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November 30, 2005

Gaming is More Than Just Play for Military Services

ORLANDO, Fla., Nov. 30, 2005 – A team of eight U.S. soldiers is engaged by a larger enemy force behind unfriendly lines. The team is hit by three rocket-propelled grenades and three improvised explosive devices, yet they still fight, killing 35 enemies.

http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Nov2005/20051130_3501.html
By Capt. Steve Alvarez, USA
American Forces Press Service

ORLANDO, Fla., Nov. 30, 2005 – A team of eight U.S. soldiers is engaged by a larger enemy force behind unfriendly lines. The team is hit by three rocket-propelled grenades and three improvised explosive devices, yet they still fight, killing 35 enemies.

That firefight was real. In 2003, Cincinnati native Army Sgt. Tommy Rieman was in Iraq fighting for his life with his fellow soldiers. His actions that December day earned him the Silver Star and a Purple Heart for the more than 30 gunshot and shrapnel wounds he suffered that day.

Today, the infantryman is assigned to the Pentagon, detailed to work with the Army's video game project and the "Real Heroes" program, which attempts to put a face on today's military heroes.

"They're trying to take people who have been in the fight and incorporate them into the game," Rieman said. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," he added. "How many people can say, 'I'm going to be an action figure'?"

America's Army was launched in 2002. Today, according to the game's Web site, it has more than 6 million registered players. More than 3 and a half million have completed the basic training phase, and more than 160,000 have joined the game since Nov. 1.

Each day, 500,000 to 600,000 missions are played, and more than 50 million hours have been played overall. The game is available as an online download. The MOVES Institute -- Modeling, Virtual Environment and Simulation -- at the Naval Postgraduate School was the birthplace of America's Army. Initially sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, the game's development has since left the institute.

The game is a squad-based, first-person shooter game consisting of basic training progressing to a series of team-based missions that involve operations, Special Forces and combat medic specialties. The game is different things to many. To the new recruit, it is a familiarization tool; to the soldier, it is a training tool; to gamers, it is simply fun.

"It's good for kids that are going to join the Army," Rieman said. "I know a lot of people who play the game and enjoy it."

The basic training portion prepares and familiarizes recruits with what they will face in basic military training. At the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference here, two soldiers watched an exhibitor explain the basic training program. On the computer screen, a virtual soldier demonstrated the correct way to execute a push-up.

But Rieman said the game also helps retain soldiers and enables the public to get to know their soldiers through the game, which incorporates the Army's core values throughout.

"It's a morale booster," Rieman said. "It's a way to look up to a normal person - a role model."

Rieman said he was in a dead-end job before he enlisted in the Army. The game takes soldiers' heroic actions in combat and shares them with the world, showing that "This is an everyday guy who did some good things."

The Army is not alone in its venture into the gaming world. The National Guard began distributing "Guard Force" in 2002 just months after the Army released its game. The game is available at Army National Guard recruiting offices to U.S. residents.

Guard Force is a real-time strategy game using modern military equipment and units, including M1A1 tanks and M2 Bradley fighting vehicles. The game contains six missions that take place in snow covered mountains and lush jungles, performing covert assaults, counter-insurgency and rescue.

The game focuses on the Guard's combat and non-combat missions, and includes missions like training foreign forces, base protection and flood rescues: all missions the Guard has been involved with in recent years.

The Navy's Recruiting Command launched its new online video game July 15 to build interest and awareness of Navy high-tech jobs. Since then, gamers have completed more than 3,000 missions in the "Navy Training Exercise Strike and Retrieve" game. The game, Navy officials said, "provides those age 17 to 24 a chance to participate in a highly sensitive, top-secret mission, and tests their skills in different areas that sailors in the Navy experience in their everyday life."

Using video games as a way to reach potential recruits makes sense, a Navy Recruiting Command official said. "Gaming and interactive electronic media have increasingly become an aspect of this audience's daily lives," the officials said. "Accordingly, the Navy is working to reach them via these new avenues."

In one of the Navy game's scenarios, players are challenged to locate and secure top-secret documents from within a downed unmanned reconnaissance plane while navigating underwater terrain, battling deep-sea creatures and racing against enemy forces trying to locate the downed aircraft.

Players also have an opportunity to learn more about the Navy while searching for special codes that guide them through the game. The game directs players to www.navy.com to find the special codes. The game is available online as a single-player download online.

The Air Force launched its video game, "USAF: Air Dominance," in the last year, and according to Air Force recruiters, the game's purpose is not only to attract recruits, but also to highlight some of the service's missions to the public.

The game ordinarily is available to be played at high-profile public events, such as major sporting events. Players can select to fly three missions using the Air Force's most advanced technological hardware: an F-22 Raptor, a Predator unmanned air vehicle and a C-17 Globemaster III transport.

But unlike the Army, Navy and National Guard games, the Air Force game can be played only on computers in Air Force mobile recruiting centers. The game is designed to give gamers a short experience of about five minutes at public events, enabling them to get a feel for the Air Force, but also opening the doors for recruiters to perform their outreach, Air Force officials said.

The Marine Corps' video game venture coupled experiences from combat Marines with technology from the private sector to create "Close Combat: First to Fight," a game solely distributed to Marines to help them hone their combat skills. It involves a team of four Marines battling insurgents in the Middle East. The game can last more than 20 hours.

But video games are not just being used by the services to recruit, for community outreach, and in retention; they also are being used to prepare the force. For example, games like the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency-sponsored "DARWARS Ambush!" is a networked, multi-player, PC-based trainer that allows troops to experience lessons learned in Afghanistan and Iraq and to construct scenarios based on field experience. Up to 64 trainees can practice together to anticipate and respond to ambushes, IEDs, and other threats.

The Air Force is developing "Avant Guard" for the Air Force Research Laboratory's Human Effectiveness Directorate. This game models an urban convoy protection mission using UAVs. The player directs the UAV and manages the sensor stream to search for hostile personnel. The objective is to detect an ambush ahead of the convoy's arrival.

And the Naval Air Warfare Center has created "Bottom Gun," a periscope training game that allows players to practice missile firing. "I'm not a big PC gamer," admitted Rieman. But he insisted that the games help develop soldier skills.

"It's a great trainer," Rieman said. Anyone who spends a day training on the devices that use the America's Army platforms, such as the lightweight robot trainer used to conduct explosive ordnance disposal missions, or an anti-armor weapon system, will be successful in live fire exercises, he added.

As one who has seen the realities of war firsthand, Rieman said the games are "as real as it gets."

Local Marine makes the best of holiday in Iraq, misses life on home front


FRANKLIN COUNTY — Marines serving in Iraq might have been fed well on Thanksgiving, but holidays in a war zone are just another day closer to going home, according to Pfc. Ashley Graybill, an ammo specialist from Franklin County stationed in Iraq.

http://www.publicopiniononline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051130/NEWS01/511300314/1002


By VICKY TAYLOR
Staff writer

FRANKLIN COUNTY — Marines serving in Iraq might have been fed well on Thanksgiving, but holidays in a war zone are just another day closer to going home, according to Pfc. Ashley Graybill, an ammo specialist from Franklin County stationed in Iraq.

Her unit at Camp TQ celebrated Thanksgiving in a decorated mess hall, dining on lobster, steak, seafood and turkey.


"All the good stuff," she said.
Still it was not the same as home, and she and her fellow Marines marked the day off the calendar as one day closer to returning.

Life on the front lines in a war zone isn't the best place to spend the holidays, but Graybill said she and fellow Marines are making the best of their situation and plan a Christmas celebration among themselves.

Mail from home, including from strangers who want to wish a lonely Marine a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, is especially welcome.

Graybill recently e-mailed Public Opinion with a request to be put on the Operation Cheer list, hoping for some extra mail over the holidays. Other requests for the list have come from family members of service members, but Graybill's was the first from Iraq this year. (She provided the information for this story by e-mail as well.)

She and her comrades in arms don't sit around moping about their situation, but make the best of what they have, she said.

For Christmas, her unit has drawn names for a secret Santa gift exchange and decorated their office with some of the holiday decorations they have been getting in the mail. Those things are morale-builders, she said, marking not only the holiday season, but serving as a reminder that each day is one day closer to going home.

Meanwhile, they continue to do their jobs in a less-than-ideal situation. In Graybill's case, that job is supplying ammunition to military units in Iraq.

The deployment to Iraq in September was Graybill's second tour of duty in the Middle East. She had spent three months in Kuwait last year.

Camp TQ is located in the middle of the desert and temperatures often reach 130 degrees in the daytime, dropping to 60 to 70 at night, Graybill said. Although her unit does have air conditioners, at times they don't work.

"The chow hall food is not the best, but it's as close to home cooking as we get out here," she said.

The Marines at Camp TQ live in 12-man tents, or in barracks, or for a lucky few, in "hooches." Hooches are made of plywood and house eight to 12 people.

The camp has movie and game tents, but Graybill said "those get old after a while."

Her unit plays cards, basketball, softball "and things like that" when

not working to pass the time and stay busy.

She said there are people of many nationalities — from Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and other countries — in her corner of Iraq.

"They are trying to help us get everything under control to make this place better," she said.

Those people risk their lives and the lives of their families in doing that, she said.

For Graybill, joining the Marines has been a way to escape from a "not so great" life and make a better life for herself.

She is a 2001 graduate of Fannett-Metal High School. After high school, she did odd jobs, then joined the Marine Corps to get away from drugs and peer pressure.

"My life wasn't that great and I wanted to make something of it," she said.

She went to boot camp at Parris Island, S.C., in December 2002, then to North Carolina to train. She was then sent to Redstone in Alabama, where she was trained as an ammunition technician.

After finishing that military occupation specialty training, she went into the fleet at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and two months later was deployed to Kuwait, where she spent three months working with ammo that was supplied to the front lines.

She was home for a while, then in September sent to Iraq.

"We have been hit by rockets, mortars and IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) every day but we are still going strong," she said.

Originally published November 30, 2005

Four Okinawa Marines prepare meals for hundreds in Pakistan

SHINKIARI, Pakistan(Nov. 30, 2005) -- It’s 4:30 a.m. and while the rest of the camp is asleep, the cooks and food service specialists awaken in their pitch-dark tents, grab flashlights and step out into the piercing 40-degree weather.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/69E9B02264EED692852570C90007F9C4?opendocument


Submitted by:
MCB Camp Butler
Story by:
Computed Name: Lance Cpl. Scott M. Biscuiti
Story Identification #:
2005112920276

SHINKIARI, Pakistan(Nov. 30, 2005) -- It’s 4:30 a.m. and while the rest of the camp is asleep, the cooks and food service specialists awaken in their pitch-dark tents, grab flashlights and step out into the piercing 40-degree weather.

Moving about busily around lit grills, the Marines ensure that the sleeping service members will awake to the welcoming smells of waffles, scrambled eggs and of course, hot coffee.

This is the daily routine for four mess hall Marines with 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force currently assigned to Combined Medical Relief Team-3. They are responsible for preparing two hot meals each day for more than 200 service members currently deployed to Shinkiari, Pakistan for the humanitarian relief effort.

“If we don’t do our job correctly people will get sick and the humanitarian mission might not get accomplished,” said Sgt. Gualberto C. Chavez, battalion mess chief with Headquarters and Service Battalion, 3rd MLG. “Hot chow is motivation for the troops.”

Considering the amount of work to be done to setup the field mess hall and the priority of the hospital, it seemed like the mess hall wouldn’t be setup for at least a week, according to Lance Cpl. Erick M. Landers, a food service specialist with 3rd Materiel Readiness Battalion, 3rd MLG.

“We served hot chow on the second night of being in Shinkiari,” Chavez said. “That’s something you can take pride in.”

Chavez said this is the first time he has run a field mess hall by himself and while he is highly impressed with the speed in which the mess hall was setup, there were a few snares along the way.

“In the field, every site you look at will have some problems,” he said. “It is my job to find solutions.”

The Marines did what Marines do best and improvised to overcome the challenges, explained Chavez. They built their own decking to even out the slanted surface and moved the entrance of the field mess hall to minimize the dust entering the mess tent. In addition, they setup their own tents, maintained and fueled the generators that supplied power and got their own potable water.

“It was really a team effort,” Landers said. “Engineers supplied the decking, water purification specialists gave us access to the water and heavy equipment operators helped us move all the big stuff.”

Chavez said during long deployments the number one thing for service members to remember is to stick together.

“My Marines are taking care of me, I am taking care of them and we’re taking care of the whole camp,” Chavez said. “That’s what matters most.”

DoD Announces Implementation of Traumatic Injury Protection

The Department of Defense announced today the implementation of traumatic injury protection insurance under the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program as enacted by section 1032 of Public Law 109-13.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/2005/nr20051130-5170.html
No. 1240-05
IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 30, 2005

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

DoD Announces Implementation of Traumatic Injury Protection
The Department of Defense announced today the implementation of traumatic injury protection insurance under the Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI) program as enacted by section 1032 of Public Law 109-13.

The program, which will be known as TSGLI, is designed to provide financial assistance to service members during their recovery period from a serious traumatic injury.

On Dec. 1, all members eligible for SGLI will become insured for traumatic injury protection of up to $100,000 unless they decline SGLI coverage. A flat monthly premium of $1.00 will be added to the monthly SGLI deduction, regardless of the amount of SGLI coverage that the member has elected effective Dec. 1.

TSGLI is not disability compensation and has no effect on entitlement for compensation and pension benefits provided by the Department of Veterans Affairs or disability benefits provided by the Department of Defense. It is an insurance product similar to commercial dismemberment policies.

TSGLI provides money for a loss due to a specific traumatic event while disability compensation is intended to provide ongoing financial support to make up for the loss in income-earning potential due to service-connected injuries.

The retroactive provision of PL 109-13 provides that any service member, who suffers a qualifying loss between Oct. 7, 2001, and Dec. 1, 2005, will receive a benefit under the TSGLI program if the loss was a direct result of injuries incurred in Operation Enduring Freedom or Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The Department of Defense developed this program in close coordination with the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness will closely monitor implementation with the services and make necessary adjustments if required.

For more information, service members should contact their individual service. Points of contact for service members are: Jeanette Mendy at (800) 237-1336 or [email protected] for Army; Thomas Perry at (210) 565-3310 or 2410 or [email protected] for Air Force; MCPO Ralph Gallaugher at (800) 368-3202 or [email protected] for Navy; Lt. Col. Will Goldschmidt at (703) 432-9277 or [email protected] for Marine Corps; Lt. Terrence Walsh at (202) 267-1648 or [email protected] for Coast Guard; and Lt. Cdr. Tiffany Edmonds at (301) 594-2963 or [email protected] for the U.S. Public Health Service.

IRAQI SOLDIERS AND U.S. MARINES, SAILORS AND SOLDIERS BEGIN OPERATIONS

CENTCOM News Release

http://www.centcom.mil/CENTCOMNews/News_Release.asp?NewsRelease=200511131.txt


NEWS RELEASE
HEADQUARTERS UNITED STATES CENTRAL COMMAND
7115 South Boundary Boulevard
MacDill AFB, Fla. 33621-5101
Phone: (813) 827-5894; FAX: (813) 827-2211; DSN 651-5894

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

November 30, 2005
Release Number: 05-11-131


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


IRAQI SOLDIERS AND U.S. MARINES, SAILORS AND SOLDIERS BEGIN OPERATIONS

CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, AR RAMADI, Iraq — Iraqi Army Soldiers and U.S. Marines, Sailors and Soldiers began operations near Hit in the Hai Al Becker region.

The aim of the operation is to clear the region of al Qaeda and Iraq-led terrorists and establish a secure environment for the upcoming National Elections, Dec. 15.

Approximately 500 Iraqi Army soldiers from 2nd Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Division and 1,500 Marines and Sailors from the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit along with 500 Soldiers from 2nd Battalion-114th Field Artillery Regiment are conducting Operation Matraqa Hadidia (Iron Hammer) east of Hit, approximately 170 km from Baghdad.

The Hai Al Becker region is suspected to be an al Qaeda in Iraq safe area and base of operations for the manufacture of vehicle car bombs, roadside bombs. It is also believed to be a stopping point for terrorists as they transit the ‘rat lines’ down the Euphrates River from Syria into the interior of Iraq.

In early July, Iraqi and U.S. Forces established long-term security presence in the city of Hit during Operation Saif (Sword). During Saif, few terrorists were located; however, a score of weapons caches have been discovered in the region.

Operation Iron Hammer will clear the area on the eastern side of the Euphrates River, an area not typically patrolled by Iraqi and U.S. Forces.

Routine updates concerning Operation Iron Hammer will be provided as additional information becomes available.


FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT THE 2D MARINE DIVISION PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER AT [email protected]

Marines see spike in deaths from vehicle incidents

By Jeff Schogol, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Sixteen fatalities in two months prompt focus on motorcycle safety

To continue reading:

http://www.stripes.com/news/marines-see-spike-in-deaths-from-vehicle-incidents-1.41743

Brothers sell Corps, recruit at home

RECRUITING STATION PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (Nov. 30, 2005) -- Being the smallest of the armed services, the Marine Corps has always considered itself a family, each Marine relying and depending on each other to accomplish the mission. But for two Marine Corps recruiters, that sense of family goes even a little deeper.

http://usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/E7975DEBE94D002B852570C90053E3A5?opendocument


Submitted by: 1st Marine Corps District
Story Identification #: 20051130101617
Story by Staff Sgt. Ken Tinnin

RECRUITING STATION PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (Nov. 30, 2005) -- Being the smallest of the armed services, the Marine Corps has always considered itself a family, each Marine relying and depending on each other to accomplish the mission. But for two Marine Corps recruiters, that sense of family goes even a little deeper.

Staff Sgt.'s Joseph D. and Jeffery T. Langella are not only recruiters at Marine Corps Recruiting Station Portsmouth, N.H., but also brothers. Joe is the Staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of Recruiting Substation Brockton, Mass. and Jeff is the SNCOIC of RSS Southern Maine.

“We do a lot of cross pollination,” said Joe. “We talk about things that are happening on the streets, concerns parents are having, current events in our communities, the things our recruiters are encountering and ways we can help them be successful.”

“We were both born and raised in South Portland, Maine,” said Joe, whose military occupational specialty is 0193, administration chief. “Before coming on recruiting duty we were not able to get together for holidays and such. But now that we are both in the same command, we are able to see the entire family at least once a month.”

Being brothers not only gives them an additional support system, but also brings out the competitive side inherent in all Marines, which may run even deeper in siblings.

“As a canvassing recruiter, I always used to see how we matched up against each other,” said Jeff. “How many contracts we wrote and when we wrote them. As SNCOICs, we would look at how our crews matched up against each other. We have that competitive instinct that all Marines have, but it’s even stronger because we are brothers.”

Now, one might think Joe simply followed in his older brothers footsteps when it came to joining the Corps and volunteering for recruiting duty. But, it was the younger Langella that led the way in both cases.

“I was the first to join the Corps,” said Joe, who has served in the Marine Corps for 11years. “I was also the first to come out on recruiting duty. I was working as the Operations Clerk in Recruiting Station Houston, Texas, and was able to see applicants the day they joined the Delayed Entry Program, poolees the day they shipped to Recruit Training and the Marines when they came back from Recruit Training. I was able to see the positive change it made in their lives and it inspired me to want to mentor young people.”

Jeff had similar reasons for volunteering for recruiting duty.

“I felt recruiting was the most challenging of the b-billets and that it would propel my career,” said Jeff, whose military occupational specialty is 5811, military police, he is also a 1st degree black belt instructor trainer in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. “Recruiting in the area where I was raised, I felt would have an advantage because I understand the people and how they think.”

Both Marines worked their way through the recruiting ranks first as canvassing recruiters; Joe as a recruiter in RSS North Boston and Jeff as a recruiter in RSS Plymouth, Mass., then as the SNCOIC of Plymouth before moving on to their current billets.

For both, recruiting duty has led to an array of experiences.

“I have learned how to deal with a variety of people and it has definitely strengthened my leadership abilities,” said Jeff.

“For me, helping young people steer their lives in a positive direction, and assisting them in building a solid foundation really satisfies me,” said Joe. “It is really rewarding when I get a call from a Marine in the fleet, who I enlisted, or sometimes even their parents, thanking me for everything I’ve done for them.”

But even for all they have gained, there have also been challenges.

“As a recruiter, the hardest part was time management,” said Joe. “There are so many moving parts, it’s easy to let something slide through the cracks.”

“For me the hardest part is being away from the fleet Marine Corps community,” said Jeff. “I miss the operating forces and sometimes feel displaced from the rest of the Marine Corps.”

For both, the most rewarding part of recruiting duty is knowing what they do has a positive effect on the future of the Marine Corps and their communities.

“It’s very rewarding to see the change in the people I enlist,” said Joe. “I love seeing the motivation of the applicants on enlistment day, the nervousness and fear of the unknown before they go to recruit training and the confidence they gain when they become a Marine; it’s awesome!”

“I know I’m helping young men and women succeed in life,” said Jeff. “I know they are going to experience things they would not have if I had not enlisted them in the Marine Corps. I also love hearing their stories of their journeys as Marines, things they have done, or are going to do.”

Having worked their way through the recruiting ranks, both were quick to attribute their successes.

“It’s all about having a positive mental attitude and enthusiasm,” said Joe. “If you are not excited about the Marine Corps, how is an applicant supposed to be?”

“Absolutely, hands down, I owe my success to a strong, supportive, loving wife,” said Jeff. “She has even initiated a few contracts. Recruiting took me by surprise. It is more challenging than I ever imagined. It is truly an example of ‘you only get out of it what you put in to it.’ It is more than just sitting behind a desk and having people walk in and sign up.”

So, do these successful Marines have any words of advice for their fellow Marines thinking of coming out on recruiting duty? You bet.

“Recruiting is an arena that you can never be 100 percent prepared for,” said Jeff. “You must have an open mind and success is pure personality and your level of involvement in you community.”

“You have to remain positive out here,” said Joe. “In the beginning, you will be lost. Learn as much as you can from your fellow recruiters and above all, listen to your SNCOIC, he really does know what he’s talking about.”

As for what the future holds for the Langellas, Joe wants to continue with recruiting and Jeff wants to get back out to the Fleet Marine Force.

“I want to become a career recruiter then a chief warrant officer, but more immediately I want to lead my RSS to become the RSS of the year.”

“I would love to get meritoriously promoted,” said Jeff. “I also just want to try and be the best Marine possible. Never forgetting what it means to be a Marine, being the best husband and father possible and always being an asset to whatever unit I’m attached to”.

Whatever the future may hold for the Langellas, it is clear that they both came on recruiting duty for the same reason, to mentor young people in their home area about the opportunities in the Marine Corps based on the successes they have experienced. For Joe, his goal of having his RSS be the RSS of the year was recently achieved when RSS Brockton was named 1st Marine Corps District’ Large Recruiting Substation of the Year.

For Jeff his interest in sports and community involvement led to a position as the Strength and Conditioning Coach for Greely High School in Southern Maine. The school is one of RSS Southern Maine’ non-working schools. Through his coaching position, and his positive impact on not only the athletes and students he came into contact with on a daily basis, but also the school faculty, Jeff was able to form a relationship with the school that should pave the way to better relations with the Corps.

November 29, 2005

El Paso native remembered by fellow Marines

HADITHA, Iraq (Nov. 29, 2005) -- Marines with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment pay respects to and remember the life of one of their fallen comrades during a memorial service here Nov. 29.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/D0C8C683B2310877852570DE000A5542?opendocument

Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division (FWD)
Story Identification #: 20051220205251
Story by Cpl. Adam C. Schnell

El Paso, Texas, native, Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, a 20 year-old rifleman with the company, was conducting mobile operations near the town of Haditha when a roadside bomb detonated near the vehicle he was driving, killing him.

Friends, leaders and fellow Marines of Terrazas’ packed a small room at the base here to pay their respects and celebrate the life of the fallen warrior. The battalion’s chaplain, Navy Lt. Philip N. Park, welcomed everyone and started off the service with an invocation.

Terrazas’ commanding officer, Capt. Luke McConnell, gave the opening remarks by talking about his leadership skills and life in the military.

Terrazas began his military career when he enlisted in the Marine Corps on Aug. 11, 2003. He went to basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Calif. where he made the transformation to a Marine.

After graduation, his next stop was the School of Infantry-West aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. It was there that he learned the basic skills needed to be a rifleman.

Terrazas didn’t have to go far when he received orders to 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, a unit just up the road from the infantry school. He became a part of Company K where he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom twice. He was known in his company for his marksmanship expertise, tactical proficiency and impressive courage.

Other leaders, fellow Marines and friends spoke about their comrade they recently lost. One was Lance Cpl. Roel R. Briones, a close friend of Terrazas.

“He was like a brother to me,” commented Briones. “If I ever needed to talk about something or someone to help me out when I was in a jam, he was always there for me.

“He was one hell of a shot. I’ve known him for about a year and a half, and I’ve never seen him miss something he was aiming for.”

After remarks from friends, 1st Sgt. Albert Espinosa, the company first sergeant, took roll call. A number of names were called off, and a loud ‘here first sergeant!’ came after every name until Terrazas’ name was read.

“Lance Cpl. Terrazas ... Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas,” sounded off the first sergeant. “Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas.”

And again there was no answer.

The silence after Terrazas’ name brought out many different emotions in each person in attendance, as did the sound of Taps, which is a military tradition for fallen service members.

Terrazas was the first Marine with his company to lose his life during the current deployment. Losing his experience was especially tough for the Marines, as they have lost a good Marine and good friend.

“He was a man of heart,” commented Terrazas’ platoon sergeant Staff Sgt. Travis M. Fields. “He always brought a smile everywhere he went. He is the kind of guy you can say will never be forgotten.”

Terrazas is survived by his mother, Gabrielle and father, Martin Terrazas Sr.

Two Soldiers Killed, One Injured in Separate Incidents

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2005 – Two Task Force Baghdad soldiers were killed when their patrol struck a roadside bomb north of Baghdad today, military officials reported.

http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Nov2005/20051129_3468.html


American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2005 – Two Task Force Baghdad soldiers were killed when their patrol struck a roadside bomb north of Baghdad today, military officials reported.

The soldiers' names are being withheld pending notification of family. In other news, a crewmember suffered minor injuries when a Bradley fighting vehicle struck a roadside bomb Nov. 28 in eastern Baghdad. The crewmember was treated and quickly returned to duty, officials said.

Elements of 1st Battalion, 64th Armor, and Iraqi police secured the area to prevent injury to nearby civilians.

"We have gathered some intelligence on who might be responsible, and we are working the issue right now with the Iraqi security forces and the local citizens to catch the responsible terrorists," said Army Col. Joseph DiSalvo, commander of coalition forces in eastern Baghdad. "The terrorists are willing to put innocent civilians at risk when they attack us. It is important that local civilians continue to turn in suspected terrorists to the Iraqi security forces."

Coalition and Iraqi security forces discovered several weapons caches across Iraq on Nov. 28. As Iraqi and U.S. forces in Kirkuk continue unearthing weapons from a major cache discovered Nov. 27, several smaller caches were discovered around the north central region, officials said.

Iraqi police and soldiers joined troops from the 101st Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team to continue the systematic excavation and securing of a large cache unearthed outside an abandoned military base near Kirkuk. Several thousand mortar rounds already have been removed from the site.

A local resident led coalition troops to a weapons cache near Bayji. Soldiers found 18 large mortar rounds, 90 pounds of powdered explosives, a rocket motor and some small-arms ammunition. The rounds and explosives were taken away for disposal.

In the village of Shumayt, near Haqija, Iraqi and U.S. soldiers turned up a small amount of plastic explosives, some anti-aircraft artillery rounds, five assault weapons, sniper ammunition, and 200 rounds of armor-piercing ammunition.

A patrol operating from Logistics Support Area Anaconda near Balad discovered another collection of weapons. Soldiers seized hundreds of rounds of small-arms ammunition, four small rockets, 15 assault weapons and two night-vision scopes.

During the past week, Iraqi army soldiers and U.S. Marines, soldiers and sailors of the 2nd Marine Division also discovered 66 weapons caches in Iraq's Anbar province.

U.S. and Iraqi forces found blocks of plastic explosives, sticks of TNT, artillery and mortar rounds used in vehicle and roadside bombs along with remote detonators. They also discovered machine guns, assault and sniper rifles, rocket-propelled grenades and munitions.

In Haqlaniyah on Nov. 27, Iraqi soldiers and Marines excavated more than 8,800 heavy-machine-gun rounds along with 150 artillery, mortar and tank rounds. Information gained from local citizens indicated that the cache was buried about a month ago by three carloads of people working through the night.

Near Habbaniyah, four complete mortar systems, including their aiming sites and instruction manuals and more than a dozen remote detonators for roadside bombs, were found. Thirteen men were detained at the site for further questioning.

Caches were found and destroyed from Fallujah to Qaim. Many of these weapons and explosive cache sites were located after receiving information from local citizens, officials said. Iraqi and coalition forces prevented two bombings in and around Baghdad on Nov. 26.

A citizen in Sadr City provided a potentially life-saving tip to the Iraqi army on Nov. 26, alerting them to what appeared to be a bomb placed in the road.

The Iraqi army and soldiers from Task Force Baghdad's 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry, responded and secured the site. Upon investigation, the Iraqi army and Task Force Baghdad team discovered a 122 mm mortar round rigged with a remote detonating device. A U.S. Army explosive ordnance disposal team disposed of the bomb.

West of Baghdad, in the Abu Ghraib area, Task Force Baghdad soldiers killed a terrorist trying to set up an improvised explosive device Nov. 26.

Soldiers from 1st Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry, spotted the bomber trying to put a 155 mm artillery round, with an attached detonation device, into a pile of trash along the street. The soldiers quickly engaged the individual.

Iraqi army soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 6th Division, secured the area and explosive experts destroyed the bomb. In the skies over Iraq, coalition aircraft flew 52 close-air-support missions on Nov. 28. These missions included support to coalition troops, infrastructure protection, reconstruction activities, and operations to deter and disrupt terrorist activities.

Eleven U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft flew missions in support of operations in Iraq. The U.S. Air Force and British Royal Air Force fighter aircraft also performed in a nontraditional ISR role with their electro-optical and infrared sensors.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq, Task Force Baghdad and U.S. Central Command Air Forces Forward news releases.)

Bill Would Lower GI Drinking Age to 18

WASHINGTON — A New Hampshire lawmaker wants to lower the drinking age for active-duty military members to 18, making New Hampshire the second state to consider such Legislation this year.

http://www.military.com/features/0,15240,81552,00.html?ESRC=marine-a.nl


Stars and Stripes | Leo Shane III | November 29, 2005
WASHINGTON — A New Hampshire lawmaker wants to lower the drinking age for active-duty military members to 18, making New Hampshire the second state to consider such Legislation this year.

State Rep. James Splaine, D-Portsmouth, said his new bill would show servicemembers the respect they deserve for their work in the military.

“It seems hypocritical that we expect people to be able to make life or death decisions in Iraq, but in New Hampshire they don’t have the right or privilege to be able to drink,” he said.

This summer, Wisconsin state Rep. Mark Pettis, R-Hertel, introduced a bill to drop the $500 fine for underage drinking to just $10 for servicemembers. Half of that fine would go into a veterans support fund, and would effectively allow young troops to drink at any bar in the state.

Earlier this month, a Wisconsin House committee approved the bill 7-2. Officials from Pettis’ office said the next step is a vote before the full House, but no timetable has been set for that.

Pettis had crafted the $10 fine as a way to skirt federal drinking age minimums but still protect the state’s more than $50 million in federal highway funds, which could have been revoked if the federal age minimum of 21 was repealed even in part.

Splaine said he will seek a waiver from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the New Hampshire bill to preserve the state’s federal funding and allow the drinking exception.

“It’s not as much of an issue here because New Hampshire has already given up many of those (federal highway) funds,” he said. “We have no motorcycle helmet requirement, and no seatbelt law requirement, so they’ve taken away some funding for that.”

Splaine, who did not serve in the military, was the primary sponsor of the bill which raised New Hampshire’s drinking age to 21 in the early 1980s. He hopes that legislative history will give his new proposal more credibility among critics.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving has already lobbied against both the Wisconsin and New Hampshire measures. Splaine said he expects a hearing on his bill in late January.

Defense Department rules require that all U.S. military facilities follow the 21 drinking age, but overseas bases can drop their drinking age as low as 18 based on their host country’s laws. Base commanders also can set the limit at 21, regardless of the foreign laws, at their discretion.

General Order Number 1, in effect in Iraq and Afghanistan, prohibits the “introduction, possession, sale, transfer, manufacture or consumption of any alcoholic beverage” while in the combat zone.
Sound Off...What do you think? Join the discussion.

© 2005 Stars & Stripes. All opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of Military.com.

Iraqi Security Forces Steadily Improving, But Still Need Support

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2005 – U.S. and coalition initiatives to create well-trained and -equipped Iraqi security forces are paying off, with Iraqis taking on more of the fight, a U.S. Central Command general said Nov. 28 at the Heritage Foundation here.

http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Nov2005/20051129_3469.html


By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2005 – U.S. and coalition initiatives to create well-trained and -equipped Iraqi security forces are paying off, with Iraqis taking on more of the fight, a U.S. Central Command general said Nov. 28 at the Heritage Foundation here.

"Iraqi security forces are fighting hard. They're fighting well. They are not cracking under pressure, as you see in some armies, and they are making a tremendous contribution," Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, CENTCOM's deputy director of plans and strategy, told the audience.

Kimmitt, who divides his time between Iraq and CENTCOM's Tampa headquarters, said Iraq's security forces, which now number about 200,000, are steadily improving in capability.

They're taking on more of the fight, as evidenced during recent operations in Tal Afar and in the Euphrates River Valley, he said.

"We believe that that is generally the operational concept that we've been working toward," Kimmitt said. "It's starting to pay fruit now."

But Kimmitt acknowledged that the Iraqis' competency levels vary widely, and they're not yet ready to handle fight alone, without coalition help. "I'm not one to stand here and suggest that means they can handle the entire responsibility for military operations in Iraq, and it will be some time before they are able to," he said.

For now, as they steadily gain capability, Iraq's security forces are demonstrating their mettle, not just in combat missions, but also in the all-important follow-on operations, he said. This involves bringing in rebuilding supplies, medical help and other services to help affected communities return to normalcy.

It also prevents insurgents from returning, preventing what Kimmitt described as a "whack-a-mole" operational concept: "fight them here, then fight them here, then fight them here."

Rather, he said, combined coalition and Iraqi forces can move on to the next location to root out insurgents while Iraqi security forces remain behind to help maintain stability.

"So the military comes in solely for the purpose of targeting the insurgents," he said. "When that is done, it is hoped that we can quickly turn it over to legitimate local governance as quickly as possible."

Kimmitt praised the U.S. servicemembers who are making these advances possible.

"They are absolutely magnificent. They take your breath away. They are courageous, they are brave, and they are dedicated to their mission," he said. "They are fighting an enemy that shows no restraint or follows no conventional rules, and our troops, by contrast, are well-led."

U.S. troops know they have the support of their friends, families and the American public, he said.

And although they're well aware of the ongoing debate about U.S. operations in Iraq, the troops are proud to serve in a country that allows this type public discourse, Kimmitt said.

"Rest assured that they're not only the best military we've ever had, but they also are a military that is deeply rooted in the democratic traditions of civilian control," he said. "They are doing their duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and a thousand other places around the world tonight."

Marines willing to go extra mile

If there's one thing the Marine Corps does without hesitation, it is looking after its own.Marines go to great lengths on the battlefield to bring back their dead and wounded. Off the battlefield, they are the first to come to the aid of their fallen comrades' families. (1/8)

http://www.jdnews.com/SiteProcessor.cfm?Template=/GlobalTemplates/Details.cfm&StoryID;=36898&Section;=Opinion


November 29,2005
BY OUR OPINION View stories by reporter

If there's one thing the Marine Corps does without hesitation, it is looking after its own.Marines go to great lengths on the battlefield to bring back their dead and wounded. Off the battlefield, they are the first to come to the aid of their fallen comrades' families.

The Band of Brothers at the heart of a Marine's soul also binds them both in life and in death.

So it's not surprising that a group of leathernecks would fly to Mobile, Ala., to aid of the mother of a Marine who didn't make it back from Iraq. It is something that they would consider a debt of honor, a bargain they made with their friend and fellow Marine.

It all began when Marines discovered that the mother of Lance Cpl. Bradley Faircloth, who served with 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, needed help. The young Faircloth was killed in the battle for Fallujah in November 2004, leaving behind his single mother, whose home sustained damage when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.

The Marines from 3rd Platoon, Alpha Company, 1/8, had stayed in touch with Faircloth's mother, Kathleen.

When they learned her home had been damaged in the hurricane, they wanted to help her and, in the spirit of the Corps, managed to overcome great obstacles in order to fulfill their mission.

First there was the matter of transportation. The Marines from Faircloth's unit were in Slidell, La., as part of the military's response to hurricane recovery when they discovered Kathleen Faircloth's home had sustained significant damage from Katrina. They knew they wanted to help her, but at a time when transportation was at a premium, didn't have a way to reach her. When a kind-hearted local resident stepped up and offered the Marines the use of her private jet, the battalion's executive officer took the matter to his boss - the battalion commander. He OK'd it.

In the end, the Marine unit not only made the trip, but they did it all in a brief 36 hours. Marines from 1/8 repaired the Faircloth home's extensive damages, including a roof that badly needed patching. Even more importantly, they spent time with Kathleen Faircloth, talking about her late son and what he meant to them all.

When they were finished, the Marines who went acknowledged that it was as much about comforting one another as it was looking after the family of one of their own. It was an extension of what they do on the battlefield - the promise that no one will be left behind.

Those who think of Marines only as lean, mean fighting machines might express surprise to hear they volunteer their time to wade into the middle of disaster-mangled communities to make them whole again. But residents of Onslow or Carteret counties don't find it puzzling.

To those who live daily around the Marine Corps or have once been an active part of the Corps, Marines are known for both their courage under fire and their deep sense of humanity.

As one Marine put it, "We've got compassion."

This may be news to the rest of the world but not around here - where Marines show their compassion and willingness to go that extra mile for the benefit of others in some way each and every day.

Exercise Forging Sabre helps to build bonds between different SAF services

It was integration at Exercise Forging Sabre in more ways than one.

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/180713/1/.html

By Farah Abdul Rahim, Channel NewsAsia

It was integration at Exercise Forging Sabre in more ways than one.

Besides bringing together the different SAF elements and capabilities, living together at Camp Wilson in Twentynine Palms, California for the 12-day exercise also helped to build bonds between the officers on the ground as they coped with the harsh desert climate.

The half-cylindrical structures, or K-Spans, dot the landscape at Camp Wilson, which is part of the US Marine Corp Air Ground Combat Centre.

The K-Spans were a home away from home for some 300 SAF personnel who lived alongside their counterparts from the US Marine Corps.

26-year-old Dr Ooi Kiat Huat, as medical officer, looked after the medical needs of those at Exercise Forging Sabre.

He said: "Not just in an official capacity do we have to work together, we have to live together. For myself ordinarily, I won't get the chance to interact with so many commandos and despite the reputation as tough guys they are really nice! When we spend nearly 24 hours a day together, it's not hard to feel much closer to each other and when you see the guy half naked some of the time that helps as well."

The men and women on the ground also had to adapt to the weather which could hit a high of 40 degrees Celsius at midday but drop to as low as 4 degrees at night.

And even the American way of life - including driving the big Humvees - on the other side of the road.

Major Leong Chee Kheong, Head Ground Coordinator, Exercise Forging Sabre, said: "I was a driving instructor for the first few days to get the guys to get used to driving on the wrong side of the road in Singapore's context and understand their law like a four way stop."

More importantly, the exercise brought the army and air force closer together.

Major Leong said: "We understand each other's lingo more, we understand each other's processes more. Exercise Forging Sabre by its very name forged us in a closer bond. I've never attended any exercise that offered such an opportunity. Exercise Forging Sabre in its own way was a great platform to integrate the two services - land and air units."

While Exercise Forging Sabre may have come to an end, the work's not over yet as it's now time to pack up.

The 18-man administrative team will continue to stay there to sort out the logistics, bring everything home and return this part of Camp Wilson back to the US Marine Corps. - CNA /ch


Copyright © 2005 MCN International Pte Ltd

N.H.-based unit headed to Iraq

LONDONDERRY, N.H. A Marine reserve company based in Londonderry (New Hampshire) has been ordered to Iraq. (1/25)

http://www.wcax.com/Global/story.asp?S=4176022&nav;=4QcS

LONDONDERRY, N.H. A Marine reserve company based in Londonderry (New Hampshire) has been ordered to Iraq.

The 180 members of Bravo Company have been ordered to report to the reserve center in Londonderry on Thursday. They are part of a contingent of 750 Marines and sailors from New England who have been called up.

The group heads overseas in January and is scheduled to be activated for one year, with about seven months in Iraq.

Members of Bravo Company mostly are from New Hampshire, though some live in Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Pendleton Marine Awarded Silver Star


CAMP PENDLETON – A Marine sergeant who rescued his platoon commander from a burning vehicle during a firefight with Iraqi insurgents last year is to receive the Silver Star Wednesday in a ceremony at Camp Pendleton Marine Base (1/5)

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/military/20051129-1227-bn29medal.html

CAMP PENDLETON – A Marine sergeant who rescued his platoon commander from a burning vehicle during a firefight with Iraqi insurgents last year is to receive the Silver Star Wednesday in a ceremony at Camp Pendleton Marine Base.

Gunnery Sergeant Ismael Sagredo was a staff sergeant on April 13, 2004 when his platoon attacked insurgents, who set one their armored amphibious vehicles afire deep within insurgent-held territory.

Sagredo led his Marines to a nearby house, then went back to evacuate his platoon leader.

But that was only the beginning, according to the Department of the Navy's official citation.

Ignoring small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades, Sagredo repeatedly moved from one position to another until he could make radio contact with reinforcements and direct them to his location, all while keeping his fellow Marines calm as their ammunition ran low.

After the quick reaction force arrived, Sagredo continued to expose himself to fire until the damaged "amtrak" had been retrieved, the platoon commander had been evacuated and the rest of his Marines had been moved to safety.

Sagredo is a member of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, which took part in the fighting in and around Fallujah last year. The unit has fought in some of the fiercest battles in Marine Corps history, dating back to World War I and including recent fighting in Fallujah, Iraq

November 28, 2005

Recruits hear Marines' call to duty, honor

PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. -- In the face of a bloody war with no end in sight, the U.S. Marine Corps continues to find men and women willing, if not eager, to lay their lives on the line.

http://www.lowellsun.com/ci_3258938


By MATT MURPHY, Sun Staff

PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. -- In the face of a bloody war with no end in sight, the U.S. Marine Corps continues to find men and women willing, if not eager, to lay their lives on the line.

“I was kind of looking forward to it. All of my brothers and sisters are over there,” said Marine recruit Kevin Hayes, 18, of Shirley.

“His brothers and sisters” are his fellow Marines, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Hayes is on the deck of the training pool at Parris Island Recruit Depot in South Carolina, where, on any given day, 4,500 recruits prepare for battle.

They are called “warriors,” and it is no secret on Parris Island that recruits could find themselves in the deserts of Iraq within three months of graduating basic training.

It is a reality many Marines seem to embrace.

Lt. Scott Miller, 24, is a public-affairs officer on Parris Island. He has come close to being deployed but has not seen combat.

He wants to. He said he feels a duty and obligation, both to his country and to his fellow Marines.

“My friends have been over (in Iraq) sometimes two or three times getting shot at, and I still haven't gone,” Miller said. “I want to go. It's what I've been trained for.”

That mind-set is passed on from Marine to recruit every day on Parris Island, where war is more than a business -- it's a lifestyle.

“I wanted to serve with the best fighting force in the world,” said Matthew Tremblay, 19, of Chelmsford.

Tremblay, like several other local recruits interviewed by The Sun, chose to be trained for infantry duty after boot camp, increasing the likelihood that he will see combat.

“When I think of a Marine, I think infantry. I'm a little nervous, but I know it is something this recruit has to do,” Tremblay said stoically, without breaking his focus from training.

Before being interviewed, recruits were briefed by senior officers and told to answer questions honestly, but not discuss their own political views.

As of last week, 2,092 Americans have been killed in action -- 30 from Massachusetts -- and another 15,000 have been injured. Nearly 600 of those casualties were Marines.

The grim reality of war has made recruiting volunteers for the armed services a daunting challenge for recruiters, particularly in liberal, wealthy Northeast communities where college, not Baghdad, is often the preferred destination.

“It's probably the most difficult job I've had. I call kids' homes, and their parents tell me they don't agree with the war, they hate George Bush, and they hang up,” said Sgt. Phillip Baugh, a recruiter from New Haven, Conn., who accompanied The Sun and a group of local educators to South Carolina.

But in eastern Massachusetts, Maine and New Hampshire, the Marine Corps has more than met its mission.

Staff Sgt. Ken Tinnin, of the Portsmouth Recruiting Station in New Hampshire, said last year his regional offices recruited 863 new Marines, 36 more than its goal for fiscal 2005.

“In this area, thankfully, there are a lot of military supporters,” said Staff Sgt. Wil Olmeda, a recruiter at the Lowell recruiting office, who grew up on Central Street.

Middlesex County accounted for 18.4 percent of the 1,957 recruits from Massachusetts who entered the Army, Navy, Air Force and Army Reserve in 2004 -- more than any other county in the state.

While those branches have struggled to meet their quotas, the Marine Corps has remained highly selective, further solidifying its reputation as an elite fighting force.

To enlist in the Marines, recruits are screened for their desire to join the corps, their physical readiness and their education. Recruiters encourage those interested to research other branches, and education is a must.

“I'll tell a potential recruit to go get his diploma,” Olmeda said. “High school is a must. We don't accept GEDs, only once in a blue moon. Especially when they're seniors, it's my job to stay on top of them. I have kids in here every day doing their homework. I'll help them with their math.”

Joining the Marines is also like joining a family, so Olmeda said he does his best to involve parents in the enlistment process.

Despite recent reports that Marine recruiters have misled young people to get them to sign up, Olmeda said he always tells the truth, even when it means explaining to parents there's a good chance their son or daughter will see war.

One man Olmeda recruited worked in Lowell for three weeks before shipping out to infantry school.

Private Kevin Lynch, 19, of Billerica, graduated from Parris Island on Oct. 28. He briefly thought about joining the Army but said he felt the recruiters were just telling him what he wanted to hear.

His decision to enlist, however, has forced his parents to toe the wobbly line between supporting their youngest son and protecting him.

“I hate to see my son go over to Iraq,” Helen Lynch said. “I pray every night that he doesn't have to go because I don't know if I could handle it. I'm not going to say I don't believe in the war. I just feel it's unnecessary for them to be over there. I think they should send them all home.”

Lynch chose infantry training over any other Marine occupation, because he said it will afford him the greatest opportunity to make a difference in his life. He said he will be nervous when the time comes to go to Iraq, but he understands it is part of becoming a Marine.

Despite his parents' best efforts to discourage him, they fully support Kevin because he's following his heart.

“I talked to him until I was blue in the face, even suggested the Coast Guard,” Kevin Lynch said of his son. “But he went in for all the right reasons, and I can't help but be proud.”

Last month, Kevin and Helen Lynch traveled to South Carolina and had the privilege of seeing their son graduate Parris Island.

Laurie Hayes, of Shirley, can hardly wait to share the same moment with her son, Kevin, on Dec. 21.

The reality that her son may soon be fighting a war an ocean away from their small rural town does little to diminish her pride.

“I see the stories on the news and I cry. All I can say is, ‘God, keep him safe.' If he were killed in action, at least I'd know he was really doing what he wanted. How many of us in life can say that?” she said.

Matt Murphy's e-mail address is [email protected]

Rural areas drive recruiting

DETROIT -- Michigan's military recruits come disproportionately from its rural areas as compared to urban areas, according to Pentagon records.

http://www.mlive.com/news/kzgazette/index.ssf?/base/news-15/1133198448222980.xml&coll;=7


Monday, November 28, 2005
Associated Press

DETROIT -- Michigan's military recruits come disproportionately from its rural areas as compared to urban areas, according to Pentagon records.

In the state's 45 most rural counties -- those with 60 percent or more of their populations in rural areas -- about seven of every 1,000 young people ages 18 to 24 enlisted last year. In the state's most populous counties, about four of every 1,000 young adults signed up, according to Pentagon records obtained by an anti-war group.

``I think it tells us that young people with limited opportunities are more likely to join the armed forces,'' said Anita Bancs, research director for the National Priorities Project, a Massachusetts-based nonpartisan nonprofit that gives people information about how government works. ``If we're going to engage in war, we ought to know who the people are who volunteer, who are serving in the armed forces and who put themselves at risk.''

Bancs' group obtained the military records from Peacework Magazine, a branch of an anti-war Quaker organization, which had requested them from the military. The 2004 records do not include military officers, people who enlisted in the Marine Corps or members of the National Guard, who have been widely deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Last year, the area around North Branch, a village of about 1,000 people in Michigan's Thumb area north of Detroit, sent 30 recruits into the Air Force, Army and Navy, according to the records.

High school guidance counselors and principals in that area agreed that most enlisted for economic reasons.

``It's opportunity as much as anything else,'' said Carolyn Medford, a counselor at North Branch High School.

Most who enlist in Michigan end up in the Army, the recruiting records show.

The Iraq War: Another View

Although the national media provides everyone with up-to-the-minute news of all the attacks, bombings, and other horrors of combat in Iraq and in Afghanistan, there are other facets of the effort to help the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as of the support provided to our troops in combat, which don’t get the coverage they deserve. That is the purpose of this column, in which information from various other sources will be presented.

http://www.mountvernonnews.com/local/112805/iraq.html


By JOHN BOYCE
News Staff Writer

Although the national media provides everyone with up-to-the-minute news of all the attacks, bombings, and other horrors of combat in Iraq and in Afghanistan, there are other facets of the effort to help the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as of the support provided to our troops in combat, which don’t get the coverage they deserve. That is the purpose of this column, in which information from various other sources will be presented.

Today’s column presents a slightly edited version of an October story by USMC Lance Cpl. James B. Hoke at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif.

From the deserts of Iraq to the grassy slopes of Afghanistan, there has always been an impending threat of disaster. However, with the help of one of man’s best friends, Kwinto, this threat has been slightly reduced.

Kwinto, a military working dog on Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, is an 8-year-old Belgium Malinois whose area of expertise is patrolling for and detecting explosives.
Kwinto, a military working dog with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, sits beside his issued protective gear, which includes a flak jacket, safety goggles and booties made for canines. (Photo by Cpl. Sarah A. Beavers)

“Kwinto was accepted for training in September of 1999,” said Cpl. Leroy J. Becker, military working dog handler, Provost Marshal’s Office. “He’s been in the Marine Corps for six years and has deployed four times.”

The deadly but lovable canine has deployed twice to Afghanistan and twice to Iraq in a span of only four years.

“During the Afghanistan deployment, he was mainly used for base security,” Becker said. “He was also used for the ambassador and would clear buildings before the ambassador would go into them.”

With more than 21 months of total deployed time, Kwinto helped discover explosives in Iraq that otherwise may have been overlooked.

“His actual finds in Iraq were weapons caches, weapons payloads, improvised explosive devices and rocket-propelled grenade rounds,” Becker said. “He found a 125 mm propellant charge, three RPG heads, four 60-pound bags of FE-4 [explosives used in IEDs], and several anti-aircraft rounds that which were found buried three feet under ground.”

When Kwinto isn’t on the job, he is often found taking up his “liberty” time chewing on his favorite chew toy — his bit tugs.

“He loves playing with his bit tugs,” said Sgt. Ken Porras, chief trainer, military working dog section. “His favorite game with them is tug-o-war. He also loves to fetch. He’s just a big love hound.”

Ever since dogs were brought into the military during World War II, they have performed tasks that have saved the lives of many service members.

“Military working dogs are a huge tool in finding explosives, explosive caches, weapons and IEDs,” Porras said. “They’re also a psychological deterrent. If someone sees the dog at the gate, they will think twice before approaching.”

However, the effects of time do wear on military working dogs and cause some to lose their drive to work.

“German shepherds, because of their hip dysplasia, will last between seven and 10 years on the job,” Becker said. “A Belgium Malinois can last 12 years. It all depends on the dog’s health and drive to work, as well as its control capabilities.”

Although all dogs will eventually reach the end of their service, Kwinto’s career is far from over.

“Kwinto is the perfect military working dog because he can bite when it’s time to,” Porras said. “He’s an awesome detection dog. He’s just a big loving goofball when he’s not working. He knows when it’s time to work and when it’s time to play. That’s what I think makes him such a great dog.”

With war raging in Iraq, young local men and women still enlist

PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. -- A bus carrying 22 new recruits pulls into Parris Island Recruit Depot, lit only by the dim neon glow of street lights. “Get off the bus,” Staff Sgt. Tony Kimmanee barks, his voice hoarse from daily screaming.

SEE LINK FOR VIDEO AND PHOTOS! http://www.lowellsun.com/ci_3256543

By Matt Murphy, Sun Staff

PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. -- A bus carrying 22 new recruits pulls into Parris Island Recruit Depot, lit only by the dim neon glow of street lights. “Get off the bus,” Staff Sgt. Tony Kimmanee barks, his voice hoarse from daily screaming.

Kimmanee is short, slender and well built. His eyes are wild with intensity. He orders the recruits to line up on the fabled yellow footprints painted on the sidewalk. Every recruit who arrives for boot camp walks these steps.

In the darkness, recruits learn their first lesson of the island. Expect the unexpected.

The second lesson is in the footprints, and the subsequent march through heavy metal doors that only open one way -- in.

“From now on, the word ‘I' will no longer be a part of your vocabulary. Do you understand?” Kimmanee shouts.

“Yes, sir,” comes the response, not yet in crisp cadence.

“Say it again -- yes, sir!”

“Sir! Yes, sir!” they reply.

For the next 12 weeks, each wide-eyed teenage recruit will be transformed. Every drill, every order will be part of a carefully orchestrated script the tradition-rich Marines Corps has used for almost a century.On this day, the death toll of U.S. forces in Iraq reached 2,000, including almost 600 Marines. Since then another 105 men and women in uniform have given their lives for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

These statistics are not lost on the Marines at Parris Island, many of whom have served in Iraq and seen friends pay the ultimate sacrifice.

But as scenes of bloodshed blur together on television screens across the country, Parris Island recruits from Lowell to Chelmsford, Shirley to Billerica, are still crawling through mud on their way to becoming America's newest warriors.

--

Each recruit has his or her reason for wanting to be a Marine.

For Kevin Lynch of Billerica, watching the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and seeing the war in Iraq on television convinced him to serve.

“I was sitting back at home, watching everything going on, and felt it wasn't fair to be doing nothing,” said Lynch, 19. “I thought if I signed up, maybe I could make a difference.”

Lynch had only a vague idea of what he wanted to do after graduating from Billerica Memorial High School last spring. He had discussed joining the military before, but enrolled in courses at Middlesex Community College and was toying with the idea of becoming a police officer.

“Surprised is probably putting it mildly,” his father, Kevin Lynch, of Hudson, N.H. said about his son's decision. “It's something he's talked about for a number of years, but in light of recent events, I was hoping it was something that would pass,”

It didn't.

All recruits share one common goal, to be part of the smallest and most selective branch of the U.S. military, to sense the shared sacrifice that bonds Marines forever.

And to answer the question: Do I have what it takes?

“It's probably 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical. I'd say anyone can graduate if you can get through the mental part,” said Nathan Martinez, 19, of Chelmsford.

Laurie Hayes of Shirley knew her son, Kevin, would serve his country some day. She remembers him wearing camouflage pajamas when he was 2. He became serious about military service following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Then, the Hayeses volunteered for the Commander-in-Chief Ball on inauguration night in Washington, D.C. earlier this year. Kevin Hayes met Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who told him he would never regret a day he served his country as a United States Marine.

Hayes, 18, enlisted a week later. “If I was going to sign up anywhere, I wanted to be with the best and the Marines are the best,” he said.

He and his friend since second grade, Jarrod Brooks, also 18 and from Shirley, shipped off following their graduation from Nashoba Valley Regional Technical High School.

That is how they ended up together, soaking wet on the deck of the Parris Island pool, deep into survival training, talking to a reporter.

Hayes and Brooks are afraid of the water.

“I'm going to become a Marine no matter what it takes,” Hayes says.

--

The Marines began training recruits on Parris Island in 1915, one of two basic training facilities for Marines. All female recruits, and all male recruits from east of the Mississippi River, train here.

Dominated by picturesque salt marshes, this swampy 8,095-acre island off the southern coast of South Carolina, outside of Charleston, is home to bald eagles and alligators, sand fleas and fire ants.

Boot camp may not live up to the Hollywood hype of films such as Full Metal Jacket. But Parris Island is still ground zero for a grueling form of physical and mental conditioning unrivaled in the military world.

For 12 weeks, recruits spend 16 hours a day learning to shoot a rifle, swim in full combat gear, rappel from a tower and fight hand-to-hand.

When they don't train, they sleep.

Recruits have no contact with the outside world except for the letters they write home. They are taught to forget the individual and become part of a team. They refer to each other simply as “Recruit” and the last name on their camouflage.

Most graduate without knowing one another's first names.

--

Each platoon is commanded by three drill instructors.

Staff Sgt. Michael Flanagan of Sanford, Maine, is this platoon's senior drill instructor. He is the “father figure,” the male that recruits can approach with a problem. He rarely yells.

On the other end is the “third hat” or “heavy,” a drill instructor who shouts, berates and confuses the recruits to test their mental toughness.

Flanagan keeps his platoon indoors for drills on a cold October morning. The smell of sweat-drenched clothes hangs in the air like any locker room.

About 80 recruits stand at attention, snapping their rifles from their shoulders to the floor.

“Say hello to my little friend,” they shout in unison, a light-hearted reference to Tony Montana whipping out his machine gun in the movie “Scarface.”

Drill instructor Jack Shanks, the third hat, shouts orders, pacing in front of the recruits. Flanagan looks on with his arms folded across his chest.

“Sloppy. What are you tired, recruit?” Flanagan shouts. It's 7:30 a.m. The recruits have been drilling for an hour.

--

Recruit Lovelyn stands on the edge of the rappel tower, 48 feet above the ground.

“Hey, sergeant. Look who it is. It's Lovelyn. Come over and see this,” a drill instructor shouts from the top of the tower.

Lovelyn gingerly steps out onto the platform.

“What are you, still scared, Lovelyn? Hey, look. Lovelyn's scared,” the DI taunts.

The recruit slowly leans back in his rope harness but says nothing. When the time comes to jump, his knees freeze and Lovelyn spins upside down, dangling from the rope with his legs in the air.

“What are you doing, Lovelyn?” the DI shouts.

The Marine on the ground holding the other end of the rope is laughing.

“Look at Lovelyn. He's like a wind chime,” he jeers.

“He thinks he's Batman,” shouts another.

Lovelyn slowly rights himself, and lowers himself to the ground in halting, jerky motions.

“Hey, Lovelyn,” bellows the DI on top of the tower. “Get back up here. You're going again.”

--

Under the Marine Corps Standard Operating Procedure, drill instructors are not allowed to curse at or physically touch the recruits. Several senior Marines admit this rule is enforced more now than when they went through basic training.

Other parts of basic training also have been adjusted.

Recruits no longer train to throw grenades. They run no more than five miles. They run in sneakers -- or “go fasters” -- not combat boots.

Some critics say the Marines, the toughest of the tough, have gone soft.

“I think what it comes down to is that we've gotten smarter and adapted. It doesn't do us any good to have to stop a recruit from training because he has shin splints from running in boots,” said Lt. Scott Miller, public affairs officer for Parris Island.

The Marines have also adopted a new hand-to-hand combat training program, Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, that emphasizes less-lethal maneuvers than once taught.

Gunnery Sgt. Suzie Hollings said much has changed since her basic training at Parris Island 14 years ago.

In the streets of Iraq, Marines are confronted every day with situations that don't call for lethal force. In a crowd of civilians, where people are pushing and pulling, Hollings said it is better to have a Marine trained to control the situation peacefully than to have one equipped only with the skills to snap off a child's arm.

“That's not going soft. That's being smart,” Hollings said.

If the training has changed, so have the recruits.

On the rifle range, Warrant Officer Fred Keeney looks on as a new batch of recruits take aim at targets 200 yards downfield.

Marines must qualify with a M16 A2 rifle from 200 yards, 300 yards and 500 yards, shooting from three positions.

“It's a little more difficult to teach fundamentals to today's youth,” Keeney said. “They're used to being rewarded for mediocrity.”

Keeney served in Iraq at the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and with other Marines crossed the Iraqi border and stormed across the desert into Baghdad.

“A lot of these kids have been coddled their whole lives. But I'll tell you, the stuff I saw these young Marines do in combat was phenomenal. These kids never let me down,” he said.

From the rappel tower to the swimming pool, the rifle range to the obstacle course, Marine recruits learn to overcome their fears and limitations.

“The hardest thing for me has been the swimming,” said Brooks, the recruit from Shirley. “I'm afraid of the water. I could barely swim when I got here.”

Brooks passed the swim training, which tests recruits ability to swim in combat gear and to float for four minutes using only their shirt as a flotation device.

“We train the world's worst swimmers,” one instructor joked.

The ultimate test for the recruits is The Crucible, a 54-hour simulated combat exercise.

They travel more than 42 miles on foot in full combat gear, with little food and no sleep.

They scale walls and crawl through mud.

They solve problems, not as individuals, but as a team.

If they survive, they are Marines.

--

On graduation day, recruits march onto the parade deck dressed in neatly tailored green and khaki uniforms in front of thousands of guests.

The men wear the signature “high and tight” Marine haircut for the first time.

It is also the first time all recruits are called Marines.

Many in this latest class will go off to war. Some may not return. Since this class first stepped off the bus and placed their toes into the yellow footprints, 34 Marines have died in active combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Kevin and Helen Lynch traveled to Parris Island on Oct. 28 to share this moment with their son Kevin.

He's not their little boy any more. The “cherub face” is gone, replaced by a fit young man who enters a room standing tall and proud. He is serious beyond his 19 years.

Lynch came home for 21 days, working for the recruiting office in Lowell before reporting for advanced infantry training at Camp Geiger, N.C. He knows there's a good possibility he will be deployed to Iraq.

“He left here a boy and definitely came home a man,” Helen Lynch said.

Matt Murphy's e-mail address is [email protected]

Tomorrow: Marine recruits embrace the idea that they may be fighting in combat within months. It's why recruiting numbers are on the rise.

Four best friends to serve in Iraq together

When Marine reservist Daniel Bowman volunteered to serve in Iraq with another platoon, his three best friends in Gainesville were worried.

http://www.gainesville.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051128/LOCAL/51127054/1078/news

By TIFFANY PAKKALA

Sun staff writer

November 28. 2005 6:01AM

When Marine reservist Daniel Bowman volunteered to serve in Iraq with another platoon, his three best friends in Gainesville were worried.

Not because they didn't want the recent Santa Fe Community College graduate to go, but because they didn't want him to go without them.

"I couldn't handle Bowman being out there without me there to help if anything happened," said Ryan Riker, one of the best friends, who's a senior history major at the University of Florida.

Bowman, 21, was not chosen to serve in that earlier mission, but today he, Riker, 22, and two other best friends, Jonathan Bowling, 20, and Alex Hayes, 23, begin a deployment together. The four, each lance corporals in the same platoon, will spend 10 months guarding the Haditha Dam on the Euphrates River in Iraq. The hydroelectric dam provides energy to about two-thirds of Iraq.

Bowling, a Gainesville native and SFCC criminology student, spent the day Sunday packing his sea bags for the trip. It will be his first time abroad, except for one vacation to the Bahamas.

Sporting a fresh "jarhead" Marine haircut, Bowling said he's "trying to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I want to go there and do my best, and most of all I hope we all come back alive.

"I don't think anybody can say they're not scared to go over there."

Bowling, Riker and Hayes, who's a senior in family youth sciences at UF, each dropped out of their fall classes when they found out two months ago that they would have to deploy. Each was reimbursed for his tuition, and each plans to return to school when the deployment ends.

Hayes said he has mixed feelings about the deployment. It's hard to leave when he's so close to graduating, and it's hard to say "goodbye" to his girlfriend, he said, but at the same time, "it's what I signed up for," and he's taking three of his closest friends with him.

The foursome met during MOS (military occupational specialty) training about two years ago. Later, they all lived in Gainesville, worked the same part-time jobs at Showcase Restorations, a home improvement company, and went out together on weekends.

The foursome are trained to operate amphibious assault vehicles, which operate like tanks on land and like boats on water. But their mission calls for work on CRRC (Combat Rubber Recognizance Craft), or Zodiac, boats. So they'll spend the next several months at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C., for training on the new boats and the four to five machine guns they'll be equipped with onboard.

They're expected to leave for Iraq in March.

The Marines said they approve of the war effort despite increasing public demands for it to end.

"I know everything's messed up politically now. I just hope everyone stays supportive of the troops," Hayes said.

Riker said he knew deployment was in his future before he joined the Marines, and, in fact, the war in Iraq was the reason he joined.

"The night President Bush addressed the United Nations and said you're either with us or against us, that was the night I decided I would talk to a recruiter," Riker said. "I felt I had the mental and physical strength to do it, so why not me?"

Tiffany Pakkala can be reached at (352) 338-3111 or [email protected]

Memorial service honors fallen Marine’s Brownsville family

November 28, 2005 — A line of combat veterans ringed the front yard of Aurora Ramirez Sunday afternoon. Each stood to salute what they admired most, first the U.S. flag, then Ramirez herself.


http://www.brownsvilleherald.com/ts_more.php?id=68239_0_10_0_C

By KEVIN GARCIA
The Brownsville Herald

November 28, 2005 — A line of combat veterans ringed the front yard of Aurora Ramirez Sunday afternoon. Each stood to salute what they admired most, first the U.S. flag, then Ramirez herself.

“We the members of America’s Last Patrol are here to honor one of our fallen comrades,” said former Marine Cpl. Eduardo Casas, who served in Southeast Asia from 1970 to 1973.

Marine Lance Cpl. Christopher M. McCrackin, a Brownsville native who grew up in central Texas, died Nov. 14 after his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device near New Ubaydi, Iraq.

His Brownsville-based family was honored Sunday by former and current Marines for its sacrifice.

“I like it very much,” said Ramirez, surrounded by family, friends and neighbors. “They feel very deeply for us, and I appreciate them very much.”

The veterans have spoken with family members several times since Nov. 14, and Ramirez knows many of them by name.

“They are like family,” she said with a bright smile.

Sgt. Maj. Jerry Ingle, Pace High School ROTC instructor and a Marine from 1960 to 1982, said he was proud to lead the ceremony for the family.

“These people love their country,” he explained. “They are very proud of their grandson.”

Ramirez’s daughter Belinda McCrackin is staying in Liverpool with her surviving son, Gunner’s Mate Petty Officer 3rd Class Michael McCrackin, before he has to return to sea. The family is waiting until Christopher’s parents are able to visit before holding a public memorial in Brownsville.

Michael McCrackin has said he would not leave active naval duty even if he were asked to, because that is not what his twin brother would have wanted.

Casas could sympathize with that difficult decision.

“As a civilian now, I want him to come home, but if I was a Marine in the field now, I’d want to stay there, too,” he said.

[email protected]

Posted on Nov 28, 05 | 12:01 am

Reserve Marine unit stocked with El Pasoans excels in Iraq

On short notice, a reserve Marine artillery battery from El Paso learned a new specialty and then earlier this year headed to Iraq where its members worked in military prisons, guarded convoys and provided security for a major Marine operations base. (2/14)

http://www.borderlandnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051128/NEWS/511280340/1001

Chris Roberts
El Paso Times
Monday, November 28, 2005

On short notice, a reserve Marine artillery battery from El Paso learned a new specialty and then earlier this year headed to Iraq where its members worked in military prisons, guarded convoys and provided security for a major Marine operations base.

Despite the hazardous duty, the 150-member unit suffered no casualties and received only two Purple Heart Medals. About 80 percent of the battery, which returned in September and October, is from the El Paso area.

"Their performance across the board was outstanding," said Maj. Charles Ellis, commander of Delta Battery, 2nd Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment.

After an abbreviated military police training, the unit -- split into three platoons -- deployed in March. One platoon guarded the Military Expeditionary Force Headquarters in Fallujah, one ran a detention facility in Ramadi and the third, based in Taqaddum, traveled throughout Iraq protecting convoys and major transportation routes.

"They covered the full spectrum of what the MPs do in a hostile environment," Ellis said.

Staff Sgt. Paul Arteaga, from El Paso, served at Camp Al Fallujah guarding the Marine headquarters. He said some of their artillery training came in handy when they were asked to do mortar missions, which included sending up flares to shed light on suspicious activities at the camp's perimeter.

The platoon also protected the water supply for the town of Fallujah, Ellis said.

The regional detention facility was used to hold suspected insurgents for about two weeks before they were either released or sent to the Abu Ghraib prison, said Sgt. Michael Lawrence, from Alamogordo, who was based at Camp Ar Ramadi.

"They processed over 2,600 detainees in seven months and there were no escapes and no incidents of maltreatment," said Ellis, who was in charge of the prison. "They consistently treated the detainees with dignity in accordance with the (standard operating procedure) and the Geneva Convention."

Lawrence said working in the prison provided an opportunity to learn about the Iraqis.

"We were able to learn quite a bit about their culture through the interpreters," he said. "They would tell us a little bit about their customs and culture and we would tell them a little bit about ours."

Lawrence said guard duty was relatively quiet.

That was not the case for Lance Cpl. Michael Curliss, from Truth or Consequences, who was based at Camp Al Taqaddum and served as a gunner on armored Humvees providing security for convoys. He received a Purple Heart Medal for wounds he received in the line of duty.

Curliss said his unit had a few engagements with enemy forces early on, but as the insurgents discovered the Marines' presence, they relied more on roadside explosives. He said the improvised explosive device design evolved from detonation by wires, to remote control to trip wires. The trip wires allowed insurgents to set the bomb and leave the area.

"They used all kinds of explosives," Curliss said, adding that searches off the roads even yielded World War II-era ordnance made in Germany.

Curliss earned his Purple Heart on a mission guarding a convoy to the Jordanian border that was delivering basic supplies such as food and water. About six miles out of camp, his Humvee drove over an artillery shell buried in the road.

"It exploded about 5 feet in front of us and we ran into most of the shrapnel," Curliss said. He suffered wounds to his arms and stomach.

All four tires were flattened, but the driver managed to keep the Humvee on the road long enough to clear the site of the explosion. The Humvee, equipped with additional armor, was the type that was scarce in the early stages of the war.

"Without that," Curliss said, "everybody in that vehicle would probably be dead."

He said the vehicle was back on the road three days later. Curliss also was back on the road, with bandages covering what he described as minor injuries.

The reserve unit's gung-ho spirit was apparent even before the Marines left El Paso. Ellis, who is a deputy U.S. marshal in civilian life, said unit numbers grew when Marines in the area who had been associated with the battery learned of the pending deployment.

"We didn't have any trouble filling the ranks," he said. "Marines were coming out of the woodwork."

The unit maintains a 95 percent participation rate in its monthly training sessions, Ellis said, a dedication that made it a prime candidate for deployment.

"You trained the whole time for this moment," Curliss said of the deployment. "Every Marine is actually excited to go out there and use their training because otherwise they feel all this is pointless."

Now it's a matter of readjusting to life stateside.

"The first couple of days you automatically look on the side of the roads (for suspicious objects)," Curliss said. "Finally you get to the point you can feel safe again."

Chris Roberts may be reached at [email protected]; 546-6136.

Church members make their list, check it twice

Most people hope they get everything on their Christmas list.

So when Enon Chapel Baptist Church members got a list of needed items from military members deployed to Iraq, they worked to do the best impersonation of Santa Claus they could.

http://www.jdnews.com/SiteProcessor.cfm?Template=/GlobalTemplates/Details.cfm&StoryID;=36885&Section;=News


November 28,2005
BY CHRIS MAZZOLINI
DAILY NEWS STAFF

Most people hope they get everything on their Christmas list.

But it's one thing when you're a kid hoping for videogames, and quite another when you're a Marine or sailor in Iraq looking for some necessities to get you by.

So when Enon Chapel Baptist Church members got a list of needed items from military members deployed to Iraq, they worked to do the best impersonation of Santa Claus they could.

"We rushed out and bought everything on the list," said Linda Haley, a member of the church staff.

On Sunday night, a number of members gathered at the church on the corner of Piney Green Road and N.C. 24 to pack up the items in boxes for the troops.

Haley said there are always deployed members that need a reminder of the love and support from home - especially during the holidays.

"This is a special time," she said. "It's Christmas. They miss their family and they miss being here. It's just a little token of our appreciation for their sacrifices, our way of saying thank you."

The list, granted, isn't that complex.

There's the basic hygiene items such as soaps of all kinds, deodorant and toothpaste, along with toothpaste's arch nemesis, candy. Throw in some games and reading materials and round it out with holiday cards and messages of support from family and friends - everything a Marine or sailor needs to feel just a bit closer to home.

Haley said she had no idea how many boxes they would send. It depended on how many names they received from church members. She did say that the number of members currently deployed is probably about 15.

Like most churches in the area, Enon Chapel always has members of its congregation deployed overseas. Care packages are something they put together at various times of the year.

But they take on a special meaning when the holidays roll around.

"Everybody likes to get presents for Christmas," she said.

Contact staff writer Chris Mazzolini at [email protected] or at 353-1171, Ext. 229.

Lance Corporal Justin Johnston, USMC

Justin Johnston is young and handsome. After graduating from Johnson High School in Hall County in 2003, he joined the United States Marine Corps. I got to know Justin through his parents Joey and Judy. Joey began sending me email updates on how Justin was doing about the time of the invasion of Fallujah in 2004. That is when I began worrying, praying and being proud of Justin Johnston and his service to this country.

http://www.accessnorthga.com/articles/afullstory.asp?ID=98694
by Martha Zoller

Justin Johnston is young and handsome. After graduating from Johnson High School in Hall County in 2003, he joined the United States Marine Corps. I got to know Justin through his parents Joey and Judy. Joey began sending me email updates on how Justin was doing about the time of the invasion of Fallujah in 2004. That is when I began worrying, praying and being proud of Justin Johnston and his service to this country.

During that tour, Justin was injured. Luckily for him and all the folks back home, it was not a very serious injury. One of the days that Justin was recovering fr

...he wanted to get back to his unit, finish the mission and get home.
om his wound, Joey called into The Martha Zoller Show while he was on the phone with Justin in Iraq. Justin wanted to thank all the people back home who were praying for him and helping to support his family. He was humble and seemed shy, but without prompting said that he wanted to get back to his unit, finish the mission and get home. I have learned to expect this response. Justin and his Marine brothers are always Marines and always focused on the mission at hand.

When he returned home, he paid me a visit at the station and spent a little time with me on the radio. This big and strong decorated war veteran was nervous speaking into a microphone. He also spent time talking to school children about being a Marine. He returned to his home base and went back to school.

In July of 2005, with better skills and more training, Justin Johnston redeployed to Iraq. This time is was harder. The fighting may not have been as intense but this time he lost some friends. I could tell that his parents were worried about him. But Justin is lucky; he has the Marine family that he will always be a part of as well as a strong family at home with lots of friends, family and strangers who are praying everyday for his safe return.

Recently, Joey patched Justin through again to talk with me while I was on the air. He sounded good but tired. I had dropped him a note and he received it and wanted to thank me. In this conversation with Justin as with the last, he was thinking of others first and not his own situation.

No one knows what will follow for Lance Corporal Justin Johnston, USMC. One thing is sure; Justin has earned the respect of his peers and the thanks of a grateful nation. It is the Justin Johnston’s of the world that keep the United States of America free. I can’t wait to see him when he gets home. Merry Christmas, Justin and Godspeed.


Martha Zoller is the host of The Martha Zoller Show weekdays on WDUN AM 550. You can log on to www.marthazoller.com to see what she's up to including the release of her first book, Indivisible: Uniting Values for a Divided America. You may email her at [email protected]

For this mom, supporting Iraq troops is a must

LYNN - Susan Eldridge has already sent her son and his Marine comrades 30 pounds of fudge, but her real gift to them this holiday season is love and her prayers.

http://www.thedailyitemoflynn.com/news/view.bg?articleid=10697
By Thor Jourgensen
Monday, November 28, 2005

LYNN - Susan Eldridge has already sent her son and his Marine comrades 30 pounds of fudge, but her real gift to them this holiday season is love and her prayers.
Eldridge and her husband, Lon, spoke briefly with their son, Sgt. James Eldridge, Wednesday night before he ate a Thanksgiving dinner and headed out on a patrol in Iraq.
Eldridge is a Marine veteran who started his third tour of duty in Iraq in September. He was wounded Nov. 13, 2004 during the Marine assault on the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah.
The six-foot, six-inch Eldridge spent a week in the hospital before being reunited with his wife in California. He spent last Christmas with his parents and brothers Michael and Robert and returned to Lynn for another visit in July.
The exploits of Eldridge and his fellow Marines were chronicled in "No True Glory," Marine veteran Bing West's new book about the Fallujah assault.
"It's strange having a son in a history book," Susan Eldridge said, adding this holiday season is the worst she has ever spent apart from James because of the number of soldiers the Marines and Army have lost fighting in Iraq in recent weeks.
She shares her fears about her son with fellow Marine parents who log onto an Internet support group called Marine Parents Online.
"I go on two or three times a day. It gives us a lot of support."
The Marine parents and their counterparts in other branches of the military prepare packages of non-perishable foods including canned soups, tuna and Christmas sausage, plastic storage bags and other items the soldiers cannot easily obtain.
She sends the items to her son who distributes them to soldiers in his platoon, including Marines who rarely receive a care package or letter from home.
"A lot of boys don't get anything," she said.
City Veterans Director Michael Sweeney is also making sure overseas troops receive items the veterans' office in City Hall gathers throughout the year with the help of the Lynn Veterans Council, Friends of the Public Library and other groups.
The office sent out packages including boxes of Ramen noodles favored by the troops last Friday, and plans to send out another batch of items in February.
Sweeney urged residents with loved ones serving in Iraq or Afghanistan to add their names to the veterans' office list. Eldridge said information for sending letters and packages to Marines can be obtained by logging onto www.marineparentsinc.com.

22nd MEU (SOC) passes through the 'gateway to combat'

ABOARD THE USS NASSAU (Nov. 28, 2005) -- In the early morning hours of November 26, long before most of their embarked Marines and sailors were awake, the ships of Expeditionary Strike Group 8 (ESG-8) began their 18-hour passage through the Suez Canal.

http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/ed3e7e3a2c25d9da852570c700083315?OpenDocument


Submitted by:
http://www.22meu.usmc.mil
Story by:
Computed Name: Gunnery Sgt. Keith A. Milks
Story Identification #:
20051127202933

ABOARD THE USS NASSAU (Nov. 28, 2005) -- In the early morning hours of November 26, long before most of their embarked Marines and sailors were awake, the ships of Expeditionary Strike Group 8 (ESG-8) began their 18-hour passage through the Suez Canal.

Consisting of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) and Nassau Strike Group, the ESG’s Suez transit marked its entry into the Central Command theater of operations. CENTCOM is a vast operational area that encompasses nearly 30 countries throughout the Middle East, Horn of Africa, and south and central Asian regions.

Commonly known in Marine and Navy circles as ‘the ditch,’ the Suez Canal is a 101 mile-long artificial waterway that connects the Mediterranean Sea and the Gulf of Suez, the northern arm of the Red Sea. With a minimum bottom width of 197 feet, the Suez Canal can accommodate practically every ship sailing the oceans today, and has been in near constant use since 1888.

The November 26 transit was Cpl. Manuel B. Amoguis’ third Suez passage, and the Kalihi, Hawaii native still marvels at the opportunity presented by the unique journey.

“This isn’t something everyone gets to see,” said the administrative clerk assigned to the MEU’s Command Element. “Not only as Americans, but having been at sea for so long, it’s unusual to see land, especially so close and on both sides.”

In recent years the Suez Canal has earned the unofficial moniker as ‘the gateway to combat,’ reflecting the ongoing security and stability operations in the CENTCOM theater. For example, the 22nd MEU (SOC)’s most recent deployments have seen it pass through the Suez to conduct operations throughout the region, including Djibouti, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

While the crew of the USS Nassau prepared their ship for the transit and assisted the ship in its navigation of the waterway, the ship’s embarked Marines marked the occasion by donning their desert digital camouflage utilities. This simple act provided a tangible reminder that they were drawing ever closer to possible employment in the region

Although security concerns kept most of the Marines inside the skin of the ship, Cpl. Joe C. McGowan, a native of Batavia, N.Y., did manage to catch a glimpse of the desert sands and Egyptian townships slipping by the ship.

“It was definitely exciting, and helps bring everything into perspective seeing as how we are now so close to the fight,” said McGowan, a disbursing agent with MEU Service Support Group 22.

In addition to its Command Element and MSSG-22, the 22nd MEU (SOC) consists of Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 2nd Marines and Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261 (Reinforced). The MEU’s exact mission in CENTCOM has yet to be determined as the unit continues to train and prepare for any operational contingency.

For more information on the MEU and its role in the war on terror, visit the unit’s web site at http://www.22meu.usmc.mil.

Depot drill instructor takes top honors in Corpswide board

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif.(Nov. 18, 2005) -- Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Sgt. Maj. John L. Estrada, presented the annual drill instructor of the year award to Gunnery Sgt. Antonio Ceritelli at Marine Corps Air Facility, Quantico, Va., Nov. 1.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/B960C17941F65408852570BD005E91C4?opendocument
Submitted by:
MCRD San Diego
Story by:
Computed Name: Lance Cpl. Dorian Gardner
Story Identification #:
20051118121257

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif.(Nov. 18, 2005) -- Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Sgt. Maj. John L. Estrada, presented the annual drill instructor of the year award to Gunnery Sgt. Antonio Ceritelli at Marine Corps Air Facility, Quantico, Va., Nov. 1.

Every year, Parris Island and San Diego's top-performing drill instructors find their way to Headquarters Marine Corps for the final board where the drill instructor of the year will be selected. Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego has taken this award home for three consecutive years, according to Ceritelli.

Before he arrived in Quantico for his final review board, Ceritelli went through two previous boards at regiment and battalion levels.

"We as a company recommended him for the regimental board," said 1st Sgt. Robert Eriksson, Company E first sergeant. "A lot of it had to do with his depot experience. If you have a drill instructor who only has three cycles under him, you are not going to nominate him."

Ceritelli had three years of experience on the drill field, including time spent with special training companies, according to Eriksson. "His performance and experience aboard the depot speak for themselves."

"I was honored to be nominated because I knew what high-caliber Marines I was competing against here on the drill field," said Ceritelli.

Drill instructors are required to spend their past year with a recruit training company and previously receive the drill instructor or senior drill instructor of the quarter award before they can be nominated on the battalion or regimental board.

"Each board was pretty much the same," said Ceritelli. "I knew what to expect."

According to Ceritelli, winning this award came as a complete surprise. "I didn't know I was going to be accepting the award until 30 seconds before when I was promoted to gunnery sergeant.

It is tradition to promote the drill instructor of the year. After three years as a staff sergeant, Ceritelli came back to Company E with his award and new rank.

The most well-known challenge on the drill field is the long hours and the toll it takes on family, according to Ceritelli. "The long hours required and the hardship that occur in the family because of it make this job harder," said Ceritelli.

Though hours and family struggle make the military occupational specialty more demanding than most, men like Ceritelli feel it is their duty to serve.

"Joining the Marine Corps, I didn't have any long-term goals," said Ceritelli. "I had no aspirations or focus in life. Once I became a Marine, I became focused on my career path. I guess I do this so that I would be able to help some of these recruits make the same changes. I owe it to the Marine Corps."

Cobras Soar Through Skies Of Iraq

Supporting Marines On Ground

http://www.aero-news.net/index.cfm?ContentBlockID=2c7a0c4c-6b29-4822-aea1-a0bae33642c2
Mon, 28 Nov '05


Marines flying AH-1W Super Cobras, soaring through the skies of Iraq, are growing accustomed to using precision guided ordnance, maximizing the damage to their targets while minimizing collateral damage.

Since arriving in western Iraq during September, the Gunfighters of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369 have continuously dropped precision guided ordnance on the enemy in support of ongoing operations. The Gunfighters, from Al Qaim, Iraq, dropped their 100th precision-guided AGM-114 Hellfire missile, Nov. 17.

“We are destroying target after target in support of ground combat brethren,” said Maj. John Barranco, the officer-in-charge of the Gunfighters’ Al Qaim detachment and a Boston native.

“It’s been rare to have a day go by without contact with the enemy. We have a lot of young Cobra pilots. Some are on their first deployment, some are seeing combat for the first time. But, they are all doing a tremendous job.”

The Cobra is a flying arsenal. Besides Hellfires, the Gunfighters’ pilots said they have utilized the .20 mil. turret gun, which fires semi-armor piercing, high explosive incendiary rounds, and eliminated the enemy threat on the ground with 5 and 2.75 inch rockets. However, the pilots stressed they are primarily using the Hellfire, because it is so precise.

Barranco said Lt. Dean Oltman, a Cobra pilot with the Gunfighters, shot five Hellfire missiles during one of his first flights here, five times more than he had shot before.

“It shows great courage to be able to do that while being shot at in combat,” said Barranco. “Oltman is just one example, all of our lieutenants flying Cobras under the same stress are continually doing a great job.”

Barranco stressed that the Cobra pilots would not be able to fire precision guided ordnance, supporting the Marines on the ground, without amazing Marines on the maintenance level, working day and night to keep the Cobras in the air.

“When the Cobras return, after firing their missiles, you really feel that all your hard work is worth it,” said Lance Cpl. Doug Johnson, an ordnanceman with the Gunfighters and a Houston native. “In a 24-hour period, we shot 10 precision guided missiles in support of Operation Steel Curtain in Husaybah. With the Hellfires, they are taking out enemy buildings, as well as improvised explosive devices.”

Johnson said he enjoys when things get busy and he is constantly working because he knows when the Cobras kill insurgents, they’re saving Marines and innocent civilian lives.

“We use the Hellfires a lot on insurgents in buildings,” said Capt. Aaron Haines, a Cobra pilot with the Gunfighters and a Woodland Park, Colo., native. “Forward air controllers call in the coordinates, we locate it with sensors on the Cobra and blow the target up.”

Haines said the Cobra pilots’ primary missions are close air support for the Marines on the ground and providing security for casualty evacuations.

“We have been very successful supporting current operations from Al Qaim,” said Haines. “There is more shooting going on here anywhere else in Iraq. The cold weather only gives our birds more power, nothing slows us down.”

The Gunfighters throughout Iraq are thriving while facing combat on a daily basis. Although their morale is high, they have also experienced the dark side of this war. One of their Cobras crashed, Nov. 2, killing pilots Capt. Mike Martino and Maj. Jerry Bloomfield.

“Whenever I look at a Cobra, I’m reminded of them,” said Sgt. Brainard D. Shirley, the Gunfighters’ airframes collateral duty quality assurance representative and a Kirtland, N.M, native. “To me, their sacrifice represents all of us. The causes we believe in and freedom we are trying to help these people achieve. It makes us want to push harder to do the best job we can to keep these aircraft flying.” [ANN Salutes Cpl. Cullen J. Tiernan, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing]
FMI: www.marines.mil


See Ext Link for pictures

Parris Island visit reveals the Corps fundamentals

I normally cringe whenever combat war metaphors are used in reference to sports or business. Let me be more precise: Whenever I hear a coach, sportscaster or writer, or top-level business executive, equate sports or business or politics with war, I yearn to arrest them (metaphorically, of course) on a felony charge of context abuse.

http://www.seacoastonline.com/news/11272005/business/75264.htm

By Michael McCord
[email protected]


I normally cringe whenever combat war metaphors are used in reference to sports or business. Let me be more precise: Whenever I hear a coach, sportscaster or writer, or top-level business executive, equate sports or business or politics with war, I yearn to arrest them (metaphorically, of course) on a felony charge of context abuse.

I suspect this reflex action stems in part from being trained for combat many moons ago in the U.S. Army and in part for being a purist when it comes to using fast-food served metaphors. After all, there’s only so much mangling of von Clausewitz ("War is politics by other means") and Sun Tzu (War "is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin") one can take.

So pardon me if I slightly swerve into a hypocritical lane. After all, metaphor abuse doesn’t preclude one from learning via a business perspective about how military organizations handle the complexity of their respective missions. During a recent visit to the U. S. Marine Corps Training Depot at Parris Island, S.C., I observed far more than my original intentions to focus on the journey recruits take from civilian life to trained warrior - many of whom will serve in the Iraq war and whose training is absolutely crucial for survival.

I was especially intrigued with the human-relations aspect of what I saw. So here are a few humble observations that may or may translate well from theory to reality.

Building from the bottom up

There is no shortage of experts or advice when it comes to taking care of the workers who, well, do the actual work of the company.

The Marine Corps, the smallest of the military services with around 175,000 active-duty personnel, is uniquely constructed from the infantry rifleman up.

"The entire Corps is built to support the infantry platoon," Capt. David Baril, executive officer of the Portsmouth Recruiting Station, told me at Parris Island. As Marines like to say with a minimum of hyperbole, there is no more cohesive or destructive unit than a Marine rifle squad that can range in size from five to 10 people.

What this means in practice is that everything the Corps does in theory is designed to support its infantry components. They are the ones who do the dirty, bloody work of close combat, and those in support are usually not too far away from the front - and whether they are company clerks, communication experts, a drummer in the division band or F-18 fighter pilots, they have also received extra infantry training to jump into the breech at a moment’s notice.

In other words, everybody is reminded all the time what his or her mission is. And though the Marine infantryman (don’t ever, ever call them soldiers - it’s an insult) may be the lowest-paid employee in the business, they are the most important.

Middle managers rule

It would be wrong to suggest commissioned officers - the lieutenants, captains, majors, colonels and generals - are irrelevant in getting things done. But it’s hard to imagine any large organization in which middle managers - the NCOs (or non-commissioned officers), sergeants with stripes - hold more sway.

The NCOs train, lead, fight with and evaluate their Marines with more insight and authority than their higher-echelon commanders. And they often have a much better clue to what’s happening on the ground.

"Officers matter ... a little," one Parris Island drill instructor said to me. "They give the orders and we carry them out."

Because the mission of the Marines is so different from the other services - "We win battles, not wars" is the prevailing mantra - and they are pretty much on their own operationally, the snap tactical decisions made by the NCOs during training and in combat determine far more than the strategic instructions from headquarters.

"People would be amazed at the amount of responsibility our privates and NCOs have in Iraq," said one officer who had done two tours in Iraq. "They are making subtle, often smart foreign-policy decisions on the ground."

And it begins in training, very tough training. In civilian life, "(recruits) are used to being rewarded for mediocrity," said Warrant Officer Fred Keeney, who is officer-in-charge of one of the live fire ranges and recently returned from a tour in Iraq. "They won’t find instant gratification here."

In business terms, train workers above and beyond the norm and trust them with more responsibility and you might be surprised by the results.

Executives, get thy hands dirty

One of the more interesting people I ran into at Parris Island was Capt. Jeff Baum from Dallas, Texas. I met Baum at a live firing range and found out he is a series commander, which means he oversees about six senior drill instructors of platoons ranging in size from 70 to 90 recruits.

What makes Baum unique is that he isn’t an infantry or combat arms (engineer, artillery, armor) officer, but an F-18 fighter pilot who provided air support to ground operations.

But Baum, whom the Marines have spent a few million dollars or so to train and had just returned from a seven-month tour in Iraq, was taking a flying break to reacquaint himself with ground operations and to find out who these young Marines-to-be are.

"When we call in an air strike, it’s usually very close," explained Capt. Baril, a combat engineer. "It’s important to know that (pilots) understand what we are doing on the ground, and with this type of training, they do."

In comparison to trusting the guy (or gal) in a fighter jet or attack helicopter above you on a battlefield, a lost football game or a shaky quarterly financial report are trite inconveniences

Michael McCord is business editor of the Herald and Herald Sunday.

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White House Has Withdrawal Plan

The White House for the first time has claimed possession of an Iraq withdrawal plan, arguing that a troop pullout blueprint unveiled this past week by a Democratic senator was "remarkably similar" to its own.

http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,81387,00.html?ESRC=marine-a.nl


Agence France-Presse | November 28, 2005
The White House for the first time has claimed possession of an Iraq withdrawal plan, arguing that a troop pullout blueprint unveiled this past week by a Democratic senator was "remarkably similar" to its own.

It also signaled its acceptance of a recent U.S. Senate amendment designed to pave the way for a phased U.S. military withdrawal from the violence-torn country.

The statement late Saturday by White House spokesman Scott McClellan came in response to a commentary published in The Washington Post by Joseph Biden, the top Democrat of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in which he said U.S. forces will begin leaving Iraq next year "in large numbers."

According to Biden, the United States will move about 50,000 servicemen out of the country by the end of 2006, and "a significant number" of the remaining 100,000 the year after.

The blueprint also calls for leaving only an unspecified "small force" either in Iraq or across the border to strike at concentrations of insurgents, if necessary.

In the White House statement, which was released under the headline "Senator Biden Adopts Key Portions Of Administration's Plan For Victory In Iraq," McClellan said the administration of President George W. Bush welcomed Biden's voice in the debate.

"Today, Senator Biden described a plan remarkably similar to the administration's plan to fight and win the war on terror," the spokesman went on to say.

McClellan added that as Iraqi security forces gain strength and experience, "we can lessen our troop presence in the country without losing our capability to effectively defeat the terrorists."

McClellan said the White House now saw "a strong consensus" building in Washington in favor of Bush's strategy in Iraq.

Speaking on U.S. television Sunday, Biden said that with or without a near-term troop withdrawal, the window is rapidly closing on the opportunity for a U.S. success in Iraq.

"I think we have a six-month window here to get it right," he said.

Even if conditions on the ground there improve, "I have to admit that I think the chances are not a lot better than 50-50," the Democratic lawmaker said.

"Are we going to have traded a dictator for chaos? Or are we going to have traded a dictator for a stable Iraq? That's the real question. And that depends on the president's actions from here out," said Biden.

Less than two weeks ago, McClellan blasted Democratic Representative John Murtha for calling for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq.

McClelland accused Murtha of "endorsing the policy positions of Michael Moore," a stridently anti-war Hollywood filmmaker.

Biden's ideas, relayed first in a November 21 speech in New York, however, got a much friendlier reception.

Even though Bush has never publicly issued his own withdrawal plan and criticized calls for an early exit, the White House said many of the ideas expressed by the senator were its own.

The Biden plan calls for preparatory work to be done in the first six months of next year, ahead of the envisaged pullout. It includes:

- forging a compromise among Iraqi factions, under which the Sunnis must accept that they no longer rule Iraq and Shiites and Kurds admit them into a power-sharing arrangement;

- building Iraq's governing capacity;

- transferring authority to Iraqi security forces;

- establishing a contact group of the world's major powers to become the Iraqi government's primary international interlocutor.

The White House statement also embraced a Senate amendment to a defense authorization bill overwhelmingly passed by the Senate on November 15 that asked the administration to make next year "a period of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty" thereby creating conditions "for the phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq."

The measure was largely seen as a reprimand to the Bush administration, which has often been accused of lacking a viable strategy in Iraq.

But the White House insisted again the Senate was reading from its own playbook.

"The fact is that the Senate amendment reiterates the president's strategy in Iraq," the statement said.

November 27, 2005

Marine on leave killed in crash

A 22-year-old Marine was killed early Saturday morning in a single-vehicle crash on Proffitt Springs Road.

http://www.thedailytimes.com/sited/story/html/223831


2005-11-27
by Anna C. Irwin
of The Daily Times Staff

A 22-year-old Marine was killed early Saturday morning in a single-vehicle crash on Proffitt Springs Road.

Damian Ramirez of Diamond Branch Road, Maryville, was pronounced dead at Blount Memorial Hospital after the accident at 1 a.m. Saturday.

The victim's sister said he had been serving in the Marine Corps for almost three years and was home on leave for the Thanksgiving holiday. She said he was based in San Diego, Calif., and was serving in Japan after a tour of duty in Iraq.

Blount County Sheriff James Berrong said traffic accident reconstructionists from the Traffic Safety Unit report that Ramirez was traveling south on Proffitt Springs Road near Louisville Loop Road when the 2004 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck he was driving went off the right side of the road and struck a tree.

The vehicle came back onto the roadway, then left the roadway again on the right side. The truck hit a chain-link fence when it left the road the second time, turned onto its side and went airborne before it hit a utility pole and a mail box.

The top of the truck cab was crushed and the victim had to be cut free of the wreckage by emergency responders from the Blount County Fire Department and the Blount County Volunteer Rescue Squad, who assisted at the scene.

Ramirez was taken by Rural/Metro Ambulance Service to Blount Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Ramirez was wearing a seat belt but the airbag in his vehicle did not deploy. He was alone in the truck.

The sheriff said the Traffic Safety Unit is continuing its investigation.

Ramirez's death is the 18th traffic fatality of the year in Blount County. On the same date in 2004, 34 people had been killed in vehicle crashes and 2004 ended with a record 38 traffic deaths.

Becoming warriors at Marine Corps' basic training

Under clear blue fall skies, 545 Marine recruits from the First Training Battalion graduated from basic training and became Marines before approximately 2,500 family members who were seeing their sons, husbands, brothers and friends for the first time in three months.

By Michael McCord
[email protected]

Editor’s note: Herald Sunday photographer Jackie Ricciardi and Business Editor Michael McCord were part of an all-expenses-paid workshop for New England educators and media members to get a glimpse of what U.S. Marines recruit training is all about.

Under clear blue fall skies, 545 Marine recruits from the First Training Battalion graduated from basic training and became Marines before approximately 2,500 family members who were seeing their sons, husbands, brothers and friends for the first time in three months.

For each of the graduating Marines, the graduation ceremony marked what Marine Corps officials emphasize is a major milestone in the transformation from blissful civilian to warrior.

"I’m a man now," said Jacob Smith, 18, of South Berwick, Maine, who was one of the 545 who successfully navigated the 13 long weeks of training.

"I have a lot more respect for authority. I also learned a lot more about values," said Smith, who graduated from Marshwood High School in June and followed his brother Ben’s lead by enlisting in the Marine Corps.

The 545 who graduated Oct. 28 at Parris Island, S.C., have done so in the midst of the longest wartime deployment of American fighting forces since the draft ended and the all-volunteer military was formalized in 1973.

While debate about the Iraq war is heating up and becoming more pointed outside the protected confines of Parris Island, this is one place where there’s no debate at all. No one joining today can have any illusions about where they are likely to end up.

Jacob Smith signed up to be an infantryman, the most demanding and hazardous of jobs in the Marine Corps.

PHOTO
Recruit Lopez navigates her way along a trail during "The Crucible," a 54-hour event that involves sleep and food deprivation and the completion of various obstacles.

"(Drill instructors) said that 80 percent of us would be sent to Iraq," he said. "I’m a little nervous, but that’s what I signed up for."

On the same day Smith graduated from basic training, the Department of Defense released the names of two former Parris Island graduates - Lance Cpl. Robert F. Eckfield, 23, of Cleveland, Ohio, and Lance Cpl. Jarad J. Kremm, 24, of Hauppage, N.Y. - killed during fighting in Iraq.

Down the rabbit hole

Located in the southeastern corner of South Carolina along the Atlantic Ocean and Beaufort River, Parris Island is 8,095 acres large, but only about 3,300 acres are habitable. The low-land geography is highlighted on post by the steam pipes that wind through the base aboveground because they can’t be buried under the soil.

Pine and palm trees and Spanish moss co-exist, and absent the military-post aspect, the entire island could pass for a salt marsh-dominated wildlife refuge complete with exotic bids, alligators and snakes.

"You don’t realize how beautiful this place is until you leave," one drill instructor said.

There’s only one entrance on and off Parris Island. Except for a drill instructor’s school and administrative offices for the 22-state Eastern Recruiting Region, Parris Island has one focus and one focus only - recruit training.

Not unlike Alice In Wonderland, basic training for recruits is a collective tumble down a rabbit hole. First and foremost, individuality is metaphorically packed away for 13 weeks. They become mostly faceless and anonymous while undergoing a social reorientation process unlike any they could have imagined.

As one drill instructor shouted to a new batch of recruits, "I no longer exists."

The Marine Corps supplies everything they need for their training. Everything they don’t need - their cell phones, iPods, books (except the Bible), clothing, even their own toiletries - is either thrown away or stored until the end of training. They also begin to learn a new Marine dictionary that includes seafaring terms such as hatch for door, deck for floor, and bulkhead for wall.

PHOTO
Recruit Michael Embree, 19
Kittery, Maine

They are also young - average age 20 for men, and 21 for women - and almost all are high school graduates from lower- to middle-class backgrounds.

"It’s all fast-paced and confusing," Smith said at home upon returning from graduation. "All throughout basic, they test you all day mentally and physically. A lot of it is a mind game and it’s important not to take it personally."

Michael Embry, of Kittery, joined the Marines after graduating from Traip Academy last spring. Embry’s brother, Christopher, is also in the Marines.

Embry, 19, plans on being a "computer guy," a highly trained command and control-systems operator dealing with the high-tech aspects of modern warfare.

Though Embry said he had learned a lot from his brother, who also went through Parris Island, he said, "There’s no way to prepare for (basic training)."

PHOTO
Recruits stand in line during drill instruction.

"You go 100 miles an hour and you never know what you’re gonna do. They push you in a positive way to make you stronger," Embry said during a break from rifle qualifying.

As the constant sound of M-16 fire and the smell of gunpowder filled the air, Embry said the constant, repetitive nature of everything done in training is a mental and physical shock.

"You don’t understand why the drill instructor said it was important, but eventually it starts to make sense," Embry said before he returned to the firing line.

"I learned a lot more discipline, a lot more respect for authority," said Stephen Bolz, 18, of Kittery.

Bolz is a Traip classmate of Michael Embry and he considers himself "gung-ho" and enjoying every second of basic training. He’s also perceptive when it comes to a major purpose of basic training.

PHOTO
Recruit Stephen Bolz, 18
Kittery, Maine

"They teach you a lot about keeping you alive," said Bolz, who signed up to be an infantryman and hopes to be a scout/sniper.

There are more than 450 different job classifications in the Marine Corps, but each and every Marine is considered a rifleman and trained to be a warrior. Even Marine band members are often required to put down their trombone and pick up an M-16 to perform convoy duty in combat areas.

"They, the privates and the NCOs, are the backbone of the Corps, and we make this training the most demanding and hardest anywhere in the world," said Capt. David Baril, the executive officer of the Portsmouth recruiting station. "Their parents depend on us so when they do go into battle, they won’t be hurt by half-assed training. They will be prepared."

Kinder and gentler?

Recruits are given 13 weeks of intense and highly programmed training that often seems like an incomprehensible, demanding blur that teaches them a wide range of tangible warrior skills such as working as a team, firing a rifle, rappelling down a 48-foot high tower, practicing lethal and non-lethal Marine Corps martial arts skills and water survival. They also learn the intangible skills of patience and dealing with constant mental adversity.

According to Marine Corps figures, attrition rates for recruits are around 10 percent for men and 18 percent for women who flunk out of basic for a number of physical, emotional or even legal reasons.

Senior drill instructor Michael Flanagan of Sanford, Maine, oversees a platoon of 90 recruits and estimates about 60 percent will come to him at one time or another and ask to be sent home.

"I counsel them," Flanagan said. "Some of them are momma’s boys and need more coddling, and others are more like street toughs and I need to be more forceful."

PHOTO
Two women recruits transport the body of Recruit Alvarez who was "shot" by a sniper during "The Crucible." In this particular part of the 54-hour traning exercise, recruits traverse a 150-meter course of barbed wire, logs, empty pipes, mud and a bridge.

The result of these discussions is that almost all stay.

"I prayed every night," said James Benoit, 18, of Leominster, Mass., who graduated Oct. 28. He said he thought of quitting every day, but he said his own desire to make it through the training kept him going.

For someone like myself who went through U.S. Army basic training years ago, some of the 21st century changes in training are worthy of note.

First of all, recruits run in running shoes that are far more comfortable than running mile after mile in combat boots. For safety reasons, there is no more grenade throwing in basic training. Except for special training days, recruits are scheduled for a nightly eight hours of sleep, which struck me as remarkable considering my training consisted of dealing with sleep deprivation from day one through the end - six hours of sleep was a luxury and four to five hours was the norm.

PHOTO
Marine recruits practice close-order drill inside the barricks. This method of marching and formal handling of arms is designed to develop confidence in the recruits.

The most significant evolution is the relations between recruits and their drill instructors. The personal, profanity-laced shouts and threats that sometimes led to physical contact were a daily diet during my training. They have been replaced by profanity-free monologues - loud to be sure and still chilling to civilian ears, but meant more to motivate than to inspire fear.

Flanagan told me the two other drill instructors he oversees have different roles to play - an understanding cop, a bad in-their-faces cop, and Flanagan, who said, "I’m the daddy."

Parris Island has the only female recruit-training unit in the Marines and Gunnery Sgt. Suzie Hollings, a 14-year veteran and drill instructor, said her job is to "prepare female warriors."

The extreme hazing and to-the-brink training tactics of the past have given way to more sensible tactics, given that the Corps estimates it costs $11,000 to recruit each potential Marine and another $14,320 to train him or her.

PHOTO
Recruits wait their turn in the pool during Combat Water Survival-4, which requires recruits to perform a variety of water survival and swimming techniques in their uniforms.

Hollings said training is constantly changing, and drill instructors are "more sensitive to the different needs" of recruits.

"You need to know your recruits and know what’s happening," Hollings said about the safety focus of drill instructors.

A warrior’s oasis

"Everybody knows the lore of the Marine Corps," said Capt. Baril, a combat engineer who was part of the initial invading force into Iraq in March 2003.

At Parris Island, the lore is everywhere. A replica of the famous Iwo Jima statue in Washington, D.C., stands prominently near the parade ground where graduation ceremonies take place. On that statue, which comes from the most iconic photograph in American military history - the bloody battle on Mount Suribachi in February 1945 - one of the names of the men who lifted the American flag was Pfc. Rene A. Gagnon of Manchester, N.H., who graduated from Parris Island in May 1943. The epithet on the statue reads, "Uncommon valor was a common virtue."

Rifle ranges at Parris Island are named after famous Marine Corps battle sights such as Khe Sanh or Hue City from the Vietnam War or Inchon and Chosin from the Korean War. On the demanding Crucible training course - a 54-hour combat simulation tract that acts like a final exam for the recruits - the names of obstacle areas come from Medal of Honor winners.

PHOTO
Amy Tuttle, with her son Bryan, gets emotional during the Emblem Ceremony, and event where recruits are recongnized as U.S. Marines for the first time and are presented with the Eagle, Globe and Anchor pin.

I arrived at Parris Island the day the Pentagon announced the passing of the 2,000 military-death benchmark in Iraq. It’s not surprising there are few words of doubt or dissent about the Iraq war at Parris Island. The collective mantra is that the bloody sacrifices will not be in vain.

Parris Island has scores of NCOs and officers who have served one, sometimes two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and have been involved in some of the most intense urban warfare in places like Fallujah and Nasiriyah. Those who haven’t served in those war zones are either on their way or are trying to transfer to units already there or soon to be deployed.

Not surprisingly, recruits are forbidden to talk about the war and are briefed by press guides beforehand. If they have anything negative to say about the war or President Bush, the interview never happens.

PHOTO
New Marine Matthew David Lacombe is congratulated by his mother, Sylvia, and girlfriend, Katie Gugino, following the Emblem Ceremony.

Discussing policy or politics is "not my job," said 2nd Lt. Scott Miller, deputy public affairs officer at Parris Island. "Our job here is recruit training and to stay in our lane."

When I asked Lt. Miller to elaborate, he said, "We can’t have them talking about war. The reality is that they signed up for the Marine Corps in a time of war. I have a ton of respect for them for signing up in a time of war."

Stephen Bolz of Kittery, who is scheduled to graduate from recruit training next month, said he’s looking forward to combat. He told me, "I can’t wait to get to go (to Iraq), serve this country and do what needs to be done."

A MILLION RECRUITS

According to Marine Corps figures, in 2004, 15,628 male and female recruits graduated from Parris Island. Since Parris Island opened as training depot in 1915, more than a million recruits have trained there. The average daily recruit population is 3,922 for men and 616 for women.

HOME FIRES BURN

Part II of the Parris Island story will run in the Tuesday Portsmouth Herald. The second part will cover the thoughts, concerns and hopes of relatives of Marine recruits from the Seacoast.

Seacoast Marine recruits stationed at Parris Island as of Nov. 4:

Thomas McDermott of Seabrook: attended Winnacunnet High School; 2nd Recruit Training Battalion; graduated Nov. 11.

Cathleen Fieldler of Dover: attended Dover High School; 4th Recruit Training Battalion; expected graduation date is Nov. 23.

Joseph LaFlamme of York, Maine: attended York High School; 2nd Recruit Training Battalion; expected graduation date is Dec. 2.

Michael Embry of Kittery, Maine: attended Traip Academy; 2nd Recruit Training Battalion; expected graduation date is Dec. 2.

Stephen Bolz of Kittery, Maine: attended Traip Academy; 2nd Recruit Training Battalion; expected graduation date is Dec. 2.

Pete Connor of Hampton: attended Winnacunnet High School; 1st Recruit Training Battalion; expected graduation date is Dec. 16.

Christian Francia of Hampton: attended Winnacunnet High School; 1st Recruit Training Battalion; expected graduation date is Dec. 16.

Andrew Watkins of Rochester: attended Spaulding High School; 1st Recruit Training Battalion; expected graduation date is Dec. 16.

Daniel Dugal of Dover: attended Dover High School; 2nd Recruit Training Battalion; expected graduation date is Dec. 23.


VIDEO FOOTAGE AT EXT LINK:

http://www.seacoastonline.com/news/11202005/news/74047.htm

'I'm not going to stop'

Iraq vet won't let injuries bring him down

http://www.borderlandnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051127/NEWS/511270325

Chris Roberts
El Paso Times
Sunday, November 27, 2005

Lance Cpl. Francisco Paz, serving as top gunner in a Humvee on patrol in Iraq, saw a suspicious box with wires and a window drape covering it on the left side of the road just outside Fallujah, Iraq, and alerted the driver.

Seconds later, the vehicle commander tugged on his pants leg indicating there was another bomb on the right side of the road.

Just as Paz located the two 155 millimeter shells on the right side of the road, they exploded, demolishing the Humvee and severely wounding Paz and the vehicle commander. The driver was uninjured because the improvised explosive device on his side of the road was a dummy meant to draw attention.

The driver dragged Paz and the commander out of the vehicle and off to the side of the road. However, it took what seemed forever to the injured soldiers for help to arrive as Marines waited for the ammunition in the burning Humvee to stop exploding.

"It took them a while to get up to us due to the fact that the rounds were cooking," Paz said, adding that the vehicle was heavily armed with grenades and 10,000 rounds of ammunition.


Paz, 21, born and raised in El Paso, lost his right eye, had a nerve severed in his left arm, which still hasn't healed, and had two fingers on his right hand severed, left hanging by pieces of skin. He was also bleeding profusely from two wounds on his neck, but no major artery was hit. He also sustained numerous other shrapnel wounds in his upper body. The vehicle commander took shrapnel in the leg.

After the fireworks stopped, Paz was evacuated by Humvee to the main surgical unit in Fallujah.

"Once I got to the hospital, I stopped fighting (to remain conscious) and I just passed out," Paz said.

When he awakened, he was at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. He had been unconscious for a week.

"They said I was doing good in my recovery," Paz said. He was released Nov. 2, 2004, after three weeks at the medical center. He had a few surgeries on his left arm, but doctors say he has only a 5 percent chance of regaining feeling. The shattered fingers on his right hand were reattached, but the middle joints had to be fused.

Makings of a Marine

Paz, who graduated from Coronado High School, is a soft- spoken man who doesn't waste words.

He talks about his experience in Iraq like it was a day at the office and wears his wounds as a badge of honor. People might see a flash of red and gold when they see his glass eye, but the inquisitive looks don't bother him.

Where most glass eyes have an iris matched to the color of the other eye, Paz's has an eagle, globe and anchor -- the Marine Corps insignia.

Paz said his family has strong ties to the Army, but he chose the Marines in December 2002 because "I wanted to go for the best." He said the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks also figured into his decision, adding, "I just wanted to go out there and fight the war."

He learned hand-to-hand combat and was trained in the use of weapons. His specialty was the grenade launcher, which he said "is mainly used to attack bunkers."

Two weeks after graduating from the School of Infantry at Camp Pendleton, Calif., he was deployed to Iraq, a member of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines.

In June 2003, Paz arrived in Diwanyeh, which is in southern Iraq near Najaf. "Our unit had already gone through the push, so our mission was just keeping the peace," he said. "It was good, we had control of the whole city there. ... Once in a while we'd get attacked by mortar rounds."

He said the city's inhabitants were generally supportive for the five months he was stationed there.

On his second tour, which began in September 2004, he went to Fallujah as the Marines were preparing to sweep the town, considered a hotbed of insurgent activity.

"It was real bad, we were just getting there and we were getting attacked already," he said, explaining that his convoy received small-arms fire from insurgents as it arrived. "We returned fire, but as soon as we started engaging, they just took off. You had to stay on your toes all the time."

Then in October, right before the big push, Paz found himself manning the .50 caliber machine gun on top of a Humvee in a five-vehicle convoy. The improvised explosive device was detonated by wire on a road just outside Fallujah.

"So what I thought was an IED, it wasn't. It was on the other side," Paz said. "By the time we saw the real one, it exploded on us."

Paz said soldiers tracked the insurgent who detonated the bomb more than 300 yards from the site. "They captured him the next day," he said.

Getting on with life

Paz doesn't take his retirement from the Marines lightly. He talked to his commanding officers about returning to active duty, but they told him it wouldn't be combat, which was what he wanted.

Although he has been granted a 100 percent disability by Veterans Affairs, he doesn't see himself as a casualty or as permanently disabled.

"I'm hurt, but I'm not going to stop myself because of the injury," Paz said, adding that he plans to study criminal justice at Park University on Fort Bliss. He wants to work as a probation officer, he said, and he plans to stay in El Paso with his wife and family.

Explaining the injuries to his two sons, who are 4 and 5, wasn't easy, however.

"My oldest son wants to be a Marine and get the bad guy, get the guy who hurt dad," Paz said, quietly adding, "I don't want him to see what I've seen."

Chris Roberts may be reached at [email protected]; 546-6136.

Marine dies after hitting head on floor in Adair bar fight

ADAIR, Iowa Adair police says a U-S Marine soldier died in a bar fight after he fell and hit his head on a concrete floor.

http://www.wqad.com/Global/story.asp?S=4169708&nav;=1sW7

ADAIR, Iowa Adair police says a U-S Marine soldier died in a bar fight after he fell and hit his head on a concrete floor.
Private First Class Brian Zimmerline, of Adair, was pronounced dead at a Des Moines hospital on Friday morning. The 23-year-old Zimmerline was a 2001 graduate of Adair-Casey high school. He was stationed at Fort Des Moines.

Adair police have charged 23-year-old Beau Reha with involuntary manslaughter.

Reha is being held in the Adair County jail.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Hundreds attend funeral of fallen Marine corporal

APACHE, Okla. -- More than 350 family members and friends said their final goodbyes to a Marine corporal who was the sunshine of his mother's life and a source of pride for his father.

http://www.kfor.com/Global/story.asp?S=4169443&nav;=6uy6


Nov 27, 2005, 11:15 AM

ASSOCIATED PRESS

APACHE, Okla. -- More than 350 family members and friends said their final goodbyes to a Marine corporal who was the sunshine of his mother's life and a source of pride for his father.
Funeral services for 20-year-old Joshua J.Ware were held yesterday in Apache at the Comanche Community Center.

Ware and three other Marines, including another Oklahoman, were killed in a November 16 ambush in Ubaydi, Iraq.

Ware was born at the U.S. Public Health Service Indian Hospital in Lawton and attended school at Apache as a child.

He graduated from Roland High School in eastern Oklahoma, where he played football and baseball, and ran track.

A year before Ware graduated from high school, he signed up to be a Marine.

Ware, who was an American Indian, was the first Comanche or Kiowa to die in combat since 1968 during the Vietnam War.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Superstar to troops on the front

Jenny Boyle didn't make it to Hollywood after an "American Idol" audition. And when the 26-year-old pediatric nurse sings in the smoky bars where she's a regular act, she competes with the sports channel and boozy conversations for the attention of customers.

http://www.bergen.com/page.php?qstr=eXJpcnk3ZjczN2Y3dnFlZUVFeXk1NzQmZmdiZWw3Zjd2cWVlRUV5eTY4MjIyMDUmeXJpcnk3ZjcxN2Y3dnFlZUVFeXk3

Sunday, November 27, 2005

By LEEF SMITH
THE WASHINGTON POST

Jenny Boyle didn't make it to Hollywood after an "American Idol" audition. And when the 26-year-old pediatric nurse sings in the smoky bars where she's a regular act, she competes with the sports channel and boozy conversations for the attention of customers.

But on her overseas tours, Boyle travels with a security entourage and plays to cheering crowds. She and her four-piece band spend hours signing autographs and posing for photos with fans.

Even if it sometimes requires body armor.

Boyle, from West Springfield, Va., was plucked from obscurity to perform on the war-zone circuit. She has been enlisted by an organization called Armed Forces Entertainment to play for the troops in such countries as Afghanistan, Qatar and Kuwait.

"They treat you like a superstar," said Boyle, whose Jenny Boyle Band returned earlier this month from a 21-day trip to Central Asia, parts of the Middle East and Africa, her fourth overseas tour. "I'll do the shows as long as they ask me," said Boyle, who will soon return to her job at a pediatrician's office. Her employer allows her to take time off without pay to do the tours. "I just have to wait until they call."

The Armed Forces Entertainment coordinates most of the overseas performances for military audiences, including providing support for USO shows.

"Primarily we deal with regional bands, young acts, comedians that haven't gotten national exposure," said Capt. Jesse Davidson of the U.S. Marine Corps, who is circuit manager for AFE's Southwest Asia tour. "Sometimes it feels a little bit like 'American Idol.' We have a lot of groups that are very eager, and we have to thin out the applicants."

This year, AFE has sent more than 100 acts, mostly singers, musicians and comedians, to U.S. military bases from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to South Korea.

Performers volunteer their time. In exchange, they get free travel and a $150-a-day stipend to cover food and lodging. Performers can - and sometimes are required to - stay on the military bases where they perform, eating and sleeping for free. It's one way artists can bank a little money.

Its most recent tour was perhaps the most challenging for the Jenny Boyle Band, encompassing 13 shows in six countries, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain among them.

"It was particularly nerve-racking when Jenny would say things like, 'Don't worry about us; we've been issued body armor,'" recalled the singer's mother, Betsy Boyle. "Truthfully, I think it was scary for them, too."

This invitation to travel came just three weeks before the departure date, and Boyle called a longtime band mate, bassist Jeff Reed, to help gather an ensemble of young musicians who would be willing to back her up on the road.

"I was more nervous about the whole thing this time," Boyle recalled. "And it was harder to put together a group. What do you say? 'Hey, you want to go to Afghanistan?'Ÿ"

At 16, Boyle persuaded her mother to accompany her to an open mike night at a bar. Boyle has been performing in local bars ever since.

In 2001, she auditioned for a new television show called "American Idol." Boyle was one of 10 singers from the Virginia area invited to New York to perform for the producers. They were not blown away.

Soon after, Boyle sent a tape to AFE. Her first tour, in March 2004, took her and her band to Egypt, Jordan and Turkey.

"I was naïve," Boyle recalled. "I wasn't sure what was going on in the world. I just knew I wanted to see it."

The trip was an unqualified eye-opener.

"When we arrived in the Cairo airport, there were people with guns," Boyle recalled. "There was chaos all around. It was a total shocker."

Boyle has since visited an orphanage in Djibouti, where she thought hard about adopting a child, and has taken the stage in Qatar in front of 2,000 people to belt out her brand of classic-rock cover tunes. She's grown accustomed to hearing the heartbreaking stories of war, and she talks breezily about the roar of land mines detonating outside the base in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Since she's returned home, Boyle has been recording tracks for a CD she hopes to shop around.

She said she's honored to be playing overseas - part entertainer, part goodwill ambassador, part morale booster.

She gets dozens of e-mails after each tour, mostly from men who want to thank her for coming such a long way.

"It's impossible to describe the contrast between the situations we are sometimes placed in, to just sitting back and enjoying a great show like a regular Joe," wrote a captain from the Royal Netherlands Air Force who posted a note on her Web site this month. "It's exactly that feeling that's sometimes needed to put things into perspective so we can continue on, and that's what you delivered."

Boyle said the praise is unnecessary.

"You guys are the ones fighting the war," Boyle tells them. "I'm getting to do what I love, and I get to see the world."

Boot camp at Parris Island ain't no Club Med

It's just after midnight as the charter bus crosses the causeway that separates the mainland from the Parris Island recruit training depot, where for 90 years the Marine Corps has molded young men, and more recently women, into disciplined soldiers.

http://www.thedailyitemoflynn.com/news/view.bg?articleid=10563


By Dave Liscio
Friday, November 11, 2005

It's just after midnight as the charter bus crosses the causeway that separates the mainland from the Parris Island recruit training depot, where for 90 years the Marine Corps has molded young men, and more recently women, into disciplined soldiers.
On each side of the road, moonlight reflects off black, alligator-infested swampland. The recruits are quiet and sleepy, most of them up now for about 20 hours, counting travel time and waiting around at the Savannah, Ga., airport.That's the way the Marines plan this rite of passage.
The bus rolls to a halt in front of a non-descript brick building, the entrance a double door of polished stainless steel. Two drill instructors, Marine Corps sergeants in brimmed campaign hats with no room for humor, order the recruits off the bus and on to the many pairs of yellow footprints painted on the asphalt.
Clutching sports bags, backpacks, personal electronic devices and, in some cases, pocketbooks, the recruits assemble in their first formation - a rag-tag bunch barely able to keep from looking sidewise despite orders from the DI to stand at attention, eyes forward.After a relatively harsh welcome and a lecture about how the Marine Corps doesn't accept slackers, the recruits are literally run through the double-metal doorway, symbolizing their entrance to the world of the United States Marine Corps. The door doesn't swing both ways. Once you're through, the only way out is to fail the training, or become a Marine.
With shell-shocked expressions, the approximately 40 recruits fill out reams of paperwork. They aren't allowed to talk. A DI scribbles unit numbers on their hands with an indelible marker. Another escorts them, in line, to a row of wall-mounted telephones, each in a white metal box with hinged cover. A message posted on the inside of the cover tells them precisely what to say - nothing more. The recruits identify themselves, tell relatives they have arrived safely at Parris Island, warn them not to send care packages, and explain that they will be in touch again soon. The phones are relatively new, replacing the use of postcards.
The DIs watch every move closely. As soon as calls are completed and the phones hung up, recruits are marched at quick-step to yet another line, this one leading to the barbershop. A local South Carolinian nicknamed "Tootie," who has been cutting the hair of freshly landed recruits for 16 years, is waiting with his electric razor. It takes less than a minute per head. Tootie, a civilian who claims he's an honorary Marine, says his all-time record for a shearing is 13 seconds.
Lt. Scott Miller explains that a new group of male recruits arrives weekly, females every third week. According to Miller, one recent recruit arrived wearing knee-high black boots with britches tucked inside, swashbuckler's shirt and a Mohawk hairdo - certainly an exception, since most instinctively follow the "gray man" rule. In other words, try not to stand out. Don't be the fastest or smartest. Just try to blend into the sea of faces and green fatigues.
It's getting on past 1 a.m. but the night is young. More paperwork followed by a medical screening to identify possible substance abuse. More standing in line, toes touching the heels of the recruit just ahead, waiting silently as names are called out, a signal to enter the equipment room where boots, hats, camouflage fatigues, underwear and personal hygiene products are issued. Street clothes and items like iPods and cell phones are put into bags and labeled for return at some unspecified date.
All resistance among the recruits is seemingly gone. That, too, is part of the plan.
"The quicker they learn they're not an individual but part of a team, the quicker they're going to succeed," says Miller, explaining that the DI team usually comes in threes - like the good cop- bad cop strategy portrayed in detective movies, but with a "third hat" whose main goal is to abuse and create havoc in the platoon.
The DIs conduct an initial strength test - pull-ups, crunches, run 1.5 miles in 13.5 minutes. Some recruits pass easily. Others, occasionally referred to as fat bodies, weak sisters and princesses, have difficulty doing the requisite pull-ups. Finally, the recruits enter the barracks and are allowed to sleep - albeit briefly.After a few days at the receiving center, they are assigned to a barracks and specific squad.
Over the next 13 weeks, the recruits will learn Marine Corps history and traditions, parade drill, first-aid, hand-to-hand combat, marksmanship with the M16 rifle, water-survival techniques, bayonet assault, rappelling, and other skills, culminating in a three-day "Crucible" in the surrounding terrain. The latter includes patrols in the woods, scaling obstacles, getting accustomed to the rattle of heavy machine gun fire and ear-deafening explosions, avoiding booby traps and essentially getting used to living in the bush on little sleep and short rations.
Recruits are also taught how to shoot at close-range targets and warily enter a "village" or a mock sewer system, since that's what they might encounter in Iraq or Afghanistan, both training tools implemented at Parris Island over the past decade.The Crucible ends with a long march back to the barracks where a "warrior's breakfast" awaits - steak, eggs, sausages and pancakes in limitless quantity.
If all goes well, the 13 weeks end with a colorful graduation ceremony on the parade deck, with plenty of pageantry and a marching band, proud friends and relatives neck-craning in the bleachers. It's the day the title of recruit is forever dropped, and the young men and women marching with precision on the parade ground, their lapels bearing the insignia of eagle, globe and anchor, become known as United States Marines.

War taking toll on N.C. military marriages

Hundreds of soldiers and Marines based in North Carolina flocked to magistrates to be married in early 2003. Young and headed to Iraq, they were joining a romantic tradition as old as war and marriage.

http://www.the-dispatch.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051127/APN/511270645&cachetime;=5

By JAY PRICE
The News & Observer, Raleigh

Hundreds of soldiers and Marines based in North Carolina flocked to magistrates to be married in early 2003. Young and headed to Iraq, they were joining a romantic tradition as old as war and marriage.

Now, many are contributing to the military's high wartime divorce rate.

The register of deeds in Onslow County, which is home to Camp Lejeune, issued 479 marriage licenses in the first two months of 2003, nearly 50 percent more than the same period in 2002. Cumberland County, where Fort Bragg is, issued 644 licenses, up nearly one-third.

Since then, units have deployed repeatedly, keeping new spouses apart - in some cases nearly as much as they have been together. Meanwhile, recruiting has fallen, and the Pentagon knows it must keep marriages healthy to shore up re-enlistment.

That means it needs to save unions such as the ill-starred marriage of Seth E. Kilkuskie and Lakiesha N. Carter.

Carter, a 19-year-old single mother, spotted the handsome 20-year-old Marine in a Jacksonville gas station one night in October 2002. He noticed her, too. He got her number, and that night they talked so long that her cell phone battery drained twice.

"I don't know if it was just that we were both lonely," she said. "Everything got really, really serious, really, really quick."

About three months after they met, they were talking about his coming deployment and the extra pay and benefits he could get as a married Marine.

"One Wednesday, we just went down and got married," she said.

That was in January 2003. Things started going wrong almost as quickly as they'd gone right. Money was tight. They didn't know each other as well as they thought.

"I'm stubborn, he's stubborn. Sometimes it got childish," she said. "Marriage is supposed to be about compromise, but neither one of us was willing to do that."

Within months, they split.

"All we ever did was struggle," she said. "I think we got married too quick, considering how young we were."

Kilkuskie, who is in Iraq, could not be reached.

The ingredients of wartime romance - love, impulse, young hormones and looming separation - can also be a recipe for divorce, said Lt. Cmdr. Breck Bregel, a Navy chaplain at Camp Lejeune.

"There's just this idea out there that 'I'll be better off financially, or my fiancee will.' But there's maybe not that foundation. They may not have known each other very long. Or, being young, they might not have really developed that intimacy, that knowledge, that trust that make up a good foundation for marriage."

There were 5,700 divorces among active-duty Army soldiers in 2001, according to Pentagon statistics. By fiscal 2004, the number had nearly doubled, to 10,500. It dipped in fiscal 2005 but was still nearly 25 percent higher than before the war.

The divorce rate among Marines was steadier. Still, nearly 75 percent of all military marriages that begin during a first enlistment end in divorce, Bregel said, compared with the national rate of about 50 percent. A big problem behind many failed military marriages is little known outside the service: misconceptions about pay.

More money is available to married personnel - about $12,000 on top of an annual $23,000 for a Marine lance corporal with three years of service if he moves off the base, and a couple of hundred dollars a month more during deployments.

But the young Marines often don't understand how much extra they'll have to shell out for vehicles, rent and other monthly bills.

Bradley J. Urias, then 20, and Ashley L. Petersen, 18, were married by an Onslow magistrate Jan. 15, 2003. He shipped out for the Middle East the next month and came home in July. The marriage lasted only a few months longer.

Petersen, through her mother, Lynn Petersen of Eagle River, Wis., declined to talk about the experience. But Lynn Petersen said that one problem was that Urias believed he'd come out ahead financially.

Urias told Ashley and her family that some of his leaders said getting married was a good idea because of the pay.

"Are they not parents themselves?" Petersen said. "Don't they know the kind of damage they can do to young people's lives?"

Some of the marriages are working, despite the odds.

Glendon T. Sword and Billie Jo Harkins, then 24 and 19 and both Marine lance corporals, were wed the day after Lakiesha Carter in January 2003, by the same magistrate. They, too, had met in October - on a Lejeune rifle range where they were firing M-16s at adjacent targets. Her empty shell casings pelted him each time she pulled the trigger.

They, too, made the decision to visit the magistrate quickly. But their experience was different in many ways.

"We had good, strong communications built up by that point," Sword said. "If you meet someone out on the town and start dating, and then you get married really quick, those are the couples that have a lot higher divorce rate."

But both agreed that marriage to another Marine is easier, because both know the nature of the job.

For the Swords, his deployment early this year wasn't the relationship killer that it was for some. While he was in Fallujah for the first half of this year, both worked to communicate.

He sent e-mail almost every day and called when he could. She was pregnant with their second child and went so far as to send him digital copies of the ultrasound images and try to call his mother every two or three days.

"I saw some like us that are going strong," Glen Sword said. "And I've seen others that got married two months before they deploy, and one month into the deployment they get a letter saying, 'I'm sorry, but I did this' or 'I did that.' And I've seen some guys send that same kind of letter home.

"Trust is crucial," he said.

They live in a new starter-home subdivision just north of Jacksonville in a house they're buying. They have two children, Mireille, 2, and Melinda, 4 months. Their living room is a swirl of strewn toys, books and stuffed animals.

One night this past week, both parents were sitting amid the clutter in green camouflage and combat boots. Above them, a wall clock still hadn't been changed from daylight-saving time.

Mireille was sitting on her mom's lap eating an apple, while Glen Sword fed Melinda her dinner bottle. A crucial point, Billie Jo said, as she helped Mireille with her snack, is that Glen does his share.

"We tag-team," she said. "If he's feeding the baby, I might be giving Mireille her bath.

"The fact that he helps out keeps our stress level down."

She's leaving the Corps soon. A big reason is the fear, however small, that both could be sent overseas at the same time, and the kids would have to be sent to grandparents. But he has just re-enlisted, with her support.

Troops often make decisions about re-enlistment based on their family's support. As recruiters struggle to meet targets, divorce rates have become a headache for the military, which has started several new programs to support marriage in recent years.

Chaplains are available for counseling almost any time. But the services also offer pre-marriage counseling programs, informal support networks for young wives, programs to ease combat soldiers' return to the family, groups to support the family while a soldier is gone - even weekend retreats at the beach for couples to improve their relationships.

But much of this is voluntary, and arrayed against it are macho military culture, the irrationality of young romance, stress and long separations.

In many cases, couples get no counseling. At Lejeune, if Marines or sailors want to marry, most commanding officers require them to attend a two-day course called "Before I Say I Do," which focuses on financial issues, compatibility, sexuality and communications.

Sometimes, said Carter, the single mother, it's not that two people are wrong for each other, just that the way they handle marriage is wrong.

"If we had waited longer and got to know each other better, we'd still be together," she said.

Her daughter from an earlier relationship, Jailyn, is now 4. Jailyn already had missed having a father in her life, then she had Kil-kuskie, then she didn't any more.

After the breakup, they moved back in with Carter's mother and three teenage brothers. Carter is raising her daughter while working two jobs and going to school. She's tired all the time, she said.

She doesn't blame her ex-husband for the collapse of their marriage any more than she blames herself. "I regret it, like, every day," Carter said.

Carter has seen a lot and done a lot since that impulsive trip to the magistrate.

"People my age have a complete fairy tale in their head about marriage," she said. "I expected too much."

But even after what she has been through, the romance of wartime marriage can still overcome logic.

"Considering that rising death toll, I might tell somebody who was thinking about doing it to go ahead," she said. "I mean, one of them might not be around that much longer, so why not?"

---

A final goodbye

HAVERHILL — "Nicky, I love you and goodbye."
Vanessa Schiavoni and more than 200 others said a final farewell yesterday to her brother, Marine Lance Cpl. Nickolas Schiavoni, who was laid to rest in his hometown

http://www.ecnnews.com/cgi-bin/15/etstory.pl?-sec-HHNews+fn-fn-funeral.1127-20051127-fn


By Anita Fritz
Staff Writer

HAVERHILL — "Nicky, I love you and goodbye."

Vanessa Schiavoni and more than 200 others said a final farewell yesterday to her brother, Marine Lance Cpl. Nickolas Schiavoni, who was laid to rest in his hometown.

"He was my big brother and the world's best hero," she said, fighting back tears as her voice cracked at a Mass in St. James Church. "My big brother Nicky served his country and his family the way a brother, son, father, husband and soldier should."

Schiavoni, 26, was killed Nov. 15 during an attack by a suicide bomber while serving a second tour of duty in Iraq. He received the Purple Heart after shrapnel lodged in his arm during his first six-month deployment.

Schiavoni's wife, Gina, stood between his mother, Stephany Kern, and his sister at St. James Cemetery, holding tight to the two as prayers were said over his gray casket.

Mourners fell silent while Marines folded three flags — one for Gina Schiavoni, one for Schiavoni's mother and one for his father, David Schiavoni. A gun salute honored the Marine lance corporal and taps was sounded before the crowd dispersed.

Gina Schiavoni unsuccessfully fought back tears behind her dark glasses and placed a red rose on her husband's casket.

The crisp, sunny morning began with mourners paying their respects at the funeral home on Kenoza Avenue. American flags lined the sidewalk — a solemn reminder of why Schiavoni died.

As people left the funeral home for the church, silence cut through the brisk fall air. Only a few sniffles could be heard as the temperature rose to 37 degrees. State and local police escorted the hearse and family limousines to the church. Six Marines carried Schiavoni's casket into St. James; six more stood at the entrance at attention when they passed.

A photograph of Schiavoni in his Marine uniform sat above the casket during the church service, during which "Amazing Grace" and "America" were sung.

The Haverhill native was the father of Marissa, 4, and Alex, 3. He and his wife lived with their children at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C.

Schiavoni attended Richard Milburne High School, an alternative school that has since closed, and received his diploma from Haverhill High in 1997. He joined the Marines at the age of 20.

Marine Killed, Operation Tigers Continues in Iraq

WASHINGTON, Nov. 27, 2005 – A U.S. Marine engaged in combat operations against enemy forces near Camp Taqaddum, Iraq, was killed in an improvised explosive device attack Nov. 26, officials in Iraq announced today. (3/7 / 2nd MAW)

http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Nov2005/20051127_3448.html
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 27, 2005 – A U.S. Marine engaged in combat operations against enemy forces near Camp Taqaddum, Iraq, was killed in an improvised explosive device attack Nov. 26, officials in Iraq announced today.

The name of the Marine, who was assigned to the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), is being withheld until the family is notified.

Meanwhile, Operation Numur, or "Tigers," continues with Iraqi soldiers in the lead and has resulted in the capture of several weapons caches and several terrorist suspects, officials reported.

The terrorist suspects include Imad Salih Al-Fahdawi, a known insurgent linked to the Abu Khattab-al Qaeda in Iraq terrorist cell, officials said. He reportedly has been involved in attacks against government officials and imams.

Terrorists linked to the al Qaeda in Iraq cell are part of Abu Musab Zarqawi's Ramadi network whose members have vowed to prevent local citizens from participating in the Dec. 15 parliamentary elections, officials said.

The discovered weapons caches, they add, had numerous artillery and mortar rounds, rocket-propelled grenades, high explosives, small arms weapons, small arms ammunition, bulletproof vests and bomb- making equipment. Two of the weapons caches were found along a railroad track and were used by local terrorists, officials reported.

Operation Tigers is the fourth in a series of joint U.S.-Iraqi operations designed to disrupt and destroy terrorist networks and infrastructure. The three previous operations -- Panthers (Numur), Bruins (Dibbah), and Lions (Asad) - began Nov. 16. These operations resulted in the killing and detainment of numerous terrorists and the capture of several weapons caches, officials said.

Operation Tigers includes roughly 150 Iraqi soldiers and 400 coalition forces from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division, which is assigned to 2nd Marine Division.

The Iraqi army spearheaded the operation by providing security, identifying cache sites and gathering important information through their interaction with the local citizens, officials said.

These actions prove the Iraqi army is "truly making very rapid advances," says Lt. Col. Abdul Majeed, an Iraqi army commander. "With time, we will be able to secure all of Ramadi and remove all of the hidden enemy weapons cache points," he said.

Meanwhile, Iraqi and U.S. forces continued to fight Nov. 26 against terrorists operating throughout north-central Iraq. Sixteen suspected terrorists, including one woman, were captured in a series of unrelated events, officials said.

For example, in an early morning cordon-and-search mission near Baqubah, Iraqi and U.S. soldiers reportedly detained nine suspected terrorists, while seizing detonating fuses and several anti-aircraft artillery rounds.

Moreover, while investigating a late-morning explosion at a gas station southeast of Samarra, local Iraqi police detained four terrorist suspects. Four 155-mm artillery shells that had been converted into improvised explosive devices detonated before they could be removed from the station. The explosion killed nine terrorist suspects and injured four others, officials said.

And, in nearby Balad, U.S. soldiers detained a terrorist suspect at a checkpoint after he attempted to avoid questioning. The suspect was searched and found to be carrying more than $3,000 in U.S. currency, officials said.

U.S. troops also conducted a clearing operation in Baqubah Nov. 26. This resulted in the detainment of two terrorist suspects. Officials say the suspects were found to be carrying eight blocks of C-4 plastic explosive, an AK-47 rifle with several hundred rounds, blasting caps and various other bomb-making materials.

Also on Nov. 26, in Mosul, Iraqi soldiers detained a terrorist suspect who was found to possess notes with the names of anti-Iraq insurgent forces. The soldiers were with the 2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 3rd Iraq Army Division. They were conducting a combat patrol when they identified the man as a likely terrorist. The suspect is being held for further questioning, officials said.

Iraqi police from the Samarra Major Crimes Unit, they add, captured a suspected kidnapper and two-time murderer Nov. 26. The suspected murder and kidnapper was taken into custody pending further investigation, and no injuries or damages were reported. Officials said two criminals believed to have been involved in the kidnapping and murders are still at large.

In Baghdad, Task Force Baghdad soldiers reportedly captured four suspected terrorists during operations Nov 24 and 25.

Officials said the successful effort stemmed from information provided by an Iraqi citizen. The citizen alerted soldiers to a terrorist cell operating in western Rashid. Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, then raided the alleged site during the early-morning hours of Nov. 25 and detained three suspects.

A similarly successful raid took place Nov. 24, officials said, when soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 184th Infantry Regiment, detained a terrorist suspect in eastern Rashid. The suspect is believed to have been responsible for attacks on coalition forces, and he unsuccessfully attempted to fleet the scene when the soldiers arrived.

(Compiled from various news releases.)

Ramadi offensive nets suspected insurgents/U.S. Marine killed in combat west of Baghdad

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- U.S. and Iraqi troops have detained several suspected insurgents in the capital of Anbar province as part of the latest joint operation in the area dominated by Sunni Arabs, the U.S. Marines said Sunday.

http://edition.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/11/27/iraq.main/

Sunday, November 27, 2005 Posted: 1637 GMT (0037 HKT)

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- U.S. and Iraqi troops have detained several suspected insurgents in the capital of Anbar province as part of the latest joint operation in the area dominated by Sunni Arabs, the U.S. Marines said Sunday.

Imad Salih al-Fahdawi, who has been linked to an al Qaeda in Iraq cell, was one of the insurgents detained, the Marines said in a news release.

"Salih was involved in attacks against government officials and imams," the release said.

The raids, involving 400 coalition personnel and 150 Iraqi soldiers, also turned up several weapons caches in the eastern part of the city, it added.

"The caches found consisted of numerous artillery and mortar rounds, rocket-propelled grenades, high explosives, small arms weapons, small arms ammunition, bulletproof vests and bomb-making equipment," according to the Marines' statement.

U.S. officials believe a large portion of the insurgency is made up of Sunni Arabs, who dominated the country during the rule of Saddam Hussein.

The mission is the fourth of its kind in recent weeks and is designed to try to establish stability in the city ahead of the national elections December 15.

The national assembly to be elected in December will be charged with appointing a four-year government and would be able to make changes to a constitution that was passed by a national referendum in October.
Marine killed by bomb

A roadside bomb has killed a Marine near Camp Taqaddum west of Baghdad, the U.S. military said Sunday.

The Marine died during combat Saturday and is the 2,107th U.S. service member to be killed during the Iraq war.

Camp Taqaddum is about 45 miles (74 kilometers) from the Iraqi capital, according to the Web site GlobalSecurity.org.

Services today for fallen Marine

Services for Marine Corps Lance Cpl. John A. Lucente are scheduled for 11 a.m. today at Forest Lawn Cemetery on the grounds of Hooper and Weaver Mortuary in Nevada City.

http://www.theunion.com/article/20051126/NEWS/111260103


By David Mirhadi, [email protected]
November 26, 2005

Services for Marine Corps Lance Cpl. John A. Lucente are scheduled for 11 a.m. today at Forest Lawn Cemetery on the grounds of Hooper and Weaver Mortuary in Nevada City.

Lucente, a 2004 Bear River High School graduate who lived in Lake of the Pines, was killed with three other Marines Nov. 16 in Ubaydi, Iraq, near the Syrian border. Lucente, 19, died after sustaining injuries after being hit by an enemy hand grenade as part of Operation Steel Curtain to fortify Iraq's borders.

He is the second person with Nevada County ties to die while on active duty since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.

Services will include a procession featuring Boy and Girl Scout troops who will walk from the mortuary to the cemetery with members of the Nevada County Honor Guard.

Lucente is scheduled to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.

The Iraq Story: How Troops See It

BROOK PARK, OHIO (Nov. 27) – Cpl. Stan Mayer has seen the worst of war. In the leaves of his photo album, there are casual memorials to the cost of the Iraq conflict - candid portraits of friends who never came home and graphic pictures of how insurgent bombs have shredded steel and bone.

http://aolsvc.news.aol.com/news/article.adp?id=20051127210809990004


By Mark Sappenfield, The Christian Science Monitor



BROOK PARK, OHIO (Nov. 27) – Cpl. Stan Mayer has seen the worst of war. In the leaves of his photo album, there are casual memorials to the cost of the Iraq conflict - candid portraits of friends who never came home and graphic pictures of how insurgent bombs have shredded steel and bone.

Yet the Iraq of Corporal Mayer's memory is not solely a place of death and loss. It is also a place of hope. It is the hope of the town of Hit, which he saw transform from an insurgent stronghold to a place where kids played on Marine trucks. It is the hope of villagers who whispered where roadside bombs were hidden. But most of all, it is the hope he saw in a young Iraqi girl who loved pens and Oreo cookies. Like many soldiers and marines returning from Iraq, Mayer looks at the bleak portrayal of the war at home with perplexity - if not annoyance. It is a perception gap that has put the military and media at odds, as troops complain that the media care only about death tolls, while the media counter that their job is to look at the broader picture, not through the soda straw of troops' individual experiences.

Yet as perceptions about Iraq have neared a tipping point in Congress, some soldiers and marines worry that their own stories are being lost in the cacophony of terror and fear. They acknowledge that their experience is just that - one person's experience in one corner of a war-torn country. Yet amid the terrible scenes of reckless hate and lives lost, many members of one of the hardest-hit units insist that they saw at least the spark of progress.

"We know we made a positive difference," says Cpl. Jeff Schuller of the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, who spent all but one week of his eight-month tour with Mayer. "I can't say at what level, but I know that where we were, we made it better than it was when we got there."

It is the simplest measure of success, but for the marine, soldier, or sailor, it may be the only measure of success. In a business where life and death rest on instinctive adherence to thoroughly ingrained lessons, accomplishment is ticked off in a list of orders followed and tasks completed. And by virtually any measure, America's servicemen and women are accomplishing the day-to-day tasks set before them.

Yet for the most part, America is less interested in the success of Operation Iron Fist, for instance, than the course of the entire Iraq enterprise. "What the national news media try to do is figure out: What's the overall verdict?" says Brig. Gen. Volney Warner, deputy commandant of the Army Command and General Staff College. "Soldiers don't do overall verdicts."

Yet soldiers clearly feel that important elements are being left out of the media's overall verdict. On this day, a group of Navy medics gather around a table in the Cleveland-area headquarters of the 3/25 - a Marine reserve unit that has converted a low-slung school of pale brick and linoleum tile into its spectacularly red-and-gold offices.


More From the Monitor


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Their conversation could be a road map of the kind of stories that military folks say the mainstream media are missing. One colleague made prosthetics for an Iraqi whose hand and foot had been cut off by insurgents. When other members of the unit were sweeping areas for bombs, the medics made a practice of holding impromptu infant clinics on the side of the road.

They remember one Iraqi man who could not hide his joy at the marvel of an electric razor. And at the end of the 3/25's tour, a member of the Iraqi Army said: "Marines are not friends; marines are brothers," says Lt. Richard Malmstrom, the battalion's chaplain.

"It comes down to the familiar debate about whether reporters are ignoring the good news," says Peter Hart, an analyst at Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, a usually left-leaning media watchdog in New York.

In Hit, where marines stayed in force to keep the peace, the progress was obvious, say members of the 3/25. The residents started burning trash and fixing roads - a sign that the city was returning to a sense of normalcy. Several times, "people came up to us [and said]: 'There's a bomb on the side of the road. Don't go there,' " says Pfc. Andrew Howland.

Part of the reason that such stories usually aren't told is simply the nature of the war. Kidnappings and unclear battle lines have made war correspondents' jobs almost impossible. Travel around the country is dangerous, and some reporters never venture far from their hotels. "It has to have some effect on what we see: You end up with reporting that waits for the biggest explosion of the day," says Mr. Hart.

To the marines of the 3/25, the explosions clearly do not tell the whole story. Across America, many readers know the 3/25 only as the unit that lost 15 marines in less than a week - nine of them in the deadliest roadside bombing against US forces during the war. When the count of Americans killed in Iraq reached 2,000, this unit again found itself in the stage lights of national notice as one of the hardest hit.

But that is not the story they tell. It is more than just the dire tone of coverage - though that is part of it. It is that Iraq has touched some of these men in ways that even they have trouble explaining. This, after all, has not been a normal war. Corporals Mayer and Schuller went over not to conquer a country, but to help win its hearts and minds. In some cases, though, it won theirs.

Schuller, a heavyweight college wrestler with a thatch of blond hair and engine blocks for arms, cannot help smiling when he speaks of giving an old man a lighter: "He thought it was the coolest thing." Yet both he and the blue-eyed, square-jawed Mayer pause for a moment before they talk about the two 9-year-old Iraqis whom members of their battalion dubbed their "girlfriends."

The first time he saw them, Mayer admits that he was making the calculations of a man in the midst of a war. He was tired, he was battered, and he was back at a Hit street corner that he had patrolled many times before. In Iraq, repetition of any sort could be an invitation of the wrong sort - an event for which insurgents could plan. So Mayer and Schuller took out some of the candy they carried, thinking that if children were around, perhaps the terrorists wouldn't attack.

It was a while before the children realized that these two marines, laden with arms to the limit of physical endurance, were not going to hurt them. But among the children who eventually came, climbing on the pair's truck and somersaulting in the street, there were always the same two girls. When they went back to base, they began to hoard Oreos and other candy in a box.

"They became our one little recess from the war," says Mayer. "You're seeing some pretty ridiculous tragedies way too frequently, and you start to get jaded. The kids on that street - I got to realize I was still a human being to them."

It happened one day when he was on patrol. Out of nowhere, a car turned the corner and headed down the alley at full speed. "A car coming at you real fast and not stopping in Iraq is not what you want to see," says Mayer. Yet instead of jumping in his truck, he stood in the middle of the street and pushed the kids behind him.

The car turned. Now, Mayer and Schuller can finish each other's sentences when they think about the experience. "You really start to believe that you protect the innocent," says Schuller. "It sounds like a stupid cliché...."

"But it's not," adds Mayer. "You are in the service of others."

For Mayer, who joined the reserves because he wanted to do something bigger than himself, and for Schuller, a third-generation marine, Iraq has given them a sense of achievement. Now when they look at the black-and-white pictures of marines past in the battalion headquarters, "We're adding to that legacy," says Schuller.

This is what they wish to share with the American people - and is also the source of their frustration. Their eight months in Iraq changed their lives, and they believe it has changed the lives of the Iraqis they met as well. On the day he left, Mayer gave his "girlfriend" a bunch of pens - her favorite gift - wrapped in a paper that had a picture of the American flag, the Iraqi flag, and a smiley face. The man with the lighter asked Schuller if he was coming back. He will if called upon, he says.

Whether or not these notes of grace and kindness are as influential as the dirge of war is open to question. But many in the military feel that they should at least be a part of the conversation.

Says Warner of reaching an overall verdict: "I'm not sure that reporting on terrorist bombings with disproportionate ink is adequately answering that question."


Copyright © 2005 The Christian Science Monitor. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Strange World

Twin brothers who have done two tours of duty in Iraq find that the return to civilian life is a hard adjustment

http://www.journalnow.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=WSJ/MGArticle/WSJ_BasicArticle&c;=MGArticle&cid;=1128768377846&path;=&s;=


By Mary Giunca
JOURNAL REPORTER

On their second tour of duty in Iraq, twins Matt and Nate Rogers were assigned to Fallujah, where part of their duty was driving along roads to lure out insurgents. There was a constant danger of bombs along the roadside that could be set off by the enemy by remote-control. It took complete vigilance while in the trucks, the twins said.

"You would memorize the individual pieces of trash," Matt said. "You'd be driving along and you'd get this little tingle. You'd see something that wasn't there before."

That tingle, or hunch, served often as an alert that a bomb had been planted where the trash on the ground had been disturbed.

Since their return to their home in Arcadia in September, the Rogers twins have been trying to find their way back into civilian life, as they wait to resume their studies in January. Matt is working at the U.S. Marine Recruiting Station in Winston-Salem, and Nate works at the Marine Reserve Center in Greensboro and is in training to recover from the injuries that he suffered in an explosion last summer.

They retain their boyish charm and their fun-loving ways. But the war has marked them.

"I don't feel like a 24-year-old," Matt said. "I've been to war twice. I feel like I've done 50 years of living in 24 years."

The twins have all of the hallmarks of grown-up life.

"We've been to seven countries, 25 states,'' Nate said. The twins also have bought a house that is being built in Charlotte. "We have two cars. We got a washer and dryer for our birthday."

The twins are lance corporals in Communications Co. 4th FSSG from Greensboro. Both trained as radio operators. They were first called to duty in January 2003, when they worked as radio operators. Matt was sent to Iraq, and Nate was sent to Kuwait for a few months, then was reunited with his brother in Iraq.

When the six-month tour ended, they returned to their studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Then, in March of this year, they were recalled. This time, they were stationed at a base camp in Fallujah. Nate was a radio operator, and Matt was assigned to a military police unit as a machine-gun operator.

The watchfulness that the twins acquired in Iraq has stuck with them on their return.

On their third night home, the twins decided to go to out to eat around 11.

Matt drove in the center of N.C. 150 the whole way with his truck lights off, as he was accustomed to doing in Iraq to avoid roadside bombs.

People began honking their horns.

"I was running people off the road, and I didn't even know it," Matt said.

Another day, they were on their way to Charlotte when Nate drove their Dodge Stratus over a bag of trash. In Iraq, bombs were placed in such bags and left on the road. Out of habit, both of them dived toward the center console in preparation for an explosion. They hugged when they realized that everything was fine.

All of this was far from what the twins expected when they signed up with the Marine Reserves back in January 2002. They were third-generation military men who were looking for money for college. They intended to perform their military service after they graduated, Nate said, and on the weekends.

Instead, a year after signing on, they shipped out to Iraq.

There, they became accustomed to the 130-degree heat that bleached their olive drab T-shirts white from sweat. The roar of SCUD missiles would blast them from their sleep.

Both twins came under fire during their first tour. Neither likes to talk about the specifics.

Matt had a chance to defer when the second call came. He was close to finishing his degree in history, but he didn't want Nate to go back to Iraq by himself.

So in March, the twins returned to Iraq.

This time around, conditions in camp were almost luxurious compared to the first time, but the work was harder because there was never a time that the twins could let their guard down, they said.

On July 12, Matt was sitting in a truck that was intended as a decoy to lure the insurgents out of hiding. Nate was working the radio in a truck that was three miles down the road. Things didn't go according to plan.

Nate's truck drove over a tank mine. Matt and the other Marines in his truck both saw and heard the explosion. Matt heard one of the other Marines ask over the radio: "Are they OK?"

There was no answer.

The driver of Matt's truck drove toward the explosion.

"I don't think I've ever been more scared in my life," he said. "When I saw the truck, I thought, 'There's no way anyone's alive.'"

A buddy of Matt's tackled him as he ran toward what remained of Nate's Humvee. He told Matt that all four men who were in the explosion survived.

Nate was taken back to a surgical unit at the Marines' camp and put on several weeks of bed rest and light duty.

"It looked like someone took a baseball bat to him," Matt said of his twin.

Nate doesn't remember anything about the explosion. He woke up in the hospital three days later with a concussion, a foot injury and a blown eardrum. Doctors have told him that his mild hearing loss is permanent, he said.

Several weeks later, Matt came under fire when his squad was attacked while protecting a supply convey that was heading back from Ramadi. A few Marines faced fire from about 40 Iraqis as they put themselves between the insurgents and the convoy.

"The question everyone asked me afterward was, 'Were you scared?'" Matt said. "It's hard to explain. I wasn't scared for myself. I was scared for the other guys. They're like your brothers."

One night recently, Matt said he dreamed that he was back in the ambush trying to jump out of his Humvee. He woke up as he jumped from his bed and hit his arm on his dresser.

Changed lives

The twins' relationships with people back home had been changing throughout their Reserves duty.

About six months after their first tour of duty, Nate broke up with his girlfriend of a year and a half.

During the second tour, Matt's fiance, whom he had dated for six years, broke up with him.

"I know in my case, I don't think I've ever felt more alone in my life," Matt said. "There's certain people you look to for support, and when you've grown that attached to someone, it's devastating when they're not there. They're the reason you go over there and you fight. They're the reason you don't mind going through that kind of hell."

Their experiences in Iraq divide them from other 24-year-olds, they said.

"Things that are huge to them, we really don't care about," Matt said. "The guy I was when I graduated from high school is not the guy I am now."

For Nate, the changes have been more marked.

"They say I'm a little bit meaner than I used to be," he said. "I'm more serious."

Matt said he is impatient to get out in the world. He expects to graduate in June with a history degree, and he wants to enter the FBI. Nate hopes to graduate in December with a history degree and wants to become an Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms agent.

Julie Brandon, their aunt, says she wonders if what they have gone through will have a long-term effect.

"You hear about all the Vietnam people coming back and having flashbacks," she said. "I wonder if that will happen to them. They're 24 years old, and they've seen more death than most of us have in a lifetime."

Several family members said they sense some tension, too, in the fact that the twins have gone through so much, but back in the civilian world, they are behind many people their age who have graduated from college and are working on their careers, getting married and having babies.

Nate, who has always been the more fun-loving, said he is more willing to go after what he wants in life now.

"I'm tired of beating around the bush. Tell it like it is," he said. "I'm not going to take any crap. It's my way or the highway."

Staff Sgt. Jess Bankston, who helped train the twins before the war and who served in Iraq with them, said that the frustration the men feel with civilian life is understandable.

"There's no room for error when you're in combat," he said. "If someone's being indecisive or making stupid mistakes, it's frustrating. It's not that Nate's any meaner, it's that he's matured so much and he sees people the same age as him acting like 16- or 17-year-olds."

What they're thinking

Mack Rogers, the twins' grandfather, said that Matt and Nate are handling things better after this second round of duty. But he said that they will never be the same as they were.

"You can be sitting around talking, and you look at them, and they're somewhere else," he said. "I know what they're thinking. They're thinking about what they've been through."

Nate said that one of his favorite experiences in Iraq came a few months ago, when he sat in the desert and watched the explosions of bombs in the sky.

"It's America's freedom, and we're actually doing it," he said he remembers thinking.

Now that he's home, he said he has trouble listening to people say that they support the troops, but not the war.

"I am the war," he said.

• Mary Giunca can be reached at 727-4089 or at [email protected]

Marines come to aid of Katrina victim mom who lost her son in Iraq

After Hurricane Katrina ripped through Kathleen Faircloth's home, the single woman in Mobile, Ala., desperately needed help.

http://www.jdnews.com/SiteProcessor.cfm?Template=/GlobalTemplates/Details.cfm&StoryID;=36858&Section;=News


November 27,2005
BY CHRIS MAZZOLINI
DAILY NEWS STAFF
y chris mazzolini

After Hurricane Katrina ripped through Kathleen Faircloth's home, the single woman in Mobile, Ala., desperately needed help.

So in came the Marines.

Faircloth happened to be the mother of Lance Cpl. Bradley Faircloth, a Marine with 1st Battalion, 8th Marines who died in November 2004 during the battle for Fallujah.

Faircloth had stayed in touch with many of the guys from her son's unit - 3rd Platoon, Alpha Company, 1/8 - and when those Marines heard about the extensive damage Faircloth's home had suffered, they wanted to help the mother of their fallen comrade.

"I thought what a golden opportunity for us to do what we in 1/8 believe in: taking care of our own," said Maj. Lewis D. Vogler Jr., the battalion's executive officer. "I told those guys, 'If I can find us a way, we'll do it.' "

At the time, parts of Camp Lejeune's 1/8 were in Slidell, La., outside of New Orleans, aiding the post-Katrina relief effort. There was little chance of getting Faircloth the help she needed. All the choppers were booked.

But Vogler, who was working in the town's emergency operation centers, told one of the city employees the story of Faircloth and his mother.

"He says, 'Major, I just may have a way to get your Marines to Mobile," Vogler recalled.

A Slidell resident named Jan Stumpf volunteered to let the Marines use her private Gulfstream-Lear jet. Vogler took the matter to Lt. Col. J. Scott Alley, the battalion commander.

"We went through the whole shooting match, the whole check list," Alley said. "Really, the focus was: 'What can we do for her?' They really wanted to do it. I will say I was apprehensive until they showed back up."

The mission parameters were simple: Go in hard, fix Faircloth's home and get out - all in 36 hours.

That's exactly what they did. Sgt. Billy Leo, one of the Marines who went to Faircloth's home, said they landscaped, they shingled and made all the repairs in the allotted time.

They also got the chance to put a mother's mind at ease. Vogler said Faircloth asked the Marines, many of whom were there on her son's last day, to tell her how he died.

"I think mainly she just wanted to talk to us," Leo said.

"That maybe did more than what was actually done to her house," Alley said. "It gave her peace of mind. Closure."

Looking back, Vogler said he wasn't concerned about loading some of his Marines onto a little jet and flying them into another state.

"It was pretty extreme, pretty risky to take that jet out of there," he said. "The gains outweighed the risks, knowing it was a good thing to do. I don't really care. Bottom line is we got them there, fixed it, and got back."

Vogler, in many ways the plan's ringleader, said he had a few reasons for wanting to help. First and foremost, he wanted to take care of his own.

"I wanted it to happen because I believe this battalion is obligated to all the families of fallen Marines," he said. "This is the Beirut Battalion. We've got 200 Marines on that wall, and they are all my brothers. We are obligated to Faircloth."

The second reason, he said, is to rail against the stereotype of Marines.

"Here we are, a bunch of â?¦ warriors, we're not eating raw meat, we're not saying we're prima donnas," he said. "We've got compassion."

Finally, it's just a great story, he said.

"There's so many of those little human interest stories all over America," he said. "We're living one now."

And the Faircloth story doesn't end there. After a flood of donations, Faircloth's high school is going to erect a statue of him in April outside the school's football stadium. Faircloth's friends hope they can go to honor him and finally put him to rest.

"He was crazy," Leo said. "His nickname was 'The Barbarian.' He was a bull. He always wanted to be on point. He was a good Marine."


Contact staff writer Chris Mazzolini at [email protected] or at 353-1171, Ext. 229.


November 26, 2005

Nevada County Family Buries Fallen Marine


A Nevada County marine who was killed in Iraq a week and a half ago was laid to rest today.

http://www.news10.net/storyfull2.aspx?storyid=14482


Written for the web by Elizabeth Bishop, Internet News Producer


A Nevada County marine who was killed in Iraq a week and a half ago was laid to rest today.

Close to 400 people gathered to remember Lance Cpl. John Anthony Lucente at the Hooper and Weaver Mortuary in Nevada City this morning. His funeral featured military honors including a fly-over with a missing man formation and a 21-gun salute.

Lucente, 19, was killed with four other marines during a sweep through al-Anbar province near the Syrian border. They were entering a farmhouse that had possibly been booby-trapped and were killed in an explosion. Eleven other marines were also injured.

Lucente's stepmother said the family tried to dissuade the young man from joining the marines and suggested the Coast Guard as an alternative. When he refused to change his mind, the family supported him. Naomi Lucente said they continue to back the troops but not the war in Iraq. "This was a senseless death," she said. "He should be here with us on American soil."

Lucente, or J.T. as his family and friends call him, leaves behind his mother, Kristine Mason; his stepfather; his 15-year-old brother, Chris; 9-year-old sister Cassie and his 8-week-old brother Jake.

Oklahoma Marine Buried, Funeral For Another Oklahoman Scheduled

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ An Oklahoma Marine had matured from a boy into a young man before he died in Iraq, his cousin said.

http://www.kotv.com/main/home/stories.asp?whichpage=1&id;=94322

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ An Oklahoma Marine had matured from a boy into a young man before he died in Iraq, his cousin said.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. James Doling would know, having witnessed the transformation firsthand, he told family and friends gathered Friday to remember Jeffry Alan Rogers.

Doling said he and Rogers were stationed together in San Diego before Rogers was deployed to Iraq. He talked about watching Rogers grow from a spoiled child into a focused young man.

That growth and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, compelled Rogers, 21, to enlist in the military when he graduated from Putnam City North High School in 2002, despite his family's objections.

Rogers died Nov. 16 when he and three other Marines, including another Oklahoman, were killed in an ambush in Ubaydi, Iraq, in what turned out to be a deadly week for soldiers from the state. Cpl. Joshua Ware, of Apache, also was killed.

Rogers, who was buried at Chapel Hill with a 21-gun salute from a Marine honor guard, knew what he was risking when he joined the Marines after high school, loved ones were told.

In a Bible verse cited in the last letter Rogers sent from Iraq to his parents, Jim and Janet Rogers, in Yukon.

``No greater love have man than to lay down his life for his friend,'' Rogers wrote, quoting John 15:13.

Another Oklahoman who was killed in Iraq this month also will be laid to rest.

Residents of Inola lined the streets with American flags as the body of 24-year-old Travis Grigg was brought home by his family.

Funeral services for Grigg, who was killed Nov. 15 by a roadside bomb in Taji, Iraq, were held Saturday afternoon.

During Rogers' eulogy, the Rev. Monte Priest read from his letter, which hinted at Rogers' dedication to his family.

``I could never ask for a greater family,'' he wrote.

Soldier Dies in Roadside Bomb Explosion

WASHINGTON, Nov. 26, 2005 – A soldier assigned to the 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), was killed in an improvised explosive device attack while conducting combat operations against the enemy in Hit, Iraq, Nov. 25, military officials reported today

http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Nov2005/20051126_3445.html

WASHINGTON, Nov. 26, 2005 – A soldier assigned to the 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), was killed in an improvised explosive device attack while conducting combat operations against the enemy in Hit, Iraq, Nov. 25, military officials reported today.

The soldier's name is being withheld pending notification of next of kin. In other news from Iraq, about 150 Iraqi army soldiers and 400 coalition troops including U.S. soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team attached to the 2nd Marine Division kicked off Operation Tigers this morning in eastern Ramadi. Operation Tigers is the fourth in a series of disruption operations executed by the Iraqi army and coalition forces to set the conditions for a successful Dec. 15 election in the capital city of Iraq's Anbar province, officials said.

The previous operations, which began Nov. 16, were called Panthers, Bruins and Lions. Since they began, the Ramadi operations have resulted in the death or capture of numerous terrorists and the discovery of several weapons caches that included surface-to-air missiles, rocket-propelled grenades, rockets, mortar rounds, artillery rounds, hand grenades, land mines, small arms, small-arms ammunition and IED-making equipment, officials said.

Cordon-and-search operations -- blocking off known terrorist escape routes and searching for weapons and terrorists in the targeted areas -- are incorporated as part of Operation Tigers, officials explained.

U.S. soldiers and Iraqi security forces found a large weapons cache while conducting a joint patrol in Baghdad's North Babil district on the afternoon of Nov. 24, officials said.

Soldiers from 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, and Iraqi army soldiers from 4th Battalion, 5th Brigade, discovered 15 125 mm mortar rounds, 20 heavy-machine gun rounds, six 60 mm mortar rounds, and two boxes of 14.5 mm ammunition. An explosive ordnance disposal team was called to the scene and conducted a controlled detonation of the munitions. in the air war over Iraq, coalition aircraft flew 43 close-air-support missions Nov. 25. These missions included support to Coalition troops, infrastructure protection, reconstruction activities, and operations to deter and disrupt terrorist activities. Coalition aircraft also supported Iraqi and Coalition ground forces operations to create a secure environment for ongoing Transitional National Assembly meetings. In addition, 11 U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft flew missions in support of operations in Iraq. Also, Royal Air Force fighter aircraft performed in a nontraditional ISR role with their electro-optical and infrared sensors.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq and U.S. Central Command Air Forces Forward news releases.)

Military defends vehicle's safety

LAVIII not more prone to rollovers than most other troop carriers, officials say

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20051126/SOLDIER26/TPNational/Canada

By MICHAEL DEN TANDT

Saturday, November 26, 2005 Page A9

With a report from Jane Armstrong in Halifax end new

OTTAWA -- The Canadian military's LAV III armoured vehicle is no more or less prone to rollovers than any other troop carrier in its class, Defence Department officials said yesterday, countering reports the vehicles are unsafe.

On Thursday, a Canadian soldier was killed and three were seriously injured in Afghanistan when their LAV III overturned on a patrol of the paved highway that connects Kandahar with Kabul.

A briefing note to senior army officials in May of 2004 warned that the carriers pose a rollover risk in some situations and recommended that drivers receive additional training and reduce their maximum speeds, an official confirmed yesterday.

The Canadian military owns 651 of the armoured troop carriers, according to a Defence Department website. They have been involved in 10 rollover accidents, three of them lethal, since their introduction in 1999.

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However, defence experts said yesterday that, given the number of them in use and the length of time involved, they are statistically less prone to overturning than the average sport utility vehicle.

"You create a military vehicle made out of armour plate, it requires a large suspension and wheels, you have to have a weapon system on top that requires a lot of weight, and so you're going to have a relatively high centre of gravity," said retired major-general Lewis MacKenzie. "It's certainly not surprising that on inclines or in ditches or whatever, that the vehicles roll on their side or roll over."

According to preliminary accounts, Thursday's accident occurred after a LAV III travelling in a convoy swerved to avoid an oncoming vehicle travelling without headlights, a Defence Department source said. The accident occurred in darkness.

The vehicles are seven metres long by three metres wide and three metres high, weighing nearly 17,000 kilograms. Their weight makes them inherently difficult to control if they swerve into a ditch or onto a soft shoulder, military experts said yesterday.

"If you have one side of the vehicle on hard asphalt and you put the right-hand side onto soft sand, the sand will tend to give away and the vehicle will tend to slide down a bank," retired colonel Howard Marsh, an analyst with the Conference of Defence Associations, told CBC television.

That said, militaries around the world consider the LAV III a state-of-the-art vehicle, Mr. MacKenzie said. "The U.S. Marine Corps bought them years ago for Gulf War 1 and were so pleased with them that the U.S. Army started ordering them," he said.

In an interview with CTV News, the father of Private Braun Scott Woodfield said his son was a "tremendously large-hearted boy" who joined the Forces to help people.

Dan Woodfield, a former member of the Canadian navy, said his son believed that a soldier could have more impact.

"It was his opinion that it is the soldiers, the ground troops, that are actually working with the people, trying to help the people and he wanted to be part of it," Mr. Woodfield said yesterday at his Halifax-area home.

Pte. Woodfield was scheduled to return home on Dec. 10, but he wanted to stay on. "He felt he was doing something for his country and he wanted to carry on doing that."

Mr. Woodfield said he blames no one for the accident.

"These things happen," he said. "The same thing happened with somebody with an ATV last weekend.

"There's no blame . . . because we realize it was an accident."

Thank you so much

It's one thing to be away from home on Thanksgiving; it's quite another to be in another country. (3/2)

http://www.jdnews.com/SiteProcessor.cfm?Template=/GlobalTemplates/Details.cfm&StoryID;=36826&Section;=News


November 25,2005
BY CHRIS MAZZOLINI View stories by reporter
DAILY NEWS STAFF

It's one thing to be away from home on Thanksgiving; it's quite another to be in another country.

Staff Sgt. LeMarcus Staley, a 29-year-old Marine with 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, arrived home from Iraq in September. And while he can't get home to see his family, he wasn't stuck alone this Thanksgiving.

That's because the USO in Jacksonville served turkey dinner to thousands of Marines, sailors and family members Thursday. It's their way of giving the area's warriors a touch of home, a warm meal and a big thank you - with gravy on top.

"It's a good thing that the USO puts these deals on," Staley said. "We helped set up yesterday. Then to come back today and see the smiling faces of Marines and family members was great."

The USO, helped by a host of volunteers, does everything it can to cater to the Marines. When they walk through the door, the first thing they see is tables covered with cakes and cookies, and other Marines lounging on couches, watching football or playing pool.

Officials expected to feed upwards of 2,500 Thursday.

A line of volunteers wearing plastic gloves dished out turkey and all the fixings. Staley chose to pile his plate high.

"Have to have the energy to keep up with these young guys," he joked.

Staley said he still wishes he could be with family, but he's grateful nonetheless to spend Turkey Day stateside.

"It's rough (on deployment)," he said. "They feed us, but it's not the same. Everybody likes to be home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. They are family holidays with the whole spark of togetherness. You're together with your brothers in arms, but you're still not together with your family."

For Marines Artemus Watson, 22, and Anthony Uriz, 18, this is their first Thanksgiving away from home. New Marines who graduated from boot camp Nov. 10, they said they were grateful for the food and the company.

"Free food," said Watson. "I'm up for that."

"It's great," said Uriz. "At least we get some Thanksgiving dinner."

Both the Marines gave the meal excellent reviews.

"Just like home," said Watson.

Marines' Elite Unit Breaks Ground

TAMPA - -- Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Dennis Hejlik is no stranger to tough assignments.

In Iraq a year ago, Hejlik was preparing his troops for an assault on Fallujah, an insurgent stronghold about 40 miles west of Baghdad.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10208653/
By RICHARD LARDNER , The Tampa Tribune
Tampa Bay Online

TAMPA - -- Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Dennis Hejlik is no stranger to tough assignments.

In Iraq a year ago, Hejlik was preparing his troops for an assault on Fallujah, an insurgent stronghold about 40 miles west of Baghdad.

"If we're told to go, … we're going to go in there, and we're going to whack 'em," Hejlik, then deputy commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, told reporters during an impromptu news conference.

That direct, homespun approach to combat will serve him well in his new post.

A self-described "farm kid from Iowa," Hejlik has been picked to lead a new Marine Corps commando unit that will increase the number of elite troops managed by U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base.

For the Marine Corps, this is a major step -- and a controversial one.

Since SoCom was established nearly 20 years ago, the Marine Corps has been the only branch of the armed forces that has not contributed troops to the command.

That separation was due largely to the Corps' culture, which holds that all Marines are elite fighters and no one is better than the other.

"The Marine Corps always viewed itself as a conventional force that could do specialized operations," said Marine Corps Brig. Gen. George Flynn, SoCom's chief of staff and a close friend of Hejlik's. "We did not want to carve out a portion of the Marine Corps that would strictly do special operations."

Now, 2,600 experienced Marines will be pared from the Corps' highly regarded force reconnaissance teams and other units to create the Marine Special Operations Command -- "Marsoc," in military jargon -- that Hejlik will run.

During an interview at SoCom headquarters in Tampa, Hejlik, 58, downplayed the controversy, saying the personnel shift was inevitable given the unconventional threats posed by al-Qaida and other terrorist groups.

"I think there's no doubt that eventually this would have happened -- that you would have seen the Marine Corps become a formal part of" SoCom, he said.

Hejlik, however, doesn't underestimate the significance of the move to generations of Marines bound by more than two centuries of tradition.

"It's an 11," he said.

Pressure From Above

The driving force behind the merger has been Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

After the Sept. 11 attacks, special operations forces steeped in counterterrorism tactics were put on the front lines in Afghanistan. The trend continued when the United States invaded Iraq in 2003.

But SoCom's resources are not infinite. As the stress of multiple deployments began to take its toll on Army Green Berets, Navy SEALs, Air Force combat controllers and specially trained aviators, Rumsfeld began looking for qualified reinforcements.

"I started asking questions, and one of the arguments was the pool was small to draw the special forces from," Rumsfeld said last month during a town hall-style meeting at MacDill.

After learning the Marines were not in the mix, Rumsfeld decided that long-standing position should change.

The Marines "wanted to do what they do, and they did not want that pool of people to be used for that function," Rumsfeld said. "I thought that was maybe fine before but not so good now."

As initial steps, the Marines added liaison officers at SoCom and expanded training initiatives with the command, SoCom officials said.

To test the concept in a real-world setting, a small Marine Corps special operations outfit known as "Detachment One" deployed to Iraq last year.

Rumsfeld, however, kept pushing for a permanent commitment.

Change In Command

The 2,600 Marines will fill out several elements, including a regimental headquarters, two battalions, a support group and a unit devoted to training foreign militaries, a task long handled by the Green Berets.

The bulk of the new command will be based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and the remainder will be housed at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Hejlik said.

Being under the command of a non-Marine component is not new to the Corps.

What makes the SoCom arrangement different is that after a deployment ends, the special operations Marines will not return directly to their Marine units. Rather, they will spend large portions of their careers under SoCom's control.

Hejlik said he envisions a recruiting system similar to the Army's, where young prospects are placed directly into the new command.

The "seed corn," however, for Marsoc will be senior enlisted Marines, many of whom already are schooled in special operations skills such as close-quarters combat, raids, intelligence gathering and hostage rescue, he said.

It's this part of the deal that's especially unsettling for current and former Marines. They expect Marsoc to take the most seasoned troops from existing units, leaving gaps that could take years to fill.

Joe Settelen, president of the 3,700-member Force Recon Association in California, said the Corps will need two new Marines to replace every one taken from force reconnaissance teams to ensure those units retain their edge.

"There is a built-in cost of doing business to grow these Marines," Settelen said. "We hope that is not being overlooked."

Congress last year gave the Marine Corps authority to expand from 175,000 personnel to 178,000.

Settelen, whose organization represents active-duty and retired Marines, said it's critical the Corps also be given the money needed to train and equip these additional troops.

Otherwise "we'll be robbing Peter to pay Paul," he said.

Despite the concerns, Settelen said, his association backs the new command.

"The Marines were not forced into this," he said. "It is absolutely the right thing to do for the nation."

Hejlik acknowledged the staffing challenges but said senior military officials do not want to build Marsoc at the expense of other units.

Toward that end, a portion of the more than 100 Marines who made up Detachment 1 will be folded into his command, and the others will be returned to the broader Marine Corps so their experience can be leveraged by conventional forces, Hejlik said.

It will be six and to nine months before Marsoc is fully functional, said Hejlik, who noted that two previous assignments at SoCom have helped prepare him for his new assignment.

He also can count on Flynn, a fellow Marine, to help him across the bureaucratic hurdles that are sure to emerge.

"This isn't change for change's sake," Hejlik said. "Is change hard? I don't think so. I think it's necessary."

A GATHERING FORCE

The addition of 2,600 Marines to U.S. Special Operations Command continues a growth spurt that began in September 2001 and reflects the command's lead role in the war on terrorism.

2001: 45,655 personnel, $3.8 billion annual budget

2005: 52,846 personnel, $8 billion annual budget (includes wartime supplemental funding)

2010 (projected): 57,500 personnel, budget figure not available

BRIG. GEN. DENNIS HEJLIK

AGE: 58

HOMETOWN: Garner, Iowa

EDUCATION: 1975 graduate of Mankato State University; 1993 graduate of the Naval War College

MILITARY CAREER: Enlisted in Marine Corps in 1968 and was honorably discharged in 1972. In 1975, he returned to the Corps and was commissioned as a second lieutenant.

SIGNIFICANT ASSIGNMENTS: Senior military fellow, Council on Foreign Relations; military secretary to the Marine Corps commandant; Pentagon's principal director for special operations and combating terrorism; chief of staff, U.S. Special Operations Command; director, center for policy, training and readiness, U.S. Special Operations Command; deputy commanding general, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

Marine's Thanksgiving first with family in three years

Sgt. Ronnie Shertel is home for the holidays after missing three Christmases and two Thanksgivings while serving in the Marine Corps. (1/6 Marine)

http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=15632242&BRD;=1091&PAG;=461&dept;_id=425742&rfi;=6


By: Donna Lukiw, Staff Writer 11/24/2005

Sgt. Ronnie Shertel is home for the holidays after missing three Christmases and two Thanksgivings while serving in the Marine Corps.

Nobody can ask for a better gift than having a loved one return home in time for the holidays after fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Pierceys and Shertels are grateful to have their son and brother, Ronnie Shertel, home for Thanksgiving this year after missing three Christmases and two Thanksgivings while serving in the Marine Corps.
"I prayed so much, many times a day for his safe return and everyone on his company," Xiomara Piercey, Sgt. Shertel's mother, said. "I love reading the letters he sent me from these places because he always wrote things that made me laugh. I showed the letter to everybody and anybody that wanted to read them."
Sgt. Shertel, 22, of Bateman Way entered the Marine Corps after he graduated Hillsborough High School in 2001.
Two years later, he was deployed for combat operations in Afghanistan and spent seven months, including Thanksgiving and Christmas, fighting, patrolling the villages and cities and looking for enemy weapons and their caches of supplies.
"Since (he was) very little, he wanted to be in the military and liked to wear fatigue clothes," Ms. Piercey said.
When Sgt. Shertel returned to the United States in May 2004, he was sent to Iraq in March 2005 and returned only a few weeks ago in October.
"It feels great to be home," Sgt. Shertel said. "The transition from Iraq to America was fine."
While in Afghanistan, Sgt. Shertel set up observation posts on top of mountains and tried to prevent the smuggling of weapons from the Pakistan border.
While in Iraq, Sgt. Shertel was chosen to be a squad leader of 11 men in his 2nd Platoon, 3rd Squad and led men through house searches, observational posts and patrols.
Sgt. Shertel has completed his four years in the military and hopes to become a deputy sheriff or a township police officer and eventually be a part of the state police.
He was welcomed home by his two sisters, Tracy Piercey, 16, and Melissa, 15; his father, Michael Shertel of Roselle Park; his mother, Ms. Piercey; and his stepfather, Donald Piercey.
"He has a great sense of humor and personality," Ms. Piercey said. "I hope the war has not changed that on him. He is my shining star."
Sgt. Shertel belonged to the 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment out of Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. He was in the Infantry in the Marine Corps of the ground combat element.
"We are the guns and the feet on the ground," he said.

©PACKETONLINE News Classifieds Entertainment Business - Princeton and Central New Jersey 2005

More than 20 arrested as Operation Lions wraps up

By Joseph Giordono, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Saturday, November 26, 2005

Nearly 500 Iraqi and U.S. soldiers wrapped up Operation Lions on Thanksgiving, finishing the latest in a series of operations on the edges of Ramadi.

To continue reading:

http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article;=33264

Reward offered to help find killer of Marine, brother

JACKSONVILLE - The Onslow County Sheriff's Department is still looking for information to help solve a double homicide that took place in a Hunters Creek subdivision in September.

http://www.newbernsj.com/SiteProcessor.cfm?Template=/GlobalTemplates/Details.cfm&StoryID;=24893&Section;=Local


November 26,2005
BY Rosalee Papandrea View stories by reporter
Freedom ENC

September's double homicide in Hunters Creek still unsolved

JACKSONVILLE - The Onslow County Sheriff's Department is still looking for information to help solve a double homicide that took place in a Hunters Creek subdivision in September.

The hope is that a $10,000 reward now being offered by Gov. Mike Easley's office will encourage someone to come forward with information that will lead to the arrest of the person who killed Marine Staff Sgt. Andre Bullen, 26, and his brother, Nigel Bullen, 23.

"We have our Crime Stoppers reward but when you start saying you're offering $10,000, some people get to where they can remember better," said Onslow County Sheriff Ed Brown.

Authorities started investigating the deaths at about 9:45 p.m. Sept. 22 after Andre Bullen's roommate, who shared the residence at 2026 Hunters Ridge Drive, called to say he found the two brothers dead.

Neighbors reported that they heard gunshots between 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Within 24 hours, the sheriff's department had some leads. On Sept. 23, an autopsy was done. Both brothers died from multiple gunshot wounds, said Dr. John Almeida, the medical examiner who performed the autopsy.

Andre Bullen, who enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1997, was a communications chief of 2nd Transportation Support Battalion, 2nd Force Service Support Group. He had just returned from a tour in Iraq in early September, said Staff Sgt. Angela Mink, spokeswoman for II Marine Expeditionary Force.

Nigel Bullen of New York was visiting his brother, Brown said.

The sheriff's department applied for the reward in early October. Easley agreed to do so this week.

"To preserve law and order the person or persons who committed such an infamous crime must be brought to justice," Easley said in a proclamation announcing the reward.

Payment of the reward up to $10,000 will be made once the information leads to an arrest and conviction, according to the proclamation.

The State Bureau of Investigation, Naval Criminal Investigative Service and Jacksonville police are all assisting the sheriff's department in its investigation.

Two years ago, the N.C. Governor's Office offered $10,000 for information about the deaths of 16-year-old Shannon Clegg and 18-year-old Detrik "Bullet" Howard who were found dead at Santiago's Mobile Home Park on Lake Cole Road on Oct. 31, 1999. The sheriff's department still hasn't made an arrest in that case, Brown said.

Anyone with information about either case should contact the Onslow County Sheriff's Department at 455-3113 or Crime Stoppers at 938-3273. Callers do not have to reveal their identity.

Roselee Papandrea can be reached at [email protected] or at 353-1171, ext. 238.

Rotary Club collecting items for Marines

YOAKUM - One mother's interest in sending her Marine son a taste of home has grown into an effort to make sure a lot more Marines will receive care packages from the States this Christmas season.

http://thevictoriaadvocate.com/front/story/3079523p-3572207c.html


October 6, 2005

BARRY HALVORSON
Victoria Advocate

YOAKUM - One mother's interest in sending her Marine son a taste of home has grown into an effort to make sure a lot more Marines will receive care packages from the States this Christmas season.


Volunteering to bring a touch of home to troops overseas, Yoakum's Carroll Sharp and Barbara Wood fill up boxes with good collected by the Yoakum, Hallettsville, Schulenburg, Shiner and Flatonia Rotary clubs and the Yoakum Pilot Club to go into care packages for U.S. Marines stationed in Iraq. Sharp is a member of both the Yoakum Rotary and Pilot Club. Wood is president of the Yoakum Pilot Club.



The local Rotary Club District, which includes Yoakum, Hallettsville, Schulenburg, Shiner and Flatonia, and the Yoakum Pilot Club have been collecting donations and cash contributions to send food, personal hygiene items and other welcome items to the Marine Parents program, based in Columbia, Mo. On Wednesday, volunteers from the Yoakum Rotary and Pilot clubs were packing up those donations

Once they arrive in Missouri, the goods will be sorted into smaller, personal care packages and sent to military personnel deployed overseas.

"While some are distributed generally, we actually arranged for our donations to all go to the same Marine unit in Iraq," Rotarian Bill Lopez said. "We kind of wanted it to be like we are adopting those particular soldiers."

The items were collected at the law offices of Kvitna, Kvitna and Kvitna in Yoakum. Charles Kvitna Sr. approved the program after one of his employees, Rhonda Santiago, started putting together care packages of her own to send to her son, Marine Sgt. Brian Cornel.

"I started doing the packages for him when he was deployed to Iraq in January," she said. "Mr. Kvitna heard about it and started paying the postage for me. It's encouraging to see so many people want to participate, particularly wanting to send things to Marines. All of our service people deployed overseas deserve all the support that we can give them."

While collecting a wide variety of food and comfort items, Lopez said the Rotary clubs were careful to follow the guidelines established by the military about what is being sent. While all the items will be appreciated, he said, some will be more popular than others.

"They seem to really enjoy receiving beef jerky and unscented Handi Wipes," he said. "Those are things that they can put in the pockets before a mission. When you get out in the field, sometimes it's hard to get food or find a way to clean up."

According to the Marine Parents Web site, the most requested items are snacks and non-perishable food items, undershirts (white, short sleeve), socks, tobacco products, single-use cameras, pre-sweetened flavored soft drink mixes, letters of support and pre-paid military calling cards.

Lopez estimated that the various Rotary and Pilot clubs involved in the project have collected donations and cash contributions of approximately $5,000. The cash is needed to help cover the shipping costs of sending the items to Missouri for personalized packaging.

"I know it seems Christmas is a while off," Lopez said. "But we actually need to get everything sent to Missouri by Oct. 15 to make sure it arrives in time for Christmas."

Santiago said that she's proud of her community and even more proud of her son for the commitment he's made to his country and freedom.

"There have been a lot of disasters happen and a lot of relief efforts started since the war began," she said. "And while it isn't always in the headlines now, our soldiers are still there and still following orders. I think that woman protesting in Crawford (Cindy Sheehan) actually brings disgrace to her son. My son knew what he was doing and re-enlisted in the Marines to make a difference in the world. Her actions and those like her are smearing his honor. We're there and we need to complete the mission and bring freedom to those people or the deaths that have happened will be as meaningless as the protesters claim they are."


Barry Halvorson is a reporter for the Advocate. Contact him at 361-798-3888 or [email protected]

November 25, 2005

Logitech Give-away for Military Families

Logitech Program Designed to Spread Holiday Cheer; Virtual Santa Slated for Live Video Conversation from the North Pole http://www.logitech.com/santa

Logitech Program Designed to Spread Holiday Cheer; Virtual Santa Slated for Live Video Conversation from the North Pole

FREMONT, Calif. — Nov. 1, 2005 — In support of the families of active-duty military personnel, Logitech announced today the Logitech Holiday Cheer Contest, designed to help bring those families together during the holidays, even though they may be separated by thousands of miles. Logitech, the world’s leading manufacturer of webcams, will provide two QuickCam® webcams to each to the five winning entries received from families of select U.S.-based military children – one for the family home and one for the family member stationed away from home. Logitech will arrange a special video call with a virtual Santa for each of those children; the children will also receive a special gift from Santa.

Children aged 17 and under, with parents or guardians on active duty in the United States Army, Air Force, Navy or Marines (including members of Reserves and National Guard serving on active duty) who will be serving outside of North America for more than fifteen days during the month of December 2005 are eligible. They can submit their entry to the Holiday Cheer Contest by writing a letter to Santa explaining what it would mean to them and their military family to be able to use webcams in a live video conversation with remote family members. Details about the program and how to enter can be found at http://www.logitech.com/santa.

“Webcams are a perfect solution for military families who might be separated during the holidays,” said Gina Clark, director of product marketing for Logitech’s video business unit. “We hope that a special visit from Santa will help bring a smile to the faces of the children, and that the webcams will help reconnect families and provide some special holiday moments.”

Logitech webcams, headsets and MSN® Video Conversation will give each family the chance to hold free video calls all year long with family and friends who might be far away. The video conversations with Santa are made possible with a Logitech QuickCam webcam and the Logitech® Video Effects™ software. Logitech Video Effects software, which comes with certain Logitech webcams and works with all popular webcam applications, lets people transform their image into 3D animated characters – avatars – whose expressions mimic user’s facial movements. Santa will be one of the Logitech Video Effects avatars available in time for the holidays, allowing any parent to become a virtual jolly elf and deliver a special message from the North Pole.

2/7 lieutenant comes across hardships during honorable service

MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif.(Nov. 25, 2005) -- Semper Fidelis is more than just a motto to for Marines; it’s a way of life. It’s a commitment Marines all share to the country, to the Corps and to each other.

http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/7C40A4C29106B1A7852570C70077BC25?opendocument


Submitted by:
MCAGCC
Story by:
Computed Name: Pfc. Michael S. Cifuentes
Story Identification #:
20051128164749

MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif.(Nov. 25, 2005) -- Semper Fidelis is more than just a motto to for Marines; it’s a way of life. It’s a commitment Marines all share to the country, to the Corps and to each other.

There are Marines on and off the battlefield who practice this motto in ways which could classify them as extraordinary Marines. The honor and faithfulness they portray to their duty as not just a Marine, but a United States service member, distinguishes themselves as heroic, a leader or legend. The motto leads to creations of stories of unsung heroes, more so, Marines who live by the honorable words of Semper Fidelis.

First Lt. Erasmo Valles, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment’s family readiness officer and officer-in-charge of the battalion’s Remain Behind Element, joined forces with the Marine Corps in 1994. The Hobbs, N.M., native was 18 years old and a graduate of Hobbs High School.
His decision to enlist in the Corps simply came from what he and his peers saw on television and in movies.

“I was a big John Wayne fan,” said Valles. “The movies I loved to watch during my high school times were Marine Corps movies and war movies. The Marine Corps really stuck out to me, so I knew it was a path that I wanted to take. I gave it some thought and I believed infantry would be best fitting for me. I didn’t know that much about it, but I knew the Marine Corps’ infantry was the elite fighting force.”

Upon the end of his training, Valles was assigned with Marine Corps Security Forces. He was stationed in Washington state, and tasked with guarding special weapons for the Navy. Aside from standing post, he learned a lot about security forces. Their training was more in-depth of interior guard and a lot of close quarters training, said Valles.

In 1996, Valles was assigned to Weapons Platoon, Fox Company, 2/7 as a lance corporal.

“This, by far, was one of the best experiences in my life,” said Valles. “My unit already had a good reputation as gun crewmen. Even when it was the worst of times, it was the best of times because we had this bond that was unlike any other bond I’ve had. And where else could you find a job where you’d play with toys like mortar weapons and machine guns. As a young man, it was an excitement to send rounds down range and blow things up.”

As his four years of active duty service came to an end, his interest in continuing his education grew. Valles wanted to extend his education so he enrolled in to New Mexico Junior College in 1998.

During his time at home and working on his degree in criminal justice, he worked part-time in a detention facility.

“At that point I was looking into law enforcement,” said Valles. “I was also minoring in sociology because I wanted to learn more about why people do what they do.”

Valles met his wife during this time, who also worked in the detention facility. They married in 2000.

After earning his college degree, it was his goal to return to the Marine Corps but this time as an officer because Valles believed he could be a good leader.

“When I put these pins on, in reality, I work for the people below me,” said Valles as he held the silver bars that were pinned to his collar. “That is why we are called officers of Marines – not Marine officers. The assets of the Marine Corps are the young Marines. The officers are the ones who need to represent and lead them.”

Valles went to The Basic School and was commissioned a second lieutenant in December 2003. In January 2004, he met up with 2/7 again, but this time as platoon commander for 2nd Platoon, Echo Company. He deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom for his first combat deployment the following month.

“The company was based out of a firm base in [the city of Hit, Iraq],” said Valles. “We were tasked with patrolling the streets of the city. After seeing the destruction the war caused and the terror the citizens lived with, we knew in the back of our minds ‘This is the real thing. What we trained for will now pay off.’ The Marines did an excellent job with no complaint throughout the deployment.”

The question “should we be here?” came across Valles’ mind during the deployment, he said.

“During a patrolling operation we were stopped by an Iraqi civilian and his children," said Valles. "The man told us he knew of a large weapons cache near his house. We searched the area he pointed us to and found a large amount of explosives and bombs. We set a perimeter around the location and cordoned off the streets. His children, who both seemed to be nine or ten years old, stayed with the interpreter and I, and were asking us questions of what we were doing.

“They were very curious of who we were and why we were in their back yard. I asked the interpreter to answer all the boy’s questions and tell them we were here to help them. Just then, the explosive ordinance disposal team set off the explosives and bombs, which made a tremendously loud blast. The two children jumped and hugged on to the interpreter. The interpreter calmed them down and told them that they set off the explosives on purpose. We assured them that everything was under control and there was no need to be afraid.”

“At that point, my question was answered,” continued Valles. “The children were living with bombs and terrorists in their back yard. They were afraid to leave their father’s side until we showed up. They cannot play because they fear for their lives. I turned to the Marines of my platoon as the two children were still clinging to the interpreter. I said ‘Marines, look at these kids. This is their back yard. This is what they live with. I wouldn’t want my children to live like that. This is why we are here.’ I remembered that day as the day two boys couldn’t play in their back yard.”

On March 31, Valles and his unit were conducting convoy operations in the city. They were traveling to different points of the city to set up observation posts. The humvee he was traveling in led the convoy. They made a turn onto a road and, uknowingly, passed over an anti-tank mine that exploded underneath their vehicle.

The explosion ejected the Marines from the vehicle, but pushed the engine block through the dash and onto his lap.

Night turned into day, said Valles. The explosion painted the sky beige and nothing could be seen. He forced his body out of the vehicle but his legs remained inside trapped between the passenger seat and engine block. As Marines and corpsmen rushed to his aid, his body hung out of the vehicle door while he tried to free his legs.

“During that time, as I laid outside the vehicle, everything became quiet,” said Valles. “I began to think of my family; my wife and my two boys. I felt a celestial feeling that calmed me and I was at peace. The Marines and corpsmen came to my aid, and saved my life.”

Valles was evacuated from the scene to a medical facility in Baghdad and was later transferred to another medical facility in Germany.

Valles was sent to Bethesda Medical Hospital in Maryland after undergoing surgery in Germany.

He was then transferred to Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego where he spent three weeks and moved to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, Calif. After being in and out of hospitals, Valles underwent 22 surgeries on his legs.

From July to January 2005, Valles spent his days trying to recover at home. He fought infection in his legs and was on antibiotics. Valles was hooked up to antibiotics intravenously four times a day for one hour – fighting to keep his legs.

“My wife was the best support I had,” said Valles. “It was really hard for my family and I, and we all shared these times together. Whenever I felt down or like giving up, I just looked at my newborn son, [Lorenzo Joseph], who was born when I was in Kuwait, and my sanity came back.”

“Everyone in my family pitched in for me,” said Valles. “Their lifestyles changed for me. There was nothing more I could ask for. Without question or hesitation my older son, [Ty Allen], took on tasks that I would normally do. He became the man of the house. My whole family really pulled close together and not only supported me, but also supported one another. This is what kept me going everyday. This is why I knew, no matter what, everything was going to be OK.”

In January, Valles’ left leg was medically amputated. He was sent to Walter Reed Amputee Clinic following the amputation where he spent three months, with his wife and kids living in the area.

“Although it was a terrible time for me, I was met by a lot of positive people who were in good spirits,” said Valles. “Throughout my time there, the challenge to walk was very motivating.”

After Valles returned to the Combat Center, his battalion was preparing to deploy. His new mission was to be the family readiness officer and the OIC of the RBE.

“As the family readiness officer and being a part of the RBE, it is our duty to show the same support to the Marines in Iraq as I received,” said Valles. “We act as a liaison between the command in Iraq to the families. It’s a very important responsibility and is vital to the morale of the Marines, both here and there, and their families.”

“I’ve known [Valles] since he’s been back with this battalion after his final surgery,” said 1st Lt. Michael L. Bond, platoon commander with 2/7’s RBE and a Gulf Port, Miss., native. "He's
done by far an outstanding job as the family readiness officer. He knows how life is out there [in Iraq], he knows how life here is being injured, and he uses that knowledge to the advantage of his Marines. He knows the questions and thoughts of individuals and it helps them through their times and struggles.”

At home, Valles spends as much time as possible with his family, he said. Every chance he gets to be with them he takes. He goes home for lunch and on his days off, he travels around Southern California with them.

“My future can go either way,” said Valles. “My injury can only take me so far. But, there’s a reason why I am still here and why God has placed me with these Marines.

“Throughout this experience, my family was most important to me. My wife had to sacrifice furthering her education. My oldest son changed schools three times. There are no words to explain the hardships we went through with each other. They just kept me going. They are the reason why I am still here today. Now I pray for the men and women out there today and only hope they don’t suffer the same.”

Ohio, Native Living Dream, Supporting Marines from 30,000 Feet

AL ASAD, Iraq - Chasing down a dream can lead people to the far corners of Earth, or into the depths of their soul. Capt. Brian Rolf, a Defiance, Ohio, native, fulfilled his dream at 30,000 feet.

http://www.military.com/features/0,15240,81337,00.html

Marine Corps News | Micah Snead | November 25, 2005
AL ASAD, Iraq - Chasing down a dream can lead people to the far corners of Earth, or into the depths of their soul. Capt. Brian Rolf, a Defiance, Ohio, native, fulfilled his dream at 30,000 feet.

Rolf, a 29-year-old pilot with Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 332, deployed to Al Asad, Iraq, in August. The Moonlighters of VMFA(AW)-332, based at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C., are providing close-air support for II Marine Expeditionary Force operations in the Al Anbar province.

Rolf’s path to the cockpit of an F/A-18 Hornet began at a young age.

“I think I was about 7 when someone gave me a military calendar that had photos of jets,” Rolf said. “That did it for me. Other kids wanted to be cops or firemen, I wanted to be a pilot.”

Rolf’s parents were soon informed of their son’s early career plan.

“Brian came to us and said ‘I am going to be a fighter pilot when I grow up,’” Rolf’s father, Eric Rolf, said. “His mother Peggy and I more or less said ‘that’s great’ and did not give it a great deal of thought.”

Their son was determined to make his dream a reality and took one step closer to the skies when he enrolled at Ohio State University and participated in the school’s Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps program before setting his sights on a Marine Corps pilot contract.

“Even at that time, it was still a dream of mine,” Rolf said. “I knew no matter what, I wanted to try and do it. The Marine Corps offered the best opportunity for me, so I went after it.”

And just like that, Rolf graduated Ohio State with a degree in political science and a ticket to The Basic School, a six-month school for all Marine officers, after spending two summers at Officer Candidate School. From there, Rolf would endure a series of flight training before being assigned to the Moonlighters, his first Fleet Marine Force squadron.

“Flying that Hornet the first time after flight school was something I’ll never forget,” Rolf said. “I had finally done it. It was like everything I went through in my life was just a lead-in to that one thing.”

Since joining the Moonlighters in 2002, Rolf’s time with the squadron has been full of new personal highlights.

“Landing on an aircraft carrier at night for the first time and crosstraining with Japanese F-15 pilots have been two things that really stand out,” Rolf said.

Rolf has traveled the globe with the Moonlighters, from Beaufort to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., Japan, Thailand and Korea. Rolf said each training detachment has helped prepare him for the Moonlighters’ current assignment in Iraq.

“Out here, you use everything you’ve been trained for against insurgents or Al Qaeda in Iraq,” Rolf said. “We’re directly supporting Marines on the ground, but engaging the enemy from the sky. It’s great to bring everything together for a mission like this.”

Rolf expects to exceed 100 combat missions before the Moonlighters return to Beaufort. His pride in living his dream is second only to the pride of supporting the Marine Corps mission in Iraq.

“It truly makes you feel like you’re a part of history,” Rolf said. “Flying missions in the Al Anbar province during these trying times of constant battle has been challenging. But, the Marine Corps and all our coalition forces continue to fight the good fight.”

Rolf’s parents are equally proud, not only of their son, but of all the U.S. fighting forces in Iraq, Eric said.

“Our pride in Brian flying the Hornet, as a parent, is a wonderful feeling,” Eric said. “The mission of his squadron and II MEF in Iraq fighting terrorism is truly the greatest sense of pride we have as parents. It is an extremely tough mission and the sense of pride we have for the ground troops and the Moonlighters is a feeling that makes one realize why the United States is such a great place to live.”

While Rolf is on the ground, he serves as the squadron’s Aircrew Life Support System division head. Marine Corps pilots are unique because they serve collateral billets in the squadron. Preparing for and executing flight operations is only half the job. Rolf oversees Marines who work in the squadron’s flight equipment and seat shop section.

“It is an honor to be able to lead Marines,” Rolf said. “There is a fine line between the Jobs we do in the skies and what we do on the ground. During a flight mission, it’s very one-on-one with whoever you are working with. As a division head, there are many different tasks, missions and logistics to deal with. We really learn a lot from our enlisted Marines and staff noncommissioned officers. Working with them keeps us more in touch with what’s going on in the squadron and really helps add to the family atmosphere.”

The family atmosphere in the squadron, and the support from Rolf’s family back home have made this deployment much easier, Rolf said.

“My parents have been unbelievably supportive,” Rolf said. “They keep me in touch with everything going on back home and my dad sends me Ohio State football games to watch. I couldn’t be happier with all the support I’ve had from friends and family.”

Rolf’s wife of three years, Julie, has also tried to ease the difficulties of being away from home, despite her own challenges back in the states.

“She is pregnant with twins, dealing with all of that with little support from me and continuing to put me first,” Rolf said. “She is one tough cookie, definitely stronger than I am, dealing with all of this. She is truly a remarkable military wife. Sometimes I don’t know how she does it.”

After years of focus and self-discipline, Rolf can now enjoy his position and look toward the future. Devotion to his dream, and the pride he takes in what is just a Job to some, have been the keys to his success, Eric said.

“Brian accomplished (all of this) on his own initiative and we very proud of (him) being a member of the Marine Corps, the finest combat group in the world,” Eric said. “Brian followed his dream, he has experienced things most of us just read about.”

While Rolf looks toward his future as an aviator, his focus never strays from his current mission.

“It is never far from your mind that we’re helping American people every day,” Rolf said. “By bringing the fight to the enemy, we know that we’re keeping Americans from having to fight on our own soil.”

What started as a dream has turned into a daily mission. Rolf’s dream and his pursuit of it are two examples of the American way, according to Eric.

“As a father, I would suggest that any young American should follow their dream,” Eric said. “To dream and have the freedom to pursue that dream, truly defines this great country.”

GIs feast on turkey and gratitude

It was the perfect way to thank 300 military men and women on a day that celebrates family and freedom.

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/metro/stories/MYSA112505.1B.valerothanksgiving.17e09e84.html

Web Posted: 11/25/2005 12:00 AM CST

Vincent T. Davis
Express-News Staff Writer

It was the perfect way to thank 300 military men and women on a day that celebrates family and freedom.

Volunteers from Valero Energy Corp. served the soldiers, airmen and Marines a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings and a helping of gratitude Thursday in the cafeteria at the company's Northwest Side campus.

The troops sat in awe as 100 volunteers carried trays of food and beverages to them, while images of the Atlanta Falcons battling the Detroit Lions flashed on four wide screens.

Clad in dress green uniforms, battle fatigues and civilian clothes, they talked with volunteers as the Valero choir serenaded them with upbeat music.

For four hours, training on drill pads, marching and studying came to a halt. For the first time in weeks, they were transported to a place that felt like home.

"We felt it was our turn to serve them for serving us in other parts of the world," said Ray Hernandez, one of the dinner coordinators. "We felt as volunteers we needed to give something back."

Hernandez, Rebecca Castillo and several staff members planned the dinner in August after talking to several employees whose spouses are in the military about their service.

Castillo said the way the troops served the country was the way Valero needed to serve them and "thank them, and not just with a card."

Volunteers provided homemade desserts to go along with the massive array of food.

The crew began preparations Wednesday night. They made 600 rolls, 140 pounds of turkey, 100 pounds of mashed potatoes, 100 pounds of sweet potatoes, 100 pounds of dressing, 60 pounds of green beans and 10 gallons of gravy.

Sgt. 1st Class Wendell Mullen presented Valero representatives with a plaque.

"When a person opens up their home or establishment for soldiers, it means a lot, they appreciate it," said Mullen, drill sergeant manager for the 32nd Medical Brigade. "A lot of these soldiers will be going to Iraq or Afghanistan. No one really understands what they are going through."

Behind Mullen, Pfc. Dustin Villalobos, 19, and several other Marines finished off their second helpings. They agreed that though family and friends were far away, it was fine because they were among kindred spirits who spoke the same language.

Airman Christian Gallagher, 18, from Miami, sat with fellow trainees, all from Southern states. They commented on their hosts' hospitality.

"It's weird being away from home," Gallagher said. "But everybody in the military is like my family."

Airman Edwin Bejarano, 18, said it felt like home.

"It gets my mind off of things," Bejarano said. "It makes you feel like someone is supporting you."

After the feast, the volunteers gave the troops a tour of the manicured lawns dotted with mesquite trees and shrubs.

Pfc. Shaurn Li, 32, said the high point was when their table adopted volunteers Steve and Dixie Long as honorary parents.

. "It's important for this country to be in step as they defend our country and its value," Steve Long said. " It's good to see America is in good hands with their service."

Volunteers passed out 330 gift bags to the troops before they boarded three buses for their rides back to their posts.

"They have that OK-I'm-ready-for-a-nap look," said Sylvia Martinez, an administrative assistant and Air Force reservist.

Though his Detroit team was being crushed at halftime, Pfc. Kevin Chambers, 18, said he'd never give up on them, as he'd never give up on fellow soldiers.

"We have to take care of each other always," he said. "All we have is each other."

[email protected]

Heroes deserve our thanks

“So, what did you do in school today?”

http://www.centredaily.com/mld/centredaily/news/opinion/13251883.htm

MICHELLE MALKIN

“So, what did you do in school today?”

It’s the question I greet my daughter with every afternoon after she returns home from kindergarten. Usually, she recycles three jaded answers delivered with 5-going-on-16-year-old aplomb: “I don’t remember,” “I did the monkey bars,” and “I drank chocolate milk.”

This week was different. She came home bubbling about a new holiday art project: the Thankful Tree. “You trace your hands and cut them out and then you write what you’re thankful for on the hands,” my enthused daughter explained, “and then you paste them onto a paper tree!” She eagerly recited her thankful list from memory: “Friends, food, my fish, Rainbow; and my little brother.” (Yes, in that order.)

This morning before leaving for school, my daughter decided we should make our own Thankful Tree at home and left me this question to ponder: “What are you thankful for, Mommy?”

Staring at my construction-paper hand, here’s what I have written in the palm: our troops. And in the five fingers, I’ve written these names of heroes who we’ll honor this Thanksgiving:

■ Tyrone L. Chisholm, 27, of Savannah, Ga. An Army sergeant and father of two, Chisholm was killed Nov. 11 when a string of roadside bombs exploded near his Abrams tank in Tall Afar, Iraq, along the Syrian border. He was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Ft. Carson, Colo. His aunt, Delores Baron, said: “He was really excited about the Army. He was proud of what he was doing, and he died doing what he wanted to do: serve his country.”

■ Roger W. Deeds, 24, of Biloxi, Miss. A lance corporal in the Marine Corps and father of two, Deeds was among five Marines killed last week during Operation Steel Curtain in Ubaydi, Iraq, a terrorist stronghold also near the Syrian border. His mother, Joyce, said: “The Marine motto is ‘Semper Fi — always faithful.’ They have a saying that no one is left behind. And that’s how my son died.  . . . He was faithful to God, country and family.”

■ James S. Ochsner, 36, of Waukegan, Ill. An Army sergeant 1st class, Ochsner was killed last week when an improvised explosive device detonated near his armored Humvee during a supply distribution mission in Orgun, Afghanistan, near the Pakistani border. “He was going out to distribute some goods to the local people,” Ochsner’s father, Bob Ochsner of Beach Park, Ill., told the Chicago Sun-Times. “He loved the Afghan people; he really enjoyed them,” Bob Ochsner said of his son.

■ Donald E. Fisher II, 21, of Avon, Mass. An Army corporal from a large military family, he was one of two soldiers killed Nov. 11 when their convoy vehicle was involved in an accident in the northern city of Kirkuk, Iraq. “Even as a young child growing up in Brockton, patriotism surged through Donald E. Fisher II,” wrote the Boston Globe. “ ‘We’re talking about a kid who, as a kid, cried because someone stole the flag off our flagpole,’ Donald Fisher of Tacoma, Wash., said of his son.”

■ James E. Estep, 26, of Leesburg, Fla. An Army staff sergeant and father of three, he was among four soldiers killed when an improvised explosive device detonated last week near their Humvee in Taji, Iraq, north of Baghdad. “He loved the military,” said his brother, Michael. “He loved doing his job.” His sister, Becky Buskill, added: “He died for a cause he believed in.”

Can we bow our heads in union for one day and give thanks for our men and women who choose to fight, refuse to lose, and believe in their mission? Can we do it without distorting their legacies and pandering to anti-American elites worldwide and using their deaths to embarrass and undermine our commander in chief?

This is my prayer and the start of our new family tradition. In small gestures, deep-rooted gratitude grows.

©2005 Creators Syndicate Inc.

Knox Marine worries about sick wife

'Duty' made Gaskin join Corps, but he didn't count on cancer (2/6 family)

http://www.knoxnews.com/kns/278th_news/article/0,2555,KNS_19816_4265170,00.html

By KEVIN SITES, Yahoo! News
November 25, 2005

AL ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq - During the month of November, members of the U.S. Marine Corps are celebrating their 230th birthday. And regardless of where they are at the moment, this is how they celebrate: with a cake.

There are about 150 Marines in Golf Company, of the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, based on the outskirts of Falllujah in al Anbar Province.

They live in a primitive satellite outpost they call a "firm base." This one is a battered five-story building that used to be a dormitory for a nearby technical college.

The Marines have made it their own with large wire barricades filled with rocks and dirt surrounding the perimeter and green sandbags piled high at the entrance and covering all the windows.

Everyone here knows how necessary this kind of protection is. In late October, two Marines were killed by an insurgent mortar that somehow cleared the barriers and landed in the courtyard where they were.

"I don't trust any of the Iraqis," says Pvt. Carl Gaskin, 29, of Knoxville.

"I joined the Marines after seeing the Nick Berg execution," Gaskin says of the U.S. contractor who was beheaded in Iraq in 2004. "I saw it on the Internet and it just infuriated me. I thought the least I can do is give four years of my life."

Gaskin was a brick mason before he signed up a year ago. He says he didn't even tell his wife first. Though she was upset, he still feels he did the right thing.

"It was my duty," he says, "even beyond my family. God, country, family - in that order."

But now he's learned his wife has melanoma. Six years earlier, he witnessed her go through another bout with cancer.

"I try not to think about my personal problems too much here. I can't think about it too much, otherwise I'll get people killed," Gaskin says.

In one area of the building is the living room/chow hall. It's packed with cheap, stained couches. Here the Marines get their one hot meal a day.

The building has no running water. If the Marines do want to shower, they use the cold-water stalls outside. But they're available only 8 p.m.-6 a.m. And with the weather cold at night, most choose to clean themselves with baby wipes until they can get to a base with hot water, which is only once a month.

One luxury item does exist on the base: a large plasma screen TV connected to a satellite dish. It's a welcome escape from the hours spent patrolling the streets.

But for some, doing the work is the only way to forget.

"I think the hardest part for me," Gaskin says, "is that I can't be there for her. I've always been there for my wife."

Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.

Marine remembered as foster care success story

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -- A 21-year-old Marine mostly raised in foster care was remembered by his former caseworker as a positive child despite some hard times and shuffling around different families. (2/1)

http://www.kristv.com/Global/story.asp?S=4163655&nav;=Bsmh

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -- A 21-year-old Marine mostly raised in foster care was remembered by his former caseworker as a positive child despite some hard times and shuffling around different families.

Cpl. John M. Longoria was serving his second tour of duty in Iraq when he was killed Nov. 14 in New Ubaydi, Iraq, during Operation Steel Curtain, military officials said. Funeral services were Wednesday in Nixon.

His former Child Protective Services caseworker, Linda Garcia, considers Longoria one her most memorable success stories during her years as a caseworker.

"He was always very happy," Garcia said in Thursday's online editions of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. "He always had a smile on his face, even through hard times."

Longoria lived with foster families growing up and was adopted by a family in Nixon when he was a teenager. Garcia said he had two biological brothers and a sister that he loved very much.

Born in Corpus Christi, Longoria attended Menger Elementary School and Nixon-Smiley High School, where he was a football player.

He had thought of becoming a sniper with the Marines, said Texas A and M University-Kingsville freshman Kayla Elkins, who attended high school with Longoria.

"He loved it," Elkins said. "He came back from his first tour of duty in Iraq and told everybody how much he loved being in the military."

Longoria is survived by his foster parents, Joseph and Pauline Villanueva; his fiancee, Cynthia Croft; four sisters and six brothers.

He was assigned to Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, I Marine Expeditionary Force from Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

U.S. troops overseas make time for holiday

QAIM, Iraq - Cpl. Brian Zwart set out his turkey, stuffing, corn and mashed potatoes on a makeshift picnic table - the hood of a Humvee - before going out to patrol the Syrian border Thursday to watch for foreign militants sneaking in to join Iraq's insurgency.

http://www.buffalonews.com/editorial/20051125/1062618.asp

QAIM, Iraq - Cpl. Brian Zwart set out his turkey, stuffing, corn and mashed potatoes on a makeshift picnic table - the hood of a Humvee - before going out to patrol the Syrian border Thursday to watch for foreign militants sneaking in to join Iraq's insurgency.

"Serving my country is important but losing friends makes me more thankful for what I have and for what I used to take for granted," the 20-year-old Marine from Fruitport, Mich., said as American fighting men and women celebrated a third Thanksgiving in Iraq.

U.S. troops around the world marked the holiday in a variety of ways, serving a traditional turkey meal to Serb schoolchildren in Kosovo, dining on food ladled out by senior officers in Afghanistan and staging a parade of makeshift floats in Kyrgyzstan.

For some of the U.S. troops, Thanksgiving brought a surprise call from President Bush.

Bush called 10 members of the U.S. military services, speaking with troops serving in the Coast Guard, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Army early Thursday.

"He thanked all of them on behalf of the American people for their service," said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino. "He said all of them were patriots. He's very proud of them and thankful for them."

The White House did not release the names of those the president called this year. The Defense Department chose the names.

Thanksgiving dinner at the Bush ranch was a family affair. Bush planned to sit down for dinner with first lady Laura Bush; twin daughters Jenna and Barbara, who turn 24 today; his parents, ex-President George H.W. Bush and wife Barbara; and the first lady's mother, Jenna Welch.

Jenna Bush brought along boyfriend Henry Hager.

Meanwhile, a traditional Iraqi meal of salmon, lentils and rice with almonds was on the menu for more than 100 anti-war protesters who spent Thanksgiving in a grassy lot about a mile from the Bush ranch.

For many of the 140,000 U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines in Iraq, Thanksgiving Day was another work day - albeit with special holiday meals. Troops in Baghdad and elsewhere turned out for three-mile fun runs called "Turkey Trots" before resuming patrols and other duties.

In the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, a small choir sang religious songs before soldiers dined at decorated tables.

At Forward Operating Base Speicher north of the capital, country singer Aaron Tippin performed for soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division.

Senior officers served the holiday meal at Bagram, the main U.S. base in Afghanistan. Soldiers, some with their weapons over their shoulders, lined up for turkey and the trimmings, pumpkin and custard pies and fresh fruit.

At Manas Air Base in Kyrgyz-
stan, where 1,200 U.S. military personnel and 50 Spanish soldiers support refueling and cargo missions, troops held a parade of vehicles decorated as a turkey, a house and a satellite dish.

Lt. Col. Clinton Moyer, a National Guardsman from Clearwater, Kan., used his holiday to give young ethnic Serbs a Thanksgiving meal in the village of Vrbovac in a province with deep rifts between Serbs and dominant ethnic Albanian Muslims.


Marine finds family in fellow Lava Dogs, leadership skills

MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii (Nov. 25, 2005) -- Like a contestant on Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice,” 17-year-old Florencio Bermudez sat across the kitchen table from his parents in the El Paso, Texas, home he grew up in and tried to make a power play deal that would alter his life forever. (1/3)


http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/2079FE3A5FF919FC852570C4006F8472?opendocument

Submitted by:
MCB Hawaii
Story by:
Computed Name: Sgt. Joe Lindsay
Story Identification #:
2005112515184

MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii (Nov. 25, 2005) -- Like a contestant on Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice,” 17-year-old Florencio Bermudez sat across the kitchen table from his parents in the El Paso, Texas, home he grew up in and tried to make a power play deal that would alter his life forever.

All he needed was their signature, and he would be headed off to Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, to report for basic training and realize his childhood dream of becoming a U.S. Marine. The year was 1998, and Bermudez was about to graduate from high school a year ahead of his peers.

“They were very reluctant to sign, to say the least,” recalled Bermudez. “They basically said, ‘No.’”

It was then that Bermudez laid his cards on the table.

“I told them that the day I turned 18, I was just going to do it anyway, and that I might as well get a jump on it,” commented Bermudez. “I wasn’t bluffing, and I think they sensed the logic behind that argument, so they both agreed to sign.”

Two weeks after graduating high school, Bermudez found himself on the “yellow footprints” of MCRD San Diego.

“I was a skinny, shy kid, and had no leadership capabilities whatsoever,” said Bermudez as he recalled the first few months of his Marine Corps career. “Even after boot camp and SOI (school of infantry), I remember being scared to get to the fleet because of all the stories I’d heard about hazing in the infantry.”

Those stories turned out to be unfounded, and Bermudez said he compares them to the urban legends he’d heard growing up in El Paso.

“You know, like the stories about that kid eating those ‘Pop Rocks’ candies and then drinking a soda and his stomach exploded,” said Bermudez. “The stories turned out to be about as true as that. I’ve never seen such a group of professionals as in the infantry, and seeing the NCOs above me and how hard they worked made me want to be like them someday.”

Bermudez first arrived at MCB Hawaii in the winter of 1998 when he received orders to serve as a rifleman with 1/3. Now, seven years later, he finds himself back with the Lava Dogs, this time as a squad leader for 3rd Platoon, Bravo Company.

“I did my whole first enlistment with 1/3,” said Bermudez. “They turned me from a boy into a man. Then, after I reenlisted, I received orders to do a tour as the range and management chief here on K-Bay, which I held for the past three years. I always hoped I would one day get the chance to return to the grunts (infantry), though. Now, I’m getting my chance. The Lava Dogs are like my family. I’ll be a Lava Dog for life.”

If the Lava Dogs are his family, then it could be said that Bermudez is a big brother of sorts to the younger Marines in his company.

“Myself and the younger Marines in Bravo really look up to Sergeant Bermudez,” said Pfc. Alden Luchtefeld, a rifleman from Vincennes, Ind. “He’s always there for his Marines.”

“He’s the type of sergeant that we all aspire to be someday,” added Lance Cpl. Joshua Jones, a 1/3 squad automatic weapons gunner from Livingston, Ill.

Pfc. Andre Davis, a 1/3 rifleman from the Manhattan borough of New York City, spoke of Bermudez in a similar vein.

“He’s one of the best NCOs I’ve ever seen,” said Davis. “He treats us firm, but fair. You can tell he’s been in our shoes before. He doesn’t play mind games with us. If it’s time to relax for a minute, he lets us relax. If it’s time to work, we work hard. When we need to get disciplined, we get disciplined. He gives us respect, and he gets respect back. We all look to him for leadership in Bravo Company, and Sergeant Bermudez delivers. You can really tell he puts his Marines’ needs before his own. All of us are going to follow him into battle with no reservations whatsoever.”

One Marine who Bermudez said he wished he could lead into battle is his younger brother, Alex, a lance corporal currently serving in Iraq as a radio operator with Regimental Combat Team 2, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).

“My little brother is on the front lines in Iraq right now, and I’m about to deploy Afghanistan,” said Bermudez. “It’s a little hard on my folks, ‘cause we’re both going to be in combat at the same time, but they are proud of us for serving our country. Sometimes I wish we were stationed together, so I could look out for him, but I know he’s a tough kid, and he has the best training in the world behind him — just like all Marines.”

Lance Cpl. Bermudez joined the Marines in 2003, shortly after his 18th birthday.

“It made me proud that he followed in my footsteps,” said the elder Bermudez. “He’s turned into an outstanding Marine.”

Being an outstanding Marine seems to run in the Bermudez family, as 1st Sgt. Stephen Smith, first sergeant, Bravo Company, 1/3, pointed out that Bermudez is a “go to” Marine.

“As a company first sergeant, it is extremely important that I have Marine NCOs that I can count on,” said Smith, a native of Ontario, Calif. “Sergeant Bermudez is one of those Marines. The work he does, bringing along our younger Marines, is vital. He works with the Marines extensively and ensures they are taken care of in every way. NCOs are the backbone of the Marine Corps. Sergeant Bermudez exemplifies that.”

Bermudez, who’s current contract was due to end in July 2006, recently extended so that he could be with Marines from his squad during their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, putting his job plans with the Drug Enforcement Agency on hold.

“Right now I’m in the process of applying to the DEA,” said Bermudez, “but I just didn’t feel right about getting out just before a combat deployment. If that affects my application, then so be it. I’m a Marine first and foremost.”

If indeed Bermudez’s application is affected by the deployment, he said he would have no regrets.

“I’ve been stationed in Hawaii for my entire Marine Corps career,” said Bermudez. “I met my wife, Misty, a local girl from Waianae, here. We now have two beautiful daughters, Isela, 3, and Ivette, 1 — both of whom were born at Tripler. Plus, this is the home base of 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, the greatest battalion in the Marine Corps. I love it here, but the pull of home is strong for me, too. After we take care of business in Afghanistan, it’s time for me to go back to Texas. It’s time to go home.”

Despite plans to leave active duty, Bermudez said he was looking at joining the Marine Corps Reserves.

“I know that once you’re a Marine, you’re always a Marine, but that doesn’t mean I’m willing to totally walk away,” said Bermudez, who also mentioned that he would apply to be a border patrol agent should the DEA job fall through.

Bermudez is also currently working on a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice through Chaminade University in Honolulu and plans to complete his degree at the University of Texas at El Paso.

“No matter what education I get or what career path I end up in, the main thing is — I just want to continue to serve my country,” explained Bermudez. “There’s just something about being a Marine. It’s hard to define, but ask any Marine, and they’ll know exactly what I mean.”

The Struggle to Gauge a War's Psychological Cost

Grief, he told them, can make us forget how random war is, how much we have done to protect those we are fighting with.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/26/health/26psych.html?ei=5094&en;=7bbf84e7c46adb8d&hp;=&ex;=1132981200&adxnnl;=0&partner;=homepage&adxnnlx;=1132992291-g0cTHVF6wZiswVAtfwsjCw&pagewanted;=print

By BENEDICT CAREY
Published: November 26, 2005


Erol Reyal for The New York Times

WOUNDS INSIDE
Stress on the Front Lines

Abbie Pickett, of the Wisconsin National Guard, served as a medic. Stationed near Tikrit, Iraq, she treated heavy combat casualties in October 2003.

Capt. William Nash, a Navy psychiatrist, sat on an overturned box of ready-made meals for the troops. He was in Iraq to try to short-circuit combat stress on the spot, before it became disabling, as part of the military's most determined effort yet to bring therapy to the front lines.

His clients, about a dozen young men desperate for help after weeks of living and fighting in Falluja, sat opposite him and told their stories.

One had been spattered with his best friend's blood and blamed himself for the death.

Another was also filled with guilt. He had hesitated while scouting an alley and had seen the man in front of him shot to death.

"They were so young," Captain Nash recalled.

At first, when they talked, he simply listened. Then he did his job, telling them that soldiers always blame themselves when someone is killed, in any war, always.

Grief, he told them, can make us forget how random war is, how much we have done to protect those we are fighting with.

"You try to help them tell a coherent story about what is happening, to make sense of it, so they feel less guilt and shame over protecting others, which is so common," said Captain Nash, who counseled the marines last November as part of the military's increased efforts to defuse psychological troubles.

He added, "You have to help them reconstruct the things they used to believe in that don't make sense anymore, like the basic goodness of humanity."

Military psychiatry has always been close to a contradiction in terms. Psychiatry aims to keep people sane; service in wartime makes demands that seem insane.

This war in particular presents profound mental stresses: unknown and often unseen enemies, suicide bombers, a hostile land with virtually no safe zone, no real front or rear. A 360-degree war, some call it, an asymmetrical battle space that threatens to injure troops' minds as well as their bodies.

But just how deep those mental wounds are, and how many will be disabled by them, are matters of controversy. Some experts suspect that the legacy of Iraq could echo that of Vietnam, when almost a third of returning military personnel reported significant, often chronic, psychological problems.

Others say the mental casualties will be much lower, given the resilience of today's troops and the sophistication of the military's psychological corps, which place therapists like Captain Nash into combat zones.

The numbers so far tell a mixed story. The suicide rate among soldiers was high in 2003 but fell significantly in 2004, according to two Army surveys among more than 2,000 soldiers and mental health support providers in Iraq. Morale rose in the same period, but 54 percent of the troops say morale is low or very low, the report found.

A continuing study of combat units that served in Iraq has found that about 17 percent of the personnel have shown serious symptoms of depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder - characterized by intrusive thoughts, sleep loss and hyper-alertness, among other symptoms - in the first few months after returning from Iraq, a higher rate than in Afghanistan but thought to be lower than after Vietnam.

In interviews, many members of the armed services and psychologists who had completed extended tours in Iraq said they had battled feelings of profound grief, anger and moral ambiguity about the effect of their presence on Iraqi civilians.

And at bases back home, there have been violent outbursts among those who have completed tours. A marine from Camp Pendleton, Calif., has been convicted of murdering his girlfriend. And three members of a special forces unit based at Fort Carson, in Colorado Springs, have committed suicide.

Yet for returning service members, experts say, the question of whether their difficulties are ultimately diagnosed as mental illness may depend not only on the mental health services available, but also on the politics of military psychiatry itself, the definition of what a normal reaction to combat is and the story the nation tells itself about the purpose and value of soldiers' service.

"We must not ever diminish the pain and anguish many soldiers will feel; this kind of experience never leaves you," said David H. Marlowe, a former chief of military psychiatry at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. "But at the same time we have to be careful not to create an attachment to that pain and anguish by pathologizing it."

The legacy of Iraq, Dr. Marlowe said, will depend as much on how service members are received and understood by the society they return to as on their exposure to the trauma of war.

Memories Still Haunt

The blood and fury of combat exhilarate some people and mentally scar others, for reasons no one understands.
On an October night in 2003, mortar shells fell on a base camp near Baquba, Iraq, where Specialist Abbie Pickett, then 21, was serving as a combat lifesaver, caring for the wounded. Specialist Pickett continued working all night by the dim blue light of a flashlight, "plugging and chugging" bleeding troops to a makeshift medical tent, she said.


At first, she did not notice that one of the medics who was working with her was bleeding heavily and near death; then, frantically, she treated his wounds and moved him to a medical station not knowing if he would survive.

He did survive, Specialist Pickett later learned. But the horror of that night is still vivid, and the memory stalks her even now, more than a year after she returned home.

"I would say that on a weekly basis I wish I would have died during that attack," said Specialist Pickett, who served with the Wisconsin Army National Guard and whose condition has been diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder. "You never want family to hear that, and it's a selfish thing to say. But I'm not a typical 23-year-old, and it's hard being a combat vet and a woman and figuring out where you fit in."

Each war produces its own traumatic syndrome. The trench warfare of World War I produced the shaking and partial paralysis known as shell shock. The long tours and heavy fighting of World War II induced in many young men the numbed exhaustion that was called combat fatigue.

But it is post-traumatic stress disorder, a diagnosis some psychiatrists intended to characterize the mental struggles of Vietnam veterans, that now dominates the study and description of war trauma.

The diagnosis has always been controversial. Few experts doubt that close combat can cause a lingering hair-trigger alertness and play on a person's conscience for a lifetime. But no one knows what level of trauma is necessary to produce a disabling condition or who will become disabled.

The largest study of Vietnam veterans found that about 30 percent of them had post-traumatic stress disorder in the 20 years after the war but that only a fraction of those service members had had combat roles. Another study of Vietnam veterans, done around the same time, found that the lifetime rate of the syndrome was half as high, 15 percent.

And since Vietnam, therapists have diagnosed the disorder in crime victims, disaster victims, people who have witnessed disasters, even those who have seen upsetting events on television. The disorder varies widely depending on the individual and the nature of the trauma, psychiatrists say, but they cannot yet predict how.

Yet the very pervasiveness of post-traumatic stress disorder as a concept shapes not only how researchers study war trauma but also how many soldiers describe their reactions to combat.

Specialist Pickett, for example, has struggled with the intrusive memories typical of post-traumatic stress and with symptoms of depression and a seething resentment over her service, partly because of what she describes as irresponsible leaders and a poorly defined mission. Her memories make good bar stories, she said, but they also follow her back to her apartment, where the combination of anxiety and uncertainty about the value of her service has at times made her feel as if she were losing her mind.

Richard J. McNally, a psychologist at Harvard, said, "It's very difficult to know whether a new kind of syndrome will emerge from this war for the simple reason that the instrument used to assess soldiers presupposes that it will look like P.T.S.D. from Vietnam."

A more thorough assessment, Dr. McNally said, "might ask not only about guilt, shame and the killing of noncombatants, but about camaraderie, leadership, devotion to the mission, about what is meaningful and worthwhile, as well as the negative things."

Sitting amid the broken furniture in his Falluja "office," Captain Nash represents the military's best effort to handle stress on the ground, before it becomes upsetting, and keep service members on the job with the others in their platoon or team, who provide powerful emotional support.

While the military deployed mental health experts in Vietnam, most stayed behind the lines. In part because of that war's difficult legacy, the military has increased the proportion of field therapists and put them closer to the action than ever before.

The Army says it has about 200 mental health workers for a force of about 150,000, including combat stress units that travel to combat zones when called on. The Marines are experimenting with a program in which the therapists stationed at a base are deployed with battalions in the field.

"The idea is simple," said Lt. Cmdr. Gary Hoyt, a Navy psychologist and colleague of Captain Nash in the Marine program. "You have a lot more credibility if you've been there, and soldiers and marines are more likely to talk to you."

Commander Hoyt has struggled with irritability and heightened alertness since returning from Iraq in September 2004.

Psychologists and psychiatrists on the ground have to break through the mental toughness that not only keeps troops fighting but also prevents them from seeking psychological help, which is viewed as a sign of weakness. And they have been among the first to identify the mental reactions particular to this war.

One of them, these experts say, is profound, unreleased anger. Unlike in Vietnam, where service members served shorter tours and were rotated in and out of the country individually, troops in Iraq have deployed as units and tend to have trained together as full-time military or in the Reserves or the National Guard. Group cohesion is strong, and the bonds only deepen in the hostile desert terrain of Iraq.

For these tight-knit groups, certain kinds of ambushes - roadside bombs, for instance - can be mentally devastating, for a variety of reasons.

"These guys go out in convoys, and boom: the first vehicle gets hit, their best friend dies, and now they're seeing life flash before them and get a surge of adrenaline and want to do something," said Lt. Col. Alan Peterson, an Air Force psychologist who completed a tour in Iraq last year. "But often there's nothing they can do. There's no enemy there."

Many, Colonel Peterson said, become deeply frustrated because "they wish they could act out on this adrenaline rush and do what they were trained to do but can't."

Some soldiers and marines describe foot patrols as "drawing fire," and gunmen so often disappear into crowds that many have the feeling that they are fighting ghosts. In roadside ambushes, service men and women may never see the enemy.

Sgt. Benjamin Flanders, 27, a graduate student in math who went to Iraq with the New Hampshire National Guard, recalled: "It was kind of a joke: if you got to shoot back at the enemy, people were jealous. It was a stress reliever, a great release, because usually these guys disappear."

Another powerful factor is ambiguity about the purpose of the mission, and about Iraqi civilians' perception of the American presence.

On a Sunday in April 2004, Commander Hoyt received orders to visit Marine units that had been trapped in a firefight in a town near the Syrian border and that had lost five men. The Americans had been handing out candy to children and helping residents fix their houses the day before the ambush, and they felt they had been set up, he said.

The entire unit, he said, was coursing with rage, asking: "What are we doing here? Why aren't the Iraqis helping us?"

Commander Hoyt added, "There was a breakdown, and some wanted to know how come they couldn't hit mosques" or other off-limits targets where insurgents were suspected of hiding.

In group sessions, the psychologist emphasized to the marines that they could not know for sure whether the civilians they had helped had supported the insurgents. Insurgent fighters scare many Iraqis more than the Americans do, he reminded them, and that fear creates a deep ambivalence, even among those who most welcome the American presence. And following the rules of engagement, he told them, was crucial to setting an example.

Commander Hoyt also reminded the group of some of its successes, in rebuilding houses, for example, and restoring electricity in the area. He also told them it was better to fight in Iraq than back home.

"Having someone killed in World War II, you could say, 'Well, we won this battle to save the world,' " he said. "In this terrorist war, it is much less tangible how to anchor your losses."

Help in Adjusting to Life at Home

No one has shown definitively that on-the-spot group or individual therapy in combat lowers the risk of psychological problems later. But military psychiatrists know from earlier wars that separating an individual from his or her unit can significantly worsen feelings of guilt and depression.

About 8 service members per every 1,000 in Iraq have developed psychiatric problems severe enough to require evacuation, according to Defense Department statistics, while the rate of serious psychiatric diagnoses in Vietnam from 1965 to 1969 was more than 10 per 1,000, although improvements in treatment, as well as differences in the conflicts and diagnostic criteria, make a direct comparison very rough.

At the same time, Captain Nash and Commander Hoyt say that psychological consultations by returning marines at Camp Pendleton have been increasing significantly since the war began.

One who comes for regular counseling is Sgt. Robert Willis, who earned a Bronze Star for leading an assault through a graveyard near Najaf in 2004.

Irritable since his return home in February, shaken by loud noises, leery of malls or other areas that are not well-lighted at night - classic signs of post-traumatic stress - Sergeant Willis has been seeing Commander Hoyt to help adjust to life at home.

"It's been hard," Sergeant Willis said in a telephone interview. "I have been boisterous, overbearing - my family notices it."

He said he had learned to manage his moods rather than react impulsively, after learning to monitor his thoughts and attend more closely to the reactions of others.

"The turning point, I think, was when Dr. Hoyt told me to simply accept that I was going to be different because of this," but not mentally ill, Sergeant Willis said.

The increase in consultations at Camp Pendleton may reflect increasingly taxing conditions, or delayed reactions, experts said. But it may also be evidence that men and women who have fought with ready access to a psychologist or psychiatrist are less constrained by the tough-it-out military ethos and are more comfortable seeking that person's advice when they get back.

"Seeing someone you remember from real time in combat absolutely could help in treatment," as well as help overcome the stigma of seeking counseling, said Rachel Yehuda, director of the post-traumatic stress disorder program at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in the Bronx. "If this is what is happening, I think it's brilliant."

Tracking Serious Symptoms

In the coming months, researchers who are following combat units after they return home are expected to report that the number of personnel with serious mental symptoms has increased slightly, up from the 17 percent reported last year.

In an editorial last year in The New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Matthew J. Friedman, executive director of the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder for the Department of Veterans Affairs, wrote that studies suggested that the rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, in particular, "may increase considerably during the two years after veterans return from combat duty."

And on the basis of previous studies, Dr. Friedman wrote, "it is possible that psychiatric disorders will increase now that the conduct of the war has shifted from a campaign for liberation to an ongoing armed conflict with dissident combatants."

But others say that the rates of the disorder are just as likely to diminish in the next year, as studies show they do for disaster victims.

Col. Elspeth Cameron Ritchie, psychiatry consultant to the Army surgeon general, said that given the stresses of this war, it was worth noting that five out of six service members who had seen combat did not show serious signs of mental illness.

The emotional casualties, Colonel Ritchie said, are "not just an Army medical problem, but a problem that the V.A. system, the civilian system and the society as a whole must work to solve."

That is the one thing all seem to agree on. Some veterans, like Sergeant Flanders and Sergeant Willis, have reconnected with other men in their units to help with their psychological adjustment to home life. Sergeant Willis has been transferred to noncombat duty at Camp Pendleton, in an environment he knows and enjoys, and he can see Commander Hoyt when he needs to. Sergeant Flanders is studying to be an officer.

But others, particularly reservists and National Guard troops, have landed right back in civilian society with no one close to them who has shared their experience.

Specialist Pickett, since her return, has felt especially cut off from the company she trained and served with. She has struggled at school, and with the Veterans Affairs system to get counseling, and no one near her has had an experience remotely like hers. She has tried antidepressants, which have helped reduce her suicidal thinking. She has also joined Operation Truth, a nonprofit organization that represents Iraq veterans, which has given her some comfort.

Finally, she said, she has been searching her memory and conscience for reasons to justify the pain of her experience: no one, Specialist Pickett said, looks harder for justification than a soldier.

Dr. Marlowe, the former chief of psychiatry at Walter Reed, knows from studying other wars that this is so.

"The great change among American troops in Germany during the Second World War was when they discovered the concentration camps," Dr. Marlowe said. "That immediately and forever changed the moral appreciation for why we were there."

As soldiers return from Iraq, he said, "it will be enormously important for those who feel psychologically disaffected to find something which justifies the killing, and the death of their friends."

Marine laid to rest

Jeff Rogers knew what was at stake when he joined the Marines after high school.

http://newsok.com/article/1688033/?template=home/main

By Jay Marks
The Oklahoman

Jeff Rogers knew what was at stake when he joined the Marines after high school.

That was made crystal clear by the Bible verse cited in the last letter the 21-year-old sent from Iraq to his parents in Yukon.

“No greater love have man than to lay down his life for his friend,” Rogers wrote, quoting John 15:13.

The Rev. Monte Priest read Rogers’ letter during the fallen Marine’s funeral Friday at New Church, uncle Ernie Doling said.

Cpl. Jeffry Alan Rogers died Nov. 16 when he and three other Marines were killed in an ambush in Ubaydi, Iraq.

He was laid to rest Friday at Chapel Hill with a 21-gun salute from a Marine honor guard.

Rogers is the 35th Oklahoman killed in Iraq since the U.S. invasion in 2003, according to Defense Department records.

Speakers at Rogers’ funeral Friday included a cousin who is a lieutenant commander in the Navy and his former roommate in Bremerton, Wash., where the two guarded American nuclear submarines and warheads, his uncle said. Both men also served as pallbearers.

Lt. Cmdr. James Doling said he and his cousin, who was more than a decade younger than him, were stationed together in San Diego before Rogers was deployed to Iraq.

He talked about watching Rogers grow from a spoiled child into a focused young man.

That growth compelled Rogers to join the military when he graduated from Putnam City North High School in 2002. He enlisted over his family’s objections, spurred to serve by the terrorist attacks on the U.S. less than a year earlier.

Rogers spent more than two years with security forces at Naval Base Kitsap in Washington, where he met Cpl. Nicholas J. Jankiewicz.

Jankiewicz said he learned right away his new roommate was a no-nonsense guy, but he quickly grew close to Rogers and his family.

Rogers’ dedication to his family was evidenced in the last letter he wrote to his parents, Jim and Janet Rogers of Yukon.

“I could never ask for a greater family,” he wrote.


Scout chose ‘road less traveled’ to serve

MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii(Nov. 25, 2005) -- From a young Eagle Scout to hardened Marine, he chose to take “the road less traveled” to become one of the “few and the proud.” (3/3 Marine)

http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/E1D6317AC33358D7852570C5000223EB?opendocument


Submitted by:
MCB Hawaii
Story by:
Computed Name: Lance Cpl. Roger L. Nelson
Story Identification #:
20051125192322

MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii(Nov. 25, 2005) -- From a young Eagle Scout to hardened Marine, he chose to take “the road less traveled” to become one of the “few and the proud.”

“College wasn’t really an option for me, once I got out of high school,” said Josh S. Wartchow, squad leader, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. “I wanted to do something for my country that would make people proud. I also wanted to build upon the leadership skills that I learned when I was an Eagle Scout, so I knew the military was right for me.”

Wartchow was originally interested in joining the Navy as a military police officer, but was turned onto the Marine Corps by one of his friends.

“My friend was joining the Marines and talked me into going into the Marine recruiter’s office and talking to him,” said Wartchow. “It seemed like a more hardcore thing to do -- like it was more my style. So I decided that’s where I needed to be instead of the Navy. I also wanted to be in the infantry, and the Navy doesn’t really have an infantry, so that was a deciding factor for me to sign the papers.”

Wartchow said that his parents were very proud of him when they found out he had joined the Marines, but were worried about his well-being.

“I was young and straight out of high school, so they didn’t know what to expect,” said the Doylestown, Penn. native. “I guess you could say I was still my parents little boy, and they didn’t want to see anything happen to me.”

Since Wartchow has joined the Marine Corps, he has traveled to many different places including Afghanistan, Japan, the Philippines and Australia.

“I went to a lot of places when we were with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit,” said 22-year-old. “My best deployment, and probably best time I’ve had in the Marine Corps, was when I was in Afghanistan from November 2004 until June 2005.”

Wartchow said he enjoyed Afghanistan so much because they got to work with other branches of military from different countries.

“It was cool getting to help the other military services train,” admitted the Archbishop Wood High School graduate. “We got to see the similarities and differences between how America’s military and their military is run.”

According to Wartchow, seeing Marines you’ve served with leave the Corps or change duty stations is difficult.

“I’ve met a lot of good people since I’ve been in the Marine Corps,” said Wartchow. “It’s rough -- because you meet these awesome people and you never know when they’re going to be deployed or stationed somewhere else. So I guess that can be one of the best and worst parts about being a Marine.”

Wartchow is currently training for his upcoming deployment to Iraq.

“Once I return from Iraq, I’m changing duty stations. I’ll be assigned to Quantico, Va., where I’ll be an Officer Candidate School instructor,” said Wartchow. “There’s a lot of things I want to do while I’m in the Marine Corps, but being a OCS instructor is what I want to do most. I also definitely want to be an instructor in the School of Infantry.”

Wartchow said he wanted to be assigned as a Marine Security Guard before he got married.

“I’m married now, so the MSG duty thing will have to wait until I’m a staff sergeant,” said Wartchow. “My wife is more important, and I figure I’m going to be in the Marines for 20 years, so I’ll get my chance to go MSG, eventually.”

Wartchow said his mentor is a staff sergeant who is assigned to 3/3, Weapons Platoon -- someone whom he has learned a lot from.

“This man epitomizes everything the Marines Corps stands for,” said Wartchow. “He’s taught me a lot, like how to deal with Marines. I strive everyday in the Marine Corps to be like him and hope someday I’ll be as good of a Marine as he is.”

New San Diego Sailors, Marines to See BAH Changes

Sailors and Marines moving to the San Diego area will see changes in their basic allowance for housing (BAH) effective Jan. 1, 2006.

http://www.navycompass.com/news/newsview.asp?c=173406

Friday, November 25, 2005

Sailors and Marines moving to the San Diego area will see changes in their basic allowance for housing (BAH) effective Jan. 1, 2006. The Department of Defense is eliminating the geographic rate protection clause of the Financial Management Regulation, which states that newly arriving service members to an area will not see BAH rates that are significantly less than rates of service members already living in the area.
“With the clause, you can pick what location you want your BAH to come from if the BAH in your duty station is lower than where your family lives,” said Personnel Specialist 1st Class Anastacio Yabes, Naval Base Personnel Support Detachment.
The elimination of this clause will affect service members in all military branches in areas where rental costs have declined over the last year, lowering BAH for newly assigned members. San Diego, however, is considered a ‘critical housing area’ because of its large quantity of joint military occupying the area. Lower ranking service members who are eligible for BAH will more than likely collect a higher BAH rate in San Diego than in their previous duty station.
The modification comes after an increase of BAH by Congress to match rising costs of housing in some areas and to eliminate service members’ out-of-pocket expenses.
“A Sailor can leave his family in an area, come to San Diego and be able to collect San Diego BAH,” said Yabes. “These changes where put in place to make it easier for Sailors to afford to live here.”
For information log onto www.dod.mil/comptroller /fmr/change.html

Bush grieves with family of slain Marine

They shed tears together. They hugged. Then, President George Bush kissed the head of a father, as he grieved over his slain Marine son.

http://www.news-record.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051125/NEWSREC0101/511240330

By Allison Perkins
Staff Writer
They shed tears together. They hugged. Then, President George Bush kissed the head of a father, as he grieved over his slain Marine son.

During the president's brief trip to Mongolia on Monday, he took a moment to honor Lance Cpl. Andrew Russoli, of Greensboro, who was killed in October while serving in Iraq.

Russoli's father, Roland Russoli, lives in Mongolia, where he teaches English, and his wife Sarah, Andrew's stepmother, is the Peace Corps Medical Officer for the nation. The pair waited for hours for the president to arrive on Monday, hoping to have just a word with him about Andrew.

Instead, the couple and the president took a walk, alone, to talk about Andrew. The president and Laura Bush shared in the family's tears and spoke about the loss of life in the war-torn nation.

Here is Russoli's account, in his own words, of his visit with the president:

"... After about 10 minutes, the President appeared behind about four secret service men and walked over to us and shook our hands. I said, 'Andrew believed in what he was doing by defending the Iraqi people from the insurgents.' I got emotional, he put his arm around me, and said, 'Let's walk.' Laura Bush hugged Sarah.

"The President said, 'You have made a great sacrifice and I know your son served with great distinction. People will look back on this generation and say they brought democracy to the Middle East. I know we're doing the right thing over there. I hate that people have to die. But I don't have to tell you that.'


"As he was talking, both he and Mrs. Bush had tears coming down their cheeks, and the President had his arm around my shoulder.

"Sarah said to him, 'Andrew had a motto he used with his corps before he went out and it was strength and honor.'

"I told the President, 'Tell your critics there are still Marines that believe in those words and die for them. Andrew was my pride and joy.'

"The President said, 'Of course he was.'

"As you can imagine, I was crying throughout this conversation and at that point I said, 'He was a sweet boy and a fine Marine.'

"He pulled my head close to him and kissed me on the forehead. As he was beginning to walk away, Sarah and I both said, 'Strength and Honor, Mr. President.' He turned and said, 'Strength and Honor.'

"As he walked out the airport door, he stopped as he got to the door, turned around, looked me right in the eye, and waved.

"He showed us sincerity, compassion, and openly grieved with us in a hallway away from cameras and politics and flags.

"We were four people shedding tears for a brave hero and a fine son. I will forever be grateful to him for that moment."

November 24, 2005

Relief troops call Pakistan home for holiday

SHINKIARI, Pakistan — Marine Lance Cpl. Robert Reese has an illness that the military hospital here can't cure.

He's homesick.

http://www.wcnc.com/sharedcontent/nationworld/landers/112405ccdrNatLanders.243a2c90.html

12:00 PM EST on Thursday, November 24, 2005

By Jim Landers / The Dallas Morning News

SHINKIARI, Pakistan — Marine Lance Cpl. Robert Reese has an illness that the military hospital here can't cure.

He's homesick.

The 22-year-old mechanic from Quinlan, Texas, spent last Thanksgiving and Christmas in Okinawa, Japan. Then he spent six weeks of humanitarian duty helping Sri Lankan victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami. Now he's in northeast Pakistan, helping survivors of the Oct. 8 earthquake in South Asia, and there's no certain date for when this mission will be completed.

"I was actually hoping to go home for the holidays this year, and I did have a choice," Cpl. Reese said. "But I can always go home after the mission."

About 215 Marines and Navy doctors and nurses are camped on the Shinkiari golf course, running a hospital for quake survivors and others who come down from the mountains seeking medical help.

They opened for business on Nov. 16. In the first week, they saw more than 1,000 patients.

About 1,200 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are spending the holidays in Pakistan this year. They're not in the line of fire like U.S. military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But earthquake relief in the mountains of Pakistan presents its own risks. For decades, the region has seen mujahedeen training camps and Taliban-run madrasas, or Quran schools. There is plenty of anti-American sentiment, fed by reports of civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a widespread perception that the U.S. is at war with Islam.

At Shinkiari, the military won over an important ally early in their stay. Shinkiari's mayor is also an imam. At Friday prayers, he urged the congregation to make use of the U.S. hospital.

That sermon helped break the ice, said Lt. Col. Jamie Gannon, the commanding officer of this hospital.

Warm welcome

The hospital won acceptance in part because of its separate treatment facilities for women. Most of the patients, in fact, are women and their children.
Sergio Peçanha / DMN

Navy Lt. j.g. Brookes Englebert, a nurse from St. Paul, Minn., said the women were less conservative than she expected.

"I expected them all to be wearing burqas," she said. Instead, many of the women have a casual attitude toward wearing a veil.

"It seems like the people are pretty happy with what we're doing," Lt. Englebert said.

Navy Cmdr. Tom Davis said some patients had sophisticated medical histories, while others were coming in for their first treatment.

"Some of them just want a second opinion from an American doctor," he said.

Like Cpl. Reese, Cmdr. Davis and many of the others at Shinkiari hospital began the year in Sri Lanka helping tsunami victims. That was a beachfront disaster, while this one is in the foothills of the Himalayas.

'It's what I do'

Six weeks after the Oct. 8 earthquake, some victims are only now making their way to medical help.

"We've seen a potpourri of fractures, open wounds and acute disease," Cmdr. Davis said.

He said he would miss his family back in Chesapeake, Va., over Thanksgiving and Christmas, but that they were very supportive of his work.

"It's what I do," Cmdr. Davis said.

Marine Cpl. Jerry Reese, 20, also takes this assignment in stride.

"It's always good to help when you can," he said. "These people are less fortunate than the average American, whether they were injured in the earthquake or not. And they seem to appreciate what we're doing. It's a good feeling, especially with everything that's going on in the Middle East, to know we are not rejected everywhere."

Army Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan, told the men and women at the hospital that they were having a positive impact on Pakistani perceptions of the U.S.

Marine Lance Cpl. Paul Casanova, 26, said he was beginning to see it. The boys along the road to the helipad wave and yell "Uncle! Uncle!" at the Marines.

"So long as we are helping, I'm sure they're grateful," he said. "That's hearts and minds."

Just another day in Iraq

Holiday bittersweet for U.S. troops far from home
U.S. Marines receive special Thanksgiving dinners at a U.S. Marine base near the Syrian border Thursday. (1st LAR)

http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/11/24/iraq.thanksgiving.ap/index.html

Thursday, November 24, 2005; Posted: 10:31 a.m. EST (15:31 GMT)


QAIM, Iraq (AP) -- Huddling together in the cold, U.S. Marines of the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion spoke Thursday about missing family and friends back home for Thanksgiving while on patrol near the Syrian border.

The Marines are scouting the remote, desert area along the border looking for smugglers and foreign fighters trying to slip into the country from Syria.

The area, one of the most dangerous in Iraq, was the scene of brisk fighting this month, as Marines drove insurgents out of three towns near Qaim, 200 miles northwest of Baghdad.

"Serving my country is important but losing friends makes me more thankful for what I have and for what I used to take for granted," said Cpl. Brian Zwart, 20, of Fruitport, Michigan. (Watch how troops are celebrating the holiday - 1:52)

Zwart mans a 25mm canon atop an armored personnel carrier.

Others thought about what they might be doing if they were back home.

"I could be sitting on the couch at home watching football with my dad. Instead I'm driving in Iraq," said Lance Cpl. Kyle Maxwell, 21, of Petaluma, California. He is spending his first Thanksgiving away from home driving an armored personnel carrier on patrol.

Most of the more than 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq got a traditional Thanksgiving meal of turkey and all the trimmings at their bases.

In Baghdad American troops were visited by U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.

"Iraq is such an important place in the world. What happens in Iraq will determine and shape the future of the Middle East," Khalilzad said. "Being away on a day like this is a huge sacrifice, but a sacrifice for a good cause."

Soldiers in Baghdad also ran in a 5-kilometer "Turkey Trot" race, then enjoyed a large big spread that included turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, shrimp cocktail and about five kinds of pie for dessert.

North of Baghdad country music star Aaron Tippin was scheduled to give a concert to soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division at Forward Operating Base Speicher.

The Thanksgiving holiday was marred Thursday by what the U.S. military calls a suicide car bombing outside a hospital south of Baghdad. Police said 30 people, most of them Iraqi civilians were killed. (Full story)

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Mixture of Taqaddum Marines make up QRF

CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq(Nov 24, 2005) -- There is a small group of Marines here that epitomizes the idea that “every Marine is a rifleman.” They come from a mixture of jobs, but complete a patchwork that makes Taqaddum’s reaction team. (CLR 25)

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/CA38CB46F74438F7852570C40037F23E?opendocument


Submitted by:
2nd Force Service Support Group
Story by:
Computed Name: Lance Cpl. Wayne C. Edmiston
Story Identification #:
200511255114

CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq(Nov 24, 2005) -- There is a small group of Marines here that epitomizes the idea that “every Marine is a rifleman.” They come from a mixture of jobs, but complete a patchwork that makes Taqaddum’s reaction team.

They are the members of the Quick Reaction Force of Headquarters and Service Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 25, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward), and they are relied on to augment the day-to-day operations of the regiment.

For one of the fire team leaders, Cpl. Robert D. Lavario, the opportunity to do a variety of tasks is what he enjoys most about being with the force.

“[I enjoy] the fact we get to do different things and we are not just stuck in the same nine-to-five job,” the Rounder, Texas, native explained. “One day we may be doing security patrols and another we may be helping the [military policemen].”

The jobs QRF does for the regiment consist of third country national vehicle searches, patrolling the roads for speeders on base as road master, providing security for convoys, providing internal security in billeting areas and various other tasks, said Lavario.

Quick Reaction Force members received training on improvised explosive devices, patrols, crew served weapons and Military Operations in Urban Terrain, said Lance Cpl. Keith D. Doby, gunner for QRF and Houston native.

Doby especially appreciates being a part of QRF due to his history of serving in the infantry.
“I love being the gunner and seeing Iraq,” Doby said. “Being an infantryman by trade, I get to get out and do my job more.”

Other Marines enjoy being a part of the team simply for all the new things they get to try and the skills they get to perform, being comprised of a variety of military occupational specialties.

“I like getting trained on the larger weapons,” said Cpl. Elliot M. Guthrie, a wireman serving as assistant fire team leader for QRF, and Buckley, Wash., native. “I also enjoy getting to do more infantry-like tactics.”

“We have Marines that range from field radio operators, maintenance, infantry and all sorts of jobs,” Lavario said. “It is what makes us a unique group.”

One thing that defines them as a Quick Reaction Force is their ability to be called up at anytime.

“We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to respond,” said Guthrie. “When we are needed we are there to complete the mission.”
One member whose passion sticks out is Cpl. Scott K. Bachman, field radio operator and Reading, Pa., native.

A reservist with his unit out of Allentown, Pa., he volunteered to come out here to be able to lead Marines. “It’s a great thing to be out here,” said Bachman. “Picking up a young Marine and teaching them is what I do.”

Sgt. Brian Dunkin, QRF commander, not only leads the QRF but helps train his Marines.
The Fort Wayne, Ind. Native has a diverse background to include training with the Military police. Dunkin is quick to praise and give credit to his Marines.

“We are doing great,” said Dunkin. “For coming from a variety of [military occupational specialties], they are picking up things really well and getting the job done.”

Operation Steel Curtain closes along Iraq’s Syrian border

Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Thursday, November 24, 2005

After 17 days of sometimes-heavy fighting along the Iraq-Syria border, U.S. officials said Wednesday that Operation Steel Curtain has officially finished.

To continue reading:

http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article;=33213

Local Hospital Offers Free LASIK Surgery To Marines

CLEVELAND -- University Hospitals is offering LASIK vision correction for free to area Marines.

http://www.newsnet5.com/news/5391686/detail.html

POSTED: 1:32 pm EST November 23, 2005

CLEVELAND -- University Hospitals is offering LASIK vision correction for free to area Marines.

The director of UH's laser vision center wanted to help local Marines because of the sacrifice they've given.

Gino Vromelia is a nuclear defense specialist with the 3rd battalion 25th regiment in Brook Park, and says it's hard to be in the desert of Iraq with contacts.

Vromelia says this surgery is a great opportunity, and he is grateful for the hospital's support.

The hospital will perform the procedure on six patients a month through March.

Copyright 2005 by NewsNet5. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Marines still living and dying in Iraq's most unforgiving province

AL ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq - During the month of November, members of the U.S. Marine Corps are celebrating their 230th birthday. And regardless of where they are at the moment, this is how they celebrate: with a cake. The first slice is eaten by the commanding officer, the second by the oldest in the unit, the third by the youngest. (2/6)

http://www.knoxstudio.com/shns/story.cfm?pk=HOTZONE-11-23-05&cat;=II

By KEVIN SITES
Yahoo! News
November 23, 2005

AL ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq - During the month of November, members of the U.S. Marine Corps are celebrating their 230th birthday. And regardless of where they are at the moment, this is how they celebrate: with a cake. The first slice is eaten by the commanding officer, the second by the oldest in the unit, the third by the youngest.

For Golf Company, of the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, based on the outskirts of Falllujah in al Anbar Province, the oldest Marine is a 37-year-old sergeant. The youngest is an 18-year-old private.

Both of them, along with about 150 other Marines, live in a primitive satellite outpost they call a "firm base." This one is a battered five-story building that used to be a dormitory for a nearby technical college.

The Marines have made it their own - the way Marines seem to do - with large wire barricades filled with rocks and dirt surrounding the perimeter and green sandbags piled high at the entrance and covering all the windows.

Everyone here knows how necessary this kind of protection is. In late October, two Marines were killed by an insurgent mortar that somehow perfectly cleared the barriers and landed in the back courtyard where they were.

"I don't trust any of the Iraqis," says Pvt. Carl Gaskin, 29, of Knoxville, Tenn.

"I joined the Marines after seeing the Nick Berg execution," Gaskin says of the 26-year-old U.S. contractor who was beheaded in Iraq in 2004. "I saw it on the Internet and it just infuriated me. I thought the least I can do is give four years of my life."

Gaskin was a brick mason before he signed up a year ago. He says he didn't even tell his wife first. Though she was upset, he still feels he did the right thing.

"It was my duty," he says, "even beyond my family. God, country, family - in that order."

But now he's learned his wife has melanoma. Six years earlier, he witnessed her go through another bout with cancer.

"I try not to think about my personal problems too much here. I can't think about it too much, otherwise I'll get people killed," Gaskin says.

He goes outside to have a smoke.

On the ground floor hallway to the left, captured weapons have been proudly hung: a nickel-plated AK-47, a carbine with a fixed bayonet, a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

In another area is the living room/chow hall. It's packed with a mishmash of cheap, stained couches. Here the Golf Company Marines get their one hot meal a day.

One recent night, for the Marine Corps' birthday, they feast on steak and lobster.

It's a welcome meal, but one that seems out of place in a building that has no running water. If the Marines do want to take showers, they use a few cold-water stalls outside the building. But they're available only from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. And with the weather already cold at night, most choose to clean themselves with baby wipes until they can get to a base with hot water, which is only once a month.

The entrance to the building is a constant blur of movement of Marines and Iraqi Army soldiers (who also live in the building) going in and out. Those going on patrol or convoy runs pull on their flak jackets and Kevlar helmets. Those finishing up, pull their gear off as they trudge up the stairwell to crash on their cots. Marines are packed nine or 10 to a room, in spaces meant for four or five.

For Chuck Segal, a 23-year-old private from Rhode Island, the space is fine. He says he was struggling before joining the Marines; he had dropped out of high school and was couch-surfing at the homes of friends.

"I was having lunch in a park one day when a Marine recruiter walked up to me and asked me if I needed a job. I did," he says.

With a GED, but no high school diploma, he was just barely accepted. It's given him some order and discipline in his life, he says, and some powerful friendships.

"You get really close to people in circumstances like this. The guys I've known here in just two months I'm probably closer to than a lot of guys at home."

That can happen in a place so rustic that it has no toilets - not even portable ones - and Marines have to defecate in plastic bags, which are then collected and burned.

Lance Cpl. Tim Spier, 20, of Detroit, agrees the physical hardships are part of the bonding experience, but even more so is the potential of dying here.

"You don't know who you're fighting," Spier says. "You do a patrol down the street, a man says hello, then jumps behind a berm and starts firing an AK-47 at you."

One luxury item does exist on the Golf Company base: a large plasma screen TV connected to a satellite dish. Marines not on duty slink low on the couches, watching everything from cartoons to Harry Potter films. It's a welcome escape from the hours spent patrolling the streets of al Anbar Province.

The other entertainment option is the company "health club:" a room scattered with rusting weights and homemade benches that somewhat resemble medieval torture racks.

Marines who have spent the day in heavy body armor toting weapons and ammunition now raise and lower the rusty barbells. Metal weights clang on the concrete floor when they finish their sets.

A green duffel bag filled with sand hangs in one corner, waiting for Marines to pound out their frustrations, anger or nervous energy.

But for some, doing the work is the only way to forget. Gaskin finishes his cigarette outside, but is still thinking about his wife.

"I think the hardest part for me," he says, "is that I can't be there for her. I've always been there for my wife."

Find more reporting from "Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone" at http://hotzone.yahoo.com

November 23, 2005

Funeral Services for Cpl Jeffry A. Rogers

Funeral Services for Cpl Jeffry A. Rogers. The services are held at 2:00 at Newchurch on Rockwell in Oklahoma City according to this newscast.

Please see video feed for more information at external link:


http://newsok.com/video/1685295/

Military Demographics Representative of America, Officials Say


American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 23, 2005 – The U.S. military is not a "poor man's force."e

http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Nov2005/20051123_3437.html
By Jim Garamone


WASHINGTON, Nov. 23, 2005 – The U.S. military is not a "poor man's force."

That's the conclusion Defense Department officials reached following examination of enlisted recruiting statistics gathered over the past year.

"There is an issue of how representative of America is the force," said Curt Gilroy, the director of DoD's accessions policy in the Pentagon.

DoD tracks "representativeness" - as Gilroy calls it - very closely. And representativeness can take a whole host of forms - race, education, social status, income, region and so on. "When you look at all of those, you find that the force is really quite representative of the country," he said in a recent interview. "It mirrors the country in many of these. And where it doesn't mirror America, it exceeds America."

The data shows the force is more educated than the population at large. Servicemembers have high school diplomas or the general equivalency diploma. More servicemembers have some college than the typical 18- to 24-year-olds. "To carry representativeness to the extreme, we would have to have a less-educated force or we would want a lower-aptitude force," Gilroy said.

The study is part of DoD's focus to bring the best recruits into the military. The services - who are responsible for manning, equipping and training the force - take this data and apply it to recruiting efforts.

The force is a volunteer force; no one is coerced into serving. The military is one option young people have after high school. Military service offers money for college - money a large segment of the population doesn't have. For those people, the military is an attractive option.

Many young people who don't yet know what they want to do see the military as a place to serve and decide what they want to do for the rest of their lives, rather than take a low-paying job or do nothing.

Critics say the U.S. military has too many African-Americans as compared to the population and not enough Hispanics or Asian-Americans. "We don't recruit for race," Gilroy said. "We have standards, and if people meet those standards, then should we say they are not allowed in because of race? That would be wrong."

The statistics show the number of African-American servicemembers is dropping. That concerns Gilroy and his office. The military is a leader in equal opportunity in the United States, he said, adding that few, if any, Fortune 500 companies can match the equal employment opportunity record of the military. The office is studying why young black men and women are not signing up.

The office also is studying the Hispanic population in America. Census records say Hispanics are the largest minority group in the United States. Young Hispanic men and women have a strong tendency to serve in the military, though so far, only the Marine Corps has been "able to break the code" to get significant numbers of recruits, Gilroy said.

On the socioeconomic side, the military is strongly middle class, Gilroy said. More recruits are drawn from the middle class and fewer are coming from poorer and wealthier families. Recruits from poorer families are actually underrepresented in the military, Gilroy said.

Other trends are that the number of recruits from wealthier families is increasing, and the number of recruits from suburban areas has increased. This also tracks that young men and women from the middle class are serving in the military.

Young men and women from urban areas are not volunteering, Gilroy said. In fact, urban areas provide far fewer recruits as a percentage of the total population than small towns and rural areas.

DoD and the services will use these statistics and more to craft their recruiting policies, Gilroy said.

Family to bring Marines turkey


MERIDALE — Thanksgiving dinner for Reggie Ross II is going to be a lot different this year.

For one thing, the 20-year-old Marine is not going to be in Iraq eating canned turkey like last year.

And he’s not even going to be at Camp Lejeune, N.C., eating mess hall food.

http://www.thedailystar.com/news/stories/2005/11/23/turkey2.html

By Jake Palmateer

Staff Writer

MERIDALE — Thanksgiving dinner for Reggie Ross II is going to be a lot different this year.

For one thing, the 20-year-old Marine is not going to be in Iraq eating canned turkey like last year.

And he’s not even going to be at Camp Lejeune, N.C., eating mess hall food.

Instead, Ross and several of his fellow Marines will be getting a home-cooked meal in an off-base apartment rented by his family.

Dawna Ross of Davenport said Wednesday her family has loaded up a Dodge Intrepid for the 13-hour trip south to see her son, a 20

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03 graduate of Charlotte Valley High School.

Ross let him know a few weeks ago the family would be down for Thanksgiving.

Her son soon invited a few friends in his unit who didn’t have anywhere to go for the holiday, and Ross said she is planning on cooking for several Marines.

Ross said that herself, Reggie’s sister, Jessica, and father, Reggie, would be leaving late Tuesday night, and snow, wind or rain were not going to stop them.

"A little snow never hurt anybody," Ross said.

Her son is a sniper in the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, and is a veteran of the Battle of Fallujah in 2004.

Ross said she knows the country is getting weary of the war, but the young men and women in the armed forces need to be supported.

"I want it to be over, but you just can’t bail," Ross said. "They are making a big difference, and you just don’t see that (in the media)."

The family is hoping to provide a more comfortable setting for her son and his fellow Marines than the cafeteria where they would normally eat, she said.

"They’ll be able to be a little more relaxed," Ross said.

The dinner will have all the traditional fixings, as well as pies for dessert, Ross said.

But Ross said the dinner preparations haven’t been just a family affair.

The key component of the meal — a 29-pound turkey — was provided for free by Gary Turits, a local hobby farmer and a former principal at Milford Central School.

Turits found out about the Ross family Thanksgiving Day dinner from Patricia Bordinger, Reggie’s aunt.

Bordinger said she bought a puppy from Turits and struck up a friendship. He later learned about the dinner and offered a large turkey to help feed the Marines.

"I thought that was a great, great thing for him to do," Bordinger said.

Dawna Ross accepted the turkey Monday at the Meridale Post Office where she works as postmaster.

But standing outside the small, country post office, Turits downplayed his role.

"It’s nothing compared to what these kids are doing," Turits said.

He said no matter where people stand on the war in Iraq, the troops need the public’s support.

"Whether you believe in it or not, kids are kids," Turits said.

Cookies, gelatin and a bag of homemade beef jerky provided by Reggie’s grandparents, Ed and Jean Bordinger of Oneonta, round out the goodies being delivered by the Ross family.

Ross said she was bringing several movies for the Marines to watch after dinner. She also said a family tradition will be shared with the troops.

She said that each year since Reggie was a small boy, the family has held hands around the Thanksgiving Day table and sang the song, "The more we get together, the happier we’ll be."

Ross said the lyrics of the song seem to be appropriate considering the family would be enjoying a home-cooked meal with their son and his friends.

"For your friends are my friends and my friends are your friends, oh the more we get together, the happier we’ll be," the song ends.

"He did say, ’Mom, that’s not going to happen,’" Dawna Ross said.

Monotony rules the day in Iraq


The days run together for Cpl. Justin Miller. Monotony is the word of the day for this 20-year-old Marine from Lino Lakes who is stationed at Al Asad Airfield in northern Iraq.

http://www.forestlaketimes.com/2005/November/23JustinMiller11235.html

Cliff Buchan
News Editor

The days run together for Cpl. Justin Miller. Monotony is the word of the day for this 20-year-old Marine from Lino Lakes who is stationed at Al Asad Airfield in northern Iraq.

It’s been that way since August when Miller and his fellow Marines from Cherry Point, NC arrived in Iraq to support the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, II Marine Expeditionary Force. He works in security at Al Asad, the second largest U.S. airbase in Iraq located some 180 kilometers west of Baghdad.

On Thanksgiving, Miller said by telephone last week, there will be the traditional turkey dinner, but for Marines, it will be business as usual in this war zone.

“I’m here counting down the days,” Miller said. “You wake up and you don’t know what day it is.”

From wake up at 3 a.m. to shift’s end at 5 p.m., the days are filled with monotony, Miller says, recounting his hours of guard duty and manning a machine gun tower near a gate to Al Asad.

War zone calls

That Miller is in the war zone this fall did not come as a surprise for the Marine, he said. But manning a machine gun post or walking patrol with his M-16 is a job that is a bit in contrast to his primary duty in the Marines.

By first account, Miller is a trumpet player in the Marine Corps Band, a position he sought out of Forest Lake High School where he graduated in 2003. Miller entered the Marines under early enlistment while still in high school.

He will turn 21 on Dec. 14 and plans to extend his duty with reenlistment next fall.

Along with his musical talents, Miller trained as a security force. When the 2nd Marine Air Wing was deployed, it became necessary for Miller’s unit to go, as well.

Half of the members of the band are now in Iraq for a six-month deployment. He will rotate home to Cherry Point in February when the other half of the band is deployed. As the war continues with no end date in sight, there is the chance for a second deployment, Miller says.

He arrived with trumpet in tow and plays on his own and on occasion when the Marines require music. On Nov. 10, for example, the band played in honor of the Marine Corps birthday, Miller said.

While the band played during the ceremony, his M-16 hung from his shoulder.

“I have it on my body right now,” Miller said during a telephone interview Nov. 14.

Security detail

The daily routine varies little for Miller. The primary duty is providing security for the command compound.

“We police everything that goes on inside this compound,” he said. “We do the same thing every day.”

It is monotonous but work that is important from a security standpoint.

When he’s not at the trigger of the M240-G machine gun, Miller is at the main gate and vehicle entry point searching vehicles and checking identification of individuals who come on base with deliveries or to work. Many are third country nationals.

The searches are repeated for vehicles and individuals leaving the base.

Al Asad has received indirect fire from the enemy on occasion but the base has been relatively free from attacks, Miller said.

A good mix

Miller’s enlistment in the Marines was an avenue for his continued study of music and development as an individual who must meet military standards.

The son of Greg and Drinda Miller, the Marine grew up living music but also with an appreciation for weapons.

He started on the piano when he was just 5 and joined the Lino Lakes Elementary School Band a year ahead of schedule. He continued to enhance his musical abilities through junior and senior high school and he was encouraged to explore the military option by his high school band teacher, Rich Hahn.

Like many kids, he played with a B-B gun and gradually gained experience with weapons as he became older. “But I never hunted,” he said. He spent a lot of time target shooting with his father and also shot on the range, but never for wild game, he said.

His musical talents landed his opportunity to play in the Marine band. After his three months of boot camp in the summer of 2003 and the subsequent Marine Combat Training program, he was sent to Armed Forces School of Music in the fall of 2003 where he spent the next year in study.

He has scored excellent with the M-16 rife and expert with the pistol in two consecutive years of testing.

Miller said he selected the Marine band because it is the only military band that requires full military training. He studied plenty of music in his first 18 months of duty, but also learned the skills of a fighting marine.

“We continue to train like that,” Miller said. “We are a fighting force. That’s why I chose the Marines.”

While it has been unusual for military groups to be deployed, Miller says it has enhanced his experience, not diminished it by any extent. “I will be staying in the Corps,” he said, referring to his reenlistment in October of 2006.

Missing home

Miller says he does miss home, but is able to deal with absence of family and friends thanks to today’s technology and communication.

The Marines have been good in providing telephone and Internet services that enable troops to connect with family and friends.

“I haven’t lost touch with them,” he said of family and friends. “It’s (the communications) just like they are in the next room.”

It is the monotony and the sometimes unbearable weather conditions that make many troops long for home. “I do miss Minnesota,” he said.

In late November the temperatures have moderated from the blazing hot summer days that often drive the temperatures to 120 degrees. Now, Miller says, the average highs are in the 80 degree range, but by night, the temperature can drop to around 40 providing a stark contrast that forces troops to dress in layers depending on when their shift starts.

For now, Miller goes about his daily duty with the attitude of taking one day at a time. February will arrive soon, he says, and then it will be back home.

Back to a normal life, he says, and a life free from the monotony that defines Iraq.

Marines look ahead to routing insurgents out of region

AR RAMADI, Iraq(Nov. 23, 2005) -- Construction of bases for the Iraqi Army and U.S. military’s long-term security presence is steadily progressing in Husaybah, Karabilah and Ubaydi

http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/8B9C759AB4C3F794852570C20040AE07?opendocument

Submitted by:
Headquarters Marine Corps
Story by:
Computed Name: - Marine Corps News

Story Identification #:
2005112364628

AR RAMADI, Iraq(Nov. 23, 2005) -- Construction of bases for the Iraqi Army and U.S. military’s long-term security presence is steadily progressing in Husaybah, Karabilah and Ubaydi.

Iraqi Army soldiers and Marines continue patrolling to ensure insurgents do not return. These patrols also involve detailed searches, looking for hidden weapons caches and deadly improvised explosive devices. Approximately 120 bombs and mines have been located over the course of Operation Steel Curtain.

Three aspects of the operation which makes Steel Curtain different from previous operations in the Western Euphrates River Valley are increased Iraqi Army participation, immediate establishment of long-term security presence and Iraqi Army soldiers taking the lead in security and care of the citizens temporarily displaced by the operation.

Camp Kinser Marines ace administration inspection

Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Thursday, November 24, 2005

CAMP KINSER, Okinawa — Marines here are the best administrative team in the Pacific.

To continue reading:

http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article;=33202

Gifts from the heart


Troops sent more than just the necessities

http://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/news/13241057.htm

By TERRY LEE GOODRICH

STAR-TELEGRAM STAFF WRITER

Beef jerky, shampoo and toothpaste are practical items some well-wishers tuck into care packages for soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Other folks like to slip in turkey-shaped cookies for those who cannot travel home for Thanksgiving.

Some donors who wanted to add a little levity to a tense situation even tossed in fake buck teeth at Halloween.

Items shipped by organizations who want to meet the needs and lift the spirits of loved ones serving in the war are as diverse as the senders, who sometimes have "packing parties," said Debbie Abelson of Southlake, a co-founder of DFW Marine Corps Families. The 250-member group of families and friends recently shipped more than 500 boxes filled with toiletries, canned food and goodies donated by members, charities and churches, she said.

Abelson and Teri Krause of Arlington -- both mothers of Marines -- were among those who began the group four years ago to encourage their sons when they were recruits.

"We went online and put the word out, and within a couple of weeks, we had 20 members," Abelson said. "Now we send things to people on active duty, too."

Support Our Troops, made up of dozens of residents at the Robson Ranch active adult community near Denton, also sends care packages, with some members like retiree Martha Callaway tucking handmade greeting cards into the boxes.

"People just want to be helpful," Callaway said. "No matter how they feel about the war, they want to let the men and women over there risking their lives know that we care."

One of the largest groups is the worldwide Soldiers' Angels, begun in 2003 by a woman whose son was in the first wave of soldiers sent to Iraq, said Bonnie Averett of Walnut Springs, the organization's former state manager. It has about 50,000 volunteer members, with about 3,100 in Texas, she said.

The group's motto is "May no soldier go unloved," and members "adopt" soldiers.

"When we adopt soldiers, we guarantee we will write them once a week, and once a month send them a package of goodies -- anything from toothpaste to chocolate," Averett said. "They crave chocolate, but in the summer it melts.

"We have donation drives, and we began getting ready for Christmas back in July."

For some donors, the matter of what to send is clear-cut.

Krause said her son -- Marine Cpl. Christopher Krause, 21 -- is stationed near the Syrian border.

"They don't have access to hot meals or cafeterias," she said. "They have MREs [meals ready to eat], just a bland-tasting paste made to last forever and loaded with preservatives, so even something out of the can and not necessarily heated up is better.

"And I send socks in every box," she said. "He doesn't have access to laundry, so it's wear them and throw them away."

At Southlake Christian Church, a congregation of about 50 people collected "a station wagon full of stuff" for DFW Marine Corps Families, co-pastor Tamra Carpenter said. "Batteries, foot powder, a lot of tuna and crackers. I guess they really, really like tuna.

"People are really generous, especially some that have been in World War II and Vietnam," she said.

Some donors send books or magazines for soldiers who yearn for a diversion during their spare time. And Abelson relies on parental instinct when it comes to her sons Lt. Pete Abelson, 25, and Lance Cpl. Stephen Abelson, 20.

"My sons were starting to play golf before they left, and my husband and I found some traveling putting kits on the Internet," she said. They sent several to both sons' units.

For her younger son at Halloween, Abelson mailed a set of "Bubba Teeth" -- a gag gift of wearable, crooked choppers that appear to have heavy plaque buildup.

"He wears them every once in a while to keep morale going," Abelson said with a laugh. "He has that kind of personality."

Nine Northeast Tarrant County women who have dubbed themselves Grandmas Who Care recently shipped 368 handmade Christmas stockings to men and women serving in Afghanistan, said Dottie Meredith of Hurst, one of the grandmas.

She said that "the girls" spent "right at 3,000 hours on this."

She said they loaded up the stockings with cookies, jerky, shampoos, pens, pencils, toothbrushes and telephone calling cards. They boxed them and sent them to relatives in the military in Afghanistan, asking them to share them with friends and acquaintances.

"We want there to be 368 smiles," Meredith said.

Averett said she is often moved by letters from soldiers and biographical information they send to Soldiers' Angels officials.

"When I found out about this, I prayed about it, and I do what I can," Averett said. "I write to about 100 of the soldiers, and I've adopted about five or six. When the Lord tells me, 'OK, that's enough,' then I'll stop."

A Navy lieutenant who serves on a battleship near Bahrain told her about his three children and thanked her for her letter and a small flag she sent, she said.

"It really touched me," he wrote.

Averett said that in one letter to Soldiers' Angels officials, an Army soldier wrote that he was an orphan.

"My friends just have to be my family," he wrote. "I'd like to be included in any mail."

ONLINE: www.dfwmarinecorpsfamilies.com

www.soldiersangels.org
Terry Lee Goodrich, (817) 685-3812 [email protected]

Marines' Thanksgiving wish: 'Hot chow'

KARABILAH, IRAQ – There's a rumor circulating among the marines of the 2/6 that "hot chow" is coming.

http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/1123/p25s03-usmi.html


By Jill Carroll | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor
KARABILAH, IRAQ – There's a rumor circulating among the marines of the 2/6 that "hot chow" is coming.

The fervor with which marines here talk of the possibility of a hot meal - roasted turkey, steaming stuffing, and tart cranberry sauce - being delivered to their sandy, remote outpost in Iraq's Anbar Province from the nearest base for Thanksgiving is understandable, especially when you taste what they've been eating.

There are stacks of Meals Ready-to-Eat (MREs) around but most marines can't bear to even look at them. They've already spent months eating Country Captain Chicken and Vegetable Manicotti from hermetically sealed brown plastic bags. Inside: "wheat snack bread," "jalapeño cheese spread," or "pumpkin pound cake."

But few of the marines here of the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment were even aware that Thanksgiving was approaching until asked by this reporter.

Capt. Brendan Heatherman had just finished a long morning of raids, jumping rock walls, and racing through houses looking for insurgents. "It's in two days? Man, snuck up on me," he said, incredulous.

Standing next to him in a dim room constructed of rocks and cement, Capt. Conlon Carabine of East Hampton, N.Y., was equally confused. "When is Thanksgiving? Two days?"

It's easy to lose track of time here.

They fought their way west to east through three towns along the Euphrates River near the Syrian border early this month. Now, the marines are responsible for security detail in the towns, some of which haven't had a military presence in a year.

They run patrols on foot and sit in humvees 24 hours a day and race out on raids, following tips on insurgent movement.

Back at base, they have no running water or electricity. They live in giant metal containers and sleep on wooden bunks they built themselves.

Captain Carabine is considered fortunate because his camp already had one half-built rock and a cement structure when his group arrived. Now it serves as the headquarters.

If the turkey and stuffing doesn't arrive, Captain Heatherman's company has already a contingency plan - a local turkey farmer. "The Iraqi [soldiers] say they'll [cook] it, and we've got some guys from down south who know how to clean it and have already volunteered their services," says 1st Sgt. William Thurber of Manchester, N.H.

He pauses. "I didn't realize it was in two days," he muses.

November 22, 2005

22nd MEU (SOC) corpsmen provide the warrior's unseen armor

ABOARD THE USS NASSAU (Nov. 22, 2005) -- In addition to their Kevlar helmets, ballistic goggles, and ceramic plate-filled interceptor vests, the Marines and sailors of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) are sailing into harm’s way with still another, yet unseen, layer of protection.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/BEE1668DC2E50CFC852570C10018A1EE?opendocument


Submitted by: 22nd MEU (SOC)
Story Identification #: 2005112123293
Story by - 22nd MEU (SOC) Public Affairs

ABOARD THE USS NASSAU (Nov. 22, 2005) -- In addition to their Kevlar helmets, ballistic goggles, and ceramic plate-filled interceptor vests, the Marines and sailors of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) are sailing into harm’s way with still another, yet unseen, layer of protection.

Aboard the amphibious assault ships Nassau, Carter Hall, and Austin, Navy corpsmen and doctors from throughout the MEU are administering a number of inoculations to stave off potential health problems. Among these preventive medicines are the anthrax, smallpox, and influenza vaccines.

“Vaccinations are important because they are preventive in nature, and protect against biological warfare and natural health threats,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel Coleman, of Colorado Springs, Colo., a Fleet Marine Force-qualified assigned to the MEU Command Element. “After all, a sick force is an ineffective force.”

In addition to its Command Element, the 22nd MEU (SOC) consists of Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 2nd Marines, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261 (Rein), and MEU Service Support Group 22. The MEU is currently deployed as the landing force for Expeditionary Strike Group 8.

For more information on the MEU and its role in the war on terror, visit the unit’s web site at http://www.22meu.usmc.mil.

Marine, family dedicated to Corps

AL ASAD, Iraq (Nov. 22, 2005) -- Sergeant Joshua Nixon, a maintenance mechanic for Marine Aircraft Group 26 and Mountain Ranch, Calif., native, has the Marine Corps in his blood.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/384A5A0C86A944B6852570C1005D69D3?opendocument
Submitted by: 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing
Story Identification #: 2005112212019
Story by Cpl. James D. Hamel

AL ASAD, Iraq (Nov. 22, 2005) -- Sergeant Joshua Nixon, a maintenance mechanic for Marine Aircraft Group 26 and Mountain Ranch, Calif., native, has the Marine Corps in his blood.

His father spent three years in the Corps during the end of Vietnam, and today does maintenance work at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. Even his mom, though never a Marine, is on the Marine Corps team as Yuma’s animal control officer. It’s no surprise the career path their son has chosen.

“I grew up with the idea of wanting to join the Marine Corps one day,” he said. “Initially, I wanted to get into law enforcement, but I realized police work wasn’t for me, it doesn’t fit my personality.”

Nixon is the type of guy who loves to work with his hands. He said he has always been that way, so when he joined the Marine Corps, helicopter maintenance seemed the perfect job, in his opinion.

“I wanted to work on CH-53s to get an idea of what exactly I wanted to do,” he said. Nixon’s work eventually brought him to Al Asad, Iraq, where he was a natural choice to become one of MAG-26’s maintenance mechanics.

“I volunteered to do it because it was a new experience,” he said. “My job is all about improving the living conditions of the MAG.”

Nixon enjoys his work because he hates sitting behind a desk. From fixing generators to repairing equipment, he’s constantly finding something that needs improved or repaired. At first impression, Nixon is almost antsy, like he’s anxious to return to work, said those he works with. He comes off as a typical ‘good ole boy,’ but someone who knows him well says that impression is misleading.

“He’ll fool you at first, but he’s amazing intellectually,” said Master Gunnery Sgt. Norman P. Hoosier, the combat service support chief for MAG-26. “The strongest part about Sgt. Nixon is his intelligence.”

But, Hoosier said, his work ethic is as impressive as his mind.

“He’s the hardest working sergeant I’ve met in 24 years of service. You have to make him take a day off,” he said. “One time we had an intense sandstorm where people were running for cover. He was standing in the middle of it trying to fix a generator. He’s really dedicated to his work. The amazing thing is, he actually turned it back on.”

Nixon said he’s just glad he can use his talents to serve his country.

“I don’t regret coming out here,” he said. “With the skills I’ve acquired through the years, this is the best way I can serve the country. I’m more than willing to forego the luxuries of home for that. War is a necessary evil, and there are people who have to get the job done.”

It’s that type of attitude, Hoosier said, that makes Nixon an excellent example to both junior and senior Marines.

“He’s an awesome noncommissioned officer,” Hoosier said. “He understands all the facets of leadership, and he’s a maintenance guru. I constantly get his input on things.”

Nixon said he plans on leaving the Marine Corps, though he hasn’t made up his mind. He’d like to do some of the same work he does now only as a civilian contractor. It would be a path similar to his father’s, a path Nixon is more than willing to follow.

“My job out here is very similar to what my dad does in the rear,” Nixon said. “He just doesn’t carry a gun.”

Staff sergeant keeps safety briefs fun, interesting

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (Nov. 22, 2005) -- Every fiscal year a battalion safety manager wins the II Marine Expeditionary Force Safety Award for improved excellence in their safety program. This year Staff Sgt. Rickey L. Blankenship of Martinsville, Ind., took it home. (2nd MLG)

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/A9B12E66AAA75732852570C1006528A6?opendocument

Submitted by: 2nd Force Service Support Group
Story Identification #: 20051122132455
Story by Lance Cpl. Matthew K. Hacker

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (Nov. 22, 2005) -- Every fiscal year a battalion safety manager wins the II Marine Expeditionary Force Safety Award for improved excellence in their safety program. This year Staff Sgt. Rickey L. Blankenship of Martinsville, Ind., took it home.

Blankenship has been the battalion safety manager for Headquarters and Service Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, since Oct. 21, 2003.

During his reign, he has improved the battalion’s safety program considerably.

Blankenship has increased the amount of people taking the motorcycle safety course from 50 percent to 90 percent, and the number of Driver’s Improvement Cards issued has increased more than ten percent.

His methods of achieving this improvement were anything but average.

Blankenship decided to make the quarterly safety stand-downs more exciting and instruct the Marines and Sailors on ways to stay safe, while using very real visual aids.

One example of the visual aids are allowing six Marines to consume four beers each and instructing them to get in front of the group and conduct a few exercises.

The audience could see that even simple exercises and functions such as walking a straight line and passing a tennis ball proved very difficult in their condition.

“They also witnessed how the same amount of consumed alcoholic beverages can affect each person differently,” said Blankenship.

Another demonstration was called “The Convincer.”

“The Convincer” is a cart on a track that simulates a seven-mile-per-hour crash, according to Blankenship. It moves down a track and stops abruptly, jerking the occupant inside. It shows them how a slow impact can hurt their body and makes them imagine what a crash at 80 mph could feel like.

“The Convincer really works,” said Blankenship. “It really proved its name.”

Driving through a cone course on golf carts with beer goggles on was another activity Blankenship used to showcase the dangers of driving under the influence.

“You never know exactly whose life you saved, but you know it’s someone because the numbers don’t lie,” said Blankenship.

Although Blankenship’s primary duty is creating programs to keep his battalion of Marines and Sailors safe, he was called upon twice to investigate devastating accidents on the base.

He served as a mishap investigator on two safety investigation boards.

Blankenship’s goal, while conducting the investigations, was to find out exactly how it happened in order to prevent future incidents, according to Blankenship. However, if during the investigation it’s found to be crime-related, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service takes over.

“Mishap investigations determine trend analysis and prevent similar accidents further down the road,” Blankenship added.

While Blankenship completed his mission with improved success, it seems to have given him a different outlook on life as well.

“I know I’ll keep all the knowledge I’ve acquired during my time here,” he stated. “I use [Operational Risk Management] and don’t even know it. Everyone does though.”

Blankenship feels his job has given him the incentive to pass on the knowledge to his family as well.

“Being the battalion safety manager has made me a lot safer,” he said. “My wife says I drive too slow now, but it’s just not worth the risk. I know the consequences now, and I hope that during my time at the battalion I’ve let others know of the consequences as well. If people know the real, brutality of the truth, they’re less likely to take risks.”

Memphis sniper, Iraq war veteran, receives Purple Heart


MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (Nov. 22, 2005) -- A Memphis, Tenn. native was awarded the Purple Heart Medal here Nov. 16 for wounds received during combat operations in Iraq. (1/6 Surveillance)

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/D52B1B7C5DA89EBE852570C10066F63E?opendocument


Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 20051122134437
Story by Cpl. Mike Escobar

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (Nov. 22, 2005) -- A Memphis, Tenn. native was awarded the Purple Heart Medal here Nov. 16 for wounds received during combat operations in Iraq.

Twenty-five-year old Lance Cpl. Josh Barrett, an infantryman with 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment’s Surveillance, Target and Acquisition (STA) Platoon, and several of his teammates had been conducting counterinsurgency operations outside Fallujah in July at the time of the incident.

“It happened around 11:30 (PM), while we were on a mission to insert sniper teams to be used for counter-IED (improvised explosive device) operations,” the 2003 Ole Miss’ University graduate said, explaining how the Marine teams he was helping to covertly place would watch for insurgents placing roadside bombs along a frequently transited road. “I was driving the truck that hit the IED that night.”

Barrett recalled his friends riding in the truck behind him saying they had seen “nothing but a fireball and smoke” where his truck had been before.

“The blast blew out both of my eardrums and gave me a concussion,” Barrett continued. “One piece of shrapnel stuck in the vehicle’s armor plate beside my Kevlar (helmet). It somehow managed to miss me and stick right next to my head.”

Barrett claimed he could only hear a ringing noise for the first month following the attack, and that blood would stain his pillow after a night of sleeping on his side.

Despite this, he said he was anxious to return to duty quickly, because he realized how valuable even one man is for a close-knit team of snipers to accomplish their mission.

Barrett is currently recovering from his injuries and awaiting further surgery to repair his still-damaged eardrums. He said he feels he has healed well thus far, but has lost forty percent hearing in his right ear.

“I still don’t think that’s a big enough reason to get a Purple Heart for,” Barrett casually stated. “I mean, you can blow out an eardrum just playing football or shooting a rifle on a range. I didn’t want to receive the Purple Heart, because I know there are guys out there that have blown limbs off that deserve it a lot more.”

Barrett now plans to attend the Marine Corps’ Scout Sniper Basic Course aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.

Marine Corps family legacy carries on as father, daughter reunite in Iraq

AL ASAD, Iraq (Nov. 22, 2005) -- For many Marines, the Corps becomes a surrogate family as soon as young recruits step on the yellow footprints at Marine Corps Recruit Depots. But, for Lance Cpl. Shannon M. Flaherty, a Sewell, N.J., native, joining the Marine Corps was just another page out of her family’s history book.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/E64EBC5F3E8009AA852570C100694DB1?opendocument
Submitted by: 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing
Story Identification #: 20051122141011
Story by Cpl. Micah Snead

AL ASAD, Iraq (Nov. 22, 2005) -- For many Marines, the Corps becomes a surrogate family as soon as young recruits step on the yellow footprints at Marine Corps Recruit Depots. But, for Lance Cpl. Shannon M. Flaherty, a Sewell, N.J., native, joining the Marine Corps was just another page out of her family’s history book.

Flaherty, a 23-year-old, CH-53 avionics technician with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 466, is a third-generation Marine. Fate, chance or a combination of both recently brought Flaherty and her father Chief Warrant Officer 3 James M. Flaherty together for a few days in an unlikely spot for a reunion, Al Asad, Iraq.

“It’s been kind of weird,” James said. “You never imagine that one day you’re going to be with your daughter in a combat zone. It’s a strange reunion, but I’m glad to see her.”

Shannon deployed to Al Asad with the Wolfpack of HMH-466, based at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., during September. James deployed to Fallujah in April. The 52-year-old infantry and engineer veteran works for II Marine Expeditionary Force’s command element, traveling to sites across Iraq to assist in base planning.

The Marines’ reunion put them at the opposite ends of a family career in the Corps. Shannon is on her first deployment with the Wolfpack while her father was reactivated from retirement during March, 29 years after first stepping onto the yellow footprints at MCRD San Diego, Calif.

“The deployment has been an experience,” Shannon said. “Working 14 to 16-hour days, I don’t know how it compares to what he went through, but it’s a lot of work.”

With a grandfather who served in the Korean War and an older brother in the Reserves, Shannon is continuing a line of service in the Marine Corps, despite her father’s protests.

“I tried to talk both of them out of it,” James said. “I didn’t want them to take the same path I did, but they wanted it and there was no talking them out of it.”

Shannon’s brother, Sgt. James P. Flaherty, an aviation information systems specialist with Marine Aircraft Group 49, returned to the states in January after serving at Al Asad. After relenting to his childrens’ decision to join the Marines, James was determined to have at least some say in their career paths.

“I wanted them to get the most out of the experience,” Flaherty said. “There aren’t a lot of career opportunities for grunts. I wanted them to be able to succeed once their time was over. I called their recruiter and very specifically laid out what their (military occupational specialties) were going to be.”

Shannon’s father also saw to it that her recruit training experience was physically comprehensive.

“I contacted her senior drill instructor and asked that all past grievances to me be paid back in full,” Flaherty said.

“They got me pretty good (during physical training),” Shannon said. “He definitely hooked me up.”

Having two members of the family deployed to Iraq was a challenge, but Shannon said her mother took it in stride.

“She felt better that Dad would be out here, in case I needed him I guess,” Shannon said. “She’s taking it pretty well, all things considered.”

Shannon’s father also used the opportunity to check in with her senior leaders in the squadron. He was pleased to hear nothing but praise for his daughter’s performance during the deployment.

“She’s been lights out the whole way,” James said. “Everyone had nothing but positive things to say. She’s working long, hard days and she won Marine of the Quarter, so she must be doing something right.”

Many families may worry about their children joining the Marine Corps family, but James knows his children are in good hands.

“These are well-trained, hard-charging Marines,” Flaherty said. “I know they can take care of themselves and the Marines around them. I may not have been happy about it when they made the decision, but it’s hard not to be proud now. The good thing is that they couldn’t run away from me by joining the Marine Corps.”

Gunfighters’ maintenance controller keeps operations at full sprint

AL QAIM, Iraq (Nov. 22, 2005) -- When faced with challenges, Marines are renowned for their ability to adapt and overcome.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/A073F343E39EA14B852570C1006A40CA?opendocument


Submitted by: 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing
Story Identification #: 20051122142034
Story by Cpl. Cullen J. Tiernan

AL QAIM, Iraq (Nov. 22, 2005) -- When faced with challenges, Marines are renowned for their ability to adapt and overcome.

Staff Sgt. David A. Beaty, Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369’s day crew maintenance controller in Al Qaim, has overcome countless maintenance and logistical challenges for more than two months.

While tackling these challenges, he has kept the Marines’ morale high and continuously ensured the squadron’s AH-1 Cobras and UH-1 Hueys are in the air supporting the Marines on the ground.

“I love being out here,” said Beaty, a Picket County, Tenn., native. “It’s a smaller detachment, our unit cohesion is real tight. There is just a total focus on the mission here.”

Beaty credits all the success of the detachment to the Marines who are on flightline, day and night, through heat and bitter cold, turning wrenches and keeping the aircraft flying.

“These guys pull off some amazing feats,” said Beaty. “They never whine or complain. Every day, they’re out there working hard, doing their jobs.”

One of the greatest challenges Beaty and the Gunfighters at Al Qaim face is accomplishing their mission without the use of a hangar. But, they said they receive tremendous support from the other units stationed there.

For example, Beaty said although they don’t have a hoist, other units have let them use their cranes.

The absence of a hangar also constantly exposes the Marines to the sand and dust kicked up when the Cobras and Hueys take off.

“The cold nights are more severe without a hangar,” said Beaty, who has been the maintenance controller for both day and night crews. “When it’s dark and cold, it’s a great deal harder to do the required maintenance. But, these Marines are getting the job done. Nothing matters to them except getting the birds in the air. I pass word in the meetings and everything works smoothly.”

Corporal Sami Babaidhan, a plane captain with the Gunfighters and a Portland, Ore., native, said Beaty keeps things interesting and keeps the working environment less stressful.

“He lightens everything up,” said Babaidhan, who currently works directly under Beaty. “He gets the mission done, without putting unneeded stress on us. I give him all the credit for how successful we have been. He coordinates everything and delegates jobs. He busts his (back) all day.”

Babaidhan, who has worked with Beaty for more than a year, said Beaty never rushes his Marines and enables them to make sure everything is done right.

“He keeps everyone together, and everything running smoothly,” said Staff Sgt. Timothy McCoy, avionics staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge with the Gunfighters at Al Qaim, and a Montclair, Calif., native. “He maintains liaison with the Marines at Taqqadum and the Marine aviation logistics squadrons, and ensures all of the aircraft meet the flight schedule while being properly maintained.”

McCoy said the Marines appreciate Beaty’s hard work and character.

“For his birthday, some of the junior Marines had the (dinning facility) bake a special cake for him,” said McCoy. “That morning we serenaded him with song while he was in the shower. He acted embarrassed about it all, but you could tell he was impressed by what the Marines did for him.”

Lance Cpl. Doug Johnson, an ordnanceman with the Gunfighters and a Houston native, said Beaty gets excited when the Marines do a good job, and he really cares about getting the birds in the air.

“He follows up with you and what you’re doing,” said Johnson. “The mission is the first thing on his mind, and he does whatever he can to help you get it done.”

Major John Barranco, the officer-in-charge of the Gunfighters’ detachment at Al Qaim and a Boston native, said maintenance across the board has been outstanding, and he credits Beaty for much of the success.

“We have been at a full sprint operationally since we got here, and there has never been a drop in the Marines’ intensity,” said Barranco. “It’s amazing how focused Beaty is able to keep all of the Marines. His proficiency is incredible. He’s a real smart guy who’s always a step ahead, and he identifies problems before they even happen.”

Beaty gives all the credit for the Gunfighters’ successes to his Marines, and he stressed the more challenges they face, the more pride they take in the work they do.

“We aren’t kicking down any doors,” said Beaty. “But, we face unique and complicated aviation challenges and we are doing a great job keeping these birds in the air. One of the biggest challenges we have faced was recovering a downed aircraft in the field. Immediately, our Marines volunteered to go outside the wire and help bring the bird home. These Marines do whatever it takes to accomplish the mission.”

The Gunfighters have seen combat on almost a daily basis supporting operations from Al Qaim. Beaty said the Gunfighters’ Cobras and Hueys have dropped more ordnance than any of the other Cobras and Hueys in Iraq.

“When I leave Al Qaim, I’ll miss the tight unit cohesion,” said Beaty. “All the guys I’m working with, even the pilots, work together closely. There is a great deal more teamwork here than at bigger bases where you have more hands in the pot. Here, all we have is each other.”

General Links Security at Home to U.S. Role in Iraq


American Forces Press Service

http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Nov2005/20051122_3424.html
By Donna Miles


WASHINGTON, Nov. 22, 2005 – The contributions U.S. servicemembers are making in Iraq are helping ensure the peace and security families across the United States will enjoy this Thanksgiving, the commander of coalition operations in Iraq told Pentagon reporters via satellite today.

"I am struck in this holiday season by the enormous sacrifice of the young men and women over here -- the things that they're doing on a daily basis on our behalf as a nation," said Army Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, commander of Multinational Corps Iraq and the U.S. Army's 18th Airborne Corps.

Vines called their contributions "absolutely magnificent," particularly in light of the complexity of the tasks involved. These include developing Iraq's security forces fighting an insurgency, helping build a new government and reconstructing a country devastated by more than 30 years of war and oppression.

"And I believe, in a very direct way, they're helping to provide for the security and safety of our fellow citizens back in the United States," Vines said.

Terrorists consider the United States "an archenemy" and want to use Iraq as a base for a strike against it, Vines said.

"And those young men and women in harm's way here recognize that, and I think they are committed to the fight," he said.

The general praised the "heroic efforts" of those forces and the progress they are helping bringing about.

Vines called "the debate and bitterness" within the United States about the Iraq mission "disturbing," but acknowledged that people in a democracy are allowed to have differences of opinion. What's important, he said, is that troops in Iraq know they have the support of the U.S. people and their elected officials as they continue their mission.

Now is too soon to withdrawal U.S. forces from Iraq because the country's own security forces, while improving steadily, aren't yet ready to assume full responsibility for Iraq's security, he said.

"Although Iraqi security forces are able to conduct operations in a large portion of their area with only limited coalition support, they do require our support at this time," he said. "That support will be increasingly less over a period of time, but a precipitous pullout, I believe, would be destabilizing."

At the same time, Vines said, Iraq's security forces are playing an increasing role in the country's security. About one-third of the Iraqi army battalions are responsible for their own areas of operation and 80 percent of the Iraqi security forces are conducting combat operations at any given time, he said.

"Iraqi soldiers and policemen are in the fight," the general said. "They're risking their lives and they're fighting, and in some cases, dying for Iraq, for the security of their fellow citizens."

Meanwhile, Vines cited solid progress on the political front. The upcoming Dec. 15 national election, which will seat a new government for the next four years, "will provide a level of stability that to this point has not been there," he said.

Progress in Iraq, particularly during the last year, "is absolutely extraordinary," Vines said. He acknowledged, however, that "an enormous amount remains to be done."

The big challenge ahead will be to ensure that Iraq's new government remains stable as it builds new institutions for its people, the general said.

"I believe, ultimately, the stability of the government and its ability to support its security forces and provide for the basic challenges of governance is the great long-term challenge," he said. "But that is central to the success of the operation here."

Vine said he's impressed by the Iraqi people and their commitment to a free and secure Iraq.

Unlike Americans, who Vines said sometimes take their own security for granted, Iraqis don't, he said.

"Iraqis don't take it for granted because they recognize that people such as the jihadists and Islamic extremists wish to impose their world view on Iraq, and they recognize what's at stake," he said.

Zarqawi Probably Alive, Ground Forces Commander Says

American Forces Press Service

http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Nov2005/20051122_3425.html
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 22, 2005 – The commander of ground forces in Iraq said today he has "absolutely no reason to believe" that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was among those killed during a Nov. 19 raid in Mosul, Iraq.

"It is possible, but I have no reason to believe it," Army Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, commander of Multinational Corps Iraq and the U.S. Army's 18th Airborne Corps, told Pentagon reporters during a videoconference from Iraq.

Relatives of Zarqawi, the Jordan-born leader of the al Qaeda in Iraq organization, have donated DNA that's in a database and can be compared against that of those killed in Mosul, Vines confirmed.

"So my expectation is, if he had been in one of those houses that were part of the objective, we could confirm that," he said.

Meanwhile, the coalition continues following up on every lead in its hunt for Zarqawi, Vines told reporters.

Fueling the intensity of the search is recent evidence that Zarqawi has no qualms about killing and there's no doubt he will kill again, the general said.

"Zarqawi has shown absolutely no remorse about killing his fellow Jordanians, by claiming credit for attacks on a wedding party, for goodness sakes," Vines said. He's also shown no remorse about killing his fellow Muslims, he said.

"He will attack mosques and assemblies, and certainly he will slaughter security forces of Iraq and the coalition, if given the chance," Vines said. "So we follow up relentlessly every lead."

As that effort continues, Operation Steel Curtain has progressed steadily in helping root out terrorists throughout Iraq's Qaim region, Vines reported.

"We believe that we've accomplished the vast majority of what needs to be done, he said. The focus has now turned to repairing damages inflicted by the insurgents and during combat operations there, he said.

All indications show that Steel Curtain has been a success, he said.

The area is not the sanctuary foreign fighters had hoped to make it. A large portion of the foreign fighters' and terrorists' leadership is dead. And the region no longer provides a clear avenue through the Euphrates River Valley for terrorists to move into Hadithah, Hit, Ramadi and Fallujah, and on toward Baghdad, he said.

"And so we believe that there has been a great deal of success there," Vines said.

U.S. military officials in Iraq reported later in the day after Vines' briefing that the operation had concluded.

Operation Steel Curtain Concludes Along Iraq-Syria Border


American Forces Press Service

http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Nov2005/20051122_3426.html

CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, Iraq, Nov. 22, 2005 – U.S. and Iraqi forces wrapped up Operation Steel Curtain today near the Iraq-Syria border, military officials here announced.

The 17-day offensive was conducted in the cities of Husaybah, Karabilah and Ubaydi, and was geared toward preventing al Qaeda in Iraq from operating in the Euphrates River Valley and throughout the country's Anbar province, officials noted.

As part of a larger operation called Operation Hunter, Steel Curtain made way for the establishment of a permanent Iraqi army security presence in the Qaim region. It also set the conditions for local citizens to vote in the upcoming Dec. 15 elections, officials said.

Steel Curtain ushered in the first large-scale operational use of the Iraqi army, officials said, employing about 1,000 soldiers in western Anbar province. The Iraqi soldiers conducted detailed clearing missions alongside their coalition counterparts and began establishing permanent bases within these three cities.

"Forces at these outposts will prevent the al Qaeda in Iraq-led terrorists from regaining a presence in these cities and threatening local residents with their murder and intimidation campaign," a coalition spokesman said.

"Desert Protectors," specially trained local Iraqis, were recruited from the Qaim region and worked alongside the Iraqi army and U.S. units throughout the operation.

"Their familiarity with the area and its people was crucial in identifying friend from foe and enabled their Iraqi and coalition partners to better understand the geographical complexities of the region," the spokesman said.

Officials reported that 10 Marines were killed in fighting during Steel Curtain. A total of 139 terrorists were killed and 256 were processed for detention during the operation.

"The porous Iraq-Syria border was identified as a main route for men, material and money to be transited into Iraq," the spokesman said, and the western Euphrates River Valley region was known to be a major artery for al Qaeda in Iraq terrorists.

Iraqi soldiers and U.S. forces moved in on Husaybah the morning of Nov. 5, followed shortly thereafter by Karabilah, Ubaydi and winding up clearing the Ramana region, west of Ubaydi on the northern side of the Euphrates River.

"Iraqi army soldiers and U.S. forces will continue to maintain presence and increase efforts in securing the Iraq-Syria border," the spokesman said.

(From a Multinational Force Iraq news release.)

Terrorists Fire Dud in Attempt to Disrupt Tikrit Ceremony


American Forces Press Service

http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Nov2005/20051122_3423.html

WASHINGTON, Nov. 22, 2005 – Terrorists today fired what officials called "unidentified explosive ordnance" at a ceremony where multinational forces were turning over control of the former Saddam Hussein palace complex to Iraqi government officials in Tikrit, Iraq, military officials said.

The ordnance failed to explode, and no one was injured in the incident, officials said. The ceremony resumed shortly afterward and was completed without further disruption.

In other news from Iraq, a soldier was killed Nov. 21 when his vehicle hit a roadside bomb near Habbaniyah, about 50 miles west of Baghdad, officials at Camp Fallujah reported today.

The name of the soldier, who was assigned to the 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

In the air war over Iraq, coalition aircraft flew 40 close-air-support missions Nov. 21 in support of troops, infrastructure protection, reconstruction activities and operations to deter and disrupt terrorist activities, U.S. Central Command Air Forces officials reported today.

Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons dropped precision-guided bombs on an anti-Iraqi forces staging area and weapons cache near Salman Pak, a city on the Tigris River about 15 miles southwest of Baghdad. Air Force F-16s also provided close-air support to coalition troops fighting enemy forces near Hawijah. Eleven Air Force and Navy intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft flew missions in support of operations in Iraq.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq and U.S. Central Command Air Forces Forward news releases.)

Ind. Marine killed in Iraq is buried

NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. -- A northeastern Indiana Marine killed in Iraq transformed himself from the "worst swimmer" on the team to a fine athlete over four years, his coach said.

http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051122/NEWS01/511220524

NORTH MANCHESTER, Ind. -- A northeastern Indiana Marine killed in Iraq transformed himself from the "worst swimmer" on the team to a fine athlete over four years, his coach said.
That determination and Scott A. Zubowski's contagious upbeat personality is what Kyle Wieland said he'll never forget.

"There was no challenge too great for him to take on," he said before presenting the "Chicken Pox" award posthumously to Zubowski Monday during the lance corporal's funeral, The Journal Gazette of Fort Wayne reported.
Like Chicken Pox, Zubowski of North Manchester was a "once in a lifetime experience that we're all thankful to have been exposed to," Wieland said of the 2003 Manchester High School graduate.
Zubowski, 20, and another Marine died when a roadside bomb exploded during combat operations near Fallujah in Iraq's Al Anbar province on Nov. 12, the military said.
Zubowski was on his second tour of duty in Iraq. His first tour was from February to October 2004. He returned to Iraq in July and was set to come home before his 21st birthday in March, his father, Rick Zubowski, had said.
Zubowski is the 49th Hoosier soldier to die in the Mideast since the buildup for the invasion of Iraq began in 2003.
About 200 people attended Zubowski's funeral at Manchester Church of the Brethren and at Oaklawn Cemetery in North Manchester, 35 miles west of Fort Wayne.
Wieland was one of five people to share memories of Zubowski at the church service.
Zubowski's wife, Klancey, said her husband of almost one year left a "spark" wherever he went, sharing it with friends and strangers alike. The couple married at the church Dec. 18.
"He took the spark that he had and he made it open to the public," she said. "Within his spark it wasn't just a cute guy with pretty eyes. It was his determination. Scott lived every day to its fullest."


Copyright 2005 IndyStar.com. All rights reserved

Slain Marine enlisted to protect his family, country

Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, a Mountain View High School graduate who had been recognized for bravery under fire before he was killed Friday in Iraq, was remembered as a family- oriented man who always had a smile on his face.

http://www.borderlandnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051122/NEWS/511220321/1001

Chris Roberts
El Paso Times

Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, a Mountain View High School graduate who had been recognized for bravery under fire before he was killed Friday in Iraq, was remembered as a family- oriented man who always had a smile on his face.

Despite success in school, Terrazas, 20, felt it was his duty to join the Marines, following a family tradition, said Rosario Terrazas, the Marine's paternal aunt who spoke for the family Monday.

"He felt that that was what he needed to do in his life (join the Marines) to protect his family and his country," Rosario Terrazas said. "He made us very proud of him. ... I was pushing him toward college, but he said that wasn't his route."

Terrazas said her nephew always looked on the positive side of things and looked forward to family fishing trips. "He was going to do his four years (in the Marines) and he wanted to attend school to get into some kind of law- enforcement agency," she said. "Then he wanted marriage and kids."

The family was told that Miguel Terrazas was driving a Humvee that crashed after it was hit by an improvised explosive device set along the road, his aunt said. It was Terrazas' second tour in Iraq.

During his first tour, Terrazas received a commendation for bravery.

On Aug. 18, 2004, after an ambush that started with the detonation of an improvised explosive device, he quickly moved to high ground and accurately reported the battlefield situation, according to the commendation. As the designated marksman, he shot an escaping insurgent, disabling him and ending the threat to his fellow Marines.

In 2003, he graduated from Mountain View High School, where he was a starter at left guard on the football team.

"He was just a super kid," said Mike Jackson, former Mountain View head football coach. "He always had a smile on his face. He was one of our typical Mountain View players, not very big but he gave us everything he's got."

Chris Roberts may be reached at [email protected]; 546-6136.

Iraqi insurgents kill Oregon Marine

ALBANY (AP) — A 21-year-old Marine from Oregon was killed in Iraq Saturday, his family confirmed.

http://www.eastoregonian.info/main.asp?SectionID=13&SubSectionID;=206&ArticleID;=46049&TM;=72144.65

Associated Press

ALBANY (AP) — A 21-year-old Marine from Oregon was killed in Iraq Saturday, his family confirmed.

Tyler Troyer, a lance corporal with the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine G Company, was attacked by insurgents on an early morning patrol near Fallujah, his mother told the Democrat Herald in Albany.

Terri Thorpe, of Tangent, said her son was shot in the head.

Troyer, a 2002 graduate of West Albany High School, enlisted in the Marines after graduation to earn money for college. “I had to sign the papers because he wasn’t 18,” said Thorpe.

She said the yellow ribbon adorning her yard will stay put.

“He gave his life for people that he didn’t know,” she said. “Whether he was right or wrong, or the war’s right or wrong, I can’t answer that. I don’t expect anyone to understand how I’m feeling. I do expect them to show our guys in Iraq respect,” she said.

Troyer is the third West Albany High student to die in Iraq.

“Our school’s going to be devastated,” said Susie Orsborn, principal of West Albany. “I can’t believe we have another one. I just can’t believe it.”

He was West’s only left-handed pitcher and helped lead the team to the playoffs in 2002, the first time in 41 years.

Chad Angel, who coached Troyer for one season, described him as “Real talkative. Typical left-handed pitcher, you know? A little bit out there at times. Everybody liked him. He was everybody’s friend.”

He was engaged and planned to get married on the beach in Oregon when he returned early next year.

Thorpe said two Marines in dress uniform arrived at her doorstep on Saturday afternoon. “The minute I opened the door, of course, obviously, you know,” she said. “I screamed and yelled and fell to the floor, and so did my husband.”

Toys for Tots campaign launched


WASHINGTON--The 2005 U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Campaign was formally launched during the National Toys for Tots Campaign Kickoff Luncheon at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center in Alexandria, Virginia on Friday Nov. 18. The luncheon was hosted by the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation and sponsored by Quantum.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/releaseview/2828717AD2D59869852570C200488A43?opendocument


Press Release
Division of Public Affairs
Headquarters, U. S. Marine Corps
Washington, D. C. 20380-1775
Telephone: 703-614-4309 DSN 224-4309 Fax 703-695-7460
Contact:

Release # 1123-05-0812
Nov. 22, 2005

Toys for Tots campaign launched

WASHINGTON--The 2005 U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Campaign was formally launched during the National Toys for Tots Campaign Kickoff Luncheon at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center in Alexandria, Virginia on Friday Nov. 18. The luncheon was hosted by the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation and sponsored by Quantum.

The audience of 440 included representatives of national corporate sponsors, Toys for Tots donors and supporters, Marine Toys for Tots Foundation directors and business partners, local Toys for Tots coordinators plus a host of dignitaries, which included sixteen flag and general officers and the CEOs of five corporations. Lt. Gen. Matthew T. Cooper, USMC (Ret), the President and CEO of the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, served as the Master of Ceremonies.

The program began with the presentation of the National and Marine Corps Colors by the Marine Color Guard from Marine Barracks Washington. This color ceremony was supported by a Marine bugler and Marine drummer from the Marine Band. Lt. Col. Rose-Ann L. Lynch, of the Secretary of Defense’s staff, sang the National Anthem and Navy Captain David G. Kloak, CHC, the Deputy Chaplain of the Marine Corps, delivered the invocation.

General John R. Dailey, USMC (Ret), Director of the National Air and Space Museum and former Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, was the guest of honor and delivered an inspirational keynote address.

The feature entertainment was provided by the “Cliché”. This barbershop quartet composed of Captain John Reisinger, USN (Ret), Colonel Jerome E. Eiler, USAF( Ret), Colonel Robert M. Nutt, JAGC, USA (Ret), and Lt. Col Robert J. Wachter, USAF (Ret)

has performed extensively in the Washington area for nearly four decades. On Friday, Cliché provided an array of Christmas and other songs. The quartet closed its concert with Lee Greenwood’s composition “I’m Proud to be an American”.

The Foundation recognized the following 2004/5 National Corporate Sponsors:


Quantum
Toys “R” Us
JPMorganChase
UICI Insurance
Big Lots
Group Sales


The Foundation also recognized Mr. Raymond Grace, Chairman & CEO, Creative Direct Response for outstanding support as the Foundation’s Fund Raising Consultant since November 1996.

Lastly, the Foundation recognized Col. John R. Harris, USMC (Ret) of The Boeing Company for being the inspiration for the Foundation’s newest national sponsorship category: National Corporate Events Sponsor.

Mr. Joe Burden, composer, vocalist, bandleader and veteran Marine, entertained the attendees by singing the song, “Semper Fi to the Children”, he composed in 1997 for the 50th anniversary of Toys for Tots. Joe was the concluding event of the luncheon.

Pendleton Cobra pilots remembered during memorial service

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif.(Nov. 22, 2005) -- Family and friends remembered their loved ones Monday in a memorial ceremony held at the Marine Memorial Chapel here.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/016EC6B73AC0B390852570C20004F338?opendocument
Submitted by:
MCB Camp Pendleton
Story by:
Computed Name: Lance Cpl. Lanessa Arthur

Story Identification #:
2005112219544

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif.(Nov. 22, 2005) -- Family and friends remembered their loved ones Monday in a memorial ceremony held at the Marine Memorial Chapel here.

Maj. Gerald M. Bloomfield and Capt. Michael D. Martino both of Marine Light/Attack Helicopter Squadron 369, Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force were 70 miles west of Ar Ramadi, in an AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter, when they crashed while performing a support mission Nov. 2.

Both Bloomfield and Martino were buried at Arlington National Cemetery last week surrounded by other service members who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

The families and Marines of the two pilots filled the chapel and the lawn outside watching a TV monitor and listening to loud speakers. This was one of many ceremonies held for the two Marines.

Marines spoke of the two men and their enthusiasm for life and for the Corps.

The two men were idolized with mention of their outstanding service. There were lighter moments during the memorial, bringing chuckles to the service by the Marines peers with topics of short gym shorts and height, or lack there of.

“Bloomfield was only (5 foot-7-inches) but had the personality of a giant,” said Maj. Dean L. Putnam, maintenance officer, Marine Light/Attack Helicopter Squadron 775.

To conclude the service, members of the family were escorted outside to gaze at a flyover of four AH-1W Super Cobras in honor of the fallen leaders.

The attendees soon gathered to reminisce of the two Marines and the ceremony.

Martino, who acquired the call sign ‘Oprah’ while in Iraq, was a ‘mother hen,’ caring for everyone around him.

Martino told his brother, Robert Martino, “if anything happened to him to take care of mom and dad,” said Sybil E. Martino, mother of 32-year-old Michael Martino.

“He was doing what he loved and he loves his country,” she said. “He loved the Marine Corps and we love the Marine Corps and only have great things to say about it.”
Bloomberg also had a love for the Corps.

“He kept me motivated,” said Maj. Dave L. Barnhart, 3rd Civil Affairs Group and communications Officer, Marine Forces Reserve, II Marine Expeditionary Force. “With aviation he knew what…he was talking about.”

Both Marines were awarded the Air Medal with Numeral “1” posthumously to represent One Strike/Flight Award for their participation as pilots in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“The ceremony was very moving,” said Todd Howard, friend of the family and former Marine. “(Their deaths were) an unfortunate event.”

Purple Heart recipients tell their tales, recognized for courage

VISTA, Calif.(Nov.. 22, 2005) -- The local San Giorgio Lucano Ristorante, known for it’s regular patrons of active duty Marines from Camp Pendleton and salty veterans from the Veteran’s of Foreign Wars club just down the street, was host to a night of sea stories told by Purple Heart recipients of all ages who have fought in every war from World War II to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/c39107fa2d47faa3852570c2000527f1?OpenDocument


Submitted by:
MCB Camp Pendleton
Story by:
Computed Name: Lance Cpl. Patrick J. Floto
Story Identification #:
20051122195619

VISTA, Calif.(Nov.. 22, 2005) -- The local San Giorgio Lucano Ristorante, known for it’s regular patrons of active duty Marines from Camp Pendleton and salty veterans from the Veteran’s of Foreign Wars club just down the street, was host to a night of sea stories told by Purple Heart recipients of all ages who have fought in every war from World War II to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Aside from the approximately 30 Marines and sailors and their families, a California Congressman and a former San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl winner attended the event.

“It’s really simple what we’re doing. We want to honor our wounded warriors every opportunity we get,” said Congressman Don McKiney (R-CA). “Certainly those who have been wounded deserve our respect and admiration, and we want to let them know that.”

As McKiney handed out Certificates of Special Congressional Recognition to the Purple Heart recipients to recognize their dedicated service to their nation, he added that he felt privileged to eat with the heroes.

Jim Marabotto, former tight end for the San Francisco 49ers, proudly spoke with the veterans as they recalled their experiences.

“I got to meet President Reagan at the White House after winning the ’81 Super Bowl against Cincinnati, but that was nothing compared to this,” Marabotto said. “I’ve gotten so much out of this night, I can’t tell you what this means to meet these guys. This Truly is a highlight of my life.”

Former Brig. Gen. L. R. Seamon, a three-time Purple Heart recipient and veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, had the most tales to share with the civilian supporters and the younger servicemembers.

“I sympathize with these guys because I am a Purple Heart recipient myself, and I know what it’s like to get hurt,” said Seamon. “But I also know how to get through it and go on with my career and my life. I want to encourage each and every one of these wounded warriors not to be down and out, but convince them that there is in fact a future for them.”

Seamon, more than 80 years old and retired for 14 years, still visits wounded veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan three times a month at hospitals.

After the saltiest of the veterans stepped down, the younger told their more recent sea stories.

“My father was a Marine Raider during World War II. I know the kind of courage it takes for these guys to do what they do, so we should all take care of them,” said Greg Schull, a regular at the restaurant who almost always picks up the tabs of veterans such as 21-year-old Lance Cpl. Chris L. Little.

Little, a rifleman with Company G, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, took shrapnel after a mortar landed by his roving patrol in Ramadi.

“It’s awesome what the community out here will do for you,” said the Emporia, Kan., native. “The communities outside (military bases) are usually the only ones that hear about everything we have done for our country. I just wish more people around the country could hear about the good things we have done.”

Cleanup efforts praised; years of more work ahead

Bladders and metal tanks at the Las Pulgas Landfill on Camp Pendleton hold 300,000 gallons of contaminated water, just one of several environmental concerns on the base.

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/military/20051122-9999-1n22pollute.html


By Rick Rogers
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

November 22, 2005


LAURA EMBRY / Union-Tribune
Bladders and metal tanks at the Las Pulgas Landfill on Camp Pendleton hold 300,000 gallons of contaminated water, just one of several environmental concerns on the base.
Contaminated drinking water is the latest environmental problem plaguing Camp Pendleton, which has so many toxic waste sites that it was declared a public health threat more than a decade ago.

The 125,000-acre base – the last large chunk of mostly undeveloped land between Los Angeles and the U.S.-Mexico border – is an environmental contradiction. Bald eagles soar over the site and steelhead trout swim in its waters. But the area is also home to plumes of solvents, pockets of pesticides and trenches of petrochemicals.

Some of the trouble is decades old, to times before anyone realized the dangers of burying, burning or dumping hazardous materials. Others are more recent, such as Camp Pendleton's difficulties with dangerously high levels of lead and copper in its tap water.

Even a well-intentioned project has now become an environmental headache. A liner for a base landfill that opened in 1999 has leaked radioactive runoff, according to documents from the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board. The liner threatens to leak again during the rainy season.

It will cost more than $250 million and take a decade to fully assess all of Camp Pendleton's pollution concerns, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates. The dollar figure does not include expenses for actual cleanup and bills related to at least one lawsuit alleging that toxin-laced dust made a Marine's daughter sick.

"If you look at Camp Pendleton in terms of risks to people, it is one of the more seriously contaminated military sites in the country," said Lenny Siegel, executive director of the Center for Public Environmental Oversight, a watchdog group based in San Francisco.

Even so, Siegel and state and federal pollution experts largely give high marks to Camp Pendleton's environmental program.

For example, they praise base officials' prompt efforts to provide free bottled water and medical screening for people concerned about exposure to tap water containing high levels of lead or copper. The Marines began offering the assistance in September, when they announced the contamination problem.

"They're not dragging their feet," said Martin Hausladen, an EPA project manager who monitors Camp Pendleton.

A national priority
In 1989, Camp Pendleton was the first location in San Diego County named to the federal Superfund list.

Congress created the Superfund in 1980 to pay for cleaning up hazardous-waste sites that threaten public health. While the Defense Department pays for environmental restoration on military bases, being selected for the national priority list still brings with it the moniker "Superfund site."


LAURA EMBRY / Union-Tribune
More than 500 monitoring wells are set up throughout Camp Pendleton to give state, federal and military officials a way to track the movement of contaminants on the base.
By 1989, the Marines had detected Silvex, a cancer-causing herbicide now banned in the United States, in two drinking-water wells and discovered hazardous waste in seven locations at Camp Pendleton, the EPA said.

Since then, the number of toxic sites on the base has surged to at least 208, according to an EPA report issued in 2004. That's not counting the more than 250 underground fuel tanks that were found to be leaking and removed in the 1980s and 1990s.

Today, more than 500 monitoring wells throughout Camp Pendleton track the movement of contaminants and serve as the front lines for state, federal and Marine Corps agencies working to protect the 60,000 people who live and work on the base.

Officials from the EPA, state Department of Toxic Substances Control and regional water board are working with Camp Pendleton officials to fix the problems.

Since 1989, the Pentagon has spent $148 million on Camp Pendleton trouble spots the EPA has described as "low-hanging fruit." Remaining are "some very difficult sites," said Beatrice Griffey, a geologist supervising cleanup of Camp Pendleton's underground storage tanks for the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board.

Nationally, there are about 1,300 Superfund sites. Fifty, including Camp Pendleton, fall under the Navy's jurisdiction. The other Marine installations on the national priority list are:

Camp Lejeune, N.C.

The logistics base in Albany, Ga.

The logistics base in Barstow.

The Cherry Point air station in North Carolina.

The Parris Island recruit depot in South Carolina.

Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia.

The Yuma air station.

The former El Toro air station in Orange County.

Complete details on the scope and progress of Camp Pendleton's environmental restoration work are difficult to obtain. But documents that base officials submitted to the secretary of defense in 1997 and 1998 describe some of the challenges.

For instance, the paperwork described leaking underground tanks that "contaminated millions of gallons of groundwater – the only source of drinking water for over 30,000 Marines, sailors" and their families on the base.

More than 100 tons of contaminants from the base's aquifers were removed, the documents showed.

Threats old and new
In recent months, the Navy unveiled a $16 million plan to clean two additional polluted sites at Camp Pendleton – a former burn pit and a flood-prone, small-arms range that contains copper, arsenic, lead and dioxins.

Camp Pendleton is vulnerable to groundwater contamination because its aquifers are relatively close to the surface. So far, with the apparent exceptions of the Silvex and now the lead and copper, its drinking water has been largely spared.

But more environmental threats loom.


LAURA EMBRY / Union-Tribune
Large bladders on the base are filled with water contaminated with tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen.
Hausladen said a plume of chlorinated solvents from the Camp Pendleton air station has crept 100 feet to 150 feet toward drinking-water wells in the past four years.

Concentrations of the solvents are four to eight times higher than federal guidelines. Officials with the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board believe it is just a matter of time before the plume reaches the wells.

Camp Pendleton officials can use existing technology to remove chlorinated solvents and other contaminants on the base. Such work can be extremely expensive, said John Anderson, a senior geologist for the water board. As a backup strategy, he said, the Marines are considering importing some of their water.

Not all of Camp Pendleton's problems are linked to past practices.

The Las Pulgas Landfill is located slightly west of the base's central area. In the late 1990s, the Marines wanted to add a 17-acre section to the 39-acre site. They hired contractors to expand the landfill and brought in another contractor to monitor the work.

On May 24, 1999, the contractors finished installing a liner to keep contaminants from seeping into the ground, according to records from the water board.

The first whiff of potential trouble with the liner came when the Marine Corps failed to submit an inspection report that summer. When base officials turned in a report in December, it was incomplete, the water board said.

Then in April 2003, Camp Pendleton was cited for failure to control erosion and runoff from the landfill. That December, a study suggested the liner was damaged. Water board officials described a "number of technical discrepancies between the as-built construction and the design specifications."

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During a December 2004 meeting, water officials discussed "referral to a federal/state agency for investigation of criminal/negligence issues" concerning the liner.

At the very least, the sides of the liner have failed and it is possible that the bottom has split as well, said John Odermatt, a senior engineering geologist for the regional water quality board. The board is drafting an order to force Camp Pendleton to fix the landfill.

Marine officials said they are investigating whether the liner has leakage problems.

Since February, Camp Pendleton has been cited four times for its leaking landfill. At least 1,000 gallons of leachate – water that filters through garbage – has seeped into the ground, according to the water board.

At least 300,000 additional gallons of leachate are being stored at the Las Pulgas Landfill in large bladders and metal tanks. The liquid is contaminated with tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen, at levels up to 2.5 times the federal limit for drinking water.

The Marine Corps said it is close to finalizing an agreement with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that will allow it to dump the tritium into its sewage treatment system. The idea is to dilute the tritium to federal Clean Water Act standards and then discharge the treated waste into the ocean.

As Camp Pendleton officials work with various regulatory agencies to address pollution problems, they also face the prospect of a courtroom battle.

A July 2002 lawsuit filed in San Diego federal court alleges that a young girl living with her family at the base's Wire Mountain housing complex suffered severe brain damage from landfill waste.

The suit claims that in late 1999 and early 2000, Lacie Myers was exposed to thallium that blew off dirt being disposed in a landfill near her home and school. Thallium, a toxic metal, is now banned but was once used in rat poison.

Lacie, now 9, continues to suffer from ailments such as mental impairment and hypersensitivity to heat and cold, the lawsuit says. Her family seeks $15 million in damages, and the case could go to trial early next year.

Neither Scott Allen, the San Francisco lawyer representing the Myers family, nor Camp Pendleton officials would comment on the litigation.

In the immediate future, Camp Pendleton residents should not fear an environmental catastrophe, said Anderson, the water board geologist. He's less sure about the long-term situation.

"There always seems to be a contaminant du jour that (Camp Pendleton officials) have to deal with," Anderson said.

Marines weigh legitimate claims against Husaybah humbug

Iraqis seeking compensation line up outside base

By Andrew Tilghman, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Tuesday, November 22, 2005

HUSAYBAH, Iraq — Abdul Nasser Gazi was one of more than 150 men who lined up outside the newly established U.S. Marine base in Husaybah on Monday to lodge complaints and request compensation for property damaged in a seven-day battle earlier this month.

To continue reading:

http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article;=33172

Back from boot camp, Marine relishes comforts of home

RICHMOND — Within five minutes of being reunited with his family at the end of Marine Corps basic training, Mat Seigars told his mother, "You know, Mom, I'm going to Iraq."

http://www.timesrecord.com/website/main.nsf/news.nsf/0/91FF58288FB41202052570C0005B24EE?Opendocument


[email protected]
11/21/2005
RICHMOND — Within five minutes of being reunited with his family at the end of Marine Corps basic training, Mat Seigars told his mother, "You know, Mom, I'm going to Iraq."

That wasn't what Karen Seigars wanted to hear after traveling to Parris Island, S.C., to celebrate her son's successful completion of boot camp.

By the time her 18-year-old son had returned to Richmond on leave, Karen Seigars had taken a somewhat philosophical approach to his possible deployment to Iraq.

"There's no safe place to be anymore," she said.

"Yes there is," he said. "Next to a Marine."

A friend's recent experience exposed Mat and Karen Seigars to the vagaries of life in the Marine Corps.

Andrew Blake, who like Mat Seigars joined the Marines while a student at Richmond High School, was scheduled to train for a year to be an airplane mechanic after completing boot camp. But some of the same Marines who were scheduled to train with Blake to become airplane mechanics instead had their assignments switched.

They are now training to go to Iraq or Afghanistan.

Homecoming

Mat Seigars returned to Richmond recently for a 10-day leave. That break ended Sunday, and he is now at Camp Geiger in North Carolina for 22 days of specialized combat training.

From Camp Geiger, he is scheduled to go to Pensacola, Fla., for aviation mechanic training. Mat said the training is supposed to last a year but could be less if he gets sent to Iraq or another assignment.

His family and friends gave Mat a hero's welcome when he returned from Parris Island. The sign outside Karen's business, Latte.Tea Café on Main Street, read, "Welcome Home, Mat, You Marine. Hoorah!"

He donned his dress uniform and went back to Richmond High School on Tuesday to visit with staff and old friends there — and do a little subliminal recruiting. Mat was one of seven — out of a total of 38 — members of the Richmond High School class of 2005 to enter the military.

During the visit to his alma mater, a few students approached him and asked about basic training. Mat told them about how it helped him get into better shape. When he started, Mat said he could do four pull-ups. Now he can do 10.

He wore a National Defense ribbon, a red-colored band showing that he joined the armed services during a time of war, and a marksmanship badge on his uniform.

His days of leave have been crammed with visits to friends and family and an assortment of things he missed. Karen cooked the one meal Mat wanted her to make, chicken parmesan. He has taken long showers, instead of the quick ones he was forced to take during boot camp.

Mat said he wanted to use some of his time back in Richmond to see a few movies, including "Jarhead," which focuses on the Marines' role in the Middle East.

But his real reason for being home was to be with his family.

"I couldn't be prouder," Karen said of her son. "But my heart sinks to think he could be in danger."

More than 2,000 members of the U.S. armed services have died as a result of combat operations in Iraq since the war began in March 2003. As of Nov. 17, a total of 603 Marines had died in Iraq, said Capt. Jay Delarosa, public affairs officer for the Marines in the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

In June, around the time her son was graduating from Richmond High School, Karen described herself as a fan of President George W. Bush, but not a war fan. This month, she said she's losing faith in Bush as a leader.

"It's all to do with the war," she said.

Karen said she can't see how the continued presence of U.S. armed forces in Iraq will convert that nation to a democracy. Whenever stories about the war appear on the news, she tries to ignore them. She still thinks about Mat and his graduating class.

"You see all those kids and they're so young," she said.

While Karen expressed concern and doubt about the war and the real possibility that got her son will be sent to fight in Iraq, Mat was more optimistic. He exuded the confidence of a new Marine during his first trip home as one, and that confidence was buoyed by support and handshakes from people who stopped by Latte.Tea Café to see him during his leave.

Larry Dearborn, a Richmond resident and former national American Legion commander, tried to convince him to join the Emerson-Lane American Legion Post. His grandfather, Leonard Hook, stepped inside and told him, "You look good. You look real, real good."

Thanksgiving dinner came a week early for Mat and his family. They celebrated the holiday on Thursday at his mom's restaurant after Latte.Tea Café closed for the day.

Life as a soldier

Mat always used to play soldier when he was a little boy, his mother said.

Her son corrected her. He's a Marine, not a soldier.

That's one of many lessons Mat learned. A hat is called a "cover" and is not to be worn indoors. When seated in a chair, a Marine places his left hand on the left knee and the right hand on the right knee, feet at a 45 degree angle — no crossed legs.

He heard no music in basic training, but he learned all the words to the Marine Corps hymn. With the rest of his platoon, Mat sang it during graduation from boot camp.

For him, the memorable shots in basic training came from needles, not rifles. Recruits were immunized for everything from yellow fever to smallpox, including a brown-colored dose of what Mat called a "peanut butter shot," that came from a large, stainless steel syringe administered to the right buttock.

"It was the most physically painful part of boot camp," he said. "Getting the shot then going for a hike."

He and the other recruits felt sore whenever they stopped while on a six-mile hike at the beginning of a field exercise.

The shot was a form of penicillin called bicillin. The exercise from the hike helps spread the serum through a recruit's system because bicillin is so dense, said Staff Sgt. Ken Tinnin, public affairs officer for the Marine Corps recruiting station in Portsmouth, N.H.

All the hikes, pull-ups and stomach crunches helped him lose 20 pounds during the 13-week basic training. Don't blame Marine Corps cooking.

"The food was awesome," Mat said.

The salad bar was always stocked with fresh fruit and vegetables. One of his favorite meals was "chili mac" — macaroni and cheese with chili.

Recruits who found themselves at the end of the chow line had to gobble their food. They only had 20 minutes, though they had to guess about the time. Recruits were not allowed to wear watches.

Mat will often steal a glance at a clock now, unused to having them back in his life.

Boot camp is designed to be all-consuming. The outside world — everything from time to family — is rationed or eliminated altogether. Information came in small doses. He lived in a squad bay filled with bunks and no television news or newspapers.

Drill instructors would pass on information about baseball playoffs, hurricanes and the World Series. Mail provided information from home because recruits not allowed to make telephone calls or send e-mail.

Drill instructors told them, "No one is an individual" and stressed the idea of "one heartbeat" as recruits trained together.

Although Mat had to pass tests on his own to complete boot camp, he graduated as part of a unit, not as an individual. He became a Marine as part of a group of 650 men and women.

Just don't ask him to give any of their first names. He doesn't know any.

"It wasn't 'I' or 'me,'" Mat said. "It was 'This recruit,' 'That recruit."

Recognized as a Marine

At Richmond High School on Tuesday, he got more handshakes from students and faculty. One student hugged him and gave him her senior picture, with a long message written on the back. Mat put it inside his "cover."

The positive feedback was not just in his home town. While in Atlanta's airport, a man ahead of him in a line paid for his sandwich for lunch.

Another person in the same line gave him $20 and said, "Here. Dinner's on me."

Where he gets stationed after all the training is like a big lottery, Mat said. Wherever the Marine Corps needs people to go, he'll go — including Iraq.

"That's what we've been training for for the last three months, so I'm prepared to go. I'm kind of nervous," he said.

If he does go to Iraq, Mat said he will be at the peak of his training, thanks to his experience at Parris Island.

[email protected]

PMO Marine goes above and beyond for Thanksgiving

CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan(Nov. 22, 2005) -- Fifteen turkeys, 10 hams, 560 dinner rolls, 32 pies and heaps of side dishes, drinks and other desserts might seem like a lot of food, but for one Provost Marshal’s Office Marine, it’s just enough.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/99742F0A1FAFF614852570C00064D593?opendocument


Submitted by:
MCB Camp Butler
Story by:
Computed Name: Lance Cpl. Erin F. McKnight
Story Identification #:
20051121132122

CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan(Nov. 22, 2005) -- Fifteen turkeys, 10 hams, 560 dinner rolls, 32 pies and heaps of side dishes, drinks and other desserts might seem like a lot of food, but for one Provost Marshal’s Office Marine, it’s just enough.

For Master Gunnery Sgt. Paul A. Lee, 35 gallons of peanut oil, four deep fryers and two large ham smokers are just enough to prepare an entire Thanksgiving feast for more than 600 PMO Marines, Japanese security guards, master labor contractors, and government and civilian employees across Okinawa.

For the past two years, Lee, the provost sergeant for Marine Corps Base Camp Butler PMO, has devoted himself to organizing this holiday treat.

“They labor all year,” said Lee, referring to his PMO Marines. “At least for one day, we can take off our chevrons and say ‘Hey Marine, I’m doing this for you. Thank you.’”

Lee does a lot of the work for this dinner, such as overseeing it and preparing the hams, but to bring his efforts to fruition, he enlists the help of Master Sgt. Milton Miller and Jennifer Young. Miller, operations chief for PMO, prepares the turkeys, while Young, administrative officer for PMO, coordinates with the wives to bring side dishes.

Representatives from different Marine camps will pick up dinner trays from Camp Foster’s PMO and return to their home base with the meals, Lee explained. This way the Marines can sit down at their offices and enjoy a holiday meal together.

Cpl. Samuel Childress, operations non-commissioned officer, MCB Camp Butler PMO, said he thinks the dinner is great for young unaccompanied Marines.

“(Lee) realizes that being separated from family and friends back home on the holidays is one of the toughest things to go through,” Childress said. “It’s very selfless of him to organize this. It helps out the junior Marines who, for the most part, don’t have any family here.”

Lee also organized an all-ranks PMO ball, which is open to all of PMO, not just Marines. This is the first time in 12 years PMO has come together as a unit to celebrate the Marine Corps’ birthday, explained Lt. Col. John Troutman, provost marshal, MCB Camp Butler PMO.

“(Lee) has really taken the bull by the horns,” Troutman said of his right-hand-man. “He’s really the PMO birthday ball chairman. I would say he’s done 85 percent of all the coordination involved.”

Troutman said he appreciates the hard work Lee has done to organize the ball and is thankful for the opportunity for PMO to spend an evening together in celebration.

“These MPs work long hours and hectic schedules in an organization that never sleeps, and we appreciate the time for camaraderie,” Troutman said.

Troutman said he has known Lee since Lee was a “young gunny,” and has always noticed the best qualities in his senior enlisted advisor.

“He’s got lots of initiative, is devoted to accomplishing the mission and always looks out for the best interest of the young Marines,” Troutman said.

Childress said coordinating the Thanksgiving dinner is just one of many ways Lee looks out for the Marines under his charge.

“He always goes the extra step—the extra mile—for his Marines and shows he really cares,” Childress said.

November 21, 2005

Deployed Troops to Get Thanksgiving Meal

Nearly 186,000 pounds of turkey, 108,000 pounds of ham, and 82,000 pounds of stuffing mix will be served for Thanksgiving meals for troops in Iraq and Kuwait, according to officials at the Defense Logistics Agency.
That includes 87,456 pounds each of boneless white turkey meat and boneless dark turkey meat; and 11,000 pounds of whole turkeys. Another 12,050 pounds of boneless turkey and 6,032 pounds of whole turkey are on the menu for Afghanistan.

http://www.marinetimes.com/story.php?f=1-292925-1310773.php


November 21, 2005


By Karen Jowers
Times staff writer


Nearly 186,000 pounds of turkey, 108,000 pounds of ham, and 82,000 pounds of stuffing mix will be served for Thanksgiving meals for troops in Iraq and Kuwait, according to officials at the Defense Logistics Agency.
That includes 87,456 pounds each of boneless white turkey meat and boneless dark turkey meat; and 11,000 pounds of whole turkeys. Another 12,050 pounds of boneless turkey and 6,032 pounds of whole turkey are on the menu for Afghanistan.

Troops will also get shrimp and beef.

Side dishes will include 2,915 cases of corn on the cob, 11,664 cans each of mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes, and 2,916 cans of cranberry sauce in the Iraq theater. Corn on the cob will not be going to Afghanistan, but the other sides will be on the menu there.

To top things off, 21,204 pies will be served in the Iraq war zone and 10,896 in Afghanistan.

Each year, the Defense Supply Center Philadelphia provides about $12.7 billion worth of food, clothing and textiles, medicines and medical equipment, and general and construction supplies for troops. The supply center is part of the Defense Logistics Agency.

Toys for Tots telethon to help hurricane victim

NEW YORK --NBC lights up the night with an incredible array of musical performances and the lighting of the world's most famous Christmas tree during the 8th annual "Christmas in Rockefeller Center" spectacula

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/releaseview/2323F479E74701E7852570C20048C141?opendocument


Press Release
Division of Public Affairs
Headquarters, U. S. Marine Corps
Washington, D. C. 20380-1775
Telephone: 703-614-4309 DSN 224-4309 Fax 703-695-7460
Contact:

Release # 1123-05-0814
Nov. 21, 2005

Toys for Tots telethon to help hurricane victims


NEW YORK --NBC lights up the night with an incredible array of musical performances and the lighting of the world's most famous Christmas tree during the 8th annual "Christmas in Rockefeller Center" spectacular, telecast live on Wednesday, Nov. 30 (8-9:00 p.m. ET/PT). Hosted by Al Roker ("Today") and Megan Mullally ("Will & Grace"), the 73rd tree-lighting extravaganza will feature Rod Stewart, Sheryl Crow, Carrie Underwood ("American Idol"), Regis Philbin, Brian Wilson ("The Beach Boys"), the Brian Setzer Orchestra, and Earth, Wind & Fire performing current hits and holiday favorites sure to warm the coldest holiday heart.

Broadcast for the first time in high definition, the special will include a fund-raising component as NBC partners with the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation to raise money for the children displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. On hand to help front this effort will be a few of the children personally affected by the disasters. Funds raised will be used to purchase toys to be distributed to children whose lives were devastated by the storms. Donations can be made via the Toys for Tots Web site (www.toysfortots.org) or a toll-free number (866-IM4-TOYS) or (866-464-8697).

Performing from beautifully decorated stages located at the re-opened historic Top of the Rock observation deck and a rooftop overlooking New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral, to stages located beneath the iconic statue of Prometheus and in front of the majestic tree, each artist's powerful performance will exemplify the beauty and spirit of the holiday season.

This year's tree is a Norway Spruce belonging to Arnold Raquet of Wayne, N.J. Estimated to be between 60 and 70 years old, the tree weighs nine tons and is 74-feet high and 42-feet wide. It will be decked out with 30,000 colored bulbs lining five miles of wire. The tree will be crowned with a crystal star designed by Swarovski, which was unveiled last year. The star is adorned with 25,000 crystals, one million facets and is lit from within with LEDs, that will radiate over midtown Manhattan from its perch atop the 74-foot tree. The star measures 9 -1/2 feet in diameter and 1-1/2 feet deep, making it the largest star to grace a Rockefeller tree.


-30-

Returning to Work Following Military Duty

Adjusting back to work following military duty.

http://www.militaryonesource.com/ctim/index.aspx?ctim=105.371.1145.6152

Returning to the work force after deployment requires some readjustment, even if you were away from your civilian job for only a few months. You may be returning to the same job or a new position, or to a job that has changed in your absence. Getting used to the change of pace, and adjusting to both new and familiar faces and activities can take time. Here are some ways to help make the transition smoother.

What to expect
When you return to work you may face some of these adjustments:
You may feel "out of place" for a time. You may feel really happy to be home and back at work. At the same time, you may feel some resentment that co-workers have done fine without you. These feelings are a normal part of the adjustment process.
You may find civilian life less exciting than the military experience. Civilian life and work responsibilities may seem uninteresting compared to active-duty responsibilities. This may be especially true if you were deployed in active combat situations.
You may feel extra tired, less motivated than usual, or occasionally discouraged. There may be no single reason for these feelings. You may not be able to jump back into work with your usual focus or enthusiasm right away. These feelings are a normal part of the adjustment process.
You may need to take it slow. Anticipation that has built up since you knew you were coming home may cause you to want to do everything at once. Keep in mind that your body is adjusting to a time-zone change and to many new things that happened while you were away. That can make this time harder than you expected.
People and circumstances may have changed. You are coming from a place where everyone understood your mission, job, and special talents. Once you've returned home, most people around you won't really understand your experience in the military and war. Change is normal and expected, but it can make you feel out of sync for a time.


It's important to keep in mind that re-integration to civilian life is more of a process than a single event. It usually takes several months for returning service personnel to feel fully back into the swing of things. The adjustment often takes place gradually, sometimes in almost unnoticeable ways. If you give yourself enough time, you'll adjust according to your own timetable.


Talking with co-workers and your manager
Here are some ways to make the adjustment back to work go more smoothly:
Find out about workplace changes that took place in your absence. Schedule time with your supervisor to talk about any changes that took place at work while you were away. Ask for information. You may want to ask for background or context information about certain decisions or changes. Discuss how these changes will affect you and the work you do. Talk with co-workers, too, about the changes that took place while you were gone.
Do your homework to find out how the business or organization has changed in your absence. Perhaps there are memos or correspondence you could read. With permission, look at reports or evaluations of work in your area. This will help make conversations with your supervisor more productive.
Thank people who may have covered for you in your absence. You might say, "Thanks for the work you did covering for me while I was deployed. It feels good to be back."
Talk about your deployment experiences, but in moderation. It's fine to talk about your recent military experiences. Most people will be interested in hearing about them. But don't overdo it. Keep in mind that some people may not want to know all about your experiences. And ask that people respect your feelings if they want more information than you would prefer to give.
Be sure to show interest in how your co-workers are doing and what news you missed about them in your absence.
Think about how your military experiences could be used to make a contribution to your job now. Chances are, you have experience with new tools, work methods, and management techniques that could help your organization succeed. Look for opportunities to share what you've learned with your supervisor. It could make a real difference.

Making the transition
Here are some tips to help you ease back into work the first days and weeks:
Don't overschedule yourself, especially your first days back.
Realize that your return to the workplace may be an adjustment for your co-workers as well as for you. A co-worker who filled in for you while you were away may now be facing a job change.
Meet new people who joined the organization in your absence.

Finding support
Here are suggestions on finding support as you make the adjustment back to work:
Seek support if you are having problems coping or if you could use help during the readjustment period. Seek support from friends, family, and your supervisor or employer.
Use the military resources that are available to you. The military offers many sources of support for service members both before and after a deployment. One helpful Web site is the Army site http://www.hooah4health.com (click on "Deployment" and then on "Family Matters").
If needed, ask for accommodations at work during the adjustment period. This may require some negotiating with your supervisor. If part-time rather than full-time work would help, for example, talk with your supervisor about this possibility. A timetable and milestones could be set to help you both know when a change to full-time is right.
Ask your supervisor for the support you need to learn new tasks.
If you need help resolving a problem with a co-worker or your supervisor, consider talking with a professional.
Keep in mind that the adjustment period can take six weeks or so. The time varies from person to person. But if you aren't feeling back to yourself several weeks after your return, you may want to talk with a professional. Your employee assistance program (EAP) or employee resource program can help you find support and resources.


© 2003 Ceridian Corporation. All rights reserved.

Rumsfeld makes no troop withdrawal promises

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld made no promises for a significant withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq next year, sticking to the Pentagon’s long-held assertion that field commanders will determine when to begin a military drawdown.

http://www.marinetimes.com/story.php?f=1-292925-1364360.php

By Douglass K. Daniel
Associated Press


Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld made no promises for a significant withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq next year, sticking to the Pentagon’s long-held assertion that field commanders will determine when to begin a military drawdown.
Citing the Dec. 15 elections in Iraq, Rumsfeld said troop levels would remain near 160,000. Depending upon conditions, troops then would return to pre-election levels of 138,000 as planned, he said.

Debate in Congress over when to bring troops home turned bitter last week after a decorated Marine Corps veteran of the Vietnam War, Rep. John Murtha, a Pennsylvania Democrat, called for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, and estimated a pullout could be complete within six months. Republicans called Murtha’s position one of abandonment and surrender.

Rumsfeld, appearing on Sunday news shows, suggested that talk of an early withdrawal encourages insurgents and discourages U.S. troops.

“The enemy hears a big debate in the United States, and they have to wonder maybe all we have to do is wait and we’ll win. We can’t win militarily. They know that. The battle is here in the United States,” he told “Fox News Sunday.”

U.S. troops, the defense secretary said, believe they are making progress in a noble cause in which the U.S. will prevail. Yet, he said, the debate over leaving immediately may make them wonder “whether what they’re doing makes sense if that’s the idea.”

“We have to all have the willingness to have a free debate, but we also all have to have the willingness to understand what the effects of our words are,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”

Leaving Iraq too soon would allow Iraq to be turned into a haven for terrorists, Rumsfeld said.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that were we to pull out precipitously, the American people would be in greater danger than they are today,” he told CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Murtha said he believes Iraqis can take over the battle against the insurgents and allow U.S. troops to move out of danger.

“We just have to give them the incentive to take it over,” Murtha said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“They’re going to let us do the fighting as long as we’re there. And, until we turn it over to them, they’re not going to be up to standards,” the congressman said.

Rumsfeld said the U.S.-led coalition continues to make progress in training Iraqi security forces, which he placed at 212,000.

Rumsfeld disputed reports that fewer than 1,000 Iraqis were capable of fighting the insurgency without coalition assistance. Calling the lower number “a red herring,” he said it does not reflect the involvement of Iraqis in securing their country.

“The Iraqi security forces are out engaged in the fight. Some are in the lead, some are working with us in tandem, others are working with us where we have the lead, and that’s perfectly understandable,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”

In September, Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, told senators that only one Iraqi army battalion appeared capable of fighting without U.S. help.

Sen. Joseph Biden, a Delaware Democrat, said that bringing home the troops before determining whether Iraq has reached a political consensus would be a mistake. But he said troop levels necessarily must fall below 100,000 next year unless the entire National Guard is mobilized and troop rotations fundamentally changed.

Biden said President George W. Bush has yet to level with Americans about the war, which he said is why public support has fallen. In a recent Associated Press-Ipsos poll, almost six in 10 disapproved of the way the president was handling the war in Iraq.

“We’re losing the American people, and that is a disaster,” Biden said.

Some critics of the way in which the war has been conducted have contended that more troops, not fewer, are needed. Rumsfeld, however, said that senior commanders have never been denied the level of troops they have requested.

Marines Persuade Militia to Disarm

HUSAYBAH, Iraq — The U.S. Marines keep saying the same thing to a local militia leader known as Abu Ali: Stop carrying your weapons. (3/6)


http://www.military.com/features/0,15240,80954,00.html

Stars and Stripes | Andrew Tilghman | November 21, 2005
HUSAYBAH, Iraq — The U.S. Marines keep saying the same thing to a local militia leader known as Abu Ali: Stop carrying your weapons.

Nevertheless, the man, who heads a local paramilitary group, continues to ride around this dusty border town with a cohort of armed men and several pickups laden with heavy artillery.

“We are carrying weapons for our own protection,” Abu Ali, a 39-year-old father of seven and former Army officer under Saddam Hussein, explained to the Marines at a recent meeting.

Disarming the militia, a tribal-based group known as the Katab Al Hamsa, has become a priority for the Marines who swept through this former insurgent stronghold last week and are working to create a long-term presence here to stabilize the region.

“We will not allow a militia to operate in this area. If you are not a part of the Iraqi army or the U.S. Marines, you will not be allowed on the streets with weapons,” Lt. Col. Dale Alford, commander of 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, told Abu Ali and others at a recent meeting.

The Marines were pleased that Abu Ali showed up at a meeting of community leaders Sunday unarmed and wearing civilian clothes. But they were disappointed to see he brought an entourage of uniformed soldiers and armed vehicles that parked outside the meeting and waited just beyond the U.S. base’s concrete barriers.

“I’m going to stomp on their livers here in a couple of days if they don’t cut it out,” Alford said after Abu Ali left.

The Marines have heard reports that the militia is threatening, assaulting or even killing local residents from a rival tribe.

Yet the militia has been an U.S. ally in the broader war against insurgents, and the Marines here are treading cautiously as they seek to disarm them.

Here in the far-flung desert towns of the western Euphrates River valley, the larger war against insurgents is entangled with a complex and age-old rivalry between local Sunni tribes.

Abu Ali’s militia is essentially drawn from the Abu Mahals, a local tribe locked in a bitter and bloody feud with their longtime rivals, the prominent Salamani tribe.

The insurgents who controlled the city for the past year aligned themselves with the Salamanis.

The U.S. forces, on the other hand, recently began training and equipping fighters from the Abu Mahal militia. This tribal force of about 100 men fought with the Marines and the Iraqi army units that pushed through the city last week.

The force, dubbed the Desert Protectors, may help patrol the Syrian border in the coming months, but its precise role remains unclear, Marines said.

For now, the Marines are urging Abu Ali and others from his militia not to seek out and raid homes of suspected insurgents. Instead, they want the militia to pass on any information to the Iraqi army commander.

“I want you to tell him what you know about insurgents and he will go get them with the help of the Marines,” Alford said, referring to local Iraqi army leader Col. Hamid. “If you want to help turn in insurgents, that’s a good thing and we’ll sit down with you.”

On Sunday, militia members met with Marines and local Iraqi army leaders to provide information about suspected insurgents.

The militia, estimated at about 400 men, is remarkably well armed and carries new equipment traditionally associated with old Soviet Special Forces units. They have new uniforms, as well as Kalishnikov rifles, PKC guns in their pickups, rocket-propelled grenades, and other weapons that Abu Ali said were “secret.”

The militia was kicked out of the city several months ago by an alliance of their rival tribe and insurgents. The city’s other prominent tribe, the Salamanis, fears that the group will seek revenge in the coming weeks.

Convincing the militia members to set down their weapons before they feel completely secure will be difficult, said Capt. Will Maxcy, who works with the military transition team in the Husaybah area.

“They are going to do whatever they want to do for their own protection,” Maxcy said.

The delicate negotiations with the local militia is just one step in the broader transition from a tribal-based society to one run by a government and founded on the rule of law, said Maj. Ed Rueda, who works with the civil military affairs unit here.

“Once they realize that the monopoly of violence is reserved for the state, they’ll be fine. But for right now, that is completely foreign to them,” Rueda said.

Sound Off...What do you think? Join the discussion.


© 2005 Stars & Stripes. All opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of Military.com.

Iraqi Troops' Behavior Fuels Tensions

HUSAYBAH, Iraq — Shortly after nightfall, Khalid Kadem was relaxing with his mother and sister when he heard a thud in the courtyard outside his home.

http://www.military.com/features/0,15240,80956,00.html


Stars and Stripes | Andrew Tilghman | November 21, 2005
HUSAYBAH, Iraq — Shortly after nightfall, Khalid Kadem was relaxing with his mother and sister when he heard a thud in the courtyard outside his home.

A moment later, a team of Iraqi army soldiers stormed into his living room, assaulted him and accused him of being a terrorist.

“They were punching me in the face and accusing me of plotting against them,” the 26-year-old store worker said. “They just barged in, and they didn’t give the women an opportunity to cover themselves.”

Meanwhile, outside the home, a squad of U.S. Marines was puzzled by the unexpected aggressiveness of the Iraqi army unit they were with on a joint patrol.

“We heard all this yelling and screaming. We were like ‘What the hell is going on?’” Cpl. David Rios recalled.

“We were trying to look friendly, not be aggressive, giving out soccer balls and stuff. We were just out trying to meet people and calm this place down,” he said.

Since the Marines swept through last week and took control of this dusty border town and former insurgent stronghold, they’ve sent out daily foot patrols designed to cultivate goodwill among local residents.

But the incident involving the Iraqi army’s hectoring raid highlights the challenges U.S. troops face when working alongside local forces who often have limited training and a vastly different understanding of how to exercise civil authority.

Across Iraq, U.S. troops are making every effort to work with Iraqi forces. The joint efforts help put an Iraqi face on many politically sensitive operations. They also help ready the local forces to take control of the country and pave the way for the U.S. to reduce the number of deployed troops deployed here.

But taking Iraqi soldiers out into the field is not always helpful, troops say.

“Every time something like this happens, it just creates another insurgent,” said Lt. Col. Robert Glover, head of the civil affairs unit here.

“It’s counterproductive because you’re not trying to alienate anyone here, you are trying to build bridges."

Sectarian tensions may also fuel tensions between the Iraqi army soldiers and civilians, Marines said.

Most Iraqi army soldiers here are Shiites from eastern and southern Iraq, while this western part of the Euphrates River valley is predominantly Sunni.

“You’re dealing with the whole Sunni-Shia thing,” said 2nd Lt. Paul Haagenson, a platoon leader who helps oversee the city center here.

Complaints of Iraqi army misconduct are common in the mostly Sunni areas of Anbar province, one of the most violent and volatile areas of the country.

“I’ve seen this down in Ramadi a lot,” said Glover, who recently came here from a civil affairs post in the provincial capital.

“People came in and say ‘Iraqi forces came in with the U.S. Marines and they tore up my house and they stole money,’” Glover said.

After hearing about the assault, Glover and several other Marines from the civil affairs unit returned to Kadem’s home to smooth over any hard feelings.

“I apologize for what happened here,” Glover told Kadem.

Kadem received the Marines warmly, welcoming them into his living room and offering them food.

“America forces are very professional,” Glover told the man and his family. “The Marines are here to take care of people and to take care of the town — not to do these kinds of things.”

The man and his sister and mother all said they welcomed the Marines into their city, yet they criticized the local forces.

“It’s just the Iraqi army. They come in here and they think they can do whatever they want because they wear a uniform,” Kadem said.

Several Marines sat in the family’s living room for about 30 minutes and talked about the situation in their city since the Marine’s invasion.

Glover said apologizing for the Iraqi army takes up a significant portion of his time as a civil affairs officer.

“It was never part of the Job description. It shouldn’t be that way, but that’s just the way it is,” he said.

Operation Dollar Days Supports Families with Free Flowers and Programs

DOLLARDAYS JOINS FORCES WITH MILITARY FAMILY NETWORK TO HELP SOLDIERS’ FAMILIES, RETURNING VETS Small Retailers Join Operation DollarDays to Support U.S. Troops

http://www.emilitary.org/featurenoc.php?fid=20


Dollar Days

Phoenix, 10 November 2005 – DollarDays International announced today that the premier Internet-based product wholesaler to small businesses and local distributors has partnered with the Military Family Network, a marketing firm specializing in communications with the military community, to bring a multi-faceted support program for service members and families in the United States, as well as for veterans returning home from the war in Iraq.

The program, Operation DollarDays, includes:

* Sending two dozen long stem yellow organic roses from Organic Bouquet, the world's first online organic florist, to the families of U.S. soldiers serving overseas. Every time a DollarDays customer orders $900 worth of products from www.dollardays.com, DollarDays will send a bouquet to a military family on behalf of a deployed service member;
* Providing a way for Americans to buy a dozen roses from Organic Bouquet for a deployed soldier to send to his family by visiting http://www.dollardays.com;
* Providing free DollarDays distributorships – normally $199 a year -- to any military family member or Iraqi war veteran; and
* Three free months of SAT tutoring for any military family member through DollarDays’ sister company, Boston Test Prep, the leading online SAT test prep company.

“DollarDays is so proud to support our troops and their families,” said Marc Joseph, chief executive officer. “We know that our programs are a small contribution, especially when compared to the sacrifices of our soldiers and their families. But we wanted to find some new ways to say Thank You and so we developed Operation DollarDays.”

“DollarDays is one of our Military Family Neighbor of Choice Businesses,” said Megan Turak, executive vice president of The Military Family Network. “We are happy to help them support the troops and their families through our network and we encourage all Americans to show they care by becoming involved with this program so that all deployed soldiers can send a free bouquet to their home front hero. Holidays are the hardest times for families separated by deployment. This program helps to bring families closer together. Can you think of a better way to say “I care and thank you?”

To find out more information about Operation DollarDays and its programs, visit www.eMilitary.org .

DollarDays International is a Web-based virtual warehouse, where small business owners and non profit organizations can find great deals on small-sized orders for more than 30,000 consumer products, from toys and household décor to apparel, electronics, personal care items and seasonal merchandise.

The DollarDays International Distributors program (DDID) enables entrepreneurs to open their own product wholesaler businesses on the Internet. After paying an annual fee of $199 – which is waived for military families -- DollarDays professionals set up the Independent Distributor’s Web site, where the distributors’ business contacts can order DollarDays’ famous case-load quantities of supplies at wholesale and closeout prices.

The Independent Distributorship program is aimed at self-starters who have always wanted to work for themselves, but lack the thousands of dollars it takes to purchase a national franchise. An online business also is ideal for military families who are frequently moving.

About Military Family Network
The Military Family Network, located online at www.eMilitary.org , is an official Team Member of the Department of Defense's "America Supports You Program". The Network’s primary mission is to support military families and increase their readiness and well-being by connecting them with their communities and the organizations that provide the best service and value. MFN “Connects America’s Best with the Best in Business” For more information, call 1-866-205-2850.

About DollarDays International
DollarDays International is a Military Family Neighbor of Choice Business and premier online wholesaler that helps small businesses to compete against larger enterprises by offering more than 30,000 high-quality goods at prices close to those at which large chains purchase. Consequently, DollarDays International helps small stores to complete with big chains more closely on both selection and price. At www.dollardays.com, small storeowners can order their goods - ranging from decorative items and clothing to personal care products and greeting cards -- as well as employ various proprietary technologies to instantly create seasonal departments and marketing materials. DollarDays sells its products by the case and many cases are of small quantities, which are preferred by small retailers. DollarDays International helps its customers to select those items, both seasonal and everyday, which sell quickly to promote both a higher inventory turn and better margins.

About Organic Bouquet
Organic Bouquet has pioneered the environmental flower market, working with growers around the world who are committed to the highest social and environmental standards. Flowers are grown and harvested using practices that aim to improve the quality of farm working conditions, minimize damage to ecosystems, conserve biodiversity, and enhance environmental quality for future generations.

About Boston Test Prep:
Boston Test Prep (BTP) is a leading developer and distributor of premium, online subscription-based consumer test preparation programs that build real confidence for test-takers. BTP is the only 100 percent pure online test prep provider. Customers range from high school and post-graduate students to professionals.

For more information, please visit Boston Test Prep.

Volunteers send a taste of home to troops overseas

LEOMINSTER -- Volunteers packed boxes of non-perishable food and toiletries at the Leominster Veterans Center Thursday to send to American troops serving in Iraq over the holidays.

http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/local/ci_3238656


By Marisa Donelan

LEOMINSTER -- Volunteers packed boxes of non-perishable food and toiletries at the Leominster Veterans Center Thursday to send to American troops serving in Iraq over the holidays.

The city Veterans Office and the group American Family Link organized the donated items, which included Gatorade mix, candy, and nutrition bars as well as phone cards and disposable cameras. Local veterans, families and schools contributed donations, Veterans' Services director Richard Voutour said.

American Family Link started about three years ago when a group of local mothers who had children in the military joined together for support, Voutour said.

"American Family Link is a group that gets together solely to support the troops under the motto 'We will not forget,'" Voutour said. "We will not take (the troops) for granted."

Nancy Warren of Leominster said her son Sam, a lance corporal in the Marine Corps, was deployed to Afghanistan in 2002.

She said he went 43 days without a shower and ended up covered in a crust from the desert sand. The packages will be a great help to the men and women in the service, she said.

"Isn't this wonderful?" Warren said of the donations. "When my son was there they didn't have basic hygiene, they didn't have enough food. Now we know what they need."

The Veterans Office honored local veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan in a ceremony before the packing started. Army National Guard Sergeant 1st Class Michael Bisceglia, Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Matthew Burke and Marine Corps Corporal. Eric Flanagan received certificates of appreciation from state and local officials. Specialists Tina Mendoza of the Massachusetts Army National Guard and Jeffrey Dale of the North Carolina Army National Guard were also honored, but were unable to attend the event.

Bisceglia, who returned from Iraq last month, said the holiday packages would mean a lot to the troops who receive them.

"It's great," he said. "I got about four or five boxes while I was over there from local people. It was good to know someone at home was thinking of you."

The volunteers worked quickly to fill up the packages and label them to be sent out. Voutour said their mission had extended beyond Leominster, and that some of the workers had come from all over the region to help.

"We're gonna have all these packages sent by Christmas," he said. "It's important to know that we're not just sending toothpaste and candy. We're sending them our support, and we're letting them know that we appreciate their sacrifice, and that what they're doing has meaning."

Military Health System Enters New Era

The Department of Defense achieved a major milestone with the launch of AHLTA, its global electronic health record system, at a ceremony hosted by Dr. William Winkenwerder, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, and attended by Michael O. Leavitt, secretary of health and human services, at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda today.

http://www.defenselink.mil/releases/2005/nr20051121-5122.html


No. 1207-05
IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 21, 2005
Military Health System Enters New Era

The Department of Defense achieved a major milestone with the launch of AHLTA, its global electronic health record system, at a ceremony hosted by Dr. William Winkenwerder, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, and attended by Michael O. Leavitt, secretary of health and human services, at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda today.

AHLTA is the largest, most significant electronic health record system of its kind with the potential to serve more than nine million servicemembers, retirees and their families worldwide. When fully implemented, about 60,000 military healthcare professionals at DoD medical facilities in the United States, and 11 other countries will use this electronic health record system.

“Beneficiaries’ health records will be available around the clock and around the world, available to healthcare providers, yet protected from loss and unauthorized access,” said Winkenwerder. “Our electronic health record has matured to a point that its size and complexity are unrivaled. Most importantly, this new system was built in partnership with America’s leading information technology companies."

Today, many thousands of military medical providers are using the system, and nearly 300,000 outpatient visits are captured digitally every week. Full deployment of the system in DoD’s 800 clinics and 70 hospitals will be complete by December 2006.

"With the roll-out of AHLTA, the Department of Defense has made a great step toward achieving President Bush's goal of making electronic health records available to a majority of Americans within 10 years," said Leavitt. "The lessons we learn from an initiative of this geographic scope and patient base will prove invaluable for future private and government health systems."

The longer term vision, expected to be achieved in the next two to three years, is a continuously updated digital medical record from the point of injury or care on the battlefield to military clinics and hospitals in the United States, all completely transferable electronically to the Veterans Health Administration.

A massive training program for AHLTA is currently underway in DoD’s medical community to ensure all who have access to the system are properly trained in usage and health record security.

More information on AHLTA can be found on their Web site at http://www.ha.osd.mil/AHLTA .

Iraqi Police, U.S. Soldiers Help Children Hurt in IED Attack


American Forces Press Service

http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Nov2005/20051121_3396.html

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21, 2005 – Iraqi police and U.S. soldiers responded to help five Iraqi children injured in a Nov. 20 roadside bomb explosion in eastern Baghdad, military officials reported.

Officials said the bomb most likely was targeting an Iraqi police patrol, but missed the target and detonated near a vehicle filled with children.

Police and U.S. soldiers from 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry, secured the site and took the wounded children to a local hospital for treatment.

In other news, Iraqi police and soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team killed one suspect and injured two more Nov. 19 while responding to a roadside bomb attack in Tikrit, officials reported.

Soldiers located the triggermen as they attempted to escape the area and chased them into a hastily prepared roadblock. Once the attackers saw the roadblock, they tried to turn around and began ramming other civilian vehicles on the road in an attempt to escape the containment area, officials said.

Soldiers at the roadblock used several warning measures, attempting to stop the vehicles. When the drivers did not stop, the soldiers opened fire and stopped both vehicles, killing one occupant and injuring two others.

All three men tested positive for explosive residue. A search of the vehicles revealed a large sum of money. Iraqi police took the two wounded terrorists to the Bayji hospital for treatment.

About 150 Iraqi army soldiers and 300 Marines and soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Marine Division, began Operation Bruins in northern Ramadi on Nov. 19, officials reported.

Operation Bruins is part of a series of disruption operations in Ramadi, military officials said, and is designed to set the conditions for successful elections in December.

Forces are conducting cordon-and-search operations, blocking off known terrorist escape routes and searching for weapons caches. The operation comes on the heels of Operation Panthers, which disrupted operations in the Sophia district of eastern Ramadi. During Panthers, the team discovered weapons caches and detained suspected terrorists.

Bruins also follows the Nov. 17 engagement in which the 2nd Brigade Combat Team successfully repelled a terrorist attack in downtown Ramadi, killing 32 terrorists.

The caches found during Panthers, along with the recent capture of three high-value terrorist targets, have been part of continuous disruption operations in the Ramadi area, officials said.

Attacks against Iraqi and U.S. forces in the Ramadi area have decreased 60 percent in the last few weeks, officials reported, as a result of these ongoing operations.

Iraqi and Task Force Baghdad soldiers saved an Iraqi woman who had been shot by terrorists Nov. 19 in the Abu Ghraib area of western Baghdad. After being hit in a drive-by shooting, the woman was treated by combat medics on the scene from 1st Squadron, 11th Cavalry Regiment, a unit from Fort Irwin, Calif., and immediately was evacuated to a local hospital with the help of soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 6th Iraqi Division.

The woman was shot in the chest with an AK-47 assault rifle fired from a white sedan as it approached a military checkpoint. She was reported to be in stable condition at the hospital.

Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, operating in southwestern Baghdad, detained three suspected terrorists in two separate incidents Nov. 19.

After striking a roadside bomb, the soldiers of C Company, 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, searched the area and detained a man positively identified to have been tampering with explosive material. He also had multiple timers, detonators and initiators in his possession, officials said.

Later in the day, A Company, 2-101st Brigade Troops Battalion, in support of 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, discovered a roadside bomb consisting of a propane tank with a timer attached to it. The patrol secured and searched the area, detaining two individuals who were positively identified to be tampering with explosives.

Coalition aircraft flew 39 close-air-support and armed-reconnaissance sorties Nov. 20 for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

U.S. Air Force F-16s struck roadside bomb locations near Ramadi, while other U.S. Air Force F-16s provided close air support to coalition troops in contact with enemy fighters near Hawijah and Husaybah.

In addition, 12 U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft flew missions in support of operations in Iraq. Also, Royal Air Force fighter aircraft performed in a nontraditional ISR role with their electro-optical and infrared sensors.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq, Task Force Baghdad and U.S. Central Command Air Forces Forward news releases.)

More Military Funds Committed for Pakistan Quake Relief

American Forces Press Service

http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Nov2005/20051121_3397.html
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21, 2005 – The Defense Department is nearly doubling its funding for earthquake relief operations in Pakistan - to $110 million - following the country's devastating Oct. 8 earthquake that left an estimated 73,000 people dead, State Department officials announced Nov. 19.

U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Andrew Natsios announced the increased support while leading the U.S. delegation to the Pakistani government's reconstruction conference in Islamabad.

The added military commitment is part of a larger overall U.S. aid package for Pakistan's relief and reconstruction, now $510 million. This includes $300 million in assistance from USAID and at least $100 million in private contributions, Natsios said.

DoD had previously obligated $80 million to cover operating costs for earthquake relief efforts.

This additional aid is particularly important now as winter sets in, officials noted.

Navy Rear Adm. Mike LeFever, commander of the Disaster Assistance Center in Pakistan, told Pentagon reporters Nov. 10 that snow is beginning to fall in the region and temperatures are plummeting. This, LeFever said, makes it crucial that the people affected receive shelter and supplies quickly.

An estimated 1,200 U.S. military personnel and 23 helicopters are currently supporting relief operations in Pakistan, officials said.

So far, U.S. helicopters have flown more than 2,500 sorties, delivered almost 4,300 tons of relief supplies and transported almost 17,000 people, including more than 4,300 who needed medical attention, officials reported.

In addition, more than 178 military and civilian cargo airlift flights have delivered almost 1,900 tons of humanitarian aid, medical supplies and equipment, officials said. U.S. troops have offloaded almost 6,000 tons of relief supplies from U.S. and other aircraft for distribution to affected Pakistani citizens.

U.S. humanitarian aid supplies delivered so far include more than 360,000 blankets, almost 13,000 sleeping bags, more than 3,500 tents, 5,000 water containers, almost 121,000 halal meals, 600 heaters and 18 pallets of medicine, officials reported.

In addition, nine U.S. military and commercial ships have delivered 115 pieces of equipment, 34 containers of supplies and 176 tons of humanitarian assistance through the port of Karachi, officials said.

Members of the 212th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital began operating in Muzaffarabad Oct. 29, and have treated more than 2,400 patients, officials said. In addition, the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force Medical Team arrived in Shinkiara and began treating patients Nov. 15.

DoD engineering teams arrived in Pakistan Oct. 24 and have cleared school and university sites, constructed three airport berms and finished preparations for a United Nations World Food Program tent site in Muzaffarabad, officials said.

A forward area refueling point and water purification unit are operating in Muzaffarabad to support these operations, officials said. Another water purification unit is en route to Pakistan.

Speaking from the White House Nov. 9, President Bush praised servicemembers supporting earthquake-relief efforts in South Asia. They "represent the best of America (and) the generous spirit of our country," he said.

"Our government's response to this tragedy ... should say to the people of the world, 'We care when somebody else suffers,'" Bush said.

News Archive

Tips From Citizens Lead Iraqi Soldiers to Weapons Cache


American Forces Press Service

http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Nov2005/20051121_3400.html

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21, 2005 – Acting on tips from local residents, Iraqi soldiers confiscated a large number of terrorist weapons and bomb-making materials Nov. 20 in western Baghdad, military officials reported.

Soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 1st Brigade, 6th Iraqi Army Division, discovered the weapons cache during a follow-up search of an area where an improvised explosive device was discovered and destroyed last week. A small contingent of U.S. soldiers from D Company, 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, assisted during the search, officials said.

The weapons were hidden in three vehicles in a parking lot. One vehicle appeared to be wired to be used as a car bomb. The soldiers found nine rocket-propelled grenades, 10 AK-47 assault rifles with 23 magazines, 11 hand grenades, three RPK machine guns, three PKC machine guns, a homemade RPG, a sniper scope, a land mine, assorted small-arms ammunition, 400 PKC rounds, and two ski masks.

The 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, found more large weapons caches in southern Baghdad.

Within 24 hours, the soldiers of A Company, 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, unearthed three weapons caches, the third of which was discovered Nov. 19. Each cache was located in fields adjacent to roads that allow easy vehicle access for insurgents to get the weapons and ammunition, officials said.

The third cache consisted of 7,000 RPK machine-gun rounds, 20 81 mm mortar rounds, seven aviation bomb shells, four RPG rounds, three 155 mm artillery rounds and a 500-pound bomb. An explosive ordnance disposal team destroyed the caches through controlled detonations.

Unit soldiers have secured the site and continue to search for more possible weapons caches, officials said.

In other news, Iraqi soldiers in eastern Baghdad launched operations against terrorists in Rusafa and Adhamiyah Nov. 19 and 20.

Two suspected terrorists were detained on the first day of operations. They were thought to be managing terrorist activity in Baghdad, officials said.

The detained suspects led the Iraqi soldiers to other suspected terrorists. The follow-on mission to seize these men took place Nov. 20, and six more suspects were detained. Another suspected terrorist was captured in the day. The Iraqi army was responsible for all facets of this operation, officials noted. All nine of the detainees are in Iraqi army custody and will be processed by the Iraqi judicial system, officials said.

After discovering a large weapons cache Nov. 16, soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, uncovered even more weapons buried beneath the original cache after a controlled detonation the next day. Soldiers from 1st Squadron, 75th Cavalry Regiment, began their search of the site Nov. 15, and the excavation continued through Nov. 18.

While exploiting the site Nov. 17, the soldiers received information from an Iraqi citizen that insurgents planned to attack the American forces securing the area. At 10:30 a.m. Nov. 18, B Troop, 1/75th Cavalry, searched a house identified by the informant, and captured five individuals suspected of being the insurgents planning to attack the cache site.

Since the discovery of the original weapons cache, the soldiers have uncovered three more 120 mm mortar rounds, 1,000 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition, a 60 mm mortar system, a 60 mm mortar and various homemade explosives.

(Compiled from Multinational Force Iraq news releases. Army Pfc. Kelly K. McDowell, assigned to the 101st Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team public affairs office, contributed to this report.)

Gunshot 66, we will never forget

AL QAIM, Iraq (Nov. 20, 2005) -- “Gunshot 66 we will never forget,” is the meaning behind the GT66 WWNF patch the Gunfighters of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369 are wearing in Al Qaim, Iraq.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/30DD9373EA3C6838852570BF006C5C6C?opendocument


Submitted by: 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing
Story Identification #: 20051120144335
Story by Cpl. Cullen J. Tiernan

AL QAIM, Iraq (Nov. 20, 2005) -- “Gunshot 66 we will never forget,” is the meaning behind the GT66 WWNF patch the Gunfighters of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369 are wearing in Al Qaim, Iraq.

Gunshot 66 was the call sign Capt. Mike Martino and Maj. Jerry Bloomfield, both AH-1 Cobra pilots with the Gunfighters, had when their Cobra crashed, Nov. 2, in support of operations near Al Taqqadum, Iraq.

When the Gunfighters at Al Qaim learned two of their brothers had been killed, some of the pilots spontaneously took their name patches off and inscribed GT66 WWNF on them.

“Words can’t even explain what this patch means to me,” said Sgt. Brainard D. Shirley, the Gunfighters’ airframes collateral duty quality assurance representative and a Kirtland, N.M, native. “It represents all of us, doing our part in this war. The causes we believe in, the freedom we’re trying to help these people achieve. Every day, the patch makes me want to push even harder to do the best I can to keep these aircraft flying.”

The detachment of Gunfighters has been in Al Qaim for more than two months. They are providing direct support for ongoing operations in the Al Anbar province, seeing combat on a daily basis.

“I wear this patch out of respect to the two pilots and their families, and for all the Marines and Soldiers who have gone before them” said Lance Cpl. Cole Wilcox, an airframes mechanic with the Gunfighters and LeRoy, Minn., native. “I remember when I found out they had gone down, I felt we had lost a really big part of our squadron.”

When Wilcox and Shirley learned about the patches, they immediately asked if they could have one.

“I told the pilots Martino was our former (officer-in-charge),” said Shirley. “One of the pilots immediately took off his patch and gave it to me. I will always remember the time we spent working together and all the things he did for me and the Marines. I’ll always remember what I was doing and how I felt when I found out. He was a cool guy.”

Shirley said Martino would joke around with his Marines. But, he said when it came to business he was completely focused.

“We respected him a lot more, because he treated us with respect,” said Shirley. “We would do anything for him. I remember seeing him every day and asking how his bird was doing. Whatever maintenance he needed done on the bird, we would do back flips to make sure it got done. He always took care of us, and we in turn took care of him.”

Whenever he looks at Cobras, Shirley said he is reminded of his fallen brothers.

“I was friends with both pilots, we had been in the squadron together for a little while,” said Maj. John Barranco, the officer-in-charge of the Gunfighters’ detachment at Al Qaim and a Boston native. “Our squadron is very tight knit, and they fit in and were loved. Everyone here took it hard, but we know this is something that happens in war.”

Barranco said he and the other pilots wear the patch constantly to keep their fallen comrades in their minds and hearts.

“It’s a small way to show our appreciation and sorrow,” said Barranco. “It’s something that helps us show everyone externally how hard we have taken the loss, and how unified we are in our admiration for them. Internally, it helps us reflect on who the pilots were.”

Barranco served with Bloomfield for several years as part of Marine Aircraft Group 29. He said they had a strong friendship and Bloomfield was smart, funny and a great father to his young son.

“Even though Bloomfield was a little older, he still tried to be one of the guys,” said Shirley. “Bloomfield and I came out here advanced party. He would joke around with us, even using some of today’s slang in his speech. But when it came to work, like Martino, he was completely focused.”

Sergeant Maj. Troy Couron, the Gunfighters’ sergeant major and a Nebraska native, said when he first joined the squadron in March, Bloomfield was probably one of the only officers who ever took time to just stop by and see how he was doing.

“He always had something to say, and always wanted the sergeant major's perspective on things,” said Couron. “He was a great man, and I miss him along with all the other Gunfighters. As I walk the flightline even today, I can feel his presence asking me, ‘Sergeant Major, how are the Marines doing today?’”

Barranco stressed that although the patch may be small, it serves as a reminder of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the fight against terrorism.

“I speak for everyone in the squadron, when I say this will be something we think about for the rest of the deployment and the rest of our lives,” said Barranco.

Trackers receive awards

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (Nov. 21, 2005) -- Every Marine and sailor takes pride in knowing they impact the lives of Americans, whether its fighting for freedom or just providing a presence of reassurance and safety in our country. (2nd AAB)

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/19091C3F04C332BE852570C00054B8E1?opendocument


Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 20051121102523
Story by Pfc. Terrell A. Turner

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (Nov. 21, 2005) -- Every Marine and sailor takes pride in knowing they impact the lives of Americans, whether its fighting for freedom or just providing a presence of reassurance and safety in our country.

Ten Marines with the 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion received Purple Heart medals, and 10 Marines and one sailor received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medals during a ceremony here, Nov 10.

Through various acts of bravery and self-sacrifice these trackers risked their lives to defend the country. There’s inherent patriotism in the manner in which they live their lives, and for servicemen, it’s an honor to fight for our friends, family and country.

They’ve been involved in everything while transporting Marines such as firefights, ambushes and Improvised Explosive Device attacks while deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“This battalion was prepared for anything insurgents threw our way,” said Lt. Col. Michael L. Kuhn, the commanding officer, AAB.

These trackers credit their success to the battalion’s training and the family atmosphere of the battalion.

“This battalion is a close-knit community,” Kuhn said. “We’re a family and we take care of each other.”

Assault Amphibian Battalion is currently training to remain alert and ready for their next assignment.

The Marines that received the Purple Heart medals are:

Staff Sgt. Richard H. Schmitt Jr.

Staff Sgt. Brian L. Sears

Sgt. Steven D. Phillips

Cpl. Richard W. Stevens Jr.

Cpl. Dean R. Begaye

Cpl. Edwin W. Cadena

Cpl. Joseph A. Burnette

Lance Cpl. Joseph P. Bednarik

Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Grubbs

Lance Cpl. Dominic L. Blakely

The Marines and sailors that received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medals are:

Gunnery Sgt. Donald P. Vick II

Staff Sgt. Richard H. Schmitt Jr.

Staff Sgt. Brian S. Rokicki

Staff Sgt. John W. Lefebvre

Sgt. Jason A. Triola

Sgt. Jason T. Shira

Sgt. Michael P. Moynagh Jr.

Cpl. Mitchell C. Beeler

Cpl. Daniel J. Brauner

Lance Cpl. Travis L. Crow

P.O. Joshua G. Chambers

Marines entangled in disarming situation in Husaybah

U.S. troops trying to persuade tribal militia to put down its weapons

By Andrew Tilghman, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Monday, November 21, 2005

HUSAYBAH, Iraq — The U.S. Marines keep saying the same thing to a local militia leader known as Abu Ali: Stop carrying your weapons.

To continue reading:

http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article;=33155

Marine touted for hurricane heroism


GULFPORT - Last week, the Air Force changed command, the Seabees hosted a Salute to the Military and a Marine was honored for rescuing nearly 200 hurricane victims. (4th AABN)

http://www.sunherald.com/mld/sunherald/news/local/13222251.htm

By MICHAEL NEWSOM

GULFPORT - Last week, the Air Force changed command, the Seabees hosted a Salute to the Military and a Marine was honored for rescuing nearly 200 hurricane victims.

Staff Sgt. Jerod P. Murphy, 29, of the 4th Amphibious Assault Battalion based in Gulfport, led a team of about five, including one Seabee, and "rolled out" to Point Cadet in two Amphibious Assault Vehicles (AAVs) and saved about 130 people, including infants, just a few hours after Hurricane Katrina subsided. On the second day, Murphy and others pulled about 70 into the AAVs at Henderson Point in Pass Christian.

The work earned Murphy the Thomas V. Fredian Community Service Award at the 27th annual Salute to the Military Tuesday night at the Seabee base.

"I am extremely honored," Murphy said. "From my understanding, I don't think a Marine has ever won. I was extremely honored to be the one to bring it home for us. There are a lot of Marines out there that do just as much as me."

As for his work during the storm, Murphy said the Marines were believed to be the first military branch to leave shelters.

"It was worse than anything we can imagine," Murphy said. "Everybody was still locked down. From what I understand, we were the first DoD assets in action."

In addition to his rescue efforts, Murphy also coached soccer, football and taught Marine Corps martial arts with his sons' instructor in Long Beach. Murphy was awarded a Purple Heart after being shot in the left elbow while fighting in the Iraq war in March 2003, near the town of el Shatra. He was the first Mississippian wounded in that war.

Murphy was honored at the Salute, which the Seabees helped the Coast Chamber put on by letting them use a large Army Reserve warehouse on base. The warehouse was converted into a ballroom with large camouflage netting on the walls.

Seabees - While the work to convert the warehouse into a ballroom was ongoing, the Seabees finished the last of a set of modular houses to be used by base personnel and their families who had damage or lost their home to Hurricane Katrina. They were also installing modular buildings to be used as classrooms, a galley and a child-care center.

Air Force - Keesler Air Force Base changed command last week. Brig Gen. Paul F. Capasso took the reins of Keesler Air Force Base on Tuesday and said he was thrilled to be back for his third tour. Capasso succeeded Brig. Gen. William Lord, who was promoted to major general and took a job at the Pentagon.

Hundreds attend memorial for Cobra pilots who died in Iraq

CAMP PENDLETON ---- Nearly one week after burying him at Arlington National Cemetery and minutes after a memorial service at Camp Pendleton on Monday, Sybil Martino said she is convinced her fallen son, Capt. Michael D. Martino, gave his life in war in a quest for peace.

http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2005/11/22/military/112105175659.txt

By: MARK WALKER - Staff Writer

CAMP PENDLETON ---- Nearly one week after burying him at Arlington National Cemetery and minutes after a memorial service at Camp Pendleton on Monday, Sybil Martino said she is convinced her fallen son, Capt. Michael D. Martino, gave his life in war in a quest for peace.

"The Bible talks about peacemakers and I believe Michael was born to be a peacemaker," Sybil Martino said as she sat at a table with her son's dog tags around her neck. "He died doing what he loved and what he believed in."

Martino, 32, and Maj. Gerald M. Bloomfield II were killed on Nov. 2 when their Camp Pendleton-based AH-1W Cobra helicopter crashed during fighting near Ramadi, Iraq.

The pair were saluted during the 90-minute memorial attended by more than 200 Marines from their unit, Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369, who gathered at the base's Marine Memorial Chapel along with the men's family members and friends.

Bloomfield, whose call sign was "Woody," and Martino, whose call sign was "Oprah," each were awarded posthumous Bronze Star medals for fighting off insurgents with missile and cannon attacks the day they died.

Seated by his wife's side after the memorial, Martino's father, Robert, said the days since his son's death have been among the hardest he has ever faced, but quickly added that he is resolute in his belief that the United States should be in Iraq.

"I don't want any parent to have to go through what me and my family are going through," he said. "But the thing that bothers me and my family is that some of our elected officials want to cut and run and cutting and running is something my son never would have done. He understood the bigger picture."

The squadron's commander, Col. Douglas Gough, recalled both Marines as great men of integrity who served as mentors to those around them.

"The streets of heaven are now guarded by two more of our finest Marines," Gough said.

During his eulogy for Bloomfield, Maj. John Poehler, recalled the Oceanside resident as a squadron mate, next-door neighbor and friend for the last 12 years.

Bloomfield, who would have turned 39 on Nov. 15 and who leaves behind his wife, Julie, and son, Ryan, died defending the goals of his nation, Poehler said.

Addressing Ryan Bloomfield, Poehler said: "I am in awe of the man who was your father. Tonight, I will toast my friend and remember not how he died, but how he lived his life. Semper Fi and farewell, my friend."

The memorial service that packed the small chapel and filled rows of seats set up under two tents outside began with a bagpipe rendition of "Amazing Grace" and the showing of photos of a memorial service for Bloomfield and Martino conducted at their Iraqi air base. One of the shots showed a handwritten sign designating the base as "Bloomfield/Martino Field."

During his eulogy to Martino, Sgt. Maj. Bill Skiles recalled spending 40 days with the 32-year-old graduate of the University of San Diego during fighting in Fallujah in the spring of 2004.

As he began telling a story of the fighting on one of those days, Skiles briefly broke down, and after catching himself told the gathering that "true warriors do cry."

Regaining his composure, Skiles told the story of Martino calling in a 500-pound bomb air strike on a house full of insurgents. The bomb was on target, and the blast threw a goat and chicken toward where the Marines were hunkered down.

Skiles said the goat perished, but he, Martino and the young troops around them kept urging the chicken to move, to get up and show it was alive and it finally did.

"Me and Capt. Martino high-fived," Skiles recalled.

The crash of the men's helicopter occurred during a day of heavy fighting about 70 miles west of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. Associated Press Television News quoted an Iraqi man as saying their aircraft was shot down by insurgents, the Pentagon has not given an official cause.

Each man was on his second tour of duty in Iraq.

In a pastoral reflection concluding the memorial service, Marine Chaplain Eric Hoog said each man lived a dedicated and committed life.

"They saw fit to put on the uniform of their country and they died for it," Hoog said. "They died for freedom."

After the playing of "Taps" and conclusion of the service, those assembled gathered outside for a flyover of four Cobra helicopters, two of which broke off as they passed overhead signifying the loss of the two Marines.

As she spoke a few minutes after the flyover, Sybil Martino said her daughter, Lauri, is five months pregnant and that she and her son-in-law just learned the baby is a boy.

"They're going to name my first grandchild Michael," she said.

Contact staff writer Mark Walker at (760) 740-3529 or [email protected]

Local Marine Killed In Iraq

November 21, 2005 -- A Lower Valley family is mourning the death of a local Marine, Miguel Terrazas.

http://www.kfoxtv.com/news/5378342/detail.html

POSTED: 8:15 p.m. MST November 21, 2005

KFOX

November 21, 2005 -- A Lower Valley family is mourning the death of a local Marine, Miguel Terrazas.

His family sent KFOX a picture with a short e-mail attached that read what a proud Marine he was and that his family will miss him very much.

"When I heard about the news this morning, I feel for his family, his mom, his wife if he had one," said Lisa Fahey, whose husband is serving in Iraq.

Lisa Fahey doesn't know Terrazas, but because she has a loved on serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom, she can relate to the loss.

"When you hear a soldier has been killed, it's an indescribable feeling. It's almost like you get shivers down your back," said Fahey.

What also send shivers down Lisa's back is the timetable when troops will be coming home.

On Monday, Vice President Dick Cheney addressed remarks from a congressman criticizing the war in Iraq.

"Recently my friend and former colleague, Jack Murtha, called for a complete withdrawal of American forces serving in Iraq and a draw down to begin at once. I disagree with Jack and believe his proposal would not serve the best interest of this nation," said Cheney.

Lisa says she's in the middle ground. She says she supports the military and has confidence in the Bush administration. She hopes bringing troops back home will be part of the president's plan.

"That maybe it is time to start pulling out, because all we're doing is hurting more of our own and we need to take care of that. No more deaths for anyone," said Fahey.

North Manchester Marine Laid to Rest

(North Manchester - WANE) Lance Corporal Scott Zubowski was buried today with full military honors, at the Oaklawn Cemetery in North Manchester. The 20 year old marine was married last year between tours of duty in Iraq, and set to celebrate his first wedding anniversary in December.

http://www.wane.com/Global/story.asp?S=4149896&nav;=0RYb


(North Manchester - WANE) Lance Corporal Scott Zubowski was buried today with full military honors, at the Oaklawn Cemetery in North Manchester. The 20 year old marine was married last year between tours of duty in Iraq, and set to celebrate his first wedding anniversary in December.

"He was a wonderful man and a great marine, and I want people to honor him for that, because he died for this country," said Zubowski's squadron leader, Cpl. Timothy Winters. "Scott was a dedicated marine, full of integrity, honorable, very intelligent. Any squad leader would love to have someone like him under his command."

Zubowski joined the marines after graduating from Manchester High School in 2003. He was a member of the National Honor Society and a National Merit Scholar. Randy Self, assistant principal at Manchester High School, says Zubowski was a bright and well-liked student. "He had the potential to do lots of different things and go into different leadership roles and he decided this is what he wanted to do," said Self.

Zubowski died last Saturday, near Fallujah, when the vehicle he was riding in hit a roadside bomb. Many members of the community learned about his death, when his pastor made the sad announcement last Sunday in church. His death has hit this small community hard. "Yesterday during the viewing, the entire community came out. When we picked up Scott in Indianapolis the other night, the Manchester Police organized a police escort back to North Manchester. There has been great support from the community here in Indiana."

That support continued today, as some folks who had never even met Zubowski braved the cold, and stood at the edge of North Manchester's Oaklawn Ceremony, to pay their respects. "He served on my behalf and I feel a great sense of loss," said Mike Beauchamp, "I didn't know the young man, but I feel an obligation to be here on this day."

For going above and beyond the call of duty, an army spokesman says Zubowski will be posthumously awarded the Navy and Marine Achievement Medal with Combat Distinguishing Device.

Remembering Tyler

Lance Corporal Tyler Troyer died after being attacked by insurgents while on patrol near Fallujah Saturday leaving family and close friends heartbroken.

http://www2.kval.com/x53933.xml

By Katie Harlan

Tangent -

Lance Corporal Tyler Troyer died after being attacked by insurgents while on patrol near Fallujah Saturday leaving family and close friends heartbroken.

Every parents worst nightmare of having to bury their own child is now a reality for one Tangent couple.

Terri and Michael Thorpe were told Saturday their son, Tyler Troyer was shot in the head and killed while serving in Iraq.

A loss, the family is still trying to understand. "He was a good young man, he was growing into a young man and some awful person took his life. You know because he was trying to protect other people, people he didn't know," said Terri Thorpe, Tyler's mother.

After graduating from West Albany High School in 2002, Troyer joined the U.S. Marines. His parents say he was a born leader, fearless and selfless, dedicated to his family, his country and playing baseball. "He liked to pick me up, he liked video games and he liked to play outside," said Jeremy Thorpe, Tyler's six year old brother.

He had planned to get out of the Marines in about 5 months, get married, and pursue a college and perhaps professional baseball career.

It's been tough for the Tangent community, Troyer is now the third serviceman from West Albany High School to die in Iraq.

His family is in the process of planning his memorial.

Send comments and questions to: [email protected]

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Zarqawi's close family publicly denounces him

BAGHDAD — Standing in a pile of rubble that was once his home, a bandaged and bloody Jameel Younan Nissan described twin suicide bombs that killed seven of his neighbors near the Hamra Hotel.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2005-11-20-zarqawi-family_x.htm


By César G. Soriano, USA TODAY
BAGHDAD — Standing in a pile of rubble that was once his home, a bandaged and bloody Jameel Younan Nissan described twin suicide bombs that killed seven of his neighbors near the Hamra Hotel.

"Nobody here supports the insurgency," says Nissan, 47, blaming the attack Friday on Jordanian-born terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. "Even before this attack, the feelings against Zarqawi were growing. He has no religion, no sect, no humanity. He is the devil."

Nissan's sentiments may reflect eroding support for Zarqawi, who has a $25 million bounty on his head and is the most-wanted man in Iraq. He has claimed responsibility for kidnappings and the most destructive suicide bombings in Iraq.

Thousands of Jordanians have taken to the streets recently to protest Zarqawi after a series of suicide bombs killed 60 people in the capital of Amman on Nov. 9. Many of the victims were guests at a wedding party.

On Sunday, the family of Zarqawi — born Ahmed Fadheel Nazzal al-Khalayleh — denounced their former tribesman and his terrorist activities in advertisements published in Jordanian newspapers.

"A Jordanian doesn't stab himself with his own spear," said the statement signed by 57 members of the al-Khalayleh family, including Zarqawi's brother and cousin. "We sever links with him until doomsday."

On Friday, Zarqawi took a more defensive tone than in previous statements. In an audiotape posted on a website and attributed to him, Zarqawi denied targeting the wedding party in Amman.

"We ask God to have mercy on the Muslims, who we did not intend to target, even if they were in hotels which are centers of immorality," he said. The authenticity of the posting could not be verified.

In the past, Iraqis would almost reflexively blame Americans after a suicide bombing, saying the U.S. presence has led to chaos and insecurity. But Nissan said he wants Americans to stay. "If the Americans leave, Zarqawi will for sure start a civil war," he said.

Even if Zarqawi's support is lessening in Iraq, it's not clear what the impact will be. His power has always relied more on intimidation than popularity.

Phebe Marr, an Iraq expert at the Washington-based U.S. Institute of Peace, said Zarqawi has never enjoyed much support, even among fellow Sunni Muslim Arabs. "Therefore, he has had to use intimidation to operate in these areas (in Iraq) to get acquiescence and safe houses," she said. "He is losing support, and I'm guessing he really lost support a long time ago."

But Anthony Cordesman, an analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, says it is not clear whether recent developments indicate a shift in support for Zarqawi.

"We need credible public opinion polls in Jordan ... and clear signs of Sunni shifts in the Dec. 15 election in Iraq before we begin to count Zarqawi out," Cordesman said.

In Friday's audiotape, Zarqawi promised to continue the bloodshed in Jordan and threatened to behead King Abdullah II.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Sunday that the country has made progress but that violence will continue.

It "doesn't take a genius to go kill people," Rumsfeld told CNN.

"They are making enormous progress," Rumsfeld said, citing the constitution and Dec. 15 elections.

"Now, will there be insurgents over a period of time thereafter? Sure. Will people be killed thereafter? Sure. But over time, the number of tips that are coming in to the Iraqi security forces have soared, multiples of what they previously were getting," he said.

Marines leading a joint U.S.-Iraqi offensive in Anbar province in western Iraq said they've seen an increase in anti-Zarqawi sentiments.

"As (Zarqawi) gets more desperate, he'll get more violent," said Capt. Jeffrey Pool, a Marine spokesman. "He wants to show that he is still capable of resistance."

"We are seeing signs ... of insurgent groups who were recently aligned with Zarqawi cut their ties and battle Zarqawi loyalists in the (provincial) capital city of Ramadi," Poole said.

US-Iraqi troops launch new offensive in western Iraq

About 450 US Marines and Iraqi soldiers have launched a new military offensive in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi to hunt insurgents and search for weapons caches, the US military said on Monday.

http://english.people.com.cn/200511/21/eng20051121_222939.html

About 450 US Marines and Iraqi soldiers have launched a new military offensive in the western Iraqi city of Ramadi to hunt insurgents and search for weapons caches, the US military said on Monday.

"Approximately 150 Iraqi soldiers and 300 US Marines and Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 2nd Marine Division, began Operation Bruins in northern Ramadi on Nov. 19," the military said in a statement.

The new offensive is part of a series of operations in Ramadi where the US-Iraqi forces are conducting "cordon and searches, blocking off known terrorist escape routes and searching for weapons caches," the statement added.

Ramadi, a Sunni-dominated city some 100 km west of Baghdad, has been an insurgent stronghold.

The new offensive followed a battle on Thursday when US soldiers killed 32 insurgents in downtown Ramadi, the statement said.

Attacks against US and Iraqi forces in the Ramadi area "have decreased 60 percent in the last few weeks as a result of these ongoing operations," the statement added.

On Sunday, the US military announced the end of its Operation Steel Curtain in western Anbar province, in which some 3,500 US and Iraqi soldiers raided insurgent safe houses near the Syrian border since Nov. 5.

Operation Steel Curtain was aimed at restoring security and eradicating al-Qaida fighters in western Iraq, according to the US military.

Source: Xinhua

Speculation swirls around Iraqi deaths

BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.S. and Iraqi forces acting on a tip about an Al-Qaida cell stormed a house in a middle-class neighborhood of Mosul and, after a six-hour clash, all eight people inside were dead -- including three who killed themselves with vest bombs, a police general said Sunday. Four Iraqi police also died.

http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/world/13222976.htm

U.S. DOUBTS ZARQAWI AMONG BODIES

By John Daniszewski and Josh Meyer

Los Angeles Times

BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.S. and Iraqi forces acting on a tip about an Al-Qaida cell stormed a house in a middle-class neighborhood of Mosul and, after a six-hour clash, all eight people inside were dead -- including three who killed themselves with vest bombs, a police general said Sunday. Four Iraqi police also died.

Authorities were trying to determine if any of those killed was Iraq's No. 1 terror suspect, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al-Qaida in Iraq.

In Washington, U.S. officials said they had no indication that Zarqawi had been killed or captured, and that efforts to identify the dead were inconclusive as of Sunday evening. Officials said fingerprints, DNA and other forensic evidence would be cross-matched with similar identifiers, including Zarqawi's, in U.S. intelligence databases.

The Pentagon had received no information suggesting that Zarqawi had been killed or even targeted in a U.S. military operation, said Defense Department chief spokesman Lawrence Di Rita.

``I just have no reason to believe that any of these reports we are getting are accurate,'' Di Rita said Sunday evening. He said similar reports about the capture of Zarqawi and other militants have proved false in the past.

Zarqawi, a Jordanian blamed for a long string of bloody attacks against Western and Iraqi targets -- most recently three nearly simultaneous suicide bombings at hotels in Jordan this month -- has been the target of a massive hunt inside Iraq.

Zarqawi has eluded U.S. forces for more than two years in spite of a $25 million reward offered by U.S. officials for information leading to his death or capture.

After Saturday's gunbattle, Nineveh Gov. Duraid Kishmoula told reporters in Mosul that Zarqawi was believed to have been inside the house. He later retracted that statement, however.

But speculation that Zarqawi might have been killed began circulating with a report in at least one Arabic-language Web site.

The firefight took place in the Hay al-Sokkar neighborhood of northeast Mosul. Alaa Zeyor, who lives on the street behind the house, told the Los Angeles Times that the property had been vacant for about five months with a for-rent sign outside. Sometime in the past two weeks, someone had moved in, she said.

According to Zeyor, Iraqi police and U.S. soldiers cordoned off the house at 9 a.m. Saturday, sparking a ferocious battle that lasted until 3 p.m., when explosions shook the house and collapsed parts of its brick walls.

Some Mosul residents said the intensity of the assault reminded them of the raid on a house in another part of the city that ended in the deaths of former President Saddam Hussein's two sons, Uday and Qusay.

From the start, police said Sunday, the armed group inside the house refused to come out and launched fierce resistance, which lasted for hours, ``until they used up all their ammunition. Then, three of the men blew themselves up inside the house with explosives on their bodies, and that destroyed most of the building,'' said police Brig. Sayeed Ahmad.

``We received reports about a house in the Sokkar area that had some terrorists inside, and they had a lot of ammunition,'' Ahmad said. ``So we went to the place and asked residents to evacuate the street and the nearby houses.''

When the battle ended, he said, U.S. and Iraqi soldiers dug through the remains of the house and pulled out eight bodies, one of which was a woman's.

Elsewhere in Iraq, U.S. officials said a Marine from the 2nd Marine Division died Sunday of wounds he had received Saturday in the town of Karmah, and another Marine died in a roadside bomb explosion that also killed 15 civilians and sparked a battle that killed eight insurgents in Al-Hadithah.

In Basra, in southern Iraq, a roadside bomb killed a British soldier and wounded four others. He was the 98th British service member to die in the Iraqi war.

The Badlands of Al Anbar

Cutting the ratlines and quashing the insurgency in Western Iraq.

(Submitters note: This article includes LtCol Bryan P. McCoy, one of Marine Parents.com's member on our board of directors.)

http://www.nationalreview.com/smitht/smith200511210820.asp


By W. Thomas Smith Jr.

Insurgencies are not put down in a fortnight. But considering the successes in the recent counter-insurgency sweep in Iraq's Al Anbar Province, one fact becomes obvious to anyone with so much as a sliver of an understanding of ground combat operations: Eliminating the insurgency in Iraq is best left to those who best know how to do it.

Not the White House: Americans learned the hard way in both Vietnam and the Iranian desert that the Oval Office should never call the tactical shots once forces are committed to action. President Bush understands this, and thus — to all of our benefit — does not micromanage his commanders in the field.

Certainlynot the House and Senate: Many on Capitol Hill seem more concerned about scoring points with their stateside constituencies than they are the Marines and soldiers who must battle the enemy on the ground. And make no mistake, the ground along the Euphrates River valley and up along the Syrian border has been the stage of an ongoing series of running gun-battles between insurgents and coalition troops for months.

Therein lies the obvious: The troops on the ground, taking the fight to the enemy, are the ones who best know how to quash the insurgency. They are doing so systematically. The proof is in the results of their work (whether opponents of the war want to believe it or not), and the vast majority of those troops express no intention of abandoning that country with work to be done.


STEEL CURTAIN
Much of the most recent "work" is within the realm of Operation Steel Curtain, launched Nov. 5 against a string of villages and townships along the Iraqi-Syrian frontier. Steel Curtain is a subordinate operation to the larger, ongoing Operation Hunter, which began in July when U.S. and Iraqi forces began sweeping the Euphrates River valley with the dual-goal of cutting the insurgent ratlines from Syria and establishing a permanent Iraqi military presence in the Al Qaim region.

Success has been achieved in both cutting the lines and bolstering the presence. Additionally, nearly 40 weapons caches have been discovered and destroyed in just over two weeks, and civilian residents of the region are now leaving displacement (refugee) camps and returning to their homes.

But what makes Steel Curtain different from previous actions is that an increasing number of al Qaeda senior leaders are being captured or killed (a sign that the number of insurgent junior leaders and foot soldiers is decreasing), more outlaw towns and villages are being liberated (thanks to human-source intelligence from residents disgusted by what the insurgents are doing to their country), and a greater number of Iraqi soldiers are taking the lead in both scouting operations and offensive actions.

The biggest problem remains the porous borders.


THE EUPHRATES RATLINES
"The Syrian border is full of active smuggler routes that have been in use for centuries," says Lt. Col. Bryan P. McCoy, who commanded 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines in the Al Anbar Province during the invasion phase as well as the spring 2004 Fallujah operations. "During Saddam's era, they were used by black marketeers and Bedouin nomads. Now they are used by the insurgents."

McCoy, who currently serves as operations officer for the Marine Corps Training and Education Command, tells National Review Online, the smuggling routes are connected by a network of way-stations covering a vast region: Some border stretches are rural and isolated. Others are developed and populated.

Of course, such an environment is conducive to the infiltration of foreign fighters and weapons, as well as the exfiltration of terrorists, regrouping guerrilla units, weapons merchants, and, yes, any type of weapon or weapons system Saddam Hussein might have wanted out of Iraq in 2003.

The question is not so much how to shut down the border crossings — there are simply too many — but how best to interdict the border crossers.

"The issue becomes persistent surveillance and a persistent presence over a very large area," McCoy says. "Meanwhile, you have to have a presence in the towns and cities, which — due to the dense and dissected nature of that terrain — requires a lot of people."

It's a simple question of numbers, he adds: "You're either in one place or you're in the other. The insurgents and the smugglers know where you are, and where you are not.
And they use that information to their advantage."

Nevertheless, Steel Curtain has freed the towns of Husaybah, Karabilah, and — as I write this — Coalition forces are rooting out the insurgents in Ubaydi. And with more Iraqi infantry companies coming online, a permanent security presence is being established in the region. "We have taken out a significant chunk of the al Qaeda leadership in these areas," Capt. Patrick Kerr, a spokesman for the 2nd Marine Division in Ramadi, tells NRO. "We believe these operations out west and the frequent disruption operations we are conducting throughout the province — such as in Ramadi and Fallujah — have severely impacted the insurgents' ability to fight."


THE BAD GUYS
The insurgents operating in the Euphrates River corridor are a mixed bag. Though reports vary from think tank to agency to commanders on the ground, most agree that many of the guerrilla leaders are al Qaeda Sunnis, whom U.S. forces officially refer to as al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI). The AQI guerrillas are led by Jordanian-born terrorist Abu Musab Al Zarqawi. Others are al Qaeda or AQI-sympathizing foreigners from various points throughout the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. Some are Hezbollah. Some Hamas. Some are Chechen, considered by many Marines and soldiers to be the toughest fighters in the insurgency. Many bad guys are simply poorly trained locals who have been whipped into a frenzy by older, more seasoned terrorists. Unfortunately, most of the young locals wind up as suicide bombers or as opium-pumped members of "sacrifice squads."

Insurgent tactics run the gamut from Banzai-like suicide charges launched by the small "sacrifice squads" screaming "Allahu Akbar!" as they attack Marine riflemen — suicide indeed — to wiring houses and other buildings with bombs, taking families hostage (specifically using women and children as human shields), kidnapping children to force parents into compliance, and detonating bombs in civilian crowds.

In all cases, weapons are plentiful: Assault rifles, light machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), mortars, and the biggest casualty producer of them all, the improvised explosive device (IED). The bad guys also have laptop computers, portable GPS receivers, cell and satellite phones, but almost no night-vision equipment.

Further east, toward Baghdad, the insurgency is similar in terms of weapons and tactics — as evidenced by Friday's horrific mosque bombings and Saturday's attack on a funeral procession — but has its roots stretching north into Iran.


CROSSDRESSING GUERRILLAS
Despite the dangers encountered in operations like Steel Curtain, U.S. and Iraqi forces are also enjoying what they see as desperate, even "comical," incidents on the part of AQI-insurgents, whom the Marines have dubbed "the mighty jihadi warriors."

In more than one instance — and to the delight of American and Iraqi troops — insurgents have been caught attempting to flee the battlefield dressed as women: Considered a particularly disgraceful act among Iraqis.

"They've proven to be cowards," says Kerr. "We found a number of them skulking among a flock of sheep trying to escape in Ubaydi, and there have been several instances of insurgents dressing up as women trying to escape."

In one instance, Iraqi soldiers discovered three foreign fighters dressed as women trying to enter an Iraqi displacement camp. "The Iraqi soldiers wound up killing them after the insurgents revealed their identity and tried to engage the Iraqi soldiers with AK-47s hidden under their dresses," says Kerr.


THE SCOUT PLATOONS
Currently, the Iraqi security forces are comprised of more than 200,000 Iraqi soldiers and paramilitary policemen. Of that number, some 15,000 Iraqi soldiers are operating in Al Anbar, and approximately 1,000 of those soldiers have been fighting shoulder-to-shoulder with 2,500 U.S. Marines, sailors, and soldiers in Steel Curtain. That's 10-times the 100 Iraqi soldiers who participated in Operation Spear, also in Al Anbar, in June.

Many of the current numbers have been recruited locally where insurgents are now losing both face and ground. And many of the new recruits are serving in specially trained Scout Platoons (also known as "Desert Protectors"), hearkening back to the 19th-century American plains Indians who served as scouts with U.S. Army cavalry units. Like the Native American scouts in the Wild West, Iraqi scouts in Al Anbar are prized by U.S. forces for their courage, navigational skills, ability to relate with tribal leaders, and an understanding of local customs and dialects.

According to Kerr, the scouts and Iraqi infantry have had a huge impact on the success of Steel Curtain. "They have been the biggest difference between this operation and past operations in the area," he says. "They see things that U.S. forces just do not see. They recognize those who do not belong, and they are every bit as committed to eliminating the insurgency as their coalition counterparts."

Steel Curtain is the first operation in which Iraqi Scout Platoons have been deployed.

A surge in recruiting numbers in untamed regions like the Al Anbar Province is not the only measure of progress American commanders are seeing within the Iraqi military. Iraqi units are performing well operationally, and Iraqi soldiers are now almost always the vanguard units kicking down the doors on any given mission. Still there are challenges for U.S. forces standing up the Iraqi units.


A CULTURE OF "SHAME AND HONOR"
"My biggest frustration is that they still operate under a centralized decision-making process," U.S. Army Col. Michael Cloy, a Fort Jackson, S.C.-based brigade commander and the senior military advisor for the 2nd Iraqi Army (Light) Infantry Division in Mosul, tells NRO. "Many of their subordinate leaders, even at division level, are tentative in their decision making for that reason. They will always look up for permission as opposed to operating on initiative. That's due to the fact that they've been beaten down for years. If anybody was seen as displaying initiative in the past, they were usually done away with."

Cloy says he and his officers are effectively coaching the Iraqi military officers on the various particulars of leadership — especially when poor examples of decision-making are witnessed — but with a gentle hand.

"We will pull the officer off to the side, but we have to be careful," says Cloy. "In this culture of shame and honor, you do not want to embarrass anybody. Sometimes we have to step back and repair the relationship."

Iraqis are learning to fight for themselves, and they're proving their worth as combat soldiers daily in operations like Steel Curtain. But the learning process is "slow and deliberate," says Cloy. "These things take time."


THE CUT-AND-RUN CROWD
Of course many — who, again, don't understand the complexities of ground combat — rail against President Bush for not conceding "defeat" and withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq. But how could we responsibly withdraw from a fight — that terrorists and terror-sponsoring nations fear we will win — when we have the enemy on the ropes? Why should we shut down operations in Al Anbar and elsewhere in Iraq when we continue to glean solid intelligence from captured foreign fighters in that country about terrorist activities, worldwide? Why should we abandon a new nation and its people who we've made promises to, and they've responded in kind with their own enormous sacrifices and courageous votes? And why should we abandon a growing and remarkably developed military force that we've stood up from scratch in less than three years?

And despite what the cut-and-run crowd would have us believe, American troops on the ground are not deceptively recruited pawns in some unfortunate military adventure. U.S. soldiers and Marines in Al Anbar and elsewhere in Iraq know exactly what they are doing, and why. They also see the fruits of their labors, which, to their consternation, are rarely reported.

Speaking before a group of U.S. airmen in South Korea, Saturday, President Bush said, "There are some who say that the sacrifice is too great, and they urged us to set a date for withdrawal before we have completed our mission. Those who are in the fight know better."

Indeed, says Capt. Kerr, "We have the initiative and we intend to keep driving hard against these guys [insurgents]. Our goal is to stay on the offensive and capitalize on the considerable momentum we have."

— A former U.S. Marine infantry leader and paratrooper, W. Thomas Smith Jr. writes about military issues and has covered conflict in the Balkans and on the West Bank. He is the author of four books, and his articles appear in a variety of publications.


Oregon Marine Killed In Iraq

One of our own...

http://www.koin.com/news.asp?ID=5586


TANGENT, Ore. -- A 21-year-old Marine from Tangent was killed in Iraq.
Tyler Troyer was a lance corporal with the Second Battalion, Second Marine G Company. He was attacked early Saturday morning Iraqi time by insurgents while patrol near Fallujah.

His mother, Terri Thorpe, told The Democrat Herald in Albany that Troyer was shot in the head.

Troyer is a 2002 graduate of West Albany High School. He enlisted in the Marines after graduation to earn money for college. He had been serving in Iraq since July.



November 20, 2005

Joint Iraqi-American Operations Keep Terrorists on the Defensive


American Forces Press Service

Joint Iraqi-American Operations Keep Terrorists on the Defensive

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2005 – Iraqi and American forces in Baghdad and Tikrit have launched a series of operations this past week that have thwarted terrorist activities and disrupted terrorist cells in these two key cities, officials say.

In a Nov. 15 cordon-and-search operation, a platoon from the 1st Battalion, 2nd Iraqi Army Brigade nabbed five members of a terrorist who had been planning an attack on the Italian Embassy in Baghdad. The Iraqi soldiers also seized two vehicles, which the terrorists had planned to use in the attack.

Also on Nov. 15, U.S. soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, discovered wires, computer parts, timers and 14 AK-47 assault rifle magazines. The soldiers made this discovery in a home that they searched while conducting operations in southwest Baghdad. The home owner was detained for further questioning.

Other soldiers from the 2nd BCT, 101st Airborne Division discovered a weapons cache of 22 60-millimeter mortar rounds and 18 fuses on Nov. 15 while searching a farm in south Baghdad. An EOD team later destroyed the munitions.

An alert Iraqi Police officer discovered an improvised explosive device in a black bag near a bus stop in west Baghdad on Nov. 16. An explosives ordnance disposal team confirmed that the bag contained an anti-tank mine wired to a detonation device. Officials say the EOD team recovered the explosives and rendered the area safe.

In a three-day cordon-and-search operation that ended Nov. 16, the Iraqi Army led the way as coalition forces rooted out terrorist cell leaders who have developed, distributed and emplaced IEDs.

The operation took place in Sadr City and involved soldiers from 2nd and 3rd battalions of the 2nd Iraqi Army Brigade, along with U.S. soldiers. This joint force detained 23 terrorist suspects, while seizing weapons, ammunition and anti-Iraq propaganda materials, officials say.

In all, they note, Iraqi Army units conducted more than 1,250 patrols during the three-day period that ended Nov. 16.

U.S. soldiers, meanwhile, continue to capture likely terrorists who are seen loitering around attack sites.

Two Task Force Baghdad units searched and caught a rooftop lurker who was watching an IED attack while talking on his cell phone. This followed an IED attack on a 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry convoy in west Baghdad on Nov. 15, officials say.

11th Cavalry Regiment soldiers detained two likely terrorists who were loitering around an IED site in Baghdad on Nov. 15. The soldiers were standing guard as an EOD team dismantled an IED. Military officials say the likely terrorists later were found to have handled explosives.

Also in Baghdad on Nov. 15, soldiers from the 2nd BCT, 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry, killed three terrorists while detaining eight terrorist suspects after being attacked with small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. Officials said the soldiers pursued the attackers and returned fire, but suffered no casualties or equipment damage.

In north-central Iraq, two joint missions between Iraqi and U.S. forces resulted in the detention of nine terrorist suspects last week, officials say.

The first mission involved a joint patrol in Kirkuk with Iraqi police officers and soldiers from the 1st BCT, 101st Airborne Division; the second a raid near Baqubah with the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division and soldiers from the 3rd BCT, 3rd Infantry Division.

In Kirkuk, Iraqi police and U.S. soldiers reportedly discovered small cache of weapons while detaining two terrorist suspects. Officials say the Iraqi police noticed that one of the men was acting suspiciously, so they questioned him.

The patrol escorted the man to his home where they discovered and confiscated a cache of two AK-47 assault rifles, two bolt-action rifles and hundreds of rounds of sniper-rifle ammunition. The police and soldiers also discovered a supply of batteries that are often used to detonate IEDs.

The raid near Baqubah resulted in the capture of seven suspects, five of whom had been targeted because they were known terrorists, officials say. The other two suspects tested positive for explosives residue and were detained for further questioning.

A Nov. 17 raid near Ad Dawr by the 1st BCT, 3rd Infantry Division, resulted in the capture of one terrorist, the death of another and the confiscation of IED materials. The soldiers reportedly worked off tips provided by previously captured detainees to conduct the raid.

When cornered, one suspect surrendered and the other attempted to flee by driving out of the cordoned area, officials say. The soldiers fired warning shots to deter the suspect; however, when that failed, hey fired into the passenger compartment, wounding the driver and stopping the vehicle.

The driver later died from his wounds while being evacuated to a nearby medical facility. His remains were turned over to the local Iraqi police. A search of the area turned up several devices used to manufacture IEDs and also terrorist videos and compact disks, officials say.

Soldiers from the 2nd BCT, 101st Airborne Division, discovered three 120-millimeter mortar rounds, 1,000 rounds of 7.62-millimeter ammunition, 60-millimeter mortar system, one 60-millimeter mortar and various homemade explosives during a Nov. 18 cordon-and-search operation in Baghdad. An Iraqi citizen then informed them that terrorist forces planned to attack them at that site.

The soldiers responded by conducting a cordon-and search of a house identified by the informant. This resulted in the capture of five suspected terrorists, who are believed to have planned an attack on the cache site, officials say.

U.S Troops Recognized for, and Die in, Combat Action

American Forces Press Service

RCT 2 and RCT 8 Marine KIAs

http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Nov2005/20051120_3395.html

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2005 – U.S. troops in Iraq continue to perform heroically in combat against terrorist insurgents; and some are making the ultimate sacrifice in the country that President Bush has called "the central front in the war on terror."

Indeed, soldiers assigned to 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team received combat decorations during a ceremony at Forward Operating Base Honor on Nov. 6.

The soldiers were awarded 54 Combat Action Badges, three Combat Infantry Badges and three Combat Medical Badges.

"My Grandfather won (a Combat Infantry Badge) in World War II; and my uncle won his during Operation Desert Storm," said 1st Lt. Eric Woolf, a platoon leader with the 6/8 Cav. "Ever since I joined the infantry, I wanted to get this award - so it means a lot."

Spc. Daniel Meservey, B Troop, 6/8 Cav. also earned the Combat Action Badge; however, his situation is different from Lt. Woolf's.

"I am proud to be the first soldier in my family to earn the Combat Action Badge," Meservey said. "It is an honor and a privilege."

Elsewhere in Iraq, five soldiers from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, were killed in action, and five were wounded, on Nov. 19 in two separate improvised explosive device attacks on U.S. patrols in the vicinity of Bayji.

Three of the injured were transported to nearby military medical facilities, and two were treated and returned to duty.

A Task Force Baghdad soldier was killed by small-arms fire while on patrol north of Baghdad on Nov. 20. Officials say the incident is under investigation.

A Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, was killed in action when his vehicle was attacked with an IED during combat operations in the vicinity of Hadithah on Nov. 19.

Another Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 8, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, died of wounds received from small arms fire during combat operations against in al Karmah on Nov. 19.

The names of all of the deceased is being withheld pending notification of next of kin and release by the Department of Defense.

News Archive News Archive
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San Jose, Calif., native helps CAG patrol through city

AR RAMADI, Iraq (Nov. 20, 2005) -- During a recent civil affairs patrol, some of the Marines from the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment guard force were asked to come along as a security element. For the guard Marines, who usually spend their days and nights keeping watch from guard towers, getting the opportunity to participate in a foot patrol was an exciting opportunity that they have looked forward to since arriving in country more than two months ago.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/3CC9DFEA2087AE65852570BF0040C9F3?opendocument
Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 2005112064740
Story by Cpl. Shane Suzuki

AR RAMADI, Iraq (Nov. 20, 2005) -- During a recent civil affairs patrol, some of the Marines from the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment guard force were asked to come along as a security element. For the guard Marines, who usually spend their days and nights keeping watch from guard towers, getting the opportunity to participate in a foot patrol was an exciting opportunity that they have looked forward to since arriving in country more than two months ago.

For one of those Marines, Lance Cpl. Roberto Ruiz, it was the first of what he hopes will be many operations in the city.

“It was awesome going out,” said the 21-year-old. “It was exciting to actually go into the city. When I first got here, I was a little disappointed to be on the guard. I volunteered to come here as a truck driver. But, after doing guard for a while, I am enjoying it now. It’s a new experience.”

The patrol was a civil affairs operation to speak with homeowners and business owners. For the guard Marines, it was their first chance to interact with the locals and see the city from somewhere other than their guard towers.

“The people were more friendly then I expected,” said Ruiz. “They seemed excited to talk to us, shaking our hands and smiling. It was really neat to be able to go out and do that. I hope that we are asked to go out again so I can do this again.”

Going on operations and the experience of deploying are just some of the reasons this San Jose, Calif., native volunteered to be activated for duty in Iraq.

“I wanted to come to Iraq and do my part,” he said. “I decided to step up, a lot of Marines have been on numerous deployments and I wanted to give at least one of them a break. Now that I am here, it feels really good to be doing something for my country and not just sitting around. I am trying to be a good example while I am here.”

Despite wanting to be a truck driver, Ruiz is happy being a part of the guard force that is responsible for the safety of the battalion. In fact, being a part of the guard force has allowed him to meet many different people from all over the country that he otherwise would never have met.

“I’m very glad I volunteered to come here,” he said. “I’ve met a lot of new people and made a lot of new friends. I’ll never get the chance to experience anything like this again, so I am trying to make the best of my time here. I couldn’t imagine not coming here, I had to do it.”

Marine Corps birthday more than a ball for Marines of 3/7

AR RAMADI, Iraq (Nov. 20, 2005) -- Third Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment’s commander, Lt. Col. Roger Turner, and sergeant major, Sgt. Maj. Walter Kilgore, toured the city of Ar Ramadi Nov. 10.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/47D4B3880DB9F71C852570BF00414AA6?opendocument
Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 200511206539
Story by Cpl. Shane Suzuki

AR RAMADI, Iraq (Nov. 20, 2005) -- Third Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment’s commander, Lt. Col. Roger Turner, and sergeant major, Sgt. Maj. Walter Kilgore, toured the city of Ar Ramadi Nov. 10.

This wasn’t the normal tour of the area of operations though; they were visiting the Marines of the battalion and bringing with them some of the ceremony they would otherwise have missed during their deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“It’s great to spend the Marine Corps birthday here,” said Maj. Michael Holmes, the battalion executive officer. “I couldn’t imagine a better place to spend it or a better group of young men to spend it with.”

The first stop was Camp Hurricane Point where the Marines of Company K, Headquarters and Service Company and Weapons Company gathered for the ceremonial reading of former commandant of the Marine Corps General John A. Lejeune’s birthday message and the current commandant of the Marine Corps, General Michael Hagee’s birthday message.

Turner then cut the birthday cake and began the next phase of the tradition, the passing of the first piece of cake from the oldest to the youngest Marine present. In this case Kilgore, the oldest Marine present, handed the piece of cake to Pfc. Dewayne Butterworth, an infantryman with Weapons Company.

When the ceremony ended, the Marines in attendance lined up to eat some cake and shake hands with the battalion commander before he left for two of the entry control points located near Hurricane Point.

Once at the first ECP, Turner and a handful of Marines from Hurricane Point celebrated the birthday by once again reading the birthday messages and passing the cake from the oldest to the youngest.

“For some people, the traditions we have here, like passing the cake between the oldest and youngest Marine, may seem strange or old-fashioned,” said Turner. “But what we are really doing here is carrying on a military history. The cake symbolizes what has made the Marine Corps so successful over the last two centuries, the passing of knowledge from the older generation to the younger. That trust and training has allowed the Marine Corps to become the finest fighting organization in the world.”

Following the ceremony at the ECPs, Turner moved on to Camp Snake Pit, home of Company L, and Camp Ramadi, home of Company I. At both of these sites, they had a more formal ceremony that included the playing of “Anchor’s Aweigh” and “The Marine Corps Hymn,” along with the reading of the birthday messages and the cutting of the cake.

Although spending the Marine Corps birthday away from loved ones in the states is tough, the Marines of 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines realize that the birthday is more than going to a ball or eating steak in the chow hall. The birthday is a chance to recognize the accomplishments of 230 years of military prowess and tradition – regardless of where the celebration takes place.

“I’ve celebrated the birthday all over the world,” said Turner. “For those of you that have been in the Marine Corps for a few years, you know that sometimes you’ll be able to spend it in nice hotels in cities like San Diego and Las Vegas. But I’ve also spent it in the jungles of Okinawa and the deserts of Saudi Arabia and Iraq. What makes the birthday great is not where you celebrate it, it’s who you are spending it with, and I am honored to spend it with you young men.”


Sweden native leads Marines in combat

CAMP AL QA’IM, Iraq (Nov. 20, 2005) -- Clearing out compounds and buildings that might potentially harbor insurgents is a hair-raising and sometimes deadly activity. It takes men of a certain quality to handle the unknown of what’s behind the closed doors and around shadowed corners.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/DE491CE0A885C1D1852570BF0041AA5F?opendocument


Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 2005112065715
Story by Sgt. Jerad W. Alexander

CAMP AL QA’IM, Iraq (Nov. 20, 2005) -- Clearing out compounds and buildings that might potentially harbor insurgents is a hair-raising and sometimes deadly activity. It takes men of a certain quality to handle the unknown of what’s behind the closed doors and around shadowed corners.

Sergeant Michael G. Lyborg, Company I, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, is a leader of such men.

Born in Sweden in the late 1970’s, Lyborg was raised in Gothenborg, Sweden by his American father and Swedish mother. When he reached adulthood, he entered the military; Sweden has mandatory service for all citizens.

“In ’97 and ’98 I joined the Swedish Army and was part of the Royal Swedish Arctic Infantry Air Defense,” said Lyborg.

Before joining, however, he was selected to become a squad leader after a battery of tests and various leadership courses.

According to Lyborg, instead of learning leadership while moving up through the ranks and through professional military education, in Sweden leaders are picked at entry-level through a series of tests and evaluations that analyze intelligence, mental capacity and physical ability. After the results of the tests were examined, he was offered several leadership options. Lyborg chose to be a squad leader.

After serving for a year as a squad leader in the Swedish Army, Lyborg moved to the United States, eventually residing in Fairhope, Ala. While in Alabama, he worked for a large computer company, making approximately $50,000 a year. Then the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 occurred.

“I was working as a system engineer at the time,” said Lyborg. “I missed military life and wanted to do something different. I went to talk to the Navy but they told me I couldn’t join. The Army didn’t really sound too attractive and the Air Force wanted to place me right back into what I was doing as a civilian, which was what I was trying to get away from.”

His only remaining option was the Marine Corps.

“The Marines seemed the most challenging,” said Lyborg. “A lot of Europeans deem the Marines as a highly professional fighting force.”

After enlisting in the Marine Corps as an infantryman and graduating recruit training and the school of infantry, Lyborg found himself with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines as a rifleman. While with Company I, Lyborg deployed to Afghanistan twice, once in defense of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and once with his entire battalion conducting offensive operations.

Almost eight years after leaving the Swedish Army, Lyborg now finds himself in command of a Marine rifle squad in Iraq.

“It comes down to leadership,” said Lyborg. “You have to know your stuff, be firm and be able to make decisions.”

According to Lyborg, a lot of what he was taught in the Swedish Army helped him in the Marine Corps.

“They taught us leadership and communication skills which have helped,” he said. “They also physically pushed us hard. We’d do 20-mile movements on skis in the mountains. After the first 10 you’d think you couldn’t go anymore, but you do. It taught me how to push myself.”

Currently, Lyborg plans to stay in the Marine Corps. After his return from Iraq in the spring, he is slated to go to the II Marine Expeditionary Force’s Foreign Military Training Unit to teach.

“I’m just going to take it four years at a time.”

Paintsville, Ky., native fires light rocket at insurgents

CAMP AL QA’IM, Iraq (Nov. 20, 2005) -- During Operation Steel Curtain, the fight to clear Husaybah and Karabilah in western Iraq, Paintsville, Ky., native Lance Cpl. Scotty R. Price was designated by his leaders to carry a light antitank weapon, known as the LAW. (3/6 Marine)

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/6C2CD259F5526ABC852570BF0042AD92?opendocument

Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 200511207818
Story by Sgt. Jerad W. Alexander

CAMP AL QA’IM, Iraq (Nov. 20, 2005) -- During Operation Steel Curtain, the fight to clear Husaybah and Karabilah in western Iraq, Paintsville, Ky., native Lance Cpl. Scotty R. Price was designated by his leaders to carry a light antitank weapon, known as the LAW.

While sweeping through the city of Husaybah, Price, a rifleman with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, got a chance to use it in combat.

“I was providing security on the bottom floor of a house we had cleared when I got the call to head to the roof,” said the 26-year-old Price. “When I got up there I found out [the Marines] had found a possible insurgent with an [AK-47] hiding behind a van about 80 meters away. My squad leader told me to shoot the vehicle with the LAW.”

At this point Price pulled the weapon from his back and prepared it to be fired.

“It was real simple. Just extend it out, aim, click the safe and fire,” he said.

The rocket’s motor ignited and found its way to the target, scoring a direct hit.

“I was a little nervous, I didn’t know if [the rocket] would arm firing it at a target that close,” said Price, who worked in construction and attended the Mayo Technical College prior to enlisting.

According to Price, he could feel the rocket exit the tube in one smooth motion without a lot of kick. It also wasn’t too loud. After he fired it, he didn’t have any ringing in his ears or temporary deafness.

Training to use the LAW was a simple process as well. Price received only rudimentary training on the use the LAW just two days before the start of the operation.

“It’s really easy to use, a lot easier than the AT-4,” said Price, referring to the standard disposable antitank rocket used by Marine riflemen.

Another aspect of the LAW Price noticed was its weight. The LAW weighs in at approximately three pounds, making it easy for infantrymen to carry while clearing houses and maneuvering quickly.

“You can’t even tell it’s there,” said Price, who carried it on his 5-foot-8-inch, 160-pound frame. “I was able to get inside of buildings and move around. The axe I was carrying was more noticeable.”

The LAW was originally created for use in Vietnam to take out lightly armored vehicles and hardened positions. Its 66-millimeter rocket has an effective range of approximately 300 meters. Its launcher is collapsible and has open sights for aiming. It’s considered a “throw-away weapon” meaning that after firing, it cannot be used again.

“It’s a good weapon,” said Price. “It’s a scary weapon.”

Nashua, N.H., native leads team in combat

CAMP AL QA’IM, Iraq (Nov. 20, 2005) -- The infantry fire team is the lowest smallest unit and at the bottom of the infantry hierarchy… and maybe the most important. (3/6 MArine)

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/1E3B3DB6EF03CC57852570BF00430834?opendocument


Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 2005112071210
Story by Sgt. Jerad W. Alexander

CAMP AL QA’IM, Iraq (Nov. 20, 2005) -- The infantry fire team is the lowest smallest unit and at the bottom of the infantry hierarchy… and maybe the most important.

A fire team is a group of four infantrymen: a team leader and grenadier, a rifleman, an automatic rifleman and an assistant automatic rifleman. These are the men who fire the bullets, kick in the doors, and advance or hold the front lines. Three fire teams make up a Marine rifle squad.

Nashua, N.H., native Lance Cpl. Dave A. Pothier, Company I, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, leads a fire team.

“I’ve been in the Marine Corps for two years and six months,” said the 21-year-old, 2003 graduate of Nashua High School. “I came in following a family path. A lot of my family served as Marine infantrymen.”

According to Pothier, being a fire team leader means taking charge of Marines and making decisions on your own. It also means having accountability of the Marines within the team.

In addition to being a fire team leader, he also has the added challenge of leading a team in combat during operations such as Operation Steel Curtain, the sweep of Husaybah and Karabilah in western Iraq.

“You know, each house [we clear] is a learning experience,” said Pothier. “But, I’m working with good Marines and I trust them. It’s really exciting… a good adrenaline rush.”

Currently, there is no formal school available to foster new infantry fire team leaders. According to Pothier, he learned the tools necessary to be an effective fire team leader from leaders who performed the job. One such mentor is his current squad leader, Fairhope, Ala., native Sgt. Michael G. Lyborg, who served as his squad leader during the battalion’s deployment to Afghanistan in 2004.

According to Pothier, one of the most challenging aspects of leading a fire team is teaching younger Marines.

“It’s hard trying not to get mad when younger Marines make mistakes,” he said. “You have to teach them and correct them in a positive way.”

His fire team made it through the fighting in Husaybah without suffering a single Marine killed and participated in the clearing of a city that had largely been in insurgent hands for approximately eight months.

Pothier plans on remaining in the Marine Corps and has aspirations of becoming a military police working dog handler.

Missing man table puts spotlight on fallen warriors

AL ASAD, Iraq (Nov. 20, 2005) -- The civilian and Marine staff of Al Asad’s Wings of Freedom Dining Facility recently joined forces to remind their customers of the sacrifices made by military members and those who are gone but never forgotten.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/D650ADBEE0E57B5F852570BF0050FAA1?opendocument


Submitted by: 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing
Story Identification #: 2005112094430
Story by Cpl. Micah Snead

AL ASAD, Iraq (Nov. 20, 2005) -- The civilian and Marine staff of Al Asad’s Wings of Freedom Dining Facility recently joined forces to remind their customers of the sacrifices made by military members and those who are gone but never forgotten.

A ‘missing man’ table now sits at the entrance to the mess hall, dedicated to fallen or missing service members. For Veterans’ Day and the Marine Corps Birthday, the memorial was joined with a fallen Marine display, a stand holding an upside-down rifle with bayonet, Kevlar helmet, dog tags and a pair of boots. The table, more commonly known as a prisoner-of-war/missing-in-action table, and memorial were placed at the facility’s entrance to catch the attention of everyone who entered, said Sgt. Chester E. Otto, a food service specialist serving as sergeant of the guard at the mess hall.

“Everyone who comes through this base winds up coming in here,” Otto, a Pittsburgh native, said. “We wanted the memorial at the entrance so everyone would see it. The goal is to make people who never think about these things stop and reflect for a minute. The more people see it, the more awareness there is.”

The table bears a full setting for one, symbolizing a seat of honor for all missing or fallen service members. Other items on the table range from a red rose to a slice of lemon, but everything about the table symbolizes a different way to remember the fallen, said Gunnery Sgt. David Highter, the dining facility’s staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge.

“Each item on the table has a special meaning,” Highter, a New Haven, Vt., native, said. “Each is a reminder for the personnel here of what our Marines and Sailors are doing in combat, and what has been done in the past.”

The table has sparked compliments from those familiar with its meaning and curiosity from others.

“A lot of young Marines and Soldiers have never heard of it before or seen one, so it has sparked some interest,” Highter said. “It’s a small thing for us to do, but sometimes doing little things can change a big atmosphere. I think this table goes a long way toward doing that with some people.”

Although Al Asad is in a combat zone, many service members can forget what is going on outside the air base’s fence line, and the POW/MIA table is a good reminder for them, said Otto.

“It’s a reminder that everything we have is a result of someone else’s sacrifice,” Otto said. “The freedom enjoyed by so many, everything provided by the military is because of sacrifice. You can never think about that too much.”

Thinking about fallen comrades probably is not in the minds of most young service members, especially around meal time, said Lance Cpl. Charles B. Whalen, a food service specialist and dining facility security team member.

“It’s there to remind us that somebody out there won’t be able to enjoy this meal like we are,” Whalen, a Fort Mill, S.C., native said. “I think it’s something you should see more often on bases. It’s something I will probably suggest for the mess hall in (Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C.).”

Spreading the attitude of awareness and reverence for the fallen is what this type of display is all about, said Highter.

“It should absolutely be in as many places as possible,” Highter said. “Any word we spread about the sacrifices our guys are making is good. Anything we can do to open peoples’ eyes, to remind us of how good we’ve got it, is worth it. We owe a huge debt to those who sacrifice for us, this is a small way of repaying that.”

Bakersfield, Calif., native provides beans, bullets, bandages

CAMP RIPPER, Iraq (Nov. 20, 2005) -- The Marine Corps’ three B’s, beans, bullets and bandages, are said to be the only equipment a Marine needs to accomplish the mission while in Iraq. (RCT 2 Marine)

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/701070E739FEE22F852570BF003FD543?opendocument

Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 2005112063713
Story by Cpl. Adam C. Schnell

CAMP RIPPER, Iraq (Nov. 20, 2005) -- The Marine Corps’ three B’s, beans, bullets and bandages, are said to be the only equipment a Marine needs to accomplish the mission while in Iraq.

Supporting more than 5,000 troops attached to Regimental Combat Team-2 with these supplies and other comforts of home everyday is Bakersfield, Calif., native Lance Cpl. Larry O. Martinez.

Martinez, who volunteered to leave his embarkation and logistics clerk job with 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., to deploy, is doing that same job in Iraq for the RCT’s logistics shop. The only difference is the sheer volume of responsibility put on his shoulders everyday.

“Being with the RCT’s four shop, we can pretty much say that any gear or people in RCT-2 went through us to get to where they are now,” commented the 20-year-old Martinez. “We coordinate the movement of all the people and supplies needed to complete the mission successfully.”

For a Marine who enlisted in 2003 to quench his thirst for extreme adventures, deploying to Iraq was the perfect adrenaline fix. Martinez says everyday brings something new as he goes from driving forklifts and 7-ton vehicles to participating in patrols.

“Going along on patrols in Hit was the most memorable time I’ve had since getting here in February,” the 2003 graduate of West High School said. “When I joined the Marines, I thought I would be in the infantry doing extreme things. This gave me a chance to get out there and actually do what I always wanted to do.”

The exhausting task of patrols in hostile areas is not much different than the high-paced, 24-hour job that Martinez does everyday while here. Being awoken after a few hours of sleep is normal as Martinez and the other 21 members of the shop are the suppliers of life-sustaining equipment for battalions in the area.

“The most difficult part of my job is when someone calls and they need supplies right then,” Martinez said. “They are miles away from here and we have to find a way to get what they need out to them in as little time as possible.”

Speedy support to the battalions is a major part of their mission while supporting the Global War on Terrorism. When a battalion needs materials to complete their mission, Martinez is always there.

“I’m kind of like the regiment’s packrat. I get supplies I know people will need, so when they call, I have them on hand and can get it out to them A.S.A.P.,” Martinez said.

Besides supporting each battalion, he helps support the smaller units in remote areas. Martinez, also known as the S-4 shop’s go-to guy, is called upon all the time to provide support to small camps in remote parts of Iraq like Ammunition Supply Point Wolf.

“Martinez took a special interest in Camp Wolf,” commented Chief Warrant Officer Daniel R. Young, Moundsview, Minn., native and embarkation officer for the regiment. “He single-handedly gets the supplies needed out to them on a weekly basis.”

Supplying people with the gear they need and loading convoys and helicopters with supplies is something that Martinez hopes to do for a career, whether in the Marine Corps or as a civilian. When his contract expires in September 2007, Martinez said he would like to take his Marine Corps skills with him as he goes to work in California as a load planner for an airport.

“Loading planes correctly is a very important job,” Martinez said. “If they aren’t loaded properly, lots of people could die because of gear shifting while in flight.”

But until then, Martinez will spend his last few months in Iraq making sure RCT-2 units are sufficiently supplied so the Marines can continue bringing the fight to the terrorists in the region.

“I’m out here continuing to serve my country and protecting my family,” Martinez commented. “I’m here doing this for them.”

Antitank assaultmen face more than tanks

CAMP AL QA’IM, Iraq (Nov. 20, 2005) -- Picture this scenario: A Marine rifle squad advances on a walled compound in western Iraq. When the point man reaches the gate, automatic weapons fire from inside riddles the wall and metal gate, missing the Marine by mere inches. (3/6 pics at ext link)

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/A1C284B60F5127BB852570BF00425386?opendocument

Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 200511207427
Story by Sgt. Jerad W. Alexander

CAMP AL QA’IM, Iraq (Nov. 20, 2005) -- Picture this scenario: A Marine rifle squad advances on a walled compound in western Iraq. When the point man reaches the gate, automatic weapons fire from inside riddles the wall and metal gate, missing the Marine by mere inches.

Insurgents sit inside the compound, fortified in doors and windows. How do you root them out and allow the Marines to sweep through the compound and its structures without suffering casualties?

Call on Lance Cpl.’s Steven L. Phillips of Waynesberg, Pa., and Paul J. Kolkhorst of Albany, N.Y., both antitank assault men with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment.

“For the most part, we breech and assault targets that would be fatal for [riflemen] to attack,” said 27-year-old Phillips, who worked as a packaging design engineer before enlisting in the Marine Corps. “We have the resources to take targets out without going in bodily.”

The resource Phillips talks about is the Mk-152 Shoulder-Mounted Antitank Weapon, which is essentially a rocket launcher. In the place of sending flesh-and-blood infantrymen into a potential nightmare of bullets, a rocket can be used to eliminate targets inside a structure.

“If [the riflemen] need a quick opening into a building, or if they need it destroyed and it’s an area a tank can’t fire into, they call us,” said 19-year-old Kolkhorst, 2004 graduate of Shaker High School. “We can blow doors, locks, ammunition. We carry [demolitions], make holes, take down buildings and stop vehicles.”

Another aspect of the antitank assault men’s mission is the use of demolitions. If a Marine squad cannot make entry through a compound gate due to a tough lock, the assault men are trained to use demolitions to blow through doors and other obstructions.

“We went through the Urban Breech Course at Camp Lejeune and got a demolition training package at the School of Infantry,” said Phillips, who is looking to attend the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to become a pilot after finishing his four-year obligation as a Marine. “We generally get a lot of experience through training.”

“We’re also taught basic mine clearing,” said Kolkhorst. “We’re taught how to use mine detectors and probe for land mines.”

As for the scenario… it wasn’t a scenario per se. It did, in fact, happen and Phillips and Kolkhorst were there to “clean house.”

Marines drop ‘Steel Curtain’ on Iraq-Syria border towns

HUSAYBAH, Iraq (Nov. 20, 2005) -- The Marines of 3rd Platoon, Company L, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, recently pushed through buildings, streets and the constant threat of improvised explosive devices and enemy attacks to bring stability and security to two Iraq border towns in western Al Anbar province

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/32D730B1BFDC1027852570BF004048C2?opendocument


Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 200511206429
Story by Cpl. Micah Snead

HUSAYBAH, Iraq (Nov. 20, 2005) -- The Marines of 3rd Platoon, Company L, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, recently pushed through buildings, streets and the constant threat of improvised explosive devices and enemy attacks to bring stability and security to two Iraq border towns in western Al Anbar province.

The platoon took part in Operation Al Hajip Elfulathi (Steel Curtain), along with more than 2,000 Marines, Sailors and Soldiers from Regimental Combat Team 2 and 1,000 Iraqi Army Soldiers. The Marines pushed through the Euphrates River Valley cities of Husaybah and Karabilah Nov. 5 through 11.

“Our mission (was) to clear and search everything we came across,” said 2nd Lt. William J. Milana, 3rd Platoon commander. “We moved in coordination with every other unit through the cities and conducted detailed searches as we went.”

The goal of the operation is to restore security along Iraq’s border with Syria and to destroy the Al Qaeda in Iraq network operating in the region. Before pushing into Husaybah, Marines occupied battle positions at Camp Gannon, located between the city and the border, and in the river valley north of the city. After weeks of waiting and watching, the Marines finally had a chance to take the fight to the enemy.

“Up until this point, we haven’t been able to go into the city,” said Lance Cpl. Travis W. Garrett, a 3rd Platoon rifleman. “This is our chance to pay back the people who’ve been taking shots at us whenever they get a chance. Now, they won’t be able to shoot and run.”

With gunfire, mortar blasts and detonations ringing out across the city, the platoon swept through by day and rested at night. In addition to being the platoon’s first combat operation since clearing the city of Sadah in October, Steel Curtain was an opportunity to get to know their Iraqi counterparts. A four-man fire team of Iraqi Army soldiers was attached to each squad in the platoon and it didn’t take long for the Marines and Iraqis to bond.

“I was very impressed with them personally and professionally,” said Sgt. Sean T. Selman, a rifleman and squad leader. “We initially conducted a hand-and-arm signal class to make sure they were on the same page with us, but they were ahead of the game. They knew our procedures for movements, searching and clearing and were just as eager as we were to fight the enemy.

“Personally, it was encouraging because I think our greatest key to success will be the Iraqi people taking defense of their country into their own hands. As that happens more and more, our job will become much less difficult.”

By Nov. 9, the joint force cleared all of Husaybah and began preparations for a permanent security presence inside. The platoon uncovered several weapons caches and seized buildings used by insurgents to target Camp Gannon.

Beginning Nov. 10, the platoon and all of Company L moved into the river valley north of the cities and conducted searches for Al Qaeda in Iraq members who may have fled. The company then moved to eastern Karabilah and began clear and hold operations there.

Deadly IEDs and car bombs littered the streets of Karabilah as the Marines pushed into the city. On the night of Nov. 10, tragedy struck the platoon when Lance Cpl. Daniel Swaim was killed by a pressure plate-triggered IED hidden in a narrow alley. The explosion also injured an Iraqi soldier, one of the platoon’s Navy corpsmen and two other Marines.

“I would rather face a firefight with the enemy all day and all night than have to deal with IEDs,” Selman said. “It’s the worst enemy in the world because you can’t fight it back. All we can do is deny this region to the people who would plant them here. These are people who don’t care if what they do kills an American or an Iraqi, they are only interested in chaos.”

The platoon faced the task of carrying on the operation without Swaim the next day.

“The enemy wants us to quit and this is the only way they can come up with to hurt us,” Capt. Richard H. Pitchford, Company L commander, told the platoon the next morning. “Lance Cpl. Swaim would have wanted us to carry on. He will be missed, but the best way to remember him is to keep taking the fight to the enemy.”

The platoon uncovered more IEDs as they moved deeper into the city and, on Nov. 11, another blast injured more Marines. The platoon responded to the adversity they faced with courage and professionalism.

“They really showed what they were made of when things got bad,” said Staff Sgt. Antonio O. Foster, 3rd Platoon’s platoon sergeant. “They didn’t lose their heads as soon as someone got hurt. Marines and corpsmen were assisting casualties, other Marines posted security without having to be told to, everything they were supposed to do. You always prepare for these moments, but never want them to happen. Times like these are when you find out what kind of Marines you really have.”

The Marines moved back to Camp Gannon, Nov. 12, to rest and refit before assuming security positions in and around Husaybah and Karabilah. While the intensity of the operation washed off of them and they came out of their worn socks and uniforms, the next battle was already present in their minds.

“At a time like this, you’re already thinking about what’s next,” said Lance Cpl. Eric A. Thompson, a 3rd Platoon rifleman and fire team leader. “Everyone in this platoon is set on killing the guys who want to hurt us. This is a break, but it’s really just time to get ready to go back out.”

On the Front Lines, Many Say Morale Remains Strong

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20 - In the tumultuous debate over renewed calls for a withdrawal from Iraq, each side argues that it stands shoulder to shoulder with the troops in the field and that the other side's approach is undermining military morale.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/21/politics/21morale.html?pagewanted=1

By THOM SHANKER
Published: November 21, 2005

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20 - In the tumultuous debate over renewed calls for a withdrawal from Iraq, each side argues that it stands shoulder to shoulder with the troops in the field and that the other side's approach is undermining military morale.

Those who favor an early withdrawal say the endless deployments and the mounting casualties are wreaking havoc on the armed forces. Those who want to stay the course say that talking about pulling out undermines the people making sacrifices.

"Put yourself in the shoes of the American soldiers who are losing lives and losing limbs and believe that it is a noble cause - which it is - believe they are making progress, believe we will prevail," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Sunday on the ABC program "This Week."

Representative John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania, the Democrat whose call for an early withdrawal sparked the debate, said his loyalty also lay with the troops.

"It breaks my heart when I go out there and see these kids," Mr. Murtha, a combat veteran, said on the NBC program "Meet the Press." "I see wives who can't look at their husbands because they've been so disfigured. I saw a young fellow that was paralyzed from the neck down, and his three children were standing there crying with his wife and his mother."

But in interviews conducted by The New York Times in recent months with more than 200 soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines stationed around the world, the sense emerged that the war had not broken the military - but that civilian leaders should not think for a moment that that could not happen.

Cpl. Michael Meade is a member of a Marine Corps Reserve unit from Ohio that lost 14 members in a single day last August. Interviewed at the Al Asad airfield in western Iraq as his tour neared its end, Corporal Meade said: "I'm ready to leave Iraq. But that doesn't mean I've decided to leave the corps."

Maj. Adam R. McKeown, a Marine Corps reservist with the Sixth Communications Battalion deployed to Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, expressed his ambivalence with an allusion to Shakespeare, a subject he teaches at Adelphi University.

"The global war on terror is 'drinking deep' in terms of morale," Major McKeown said, referring to a line from "Henry IV, Part 1."

"Especially right now, I think the armed forces need good leaders who have served and continue to serve, and to step up and lead," he added. "But I can't forget that there are only so many times you can leave your civilian job and still have that job to return to."

While an overwhelming majority of those interviewed said their units had high morale and understood their mission, they expressed frustrations about long and repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Those deployments present the most significant problem for these troops, who were interviewed during a military correspondent's travels in the war zone and around the world.

Even among those who have done tours in Iraq, most soldiers who were interviewed said they were willing to wait and see, at least through another yearlong rotation, before passing judgment. The December vote on a new Iraqi government and efforts to train local security forces offer at least the prospect of reductions in the American force by next summer.

But few wanted to talk about what would happen if, come next year or especially the year beyond, the military commitment to Iraq remained undiminished.

A growing percentage of ground troops are in Iraq or Afghanistan for a second or third tour. The Third Infantry Division, which led the drive to Baghdad in 2003, returned to Iraq this year with 65 percent of its troops having served previous tours.

Many of those returning to the combat zone said the latest tours were different. Bases in Iraq and Afghanistan show the money spent on infrastructure and recreation facilities. The hot food, air-conditioning, Internet facilities and giant gymnasium offered at major bases bolster morale in ways that may not be wholly understood by someone who has not just come off a dusty, dangerous patrol.

Staff Sgt. Joshua Wannemacher dropped into northern Iraq with the 173rd Airborne Brigade in the largest military parachute mission since World War II, and he is now in the combat zone in Afghanistan. He has been in the Army for 10 years, and plans to stay for his full 20.

"When I jumped into northern Iraq, it was wet and cold and we had nothing - nothing!" Sergeant Wannemacher said in an interview at the American base at Kandahar. "The best part here is how after a patrol, I can go to the phone center. Every soldier gets 15 minutes, free, to call home every day."

Soldiers and officers point out that stress on the force is hardly uniform overseas.

Military personnel based across Europe or in Japan, for example, said they enjoyed quality schools, medical services, child care and a standard of living that they could not maintain at home - all strong arguments for continued service.


Even among those assigned to duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as to the chain of support bases strung across allied territory around the Persian Gulf and Central Asia, the stresses are uneven.

The Army requires yearlong assignments in the war zone - and many of those have been extended - and the Marine Corps deploys for seven months. In contrast, Air Force personnel serve 120-day tours in the region, and the Navy routinely sends its ships on six-month sea duty.

"The family can deal with my being gone four months," said Staff Sgt. Michael Marshall, on a rotation to Kuwait from Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana. "It would be different if they knew I would be gone for a year out of every three, like the Army."

Men and women in uniform - hunting insurgents in the desolate reaches of western Iraq, standing watch near the demilitarized zone separating South from North Korea, patrolling Balkan villages, launching fighters off a sizzling carrier deck in the Persian Gulf - say they believe continued service is important.

"I spent 15 months in Iraq with the First Armored Division, but there was never any doubt that I would re-enlist," said Sgt. Shannan W. Muench, who has been in the Army for five years and now serves in military intelligence.

The secret to keeping experienced personnel, she said, is obvious: offer rewarding career opportunities.

For Sergeant Muench, the sting of having to stay in Baghdad for an extra three months on top of her yearlong deployment was removed when she was offered a position with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, where she can use her Russian skills.

"I'm 30, and I'm financially set up for life," she said. "And I enjoy what I do."

One indicator that military morale remains strong is the numbers of those who re-enlist while deployed.

"Our retention numbers are so high that it's almost bizarre," Rear Adm. Pete Daly, commander of Carrier Strike Group 11, said aboard the Nimitz while under way in the Persian Gulf.

Perhaps it is because, as many service members said, decisions about whether to continue with the military life are made not on the basis of what Congress or the president says, but out of the bond of loyalty they have come to share with their comrades in arms.

That does not help the military much when it comes to attracting new recruits. Troublesome questions about the cause in Iraq may be felt more severely among would-be troops than among those already in the military.

Many in uniform say it is the job of the nation's political leaders to communicate the importance of the mission and the need for national sacrifice to a new generation of soldiers.

November 19, 2005

9/11 spurred enlistment of troop killed in Iraq

YUKON - Like many young men, Jeff Rogers was moved to join the military by the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“He said he wanted to give something back,” mother Janet Rogers said.

http://www.newsok.com/xml/rss/1681738

By Jay Marks
The Oklahoman

YUKON - Like many young men, Jeff Rogers was moved to join the military by the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“He said he wanted to give something back,” mother Janet Rogers said.

Cpl. Jeffry A. Rogers gave his life for his country Wednesday when he and three other Marines were killed in an ambush in Ubaydi, Iraq. Fellow Oklahoman Joshua J. Ware of Apache was among those who died.

Janet Rogers learned of her son’s death Wednesday night after returning from a business trip to Kansas. She said she still hasn’t fully processed the news.

“All I can tell you is I’m going to miss him tons and tons,” she said.

Rogers, 21, is the 35th Oklahoma service member killed in Iraq since the U.S. invasion in 2003, according to Defense Department records.

Rogers joined the Marine Corps in 2002 shortly before graduating from Putnam City North High School. Five others from his class did the same.

His mother said she did her best to talk him out of it, but he insisted on enlisting.

Rogers’ desire to join the military crystallized as he watched the horrific toll of the 2001 terror attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. unfold on television.

“He said, ‘We have to keep our world safe. We have to protect our people,’” his mother said.

Rogers prospered in the Marines, according to his mother, earning an invitation to join the security forces because of his high test scores.

Those scores netted him a $50,000 scholarship, so Rogers suggested his parents build a new house with the money they had saved to send him to college. He even designed it himself.

A perfect fit

Janet Rogers said the Yukon house is a perfect fit for the family, with a room set aside for her husband’s sports memorabilia collection.

The American and Marine Corps flags in front of the house flew at half-staff Friday as the family mourned.

Janet Rogers remembered her son as a focused young man who worked hard to achieve the goals he set for himself. The black BMW sports car in her garage serves as a reminder of that.

She said her son decided he wanted a “Beemer” and saved his money until he could afford it.

“He was real proud of it,” she said.

Grandmother Billie Doling said Rogers did not have to learn the principles of honor, courage and commitment emphasized in the Marines.

She said he was a courteous and loving man who always said the little things that mean a lot to people.

“We think he was a great kid,” Doling said.

November 18, 2005

Depot drill instructor takes top honors in Corpswide board

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Nov. 18, 2005) -- Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Sgt. Maj. John L. Estrada, presented the annual drill instructor of the year award to Gunnery Sgt. Antonio Ceritelli at Marine Corps Air Facility, Quantico, Va., Nov. 1.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/B960C17941F65408852570BD005E91C4?opendocument


Story by Lance Cpl. Dorian Gardner


Every year, Parris Island and San Diego's top-performing drill instructors find their way to Headquarters Marine Corps for the final board where the drill instructor of the year will be selected. Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego has taken this award home for three consecutive years, according to Ceritelli.

Before he arrived in Quantico for his final review board, Ceritelli went through two previous boards at regiment and battalion levels.

"We as a company recommended him for the regimental board," said 1st Sgt. Robert Eriksson, Company E first sergeant. "A lot of it had to do with his depot experience. If you have a drill instructor who only has three cycles under him, you are not going to nominate him."

Ceritelli had three years of experience on the drill field, including time spent with special training companies, according to Eriksson. "His performance and experience aboard the depot speak for themselves."

"I was honored to be nominated because I knew what high-caliber Marines I was competing against here on the drill field," said Ceritelli.

Drill instructors are required to spend their past year with a recruit training company and previously receive the drill instructor or senior drill instructor of the quarter award before they can be nominated on the battalion or regimental board.

"Each board was pretty much the same," said Ceritelli. "I knew what to expect."

According to Ceritelli, winning this award came as a complete surprise. "I didn't know I was going to be accepting the award until 30 seconds before when I was promoted to gunnery sergeant.

It is tradition to promote the drill instructor of the year. After three years as a staff sergeant, Ceritelli came back to Company E with his award and new rank.

The most well-known challenge on the drill field is the long hours and the toll it takes on family, according to Ceritelli. "The long hours required and the hardship that occur in the family because of it make this job harder," said Ceritelli.

Though hours and family struggle make the military occupational specialty more demanding than most, men like Ceritelli feel it is their duty to serve.

"Joining the Marine Corps, I didn't have any long-term goals," said Ceritelli. "I had no aspirations or focus in life. Once I became a Marine, I became focused on my career path. I guess I do this so that I would be able to help some of these recruits make the same changes. I owe it to the Marine Corps."

Marine From Va. Killed in Iraq Firefight

Donald Ryan McGlothlin of Lebanon, Va., was graduating with a master's in chemistry from Stanford University in California, headed for a PhD, when he decided two years ago to make a sharp turn and travel a less certain road in life.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/17/AR2005111702210.html?nav=rss_metro

By Allan Lengel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 18, 2005; Page B04

Donald Ryan McGlothlin of Lebanon, Va., was graduating with a master's in chemistry from Stanford University in California, headed for a PhD, when he decided two years ago to make a sharp turn and travel a less certain road in life.

"He came home after two years at Stanford and said: 'Dad, I just don't feel like I'm doing something that matters. I want to serve my country. I want to protect our lands from terrorists, so I joined the Marines,' " his father, Donald A. McGlothlin Jr., recalled last night.


"Can't you think of some other way to serve your country?" McGlothlin asked his son, who was known as Ryan.

"Dad," the son replied, "I've been privileged, much more so than most Americans. Why should people who aren't as privileged have to bear all the brunt of defending our nation?"

On Wednesday, the 26-year-old McGlothlin, a Marine 2nd lieutenant assigned to Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, based at Camp Pendleton, Calif., was killed during a firefight in Ubaydi, Iraq. His unit was part of Operation Steel, aimed at cracking down on the insurgency.

Those who knew him in Lebanon, a small town in southwestern Virginia, about 20 miles north of the Tennessee border and 40 miles east of Kentucky, described him as an exceptionally bright, focused person who was also capable of horsing around.

"Whatever he did, he excelled in," said Scott Gilmer, 25, who played on the high school football team with McGlothlin, a defensive end and tight end. "He was a very loyal guy. He didn't say too much. But you could talk to him about anything. He always listened. He was a true friend."

McGlothlin graduated from high school as valedictorian in 1997 and excelled at the College of William and Mary College in Williamsburg, where he was tops in the chemistry department in 2001, according to his father.

While at William and Mary, he enrolled in ROTC but "washed out" because of a medical problem he had with breathing as a child, his father said.

"He still wanted to be in the military," his father said, adding that his son went on to Stanford, where he earned top grades.

The younger McGlothlin then joined the Marine officers program, where he was known for his professionalism, his father said.

"But when the clock struck 5 , so to speak, he was a wisecracker," said his father, a former Circuit Court judge.

McGlothlin's brother Nathan, 28, a lawyer who had just flown to his family's home from Tokyo, said his brother was a great friend.

"I knew he'd be there for me," he said.

His father said he remembered telling his son: "You realize you can be wounded in a way that can change your life or you can lose your life."

"Dad, if I die, I did it doing my duty and protecting my country," he recalled his son replying.

"I console myself with that," he said.

Five Camp Pendleton Marines killed in Iraq

CAMP PENDLETON ---- Donald Ryan McGlothlin graduated first in his class, won a full-ride fellowship to a Stanford doctorate program, and was on his way to a career in chemistry when he decided to leave it all behind to pursue a boyhood dream of becoming a Marine.

http://www.nctimes.com/articles/2005/11/18/news/top_stories/23_23_3911_17_05.txt

By: ERIN SCHULTZ - Staff Writer

CAMP PENDLETON ---- Donald Ryan McGlothlin graduated first in his class, won a full-ride fellowship to a Stanford doctorate program, and was on his way to a career in chemistry when he decided to leave it all behind to pursue a boyhood dream of becoming a Marine.

"He came home from Stanford once, and I asked him how he was," his father, Donald McGlothlin said Thursday night from the family's hometown in Virginia. "He said, 'I want to do something else, I want to feel like I'm serving my country ... Dad, I've joined the Marines."

That was the summer of 2003.


On Wednesday, a little more than two years later, the senior McGlothlin paused to watch a news report about the local high school retiring his son's football number and lowering the town flag to half-staff.

McGlothlin the Marine, a second lieutenant, was one of five Camp Pendleton-based men to die in a small border town in Iraq on Wednesday. They came from mostly small towns peppered across the United States, from rural California to the northern mountains of Virginia. Most were killed by gunfire, one from an enemy grenade.

In addition to McGlothlin, the only fallen Marine whose family could be reached late Thursday, the dead included Lance Cpl. Roger Deeds, 24, of Biloxi, Miss.; Lance Cpl. John Lucente, 19, of Grass Valley, Calif.; Cpl. Jeffry Rogers, 21, of Oklahoma City, Okla., and Cpl. Josh Ware, 20, of Apache, Okla.

They were all members of the Pendleton-based 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit. They died in Ubaydi, a town where U.S. troops have been clearing out neighborhoods and fighting for days.

According to news reports, Lucente ---- the youngest of the Marines killed Wednesday ---- had just written his parents, asking them to pray for him as he moved into Iraq with fellow troops.

All but Lucente were killed by small arms fire in the small town near the Syrian border, according to the Pentagon. Lucente died after being hit with an enemy hand grenade.

A news report from Lucente's hometown newspaper, the Auburn Journal, said his family received an e-mail from their eldest son the night before Marines knocked at their door to tell them the young man had died. The e-mail contained the first news to Lucente's parents that he was in Iraq, the Journal reported.

"The last I knew, he was in Cairo," Lucente's mother, Kristine Mason, told the Journal. "Then last night I got an e-mail that had been delayed about a month. In it he said, 'I am going into Iraq. Pray for me.' "

Across the country in Lebanon, Va., the senior McGlothlin spoke of his son as a man of brains and resolve, a loyal friend when loved ones were hurt, an athlete who was never the strongest, but knew just how to execute a perfect play, a man who was once rejected by an R.O.T.C. because of childhood breathing problems, but worked hard not just to find a way into the Corps, but to excel there, later dreaming of becoming commandant, the Marine Corps' top officer.

"Whatever he set himself to, he did," said McGlothlin of his son. "It's wonderful to have a child like that. It's awful hard to lose one."

Contact staff writer Erin Schultz at (760) 739-6644 or [email protected]

2/7's RBE Fights Battle Off Battlefield

Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif. (Nov. 18, 2005) -- “Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. The Marines don't have that problem.” — Ronald Reagan, former President of the United States; 1985

http://www.military.com/features/0,15240,80851,00.html

Marine Corps News | Michael S. Cifuentes | November 18, 2005
Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif. (Nov. 18, 2005) -- “Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. The Marines don't have that problem.” — Ronald Reagan, former President of the United States; 1985

From July 2 through 7, a wave of infantrymen set off on an expedition that consisted of fighting a world enemy, stabilizing and securing a society that yearned for help, and helping to rebuild a nation that was once run by military strongmen led by a dictator.

The infantrymen are known as “War Dogs,” 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, and true to this unpleasant name, they make known their hostility, aggression, ugliness and unfriendliness in combat.

Just like all battles found on and off the battlefield, casualties emerge. The “War Dogs” have also suffered losses and many have been wounded in action.

Even before setting foot in the Middle East, Marines remained behind from their last deployment, tending to their injuries in preparation for a future deployment.

Sergeant Brad A. Covert, antitank missileman with Weapons Company, was one of several Marines who did not deploy with his unit three months ago. He is now with 2/7’s Remain Behind Element, which consists of Marines and Sailors who are held here for medical issues, legal issues or who are approaching their end-of-active-service date.

“It’s really tough having to stay back when your unit deploys,” said the Butler, Pa., native. “Most of us get this feeling of guilt that we are here in the comfort of being on base while our friends are out there fighting and in action.”

Covert has been with the battalion since August 2003. During a physical training session, he suffered nerve damage on his elbow while doing a set of pull-ups. He is now in an arm brace, waiting for a surgery date. He was told he could not deploy with the unit a few days prior the deployment in July, he said.

“I trained with them to work up to this deployment and it shocked me when I couldn’t go,” said Covert. “All I can do now is just support my battalion by sending them care packages to lighten their mood. The Marines and I send them letters and talk to them over the phone every now and then. Their wives sometimes come in [the command post] and ask us questions of their whereabouts and how the unit is doing. We support them in all ways we can possibly do, ensuring the Marines who are out in Iraq that everything is taken care of at home.”

Corporal Timothy J. Winters, a 26-year-old squad leader with Weapons Company, joined 2/7’s RBE Oct. 21 after suffering shrapnel wounds from an improvised explosive device in Fallujah.

On Aug. 22, Winters, an Upland, Calif., native, was with his unit conducting combat operations throughout the streets of Fallujah when they were hit by a stacked IED.

The IED took the life of one Marine and wounded Winters and one other. He spent the remainder of the month in and out of medical facilities until he was well enough to return to the Combat Center. After surviving three IED attacks, the fourth attack took him out of combat, said Winters.

“As soon as I was taken out of the fight I was upset,” said Winters. “I just wanted them to bandage me up so I could continue on, but my wounds were worse than that. When they sent me to medical facilities, I met a lot of other [service members] who were also wounded. We exchanged stories but at the same time I felt out of place. I wanted to be with my unit where I belonged. When I arrived [at the Combat Center], I felt better being around Marines —Marines who are with my battalion under similar circumstances.”

The feelings of bitterness to be home and out of harm’s way were common amongst 2/7 RBE Marines. All felt that they were deprived of their participation in the battle. Their deployments were cut short because of wounds or injuries, or what they called “mishaps.”

After a month into his deployment, Lance Cpl. Michael J. Moore Jr., a 22-year-old field radio technician with Headquarters and Service Company, was part of his company’s guard force standing post on the rooftop of a building in Fallujah. The day was disturbed with a violent sand storm, which made him lose his balance and fall from the rooftop. Moore suffered four broken bones in his foot and a vertical and horizontal fracture in his wrist. He met up with 2/7’s RBE Sept. 3.

“The change is drastic from [Operation Iraqi Freedom] to here,” said Moore, a Barrington, N.J., native. “But since I’ve been here, I have been writing letters and sending care packages to my buddies out there. We were very tight. We felt like a family out there and it is hard being apart from my family.”

Moore’s companion, Lance Cpl. Steven E. Dimino, a 20-year-old Las Vegas native, was standing post with Moore the day of the incident. Moore said he has been sending Dimino plenty of care packages since he is not able to stand post with him anymore.

Just like Covert, Cpl. Brock E. Nugent, squad automatic weapon gunner with Fox Company, couldn’t be a part of 2/7’s last deployment.

Nugent deployed with the battalion Feb. 13, 2004 for his first time. On the last day his company was operating, they rode down streets in the city of Rutba, checking observation posts. They received intelligence of a suspicious parked car on the side of a street. Nugent said he was familiar with the area. It was near a rock pile that had been there since the beginning of his deployment. An IED planted in the rock pile exploded when his team was near it, wounding Nugent and one other person. They were immediately evacuated and taken to a medical facility in Al Asad. Nugent suffered shrapnel wounds to his hand, and received the Purple Heart in December of 2004 for his wounds.

“I can’t do much for my company when I’m stuck here,” said Nugent. “All I can do is send care packages, which I do. I try to do what I can to keep their chin up.”

All members of 2/7’s RBE understand the importance of supporting their deployed comrades. They try to do everything they can to make up for not being in Iraq fighting next to their fellow Marines, said Covert.

“The RBE is vital for deployed Marines and their families’ support,” said Covert. “It’s a guilt trip staying away from the war when our boys are out there, but there’s nothing we can do about it. I wonder sometimes if those KIAs from my company would still be with us today if I were out there. I wonder if I could have made a difference. But for right now, my Job is here at home. And I have to do all that I can for our Marines out there.”

Covert and the rest of 2/7’s RBE continue to keep in touch, and tend to other wounded Marines returning from Iraq. They make trips to medical centers visiting other service members who have survived life-threatening missions in Iraq. They continue serve as a family by helping out with the fight at home. Their support for all Marines and Sailors will pay off when 2/7 returns in early 2006.


Depot drill instructor takes top honors in Corpswide board

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif.(Nov. 18, 2005) -- Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Sgt. Maj. John L. Estrada, presented the annual drill instructor of the year award to Gunnery Sgt. Antonio Ceritelli at Marine Corps Air Facility, Quantico, Va., Nov. 1.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/B960C17941F65408852570BD005E91C4?opendocument
Submitted by:
MCRD San Diego
Story by:
Computed Name: Lance Cpl. Dorian Gardner
Story Identification #:
20051118121257

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif.(Nov. 18, 2005) -- Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Sgt. Maj. John L. Estrada, presented the annual drill instructor of the year award to Gunnery Sgt. Antonio Ceritelli at Marine Corps Air Facility, Quantico, Va., Nov. 1.

Every year, Parris Island and San Diego's top-performing drill instructors find their way to Headquarters Marine Corps for the final board where the drill instructor of the year will be selected. Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego has taken this award home for three consecutive years, according to Ceritelli.

Before he arrived in Quantico for his final review board, Ceritelli went through two previous boards at regiment and battalion levels.

"We as a company recommended him for the regimental board," said 1st Sgt. Robert Eriksson, Company E first sergeant. "A lot of it had to do with his depot experience. If you have a drill instructor who only has three cycles under him, you are not going to nominate him."

Ceritelli had three years of experience on the drill field, including time spent with special training companies, according to Eriksson. "His performance and experience aboard the depot speak for themselves."

"I was honored to be nominated because I knew what high-caliber Marines I was competing against here on the drill field," said Ceritelli.

Drill instructors are required to spend their past year with a recruit training company and previously receive the drill instructor or senior drill instructor of the quarter award before they can be nominated on the battalion or regimental board.

"Each board was pretty much the same," said Ceritelli. "I knew what to expect."

According to Ceritelli, winning this award came as a complete surprise. "I didn't know I was going to be accepting the award until 30 seconds before when I was promoted to gunnery sergeant.

It is tradition to promote the drill instructor of the year. After three years as a staff sergeant, Ceritelli came back to Company E with his award and new rank.

The most well-known challenge on the drill field is the long hours and the toll it takes on family, according to Ceritelli. "The long hours required and the hardship that occur in the family because of it make this job harder," said Ceritelli.

Though hours and family struggle make the military occupational specialty more demanding than most, men like Ceritelli feel it is their duty to serve.

"Joining the Marine Corps, I didn't have any long-term goals," said Ceritelli. "I had no aspirations or focus in life. Once I became a Marine, I became focused on my career path. I guess I do this so that I would be able to help some of these recruits make the same changes. I owe it to the Marine Corps."

The Nation

TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. — About 350 Marines here and at Camp Pendleton are being trained as advisors to the Iraqi army, in the hopes that a strategy honed during the Vietnam War can be used to improve Iraq's military and hasten the withdrawal of U.S. personnel.


By Tony Perry, Times Staff Writer


http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-marine18nov18,1,1938797.story?coll=la-headlines-nation&ctrack;=1&cset;=true

TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. — About 350 Marines here and at Camp Pendleton are being trained as advisors to the Iraqi army, in the hopes that a strategy honed during the Vietnam War can be used to improve Iraq's military and hasten the withdrawal of U.S. personnel.

"These are our best and brightest," said Col. Tom Greenwood, who is heading the effort. Most of the Marines involved — who volunteered for the special, and especially dangerous, duty — are combat veterans. They have been to Iraq before.

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Split into teams of 11 to 15 men, the Marines will provide monthly evaluations of the Iraqi troops they are embedded with. In many cases, that will mean living outside the security of U.S. bases.

Only when the advisors believe the Iraqi battalions are battle-worthy should the U.S. forces leave, Greenwood said.

"Our No. 1 priority is to train and mentor the Iraqi forces and, if necessary, to neutralize the enemy," said Lt. Gen. John F. Sattler, commander of the Camp Pendleton-based 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. More than 20,000 troops from the force are set to deploy to Iraq early next year.

Sattler and other officers say the advisor approach is preferable to setting a fixed deadline for withdrawal, as some politicians are demanding.

Think of the U.S. forces as a grizzly bear backing up the Iraqis in their fight against insurgency, Sattler said: "The grizzly bear can move back farther and farther as the Iraqis get better."

Army and Marine units in Iraq's Al Anbar province — where the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force is headed — have begun an advisory effort, which Sattler hopes to expand and refine.

The Marines preparing for deployment receive training in a mock Iraqi village built in the open-desert portion of the Twentynine Palms base. Two hundred Marines, dressed as civilians, play Iraqis who confront the troops.

In addition, the Marines who will act as advisors undergo an intensive two-week course at Camp Pendleton that involves lectures and additional field exercises.

"We have taken a page from Vietnam," Sattler said. In Vietnam, the "combined action platoon" concept brought U.S. and Vietnamese troops together in a counterinsurgency strategy.

Bing West, former assistant Defense secretary in the Reagan administration and author of two books on the Marines in Iraq, said the advisor idea involved a trade-off of "risk of casualties versus [the] reward of better-trained Iraqi soldiers."

"On balance, placing Marines among Iraqi soldiers is the fastest means of training," he said. "It involves risk, but the Marines will volunteer in overwhelming numbers."

Thomas X. Hammes, a retired Marine colonel and author of "The Sling and the Stone: On War in the 21st Century," said he would like the advisor course at Camp Pendleton to be expanded to six or 12 months, including language training.

"It's up to the services and [Department of Defense] to accept this is a long war and start acting like it," he said. "Start planning for who will be the advisors in late 2006 and 2007, and start training them now."

Army, Marines recall 18,425 armored vests

By Jeff Schogol, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Friday, November 18, 2005

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Army and Marines are recalling 18,425 Outer Tactical Vests that “do not meet contract specifications,” the Marines announced Thursday.

To continue reading:

http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article;=33093

Language skills add another tool to warriors' kitbags

ABOARD USS NASSAU (Nov. 18, 2005) -- With so many ongoing operations taking place in areas where Arabic is the prominent language, it is imperative that those on the front lines of the war on terror have at least a rudimentary understanding of the language. (22nd MEU)

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/F9631977C46F54C7852570BD0023A11E?opendocument

Submitted by: 22nd MEU
Story Identification #: 2005111812910
Story by - 22nd MEU (SOC)

ABOARD USS NASSAU (Nov. 18, 2005) -- With so many ongoing operations taking place in areas where Arabic is the prominent language, it is imperative that those on the front lines of the war on terror have at least a rudimentary understanding of the language.

To that end, two Arabic linguists joined the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) in its trans-Atlantic voyage aboard the amphibious assault ships of Expeditionary Strike Group 8. Each day, Marines from throughout the MEU attended up to five hours of immersion-style Arabic to give them the basic linguistic skills required to support them during potential missions ashore.

“Courses like this help give Marines a sense of comfort in the event we do go into Iraq or other places they speak Arabic,” said Sgt. Todd Downing, of Lancaster, Penn., an infantryman with Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 2nd Marines, the MEU’s ground combat element. “I didn’t think it [language training] would help that much the first time I went into Iraq, but it did.”

While the 13 days of classes, no matter how intensive, couldn’t hope to give the Marines a complete understanding of the language, they did come away with knowledge that could spell the difference between success or failure in combat situations.

The Marines learned key phrases such as ‘stop,’ ‘raise your hands,’ and ‘put your weapon down.’ Other topics included numbers, military ranks, time, and days of the week. Each Marine also received a language guide with the phonetic pronunciation of these and other phrases and words so they could continue their studies and pass the information on to their fellow Marines.

“I think it’s better they waited until we got on ship to teach this to us,” said Pfc. Adam Murray, a machine gunner from Washingtonship, Penn. “We have too much going on during the work ups to teach us then, but now that we’re on ship, we can focus on the classes.”

In addition to BLT 1/2, the 22nd MEU (SOC) consists of its Command Element, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261 (Reinforced) and MEU Service Support Group 22.

For more information on the 22nd MEU (SOC), visit the unit’s web site at http://www.22meu.usmc.mil.

Ready to fight, rebuild: Son joins Corps after mother's experience with roadside bomb

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Nov. 18, 2005) -- After a worried college student found his mother was in harm's way during a roadside bombing in Baghdad, Iraq, he contemplates the situation he chose to ignore and focuses his thoughts on joining the Marine Corps.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/21B87CDD2AD8EC65852570BD0057C3A2?opendocument

Submitted by: MCRD San Diego
Story Identification #: 20051118105837
Story by Pvt. Charlie Chavez

MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Nov. 18, 2005) -- After a worried college student found his mother was in harm's way during a roadside bombing in Baghdad, Iraq, he contemplates the situation he chose to ignore and focuses his thoughts on joining the Marine Corps.

Pvt. Phillip M. Oesterblad, Platoon 2130, Company E, grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and never had any thoughts of joining the military while in high school. After attending college in Alaska and Arizona, he realized that he did not know enough about America's role in the situation in Iraq.

"While I was in college, some of the other students would have political discussions about the conflict in Iraq and I realized I didn't know enough not to sound like an idiot," said Oesterblad. "So I read some literature about it."

Oesterblad was attending Mesa Community College in Arizona when his mother Genny Lammers convinced her husband Terri Lammers to move with her to Iraq and work there for the experience. They agreed with one another and Terri moved to Iraq before Genny.

"My mother flew in after him into Jordan," said Oesterblad.

"When she got there, she paid someone to smuggle her into Baghdad. While she was waiting to enter the green zone into Baghdad in a cab, a vehicle four cars ahead blew up from a roadside bomb. Marines in the area shot suppression fire into the general area to eliminate insurgents and avoid further bombs," said Oesterblad.

"My mothers guide was shot in the head and the cab driver instinctively pushed her head down, so she threw his hand off and removed the veil over her face (that was concealing her identity as an American) and ran toward the Marines holding her American passport in the air. Immediately, four Marines ran to her and took her to a safe haven," said Oesterblad.

Oesterblad was surprised when he found his mother's decision to go to Iraq nearly turned out to be life threatening, so he contemplated his mother's near-death experience and the role the Marines played in saving her life.

"Since (then), I started realizing more about what was happening in Iraq; I thought about joining the military while in college," said Oesterblad. "I personally believe that one of the most important objectives the military has in Iraq is to protect civilians and contractors who are helping to rebuild peoples lives and homes."

Oesterblad felt prepared to discuss and attempt to understand other people's ideas and beliefs of the importance and role of America in Iraq after it hit close to home for him.

"Talking about it and not understanding how real it can be was something that I had to experience first-hand," said Oesterblad. "Now I am prepared to do my part to save people's lives and fight for my country in the Marines."

Working through recruit training plays a miniscule part in the 20-year-old infantryman's plans to become politically involved in the United States government and perhaps foreign diplomatic issues.

"Recruit training is a means to an end," said Oesterblad. "The Marines will be an extremely good-looking background to get involved in a political profession."

Working through boot camp worked out well for Oesterblad, who managed to catch attention from his drill instructor.

"I think he is an outstanding recruit and the fact that he wants to help make a difference and help rebuild is great," said Sgt. Francisco W. Ortega, drill instructor, Platoon 2130, Co. E. "He is a good recruit as well. He is very intelligent and he did a very good job."

Hoping to minimize the amount of civilian deaths in Iraq and work in foreign diplomacies is something that Oesterblad looks forward to accomplishing during his time in the Marine Corps and throughout life.

Buckeyes to Honor Fallen Marine Saturday

Ohio State will wear a decal on their helmets for former Buckeye wrestler, Marine Corps Major Ray Mendoza

Nov. 18, 2005

http://ohiostatebuckeyes.collegesports.com/sports/m-footbl/spec-rel/111805aaa.html

COLUMBUS, Ohio: The Ohio State football team will wear a special decal on its helmet at Saturday's Michigan game in honor of former Buckeye wrestler, Marine Corps Major Ray Mendoza, who was killed in action in Iraq earlier this week. Mendoza, who graduated from Ohio State in 1995, is believed to be the first Ohio State student-athlete to be killed in Iraq. He was a company commander with the 1st Marine Division and was in his third tour of duty in Iraq.

The helmet decal will be the size of the Buckeye Leaf decal that the Buckeyes wear on their helmets. It will be a clear background with the initials R.M. on it.

Mendoza, a native of Blairstown, N.J., was a two-year letterman for the Buckeyes and was runner-up in the heavyweight division at the Big Ten championships in 1993.

Major Mendoza is survived by his wife, Karen and their two children, a daughter Kiana (12) and a son Aleksandr (8). Mrs. Mendoza is from Upper Arlington, but she and the children live in San Diego.

November 17, 2005

5 Marines Dead and 11 Hurt in an Ambush by Insurgents

UBAYDI, Iraq, Nov. 16 - Five marines were killed and 11 wounded Wednesday in an ambush at a farmhouse while hunting for insurgents on the outskirts of this rural town, Marine officials said. It was the deadliest day for the Marines since beginning an aggressive sweep along the Euphrates River near the Syrian border early this month.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/17/international/middleeast/17border.html

By KIRK SEMPLE
Published: November 17, 2005

Johan Spanner/Polaris, for The New York Times
A marine comforted an Iraqi family whose house was hit by ordnance on Monday during a search for insurgents in Ubaydi in Anbar Province.


Forum: The Transition in Iraq
The sequence of events was not clear, Marine commanders said, but testimony by survivors indicated that a squad had just entered a farmhouse in eastern Ubaydi when an explosion occurred, possibly from a hand grenade or a homemade bomb planted by rebels. The blast inflicted at least one casualty, and as squad members struggled to extract the fallen marine, insurgents hiding in the house attacked them with small arms and "a lot of grenades," said Col. Stephen W. Davis, commander of Regimental Combat Team 2, Second Marine Division.

The dead and wounded were recovered from the farmhouse, and 16 rebels in the house and its vicinity were killed in the gun battle, the commander said.

American and Iraqi troops entered Ubaydi early Monday to conduct a house-by-house dragnet and immediately met stiff resistance. Two marines died that day, one killed by small-arms fire and the other by a homemade bomb. Twelve other people, including nine marines, two civilians and an Iraqi soldier, were wounded, the Marines said.

The fighting ebbed Tuesday. Casualties were limited to four Iraqi soldiers with minor wounds. By the end of the day, Colonel Davis, commander of the sweep, had declared Ubaydi under American military control.

The assault - involving about 1,500 American troops and 500 Iraqi Army soldiers - was the latest in the American military campaign to disrupt the flow of foreign fighters and munitions through the dusty towns along the Euphrates River, from the Syrian border to Iraq's interior.

Military officials also announced Wednesday the deaths of two other marines with the Second Marine Division in Anbar Province, one killed Wednesday by a homemade bomb near Haqlaniya and the other by a car bomb near Al Karma on Tuesday. An American soldier died Wednesday of wounds suffered in a roadside bomb attack near Baghdad the day before, officials said. The current operation along the Euphrates began Nov. 5 in the border town of Husayba, continued into neighboring Karabila on Nov. 10 and moved downriver to Ubaydi on Monday. Military officers say these towns harbored guerrilla safe houses, bomb factories, weapon depots and financiers.

Ubaydi, which is divided by fields and rocky desert into a new sector and an old one, is set within a heart-shaped bend in the river about 10 miles east of the Syrian border. American and Iraqi troops faced the stiffest resistance in the new sector, a planned development of one- and two-story houses built on a grid of asphalt roads for workers at a nearby phosphate plant, American military officials said. Troops found dozens of concealed bombs, and accidentally tripped others.

"The place was rigged to explode, the whole city," said Lt. Col. Dale Alford, commander of the Third Battalion, Sixth Marines, who oversees security in far western Anbar Province, from Husayba to Ubaydi.

The rebels appeared to have carefully planned the attack that occurred Wednesday morning and were waiting in a fortified house. "It was a well-bunkered position," Colonel Davis said in an interview.

The American and Iraqi troops have faced a new kind of fighter in Ubaydi, one they did not see in Husayba and Karabila, he said. "Their tactics were very good, their discipline was very good," he asserted. "It's not your average insurgents running around because they have nothing better to do."

The marines and their Iraqi counterparts were involved in intense fighting at the start of the Husayba assault, but the resistance dissipated, and, as the forces moved into Karabila, their greatest concern became mines and homemade bombs. Colonel Davis and other Marine officials speculated that the push east had driven the fighters to Ubaydi and had backed them up against the river with nowhere to flee.

For months, the military has stormed towns in Anbar Province with hundreds of troops, who have moved from block to block, breaking into homes, detaining people suspected of being insurgents and searching belongings for evidence.

Once the mission was completed, however, the forces would withdraw, leaving insufficient numbers to prevent the insurgents from returning. This happened in Ubaydi in May, when marines last pressed a fight here.

But immediately after recent offensives in Haditha, Barwana, Haqlaniya and Sadaa, the American military established garrisons in those towns. Work on temporary bases in Husayba and Karabila began the day those sweeps ended last week. And on Wednesday, marines in Ubaydi were converting a neglected youth center into their post, ordering a perimeter of barricades and discussing the possibility of starting a soccer league for children.

Construction, Patrols continue

CAMP BLUE DIAMOND, AR RAMADI, Iraq -- Iraqi Army soldiers and Marines, Soldiers and Sailors continue Operation Al Hajip Elfulathi (Steel Curtain) in the Al Qa’im region today.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/releaseview/00C54B1C605680D6852570BC0070AF9D?opendocument

United States Marine Corps
Press Release
Public Affairs Office
2nd Marine Division; Camp Blue Diamond, Ar Ramadi, Iraq; 2nd Marine Division, Camp Blue Diamond, Ar Ramadi, Iraq
Capt. Jeffrey S. Pool
[email protected]
Contact:

Release # 1117-05-1530
Construction, Patrols continue
Nov. 17, 2005

Construction of bases for the Iraqi Army and U.S. military’s long-term security presence is steadily progressing in Husaybah, Karabilah and Ubaydi. Simultaneously, Iraqi Army soldiers and Marines continue patrolling to ensure insurgents do not return. These patrols also involve detailed searches, looking for hidden weapons caches and deadly improvised explosive devices. Approximately 120 bombs and mines have been located over the course of Operation Steel Curtain.

Three aspects of the operation which makes Steel Curtain different from previous operations in the Western Euphrates River Valley are increased Iraqi Army participation, immediate establishment of long-term security presence, and Iraqi Army soldiers taking the lead in security and care of the citizens temporarily displaced by the operation.

Approximately 1,000 Iraqi Army soldiers took part in Operation Steel Curtain. During Operation Romhe (Spear), conducted in this same area last June, fewer than 100 Iraqi soldiers took part.

Today, more than 15,000 Iraqi Army soldiers are stationed in Al Anbar province and recently locally-recruited soldiers are joining and operating with Iraqi Army units and U.S. forces. The Desert Protectors, recruited from the Al Qa’im region, fought alongside Iraqi Army soldiers and Coalition forces in Operation Steel Curtain.

Iraqi Army soldiers provided security and helped facilitate the care and well-being of residents displaced from their homes due to the operation. Iraqi Army soldiers provided perimeter security and screened displaced civilians to weed out al Qaeda in Iraq terrorists trying to infiltrate the shelter areas. Iraqi soldiers also helped to distribute thousands of meals, blankets and health and sanitation items to their fellow citizens.

USAID, the principal U.S. agency which extends assistance to countries recovering from disaster, trying to escape poverty, and engaging in democratic reforms conducted an initial fact-finding assessment today in order to further assist the Iraqi government in restoring normalcy in the Western Euphrates River Valley.

Ubaydi residents are currently moving out of the camp established by Iraqi Army soldiers and U.S. forces and back into the city.

Operation Steel Curtain continues.

This offensive is part of the larger Operation Sayaid (Hunter), designed to prevent al Qaeda in Iraq from operating in the Euphrates River Valley and throughout Al Anbar and to establish a permanent Iraqi Army security presence in the Al Qa’im region.

November 16, 2005

Three Marines killed in heavy Steel Curtain fighting

U.S. forces sweeping through third Iraq border city

By Joseph Giordono, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Wednesday, November 16, 2005

At least three U.S. Marines have been killed as Operation Steel Curtain pushes through a third town near the Iraq-Syria border.

To continue reading:

http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article;=33045

Child Development Center Sends Thanks to Troops

Shortly after Shannon Pillon, teacher assistant at George Mason's Child Development Center, got married this summer, her husband was deployed to Iraq.
(3/1)

http://gazette.gmu.edu/articles/7483/

Child Development Center Sends Thanks to Troops
Shortly after Shannon Pillon, teacher assistant at George Mason's Child Development Center, got married this summer, her husband was deployed to Iraq.

Hearing from him that some of his fellow soldiers could use cheering up, Pillon thought it would be a nice project for the children at the center to make cards and care packages to send to the 33 men of 3/1 Lima Company, 2nd Platoon, who conduct patrols along the Syrian border.

Before she knew it, the project had blossomed, and not only the children but also their parents began writing cards and letters and sending in items for gift bags. The items were collected, along with a banner reading "Thanks for Going the Extra Mile," and shipped to Iraq last Saturday.

Says Tina Morris, director of the center, "It's a good thing for the soldiers' morale, and it's been good for our morale here, too."

Van donation helps wounded Marine

Friendswood Marine Steven Schulz took a major step this week on his journey back from a traumatic brain injury suffered in Iraq, as a Minnesota company provided him with a customized van to simplify transport to rehabilitation in Houston.

http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=15555943&BRD;=1574&PAG;=461&dept;_id=532246&rfi;=6
By:Tom Jacobs 11/10/2005



Friendswood Marine Steven Schulz took a major step this week on his journey back from a traumatic brain injury suffered in Iraq, as a Minnesota company provided him with a customized van to simplify transport to rehabilitation in Houston.
Still dependent on a wheelchair but vowing to be walking in weeks, the 21-year-old veteran and his parents, Steve and Debbie Schulz, accepted the keys to the van on Monday in front of their Falcon Ridge home.
The van was customized by Rollx Vans of Savage, Minnesota, as part of the company's "Wounded Warrior" program to make such vehicles available to injured soldiers.
The vehicle will be insured and maintained by Rollx for up to six months or until the soldier's Veterans Administration benefits become available. This is the eleventh van the company has provided in the program.
Since returning home to Friendswood three weeks ago, Schultz has been driven to and from rehab therapy in Houston by his mother, Debbie Schulz, a teacher at Friendswood High School who has taken a leave of absence from school duties until January.
"She's the greatest mom in the world, by far," Steven Schulz said.
"It's a miracle, it's really a miracle," Debbie Schulz said Monday of the fact that her son, the oldest of three children, is able to be home and safe with his family after such a terrible injury.
"There's been some bleak times" since that night last April when the family received word that Steven was injured in a blast from an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), she said.
On the evening of April 19, Lance Corporal Schulz was riding shotgun in an unarmored Humvee along a Fallujah street that his unit had traveled "hundreds of time," his father said.
On that night, however, insurgents detonated a mortar shell that had been built into a concrete curb just as Schulz's vehicle was passing.
Shrapnel from the blast hit the front passenger side of the all-purpose military vehicle, whose lack of protective armor has emerged as one of the military controversies of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Soldiers in the field were forced to customize their own vehicle protection until the military launched a program to "uparmor" its Humvee fleet.
The vehicle in which Schulz was riding was one of two in his unit that had not yet been so armored, and had open windows on each side.
Steven said he saw a piece of shrapnel hit the vehicle's windshield, and the next thing he remembered was awakening in a military hospital in Germany.
A fraction of a second after that shrapnel hit the windshield, another piece coming through the side opening had punched into Schulz's face near his right eye and traveled into his brain.
The blast occurred about 3 p.m. Friendswood time, and about 10 that night that the family received a brief, less-than-reassuring call that Steven had been seriously injured in an IED attack, his father said.
Sleepless, worried hours later, as the family tried to gather whatever news they could about their son's condition or even where he was, a family friend from church made contact with a retired marine general of his acquaintance who started working the system to find out where Steven was and how he was doing, Steve Schulz said.
The young marine was already at a military hospital in, Germany, in critical but stable condition.
Seventy-two hours later, hisparents met him in Bethesda, Maryland, where Steven continued to undergo surgeries (six on his brain alone).
He was in Intensive Care for 32 days, and in June was moved to the VA hospital in Tampa, Florida.
In August Schulz returned to Bethesda for further treatment before his release three weeks ago.
Initially, surgeons told his family that Steven's prognosis was "pretty grim," his father said.
But Steven has made progress that has both family and physicians hopeful he will make a significant recovery.
After the injury, Steven was paralyzed on his entire left side, but has since regained some use of his left leg; his left arm is still immobile.
He has about 30 percent vision in his right eye, where the shrapnel hit, and he lacks peripheral vision in his left eye due to injury to the right side of his brain.
There is still a small piece of shrapnel deep in his brain that physicians are going to leave in place, Steve Schulz said.
On Monday, Steven and his father experimented with getting into and out of their new "Wounded Warrior" van, with Steven controlling the remote and Steve helping roll his son's wheelchair into the vehicle.
"Being able to transport Steven efficiently and safely has been a huge concern for us," Steve Schulz said. "With the van, we won't have to take the chance of hitting his head on the side of the car.
"Before we knew we weregetting the van, Steven wasn't sure that he wanted to travel to see relatives on Thanksgiving," he continued. "Now, he's excited about going places and doing things."
Father and son were featured in a front page article in The Journal last March, detailing the company that the elder Schulz had founded, Supplied To Survive.
After listening for months to his son's shopping list of mechanical and technical items that his unit was either short of or totally lacked, Steve Schulz set to work lining up purchases or donations of items ranging from rifle scopes and heavy duty vehicle jacks, to Global Positioning Devices and thick gloves for handling razor wire. Schulz and his partners then ship the items off to Iraq.


That March article, published less than three weeks before Steven was wounded during his second deployment to Iraq, featured a picture of the helmeted, begoggled young vehicle commander surveying the war zone from atop his Humvee (he snapped the picture himself).
Now, sitting in a wheelchair with his hair growing back to cover his surgery scars, the 2002 Friendswood High grad projects the same self-confidence he exhibited in that self portrait from Iraq.
"I'll be walking in two weeks," he told a reporter Monday.
His rehab will now take about six hours a day, four days a week.
Last Friday night, in his distinctive USMC dress blues and with his Purple Heart pinned to his chest, Schulz stood and saluted the crowd during a patriotic halftime celebration at Friendswood High School. Also recognized at the football game were the families of two other Friendswood Marines who have died in action, one of whom was Wesley Canning, killed in Iraq last November.
On Saturday, Schulz attended the annual Marine Corps Ball in Houston (the USMC's birthday is Nov. 10, and the ball is a feature of Marine life anywhere leathernecks can gather). His date for the evening was a girl he knew from high school days, Debbie Schulz said.
"They were spinning around his chair on the dance floor," she said.
And what's on Steven's mind these days, besides eating to gain back some of the thirty pounds he's dropped since his injury?
"Girls, girls and cars," Debbie Schulz said.

©Houston Community Newspapers Online 2005

November 15, 2005

One year later: Fallujah mending, but still volatile

FALLUJAH, IRAQ – Mixed emotions are written on Iraqi faces, as Sgt. Mindo Estrella leads a dusty foot patrol of US Marines in Fallujah. Smiles and furtive waves - even handshakes and shouts of "Good! Good!" - blend with angry, sullen stares.

http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/1116/p01s04-woiq.html

One year later: Fallujah mending, but still volatile

By Scott Peterson | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

FALLUJAH, IRAQ – Mixed emotions are written on Iraqi faces, as Sgt. Mindo Estrella leads a dusty foot patrol of US Marines in Fallujah. Smiles and furtive waves - even handshakes and shouts of "Good! Good!" - blend with angry, sullen stares.

Last February, US commanders declared Fallujah the "safest" city in Iraq. Yet, despite a constant US and Iraqi military presence and the strictest security measures of any Iraqi city, insurgents have begun filtering back, and the prevailing calm veneer of a city on the mend can disappear in a flash. US forces here are often confronted with street-level decisions about how best to build the trust of residents while maintaining security - and their own safety. Though attacks are limited, roadside bombs are increasingly common; marines say teenagers are being paid to throw grenades.

Sergeant Estrella turns a final corner, just 50 meters from the base of Fox Company, and describes recent grenade attacks - one bounced off a marine's armored vest a couple of nights back, before going off.

"We have not been hit yet; maybe we are a hard target," Estrella, from Eire, Pa., says of his squad. "Or maybe it is not our time yet."

That was Saturday morning. A few hours later, at the same place, in darkness at the end of another patrol, Estrella was hit.

His squad passed a small knot of young men on a street corner, and someone hurled a grenade.

Estrella was struck with a dozen pieces of shrapnel. He has since been flown to a US military hospital in Germany and is expected to fully recover.

The plan in Fallujah is for the Iraqi Army to eventually withdraw, and then US forces, leaving security to budding Iraqi police units. But to those marines of the 2nd Battalion 6th Marines, the loss of the sergeant is another reminder of how dangerous the city remains.

When more than 10,000 US troops and several thousand Iraqis launched "Operation Phantom Fury" on Nov. 8 last year, marine top brass promised a "decisive victory" against "mugs, thugs, murderers, and terrorists" that controlled Fallujah.

Today, the sound of rebuilding is everywhere: the scrape of shovels lifting sand, the tap of trowel on brick, as Fallujans haul away mountains of rubble and rebuild, often from scratch. But there is also a tension that did not exist earlier this year, when only a trickle of residents had come home - and attacks were negligible.

The insurgency is persistent enough that marines on Monday morning launched a large operation with several hundred US and Iraqi troops against Zaidon and other nearby targets south of Fallujah, using helicopters to insert units. Officers believe Zaidon has been a base for training insurgents to infiltrate into Fallujah.

"The citizens of Fallujah, not the security forces, will have to decide if they want to keep the insurgency here or not," says Maj. Andrew Warren, the 2/6 battalion operations officer.

"I think they have made a decision, but there is a difference between deciding and acting," says Major Warren, from Charlottesville, Va. "When an IED [improvised explosive device] is placed on any one of these roads, they know about it.... They may not like it, and may not support it, but it's a whole new ballgame to turn him in."

After Estrella was hit with the grenade, marine units raided 60 nearby houses. Often clearly frightened, families were hustled into a single room during each house search. No one said they had heard or seen a thing. Young men and those with US dollars received the most questions.

US officers say they are not surprised that insurgent activity has increased with the return of an estimated 175,000 people - some 60 percent of the pre-war population - and the constant flow of construction materials into Fallujah.

"We haven't lost the city to insurgents," says Warren. "We've given it back to the people, and with that is some risk."

Marines speak with pleasant surprise at the lack of violence here during the Oct. 15 constitutional referendum. Under tight guard, Fallujah proved to be the most politically active city in all of insurgency-riddled Anbar Province, with a 93 percent turnout that accounted for more than half the ballots cast in the province. Voters roundly rejected the new constitution.

Unlike any other city in Iraq, Fallujah is sealed off, with six entry checkpoints; only residents are given identity cards that allow them to pass. The restrictions mean that insurgents can't draw upon an unlimited supply of recruits in the city, or easily replace discovered weapons caches.

But local tip-offs have been few.

"They don't like foreign armies in Fallujah," says resident Abdusalem al-Duleimi, referring to US and Iraqi forces. "The Iraqi Army here from the south, is no good." There is deep mistrust between Sunni Fallujans and Iraqi Army units, made up primarily of Shiites that control parts of the city.

Iraqi police in Fallujah have a different problem: Many are from Fallujah itself, and so are more vulnerable to intimidation.

"It's difficult to make a split with the bad guys, when your family is right there," says Capt. William Grube, the Fox Company commander. "Insurgents pay visits to people, and we can't be everywhere. They can't either, but it only has to happen one or two times for people to get the message."

"If we lose Fallujah, then we look like a bunch of yahoos who can't control one city. But we won't," says Captain Grube, from Emmaus, Pa. "It's a winnable war, if we make the right decisions."

Among those decisions is an "escalation of force" policy for stopping oncoming cars before using lethal force - an eight-step protocol meant to save lives of civilians, while still protecting them from car bombs.

Other decisions are made on the streets, too. As Estrella's morning patrol passed, a small boy showed a scratch on his knee. "If it were fresh, or bigger, I would have the doc look at it and clean it up - you know, the hearts and minds thing," said Estrella. "It works for some people. But there is still that 10 or 15 percent who want the insurgency, who want to hurt us."

A pep talk for Fox Company
If anything shows how US Marines in Fallujah view their "battlespace" one year after retaking the city, it is a speech this past weekend by Lt. Col. Scott Aiken, commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion 6th Marine Regiment, to his Fox Company.

Colonel Aiken, from Nashville, Tenn., had just awarded three Purple Hearts to wounded marines who had rejoined the unit. He thanked them for the calm that prevailed on Oct. 15 - when Iraqis voted to approve a constitution - and reminded them that violence can erupt "at the drop of a hat."

What follows are excerpts:

"You have taken numerous weapons caches off the street in the past week; some of you were involved in finding the 'Mother of all Caches' just down the road here - suicide vest [and] SA-7 surface-to-air missiles ... that made the airmen really, really happy.

"The insurgents have lost a [lot] of stuff, and I think they are going to have retribution towards us - it's something we need to be ready for, be alert for. But if we are lucky, they will tip their hand, and come into the open, and we get to [kill] them.

"Sometimes a guy says 'screw it, I am no longer an insurgent,' and at that point in time he becomes a part of society, and it is up to us to reinforce that, and keep that going. If you say, 'This guy was a Muj ten years ago, let's take him down and send him to Abu Ghraib,' [then] let's just take everyone to Abu Ghraib, because this place would just be an empty shell.

"I have to applaud you all. You are right now dealing with a tactical situation that none of your forefathers have ever dealt with. Your dad who fought in Vietnam never had to deal with 'escalation of force.' Your granddad, who fought in World War II, never had to deal with 'escalation of force.'

"They were never thrust into a sea of half-innocent people, with a few knuckleheads running around. They did not have to face a suicide vehicle-borne IED threat."

Loose Blogs May Blow Up BCTs

WASHINGTON - This is not your father’s war, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker tells troops in a videotaped message emphasizing proper Operations Security procedures and responsible use of the Internet.

http://www.military.com/features/0,15240,80529,00.html?ESRC=marine-a.nl


Army News Service | Gary Sheftick | November 15, 2005
WASHINGTON - This is not your father’s war, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker tells troops in a videotaped message emphasizing proper Operations Security procedures and responsible use of the Internet.

The video is part of the Army’s comprehensive OPSEC Action Plan that has Mobile Training Teams visiting deploying units to teach how improper information and photographs posted on the Worldwide Web could endanger lives.

For instance, photos of combat operations and destroyed military equipment could provide the enemy with clues about U.S. vulnerabilities, said Maj. Michael Pate, the Army’s OPSEC officer at the Pentagon.

`OPSEC is not censorship'

“This isn’t censorship,” Pate said about the OPSEC plan he had a key role in devising. “It’s about striking a balance between freedom of expression and protecting sensitive military information.”

In World War II and Korea, it took a long time for information to move from the battlefield to the public, Schoomaker says at the beginning of his video. Today with the Worldwide Web, it’s immediate with the push of a button.

CSA: Info-tech explosion global

“We have an information-technology explosion that is global,” Schoomaker said. “Our adversaries have the ability to take our utterances, our writings and our pictures and do all kinds of things to harm us.”

Web logs, or blogs, are a venue where instances of unauthorized photos and some sensitive information have been inadvertently disseminated, Pate said.

MNC-I first with blog policy

So the Multi-National Corps-Iraq headquarters came up with a policy for the increasing number of Soldiers posting blogs in theater. Some of the Soldiers found that posting a periodic blog to the Web was easier than sending multiple e-mails to friends and family. Others have found a modicum of fame for their descriptive coverage of life in the combat zone.

The MNC-I policy requires Soldiers to register their blogs through their unit chain of command. A list of blogs is maintained at the division level, complete with Web addresses and points of contact.

The policy also identifies established elements such as Army Web Risk Assessment Cells and Information-Assurance teams that assess Web sites and monitor information for compliance with Army policy. Such information includes classified info, casualty information before next-of-kin notification, info prohibited by the Privacy Act and details of incidents under investigation.

Commanders are able to develop their own OPSEC policy addressing blogs, Pate said, under the umbrella of Army policy and guidance.

OPSEC plan comprehensive

The Army’s new OPSEC initiatives are comprehensive and range from individual to institutional training, Pate said.

The Mobile Training Teams provide unit-level training, Pate said, to priority-one units scheduled to deploy. The MTTs come from the Army OPSEC Support Element established earlier this year out of the 1st Information Operations Command (Land). located at Fort Belvoir, Va.

MTTs recently visited the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) to provide OPSEC instruction to one of its brigade combat teams at Fort Campbell, Ky.

Smaller units can access OPSEC training modules through Army Knowledge Online, Pate said. He said users can click on center right of the AKO front page on “Army OPSEC News,” sign in again using their AKO password and enter the OPSEC Portal.

The OPSEC Portal includes a number of Power-Point briefings that Pate said assist in satisfying OPSEC training requirements.

Marines in Twentynine Palms simulate conditions in Iraq

TWENTYNINE PALMS - Marines bound for war hone the skills needed to keep them alive -- how to spot a roadside bomb, evacuate a wounded buddy under fire and enter a suspected terrorist's house at night -- on a new training range in this dusty outpost. (CAX)

http://www.pe.com/breakingnews/local/stories/PE_News_Local_D_urban16.10839051.html

04:11 PM PST on Tuesday, November 15, 2005

By JOE VARGO / The Press-Enterprise

TWENTYNINE PALMS - Marines bound for war hone the skills needed to keep them alive -- how to spot a roadside bomb, evacuate a wounded buddy under fire and enter a suspected terrorist's house at night -- on a new training range in this dusty outpost.

The military has turned a stretch of the vast Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center into an Iraqi village complete with mosques, peddlers, abandoned cars, restaurants, schools, marketplace and underground tunnels several levels deep.

The previous training ground at Arnold Heights near March Air Reserve Base is being redeveloped. Marines say the new site is much more extensive than Arnold Heights and closely resembles the arid landscape of Iraq, allowing more realistic training.

At the new facility, Iraqi nationals, some with relatives still living in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq, play the parts of shopkeepers, clerics, rabble-rousers and insurgents, giving the village an added flavor of reality.

Every Marine headed for Iraq goes through 28 days of intensive training at the new training center, which opened in October. The new center scored high marks from Camp Pendleton's 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, who are training this week.

"This is exactly what we do when we're in Iraq," said Lance Cpl. Marshall Magincalda, 22, of Manteca, whose completed two tours of duty there. "We get to meet and interact with Iraqi people and the desert environment is very similar to what we see in Iraq. This is the best training I've ever received for urban warfare."

About 800 soldiers from Camp Pendleton-based went through their paces this week. Two-thirds of the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment are Iraq war veterans undergoing refresher training. The others, new Marines, are getting a feel for what life on the front lines is like.

Much of the training involves small-unit drills.

Those units, whether 4-man fire teams, 13-member squads or 40-man platoons, perform yeoman duties in Iraq -- from conducting vehicle and foot patrols, house searches for weapons and insurgents and spotting and neutralizing roadside bombs. They might be called upon to break down a door or enter a building through the second-story to arrest suspected terrorists or flush out bomb makers.

But they also serve as the American face for Operation Iraqi Freedom. They patrols through countless cities and villages put them in touch with the vendors who hawk apples and cigarettes and local kids with a hand out for candy.

For that reason, training also includes courses in cultural awareness, said Lt. Col. Patrick Kline, director of the training center.

Marines are taught not be offended if an Iraqi comes very close to talk. Personal space boundaries are much different in Iraq. Lines don't exist either. Crowds rush in from all sides when American forces had out foodstuffs, emergency rations or Teddy bears. And Marines should expect aggressive Iraqi merchants to shove bottled water, magazines and newspapers at them while walking on patrol.

Troops went through a hodgepodge of scenarios this week. Marines in two assault vehicles drove down a sandy road as they approached the village only to get hit by an roadside bomb. Ten Marines ran from the vehicle, taking up positions on both sides of the road, M-16 rifles at the ready. The second armored vehicle pulled back. Insurgents sometimes plant secondary explosions, targeting soldier rushing to the aid of those wounded by the first blast. A helicopter swooped in to pick up the simulated casualty.

Another team traded paintball bullets with insurgents hiding in a maze of buildings, practicing a deadly game of hide-and-seek. Paintball rounds sting but don't cause any real damage but that pain is a good teacher, Marines said. Such scenarios often take hours to play out, just like the real thing in Iraq. Training is flexible, changing as enemy tactics evolve.

Roadside bombs are becoming more sophisticated. Marines recently discovered a bomber almost 1,000-feet away from the explosion site, which was linked by wires running that entire length. Events that happen as little as a day before in Iraq can be incorporated into training at Twentynine Palms.

Lance Cpl. Montana Martin, 21, who played an insurgent in one scenario this week, said he does his best to be a worthy bad guy.

"We don't take it easy on the Marines," said Martin, who is from West Virginia. "This is serious business. It's as real as it can get and still be safe."

Reach Joe Vargo at (951) 567-2407 or [email protected]

Combat Center brings intense glimpse of urban warfare to Marines

Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif.(Nov. 15, 2005) -- As Marines are steadily deploying to fight the war on terrorism, the Marine Corps is progressively preparing for the real deal with an imitation of Iraq’s urban infrastructure in training exercises. There are numerous military operations on urban terrain facilities that attempt to capture the reality of urban warfare. (3/5)

http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/0/4D7C49ED55D5739C852570BD006E4478

Submitted by: MCAGCC
Story by: Computed Name: Lance Cpl. Regina N. Ortiz

Story Identification #: 2005111815424

Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif.(Nov. 15, 2005) -- As Marines are steadily deploying to fight the war on terrorism, the Marine Corps is progressively preparing for the real deal with an imitation of Iraq’s urban infrastructure in training exercises. There are numerous military operations on urban terrain facilities that attempt to capture the reality of urban warfare.

The MOUT facility at the Combat Center’s Range 215 has replicated the average Middle Eastern village with more than 100 buildings and 260 role players, 50 of them contracted linguists originally from Iraq. Some of the buildings represent an Iraqi police station, an Iraqi Army compound and a “souk,” an Iraqi marketplace, said Lt. Col. Patrick Kline, director of urban warfare training.

“I do feel a lot more confident going out there than I did last time,” said Cpl. Ash Day, team leader, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, who deployed to Iraq last year. “Everything is so realistic, I get flashbacks. The realism is amazing. The way they set up the buildings in proximity, the same as they are in Iraq, is something I haven’t seen at other MOUT facilities.”

There are four training lanes that Marines rotate in and out of throughout the day. One is a vehicle checkpoint, which can appear at any area on a road in Iraq. Another lane is the urban assault, where Marines use paintball rounds to simulate live-fire during encounters with insurgents.

The third lane is the tank and mechanized vehicle integration point, where Marines practice utilizing tanks and other large motor transportation in operations. The fourth lane is the cordon and search, where Marines practice securing an area and searching it.

Throughout the lanes, Marines interact with role players, who are given a profile they are required to follow throughout the training. A third are friendly, another third are neutral and the rest are unfriendly. Marines are put to the test, as they must identify each type of person, whether friendly or life threatening, they come upon during the exercise.

One challenge is picking out non-combatants that are intermixed with insurgents, said Kline.

“This way, we learn how to read people and guess what their motives are with live role-players,” said Day. “You catch on to the way people act, and after a while it’s easy to tell right away what approach to take.”

One main objective of this training aims to create realism to give Marines the cultural awareness needed before they deploy. The training also seeks to give Marines the confidence to interact in an unknown environment, the respect for foreign customs and how to appropriately approach any situation, said Kline.

A new element embedded into training at Range 215, is actual Iraqi natives serving as role players to bring the MOUT facility to life. At the souk, the air is filled with bartering and arguing over the sounds of music and singing in their native language. The scene replicates that of high-density areas Marines will have to patrol through to complete missions. This teaches Marines how to connect with the locals and move through crowded areas, said Kline.

The isolation of the range is another factor to the success of the training. It’s easier for Marines to stay focused and really get into it, said Day.

“I think they should extend the days of the lanes,” said Day. “The training is pretty long as is, but I’d want to spend more time in the MOUT facilities, especially with the young Marines who haven’t deployed yet.”

The Marine Corps is continually improving training by keeping up to date with current tactics insurgents are using in theater. When new incidents occur, the training changes to implement new situations, said Kline.

November 14, 2005

U.S. calls medics to Iraq police detention center

Scores of detainees found in poor health, officials say

http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/11/14/iraq.main/index.html?section=cnn_latest

Monday, November 14, 2005; Posted: 2:24 p.m. EST (19:24 GMT)

What Is This? BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The U.S. Army discovered scores of detainees in poor health at a building run by the Iraqi Interior Ministry during a search for a missing 15-year-old boy, a U.S. general said Monday.

Brig. Gen. Karl Horst of the 3rd Infantry Division said the prisoners were found Sunday "in need of medical care -- so I brought medics in."

Iraqi police went further, telling CNN that many detainees in the Baghdad building "had obviously endured torture" and were "detained in poor health conditions."

The Iraqi Interior Ministry could not be reached for response.

Horst would not say whether the military found signs of torture among the approximately 175 detainees, who were taken into U.S. custody.

"I brought in a legal team to sort through their files," Horst said by phone from the building, one day after the mission took place.

On Sunday afternoon, U.S. soldiers entered the building, looking for a teenager who had been missing since September 15, Horst said. The boy was not there.

Iraqi police said the U.S. military "raided" the building, arriving in about 20 vehicles. The building was run by police commandos who work for the Interior Ministry, police said.

Horst denied there was a raid. He said U.S. and Iraqis were working on a joint investigation into the detainees and into the whereabouts of the boy.

Asked what the original purpose of the facility was, Horst replied, "I don't know -- that's part of the ongoing investigation."

U.S. military: 45 insurgents killed
American and Iraqi troops killed 45 suspected insurgents Monday as Operation Steel Curtain entered a third town near the Syrian border, the U.S. military said.

The U.S. Marines and Iraqi soldiers fought their way into Ubeydi at dawn Monday, beginning the 10th day of the operation by facing "significant resistance," according to a military news release.

Col. Stephen Davis said at least 25 insurgents also were captured.

"This is a fight all the way through the city," Davis said. "This area is well-bunkered, especially up the southwest portion, but it's what we expected."

U.S. and Iraqi forces faced machine-gun, small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire, Davis said. His troops also found three buildings wired with explosives, along with roadside and car bombs. Two weapons caches were destroyed with 500-pound bombs, he said.

All military-aged males are being rounded up and questioned, he said.

Operation Steel Curtain was launched in Husayba on November 5 and continued into parts of the nearby city of Karabila. The offensive is aimed at rooting out the insurgency in the area.

Husayba had become a command and control center for insurgents and foreign fighters, the military has said.

U.S. and Iraqi forces have established camps near Husayba and are patrolling the area.

Two killed near Green Zone
A roadside bomb killed two contractors and severely injured two others near a checkpoint in Baghdad's Green Zone, the U.S. Embassy said Monday.

A fifth employee of Dyncorps, a U.S.-based security company, was lightly wounded.

The Green Zone is a heavily fortified, four-square-mile section of the Iraqi capital housing several embassies.

U.S. doubts death of Hussein aide
The U.S. military on Sunday discounted reports that a top Iraqi fugitive has died, saying the search for Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri remains active.

Ibrahim is the highest-ranking lieutenant of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein to remain at large more than two years after the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

The Arabic-language news network Al-Arabiya reported his death Friday, quoting what it said was a statement from the Baath Party that once ruled Iraq.

"Coalition officials question the validity of the Baath Party claim, and a reward of up to $10 million remains for information leading to al-Douri's capture or his grave site," the U.S. command in Baghdad said in a written statement.

The military said a Web site that claims to be associated with the Baath Party contradicted Friday's report and said Ibrahim was alive.

Ibrahim was the vice chairman of Iraq's ruling council and No. 6 on the list of most-wanted members of Hussein's ousted government. He has long been reported to be in poor health, but previous reports of his death or capture have proven to be unfounded.

The U.S. military said he has helped finance the insurgency but that his influence has waned while he has been in hiding. (Watch: Who is Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri? -- 1:30)

Other developments

Jordan needs to crack down on money-laundering and insurgent traffic into Iraq after last week's hotel bombings in Amman, Deputy Iraqi Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi said Sunday. Jordanian authorities say the attacks were carried out by four Iraqis and orchestrated by the group al Qaeda in Iraq, led by Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Chalabi is a former exile who faces bank-fraud charges in Jordan.


President Bush's national security adviser defended the administration Sunday against accusations that it misled the nation about the need for war with Iraq. (Full story)

CNN's Arwa Damon, Enes Dulami and Cal Perry contributed to this report.

Marines, Iraqi troops fight on through house and street fighting


UBAYDI, Iraq (Nov. 14, 2005) -- Third platoon, Company E, and other Marines with 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, continued the morning push into the city here Nov. 14. Temporarily assigned to Regimental Combat Team 2 for Operation Steel Curtain, the Marines, and Iraqi troops with the 1st Battalion, 1st Brigade, 1st Division of the Iraqi Army, previously encountered an entrenched enemy at Ubaydi’s city gates.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/0CFD524DBF6F3ACD852570F600250FF4?opendocument


Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 200611414449
Story by Cpl. Ruben D. Maestre


Now, as the troops lunged forward across open desert terrain to the first row of houses on the edge of the city, they faced house-to-house and street fighting with insurgents.

“I’m glad to have had the combat experience that I’ve had with the guys around me,” said Lance Cpl. Tyler L. Sytsma, 19, of Fridley, Minn., and infantryman with 3rd Platoon, of the trials he faced in combat. “We’ve done house-to-house fighting and survived.”

Heavy fighting at Ubaydi

Clearing the first row of townhouse-style houses, Marines and Iraqi troops moved forward as supporting units provided cover from secure positions. Machine gun fire rattled across town and explosions were heard in a city, which was built as a planned community by the former regime. Abrams M1 tanks, just as they had done outside the main city, moved up and provided support with their main guns and their .50 caliber machine guns.

Not far from their front line, precision guided munitions were dropped by Coalition fighter jets on fortified insurgent positions. Marines took no chances as they pressed forward. Since Husaybah, insurgents in this part of the Iraq had been on the run. In Ubaydi, well-armed insurgents, reportedly equipped with body armor and heavy weapons, decided to make this their final stand.

The movement through some of the one and two-level houses in Ubaydi was without incident as the troops would find civilians caught in the crossfire trying to have a meal or even watching television. On other occasions though, fierce skirmishes broke out and tank and air support were called in.

Commanders remained assertive and supportive of the job the Marines had done since the kickoff of the operation.

“I’m very confident that we’ve pushed the vast majority of the insurgents out of the cities here,” said 2nd Lt. Erik R. Sallee, of Oklahoma City, and platoon commander for 3rd Platoon, of the progress in ‘grabbing and holding’ on to towns previously controlled by insurgents. “The bad guys had control (of the cities) and we have taken that away from them.”

An entrenched enemy

Third platoon faced one of its biggest obstacles when its squads met strong machine gun fire from the enemy in separate areas. One squad met an ambush from an insurgent with a machine gun that resulted in three non-life threatening injuries before the position was leveled by machine gun and tank fire.

The other two Marine squads and a squad of Iraqi soldiers met heavy opposition from several insurgents in a fortified building. The enemy was blasted first by machine guns and grenades, later by tanks and finally by aircraft as insurgents fought from dug in positions.

The skirmishes there during the afternoon of Nov. 14 would be the last major clash for 3rd Platoon that day.

“My experience has really been enlightening,” said Lance Cpl. Justin C. Cacace, 19, of Las Vegas, an infantryman with 3rd Platoon. “You watch movies and see war on TV expecting nothing but explosions, but what you find (here) sometimes is a house with people watching TV and sometimes you find the enemy.”

Remembrance

Inside a row of houses 3rd Platoon occupied, the Marines and their Iraqi counterparts ate meals and bedded down for the night as others kept vigil with night watches and patrols. The following day, 3rd Platoon successfully accomplished its objective, but the battle of Ubaydi was far from over. On the 16th, as the Marines from Company E were being moved back, Company F suffered several casualties that were not to be soon forgotten.

Their courage and sacrifice is remembered amongst the Marines of the battalion who fought in the lower Euphrates River Valley for nearly a month last November. Some Marines reminisced of their fallen and their previous exploits as others engraved their names on their helmet covers.

The combat experience during Steel Curtain contributed to the illustrious feats and finest traditions of the Corps. The Marines here have contributed to that lore.

“They have gained a lot of experience throughout Operation Steel Curtain,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew M. Thuma, 27, of Tipp City, Ohio, and platoon sergeant for 3rd Platoon, of his Marines and others who participated in the mission. “I am very proud of them.”

The Marines who fought there in the small towns on the lower Euphrates River Valley and their courageous efforts are not forgotten.

3rd Platoon confronts enemy at Ubaydi


UBAYDI, Iraq (Nov. 14, 2005) -- At an assembly area in the Iraqi desert, Nov. 14 began with a wake up at 3 a.m. Marines with 3rd Platoon, Company E, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, (Special Operations Capable), roused up from their sleeping bags and gathered up their equipment.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/034A39D3248D3C72852570F600248B87?opendocument


Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 200611413910
Story by Cpl. Ruben D. Maestre


The full moon was clear as the Marines, temporarily under Regimental Combat Team 2, and their Iraqi Army counterparts began their foot march towards Ubaydi, Iraq.

The troops went to sleep the night before hearing the sounds of helicopter gun ships and Coalition fighter jets strafing suspected insurgents. The airpower was another reassurance to the Marines that everything possible was being done to thwart their enemy the next day.

Marching to battle before sunrise

The march toward Ubaydi was slow and ominous. Through dusty terrain littered with trash, the Marines from 3rd Platoon and the Iraqi troops attached to them moved though the arid, rocky dunes south of town before sunrise. The early morning call to prayer emanating from a huge mosque inside the planned community of one and two-story homes could be heard through the ranks of the troops moving toward the city.

Lights and buildings within the town were visible. There was an eerie silence after the Islamic chants for prayer and the lights of the mosque went out. The Marines and Iraqi soldiers continued to move into positions set in preparation for the advance into the city, when a deafening explosion was heard.

“If you ever really want to know what kind of man you are, experience combat,” said Lance Cpl. Matthew R. Samel, 19, of Highlands Ranch, Colo., a radio operator and infantryman with 3rd Platoon, recalling his attitude towards combat during Steel Curtain.

The cry for ‘corpsman up’ and the sound of rushing feet was heard. At the end of the day, the Marines from Company E would find out that their commanding officer had been killed from that explosion caused by an improvised explosive device planted in the desert they had all walked through. For now though, they would have to keep their focus on the task of taking Ubaydi.

Machine guns and rockets red glare

Regrouping after the IED attack, Marines and Iraqi soldiers were engaged by insurgent fire from the city.

“Get down,” yelled Marines to one another as they literally dropped for cover behind any small terrain feature underneath them. The sound of troops cursing could be heard through the crack of bullets over head.

Within 300 yards of the southwest corner of the city, 3rd Platoon took enemy machine gun fire. To their far right other, Marines from the battalion were taking fierce mortar and rocket propelled grenade fire from entrenched insurgents. The rockets had a red glare as they shot across the desert.

The Coalition Force response was quick. Marines who took cover began firing back with their rifles and machine guns. Soon MK-19 grenade launchers mounted on humvees were brought up from the rear to suppress the enemy fire. Marine M1 Abrams tanks came in from 3rd Platoon’s left side blasting its main gun at buildings housing insurgents as helicopter gun ships rattled the enemy’s position.

“Everyone that I know, regardless of how I felt about them before, (had) fought just as hard as the guy next to them,” said Samel.

Marines cheered as they and Iraqi troops moved forward into the city. Black tinfoil chaff, let loose by the supporting helicopters overhead to deflect enemy anti-aircraft missiles, descended like snow on the troops preparing to cross the open terrain.

“For a lot of Marines this was their first combat deployment,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew M. Thuma, 27, of Tipp City, Ohio, and platoon sergeant for 3rd Platoon, days later after the battle. “They have performed to a higher level than I could have ever expected.”

The enemy was temporarily silenced but he was not done yet.

A Bomb and Birthday in Karabilah; 3rd Platoon continues push

KARABILAH, Iraq (Nov. 14, 2005) -- The platoon of Marines set off on foot the morning of Nov. 8 towards Karabilah. In the first three days of Operation Steel Curtain, 3rd Platoon, Company E, 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, temporarily under Regimental Combat Team 2, had cleared parts of Husaybah.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/043F82A1D0179182852570F600243B20?opendocument


Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 200611413544
Story by Cpl. Ruben D. Maestre

“I’ve seen more men here with the courage to enter buildings (to clear them of insurgents),” said Sgt. Jake R. L. Brubaker, 23, of Seattle, Wash., and platoon guide for 3rd Platoon, after the fight here and in Husaybah. “Going into buildings where they know the enemy might be waiting for them.”

The platoon came out of the fight in Husaybah without any casualties, but their fate would change as they passed through western Karabilah.

Into the ‘Shark Fin’

The city of Karabilah is smaller than Husaybah and its western section where the Marines were heading looked like a shark fin on satellite maps. Its streets were winding and unpredictable in their direction, its flat or two-story houses seemed rough edged and hastily built.

Instead of clearing square city blocks, Marines and Iraqi soldiers with 1st Battalion, 1st Brigade, 1st Division of the Iraqi Army, jumped over high walls dividing local properties and crossed unsecured streets and alleys in order to search houses in the hodge-podge of Karabilah.

Scattered gunfire and the occasional explosion caused by Coalition explosive ordnance disposal teams blowing up improvised explosive devices and captured weapons were heard throughout the day. Another prominent sound was the loud Arabic messages transmitted through loudspeakers fitted on U.S. Army humvees. The messages advised civilians on what to do as Coalition Forces approached their homes.

Near the crosshairs of the enemy

Third Platoon’s march was continuing in earnest when bullets from the street they were on began smashing into a two-story vacant house to the left and front of their position. Marines from another regiment were firing toward a position near 3rd Platoon, at what was later discussed as a possible insurgent IED triggerman.

Some of the Marines, Iraqi troops and other forces stopped and positioned themselves as other Coalition troops continued moving on the street. An abandoned car was found hidden behind a half-constructed house and as Marines attempted to disable the possible vehicle-borne IED with machine gun fire, the car blew up in a sudden flash.

The blast was so strong that Marines shielded by the house and the wall in its front yard fell back on the ground. Seconds after the blast were shouts for the Navy corpsmen.

“Corpsman up!” yelled Marines in the aftermath as the Sailors, affectionately known as ‘docs,’ surged forward to attend the injured.

At least five Marines sustained some injury. Three of them who had non life-threatening injuries were later evacuated to regional military medical centers. Second Lt. Erik R. Sallee, 24, of Oklahoma City, and platoon commander for 3rd Platoon, was slightly wounded in the arm by shrapnel from the vehicle. Later, he downplayed the slight injury and the playful grief that some would give him for being a Purple Heart recipient and continued leading his men.

“It’s an eye opener,” said Lance Cpl. Christopher J. Hamacher, 19, of Martin, Mich., and an infantryman assigned to 3rd Platoon, recalling later his combat experience during Steel Curtain. “I’ve realized that so many things we take for granted and how real the fight is.”

Searching for guns in garages and then a Birthday

After the skirmish, Marines and Iraqi troops paused at their location for the day and rested until the next morning.

The process of clearing Karabilah continued for another two days. Searching through endless homes, shops and work garages for an enemy that would put up a fight was tedious for the Marines at times but the warriors drove on, finding some weapons and munitions in the area.

“The Marines have performed exceptionally well,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew M. Thuma, 27, of Tipp City, Ohio, and platoon sergeant for 3rd Platoon. “They’ve done everything they were trained to do from their pre-deployment training all the way through this operation.”

A change of pace came on Nov. 10. The Marines paused inside a vacant house in the dark, morning hours to celebrate their 230th birthday in the far western regions of Iraq. The proclamation by the 13th Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. John A. Lejeune, was read and a spice pound cake from a Meals-Ready-to-Eat field ration was cut and passed from the oldest Marine present—Pvt. Jeffery Horner, 27, of Los Angles and an infantryman—to the youngest, Lance Cpl. Hamacher.

“I believe that it’s important in the combat zone to remember the Marine Corps Birthday, sir,” said Thuma to Sallee in a conversation the night before. “It’s especially (important) for the younger Marines to know this.”

Later on that evening, Marines even received a rare hot meal of steak, potatoes and corn-on-the-cob supplemented with energy drinks and non-alcoholic beer. For some, the meal came so late into the evening that sleep was preferred instead, but it is noteworthy to see that even in combat zones, Marines take special pride in remembering their birthday.

Third Platoon and the rest of their company continued their push through Karabilah, encountering little resistance on Nov. 10 before resting for a couple of days within the cleared city.

Rumors were heard and soon orders were passed to clear out a small city several miles eastward on the Euphrates River.

The town was Ubaydi, Iraq.

Marines museum rising by I-95

Center at Quantico on history of Corps slated to open Nov. 10, 2006

http://www.timesdispatch.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=RTD/MGArticle/RTD_BasicArticle&c;=MGArticle&cid;=1128768119726


BY KIRAN KRISHNAMURTHY
TIMES-DISPATCH STAFF WRITER

Nov 13, 2005

QUANTICO -- The massive, angled spire pierces the treeline. It is an evocative structure -- like the imagery that inspired it, from the Marine Corps' flag-raising on Iwo Jima to the way Marines point their swords and rifles skyward.

The 210-foot-tall, steel-frame spire is the signature element of the National Museum of the Marine Corps, nearing completion along Interstate 95 at Quantico.

Built with private and some public funds, the $90 million museum is scheduled to open Nov. 10, 2006, when the Marine Corps celebrates its 231st birthday.

Retired Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Jerry McKay said the project has taken on added significance with the nation at war.

"Right now, the men and women of the Marine Corps, and all of the services, they're making history," said McKay, chief operating officer of the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, which has raised about $52 million for the museum.

"If you don't have a museum like this, you can actually lose your history."

Quantico Marine Corps Base was a logical choice for the museum, McKay said.

It is considered the "Crossroads of the Marine Corps," it is near the nation's capital, and it sits along I-95. Organizers expect 200,000 to 600,000 visitors annually.

Brian H. Chaffee, the project's chief architect, said he is particularly pleased with the museum's visibility from the highway, especially from the southbound lanes.

"It sort of rises before you," he said.

Chaffee said he and his colleagues at Denver-based Fentress Bradburn Architects turned to the Marines' storied history as they designed the building.

"There was a lot of Marine Corps imagery that we surrounded ourselves with," he said during a recent tour of the site.

While the spire most resembles the flagpole at Iwo Jima, he said, the supporting rib beams evoke a line of swords. "It was all really layered together."

Built by Lynchburg-based Banker Steel Co., the spire rises at a 60-degree angle from the floor of the entrance gallery, a 35,000-square-foot space flooded with sunlight from the glass roof.

Erecting the spire, which eventually will be covered with a stainless-steel skin, required a 400-ton crane and most of a day in March.

The gallery will house four suspended airplanes, a helicopter and other exhibits. The first of the airplanes, a World War II Avenger torpedo-bomber, is scheduled to be installed this week.

Organizers also held a casting call for real-life Marines who posed for the figures that will be part of the displays. Visitors will enter one exhibit through the rear of a CH-46 helicopter.

"It really stretches the imagination for your visitors," said Lin Ezell, the museum's director, who most recently worked for the Smithsonian Institution and oversaw planning, design and construction for the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington Dulles International Airport. That is the companion facility of the National Air and Space Museum on the National Mall.

Additional galleries ring the circular building and will track the history of the Marines and their role in conflicts through the years. The museum will encompass 118,000 square feet when it opens, with an additional 63,000 square feet to be added in future years.

The 135-acre site also will become the home of the Marine Corps Heritage Center and will include a hotel/conference center, parade grounds and a memorial park called Semper Fidelis Park, which will include footpaths and a chapel.

The building's "green design" is meant to complement the park -- the museum's grass-covered roof is to be planted with the same grass and wildflowers as the nearby hills.

Curtis W. Fentress, owner of the architectural firm, said building the museum on the high ground was "sort of like taking the hill." Planting a green roof will be "re-establishing the hill."

McKay said the foundation's fundraising drive has "defied the norm" at a time when such efforts are especially difficult. The foundation is within $2 million of its initial $54 million goal for the museum.

The bulk of the private funds have come from a small group of Marines and their relatives -- about $33 million from 85 people. Individuals have made additional contributions through the purchase of commemorative coins and memorial bricks. Corporations have put up about $6.7 million.

The foundation plans to raise an additional $30 million for the second phase of the project. The Marine Corps is contributing $36 million in federal money for the first phase and $10 million for the second phase.

Although Marines have been integral to the effort, Ezell said she expects the majority of visitors will not come from the military.

"What's so important, as a non-Marine, is to be able to walk in the footsteps of the Marines and experience, as best you can, what it is like to be on the battlefield," she said. "It's something most of us will never know."

Contact Kiran Krishnamurthy at (540) 371-4792 or [email protected]

Marines trying to keep Iraqi town secure after assault

U.S. Marines patrol the city of Husaybah for the first time in more than a year.

By Andrew Tilghman, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Monday, November 14, 2005

HUSAYBAH, Iraq — Driving through the marketplace, Sgt. Scott Wood saw many signs of daily life returning to the city center: children playing in the streets, men squatting near shops — and al-Qaida in Iraq propaganda hanging on a wall.


To continue reading:

http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article;=33006

U.S. presses offensive on border with Syria

Two U.S. marines were killed and at least nine were wounded in ambushes and fierce street battles on Monday as thousands of American and Iraqi troops stormed Ubaydi, a riverside town near the Syrian border that the Americans contend has become a haven for foreign jihadists (3/6)

http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/11/14/news/iraq.php


By Kirk Semple and Edward Wong The New York Times

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 2005

Two U.S. marines were killed and at least nine were wounded in ambushes and fierce street battles on Monday as thousands of American and Iraqi troops stormed Ubaydi, a riverside town near the Syrian border that the Americans contend has become a haven for foreign jihadists.

The operation was part of an ambitious sweep in the area that began Nov. 5, but resistance from insurgents appeared to be much stiffer than in the previous fights.

The marine-led forces encountered a labyrinth of mines and hidden bombs along the dusty alleyways and low-slung houses. Senior officers said at least 46 guerrillas were killed in the first six hours of fighting, and at least one Iraqi Army soldier and an Iraqi civilian were wounded.

Armored vehicles rolled through the streets and fighter jets swooped overhead as the battle unfolded from dawn to afternoon. The troops detained more than 100 suspected insurgents, said Colonel Stephen Davis of the Marine Corps, who was commanding the operation from this military base south of Ubaydi.

The assault was the latest in the American military's campaign to ferret out insurgents it says use Euphrates River towns in western Anbar Province to smuggle in fighters and matériel from Syria. The operation involved about 1,500 Marine and army troops, and about 500 Iraqi Army soldiers.

Marine officers had no immediate explanation as to why insurgents had decided to put up a tougher fight in Ubaydi. They said the majority of American casualties on Monday were caused by hidden bombs that detonated as troops were searching streets and buildings while responding to small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades.

The assault on Ubaydi, about 16 kilometers, or 10 miles, east of the Syrian border, follows a similar operation last week to clear the towns of Husayba and Karabila. The three towns were strongholds of the insurgency, military officials said, as well as command centers for the smuggling pipeline from Syria.

Marines tried an offensive in the Ubaydi area last May, only to see insurgents filter back in once the Americans had left. This time, the marines intend to leave a permanent presence of American and Iraqi troops in the town, said Captain Jeffrey Pool, a Marine spokesman.

The sweeps of Husayba and Karabila ended Saturday. In contrast to most other American military operations in Anbar, the marines stayed in both towns following the offensive and immediately set about building permanent garrisons there. Each garrison will be manned by at least two battalions, at least one of which will be Iraqi Army, officials said. Joint American-Iraqi squads have already begun to patrol the streets.

Residents, most of whom abandoned the towns before the assaults, began to return to their homes over the weekend. "Allowing the people not to be controlled by insurgents and allowing them to live freely and not in the grip of fear is what will win the insurgency," said Captain Conlon Carabine, commander of India Company of Third Battalion, Sixth Marine Division, after marines had finished clearing the last house in their area of Karabila this weekend. He said that the Iraqi security forces will give "legitimacy" to the strategy. "The Americans can't occupy this country," he said. "The Iraqi government is going to have to beat this insurgency."

In Baghdad, a suicide car bomber rammed into a convoy of security contractors near the fortified Green Zone, killing at least two people and wounding three others, U.S. Embassy officials said. The two killed were South Africans, and those wounded were South African, Iraqi and American, they said. The contractors were working for DynCorp, an American company that has suffered many casualties here and in Afghanistan. An Interior Ministry official said at least three foreigners were killed in the bombing.

Jas Gill, a spokeswoman for DynCorp, said the company did not have an immediate comment on the incident.

Meanwhile, the mystery surrounding the fate of Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri - a senior aide to Saddam Hussein and one of the most wanted men in Iraq - deepened Monday as a Web site that had posted a message Saturday announcing his death took down the message. The U.S. military, which has offered a reward of $10 million for his capture, said Sunday that it was still hunting for Douri because the Web site posting the death announcement had proved unreliable in the past.

Another Web site claiming to speak for the Baath Party also said on Sunday that the original posting had been wrong. Residents of Al Dour, Douri's hometown, said American and Iraqi troops descended on the area on Monday to search for him, news agencies reported.



Kirk Semple reported from Camp Al Qaim and Edward Wong from Baghdad. Johan Spanner contributed reporting from Ubaydi.

Marine postal chief takes reigns as chaplain

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq (Nov. 14, 2005) -- As the postal chief for the camp post office, he supervises Marines and helps bridge the gap between service members and their families. On Sundays, he leads the gospel service held at the camp chapel. (2nd MLG marine)

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/E1F43A38B2A81C0E852570B9003B6789?opendocument

Submitted by: II Marine Expeditionary Force (FWD)
Story Identification #: 2005111454851
Story by Lance Cpl. Josh Cox

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq (Nov. 14, 2005) -- As the postal chief for the camp post office, he supervises Marines and helps bridge the gap between service members and their families. On Sundays, he leads the gospel service held at the camp chapel.

Gunnery Sgt. Terrance R. Moore, 36, has been on multiple deployments since joining the Corps in 1991, and serves as a source of inspiration to others here.

“Before the military, I worked many different jobs and helped my mother and my grandmother out financially,” said Moore. “I became interested in the military because I got tired of part-time jobs due to lack of experience.”

Moore, who is assigned to Postal Detachment 6, Service Company, Headquarters and Service Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (FWD), chose the Marine Corps for several reasons.

“I chose the Marine Corps because it seemed to be more challenging and based on the reputation and the brotherhood unlike any other service,” he said.

Moore originally served as a supply clerk in the initial years of his enlistment, but later became a postal Marine due to changes in the Corps.

“During my tour at Camp Lejeune, I deployed back-to-back tours with Marine Expeditionary Unit Service Support Group 24, 24th MEU,” he said.

After he completed his second tour in the Marine Corps in 1999, the Buffalo, N.Y., native became a recruiter and served at Recruiting Sub-Station Dayton, Ohio.

After completing a tour of recruiting duty, Moore returned to Camp Lejeune and found himself on another deployment.

“I deployed to Kuwait in January 2003 with the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade to support Operation Enduring Freedom,” he said. “After coming back from Kuwait, I returned to Camp Lejeune and (was) attached to MSSG-24 and later deployed to Kalsu, Iraq.”

Moore’s deployment to Kalsu in 2004 was cut short due to health problems, but he was later deployed to Fallujah after being medically cleared.

“My deployment was cut short…due to a few episodes of asthma attacks, and it was also discovered I had a slight heart murmur,” he said. “One year after being medically cleared I am currently deployed to Fallujah as the postal chief.”

Moore has been instrumental in the religious programs throughout his multiple deployments.

“Each time I have been deployed, I have always been involved in assisting the chaplain with the worship services,” he said. “I am currently conducting the gospel services due to the chaplain having to leave for Djibouti to minister to his unit that has lost some Sailors. I had to get an endorsement from my pastor back at home, and also a letter from my command (to conduct the services).”

Moore said he feels blessed to have the opportunity to serve here, and attributes his success to family support.

“My son Terrance Moore Jr. (T.J.) is doing an outstanding job helping his mother out at home, and also in school,” he said. “He’s my motivation, and I look at his picture everyday that he sent from home."

EDITOR’S NOTE
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Iraq veteran tells of life 'over there'.

LEOMINSTER-- Matthew Burke has nothing but a positive attitude when speaking about his ongoing Marine Corps service in Fallujah, Iraq.

http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/local/ci_3213977
By Crystal C. Bozek [email protected]


LEOMINSTER-- Matthew Burke has nothing but a positive attitude when speaking about his ongoing Marine Corps service in Fallujah, Iraq.

He'll take out his photographs and show one he calls the "tough guy pose" or his "Charlie's Angels" impersonation, all taken near his sleeping trailer, with his friends and a bunch of rifles sharing the frame.

The 20-year-old dismounter -- a soldier who exits patrol vehicles to search areas by foot -- shared stories of handing candy and toys to Iraqi children and being offered milk by an older woman when searching her yard.

"The brotherhood in the Marines is just something else," Burke said Thursday. "I've made friends from all over that I'll keep for the rest of my life. ... And over there, the people are a lot more comfortable with us now. They don't throw rocks at us anymore."

He's also quick to point out his platoon's good fortune.

"We all came back. ... Zero casualties," he said.

It takes a lot more chatting before Burke mentions the constant sandstorms, roadside bombs or the 130-degree weather.

"We cracked an egg on the ground and watched it cook in less than 30 seconds once," he said, smiling. "So it's that hot and you're wearing 40 pounds of equipment."

His service in Iraq -- he served there from March to October this year -- wasn't always comfortable or fun, but Burke has earned to make the best of the situation.

Burke is back home in Leominster for the next few weeks before heading back to training in North Carolina's Camp Lejeune.

While home, he's assigned to recruitment, which means long days of driving around places like malls and talking to people about joining up, before he can go party with friends or head to the Leominster-Fitchburg Thanksgiving game.

"It's a little awkward at first," he said of the recruitment efforts. "But people really accept you."

He'll return to Iraq in March for another seven-month tour of duty.

Burke, known to his friends as "Matty B," will be honored Thursday at an American Family Link meeting at the Leominster Veterans Center on Pond Street by local and state officials.

His mother, Donna Longo, said was worried about how the war might have changed her son.

She tried talking him out of going into the Marines, but is proud of his accomplishments now.

While gone, she's filled her time working out at the gym, spending long hours working at Leominster Hospital, and gathering support from friends and coworkers.

Since she takes it the hardest, Burke has avoided telling his mother about his more dangerous wartime experiences.

But given that Burke has two sisters and a brother, word always gets back to Mom.

"I've heard stories he told his brother that an explosive went off and a gentleman next to him passed out," Longo said. "I thought, 'Was he going to come back the same as he left?' Obvious he'd change, but how?"

Burke said his fellow Marines are there to help deal with the negatives of war, such as when a gunner in his platoon was struck in the neck by a mortar shell fragment and lost a piece of vertebrae.

"I shoot a gun probably 20 out of 30 days a month. ... You're in combat zone and anything can happen," Burke said. "I'm more self-disciplined. I've had to deal with the day to day challenges. ... You also develop a new flavor for life."

Burke's been in the Marine Corps for two years, and has another two to go before deciding what he'll do next.

He'll probably go to college for a business degree.

"A lot of my friends are in college right now, so they're watching the news and saying, 'Wow, I can't believe Matty B's over there,'" he said.

And he has done things some of his friends will never be able to experience.

He's uncovered weapons stashes, looked out at the stars from horizon to horizon in Fallujah, watched bombs go off, and even met actor Vince Vaughn at a meet-and-greet with soldiers.

Life in the war zone sometimes brought unusual perks. The soldiers watched movies on DVD that were still in the theater here.

"We were all buying Wedding Crashers and Four Brothers on these burnt DVDs they sell there," he said. "When Vince Vaughn came, they all came up to him with the burnt DVDs of Wedding Crashers to get them signed. Vince thought it was funny."

Then there's things his friends wouldn't want to experience.

He sleeps on the ground "or other hard places" while on a mission, and when at camp there's 12 men to a small three-room trailer. It's a quarter-mile walk to the bathroom.

Their chow hall is okay, but when traveling he eats nothing but MREs: ready-to-eat military meals.

"They get pretty gross after you eat a few, and I ate them for seven months," he said. "They offer ones like spaghetti and meatballs, Thai chicken or roast beef."

He'll read whatever is placed in front of him, and he's at the mercy of family and friends.

"One of my roommate's grandmothers sent a pile of Star (celebrity tabloid) magazines," he said. "I know about Ben and Jen. ... You also learn how to play poker very well. Texas Hold'em."

He's also developed a fondness for beef jerky and baby wipes, which are effective at removing sand from the skin.

But for a little while, at least, he can enjoy some familiar surroundings. Burke repeatedly said how "beautiful" the fall foliage is this year.

Longo said while she was relieved to see Burke come home, it's bittersweet.

"In the other respect, there are parents out there whose children aren't coming home," she said. "It's almost like he was never gone. ... I'm still putting off the thought of him going back again."

November 13, 2005

Even back home, he's ready to serve

ALLEN – U.S. Marine Corps Reservist 1st Sgt. Tim Dowd, 40, returned home from the Anbar province of western Iraq in April with shrapnel lodged under his skin.

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/localnews/stories/DN-alveteran_12cco.ART.North.Edition2.1331d6e2.html


Sergeant moves from sniper force in Iraq to police force in Allen


12:00 AM CST on Saturday, November 12, 2005

By MISTY DEAN / The Dallas Morning News

ALLEN – U.S. Marine Corps Reservist 1st Sgt. Tim Dowd, 40, returned home from the Anbar province of western Iraq in April with shrapnel lodged under his skin.

Being wounded in Iraq didn't keep 1st Sgt. Tim Dowd from his job on the Allen Police Department when he returned. He considers himself lucky.

For nine months, he served as a gunnery sergeant in Iraq overseeing a platoon of 28 snipers.

Sgt. Dowd and several others in his platoon received minor wounds in a confrontation that lasted about 10 days last year near the city of Hit.

About 13 members of the platoon were sent to probe the outskirts of the town, where the enemy went from an estimated 150 insurgents to about 800, said Sgt. Byron Hancock part of the Scout Sniper Platoon, Headquarters and Service Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment. He remembers those first few days with Sgt. Dowd.

"He saved a lot of Marines' lives, not just in that incident, but the entire time he was there. If it hadn't been for him, we would not have fared as well," Sgt. Hancock said.

He was willing to listen and learn, and that made him a good leader, Sgt. Hancock said.

The area was a dangerous place to serve.

The Associated Press reported an ambush by insurgents in Haditha that killed six Marine snipers in August.

"I knew them," Sgt. Dowd said. "People need to remember them."

Sgt. Dowd, who grew up in Plano and lives in McKinney, has served in the Marines for about 18 years. He received a Purple Heart for his service in Iraq but says everyone who's over there should be commended.

A few months before leaving the country, Sgt. Dowd found comfort by visiting with his brother, Maj. Lance Dowd, a Marine serving as the operations officer for the 1st Force Reconnaissance Company, First Marine Expeditionary Force, who was also serving in the same area.

About two weeks after returning home, Sgt. Dowd continued police training for the Allen Police Department, a job he started shortly before leaving for duty.

The city has been very supportive, he said. Officials allowed him vacation time to spend with his wife and four children before he left. Reservists who work with the city receive supplemental pay for up to a year and continue getting benefits while they are deployed, Allen Police Capt. Robert Flores said.

"It shows that we support our military personnel," he said.

Sgt. Dowd nominated the city as a patriotic employer through the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve; the city received the recognition this summer.

"I'm proud that my brother has decided to continue to serve others, outside of the military, as a police officer," Maj. Lance Dowd said.

E-mail [email protected]

Gunfighters send U.S. flags flown in combat home to families


AL TAQQADUM, Iraq (Nov. 13, 2005) -- For many, the flag is more than a symbol of the government. It represents the shared values of the people of the United States and their greatest ideal, freedom.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/059A67905563B060852570B9002E043C?opendocument


Submitted by: 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing
Story Identification #: 2005111432237
Story by Cpl. Cullen J. Tiernan

AL TAQQADUM, Iraq (Nov. 13, 2005) -- For many, the flag is more than a symbol of the government. It represents the shared values of the people of the United States and their greatest ideal, freedom.

The Gunfighters of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369 fly this symbol at Al Taqqadum, Iraq, and proudly take it with them in UH-1 Hueys and AH-1 Cobras during combat missions.

“Our flag represents pride in what we’re doing here,” said Sgt. David Zubowski, a UH-1 Huey crew chief with the Gunfighters and New Castle, Ind., native. “Looking at our flag, it just reminds you and makes you feel good about being here bringing freedom to the Iraqi people.”

Zuboswski has taken the flag with him during combat missions and flown it out of the Huey as he successfully returned back to camp each time.

“While you’re out on the mission, the flag sits in the back of your mind,” said Zubowski. “Once you come back, it comes to the forefront. When we return from combat missions, I fly our flag out of the Huey and everyone who sees it starts pointing and cheering. It’s a great feeling.”

The flags the Gunfighters fly in Iraq are sent to their families and loved ones in the United States. They get to pick the exact day the flag flies and send home a part of history.

“The flag flies into battle with the Marines and is there when the gunfire happens,” said Staff Sgt. Gary P. Huff, the Gunfighters’ support equipment plan maintenance staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge and Troy, Kan., native. “There is a certain amount of pride giving this kind of very personal gift. When we send a flag, we’re sending home a symbol of what we are doing here.”

Huff runs the flag program for his section and said he is running out of dates to fly flags. He said it is a morale booster, and when a person’s flag is flying, he will know it’s his flag going out on a mission.

“I think the whole squadron will send a flag home,” said Sgt. Maj. Troy Couron, the Gunfighters’ sergeant major and Nebraska native. “The Marines here sometimes fly two flags in one day. They are also constantly flying missions and taking their flags with them.”

Zubowski said the Gunfighters’ morale is high, and this program just adds to it.

“As long as we keep the birds flying, our morale will be high,” said Zubowski. “We know we are doing our jobs and supporting the guys on the ground. Our flag represents this mission to us and a great deal more.”

Couron said during the Gunfighters first 25 days in Iraq, they flew more than 1,300 combat hours. In the United States, he said it would take them more than two months to accomplish the feat.

“Sometimes, it’s really intense here,” said Cpl. Sean F. Mackall, a crew chief with the Gunfighters. “We work really hard and it can be really frustrating knowing there are Marines on the ground who need our help. But, we don’t shoot until we get a positive identification.”

Contrary to the insurgents, the Gunfighters make every attempt to use caution and not kill innocent civilians. They said their flag represents the values and ideals which make the United States the most powerful nation in the world.

“I think it’s awesome that I’ll get to send a flag home,” said Mackall. “My parents have a great deal of pride in what I am doing and what the other Marines are doing here. They support us and this flag will serve as a symbol of what we are doing here.”

Zubowski said he can’t think of anywhere else on the earth where the U.S. flag is flown out of a Huey and into battle.

“It will be a big thing for my father-in-law to get,” said Zubowski. “He was in the Army and is very patriotic and supportive of what we are doing here. After receiving a flag from Iraq that was flown in combat, he will definitely hang it in a place of honor.”

Book helps woman cope

SAN ANGELO, Texas -- Sharon Westbrook still has days where she is haunted by the death of her son.

http://www.kristv.com/Global/story.asp?S=4107054&nav;=Bsmh

SAN ANGELO, Texas -- Sharon Westbrook still has days where she is haunted by the death of her son.

More than a year after Jason Poindexter, 20, was killed in Iraq, the San Angelo woman said there are still times when the loss seems almost overwhelming. That's when she pulls out a book of condolences collected by Denise Garcia, who lives near Camp Pendleton in California.

Garcia, the mother of a Marine in Poindexter's battalion, put the book together in honor of her son's friend. It's a book of collected thoughts from people across the country who expressed their sympathy for Westbrook's loss and their appreciation to her son, who made the ultimate sacrifice for his country.

"It's one of those things that just amazes me," Westbrook said. "You hear so much negative stuff going on. When I lost Jason, I didn't want to keep anything but positives. ... It's a book that I go to when I think I can't do this anymore. I can look at the book and go forward and not backward."

Westbrook is now composing a similar book for Ballinger's Will and Karen Byler, parents of Justin Byler, an Army specialist who was killed last week in Iraq. She's also helping design an "Angel Tag," similar to a dog tag worn by soldiers, that will have a picture of Justin on it.

Karen Byler said the gesture is greatly appreciated.

Books also are being made for the families of Elias Torrez and Shane Folmar, other local men who were killed in Iraq, Westbrook said.

Duplicates are usually made for families where the mother and father are separated, so both will get a copy, she said. And if a spouse is killed, a book is made for the surviving spouse, and another for the parents, she said.

In November 2004, a Marine mother created Marine Families Online In-Action to provide a place for coordinating support efforts for loved ones who have lost a Marine.

The site provides information on how to create Condolence Books and other comforts such as comfort quilts and Angel Tags.

It was originally started as a Marine site, but once word of the books spread, families from other branches of service wanted to help create the books, Westbrook said.

Now families are composing books for fallen military in different branches from what their sons or daughters served in, Westbrook said.

Garcia said she was touched by the news that her son's friend had been killed and wanted to do something to help his mother. Military families develop the same close bonds that their children in the service form. It was easy to gather numerous condolence e-mails, she said.

"It's heartwarming to get condolences in their own words," said Garcia, who lives in Salinas, Calif. "Each person expresses their own thoughts."

Garcia's son Jeff is about to return home. His time in the war has been the most difficult time in her life, she said. The support she received from friends and family was one reason she chose to honor Westbrook with the condolence book, she said.

She wondered whether it would be too tough for Westbrook to read the condolences, and feared that the pain might be too fresh. She was glad to hear that the book helps Westbrook get through hard times.

"Somehow, it just makes sense we pull together as mothers," she said. "I totally admire Sharon. She has been so strong and brave. Even after the loss of her son, to want to reach out to others is really great."

Getting the word out has been easy. Information goes out on the Web site that a family has a fallen hero, and usually someone who lives close to that person's hometown volunteers to the do the work, Westbrook said.

Westbrook is collecting condolences in an e-mail account and will spend a week or two composing the book. Westbrook said she will copy the messages into a Microsoft Word file and print them out on colored paper. She also wants to decorate the book with pictures and graphics, she said.

She'll then present it to the Byres, she said. Westbrook said she wanted to put together Byler's book because they are so nearby and because she knows many people who knew him.

She has gotten more than 70 messages, she said.

Westbrook said she hasn't counted how many condolences were in Jason's book.

"This stirs up much emotions for me," she said. "Hopefully though, once I get this one done, I'll find it to be healing, and I can start playing a bigger part in this group."

Westbrook received her book by mail a few weeks after she learned Jason was killed. She said she's eager to return the favor.

"It's my way to give back," Westbrook said. "I couldn't have made it through the times I went through without the support I received from the community. It's a way to share that loss."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

November 12, 2005

Straight up combat behind Operation Steel Curtain

Moving room-to-room, the troops' eyes are peeled. It's strenuous, repetitive and potentially lethal work.

Straight up combat behind Operation Steel Curtain

http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/11/11/iraq.damon/index.html


By Arwa Damon


Saturday, November 12, 2005; Posted: 9:23 a.m. EST (14:23 GMT)


HUSAYBA, Iraq (CNN) -- The morning sunrise is broken by 50-caliber machine gun fire.

"Right on time. It's the 6 a.m. wake-up call," jokes one of the Marines with India Company's first platoon.

It's day three of Operation Steel Curtain, aimed at rooting out insurgents and foreign fighters from Husayba, a city nestled along the Syrian border, and its outskirts. The city has not had a permanent military presence for more than a year. Even before the operation began, Marines had nicknamed it "Son of Fallujah."

"Let's go! Let's go! Watch that alleyway!" Gunnery Sgt. Jeff Cullen yells to his men. 1st Platoon darts out, weapons clanking and boots pounding, taking up position to get ready for the day's push through central Husayba.

"Be alert," Gunny warns. The men's eyes are peeled -- house-to-house, room-to-room -- wary of closed doors. It's strenuous, repetitive and potentially lethal work. A Marine was killed by the third day of fighting by an insurgent laying in wait behind a locked door while the unit was clearing a house.

Doors smash open. Glass shatters. U.S. Marines and their Iraqi Army counterparts dash through homes. Gunfire a couple of blocks away echoes through the narrow streets, interspersed with tank rounds, air strikes, door breaches and controlled detonations. (Watch the platoon hunt for insurgents -- 3:03)

"Three MAMs [military-age males] with AK-47s to the south -- moving" comes in the call from the radio. "Roger, three MAMs."

The men on a rooftop hear movement in the house below.

"Get out!" Cullen shouts, then turns to an Iraqi soldier. "Tell him to get out with his hands up now!"

A family emerges from the home. Women fearful, children with wide eyes. The mother covers a child's ears as the sound of F/A-18 fighter jets overhead gets closer.

Across the street another family, the mother's eyes filled with tears.

"We just want security" she says. "We can't live like this."

The women and children hang back while the men chat with the Iraqi Army troops and U.S. Marines. The gunfire dies down. Around the corner a man is being interrogated by U.S. forces who have intelligence that his brother is an insurgent.

His father, an old man who's hands shake as he points out all the homes in the neighborhood that have been deserted. "We would have left, too," he says "but my wife is paralyzed. She is ill."

A block south a dead man is found holding an AK-47, his rib cage is broken, his insides exposed. Civilians walk through the rubble, talking with troops of coalition forces.

A few houses down EOD -- explosive ordinance disposal -- troops are fixing blocks of C4 explosives to bomb-making materials: propane tanks, artillery, wires and receivers.

In a house down the road a man with a broken arm and hip is being treated by a Navy corpsman. The room stinks of urine. The injured man tells of how insurgents kidnapped and beat him before leaving him there. But the Marines find an AK-47 and a spider device: two batteries attached to wires used to detonate roadside bombs -- the notorious improvised explosive devices -- IEDs.

He is taken for treatment and interrogation.

A relative calm descends on Husayba. The gunfire has stopped ringing through the streets. A family opens its vegetable stand, a small boy sweeps away debris. Neighbors visit one another, chatting.

Marines continue to push forward, clearing house after house.

"Controlled detonation! They are going to blow the IED factory!" comes the call over India company commander Capt. Conlin Carabine's radio. "Everybody inside! Take cover!" Carabine yells, then runs to tell the families to get inside.

A blast rings out. The men on the rooftop cheer as the roof of the bomb factory flies through the air.

Gunny Cullen and his men move to clear a nearby house. A loud pop is heard, then a rocket propelled grenade whooshes through the air. Then an explosion on the other end.

"It came from the rooftop on the left side of the road!" It sounds as though the entire city has erupted in gunfire. On all fronts, gunfire.

The men on a vehicle called an amtrack, an amphibious armored vehicle, let loose with the 50 caliber machine gun and automatic grenade launcher down an alleyway where the RPG shooter has been spotted.

"Those tracks need to shoot another 100 meters down the road. That's where it came from. They are shooting too close," a Marine shouts. Gunny Cullen and his men press toward the target, gunfire on all sides. The target house is a few blocks away. The men burst through houses clearing them, taking position of rooftops as another squad presses on.

From a rooftop Cullen spots movement in the target building and opens fire. "Yankee six, tell him it's the same thing that the first sergeant was looking at: those guys in the windows, guy in white ... with AK-47 running through the window," he shouts into his radio.

The platoon continues to push forward, moving toward the elusive enemy, eyes peeled, footsteps fast. Gunfire from other units surrounds them. "Hold the wall! GO! GO! GO!" Cullen barks.

The men run through a small field, taking cover behind the rubble of a house that was blown up a few hours earlier. The gunfire intensifies. The target is just ahead. But Cullen holds up his platoon.

To the right, a second platoon is engaged in a fierce firefight. It's an agonizing and nerve-wracking wait. Finally Cullen breaks the silence.

"We are going to try and push forward. Don't shoot over our heads," he calls to the second platoon commander.

"Cover that alleyway," he yells to his men. They move forward, boots slipping on piles of broken bricks. They dash over the rubble and into a house, run up broken stairs to the roof just facing their target house. Cullen decides to fire a rocket into a bottom window. Glass shatters as a large cloud of smoke rises.

"Eyes up! Eyes up!' Cullen yells to his men to watch the windows for movement. Suddenly the ongoing gunfire in the distance sounds closer. "Get down get down!" a Marines shouts as bullets hiss by.

Cullen and his men dart into the target building, guns blazing, expecting the unexpected. But the building is deserted. They search every corner, bang on every wall. But anyone who was there has disappeared.

They clear two more houses before they bunk down for the night inside a half-built home, sitting on the rooftop under the starts as night falls.

They rip open MREs - Meals Ready to Eat -- and relive their endless day -- one day in what Marines call straight-up urban combat.

Veterans' Web Wall

Just before he was killed in the Vietnam War, Glen Luse's brother Ken, an Army warrant officer, mailed two rolls of film home to his family.

http://washingtontimes.com/culture/20051110-105253-8400r.htm


By Shepherd Pittman
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
November 11, 2005


Just before he was killed in the Vietnam War, Glen Luse's brother Ken, an Army warrant officer, mailed two rolls of film home to his family. By the time the photographs had been processed, Ken was dead, and the grieving family was left with many questions and two rolls of photographs without captions.
Last year, Mr. Luse met a man pictured with his brother in the unexplained photos. Mr. Luse learned meaningful details about his brother's last days and the circumstances of his death.
"I felt this great big weight come off my shoulders," Mr. Luse said. "There's a lot of closure involved in this."
The two men met through the Virtual Wall, an online replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, designed to memorialize those killed in the Vietnam War. Family members, friends and other soldiers can come to the site to post letters, photographs, poems and other memorials to remember loved ones.
Site administrators say there are thousands of veterans' names listed on the site, www.virtualwall.org. Because an individual memorial page can contain 10 or more postings by friends and family, the number of remembrances is higher still. People who connect via the Virtual Wall often meet for reunions, sharing photographs and memories of fallen soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.
"A lot of people wanted to make sure that their loved one or friend was remembered," said Jim Schueckler, a Vietnam veteran who founded the Web site in 1997. "This is a technical version of leaving a note or a photograph at the wall itself."
Though the Virtual Wall is not a complete listing of all Vietnam casualties, it welcomes family members, friends and fellow Vietnam troops to create memorials. The Web site also contains listings of veterans who won high military honors and a section detailing the status of those still listed as missing in action.
"The goal is to provide an environment like The Wall itself," reads the Web site, "With the dignity and respect those named on The Wall have earned."
A number of veterans and family members serve as volunteers, creating pages for veterans.
Mr. Luse, a veteran who is now an optician in Fort Madison, La., said connecting with veterans who served alongside his brother provided closure.
"Personally, for about 30 years, I felt I couldn't talk about [my brother?s death]," he said. "I didn't want to stir up bad feelings."
He said not only has he benefited by spending time with men who served with his brother, but those veterans appreciated the opportunity to share.
"The people that I've talked to that knew my brother, it helps them when they talk to the family," Mr. Luse said. "They want to get connected."


The good, bad and ugly of Parris Island's history

PARRIS ISLAND, S.C.-The U.S. Marine boot camp tucked amid the swamps near Beaufort is renowned for its ability to transform civilians into fighting machines, but the process hasn't been without its ugly side despite assurances that today's Marine Corps offers a kinder, gentler training.


http://www.thedailyitemoflynn.com/news/view.bg?articleid=10574

By David Liscio / The Daily Item
Saturday, November 12, 2005

PARRIS ISLAND, S.C.-The U.S. Marine boot camp tucked amid the swamps near Beaufort is renowned for its ability to transform civilians into fighting machines, but the process hasn't been without its ugly side despite assurances that today's Marine Corps offers a kinder, gentler training.
Last February, a 19-year-old recruit drowned in a pool during a survival swim within view of his drill instructors.Jason Tharp was unable to stay afloat while wearing combat gear.A television crew videotaping the pool training a day earlier captured the image of a drill instructor slapping the terrified teenager.
Another recruit remains in coma, the result of a different water survival training session.Heat stroke and heart attack are routine occurrences, and while not directly linked to abuse, these incidents recall days not so long ago in Marine Corps history when striking a recruit was common practice.
Perhaps no story epitomizes training gone haywire more than that of Ribbon Creek, the snaking, alligator-infested waterway where in the 1950s a crazed sergeant marched new recruits until some of them sank beneath the water in the darkness and drowned.
Parris Island is a place of extreme pressure and challenge, and that often leads to tragedy, as it did on Oct. 31, 1994, when Sgt. Richard Stumpf Jr. climbed the tall platform beside the Olympic-sized training pool, and with 60 recruits watching, put a rifle to his head and pulled the trigger. Critics say the training camp is unnecessarily dangerous and accomplishes little more than turning brainwashed, academically lackluster youth into killers.However, that's not a view shared by most Marines, their officers, drill instructors, friends and relatives.
Parris Island is also a place of joy and pride, particularly among recruits nearing completion of their 13-week training.They march in cadence, heads turning precisely on command, boots striking the pavement in unison.By graduation, they are clearly a brotherhood - the Few, the Proud, the Brave, each wearing the Marine insignia of eagle, globe and anchor.Many good-naturedly call each other Jarhead or Leatherneck, the names derived, respectively, from the service's high-and-tight haircut and the leather collars sewn onto Marine uniforms in the late 1800s as protection against pirate cutlasses.
Anyone visiting Parris Island will quickly understand that the Marine Corps is steeped in tradition.On their next to last day at Parris Island, recruits rise at dawn and run in jogging clothes through the boot camp, ringing roadside bells and causing a ruckus.Hours later, they assemble for the emblem ceremony to receive their lapel pins, officially making them Marines.
Even the service mascot, Mac the English bulldog, is part of a tradition dating to World War I, and today Mac wears a uniform and participates in parades and graduation ceremonies, like the one held Oct. 28 for Bravo Company.

Reporter's Notebook: Reflections on visit to Parris Island

It's the journalist's job to observe and reflect. Here are some notes from an October visit to the Marine Corps boot camp at Parris Island, S.C.

http://www.thedailyitemoflynn.com/news/view.bg?articleid=10576
By David Liscio / The Daily Item
Saturday, November 12, 2005

It's the journalist's job to observe and reflect. Here are some notes from an October visit to the Marine Corps boot camp at Parris Island, S.C.
-
Recruits with poor vision must wear military-issued eyeglasses - with thick, black rims like those Hollywood might use to depict a science nerd.To make it worse, parts of the frame are taped and padded during training.
A female recruit referred to these eyeglasses as BCDs, short for birth control devices. As she put it, "They're so ugly, no girl would give the guy wearing them a second look."
-
A Marine recruit attempting to rappel down a training tower repeatedly missed the mark, and each time a drill instructor ordered him back to the top.
As a group of journalists watched from below, other drill instructors joined in the taunting as the recruit again dangled helplessly from a twirling rope. One instructor yelled, "Hey, Princess. Look at you. You're a wind chime."
The wisecrack elicited plenty of chuckles all around, but the kid looked scared to death.
-
During The Item's visit to Parris Island in late October, hundreds of recruits completing the 13-week training were christened U.S. Marines. It was the same week that the 2,000th U.S. soldier was killed fighting in Iraq.
-
Some of the heavy machine gun fire on the combat course is actually snippets of the soundtrack from the first half hour of the war movie "Saving Private Ryan," which focuses on the D-Day invasion. An air compressor is used to create the ear-splitting explosions as recruits scurry over obstacles and under barbed wire. Seems the days of using military-grade dynamite to simulate incoming artillery are gone.
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The sand fleas on Parris Island are relentless and little stirs them like the sight of a reporter in shorts.
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Late at night, the recruit barracks resonate with coughing and hacking like a tuberculosis ward from the 1950s. Sergeants in charge of the squad bays call it the recruit crud - easy to catch and hard to cure.
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Not all Marine commanders are stone-faced ugly, with gnarled expressions and bared teeth.
Such preconceived notions were shattered by the image of Capt. Amy Smith of Indiana. Just back from Iraq, clad in full camouflage combat gear, face streaked with green, black and tan paint, Smith was directing her troops on the mock battleground. Asked if they are as tough as their male counterparts, she candidly explained that while certainly less aggressive and harder to motivate, her recruits are better at problem solving and thinking out a situation instead of simply reacting rashly - like a guy might do.
-
Parris Island, as one might guess, is surrounded by water.It reduces the likelihood that recruits will flee, particularly since the brackish creeks and swamps are teeming with alligators.
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Despite teaching military history as part of boot camp training, few recruits could explain why the Marine Hymn includes references to the halls of Montezuma and the shores of Tripoli.
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Gunnery Sgt. Suzie Hollings said 9 of 10 recruits who leave Parris Island understand they're headed for Iraq. Today's recruits are part of a "new generation" that isn't accustomed to doing things for itself, or spending large amounts of time in the outdoors, she said.To illustrate her point, Hollings explained that many recruits bring cell phones to boot camp.Still astonished, she added,"One brought a ball gown."
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The military communicates through a mind-boggling alphabet soup of acronyms that makes the task of explaining what's going on in plain English quite confusing. Nobody speaks in real sentences and everyone has an MOS (military occupational specialty). For example, military journalists are PAOs or public affairs officers.
When lunching in the field, you rip open a green bag filled with prepared food, otherwise known as an MRE - meal ready to eat.
But the real clincher was hearing that Marines today are waging a GWOT.In case you didn't guess, that's military-speak for Global War on Terrorism.
For the record, the Marine manual on Concepts and Programs contains 16 pages of abbreviations.
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Many Marines have served two tours of duty in Iraq and are looking forward to a third.
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Firing dozens of rounds from an M16 rifle is lots of fun if nobody is shooting back at you.
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Marines possess an amazing spirit - an esprit de corps. It can be infectious because it transcends race, creed, color and economics. It is what makes The Corps special.
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Semper Fidelis (Always Faithful)
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There's no such thing as a former Marine. Once a Marine, always a