Phelps."

This donation is the latest in a string of humanitarian missions Team 3 has performed for this clinic.

In May, they facilitated the clean-up of a biohazard material dump site behind the clinic, along with bringing biohazard waste incinerators to prevent future buildup.

Navy Seabees working with Team 3 had also erected an information read board outside the clinic, where the two- to- three hundred residents who visit the clinic daily can read about upcoming community events.

"Whether it's (Marines) or NGOs donating supplies to the Saqlawiyah medical clinic, we'll continue to push medical supplies out to the community until they're able to fix the logistics train between them and the Ministry of Health," Phelps stated. "Some things in the country can remain broken for a while without anybody dying, but when it comes to medical issues, we have to step in and do something right away."

The team's busy day ended with a visit to Saqlawiyah's police headquarters, where military personnel were awarding many local residents compensation payments.

Altogether, the citizens received a total of $5,500 dollars for destruction of properties and personal injury caused as a result of counter-insurgency operations here.

After their busy day, Phelps expressed his gratitude to his team and to the generous citizens in America for making this humanitarian mission here possible.

"I want to personally thank Dr. Gary Morsch, Dan Neal, and the other great employees of Heart to Heart International," he stated. "Today, they made a difference in the world, and it was a great day for the people of Saqlawiyah."

Big-city Marine learns value of small pleasures in Corps

FALLUJAH, Iraq (Sept. 24, 2005) -- Years ago in “The Big Apple,” Justin Henshaw lived a life many might envy and few would consider trading.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/D18ED5CD2DCFC92585257086002815D2?opendocument

Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 200592431750
Story by Cpl. Mike Escobar

FALLUJAH, Iraq (Sept. 24, 2005) -- Years ago in “The Big Apple,” Justin Henshaw lived a life many might envy and few would consider trading.

Originally a St. Simons Island, Ga. native, Henshaw was working as a personal trainer at two local fitness centers while gaining popularity and exposure as a television actor.

The events of September 11, 2001 would change the life he had known in the blink of an eye.

“My life up until that point had been all about me and about how much money I could make,” stated Henshaw, a 1998 Glynn Academy High School graduate. “Nine-eleven changed all that. The things that I saw on ‘ground zero’ changed my life.”

Angered by the acts of terrorism against thousands of innocents, but inspired to help his fellow Americans, Henshaw assisted several local churches’ food drives and donated blood.

This was too small a part for him, however. Shortly after, he gave up his blossoming acting career and marched into the heart of New York City on a mission.

“Not long after 9/11, I went to the recruiting station in Times Square and enlisted to be a Marine Corps infantryman,” Henshaw explained. “I stored my stuff away, put some affairs in my life in order, and went off to (Marine Corps Recruit Depot) Parris Island (in March 2002).”

More than three years later, 25-year-old Henshaw is a veteran having served in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and Afghanistan. Even after seeing combat and overseas locations, Henshaw said he still felt he had more to do.

“I volunteered to come to Iraq after my old unit got back from Afghanistan (in late 2004),” Henshaw said. “I had the option to go to another unit that wasn’t deploying, but I turned it down because I wanted to contribute to what was going on here.”

Now, he serves with 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, a unit that has been conducting counter-insurgency operations in Iraq’s Al Anbar Province since mid-March.

Corporal Henshaw is a member of the battalion’s 4th Combined Anti-Armor Team, Weapons Company. This group of Marines continually patrols Fallujah’s streets on foot and aboard their armored trucks.

During their early evening hour excursions, throngs of kids often dash out from numerous alleyways to greet and cheer on the vehicles they have come to know all too well. Henshaw and the 4th CAAT Marines have come loaded with treats, and the Iraqi children know that.

The Marines shake hands with the locals and pass out goodies to their children, as gunners aboard the trucks toss out handfuls of gum, candy and peanuts.

“Getting to interact with the kids is one of the things I like best about this job,” Henshaw said. “I believe that reaching out to the children is the best way to reach out to the country, because they are Iraq’s future. Whereas some adults that lived under Saddam’s regime may have a skewed opinion of us, the kids are untainted. Ten years down the road, they’ll remember how we helped them out when they were little.”

Dealing out treats works to foster a sense of trust between the community and the American troops, but Henshaw and his Marines also strive to spread patriotism and love toward the relatively new democratic nation.

“The people seem to love the little Iraqi flag stickers we hand out even more than our candy and soccer balls,” Henshaw stated. “I think it’s awesome that they have so much pride in their country and that we support that. These people here have been through a lot over the years, and they should definitely be proud of being Iraqi.”

Despite their positive dealings with the community, Henshaw said occasional suspicious stares follow his patrolling convoy.

“Some of the people see the stuff we do here as an inconvenience to their lives, but most see that we do it for their protection,” he continued. “If we have to lock down an entire city block because someone places an IED (improvised explosive device) there, people might lose ten minutes out of their day, but we do it to keep them safe.”

Several more weeks worth of these missions await Henshaw and his Marines as they wait to conclude their deployment here.

As his chapter in Iraq draws to an end, Henshaw also prepares to close the book on his Marine Corps experience. He plans to leave the Corps in December to head back to his hometown and ultimately become a physical therapist.

Occasionally, Henshaw said he thinks back to the promising career and big-city life he left behind, but does not miss what he’s come to view as its glitziness and superficiality.

“The Marine Corps made me realize that it’s always been my calling to work as part of something that helps other people,” he stated. “I never knew how easy my old life was until I joined. Working your butt off changes you and makes you more respectful of what you have. I feel these past few years have made me a stronger person.”

McConnelsville, Ohio native fire-rescue member

HADITHAH DAM, Iraq (Sept. 24, 2005) -- In the midst of emergencies, decisions made by emergency personnel often mean life or death. One Marine with 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, who is also an EMT and volunteer fireman, understands the choices that civilian rescue teams make and is applying it to his first deployment to Iraq.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/39988DB085307FC785257086002F423D?opendocument

McConnelsville, Ohio native fire-rescue member
Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 200592443611
Story by Cpl. Ken Melton

HADITHAH DAM, Iraq (Sept. 24, 2005) -- In the midst of emergencies, decisions made by emergency personnel often mean life or death. One Marine with 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, who is also an EMT and volunteer fireman, understands the choices that civilian rescue teams make and is applying it to his first deployment to Iraq.

Private first class Hiram D. Haines, a light counter mortar radar monitor and administration clerk with 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines has come from saving people in his hometown to helping the Marines save the lives of Iraqi people in the Global War on Terrorism.

“I served my community but I thought I could do more. So I decided to serve my country,” said the McConnelsville, Ohio native.

Haines, a 1998 graduate of Morgan High School, attended EMT basic course at Washington County Adult Training Facility in 2002 and later attended the State of Ohio Fire Academy the same year.

“I always enjoyed helping people,” the 25-year-old said. “Some of my family were also volunteer firefighters, so I thought I would do that as well.”

While working in the fire and medical fields, he earned the 2004 Full-Time Paramedic of the Year award and the 2002 Star of Life award with three others for performing lifesaving techniques.

“I had just gotten back to the station when we got a call for a shooting incident with one victim,” said Haines. “The location of the house was nearby so we rushed over there and began to treat her wounds.

“We knew that we were supposed to wait for the police to arrive first, but we knew that if we could save this woman’s life it would be worth any reprimand we would receive for operating out of protocol.”

There was no punishment for their courageous actions and the praise he received from this event would later inspire him to take the step to become a U.S. Marine.

“My fire chief at M&M; fire department, Terry Bragg, was a Marine for 36 years and he held us to some of their regulations,” Haines said. “The rescue of that lady, Terry and other members of my family influenced me to join the Marine Corps.”

Haines joined the Marine Corps in the early months of 2004 and used his experiences as a firefighter to complete the challenges of boot camp.

“I had a fear of heights, but I had to overcome them quickly so I could become a fireman,” Haines said. “When we got to the obstacle course and the repelling tower at recruit training, I knew I would be able to do it. I wanted to be a Marine as much as I had wanted to be a fireman.”

By the year’s end, he had completed training and found himself preparing to deploy to Iraq.

“I was excited to get a chance to come over here and do my part,” Haines said. “I deal with the public a lot while working with the liaison coordinators. When I’m not dealing with the local people, I monitor the LCMR.”

The LMCR, or Light Counter Mortar Radar, monitors the area for mortar impacts and gives estimates of where they were launched from and how many might be incoming. Haines handles the sudden, unprovoked attacks at the base and on the streets of Iraq the same way he handles going into burning buildings as a fire fighter.

“This is an unstable environment out here and you have to be alert and be aware of your surroundings,” said Haines. “At any time, something can change and your life could be on the line.”

While he enjoys his time with his Marine Corps family, he still misses the companionship with his other family at the fire department.

“I miss our weekly meeting nights and the people in my community that I helped,” Haines said. “I know when I go back I will be able to help them, but right now I have to help these people so they can have a community like mine.”

Dallas, Ga., native serves to follow dad’s footsteps

CAMP AL QA’IM, Iraq (Sept. 24, 2005) -- Dallas, Ga., native Cpl. Richard E. Scarlett III spent his entire life around the Marine Corps, traveling to the various Marine posts around the globe, long before he could even vote, drive, pay taxes, or even wear the uniform of a United States Marine.


Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 20059245029
Story by Sgt. Jerad W. Alexander

CAMP AL QA’IM, Iraq (Sept. 24, 2005) -- Dallas, Ga., native Cpl. Richard E. Scarlett III spent his entire life around the Marine Corps, traveling to the various Marine posts around the globe, long before he could even vote, drive, pay taxes, or even wear the uniform of a United States Marine.

Scarlett, now serving with the Motor Transportation Platoon, Headquarters & Service Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, traveled the world with his father, Richard E. Scarlett Jr., a now-retired Marine master sergeant.

While growing up, he moved with his family to various Marine Corps postings including Camp Pendleton, Okinawa, Quantico, and Camp Lejeune, according to Scarlett.

“Growing up around the Marine Corps helped me adjust to some of the things I’ve experienced in the Marines,” said Scarlett, who served in Afghanistan before coming to Iraq. “Moving around was pretty easy for me.”

Roughly two years after graduating Quantico High School in Quantico, Va., Scarlett followed his father and enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2003.

“He didn’t push me, but thought it was a good idea,” he said. “I thought the Marine Corps would help me grow up as a person,” Scarlett said. “Before, I was lazy and didn’t do much, now I have a better work ethic.”

He also joined because he wanted to be like his father, he said.

While in the Marine Corps, Scarlett’s father was an ammunition technician. Working with ammunition, however, wasn’t something Scarlett wanted.

“I like to work with my hands, so [motor transportation] was the best thing,” he said.

During his first year in the Marine Corps, if there was anything Scarlett didn’t understand about the Marine Corps, he could simply turn and ask his father, which, according to Scarlett, was a big help.

Currently, Scarlett isn’t sure about what exactly he wants to do in the future but is investigating the possibility of going to school to become a crime scene investigator.

Newport native puts welding skills to work

CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, RAMADI, Iraq (Sept. 24, 2005) -- Lance Cpl. Anthony S. Loftin has all the hallmarks of a working man. His blackened fingernails, grease-covered hands and dirt-smudged face are tell-tale signs of the work he does as a mechanic. Few know, however, of the contributions he has made toward keeping the Marines and sailors living and working here in the Al Anbar Province safe.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/273C604938F3A015852570860032C4BA?opendocument
Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 200592451431
Story by Sgt. Ryan S. Scranton

CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, RAMADI, Iraq (Sept. 24, 2005) -- Lance Cpl. Anthony S. Loftin has all the hallmarks of a working man. His blackened fingernails, grease-covered hands and dirt-smudged face are tell-tale signs of the work he does as a mechanic. Few know, however, of the contributions he has made toward keeping the Marines and sailors living and working here in the Al Anbar Province safe.

The 22 year-old Newport, Ark., native spends the majority of his time here using the welding skills he learned working at his grandfather’s auto shop to craft everything from the obscure to the obvious.

“I’ve gotten requests for all sorts of things out here,” Loftin said. “I’ve had so many people requesting things that I had to make a list and start prioritizing it.”

Loftin, a motor transport mechanic with Truck Company, Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division has assembled everything from shower curtain hooks to armor for the camp’s ambulance.

“The ambulance took me about a week to do,” Loftin said. “Every piece of metal had to be custom cut and fit for the back, sides and the top.”

Most of Loftins projects come straight out of his head. He cuts and shapes pieces of scrap metal and fuses them together based on the image he creates in his mind.

“I just listen to what people ask me to create and as they are talking I get a mental image of it in my head,” he said.

His genius lies in his ability to come up with simple solutions to complex problems. Daily mortar attacks left engineers needing a contraption that would allow them to easily cover many of the camps roof structures with sand to harden them against mortar blasts. Putting his imagination to work, Loftin quickly assembled a metal bucket with a trap door allowing workers to hoist the device to rooftops, pull a pin and let the buckets trap door unleash tons of sand to cover the buildings roofs.

“It’s a lot like a sand bagger used to filled sand bags only a lot bigger,” Loftin said.

Loftin has also used his expertise to build 10 large steel guard towers that house the various Marines who stand watch over the camp. Additionally, he has constructed 12 giant rolling gates that keep out the camps unwanted visitors.

His latest project is creating several gates to help lead Iraqi citizens into the Al Anbar Government Center to vote in Iraq’s elections this October.

“Hopefully, these gates will help make it easier for the Marines out there to keep people safe,” Loftin said. “I came out here to make a difference and I think I’m doing that.”

The project is just one more way Loftin says he is trying to do his part and to pay back what he says he owes.

“This is my first time in Iraq and I want to contribute,” Loftin said. “I spent two years at my old unit watching guys come over here and I feel like I owe it to every Marine who has been here before.”

Loftin volunteered for this deployment. The soft-spoken country boy was one of the first Marines to raise his hand when they asked for volunteers to deploy. His dedication and love for the Marine Corps prompted him to reenlist for three more years. It’s something he plans to do in October when his current enlistment expires.

“I’m going to stay in because everything I need is right here,” Loftin said. “The Marine Corps has helped me out so much.”

He cited his increased maturity level, compared to his years as a troubled teenager, as proof of the Marine Corps’ ability to instill discipline in anyone. He said it was the greatest benefit he has received from the Marines.

“I was headed in the wrong direction and I needed to do something different with my life,” Loftin said. “The Marine Corps helped me turn that around.”

The Marine Corps has given him the chance to get off what once looked like a predetermined path to working in a factory or on a farm in Arkansas, barely making ends meet. He wanted to make a difference with his life and said he feels like he has.

“Everything I’ve done over here has helped out in some way, shape or form,” Loftin said. “But everyone here has helped out a lot.

“Hopefully, over time, we’ll continue to make more progress and get everyone back home. Then we’ll all know we made a difference.”

St. Charles native helps keep 2nd Marine Division running

CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, RAMADI, Iraq (Sept. 24, 2005) -- The treacherous desert environment takes it’s toll on the hundreds of vehicles and thousands of weapons and communications equipment used to conduct daily military operations in the western region of Iraq.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/13F9337FD9A60A9B852570860034CB30?opendocument

Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 200592453638
Story by Sgt. Ryan S. Scranton

CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, RAMADI, Iraq (Sept. 24, 2005) -- The treacherous desert environment takes it’s toll on the hundreds of vehicles and thousands of weapons and communications equipment used to conduct daily military operations in the western region of Iraq.

Much of this equipment can not be repaired or requires maintenance beyond what can be accomplished here, requiring it to be shipped to one of the logistical bases in the country for restoration or replacement.

St. Charles, Missouri native, Lance Cpl. Katie L. Arnold ensures that each piece of equipment gets to where it needs to go to ensure Marines here stay in the fight. The 21-year-old maintenance management specialist tracks hundreds of parts and pieces of gear every week from the nearly endless inventory of equipment needed to help the 2nd Marine Division take the fight to the enemy.

“If there is a piece of gear broken, I know about it,” said Arnold. “I monitor every piece of gear as it goes through the maintenance cycle.”

Arnold spends the majority of her day scanning over her list of thousands of parts. She’s responsible for ensuring that the Marines who need gear get it. It’s a complex process but Arnold said she has it under control.

“We’ve got it down now so we can run the entire shop for weeks with only one person,” Arnold said. “We’ve got a system down that makes it pretty easy.”

After months of constantly monitoring her reports, Arnold said she almost has them memorized. She knows when a part should be shipped out and when it should return from repair.

“I go over my reports daily looking at every single part for discrepancies,” Arnold said. “If you look at this stuff long enough you start to remember every piece.”

Arnold ships broken parts and pieces twice a week to ensure that the repair process is responsive. She works closely with her fellow Marines from Headquarters Battalion through daily phone calls, e-mails and updates from the various units on and off the camp. Every piece of gear gets marked, inventoried, annotated and boxed before shipment and repair.

“We go through more than a thousand parts a month so it gets hectic,” Arnold said. “But I think we’ve got the process down now and it couldn’t run any smoother.”

The last six months have been arduous for Arnold. She remembers spending many long days and nights getting all the kinks out of the system. She said the long hours are difficult, but she has been able to rely on her friends here for support.

“I don’t think I could have got through it all out here without the help of my friends,” she said. “We can talk to each other about anything. We have our own little support system here.”

Arnold said she can rely on her friends to understand the things that her family back in Missouri does not.

“My family has been great and they support me being here, but sometimes they don’t understand what it’s like here,” She said. “My dad actually thought I was on an all female base. So they don’t always get it.”

Arnold’s parents have not always been supportive of her choice to join the Marines though. She said her parents were worried about her decision but have become very supportive.

“Since I came back from boot camp my parents have supported me one-hundred percent and they are very proud of the job I am doing now,” Arnold said.

After graduating from Francis Howell Central High School in June 2002 she attended St. Charles Community College but lacked the focus to excel in her studies. She later began perusing her real estate license in Missouri, but she was told that at 19 she lacked the life experience needed to be successful in the real estate business.

Since graduating recruit training in October 2003, she said the last few years in the Marines have given her both self-determination and a sense of purpose.

“I’ve grown up a lot and matured a lot since I joined,” Arnold said. “I used to rely on my family for things. Some might even say I was spoiled, but I’ve gained my independence now.

“After this experience I feel like I have a purpose here and that I have made a difference,” Arnold said. “We’re supporting the Marines who are giving the people here an opportunity to be free.”

'Untouchable' engineers lend support to TACC security

AL ASAD, Iraq (Sept. 24, 2005) -- The Tactical Air Command Center security guards here recently received support from two “Untouchable” Marines.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/66FBAA5BB13EF3B585257086004082A9?opendocument

Submitted by: 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing
Story Identification #: 200592474437
Story by Cpl. Micah Snead

AL ASAD, Iraq (Sept. 24, 2005) -- The Tactical Air Command Center security guards here recently received support from two “Untouchable” Marines.

Staff Sgt. Remko Wouters and Lance Cpl. Kyle Paulson, engineer equipment operators with the Untouchables of Marine Wing Support Squadron 272, helped TACC security install and fortify new guard shacks, Sept. 19 through 24.

The Marines placed structures, moved obstacles and filled Hesco barriers, large canvas bags inside wire frames, with sandbags and dirt. The mission required heavy labor under the harsh Iraqi sun and a constant cloud of sand and dust, while maintaining security at the guard posts, said Gunnery Sgt. Mitchell Martin, the TACC security chief and Bethesda, Md., native.

“These structures are vital for our mission as TACC security,” Martin said. “The Marines performing the work did so in such a manner so we could continue our mission.”

For the Wing support Marines, the mission was just another day out of the office. An MWSS provides a wide variety of support ranging from aircraft refueling and motor transport to engineering and food service. The Untouchables have found a steady stream of missions since the Marine Corps Air Station New River-based squadron assumed responsibility for the area in August.

“We just answer the call, whatever mission comes up,” said Wouters, a Phoenix native and augment from MWSS-273, based aboard MCAS Beaufort. “This was a good experience for me because it was my first time playing with the Hescos.”

Many junior MWSS Marines do not have hands-on experience with this type of work, but most are quick to learn during a deployment, said Paulson, an Alcester, S.D., native.

“There is a lot more work and a lot more hours during a deployment,” Paulson said. “Marines in the squadron with experience will teach us a lot of what they know, and the rest of it comes from getting out and doing it.”

Experience is not the only payout from putting in the hours of work, said Wouters.

“Security is obviously very important, but you do take some pride away from it knowing you are helping the beautification of the base,” Wouters said. “Also, it’s another mission accomplished. I like jobs where you can come in, take care of it and not have any unfinished business.”

The two Marines were all over this task from the first steps and deserve all the credit for a job well done, said Martin.

“Once it was deemed necessary new shacks be installed, Staff Sgt. Wouters contacted me and he was the one who arranged everything,” Martin said. “All I had to do was open gates. Staff Sgt. Wouters and Lance Cpl. Paulson are Marines who are behind the scenes making a big difference in the order, protection and appearance of this base. It is important they be recognized for their outstanding work.”

For these Untouchables, being a jack of all trades just comes with the territory.

“I just do what I do,” Paulson said. “This is one job down. Once we get them all, we can go home. I’m looking forward to that.”

Motor-T Marine presses on after stumbling block

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq(Sept. 24, 2005) -- He is known for being a high spirited Marine who could have been a class clown in high school, however the Cuba native knows what it takes to get the job done under difficult circumstances here.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/B847173D954DB9D685257086001FBC71?opendocument

Submitted by:
II Marine Expeditionary Force (FWD)
Story by:
Computed Name: Lance Cpl. Josh Cox

Story Identification #:
200592414638

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq(Sept. 24, 2005) -- He is known for being a high spirited Marine who could have been a class clown in high school, however the Cuba native knows what it takes to get the job done under difficult circumstances here.

Lance Cpl. Jamby Perez, who moved from Cuba to Miami with his family when he was a toddler, studied college curriculum there before curiously strolling into a Marine recruiter’s office in 2002.

“I pretty much just walked in the office,” said Perez, who is assigned to Headquarters Platoon, Bravo Company, 2nd Tank Battalion, 2nd Marine Division. “I started college and didn’t know what I wanted to do.”

The 22-year-old attributed the events of Sept. 11, 2001, to his decision to join the Marine Corps.

“That was the turn around point,” said Perez, who graduated from Hialeah High School in Miami. “I wanted to make a difference; I didn’t want to sit around.”

The kick boxing enthusiast completed basic training and was assigned to 2nd Tank Bn., based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., before deploying to Iraq to serve as a humvee operator.

“My job in Iraq has been driving for ‘Black Three,’” he said, referring to the humvee he operates here.

Perez said his typical duties in Iraq include dismounting the truck during convoys, conducting improvised explosive device sweeps, clearing buildings, conducting vehicle checkpoints, searching personnel, detaining personnel and maintaining tactical vehicles with 2nd Tank Bn.

“He is good at what he does,” said Sgt. Brent Sheets, vehicle commander, Bravo Company, 2nd Tank Bn., 2nd Marine Division. “If you tell him to do something, he gets it done. He works hard, especially when out in the field. He is always pretty motivated about getting out there.”

While operating with 2nd Tank Bn., here May 1, Perez’s humvee was struck by an IED. He was not hurt, so he responded to the blast by providing security and aiding injured Marines who were riding along.

“He tried to help me up, but I couldn’t get up at the time because of my knee,” said Sheets, who was injured in the explosion. “He did everything he was supposed to do in that situation. I couldn’t really ask for too much more than that.”

Despite the attack, Perez was able to charge on and continue with the mission.

“After we got hit with the IED, it took him a while to get back in the swing of things, but he really didn’t have a bad transition,” said Sheets. “He has been a good guy to work with, and I’m really happy he came out here with us.”

Perez said he feels obligated to help make a difference in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“Someone has to do it, and I think it is better to bring the fight to [the insurgents],” said Perez. “I especially enjoy seeing children smile; that makes it all worth while.”

Perez hopes to one day take his experience in the Marine Corps to the streets of Miami as a police officer. But first and foremost, he plans to become a noncommissioned officer to lead Marines the way he was led by Sheets.

“Within the next year in the Marine Corps, I plan to be the best NCO that I can be,” he said. “I want to show my Marines everything I was taught from the good leaders I’ve had. I want to take all that knowledge and give it to them to make sure they make the best they can out of the Marine Corps.”

EDITOR’S NOTE
Please feel free to publish this story or any of the accompanying photos. If used, please give proper credit to the writer/photographer, and contact us at: [email protected] so we can update our records.

EOD bombs insurgent’s plans

FALLUJAH, Iraq (Sept. 24, 2005) -- The Marines of Explosive Ordnance Disposal seem like regular guys at first glance. They enjoy computer games, watching movies, reading magazines and keeping in touch with family members.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/BFCB5583F1118C1F85257086003B7855?opendocument
Submitted by: II Marine Expeditionary Force (FWD)
Story Identification #: 200592464934
Story by Lance Cpl. Josh Cox

FALLUJAH, Iraq (Sept. 24, 2005) -- The Marines of Explosive Ordnance Disposal seem like regular guys at first glance. They enjoy computer games, watching movies, reading magazines and keeping in touch with family members.

However, they have a unique trait only few possess. They happen to be the subject matter experts in the art of disarming the enemy before he can strike.

The primary mission of the team is “to clear improvised explosive devices [and] to recover unexploded ordnance and reduce weapon’s caches,” said Gunnery Sgt. Lee. W. Sherwood, team leader, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Force Service Support Group (FWD).

Sherwood said EOD uses specialized teams to accomplish their dangerous missions. Sometimes, the team receives multiple calls in one day to extract and destroy weapons.

“On the average I’d say (EOD responds to) one call a day, and that’s on the average,” said Sherwood.

Generally, the team is utilized if coalition forces discover an IED or weapons cache in their area of operation, but EOD also responds to a lot of other different situations. Troops usually rely on the team’s expertise after recovering enemy munitions, instead of probing around hazardous ordnance that could possibly produce a deadly blast.

According to Sherwood, the process begins when these weapons are initially discovered. The unit on site will submit a request for EOD support, which will be evaluated through the chain of command.

Once the request is authorized, the team quickly responds by suiting up in protective gear and rushing to the scene, along with a group of Marines who provide security while the team works.

“Usually on the way out we’re thinking of different ways we could approach [explosive ordnance] safely,” said Sgt. Kristopher B. Hocking, an EOD technician.

Hocking said the team formulates a plan of attack before arriving to the scene so they are prepared to handle the situation quickly and effectively.

Most of the time, the team utilizes high-tech robots that probe areas where the ordnance is thought to be present. Taking this measure ensures the safety of the Marines operating there.

“Using remote techniques and [robotic] cameras, [the team is] able to view something from a safe distance,” said Sherwood.

After identifying explosive ordnance, the team collects and destroys it—Hollywood style.

“The explosions are great, it’s just like being in Hollywood,” said Sherwood.

Sherwood said a portion of the ordnance EOD comes across originated from Iraqi ammunition supply points after Desert Storm. These facilities safeguarding ammunition were supposedly looted after being partially bombed, destroyed or abandoned.

“A lot of it was stolen from Iraqi ammunition supply points,” he said. “They [insurgents] had free reign over the countryside to grab anything they could get their hands on. For them, having ammunition is like having money.”

Working only several feet away from a live bomb that could detonate at any given time can be dangerous for the EOD technicians. The team deals with the stress involved in several ways.

“It just has to do with your motivation, knowing the importance of your job and the training you receive, just like any Marine,” said Sherwood. “Having a very good sense of humor helps [deal with stress].”

The Marines of EOD have a very positive outlook on their job, and always keep their objective in mind.

“I enjoy my work, someone has to do it,” said Hocking. “If I can make things safer for the other Marines out here, that’s good enough for me. If this has to be done, I rather it be here than in my hometown. It’s one of those jobs that I see a tangible result. Whenever I do my job, I know that I am making a difference.”

There are many benefits to working with the team. The Marines of EOD get to use cutting edge technology, and produce massive explosions, just like in Hollywood. But, most importantly, their efforts ensure the safety of fellow Marines serving in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

EDITOR’S NOTE
Please feel free to publish this story or any of the accompanying photos. If used, please give proper credit to the writer/photographer, and contact us at: [email protected] so we can update our records.

Franklin Furnance, Ohio native finds insurgent documentation during Operation Spear

KARBILAH, Iraq
(Sept. 24, 2005) -- Lance Cpl. James M. Howard, an infantryman with 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment and soldiers from the Iraqi Security Force discovered evidence of foreign fighters in the town of Karbilah while participating in Operation Rohme (Spear).

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/96C273693BB04C688525708600304598?opendocument

Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 200592444715
Story by Cpl. Ken Melton

KARBILAH, Iraq
(Sept. 24, 2005) -- Lance Cpl. James M. Howard, an infantryman with 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment and soldiers from the Iraqi Security Force discovered evidence of foreign fighters in the town of Karbilah while participating in Operation Rohme (Spear).

Howard and his fellow Marines from 3rd squad, 2nd Platoon, Company L and members of the ISF, uncovered numerous suspicious photos and documents while conducting a search of a suspected insurgent hideout within the city.

“We found passports from bordering countries, photos of men dressed in black holding guns,” the Franklin Furnace, Ohio native said. “We also found numerous bomb-making materials and modified detonators.”

The former occupants attempted to conceal all these items well before they left.

Later, as the squad moved to a position closer to their platoon headquarters, they engaged insurgents trying to leave the city in a hurried manner.

The events lifted the Marines’ spirits and left them with a sense of accomplishment.

“I think about all the Marines and innocent civilians who could be hurt by those devices,” said the 2002 Wheelersburg High School graduate. “It’s men like these who set up those devices and can eventually hurt others. I’m glad we could do a small part to help stop it.”

The Marines of 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines continued to cripple the insurgents’ efforts and expose their hideouts during the remainder of the operation, which concluded June 20 with almost 50 insurgents killed, numerous weapons caches found, a suicide car bomb facility destroyed, and a torture houses raided where four hostages were freed.

Young Marines flap shows need to back our military

We were very much impressed with the Young Marines for the job they did. They were very polite and they helped with chairs and getting us in and out of the carts and directing the traffic.

http://http://morningsentinel.mainetoday.com/view/letters/1983782.shtml

Copyright © 2005 Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.

My husband, a retired veteran, and I, both disabled, were at Colby for the Franco-American festival.

We were very much impressed with the Young Marines for the job they did. They were very polite and they helped with chairs and getting us in and out of the carts and directing the traffic.

This being a free country, the reverend's wife is entitled to her opinions, but would you tell a young person not to go after a driver's license because that person might get killed in a car?

We need to support our military, both young and old. The Young Marines no doubt build character and learn responsibility. They know the perils of being in the military. Young and old, they still go on to keep our country safe and free. If they did not, we would be caught again like Pearl Harbor.

God bless America, the land of the free and the brave.

Barbara Morse

Waterville

Marines Return Home from Iraq

Lots of smiling faces and spirited embraces were at the Marine Corps Armory in Jackson Saturday morning.

http://www.wlbt.com/Global/story.asp?S=3894237&nav;=2CSf

Lots of smiling faces and spirited embraces were at the Marine Corps Armory in Jackson Saturday morning.

Members of the E-Battery or ECHO 2-14 Reserves arrived back home by bus after a seven month tour of duty in Iraq near the Syrian border. They spent a week at Camp Lejeune before flying out to the Jackson International Airport Saturday.

“The first person I saw was my sister. She came up, hugged me, then I saw my mother and later I'm going up the road to see my wife,” said Arthur Ware of ECHO Battery.

“These are my daughters, Destiny and Faith. They're three, and this is my youngest son Christopher, one and a half, and it's real great to be back home,” stated Adam Byrd of ECHO Battery.

Members of the ECHO Battery performed maintenance and supply duties overseas.

September 23, 2005

Mules assist Corps in war effort

MARINE CORPS MOUNTAIN WARFARE TRAINING CENTER, BRIDGEPORT, Calif. (Sept. 23, 2005) -- Mission of Mule Packers: To aid the Marine Corps as an alternative method for transporting crew-served weapons, ammunition, supplies, and wounded personnel to and from areas inaccessible to mechanized and air mobile transportation. (1/3)

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/A05BC7BF4DFD58A18525708D0002E059?opendocument


Submitted by: MCB Hawaii
Story Identification #: 2005930203125
Story by Sgt. Joe Lindsay

MARINE CORPS MOUNTAIN WARFARE TRAINING CENTER, BRIDGEPORT, Calif. (Sept. 23, 2005) -- Mission of Mule Packers: To aid the Marine Corps as an alternative method for transporting crew-served weapons, ammunition, supplies, and wounded personnel to and from areas inaccessible to mechanized and air mobile transportation.

Not much has changed since the U.S. Army issued the last military publication on pack animals in 1914. In fact, the above excerpt from the 2000 manual is the first update to the manual in 91 years.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Morlock, a survival instructor and mule pack master at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, Calif., and a native of Pasadena, Texas. “Pack animals have been used in warfare for thousands of years and have the potential to play a vital role in current military operations in the modern age, especially in places like Afghanistan where the terrain makes it impossible for Humvees or helos to reach certain objectives.”

If anybody should know, it’s Morlock, who spent a combat tour in Afghanistan last year as an embedded trainer with the Afghan National Army.

“Horses, mules and donkeys are combat multipliers for the Marines in Afghanistan,” said Morlock. “The enemy uses them for a simple reason — they are proven to work where modern technologies fail. We are using them in theater for the same reason.”

Which is why it is so vital that the Marines from 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment trained with and used pack animals during their recent training evolution at MCMWTC in preparation for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

“The training center here uses mules, as they have been since the inception of the facility in the early 1950s,” said Gunnery Sgt. Steven Brunner, Company Gunnery Sergeant for Headquarters & Service Company, 1/3, and a native of St. Petersburg, Fla.

“We have learned, and history has proven, that even though we have the best and most advanced modern military equipment, they still have their limitations. In the mountains, you’re going to experience some of those limitations.”

According to Brunner, who served here as a sergeant instructor at the Mountain Leaders Course from 1992 to 1997, and then as the chief instructor for the entire training facility from 2001 to 2004 before making a permanent change of station move to Hawaii and 1/3, the Mule Packers Course that Marines took here during their pre-deployment training exercise was some of the most important training they received.

“Helicopters can only fly so high, vehicles can only drive so far on steep terrain without roads, and you’re left with no other option than to put supplies — whether it be water, food, ammunition, crew-served weapons or what have you — on to the backs of Marines,” said Brunner. “By using pack animals, you take the extra weight off the backs of Marines and put it on the mules, which makes the Marines more mobile. Mules can carry heavy loads on treacherous terrain for long distances on little food and water, so they are vital to our mission when pursuing the enemy in mountainous combat zones like Afghanistan.”

For many of 1/3’s Marines, the MPC was the first time they had been exposed to any animals other than cats, dogs, and the occasional goldfish.

“I’m not used to being around animals,” admitted Lance Cpl. Chad Boersma, a 1/3 squad automatic weapons gunner and a native of Grand Rapids, Mich. “I was a little scared at first, and I don’t scare easily.”

Lance Cpl. James Bragg, a 1/3 tow gunner from Philadelphia, said he could relate to Boersma’s words.

“I mean, c’mon, I’m from Philly. You think I’ve been around mules before?” exclaimed Bragg. “I was scared to death they were going to stomp on me or attack me or something.”

According to Sgt. Phillip Bocks, a MCMWTC mule pack master from Truckee, Calif., who previously served with 1/3 in Hawaii, a healthy dose of apprehension in the beginning of training is not necessarily a bad thing.

“Mules are a hybrid cross between a horse and a donkey; they weigh up to 1,200 pounds; they kick; they bite and they are generally stubborn, ornery creatures,” said Bocks. “Our job is to get the Marines comfortable around the animals, to be confident in packing them, in caring for them, and for the Marines to be proficient at leading them on resupply missions by the end of the training.”

According to both Boersma and Bragg, that initial fear has now turned to respect since graduating from MPC, and both Marines now say they are confident they can successfully lead pack animals in Afghanistan on any mission that comes their way.

During his first tour in Afghanistan last year with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Lance Cpl. Loren Lynch, a 1/3 fire team leader with Charlie Company and native of Oviedo, Fla., saw, firsthand, the importance pack animals and properly trained pack masters can have.

“I am glad 1/3 is making the commitment to get as many Marines as possible trained up in leading these animals,” said Lynch. “Having the pack animals with us will make life easier on the ‘grunts’ (infantry Marines).”

After the initial culture shock of dealing with the mules subsided, according to Lance Cpl. Douglas Davis, a 1/3 intelligence specialist from Brunswick, Ga., “The Marines in the Mule Packers Course spearheaded this training head on. I have no doubt that when we are in country and the time comes to get supplies to an otherwise inaccessible location, the mule packing Marines of 1/3 will meet the challenge.”

Lance Cpl. Derek Mallow, a 1/3 administrative clerk from Oceanside, Calif., who worked with horses as a stable hand throughout high school, before joining the Marines, said he was proud of the way the “city” Marines adapted to their new circumstances.

“From the first day of training with the mules until the last day, the change in the Marines’ confidence and proficiency levels was amazing,” said Mallow. “As a Marine, you’ve got to have confidence in your brothers on both sides of you, and I am confident that the Marines who went through the course with me, regardless of their past lack of experience, can now not just handle the job, but excel at it.”

Those words, and others like it from the 1/3 Marines who graduated MPC, are exactly what Brunner was hoping to hear.
“You can’t impose your will on the mountain, because the mountain will win every time,” said Brunner. “Mules, and properly trained pack masters, help level the playing field.”
-30-

Through the highways and byways of the Marine Corps, one road is for you

U.S. MARINE CORPS FORCES, PACIFIC, CAMP H. M. SMITH, Hawaii (Sep. 23, 2005) -- The Marine Corps has taken steps to help Marines enhance their careers by compiling word-of-mouth and hand-me-down advice into small, convenient and understandable packages which were released in April.

http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/02283E18C4A49DA5852570850062BE80?opendocument
Submitted by:
Marine Forces Pacific
Story by:
Computed Name: Lance Cpl. R. Drew Hendricks
Story Identification #:
2005923135832

U.S. MARINE CORPS FORCES, PACIFIC, CAMP H. M. SMITH, Hawaii (Sep. 23, 2005) -- The Marine Corps has taken steps to help Marines enhance their careers by compiling word-of-mouth and hand-me-down advice into small, convenient and understandable packages which were released in April.

Gen. Michael W. Hagee, Commandant of the Marine Corps, commissioned the release of the Military Occupational Specialty Roadmaps in 2004. Since then, MOS schools have been working to produce these valuable nuggets of knowledge.

“The program is designed to be a ‘one stop shopping’ guide that will enable you to capitalize on all available opportunities to enhance your professional, educational, and personal development,” said Hagee in All Marine Message 044/05.

Marines will not be required to follow the roadmaps to the letter; rather, it allows them to view all available training as well as the best path to promotion, according to Maj. Gen. T.S. Jones, Commanding General, Training and Education Command.

The roadmap starts from the lowest rank to the highest, showing which path a private should tread to the steps a gunny needs to take.

The information ranges from what Marine Corps Institute courses to take to what degrees would best help the Marine succeed after the Corps.

For instance, a nuclear, biological and chemical defense specialist Marine is advised to pursue a degree in chemical engineering, or a career with the Homeland Security’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Bureau.

The roadmaps will be updated with training and education requirements and recommendations. Marines should regularly check for any changes to ensure they have the most current information available.

The roadmap will not replace the best tools in the Marine Corps, Marine leaders and mentors. On the contrary, noncommissioned and staff noncommissioned officers are to use them as a tool to help and guide their Marines, according to Hagee.

The Marine Corps provides money for college, on the job training and professional development for future careers. The roadmaps are just one more tool in the Corps arsenal to ensure Marines have everything they need to be successful.

“The success of the Corps, now and in the future, depends on Marines of the highest caliber, who are prepared to increase their knowledge and skills through lifelong training and education,” said Hagee. ”The MOS roadmaps are an invaluable tool to help guide you to that end.”

Marines can obtain their roadmaps at the TECOM website http://www.TECOM.USMC.Mil/G3/Roadmap.PHP.

Marine musician finds link to childhood

Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif.(Sept. 23, 2005) -- Thousands of onlookers cheered and applauded as the sides of streets were packed shoulder-to-shoulder during a parade held in honor of returning Gulf War veterans in San Bernardino, Calif. People walked down the path waving as marching music blared behind them.

http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/2C555D555A6317C2852570850068DF1C?opendocument

Submitted by:
MCAGCC
Story by:
Computed Name: Lance Cpl. Brian A. Tuthill
Story Identification #:
200592315528

Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif.(Sept. 23, 2005) -- Thousands of onlookers cheered and applauded as the sides of streets were packed shoulder-to-shoulder during a parade held in honor of returning Gulf War veterans in San Bernardino, Calif. People walked down the path waving as marching music blared behind them.

Then, dressed sharply in their blue dress uniforms, a Marine Corps band halted. All eyes shifted to them as they cleanly and swiftly maneuvered their instruments to playing positions. The Marines’ Hymn blasted proudly over the area as Marines of generations past and present stood rigidly at attention.

Five-year-old Talee R. Garcia, now a lance corporal, said he remembers this as an important moment in his life. He knew then that he wanted to become a United States Marine.

“I thought it was really amazing to see them all come home to their families,” said Garcia. “I remember it made me proud to see them and know that they were fighting for us. So ever since then I always wanted to be a Marine, and my parents went out and bought me a trumpet, and I’ve played since then.”

More than 15 years have passed since that day and a dream has been realized for Garcia, who plays trumpet with the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Band here. Many Marines would argue that the Corps is a small community, and for Garcia, this view is recognized firsthand.

“Here I am at Twentynine Palms, and as it turns out, my drum major was a corporal in that band that I saw that day” said Garcia. “When I was checking in here, our band officer asked me what made me want to join the Marine Corps, and I told him the story, and he got some more information from me, and they figured out what band it was and that he was there.”

Even though so many years have passed, the feelings have not escaped Staff Sgt. Joseph Streeter, MCAGCC band drum major.

“I remember there was a lot of patriotism,” said Streeter, who was then assigned to the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro band. “That [parade] was a welcomed event. I heard a lot of bad experiences from senior Marines when they came back from Vietnam. The stories of how they were treated compared to the Gulf War, it was like night and day.”

“It makes me feel great to know that I was part of something that shaped someone’s life,” said Streeter. “There really is no way to put it, but that’s just a great feeling.”

This, however, is not the first time that Streeter has had a case of déjà vu with his Marines.

While serving as a drill instructor with 3rd Recruit Training Battalion at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., then-recruit Sgt. Andrew M. Coons recalls Streeter conducting an inspection and passing words of wisdom to him about his future career as a Marine musician.

“Sgt. Coons, who also plays trumpet for us here, remembers me doing his senior drill instructor inspection when he was a recruit,” said Streeter. “Also, his senior drill instructor brought him up to talk with me about going to the school of music.”

“Moments like that, as a staff [noncommissioned officer] or as a man, means more than anything when you get young people come up to you and tell you how much you influenced them and made a difference,” said Streeter. “I’m very proud and honored by it.”

Garcia said that after he found out about Streeter, he was excited and also saw him in a slightly different light.

“It’s pretty motivating to know that he was part of that,” said Garcia. “It also seems kind of weird though because I was so young, and he was already in the band. It does shows how much more experience he has and I hope that some day I can try to be like that.”

After finding his inspiration as a youth and knowing firsthand the power of impressions, Garcia reminds himself that someone may follow in his footsteps.

“Being here as a Marine musician motivates me in a way because in the audiences that I perform for, there could be a 5-year-old who saw me perform out there and it might motivate them to become a Marine or better themselves through music,” said Garcia. “You never know.”

Fightertown hosts Marines returning from tour in Iraq

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, SC (Sept. 23, 2005) -- Approximately 600 Marines and sailors returning from Iraq were diverted to the Air Station Sept. 15, due to Hurricane Ophelia. The Marines and sailors were from various units based at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C., and were originally scheduled to land at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/07014C1BE0CC5582852570850070A66B?opendocument


Submitted by: MCAS Beaufort
Story Identification #: 2005923163026
Story by Pfc. Zachary Dyer

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, SC (Sept. 23, 2005) -- Approximately 600 Marines and sailors returning from Iraq were diverted to the Air Station Sept. 15, due to Hurricane Ophelia. The Marines and sailors were from various units based at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C., and were originally scheduled to land at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C.

The Marines of Marine Aircraft Group 31 and the Air Station were given just 24-hours notice of the diverted warfighters and worked through the night to put a contingency plan in action and be prepared to temporarily host the returning Marines and sailors.

“When I spoke with the MCAS CO, I told him how impressed I was with the quick reaction to accommodate a large number of folks returning from Iraq,” said Col. Robert Walsh, the commanding officer of MAG-31. “Our combined team bent over backwards to make this diversion as smooth and as pain-free as possible for our fellow Marines returning from a combat zone.”

The Marines and sailors arrived on four separate flights beginning at approximately 2 a.m. and lasting until noon, according to Sgt. Branden Marak, the MAG-31 embarkation chief.

Approximately 111 service members were put in rooms at the Bachelor Enlisted Quarters, while the rest were placed in Marine Fighter Attack Squadrons 115 and 122’s hangar, according to Marak.

Volunteers from the United Service Organization provided food and refreshments, while the Air Station provided cots, water, fans and a phone center where the service members could call home, according to Marak.

The Marines and sailors were also allowed to use the various services aboard the Air Station, according to William Snead, the Air Station S-4 officer.

“Basically, they had free run of the base,” Snead said. “They could go just about wherever they wanted to go.”

Frequent runs were made to the post exchange and to Lasseter Theatre, which was showing free movies for the service members. The Marines and Sailors were also allowed to use the showers at the gym to clean up, according to Snead.

Subway was a favorite among the Marines returning from Iraq, according to Cpl Emmanuel Cox, a line mechanic from CLB-8.

“Subway was awesome,” Cox said. “It was so much different than what we have been eating for the last few months.”

The Marines enjoyed their time aboard the Air Station, but most were anxious to be on their way, according to Cox.

“Everyone has been pretty good to us,” Cox said, “But I can’t wait to hang out with my family.”

The diverted Marines and sailors boarded 15 commercial busses bound for Camp Lejeune and departed Fightertown at approximately 4 a.m. Sept. 16.

“They conducted themselves, to a man, in a very professional manner,” Snead said. “Every space they were given was cleaner when they left than when they got here.”

Air Station Marine wins top spot in All-Marine golf tournament

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, SC (Sept. 23, 3005) -- A Fightertown Marine recently beat the Marine Corps’ best golfers in the All-Marine Golf tournament held at The Legends Golf Course aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, Sept. 11-17.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/58B91A472C408E88852570850070791E?opendocument

Submitted by: MCAS Beaufort
Story Identification #: 2005923162830
Story by Cpl. Anthony Guas

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, SC (Sept. 23, 3005) -- A Fightertown Marine recently beat the Marine Corps’ best golfers in the All-Marine Golf tournament held at The Legends Golf Course aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, Sept. 11-17.

Corporal Chris Garrity, an aviation operations specialist for Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122, outplayed 26 Marines hand-selected from Marine Corps installations worldwide to win the tournament with a final score of 301.

“I really don’t know how I feel about winning, it hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Garrity said. “Not to sound arrogant, but I expected to win. This is the course I play on all the time, it would have been kind of disappointing not to win.”

Competing against a variety of Marines ranging from lance corporals to majors, Garrity led most of the tournament. The closest player posted a 304, according to James McPartland, the Air Station athletic director.

Garrity, who has been playing for more than 12 years, became interested in golf when he was 13-years-old and his uncle got him a job at a country club.

“It was a combination of my uncle and neighbors,” Garrity said. “I learned about golf working at the country club. Also one day my neighbors invited me to play and I liked it, so I played the rest of the year.”

Soon Garrity’s passion for the game grew into a full-time hobby.

“I liked it so much that I kept on playing,” Garrity said. “Then, I asked my parents for golf clubs for Christmas.”

Garrity continued to hone his skills as a golfer, and in high school, he won a high school invitational tournament.

“That was a pretty big deal,” Garrity said. “I was the only one in my high school to win the invitational. In my life I have only won two significant events, the invitational and now the All-Marine Tournament.”

Before joining the Marine Corps, Garrity had a handicap of .09 and played in the U.S. Junior Amateur Qualifiers, but did not perform well. Currently Garrity has a handicap of 2.7.

“Ever since I joined the Marine Corps my handicap has been higher,” Garrity said. “Those qualifiers served as good experience.”

Trying to balance golf and the Marine Corps is not always easy, but his command has been very accommodating, according to Garrity.

“I don’t play as much as I used to. Before I had a better opportunity because I worked at a country club,” Garrity said. “My command has been very understanding and supportive. When we went on (the Unit Deployment Program) they allowed me to bring my clubs and practice.”

Garrity feels privileged to have the opportunity to play on the All-Marine Golf team for two consecutive years, while others are at war.

“I feel extremely fortunate to play,” Garrity said. “There are a lot of Marines doing Marine Corps things and they don’t have the time to do this. I am very thankful that I have a chance to play golf.”

Last year Garrity placed third in the tournament and did not experience much success in the Armed Forces tournament.

“Last year was my first year trying and my mindset was different,” Garrity said. “I was just focusing on just making the cut. Then I surpassed that goal and really didn’t know what to expect on the Armed Forces team.”

Competing in last year’s tournaments gave Garrity experience and confidence for this year’s tournaments.

“I really didn’t do a whole lot different,” Garrity said. “I think I focused on my short game a lot more than usual.”

Garrity credits two factors to his wins: good shots and home field advantage.

“I hit good iron shots and was very consistent with my approach,” Garrity said. “The whole tournament I only hit two shots in the water and one of them was in the final hole. I got a lot of love from the course, I definitely got some member bounces and rolls.”

In addition to good play, Garrity believes he owes his success to the support from his family and command.

“I have spent a lot of days at the golf course when I could have been home with my family,” Garrity said. “But my wife was very understanding, she even began to play golf with me. Also, I couldn’t imagine my command being more supportive than they have been.”

The Marines in Garrity’s section feel that he deserves the opportunity to play, according to Sgt. Vernon Kemp, the operations chief for VMFA-122.

“He dedicates himself to golf as much as he does to working,” Kemp said. “I am very impressed and I knew he could do it. I am proud of his success.”

Garrity would like to continue competing in the All-Marine Golf Tournament as long as he is in the Marine Corps.

“Wherever I go, if my command allows me to play, I won’t turn it down,” Garrity said. “I feel really lucky that I get a chance to play.”

Slavery is no longer black, white

U.S. MARINE CORPS FORCES, PACIFIC, CAMP H. M. SMITH, Hawaii (Sep. 23, 2005) -- Due to recent increases in the number of trafficking in persons cases and the release of the 5th annual Trafficking in Persons Report, President George W. Bush has required the Department of Defense to increase its training and awareness of this crime in order to assist in its prevention.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/3CC7B1F636B01BDB852570850069642B?opendocument

Submitted by: Marine Forces Pacific
Story Identification #: 200592315119
Story by Lance Cpl. R. Drew Hendricks

U.S. MARINE CORPS FORCES, PACIFIC, CAMP H. M. SMITH, Hawaii (Sep. 23, 2005) -- Due to recent increases in the number of trafficking in persons cases and the release of the 5th annual Trafficking in Persons Report, President George W. Bush has required the Department of Defense to increase its training and awareness of this crime in order to assist in its prevention.

The Marine Corps has decided to take on this challenge in a very direct manner.
“The Marine Corps will take a zero tolerance approach to trafficking in persons…and the Marine Corps opposes all activities that contribute to this crime,” said Gen. Michael W. Hagee,
Commandant of the Marine Corps, in All Marine Message 016/05.

In light of the Corps zero tolerance stance no Marine, Sailor or civilian Marine will ever participate in any crime associated with trafficking in persons, no matter how small the association. Doing so will result in severe punishment.

Even small crimes, not usually associated with human trafficking, aid in the spread of it. Crimes such as buying or soliciting prostitution are condoning this human slave trade.

Trafficking in Persons is defined as the recruitment, transportation, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion.

There are many forms of coercion used in the human trafficking trade. Most criminals persuade their victims by use of physical force, however it is the victims’ families that are usually threatened with violence.

Even legitimate promises of marriage or stable work are used to coax potential hostages, according to the International Criminal Police Organization.

At least 600,000 to 800,000 people, mostly women and children, are conned or forced into human trafficking, and shipped, flown or boxed across borders worldwide. That includes 14,500 to 17,500 victims that are sent to the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of State.

The Marine Corps has decided that all commands will be required to provide adequate training to their Marines in order for each to be fully aware of the crime and it’s effects.

“We must ensure that our Marines and Sailors are aware of the far-reaching ramifications of trafficking in persons,” said Hagee. “Also to make sure they do not associate themselves with anyone involved in this crime.”

The Marine Corps’ point of focus in this training is the issue of prostitution, which is the number one motive of sex trafficking.

As horrible as sex trafficking is, it is not the worst thing that human traffickers participate in.

Some lesser-known atrocities, like the harvesting of human organs, brings the problem to a far more disturbing level, according to the Department of the State.
Human trafficking is nothing new to the U.S.

In San Francisco during the 1850’s, a young sailor looking for a good time could find himself drinking and having fun one moment and then drugged, tied and bound in the bottom of a ship headed for the Far East the next, according to Herbert Asbury, author of “The Gangs of New York” and the “The Barbary Coast.”

This early form of trafficking was called
Shanghai-ing.

Mankind has had a long unhealthy obsession with slavery. From America to Zimbabwe, each country has had to deal with slavery. Today the problem does not plague one country at a time but is making a global assault on the people of this world.

The Marine Corps has a long history of coming to the aid of those in need and will ensure that it is equipped to fend off this assault.

“Leaders must establish expectations for the conduct of all persons under their command to guard against and suppress all dissolute and immoral practices and to hold accountable those persons guilty of such practices we will combat these activities through education and adherence to our Corps values,” said Hagee.

Sweat Hog earns Bronze Star

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, SC (Sept. 23, 2005) -- Master Sgt. Donald Parrish, the officer-in-charge of explosive ordnance disposal for Marine Wing Support Squadron 273, was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with combat distinguishing device for Valor for his actions in Iraq in a ceremony aboard the Air Station Sept. 14.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/12F8681B7A0467C4852570850070CDE0?opendocument


Submitted by: MCAS Beaufort
Story Identification #: 200592316327
Story by Cpl. Anthony Guas

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, SC (Sept. 23, 2005) -- Master Sgt. Donald Parrish, the officer-in-charge of explosive ordnance disposal for Marine Wing Support Squadron 273, was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with combat distinguishing device for Valor for his actions in Iraq in a ceremony aboard the Air Station Sept. 14.

Lieutenant Gen. John F. Sattler, the commanding general of I Marine Expeditionary Force, awarded the medal on behalf of the President to Parrish, recognizing him as “an absolute critical element to the ability of coalition forces to neutralize insurgent activity in the Babil and Al Anbar Provinces of Iraq.”

“I feel very humble,” Parrish said. “I was just simply there doing my job. It was very demanding and everybody stepped up and did there job out there.”

Although the Adrian, Ga., native is happy about receiving the award, he believes his Marines deserved it more.

“I have mixed feelings, because my Marines deserve to be here with me, if not before me,” Parrish said.

From Sept. 2004 to March 2005, Parrish served as the Team Leader for the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Platoon for Combat Service Support Battalion 1. He led his Marines in the destruction of 60 weapons caches, the disposal of 25,024 unexploded ordnance items and 226,000 small arms. In addition, he rendered safe 518 Improvised Explosive Devices within a 22-day period, many times under intense enemy fire.

Before joining the Marine Corps, Parrish had a scholarship to the Art Institute of Atlanta, but declined the scholarship and instead opted for life in the Marine Corps.

“I tried looking at things realistically and couldn’t see myself disciplined enough to go through school,” Parrish said. “I joined the Marine Corps because every other service seemed generic. I wanted something different.”

The 18-year veteran has served as an EOD technician for 15 years. He joined the Marine Corps in 1987 and was an Anti-Tank Assault man before transferring to EOD.

Parrish saw his first tour of the Lowcountry and his last as a grunt in 1989, when he served as a range coach aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.

“The only way I saw myself staying in the Marine Corps was by laterally moving to public affairs or EOD,” Parrish said. “I liked the idea of dealing with media. While EOD would provide a greater challenge, there are so many aspects. I liked that fact that you could always learn something new.”

After completing the screening process in 1990, Parrish began his EOD career. He went to the first phase of EOD School in January 1991 and completed the second phase in August.

Parrish saw his first combat action with the EOD platoon, 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Force Service Support Group from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejuene, N.C, in support of I Marine Expeditionary Force. He was then sent a second time to serve as a Team Leader for EOD Platoon, Headquarters and Service Company, Combat Service Support Battalion 1, Combat Service Support Group 11, 1st Force Service Support Group, 1 Marine Expeditionary Force, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom II.

“I took a team of six EOD technicians and a corpsman to Camp Al Asad,” Parrish said. “Our primary mission were responses for Al Asad, the city of Hit, Rawa and Haditha. We responded when they found Improvised Explosive Devices, land mines and weapons caches. We also assisted with the destruction (of the devices).”

The mission soon changed for Parrish and his Marines. In October, they started to pull forces for Fallujah, according to Parrish.

“On Oct. 27 we were on a convoy to Fallujah, to start taking operations there,” Parrish said. “When we got there everything was hectic. Our mission was to check apartments, which were supposed to be rigged to blow.”

Before arriving at the apartments, Parrish and his platoon destroyed multiple IED’s planted all around their target’s perimeter.

“We cleared at least 6 IED’s within a quarter of a mile,” Parrish said. “We then cleared the streets and the apartments. The apartments were so close together that we literally could go rooftop to rooftop.”

Parrish and his platoon found everything from weapons to clothing. Some of the buildings had remote rockets on the rooftops that were aimed at the street, according to Parrish.

“Imagine every third house being full of something,” Parrish said. “We had to get in and blow the buildings up. We couldn’t take our time with everything, because we had three or four things being called in.”

In addition to keeping an intense pace, Parrish and his platoon had to deal with the firefights going on in the background.

“We could stand on the rooftop and see all the fighting going on,” Parrish said. “Sometimes we had to back up pretty far to blow a building and ended up at the edge of the firefight. We had to fight and then return back to our mission.”

Although it was a chaotic situation, Parrish credits his Marines’ performance.

“I went in very optimistic, although when they briefed me they told me that they expected a 30 percent casualty rate,” Parrish said. “We were going into a situation where the insurgents knew we were coming and set up traps for us.”

After receiving the Bronze Star, Parrish still feels that his best accomplishment was having his Marines make it back alive.

“We were going into the worst-case scenario and I was just hoping for me and my Marines to get back alive,” Parrish said. “I attribute my success to my Marines, they did an outstanding job.”

FDNY Teams Up With Marines For Disaster Training Drills

New York City firefighters teamed up with the U.S. Marines Corps. on Friday for the culmination of a week’s worth of special disaster training.

http://www.ny1.com/ny1/content/index.jsp?stid=6&aid;=53756

September 23, 2005

New York City firefighters teamed up with the U.S. Marines Corps. on Friday for the culmination of a week’s worth of special disaster training.

A full-scale joint training session with the USMC Chemical/Biological Incident Response Force was held at the Red Hook Container Terminal in Brooklyn. More than 200 Fire Department members and 90 U.S. Marines took part in the drills.

The training simulated a fire on a ship with a radiation leak. The teams also responded to a collapse and a confined space rescue aboard the ship.

"This training could prepare us for a range of things ranging from accidents, mishaps, to terrorist attacks,” said USMC Maj. Cliff Gilmore. “Fortunately something on this scale that we would be ready to respond to hasn't happened yet, but by being ready for it I think we can prevent it in a way, by letting folks know we are ready for it.”

Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta stressed how vital these drills are. He says training like this prepared city firefighters to go pitch in and help on one of the biggest natural disasters our country has seen.

"Hurricane Katrina showed just how important these special units can be, and how important it is to train for fast mobilization and deployment," said Scoppetta.

This culminates a week of training in which both groups participated in various disaster response scenarios. It was a week in which the Marines NY1 talked to say they gained great respect for the firefighters.

“It's been a very good experience. They are very capable and have a lot of input for us,” said USMC Cpl. Shane Czesak.

“We've learned a lot from them and been able to teach them a few things as well," added fellow USMC Cpl. Thomas Clouse.

The FDNY and the Marine Corps. have been training together for 10 years, and they say that relationship only gets stronger every time they come together.

Lowcountry SmartVan Program offers commuters transportation alternative

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, SC (Sept. 23, 2005) -- The Lowcountry Council of Governments is currently working to develop vanpool routes to help employees in Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties get to and from work.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/942132A747151796852570850070EB26?opendocument

Submitted by: MCAS Beaufort
Story Identification #: 2005923163322
Story by Cpl. K. A. Thompson

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, SC (Sept. 23, 2005) -- The Lowcountry Council of Governments is currently working to develop vanpool routes to help employees in Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties get to and from work.

The Lowcountry SmartVan Program is a pilot project funded by the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry and the South Carolina Department of Transportation. Under the project, 2Plus, Inc., a national non-profit organization specializing in vanpooling, will administer the program by forming vanpool groups and providing vehicles for the routes.

The program is eligible for the Federal Commuter Choice Benefit, according to Brent Hodges, a vanpool manager for 2Plus. Commuters Choice is a nationwide initiative for employers to offer a broad range of commuting choices to their employees, which includes tax incentives available to commuters.

There are several reasons why vanpooling is a viable transportation option for service members and civilian Tri-Command employees who commute to and from work, according to Hodges.

“Vanpooling is defined by groups of five or more people traveling in similar commute patterns, going to and from similar destinations, and on similar shifts agreeing to a rideshare arrangement,” Hodges said. “Vanpooling is an efficient and cost effective alternative transit mode. It saves money in gas, provides a reliable means of transportation, frees up a personal vehicle for other family members, and saves on personal (expenses).”

The SmartVan Program works on a volunteer-based driver system. Driver benefits include a fuel card and maintenance provided for the vehicle, free personal use of 150 miles per month and free transportation to and from work, according to Jodie Harper, the Lowcountry SmartVan Program manager.

“The driver must have a valid U.S. drivers license and be insurable,” Harper said. “2Plus provides the van, training for the driver and insurance for the driver.”

Vanpools can help lower congestion to the roadways and reduce the need for parking spaces, but there are other incentives that may benefit civilians working in the military community, according to Harper.

“It can be a great tool to reducing absenteeism and tardiness,” Harper said. “It can also be a tool for recruitment and retention of civilian employees. It allows you to recruit civilian employees from households that may not have considered working on base because of lack of transportation or distance in travel.”

In 2003, Lowcountry Council of Governments and the Atlanta consulting firm Day Wilburn Associates completed the Lowcountry Public Transportation Strategy for the four-county (Beaufort, Jasper, Colleton and Hampton) region. Based on analysis of resources, opportunities and a wide variety of social, economic and transportation issues, the number one recommendation was to establish a regional vanpool program, according to Ginnie Kozak, the planning director for the LCOG.

“In late 2004, 2Plus was hired to assess the feasibility of initiating a Vanpool Pilot Project for commuters in the Lowcountry,” Kozak said. “They spoke to 255 major employers (including human resources directors in the Tri-Command) in Beaufort County and found that the majority were very much in favor of the project.”

By conducting surveys, 2Plus found the level of support for a vanpool project was considerably higher in the Lowcountry than other parts of the U.S., which could indicate a future change to the local transit system, according to Kozak.

“In 2005 2Plus was engaged to get the ball rolling, so to speak,” Kozak said. “This is a pilot project. If it is successful it could lead not just to long-term vanpooling, but also to other new transportation initiatives in this area.”

To learn more about the Lowcountry SmartVan Program call Harper at 877-683-0372 ext. 252 or email [email protected] Tri-command residents interested in vanpools may also contact Hodges at 877-683-0372 ext. 256 or email [email protected]

11th Marines show their big guns

Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif. (Sept. 23, 2005) -- Eruptions took place deep in the Mojave Desert from September 13 to the 23rd. The Earth shook and peace in the desolate region was no longer existent. There were trails left behind from demolishing mobs of nomads that caused the raucous – trails of dust, smoke and markings of fire. The legions that created such havoc came from Camp Pendleton, Calif., and the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif. Their battalions of artillery and their support joined forces at the Combat Center’s training area where they left nothing but destruction.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/B9FF326E8979776D8525708500711E09?opendocument

Submitted by: MCAGCC
Story Identification #: 2005923163532
Story by Pfc. Michael S. Cifuentes

Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif. (Sept. 23, 2005) -- Eruptions took place deep in the Mojave Desert from September 13 to the 23rd. The Earth shook and peace in the desolate region was no longer existent. There were trails left behind from demolishing mobs of nomads that caused the raucous – trails of dust, smoke and markings of fire. The legions that created such havoc came from Camp Pendleton, Calif., and the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, Calif. Their battalions of artillery and their support joined forces at the Combat Center’s training area where they left nothing but destruction.

The 11th Marine Regiment’s 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and Headquarters battalions executed an exercise at the Combat Center’s training area known as Operation Desert Fire-Ex.

Combat Center’s 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, hosted the exercise in their back yard being that it is the largest training area in the Marine Corps.

“The operational tempo of the Global War on Terrorism has prevented 11th Marines from executing live-fire, regimental level operations for the last 10 months,” said Lt. Col. Douglas H. Fairfield, 3/11’s commanding officer.

“The result for [3/11] has been similar. We have not conducted a battalion live-fire operation since May.”

A lot of the regiment’s batteries are currently deployed or afloat thus their battalions didn’t show full strength.

First Battalion conducted battalion operations with a specific focus on command field-testing, using their unit operations center. 1/11 did not have any firing batteries in support of the exercise.

Second Battalion conducted battalion operations in direct support of 5th Marines during the exercise.

Third Battalion and Fifth Battalion conducted battalion operations in the exercise with firing batteries Kilo, Tango and Sierra.

Headquarters Battalion conducted the command-and-control element of the 1st Marine Division’s regimental operation.

Third Marine Air Wing provided assault support for the placing and re-supplying of retransmission station teams for the exercise and close air support during the division phase. Combat Center’s Marine Wing Support Squadron 374 provided a Forward Arming and Refueling Point support for helicopter operations at the Expeditionary Air Field.

The exercise allowed Combat Center’s Kilo Battery, 3/11, Marines and Sailors to train to each of the mission essential tasks that make up the battalion’s MET list, which is to deploy tactical forces; conduct fire support coordination; conduct indirect fire; perform logistics and combat service support; and exercise command and control.

The purpose of the mission was to conduct challenging standards-based artillery training to provide timely and accurate support of Division units.

Kilo Battery also continued its M777 Lightweight Howitzer training in preparation for deployment. 3/11 couldn’t afford to exercise its tactical, direct support mission in support of an infantry regiment during the 2005 [fiscal year], said Fairfield. Operation DESFIREX serves as the battalion’s sole opportunity to do so.

“It’s very important the we incorporate previous exercise lessons learned and maximize the training opportunity of DESFIREX since this may be the last opportunity to train with our 11th Marines higher headquarters for the foreseeable future,” continued Fairfield. “It may also be the last training opportunity in the foreseeable future that we conduct direct support fires to the [Combat Center’s 7th Marine Regiment] with logistical support provided by Combat Logistics Battalion 7. In order to accomplish this, battery commanders and section heads must focus on executing the acknowledged artillery training and readiness manual tasks while ensuring all rounds impact safely and on target.”

On Sept. 13, Marines and Sailors departed Mainside in a tactical mindset, while understanding the plan, focusing on the mission and avoiding complacency.

The exercise was broken down into two primary phases: the battalion phase and the regimental phase.

In the battalion phase, sufficient opportunity was given to conduct battalion-level training while exercising command-and-control procedures. This provided support for the Joint Terminal Attack Controller training package, a technique combining and coordinating firing support from air and ground forces. The phases also conducted rehearsal for the Division phase.

During the first phase, 3/11 deployed to Combat Center’s Lead Mountain for firing preparation and began their JTAC training. The battalion moved to the Combat Center’s Cleghorn Pass where they conducted indirect, live-fire missions and set up local security around their perimeter of operation. Mass casualty drills were executed, as well as nuclear and biological chemical warfare drills.

The battalion continued these drills and firing missions throughout the first phase, keeping in the northeast region of the Combat Center’s training area until Sept. 20, when the 1st Marine Division phase began.

The Division phase was the second phase of the exercise. All battalion rehearsals led up to the point where all firing batteries and command units would join forces for fully drawn out artillery missions in support of 7th Marines. Realistic, relevant and safe combined-arms training was put together for both regiments. During the second phase, the entire Combat Center training area was used.

“The exercise was bigger than any regular combined arms exercise here,” said Fairfield. “DESFIREX has been planned for almost a year. It was very important. Even though Iraq is mainly a war on urban terrain, it is very important that we maintain the capability to conduct combined arms operations.”

The Global War on Terrorism will not allow a similar opportunity for some time, and this was the best time for the battalions and regiments to train each of their Mission Essential Tasks. The “Cannon Cockers” executed a series of firing missions that proved 11th Marine Regiment a recognized force of destruction.

Sailor lives the 'better life' in Navy

MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii (Sept. 23, 2005) -- “All we want is a better life for you,” said the parents of a Navy machinist’s mate assigned to Patrol Squadron Special Projects Unit 2, before he joined the Navy in 2001.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/6A53FE8C8ABEBCC48525708500730530?opendocument


Submitted by: MCB Hawaii
Story Identification #: 2005923165619
Story by Sgt. Joseph A. Lee

MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii (Sept. 23, 2005) -- “All we want is a better life for you,” said the parents of a Navy machinist’s mate assigned to Patrol Squadron Special Projects Unit 2, before he joined the Navy in 2001.

Born and raised in San Joaquin Valley, Calif., Petty Officer 3rd Class Edgardo A. Castillo, claimed that he has found that better life in the Navy and is especially enjoying his duty aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay.

Castillo’s parents migrated to the United States from Mexico when they were both young adults, settling in the small town of Earlimart, Calif. Immediately, the Castillo family began to grow — first with the birth of Edgardo, then two more boys and a girl.

“We didn’t travel much as kids or get to do anything that spectacular,” said Castillo of his life back home. “Had I not joined the Navy, I think I’d probably still be in the same town in California, working in the agriculture business, like my father.”

In high school, Castillo studied drafting and said he has always had aspirations of being an architect — some day.

“My teacher, in high school, picked me out as having some sort of gift for drafting, so given the opportunity, I’m planning on continuing with that dream.”

Castillo is currently working on getting assigned to the Navy’s school for draftsmen in San Francisco where he can take his dream to the next level and find a place to “hang his hat,” but in the meantime, Castillo said he enjoys “hanging 10” and exploring the island every weekend, here in Hawaii.

“There’s no way anyone could get stationed here and not enjoy the tour,” said Castillo. “I talk to my friends back at home every once in awhile, and I can tell they are still doing the same thing they were doing when I left four years ago. You might say they are a bit jealous.”

Whether he’s body boarding on Oahu’s North Shore, snorkeling at Hanauma Bay or towing wake boarders behind a speed boat in Kaneohe Bay, Castillo makes sure to take advantage of every single thing Hawaii and the island of Oahu has to offer.

“I can only think of what I would have been doing if I didn’t join the Navy,” said Castillo. “Probably exactly what my brother is doing right now — going to a community college, maybe picking grapes in the field.”

According to Castillo, his friends back at home would never receive the benefits the Navy offers, and his parents still have to fight for many of them.

“The medical, dental and other benefits we get are just not really an option for many who work in agriculture,” said Castillo. “There’s no comparison to any job in my hometown.”

Castillo watched his parents raise him and his younger siblings with very little extra money, so travel and vacationing wasn’t an option for the Castillo family.

“I wanted something more — just like my parents wanted for me. I wanted to travel, to see the world. Now I’ve been in only four years, and I have seen more than I thought I’d ever see.”

Castillo visited several U.S. states for the first time while getting his initial Navy training completed in San Diego, where President George W. Bush once visited his unit to get transportation to the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. From there, Castillo received orders to MCB Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay, where he was sent immediately on deployment to the Middle East.

“We visited much more than just the desert, though,” said Castillo. “During our trip, we must have visited ten to fifteen different countries along the way, before returning to Hawaii. I’m really glad I got to deploy, even though my parents were really concerned and worried for me.”

According to Castillo, enjoying everything this island has to offer is his number-one priority before taking his next plunge into whatever life and the Navy may bring.

“I have things I want to accomplish in life,” said Castillo, “but one thing I can be sure of is that my parents are proud of the decisions I’m making today as a Sailor, and I’m happy to be where I am. I think it’s fair to say that I have that ‘better life’ my parents always wanted for me.”

Corps matures jock into man

MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii (Sept. 23, 2005) -- On Dec. 15, 2001, one young man made a decision to take “the road less traveled” and joined the Marine Corps, which, by his own admittance, turned a former high school football star into a man.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/CDD248F267A8A9F88525708500738468?opendocument

Submitted by: MCB Hawaii
Story Identification #: 200592317145
Story by Lance Cpl. Roger L. Nelson

MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii (Sept. 23, 2005) -- On Dec. 15, 2001, one young man made a decision to take “the road less traveled” and joined the Marine Corps, which, by his own admittance, turned a former high school football star into a man.

“I just wanted to do something different,” said Cpl. Steven R. Rodriguez, ammunition technician, Headquarters Battalion, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay. “All my friends went off and did other stuff. I wanted to do something that none of my friends were doing.”
Rodriguez said that joining the military was a spur of the moment thing.

“I was straight out of high school,” said Rodriguez, an Amarillo, Texas native. “I wanted to see the world and visit different places, so the Marine Corps seemed like a good way to get to do that.”
As it happened, Rodriguez was in the Delayed Entry Program during the attack on Sept. 11, 2001.

“To tell you the truth, my parents didn’t believe me at first,” he admitted. “But, reality hit them when I left for boot camp.”

Rodriguez describes his parents as the type of people who very rarely show emotion.
“I think I look up to my Mom more than anyone,” said Rodriguez. “My family wasn’t very financially stable, but my Mom did her best.

“She went to college and changed things around to give me and my brother and sister a better life. So in a way, I’m in the Marines to do the same thing for her — to help her have a better life.”

Rodriguez said since he’s been a “Devil Dog” he has deployed to Korea, Thailand, Australia and Japan for different training events.

“The best deployment I had was to Thailand,” said the Paloduro High School graduate. “I enjoyed working with the Thai military. They were cool people to work with.”

When Rodriguez isn’t in foreign countries he is playing on one of the Marine Corps football teams on base.

“I played defensive end and tight end for the Combat Service Support Group Outlaws,” said Rodriguez, 22. “I’ve been playing football since I was in fifth grade. I actually just injured my knee, so I’m out for the rest of the season.”

Another thing Rodriguez does to keep busy during his off-duty hours is to help his younger brother promote his music.

“My little brother raps, so I help him get out there and get heard,” said Rodriguez. “I want him to be successful in what he does, so I do anything in my power to back him up in his decision on what he does with his life.”

Because he has several deployments under his belt, Rodriguez said he has met a lot of people from different areas of the world.

“Another good thing that the Marine Corps has done for me is to help with my attitude,” said Rodriguez. “I’ve matured a lot and have become more responsible. I used to be very short tempered and now I’m a lot more patient.”

Rodriguez said he is not certain as to what the future holds for him but said he is thinking of cashing in on his GI Bill.

“Since I’m not reenlisting, I’m thinking about doing security for a company that disarms nuclear and biological weapons,” said Rodriguez. “But being in the Marine Corps has been a journey I will never forget.”

Artilleryman is knocked off feet, returns for more

Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif.(Sept. 23, 2005) -- There are countless threatening missions and operations taking place daily in Operation Iraqi Freedom, some of which are convoy operations.

http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/1860BC68D5D0AA5385257085006EF230?opendocument

Submitted by:
MCAGCC
Story by:
Computed Name: Pfc. Michael S. Cifuentes
Story Identification #:
2005923161149

Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif.(Sept. 23, 2005) -- There are countless threatening missions and operations taking place daily in Operation Iraqi Freedom, some of which are convoy operations.

Improvised explosive devices and ambushes from insurgents are the main threat to convoys. An artilleryman from 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, returned home in March after surviving an unfortunate convoy incident.

Corporal Mark N. Novello, a battery artillery maintenance chief with Headquarters Battery, started his career in the Marine Corps Sept. 11, 2002, following in the footsteps of his grandfather who was a former Marine.

“After I graduated high school in 2001, I told myself if I don’t make it into college or land a great job I’m joining the military,” said Novello. “Regardless of that, I thought it would be best anyway.”

The 21-year-old Los Angeles native was assigned to Lima Battery, 3/11, after his school training. He deployed to OIF for the first time as an artillery mechanic in February 2003 and returned late September.

He deployed for a second time Feb. 22, 2004 with Lima Battery’s advance party.

“Our company’s mission was provisional military police, providing convoy security,” said Novello.

For a period of time, his unit was tasked with escorting Iraqi government officials to a courthouse in Ramadi, Iraq.

“Our convoy was providing security in a courthouse in Ramadi one afternoon late in March [2004],” began Novello with the disastrous story. “We had just finished eating chow and we got orders to make our way back to base camp. Another convoy made its way to the courthouse just after us so we linked up and trekked back to camp together. Two blocks off the main supply route, I noticed that streets were looking bleak. Right then a big explosion rang out right next to our vehicle, which was the second in the convoy. It was an [improvised explosive device] that came from the other side of the road-about 100 feet away from us. I was stunned for a moment after I felt sand, rock and debris hit my face. I couldn’t see. At that moment, I quickly reacted and got out of the vehicle. I took one step out and instantly fell to the ground.”

Novello took a shot from an inch-long piece of shrapnel into his ankle. He was shocked by both the situation and the sensation in his leg.

“When I hit the ground, I looked at my leg and found my trousers soaked with blood,” continued Novello. “But my attention was quickly turned to some flames coming from underneath the humvee. I looked toward the driver, and he was hunched over, sitting motionless. I feared that he wasn’t alive. I yelled at everyone to get out of the [humvee].”

Marines from other vehicles of the convoy rushed to his vehicle. Sergeant. Maxy K. Brown, mechanic with maintenance platoon, Mike Company, Combat Service Support Group 3, came to lift up Novello from the ground.

“I told him to not to worry about me and to get the driver,” said Novello. The driver of his vehicle was Cpl. Raul A. Camacho, Lima Battery. “I took one step on my own and fell again. Another Marine removed Camacho from the vehicle, and [Brown] hoisted me on his shoulders and rushed me out of the area. The corpsman looked at my ankle, and I just saw my metal boot band sticking out of my foot. I thought to myself, ‘this can’t be good.’”

Fortunately no one was killed in the incident and there was not a firefight. The convoy continued its mission back and all casualties were taken to the Army Medical Center in Junction City, Iraq. From there, Novello was flown via helicopter to a hospital in Baghdad, where he was further treated and then flown to a hospital in Camp Al Taqaddum, Iraq.

“I had a grip on what was going on after a few hours in a few hospitals,” said Novello. “The doctors told me that my boot band saved my foot from being amputated.”

Novello called his wife from the hospital moments before he departed Camp Al Taqaddum, Iraq.

From Camp Al Taqaddum, he was flown via helicopter to Germany where doctors spent a week and a half repairing his ankle.

Medical officials declared he had minor nerve damage and was missing 40 percent of his tibia, the shinbone.

Novello later arrived at Bethesda Hospital in Washington, D.C., where his wife met him.

“My wife [Jennifer] gave me the support and comfort I needed,” said Novello. “She was there the whole time I needed her. I was in a lot of pain and she comforted me. She helped me get around. She made me happy. If it wasn’t for her, I probably would still be disabled.”

The motivation from his wife and four children led to a speedy recovery for Novello. In April, a year after the incident, Novello passed his physical fitness test.

“It makes me very proud to hear about Marines undergoing such difficulties and getting back on track,” said Lt. Col. Douglas H. Fairfield, 3/11’s commanding officer. “Marines like Cpl. Novello are outstanding examples of dedication and commitment to our battalion. Suffering from a shrapnel wound in his foot and coming back to pass a PFT a year later is very impressive.”

Novello wanted to fight back at the situation by proving he could get back to his duties.

“I really wanted to show my kids a good example,” said Novello. “That you have to fight hard for what you want; nothing will ever be handed to you. This is what I did. I fought hard. I owe a lot of this to my wife for giving me the physical and mental strength. I led myself to recover quickly for the love of my kids and their future.”

Novello received the Purple Heart for his wounds. After facing adversity, Novello and his family decided to extend his career as a Marine by reenlisting in October.

“I love the [Marine Corps],” said Novello. “There are no other jobs that can match this. The Marines earn and are instilled leadership here – something that can’t be taught; something that is not learned in college.”

Novello resides with his wife and children, Clarissa, Anthony, Jack and Emmilee, in the Combat Center’s Adobe Flats.

Murray Protects Veterans with PTSD

Washington, D.C. -- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash) stood up for America's veterans by ensuring that those who need help with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are not scrutinized, stigmatized, or penalized by a planned VA investigation.

http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,77574,00.html

Military.com | September 23, 2005
Washington, D.C. -- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash) stood up for America's veterans by ensuring that those who need help with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are not scrutinized, stigmatized, or penalized by a planned VA investigation.

"Veterans with PTSD deserve the VA's compassion and support, not costly investigations, penalties and stigma," Murray said. "Veterans should not be punished for mistakes the VA has made, and that's what my amendment ensures."

Earlier this year, the VA announced plans to investigate the PTSD disability claims of 72,000 veterans. An earlier study of a small number of cases by the VA's Inspector General found errors in about one-third of the claims examined. Many of the problems uncovered were paperwork errors. Murray and veterans organizations like the American Legion and the Paralyzed Veterans of America feared the VA would use the review to strip benefits from veterans with mental illness.

The review would also take time and resources away from processing current disability claims.

"The VA must not delay its work on today's disability claims in order to investigate decisions it made years ago," Murray said.

Murray said the VA's review would send a message to veterans that if they seek help for PTSD, they will be subject to scrutiny.

"It's already hard enough for veterans to seek care for mental health problems. I can't stand by and let the VA throw down another barrier in front of veterans with PTSD," Murray said.

Murray blocked the review today by inserting language into the FY 2006 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill, which passed the full Senate this afternoon. Murray's language says the review cannot proceed until the VA justifies the program to Congress. It also ensures veterans cannot be stripped of their benefits except in cases of fraud.

Veterans leaders applauded Murray's work.

"Senator Murray has given veterans some body armor to protect them from administrative errors and penalties," said Skip Dreps, government relations director for the Northwest Chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America, which represents 20,000 veterans nationwide, including 500 in Washington state. "We bore the burden of battle once, and we shouldn't have to bear the battle again when our government makes mistakes in our benefits."

Now that the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bill has passed the Senate, it must be reconciled with the House of Representative's version.

Sound Off...What do you think? Join the discussion.

Copyright 2005 Military.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Fund-raiser will benefit 3/25 Marines

EAST LONGMEADOW Last December, the Third Battalion, 25th Marines gathered at the annual Marines Ball in Buffalo, New York before being deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

http://www.thereminder.com/localnews/eastlongmeadow/fundraiserwillbene/

By Sarah M. Corigliano

Assistant Managing Editor

EAST LONGMEADOW Last December, the Third Battalion, 25th Marines gathered at the annual Marines Ball in Buffalo, New York before being deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

East Longmeadow resident and Marine Capt. John Kasparian was among the members of the unit preparing for his January deployment.

Since his deployment, Reminder Publications "adopted" the 3/25 Marines and has regularly run stories from the unit in its weekly newspapers and on its web site www.reminderpublications.com.

Many of the stories and photos have been written and taken by Kasparian, while others in his unit have also contributed. The stories have been of camraderie, warfare, interaction with local people, loss, and always of continuing the mission and supporting each other.

The words "Semper Fi," now resonate with the readers who have followed their struggles and victories throughout the last nine months.

The 3/25 Marines alone have suffered the loss of 47 soldiers during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Many others have been injured and returned to Iraq while some have lost limbs or sustained other serious injuries, preventing them from returning to war.

Kasparian's wife, Jennifer, said she has been very lucky during her husband's deployment to receive several e-mails from him each week.

"Because he is Adjutant for the Battalion, he has access to e-mail," Jennifer Kasparian explained. "I have been able to e-mail him frequently and he e-mails me back several times a week ... it's usually very short and to the point, but that's all I need to make sure that he's OK."

She said she has also been able to talk on the phone with him a few times.

"I'm always grateful when I can get a phone call," she said. "[The unit] had a lot of casualties in August and he did call after that happened to let me know he was OK. They wait in line to use the phone and he doesn't want to take the phone away [from other soldiers] because he does have access to e-mail, so it was about 3 a.m. his time when he called to let me know he was OK, and I was very grateful for the call."

Kasparian and other family members recently found out that the 3/25 Marines will return home in October. In November, the annual Marines Ball will take place, and will serve as a venue for these Marines to reunite on U.S. soil, to see their injured camrades and to honor those who did not return home with them. The Ball will take place at the Embassy Suites Hotel Cleveland/Rockside in Cleveland, Ohio.

"It's unfortunate that [the ball] will be somewhat solemn, but it will celebrate the accomplishments of these heroes," Jennifer Kasparian explained.

She explained that attending the ball may be cost prohibitive for many Marines, and that is why a fund-raiser was conceived by Cathy Aitken, a Maryland resident whose brother is serving with the 3/25 Marines.

The Marines and their families come from all over the Northeast and the Mid-West, and Aitken contacted local families and veterans organizations and helped get the event off the ground.

The local fund-raiser is a motorcycle poker run on Sept. 25 beginning at 9:30 a.m. The starting point is American Legion Post 185, 478 Springfield St., Feeding Hills. The cost is $20 per driver, $10 per passenger.

Donations will be accepted either through the poker run or through the Mid- Ohio Marine Corps Foundation (34 North High Street New Albany, OH 43054-8507), which serves all members of the 3/25, as well, which is based in Brook Park, OH.

Organizers are also still accepting sponsorships for the poker run and would welcome any volunteers. Sponsorships are available for stops on the poker run route or for other activities planned for the day.

"All contributions will be gratefully acknowledged," Kasparian added. Sponsors and volunteers may contact Jennifer Kasparian at 413-237-7118 or [email protected]



Okinawa Marine battalion implements new leadership style

CAMP KINSER, OKINAWA, Japan (Sept. 23, 2005) -- The senior leaders of 3rd Materiel Readiness Battalion, 3rd Force Service Support Group, recently announced to their Marines and sailors the success of their new mentorship program.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/A8A2CEFF68E2770085257088001B45E0?opendocument

Submitted by: MCB Camp Butler
Story Identification #: 200592605753
Story by Cpl. Martin R. Harris

CAMP KINSER, OKINAWA, Japan (Sept. 23, 2005) -- The senior leaders of 3rd Materiel Readiness Battalion, 3rd Force Service Support Group, recently announced to their Marines and sailors the success of their new mentorship program.
The battalion, which is one of the largest on the island, has developed a program that focuses on small unit leadership and cohesiveness on and off duty.

Col. Robert Ruark, 3rd MRB commanding officer, has set aside one day each week for the battalion to implement the program.

“I instructed the company commanders to take a portion of their Friday to teach and train their Marines,” Ruark said. “This is time to teach them not only how to stay out of trouble, but how to learn, grow and become better Marines.”

The program includes a forum where Marines are afforded the opportunity to ask questions, receive feedback and learn from each other. Marines engage in detailed discussions on topics such as liberty, leadership and life in the Corps.

“The Marines are doing a great job, and it’s because the program works on small unit leadership,” said Sgt. Maj. Frankie Holmes, battalion sergeant major. “The (non commissioned officers) are directly in charge of teaching their Marines the basics of Marine Corps leadership – honor, courage and commitment.”

According to Holmes, the battalion held an NCO symposium in order to receive input regarding the program development.

Many units throughout the Corps use weekend safety briefs to educate Marines before liberty commences.

According to 1st Sgt. Justin Glymph, first sergeant of electronic maintenance company, 3rd MRB, the mentorship program surpasses most typical weekend liberty safety briefs.

“Safety briefs are the same every week, but with the mentorship program the Marines learn from each others experiences,” Glymph said. “Focusing on the negative will only bring more negative. If we can talk about the positive, it will bring out the positive in the Marines.”
According to Ruark, he is impressed with the program. The battalion has not had a serious incident in well over a month. Due to its success, he offered the Marines a meritorious day off as an incentive to continue their hard work.

“What we see as success is our NCO’s getting involved, taking charge, being proactive, motivating the Marines and talking to each other,” Holmes said.

According to Lance Cpl. Heather Strand, administrative clerk with 3rd MRB, the mentorship program motivates the Marines in the battalion to stay out of trouble because it shows their leaders care about them.

“We have amazing senior leadership in the battalion,” Strand said. “The (staff noncommissioned officers) and officers really pay attention to us and are actually interested in what their Marines are doing, on and off duty.”

Martial artists break through language barrier in open karate tournament

CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan (Sept. 23, 2005) -- Fists flew fast and furious during the Open Karate Tournament at the Camp Foster Field House Sept. 11.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/D26FD9E8FB0683C38525708800246A1C?opendocument

Submitted by: MCB Camp Butler
Story Identification #: 200592623744
Story by Cpl. Sarah M. Maynard

CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan (Sept. 23, 2005) -- Fists flew fast and furious during the Open Karate Tournament at the Camp Foster Field House Sept. 11.

More than 100 American and Okinawan contestants turned out to participate in a full-day karate tournament hosted by Marine Corps Community Services.

Competitors were organized according to age and skill level, and the tournament tested coordination, skill and poise in three categories: kata, a choreographed pattern of defense-and-attack movements used in traditional Japanese martial arts, kobudo kata, or kata using weapons, and kumite, or sparring.

In empty-hand kata, two contestants simultaneously performed a choreographed series of martial arts strikes, counters, and defensive postures before a panel of judges. The martial artists smoothly transitioned between the movements with dancer-like grace. Kata movements are traditional and ancient, so individuals were judged on their ability to adhere to the established choreography and execute the maneuvers with control and precision. The most graceful performer advanced in this single elimination category and winners of each kata bracket competed until an overall winner was established.

In kobudo kata, competitors were again divided by age groups. Groups took turns performing the kata with weapons simultaneously, using traditional karate weapons such as the bo, sai, tonfa, kama, and nunchaku.

Competitors who dropped weapons were automatically disqualified. After each kobudo kata performance, a panel of judges comprised of experienced martial artists eliminated the least-graceful competitor until an overall winner was established in each age group.

In the kumite or sparring category, pairs of competitors fought three five-minute rounds for points. Younger fighters fought for only three minutes. Competitors received up to one, two or three points for landed strikes and movements. Point values were based on the area struck on an opponent and the accuracy and difficulty of movements. For example, a competitor received one point for a simple punch to the chest or face, but if he delivered a punch after successfully throwing his opponent, he received three points.

By pitting martial artists against one another in a simulated fistfight, the kumite category directly compared the agility, speed and accuracy of the fighters. Moreover, since strikes resulting in injury did not warrant a score, the competitors had to demonstrate restraint.
Competitors in each age group paired off, fighting each other in a single-elimination format until one competitor was left as overall winner within his age group.

In addition to the physical challenges the competitors endured, comprehending the muffled commands from the amplified speakers added another element of stress to the tournament, according to some participants.
“(The announcements were) a little hard to understand,” said participant Josh M. Horton, 14. “But it was a good thing. It made the competition more unique. This was a good experience.”

American and Japanese karate enthusiasts filled the Foster Field House and cheered the fighters on, said Theodore Shadley, sports specialist with MCCS.

“We had a great turnout,” Shadley said. “This was the first open tournament we held here at Foster. There was representation and support from all around the island. We plan on doing this again next year.”

Horton said the tournament was a great experience, and he looks forward to similar tournaments in the future.

“I competed against some very talented people,” he said. “I hope to come to any other competitions they may have.”

For more information on upcoming karate tournaments and events, contact MCCS Sports at 645-4866.

U.S. Marine Corps spurs mentorship program in partnership with NWCA

BUFFALO, N.Y. (Sept. 23, 2005) -- Wrestlers usually respond to a strong, powerful presence. With U.S. Marine Corps Major Jay Antonelli, the presence isn't just about response, it's about respect.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/E78DA1961BDA49C6852570880052B1BB?opendocument

Submitted by: Marine Corps Recruiting Command
Story Identification #: 200592611314
Story by - Jason Bryant

BUFFALO, N.Y. (Sept. 23, 2005) -- Wrestlers usually respond to a strong, powerful presence. With U.S. Marine Corps Major Jay Antonelli, the presence isn't just about response, it's about respect.

With the respect that comes with an organization like the U.S. Marine Corps, its fitting that the NWCA called upon the elite force to partner with the new "Building Leaders for Life" program.

Antonelli was the featured speaker during Friday's luncheon at the NWCA National Convention at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Buffalo.

The program, which is funded by the U.S. Marine Corps is a program designed for high school and college wrestlers to use to further their leadership skills and become mentors for younger athletes when participants in the program decide to start coaching.

"The purpose of the leadership program is two-fold. First of all, it will give our coaches better skills so they can become better mentors for their wrestlers. Number two is we want to align our sport with educational missions and values because we know that will determine the future of our sport," said Mike Moyer, Executive Director of the NWCA.

Maj. Jay Antonelli, speaking on behalf of the U.S. Marine Corps, spoke to an estimated crowd of 150 coaches and vendors to explain the strong ties between his work as a U.S. Marine and that of a wrestler and how the program will help build mentors and leaders for the next generation of coaches, many of whom are currently high school or college wrestlers.

"From the start, it seemed like a good fit," Antonelli said. "As both Marines and the sport of wrestling will not waiver from their commitment to achieve the highest standard of excellence through discipline, drive and desire."

This isn't the first collaboration between the NWCA and the U.S. Marine Corps.

"Two years ago we rolled out the leadership training program for the coaches and about four weeks ago we rolled out the program for the athletes," Moyer said.

"The Marine Corps has funded it (the leadership program) and Southwest Missouri State developed the content.

"The coaches course is delivered through Southwest Missouri for college credit," Moyer explained.

Antonelli, Friday's luncheon keynote speaker, has long been associated with wrestling, from his days wrestling as a scholastic wrestler in New Jersey to his time representing the U.S. Marines in Greco-Roman competition; Antonelli is one of the coaches for the 2005 U.S. Greco-Roman World Team that will compete in the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, later this month.

The leadership program is aimed at promoting leaders in the wrestling community and in life.

"By understanding the Marine Corps leadership process, anyone can achieve the goal of reaching his or her highest potential, and in turn, teach and mentor others," Antonelli said.

NWCA president Ron Baeschler concurred.

"It's our responsibility to make sure we build those leaders of tomorrow," Baeschler said.

Antonelli stressed the differences between wrestlers and many of their athletic counterparts and contemporaries.

"As you all probably know, wrestlers are different from other athletes," Antonelli said. "All wrestlers share a common bond of hard work and discipline found in no other type of athlete.

"We have all trained out of our 'comfort zone' and are accustomed to pushing ourselves to our physical limit almost daily," he said.

It's this training and background that make the NWCA and the Marine Corps the perfect tandem to offer the "Building Leaders for Life" program.

"The similarities between the mental toughness and physical training of wrestlers and Marines are uncanny," Antonelli said.

"The very character of Marines and wrestlers are also similar," he said.

"The Marine Corps core values are honor, courage and commitment. They are the foundation of each Marine's character," Antonelli said.

"Marines and wrestlers are people who are physically and mentally tough. We harden and train our bodies to deal with the rigors of combat and competition. We must also develop a mental toughness and strength of character to deal with the stress and emotional difficulties found on the mat, in combat and in life."

"There's a lot of wrestlers that formerly wrestled that have gone on to do great things in the Marine Corps," Moyer said.

Antonelli is someone that greatly resembles someone who has gone on to do great things.

"Without a shadow of any doubt, I know that I wouldn't be standing before you here today as a U.S. Marine if it wasn't for the mental toughness and can-do attitude that I learned as a wrestler," Antonelli said.

"I think both entities, the NWCA and the Marine Corps are looking for the same thing in more recruits with that leadership discipline and dedication," Moyer said.

"It's the perfect partnership."

Crew chiefs are the eyes in the sky

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. (Sept. 15, 2005) -- Before a flight, during a flight and well after a flight, there is one Marine who takes on the responsibilities of maintaining the aircraft, observing its safety and providing in-flight maintenance - the crew chief.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/frontpagenews

Submitted by: MCAS Miramar
Story Identification #: 200592319049
Story by Lance Cpl. James B. Hoke

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. (Sept. 15, 2005) -- Before a flight, during a flight and well after a flight, there is one Marine who takes on the responsibilities of maintaining the aircraft, observing its safety and providing in-flight maintenance - the crew chief.

Crew chiefs for the CH-53E Super Stallions are responsible for the well-being of the aircraft throughout their flights, as well as observing the environment for the pilots on board.

"Crew chiefs are the enlisted maintainers and flyers for the helicopter squadrons," said Capt. Eric C. Palmer, NATOPS officer, Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. "They take care of all the duties the pilots don't have, which is about everything in the back of the aircraft."

Crew chiefs observe obstructions in a pilot's path, as the pilot cannot see more than 180 degrees in either direction from the nose of the aircraft.

"The CH-53 doesn't have the best view around it, so we have to rely on the crew chief's eyes and ears during a flight," said Palmer, an Endwell, N.Y., native. "Being able to see things that the pilot can't is really one of the biggest aids of a crew chief."

According to Lance Cpl. D. L. Chewey, crew chief, HMH-361, they are required to know a little of everything on board the aircraft.

"Crew chiefs are required to touch on all aspects of the aircraft," said the Stilwell, Okla., native. "We have to know its limitations. We have to know our limitations. We are there to back up the pilots.

"When we fly, we all have a mission at hand," Chewey added. "Our mission is a mission as a team. You have your pilot and co-pilot. One will fly, and the other will navigate. Then you have a crew chief who will watch and listen to the helicopter itself. We are part of an aircrew, and we play an irreplaceable role."

However, the job of a crew chief, like any job, changes a little bit when they are deployed.

"While deployed, we are on standby all the time," said Cpl. Fidel R. Florez, crew chief, HMH-361. "As far as personal differences between being in garrison or in Iraq, over there we have our armor, weapons and side arms on, and it can be a little more stressful, as well.

"Here, we have about four to five hours to prepare for a flight," the Anthony, N.M., native, added. "Over there, we have a little more than an hour to get ready for a flight that could come up at any moment."

According to Palmer, crew chiefs will also take on extra responsibilities along with their original tasks while deployed.

"Most of their duties of safely helping the pilot operate the aircraft will be the same thing while deployed," said Palmer. "They'll have additional duties, such as keeping eyes out for enemies. They operate the .50-caliber machine guns as well."

The overall importance of a crew chief isn't always noticed, said Palmer.

"Crew chiefs are absolutely necessary," Palmer concluded. "They do a lot of things in the back of the aircraft that pilots just take for granted. They have an impeccable systems knowledge of the aircraft and are an indispensable, invaluable part of the CH-53 aircrew."

Commentary: Marine knows she won’t be left behind

MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii (Sept. 23, 2005) -- Approximately 88,021 U.S. service members have not returned to America after being killed in action, classified as missing in action or after becoming prisoners of war.

http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/EDD91B2FE8573DE9852570860007DA4B?opendocument
Submitted by: MCB Hawaii
Story Identification #: 2005923212546
Story by Gunnery Sgt. Claudia M. LaMantia

MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii (Sept. 23, 2005) -- Approximately 88,021 U.S. service members have not returned to America after being killed in action, classified as missing in action or after becoming prisoners of war.

Most are from World War II and, of those, about 35,000 won’t be returning because they were lost at sea or buried in sunken vessels, according to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii.

Those numbers seem astronomical to me, and after two tours in Iraq, I could not fathom being left behind. There was no doubt that I would come home either dead or alive. The last 18 years in this green machine taught me that.

But it’s disheartening to see the numbers of Americans we left behind. For me, asking why they are not home yet is fruitless right now. We should focus on bringing them home.

In my line of work, I’ve met many veterans, but there is one gentleman in particular who impressed me with his plight. Jesse Baker, “Chief,” as everyone calls him, is passionate about keeping the memory of POWs and MIAs alive so that they may come home. He wears a vest and amid numerous patches is a slightly aged Bronze Star. The slender Texan served 29 years in the Air Force and completed tours in both Korea and Vietnam.

Born about 72 years ago he’s still full of life and passion. He begins to tell me how it was for him to come home back then. Returning from Vietnam, his first stop was to a disturbingly angry reception in California. While talking, he looks down and shakes his head from side to side. But he quickly continued on to tell me about his reception in Texas where things were the opposite and everyone was happy to see him.

But, according to his recollection, it would take almost two decades for the American public to welcome him home.
After Desert Storm, Vietnam veterans were invited to march in a welcome-home parade along those returning from the Middle East. A lump grew in my throat as he expounded on how wonderful that was.

It sounded to me like he was pondering about buddies who stayed halfway around the world. He talked about seeing brothers years after he returned but doesn’t reveal whether they were KIAs, POWs or at one point MIA.

For about the last 20 years, he’s been present at most repatriation ceremonies at Hickam Air Force Base. Once remains are recovered from various conflicts, they are flown to this island where Chief is waiting with an American flag and a POW/MIA flag. Then alongside other veterans, a joint-service color guard, dignitaries and members of the public, they honor the ultimate sacrifice made by others.

I asked him about the controversial pictures of those killed in action as they are brought back to America. With piercing blue eyes he looked at me and conveyed that it’s not right, not for all of America to see.

His conviction surprised me, and I think my reaction made him explain.

“The coming home for those boys and gals is a solemn and sacred event,” he said in a low tone. “The scene of caskets draped with American flags should be reserved for families, friends and others who served with them.”

Yes, I thought, that makes sense, and pledged to keep talking to warriors like Chief and start writing about the legacy most Vietnam veterans would like us to have after they’re gone.

Before walking out, sporting 70s style bell-bottom pants, getting on his motorcycle, he tells me that honor and keeping his word are his top values.

You do that and everything will be fine, he said. Then he starts to tell me how they wouldn’t let them win that war. But I think I’ll save that topic for another time.

Marines, Okinawan ballplayers ‘hit it off’ in friendship game

NAHA, OKINAWA, Japan(Sept. 23, 2005) -- The feeling a batter gets when he hits a ball out of the park, and the crowd goes wild is more than words can describe. When more than 100 children stepped onto the field Saturday to start what would surely be a great day of hits, slides, dives and saves, no one really noticed that they spoke two different languages; baseball was speaking to everyone.

http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/EF500DA79140C5138525708800211673?opendocument


Submitted by:
MCB Camp Butler
Story by:
Computed Name: Pfc. Terence L. Yancey
Story Identification #:
20059262124

NAHA, OKINAWA, Japan(Sept. 23, 2005) -- The feeling a batter gets when he hits a ball out of the park, and the crowd goes wild is more than words can describe. When more than 100 children stepped onto the field Saturday to start what would surely be a great day of hits, slides, dives and saves, no one really noticed that they spoke two different languages; baseball was speaking to everyone.

Approximately 140 young American and Japanese baseball players met on the diamond for a day of friendship and excitement at the Senaga Island baseball field Sept. 17 for a tournament hosted by Marine Corps Community Services and the Tomigusuku Board of Education.

Fourteen Japanese and American youth teams squared off in a tournament designed to promote friendship between the players. The children, ages 11-13, played with an emphasis on having fun, not winning.

“This is an especially important experience for younger children,” said Glen Polito, assistant youth sports director for MCCS. “Since there isn’t a military installation in this community, it gives members of the local teams a chance to interact with Americans and hopefully gives everyone a chance to make new friends.”

Local leaders and MCCS officials kicked off the event with an opening ceremony where both countries’ national anthems were played. During the ceremony, players pledged to use the day as an opportunity to build teamwork and make friends.

“The players got a chance to not only experience a different style of playing, but also a new culture,” said Lance Cpl. Chris VanSanten, head coach of the Camp Foster Stroz and a patrolman with the Camp Foster Provost Marshal’s Office.

“I think it made our teams better since we faced better pitchers who could throw fast and accurate,” said Andy Bailey of the Camp Foster Black Sox.

Players, parents and coaches ate a free lunch, which featured both Japanese and American foods. During the lunch, the young ballplayers played on a nearby playground while waiting for the afternoons games to begin.

“The Japanese players were really nice to us and gave us some good food,” said Stroz player Patrick Maldonado.

After the end of the tournament, Japanese and American players mixed teams and took part in a pickup game. Bilingual children helped the players communicate during the game. No one seemed to care about the score.

The teams exchanged gifts and thanked each other for a fun-filled day at the conclusion of the games.

“This was a once in a lifetime experience for our team,” said Lance Cpl. Michael Villa, assistant coach for the Stroz and a patrolman with Camp Foster PMO. “Not many kids this age get a chance to experience something like this. I don’t think this event is something these kids will ever forget.”

Mike Kilgore of the Camp Foster Stroz takes a cut at a ball during a baseball friendship day in Naha Sept. 17. The goal of the event was to promote fun and friendship. The event is a combined effort of Marine Corps Community Services and the Tomigusuku board of Education.

Members of the Stroz and the Ueta baseball club exchange respects before the friendship game. The children, ages 11-13, played with an emphasis on having fun, not winning.