« July 2007 | Main | September 2007 »

August 31, 2007

Marines’ slogan nominated one of the best in 2007: "The Few, The Proud, The Marines"

U.S. MARINE CORPS BASE, CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii (Aug. 31, 2007) -- The Marine Corps is known for its fighting prowess, but how does it stand up in the world of product recognition?

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/580947D27D77F94C85257348007EC923?opendocument

Aug. 31, 2007; Submitted on: 08/31/2007 07:04:50 PM ; Story ID#: 200783119450
By Cpl. R. Drew Hendricks, Marine Forces Pacific

Yahoo Inc., in partnership with USA Today, is holding an online poll to choose the next addition to the Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame.

The vote is part of Advertising Week 2007, the largest annual gathering of advertising and media decision-makers in North America.

Beside famous slogans like Nike’s “Just Do It,” and Taco Bell’s “Think Outside the Bun,” is a slogan that has characterized the Marine Corps for more than 20 years.

“The Few, The Proud, The Marines,” has been nominated as one of the 26 best slogans in the 2007 competition.

The winning slogans will be etched on a plaque and set alongside other time-honored slogans on Madison Avenue, between 49th and 50th Streets in New York City.
The winner will be announced on the Net Sept. 26.

On the Net: Advertising Week 2007
http://advertising.yahoo.com/advertisingweek_07/slogan_poll.html

Ramadi: A Tale of Two Cities

This is the first of two on-the-scene reports by VFW magazine senior editor Tim Dyhouse, who was in Iraq this past April. This was his third trip to the war zone.


http://www.vfw.org/index.cfm?fa=news.magDtl&dtl=1&mid=4160

Standing in a dusty plywood barracks at Camp Ramadi in April 2007, Marine Cpl. Thomas Nowicki tells a visitor why his buddies named a street after him. It was the site, he said, where he was badly wounded 2? years ago.

“Tommy Gun Street,” said the 22-year-old married father of one, located some two miles away in downtown Ramadi, was a hazardous place back then. But much like the city itself, he adds, it’s changed significantly.

The last time his Marine unit—2nd Bn., 5th Marines, 1st Marine Div.—had deployed to Ramadi, from September 2004 to March 2005, the city, capital of Iraq’s Sunni-dominated Anbar province, was known as the most dangerous place in Iraq. But as of mid-April 2007, only a few weeks into a seven-month tour, Nowicki, from Midlothian, Ill., said his unit had been involved in only two small-arms skirmishes.

The threat of daily firefights, constant mortar attacks and roadside bomb explosions has largely disappeared for the time being, he said. But as Nowicki and the other 2/5 Marines, about half of whom are veterans of the battalion’s first Ramadi tour, trained for the current deployment, they prepared for the worst. Their combat experiences the first time taught them that.

Nowicki’s memories are still fresh. He clearly remembers Dec. 3, 2004, the day he was wounded, shot down in the street—really more of an alleyway, he concedes—that bears his name. He adds that he killed the insurgent machine-gunner who tried to kill him.

As part of an eight-man foot patrol scouting for sniper positions about 6 a.m. that day, Nowicki described the morning as “uneventful.” The Marines were searching, he says, for a tall building with good sight lines of Ramadi’s streets in which to hide their four-man sniper team.

Suddenly, muzzle flashes grabbed his attention.

“I was the seventh man in our group,” he said. “We started taking heavy machine-gun fire from a two-story building. Then a car rounded a corner with about four insurgents firing AK-47s at us. They had us in a classic L-shaped ambush.”

Nowicki remembers glancing over his left shoulder precisely as a machine-gun round ripped completely through his left arm. The shot knocked his A-4 rifle from his hand, leaving him sprawled in the alley as subsequent rounds slammed into the wall behind him, the ricochets tearing holes into both his calves, his hip and his thigh.

“Sgt. Anderson [the Marine directly behind Nowicki] lit up the car with more than 100 rounds from his SAW (squad automatic weapon) and it took off,” Nowicki recalled. “The guy who was working me over must have thought he killed me because he changed his fire toward Anderson after I got knocked down. I switched to burst on my A-4 and took him out.”

Nowicki said his squad killed at least five insurgents that day. After the firefight, he remembers Anderson, who emerged unscathed, taking off his neck gaiter (cloth cover) and discovering a gunshot hole in it.

“He turned white as a ghost,” Nowicki said with a slight smile.

‘Welcome to Ramadi’

2/5 Marines recall that daily firefights were the norm when they arrived in September 2004.

“October got better,” recalled Nowicki, who now serves with HQ Plt., E Co., “but things got crazy again for five or six days in November when the fighting was heavy in Fallujah. Then it quieted down. The December firefight I was in and another one a couple weeks later were the last big ones of the initial deployment.”

The battalion lost 15 KIA during that tour of duty. After a month into their current tour, which began around April 1 for most of the battalion, only a handful of the Marines had experienced contact with the enemy.

“I haven’t fired a round since I’ve been here,” said Cpl. Aaron Autler of 2nd Plt., E Co. “By this time on our last tour, I think we already had four Marines killed.”

The battalion’s first KIA on the initial deployment, Pfc. Jason Poindexter, a 20-year-old Marine from San Angelo, Texas, never even got a chance to put his boots on the ground in the city.

On Sept. 12, 2004, as he was riding in a seven-ton truck in a convoy into the city from Camp Ramadi for the first time, a car bomb exploded next to his vehicle. Shrapnel from the blast hit Poindexter in the head, killing him instantly.

“We had only been operational for three days,” said Staff Sgt. Juan Carlos Guzman of 2nd Plt., E Co. “It led to a 2?-hour firefight. Every time we thought it was over they would come back at us.”

As attrition began to cleave 2/5’s ranks, new Marines joined the battalion to replace those who had been killed or sent home wounded. Staff Sgt. Stacey Judge, currently with 4th Plt., E Co., was one such replacement, joining the battalion in January 2005. He described arriving in the war zone as an “eye-opening” experience.

“These guys were a family and had lost buddies,” Judge recalled. “I had seen coverage of the war on TV like everybody else, but as a Marine I knew that it could be me there. I remember one day after I got here I was in the middle of the street and it hit me, ‘I’m in Ramadi.’ Right then I saw a flash on top of a building about 75 yards away. It was an RPG [rocket-propelled grenade] that had been fired at an Army Psyops vehicle not too far from where I was standing. I remember thinking, ‘Welcome to Ramadi.’ I learned a lot from that.”

Nearly all of 2/5’s veterans of the initial deployment have stories of losing a friend. Cpl. Matthew Weisler, a 22-year-old husband and father from East Jordan, Mich., who serves with HQ Plt., F Co., remembers a buddy taking “three rounds to the neck standing about 10 feet away from me. The last time here, I shot off more rounds in a week than I probably will this whole deployment.”

Cpl. Michael Gonzalez of 3rd Plt., F Co., said he engaged in some 15 to 20 firefights in 2004-05, and “lost a couple friends.” But, like Weisler, he hadn’t fired his weapon through the first month of the current deployment.

Sgt. Alejandro Tejeda of H&S Company recalled that the last Marine killed on the first deployment, Lance Cpl. Richard Clifton, 19, of Milford, Del., died in a Feb. 3, 2005, mortar attack while “inside the wire,” or within the relative safety of Camp Ramadi, which Marines called “Junction City” back then.

Autler says the first time he left the wire in 2004, a good friend of his was killed: “The last time I fired enough rounds to last a lifetime. It’s crazy how much you appreciate the value of life after you’ve been here.”

More than 100 men in the battalion were wounded during the 2004-05 tour, and many, like Nowicki, chose to extend their Marine contracts when they found out earlier this year that the battalion was returning for another seven-month deployment.

“We’re all real close,” Nowicki explained. “We’re like a family. We all joined to fight in Iraq. We got the opportunity to come back to a city that we viewed as a success when we left in 2005. By then, we believed we had control of it.”

Controlling Ramadi, though, has proven elusive over the last four years. Fighting flared again on June 18, 2006, when the Army’s 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division (along with elements of the 8th Marines and 101st Airborne Division) mounted an offensive to drive jihadists out of the city.

It came at a steep cost. During a typical week last summer, a third to half of all U.S. combat deaths in Iraq occurred in Ramadi. According to statistics compiled by the independent, nonprofit Web site iCasualties.org, from June 18 to Dec. 31, 2006, 136 Marines, 63 soldiers and 11 sailors were killed in either Anbar province or in Ramadi itself.

‘People are Just Tired of the Fighting’

Now on their third tour in Iraq (the battalion also participated in the March 2003 invasion, where it fought through Baghdad and onto Samawah before coming home), 2/5 Marines say insurgents in Ramadi are keeping a low profile for now.

“We’ve faced the guys who want to fight, and we’ve defeated them,” battalion commander Lt. Col. Craig Kozeniesky said. “My Marines are seeing the results of their hard work for the first time.”

The battalion’s staff officers attribute the more peaceful Ramadi to two main changes: more Marines living in and patrolling downtown, and more cooperation from the citizens.

“The enemy had never seen 800 dismounted Marines in the city before,” said Capt. Jeff O’Donnell, the battalion’s operations officer. “The locals see our presence full time now. They’re more willing to talk to us. They feel safer.”

O’Donnell says the insurgents’ four-year murder and intimidation campaign, which killed “hundreds of people, including old ladies and children,” has backfired. Marines living downtown at the battalion’s eight outposts agree.

“The people are just tired of the fighting,” said Capt. Ian Brooks, commanding officer of Fox Company. “They’re so tired of it they’re willing to help us help them. More life has come back here in the last month than in the last four years.”

Brooks, as part of the battalion’s command element, arrived in early March 2007 for the current deployment. Soon after, he was wounded in an ambush downtown some “200 meters outside friendly lines.”
By the middle of April, while traveling in a convoy near Ramadi’s infamous Government Center, which houses the city’s and Anbar’s provincial governments and had been a favorite target of enemy snipers, he said the change was dramatic.

“You couldn’t do this a month ago,” he said. “You’d get shot at.”

Statistics provided by the Army’s 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, which controls U.S. operations in Ramadi, bear this out. They showed that weekly attacks on U.S. forces had dropped from 136 at the end of January 2007 to 21 at the beginning of April 2007.

During the height of fighting in the city last summer, some 334 IED (improvised explosive device, or roadside bomb) attacks occurred during the month of July. By March 2007, that number had dropped to 67. Monthly mortar attacks during the same period dropped from 129 to 31. At the same time, the number of weapons caches found increased from 11 in July 2006 to 60 in March 2007.

‘You Appreciate the Value of Life’

It’s a trend VFW magazine witnessed firsthand while accompanying 2/5 units in Ramadi earlier this year. On April 15, the battalion participated in Operation Kangaroo to drive insurgents out of southern Ramadi. The large operation included U.S. Army, Marine and Navy units, along with Iraqi army soldiers and policemen, working at various points in and around the city.

For its part, 2/5’s Echo Company, led by Capt. William Weber, cleared a peninsula on Lake Habbinayah southeast of the city. Inserted by CH-46 helicopters, Echo Company fanned out on the peninsula searching for enemy combatants and weapons caches in the town of al Angur, known to be a safe haven for terrorists.

During a previous tour, Army units working the area had apprehended about 50 insurgents—including the bodyguard of the “No. 3 bad guy in Anbar,” according to Marines. But for Echo Company, Operation Kangaroo passed with no firefights, no IED attacks and no significant contact with the enemy.

The biggest news of the day for Capt. Weber and his Marines was the confiscation of a relatively small weapons cache, a small amount of U.S. and Iraqi money and apprehension of the two “military-aged” males at one house, with the younger of the two testing positive for gunpowder residue on his hands.

Echo Company’s part of the operation, expected to last about 18 hours, was wrapped up in about 12. Several Marines were convinced the locals had been tipped off about the upcoming operation and any “high-value individuals” had moved on.

Overall, for Echo Company the operation became more of a goodwill tour than a combat mission. The Marines set up a supply point in the town that distributed food, water and toys to local residents.

As the Marines waited for helicopters to extract them from the peninsula, a Navy corpsman treated a little boy’s infected foot, while Capt. Weber traded two apples to the boy’s mother for some of her homemade bread. It was quite a change for those Marines who had been to Ramadi in 2004-05, some of whom believe the current calm is only a temporary lull.

“The enemy has to try something dramatic to regain their credibility with the locals,” Capt. Brooks said.

In the meantime, 2/5 Marines will rely on training that has taught them “when to fight, but also when not to fight,” according to battalion executive officer Maj. Daniel Healey.

“We have exceptionally talented Marines, from sergeants on down,” he said. “They’ve been able to adapt to a different Ramadi.”

E-mail tdyhouse@vfw.org

Part II: 2/5 Marines conduct raids, patrols and humanitarian missions from outposts in downtown Ramadi. Also, some of the battalion’s Marines explain why they joined the Corps.

Sidebar: 1st Marine Division Traces History Back 96 Years

The 1st Marine Division—the oldest, largest and most decorated division in Marine Corps history—traces its roots back to March 8, 1911. That’s when its 1st Marine Regiment was formed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Another of its regiments, the 5th Marines, was created in 1914 and participated in 15 major engagements in WWI, including Belleau Wood, Chateau and St. Mihiel. During the war, the 5th and 6th Marine regiments formed the 4th Brigade, which lost 2,461 killed and 9,520 wounded.

“The Old Breed,” as the division is known, was formally established aboard the battleship USS Texas on Feb. 1, 1941. Some 18 months later during the first major U.S. offensive of WWII, the division participated in the Battle of Guadalcanal, earning its first of three (also awarded for action on Peleliu and Okinawa) Presidential Unit Citations (PUCs) of the war.

During WWII, the 1st Marine Division sustained the most combat deaths of any U.S. Army or Marine division in the Pacific Theater with 3,470 KIA and 14,438 WIA.

The division landed at Inchon on Sept. 15, 1950, earning another PUC, its first of three for the Korean War. The second was for its “attack in the opposite direction” as it fought its way out of the Chosin Reservoir area. Battles from April to September 1951 earned the 1st Marine Division its third PUC of the war and sixth overall. Total division casualties during the Korean War were 4,004 KIA and 25,864 WIA.

In 1965, the division’s 7th Marines participated in the first major U.S. ground operation in Vietnam. In 1966, the division established its headquarters first at Chu Lai and later at Da Nang, conducting 44 operations in I Corps from October 1966 to May 1967, which earned the division its seventh PUC. Its eighth PUC was awarded for battles between Sept. 16, 1967 and Oct. 31, 1968. From 1965 to 1969, the 1st Marine Division sustained more than 6,000 KIA, nearly half of all Marine fatalities in Vietnam.

In 1990, the 1st Marine Division defended Saudi Arabia in Operation Desert Shield and participated in 100 hours of combat between Feb. 24-27 in Kuwait during 1991’s Persian Gulf War. Eight of the division’s Marines were killed in the war.

From December 1992 to April 27, 1993, battalions from the division’s 7th and 11th (Artillery) regiments deployed to Somalia in Operation Restore Hope. Two Marines were KIA and nine WIA, along with one Navy corpsman killed during the division’s participation.

The division earned its ninth PUC for its part in the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, conducting the deepest penetrating ground operation in Marine Corps history. It redeployed to Iraq in February 2004 and again in 2006. As of May 26, 2007, the 1st Marine Division had sustained 341 deaths in Iraq.

Since WWI, 87 “Old Breed” vets have beenStory and photos by Tim Dyhouse

This is the first of two on-the-scene reports by VFW magazine senior editor Tim Dyhouse, who was in Iraq this past April. This was his third trip to the war zone.

Standing in a dusty plywood barracks at Camp Ramadi in April 2007, Marine Cpl. Thomas Nowicki tells a visitor why his buddies named a street after him. It was the site, he said, where he was badly wounded 2? years ago.

“Tommy Gun Street,” said the 22-year-old married father of one, located some two miles away in downtown Ramadi, was a hazardous place back then. But much like the city itself, he adds, it’s changed significantly.

The last time his Marine unit—2nd Bn., 5th Marines, 1st Marine Div.—had deployed to Ramadi, from September 2004 to March 2005, the city, capital of Iraq’s Sunni-dominated Anbar province, was known as the most dangerous place in Iraq. But as of mid-April 2007, only a few weeks into a seven-month tour, Nowicki, from Midlothian, Ill., said his unit had been involved in only two small-arms skirmishes.

The threat of daily firefights, constant mortar attacks and roadside bomb explosions has largely disappeared for the time being, he said. But as Nowicki and the other 2/5 Marines, about half of whom are veterans of the battalion’s first Ramadi tour, trained for the current deployment, they prepared for the worst. Their combat experiences the first time taught them that.

Nowicki’s memories are still fresh. He clearly remembers Dec. 3, 2004, the day he was wounded, shot down in the street—really more of an alleyway, he concedes—that bears his name. He adds that he killed the insurgent machine-
gunner who tried to kill him.

As part of an eight-man foot patrol scouting for sniper positions about 6 a.m. that day, Nowicki described the morning as “uneventful.” The Marines were searching, he says, for a tall building with good sight lines of Ramadi’s streets in which to hide their four-man sniper team.

Suddenly, muzzle flashes grabbed his attention.

“I was the seventh man in our group,” he said. “We started taking heavy machine-gun fire from a two-story building. Then a car rounded a corner with about four insurgents firing AK-47s at us. They had us in a classic L-shaped ambush.”

Nowicki remembers glancing over his left shoulder precisely as a machine-gun round ripped completely through his left arm. The shot knocked his A-4 rifle from his hand, leaving him sprawled in the alley as subsequent rounds slammed into the wall behind him, the ricochets tearing holes into both his calves, his hip and his thigh.

“Sgt. Anderson [the Marine directly behind Nowicki] lit up the car with more than 100 rounds from his SAW (squad automatic weapon) and it took off,” Nowicki recalled. “The guy who was working me over must have thought he killed me because he changed his fire toward Anderson after I got knocked down. I switched to burst on my A-4 and took him out.”

Nowicki said his squad killed at least five insurgents that day. After the firefight, he remembers Anderson, who emerged unscathed, taking off his neck gaiter (cloth cover) and discovering a gunshot hole in it.

“He turned white as a ghost,” Nowicki said with a slight smile.

‘Welcome to Ramadi’

2/5 Marines recall that daily firefights were the norm when they arrived in September 2004.

“October got better,” recalled Nowicki, who now serves with HQ Plt., E Co., “but things got crazy again for five or six days in November when the fighting was heavy in Fallujah. Then it quieted down. The December firefight I was in and another one a couple weeks later were the last big ones of the initial deployment.”

The battalion lost 15 KIA during that tour of duty. After a month into their current tour, which began around April 1 for most of the battalion, only a handful of the Marines had experienced contact with the enemy.

“I haven’t fired a round since I’ve been here,” said Cpl. Aaron Autler of 2nd Plt., E Co. “By this time on our last tour, I think we already had four Marines killed.”

The battalion’s first KIA on the initial deployment, Pfc. Jason Poindexter, a 20-year-old Marine from San Angelo, Texas, never even got a chance to put his boots on the ground in the city.

On Sept. 12, 2004, as he was riding in a seven-ton truck in a convoy into the city from Camp Ramadi for the first time, a car bomb exploded next to his vehicle. Shrapnel from the blast hit Poindexter in the head, killing him instantly.

“We had only been operational for three days,” said Staff Sgt. Juan Carlos Guzman of 2nd Plt., E Co. “It led to a 2?-hour firefight. Every time we thought it was over they would come back at us.”

As attrition began to cleave 2/5’s ranks, new Marines joined the battalion to replace those who had been killed or sent home wounded. Staff Sgt. Stacey Judge, currently with 4th Plt., E Co., was one such replacement, joining the battalion in January 2005. He described arriving in the war zone as an “eye-opening” experience.

“These guys were a family and had lost buddies,” Judge recalled. “I had seen coverage of the war on TV like everybody else, but as a Marine I knew that it could be me there. I remember one day after I got here I was in the middle of the street and it hit me, ‘I’m in Ramadi.’ Right then I saw a flash on top of a building about 75 yards away. It was an RPG [rocket-propelled grenade] that had been fired at an Army Psyops vehicle not too far from where I was standing. I remember thinking, ‘Welcome to Ramadi.’ I learned a lot from that.”

Nearly all of 2/5’s veterans of the initial deployment have stories of losing a friend. Cpl. Matthew Weisler, a 22-year-old husband and father from East Jordan, Mich., who serves with HQ Plt., F Co., remembers a buddy taking “three rounds to the neck standing about 10 feet away from me. The last time here, I shot off more rounds in a week than I probably will this whole deployment.”

Cpl. Michael Gonzalez of 3rd Plt., F Co., said he engaged in some 15 to 20 firefights in 2004-05, and “lost a couple friends.” But, like Weisler, he hadn’t fired his weapon through the first month of the current deployment.

Sgt. Alejandro Tejeda of H&S Company recalled that the last Marine killed on the first deployment, Lance Cpl. Richard Clifton, 19, of Milford, Del., died in a Feb. 3, 2005, mortar attack while “inside the wire,” or within the relative safety of Camp Ramadi, which Marines called “Junction City” back then.

Autler says the first time he left the wire in 2004, a good friend of his was killed: “The last time I fired enough rounds to last a lifetime. It’s crazy how much you appreciate the value of life after you’ve been here.”

More than 100 men in the battalion were wounded during the 2004-05 tour, and many, like Nowicki, chose to extend their Marine contracts when they found out earlier this year that the battalion was returning for another seven-month deployment.

“We’re all real close,” Nowicki explained. “We’re like a family. We all joined to fight in Iraq. We got the opportunity to come back to a city that we viewed as a success when we left in 2005. By then, we believed we had control of it.”

Controlling Ramadi, though, has proven elusive over the last four years. Fighting flared again on June 18, 2006, when the Army’s 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division (along with elements of the 8th Marines and 101st Airborne Division) mounted an offensive to drive jihadists out of the city.

It came at a steep cost. During a typical week last summer, a third to half of all U.S. combat deaths in Iraq occurred in Ramadi. According to statistics compiled by the independent, nonprofit Web site iCasualties.org, from June 18 to Dec. 31, 2006, 136 Marines, 63 soldiers and 11 sailors were killed in either Anbar province or in Ramadi itself.

‘People are Just Tired of the Fighting’

Now on their third tour in Iraq (the battalion also participated in the March 2003 invasion, where it fought through Baghdad and onto Samawah before coming home), 2/5 Marines say insurgents in Ramadi are keeping a low profile for now.

“We’ve faced the guys who want to fight, and we’ve defeated them,” battalion commander Lt. Col. Craig Kozeniesky said. “My Marines are seeing the results of their hard work for the first time.”

The battalion’s staff officers attribute the more peaceful Ramadi to two main changes: more Marines living in and patrolling downtown, and more cooperation from the citizens.

“The enemy had never seen 800 dismounted Marines in the city before,” said Capt. Jeff O’Donnell, the battalion’s operations officer. “The locals see our presence full time now. They’re more willing to talk to us. They feel safer.”

O’Donnell says the insurgents’ four-year murder and intimidation campaign, which killed “hundreds of people, including old ladies and children,” has backfired. Marines living downtown at the battalion’s eight outposts agree.

“The people are just tired of the fighting,” said Capt. Ian Brooks, commanding officer of Fox Company. “They’re so tired of it they’re willing to help us help them. More life has come back here in the last month than in the last four years.”

Brooks, as part of the battalion’s command element, arrived in early March 2007 for the current deployment. Soon after, he was wounded in an ambush downtown some “200 meters outside friendly lines.”
By the middle of April, while traveling in a convoy near Ramadi’s infamous Government Center, which houses the city’s and Anbar’s provincial governments and had been a favorite target of enemy snipers, he said the change was dramatic.

“You couldn’t do this a month ago,” he said. “You’d get shot at.”

Statistics provided by the Army’s 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, which controls U.S. operations in Ramadi, bear this out. They showed that weekly attacks on U.S. forces had dropped from 136 at the end of January 2007 to 21 at the beginning of April 2007.

During the height of fighting in the city last summer, some 334 IED (improvised explosive device, or roadside bomb) attacks occurred during the month of July. By March 2007, that number had dropped to 67. Monthly mortar attacks during the same period dropped from 129 to 31. At the same time, the number of weapons caches found increased from 11 in July 2006 to 60 in March 2007.

‘You Appreciate the Value of Life’

It’s a trend VFW magazine witnessed firsthand while accompanying 2/5 units in Ramadi earlier this year. On April 15, the battalion participated in Operation Kangaroo to drive insurgents out of southern Ramadi. The large operation included U.S. Army, Marine and Navy units, along with Iraqi army soldiers and policemen, working at various points in and around the city.

For its part, 2/5’s Echo Company, led by Capt. William Weber, cleared a peninsula on Lake Habbinayah southeast of the city. Inserted by CH-46 helicopters, Echo Company fanned out on the peninsula searching for enemy combatants and weapons caches in the town of al Angur, known to be a safe haven for terrorists.

During a previous tour, Army units working the area had apprehended about 50 insurgents—including the bodyguard of the “No. 3 bad guy in Anbar,” according to Marines. But for Echo Company, Operation Kangaroo passed with no firefights, no IED attacks and no significant contact with the enemy.

The biggest news of the day for Capt. Weber and his Marines was the confiscation of a relatively small weapons cache, a small amount of U.S. and Iraqi money and apprehension of the two “military-aged” males at one house, with the younger of the two testing positive for gunpowder residue on his hands.

Echo Company’s part of the operation, expected to last about 18 hours, was wrapped up in about 12. Several Marines were convinced the locals had been tipped off about the upcoming operation and any “high-value individuals” had moved on.

Overall, for Echo Company the operation became more of a goodwill tour than a combat mission. The Marines set up a supply point in the town that distributed food, water and toys to local residents.

As the Marines waited for helicopters to extract them from the peninsula, a Navy corpsman treated a little boy’s infected foot, while Capt. Weber traded two apples to the boy’s mother for some of her homemade bread. It was quite a change for those Marines who had been to Ramadi in 2004-05, some of whom believe the current calm is only a temporary lull.

“The enemy has to try something dramatic to regain their credibility with the locals,” Capt. Brooks said.

In the meantime, 2/5 Marines will rely on training that has taught them “when to fight, but also when not to fight,” according to battalion executive officer Maj. Daniel Healey.

“We have exceptionally talented Marines, from sergeants on down,” he said. “They’ve been able to adapt to a different Ramadi.”

E-mail tdyhouse@vfw.org

Part II: 2/5 Marines conduct raids, patrols and humanitarian missions from outposts in downtown Ramadi. Also, some of the battalion’s Marines explain why they joined the Corps.

Sidebar: 1st Marine Division Traces History Back 96 Years

The 1st Marine Division—the oldest, largest and most decorated division in Marine Corps history—traces its roots back to March 8, 1911. That’s when its 1st Marine Regiment was formed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Another of its regiments, the 5th Marines, was created in 1914 and participated in 15 major engagements in WWI, including Belleau Wood, Chateau and St. Mihiel. During the war, the 5th and 6th Marine regiments formed the 4th Brigade, which lost 2,461 killed and 9,520 wounded.

“The Old Breed,” as the division is known, was formally established aboard the battleship USS Texas on Feb. 1, 1941. Some 18 months later during the first major U.S. offensive of WWII, the division participated in the Battle of Guadalcanal, earning its first of three (also awarded for action on Peleliu and Okinawa) Presidential Unit Citations (PUCs) of the war.

During WWII, the 1st Marine Division sustained the most combat deaths of any U.S. Army or Marine division in the Pacific Theater with 3,470 KIA and 14,438 WIA.

The division landed at Inchon on Sept. 15, 1950, earning another PUC, its first of three for the Korean War. The second was for its “attack in the opposite direction” as it fought its way out of the Chosin Reservoir area. Battles from April to September 1951 earned the 1st Marine Division its third PUC of the war and sixth overall. Total division casualties during the Korean War were 4,004 KIA and 25,864 WIA.

In 1965, the division’s 7th Marines participated in the first major U.S. ground operation in Vietnam. In 1966, the division established its headquarters first at Chu Lai and later at Da Nang, conducting 44 operations in I Corps from October 1966 to May 1967, which earned the division its seventh PUC. Its eighth PUC was awarded for battles between Sept. 16, 1967 and Oct. 31, 1968. From 1965 to 1969, the 1st Marine Division sustained more than 6,000 KIA, nearly half of all Marine fatalities in Vietnam.

In 1990, the 1st Marine Division defended Saudi Arabia in Operation Desert Shield and participated in 100 hours of combat between Feb. 24-27 in Kuwait during 1991’s Persian Gulf War. Eight of the division’s Marines were killed in the war.

From December 1992 to April 27, 1993, battalions from the division’s 7th and 11th (Artillery) regiments deployed to Somalia in Operation Restore Hope. Two Marines were KIA and nine WIA, along with one Navy corpsman killed during the division’s participation.

The division earned its ninth PUC for its part in the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, conducting the deepest penetrating ground operation in Marine Corps history. It redeployed to Iraq in February 2004 and again in 2006. As of May 26, 2007, the 1st Marine Division had sustained 341 deaths in Iraq.

Since WWI, 87 “Old Breed” vets have been awarded the Medal of Honor, the last in Iraq.

August 30, 2007

Mojave Viper still stings

MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER 29 PALMS, Calif. (Aug. 30, 2007) -- August 22 was an early day for Company I as they prepared for war during the final part of the Mojave Viper Training at Twentynine Palms.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/4C7080837372B016852573470071DB4D?opendocument

Aug. 30, 2007; Submitted on: 08/30/2007 04:43:37 PM ; Story ID#: 2007830164337
By Pfc. Paul Torres, MCB Camp Pendleton

The training they received the previous day included classes and practical application of setting blocking positions, reaction to sniper fire, executing a cordon and search, site exploitation and reacting to an improvised explosive device.
Each squad ran a cordon-and-knock drill in the mock Iraqi town.

“Running the drills helps us refine our immediate action,” said Cpl Sergio Zacarias Jr., a rifleman with Company I, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division.

The most dangerous threat in Iraq right now is IEDs and snipers, said Zacarias, 22 from Los Angeles.
Upon discovering a roadside IED, Sgt. James A. Whitwan, who was in charge of setting up the outer cordon blocking, called Explosive Ordnance Disposal.

Company I also began to take sniper fire from the second story of a building, said Whitwan, a squad leader with Company I.

They then had to locate and suppress the insurgent, said Whitwan, 25, from Eauclair, Wyo.

“Our objective was to block off the cordon and gather intel,” said Whitwan.

“I don’t like being in the house longer than 30 minutes,” said Whitwan. "But if I am getting good information, I will stay longer."

“We always search the entire house,” said Zacarias, who has deployed twice with Company I.

Performing a search gives them the location of the entry and exit points of the house.

“In case there is a high-valued individual or a high-valued target inside we can come back and we know the layout,” said Cpl. Raymond A. Smith, 23, from Granite City, Ill., a rifleman with Company I.

The most important thing is remembering to be friendly, but being prepared to kill, said Cpl. Brandon A. Koch, a mortarman with Company I.

“No greater friend, no worse enemy,” said Koch, 24, Potosi, Mo.
“We don’t want to stay too long, because it could endanger the Marines and the family who lives at the house,” Whitwan said.

If there happens to be a high valued individual in the house and Marines want to come back, doing a cordon and knock will provide intel.

“The training is helpful, it gives the new Marines an introduction to what they will experience in country,” said Sgt. Lamont R. Finney, 25, St Louis, a squad leader with Company I.

The simulated improvised explosive devices and the role players will never compare to the real Iraq, but at least it is a good start, Finney said.

Prior to doing the Mojave Viper training, Company I has also completed training at Stu Segal Studios, which focused more on squad based maneuvers, Finney said.

Between Stu Segal Studios and Mojave Viper, these Marines are now better trained for Iraq.

August 29, 2007

Loved ones remember Marine who died in Iraq. Ramirez, 21, attended Pasadena schools

PASADENA - As a child growing up in Oceanside, Rogelio Ramirez idolized the Marines he saw so often at nearby Camp Pendleton. He longed to be one of them, his father, Jose Ramirez, of Pasadena, said Tuesday.

http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/news/ci_6746349

By Emanuel Parker Staff Writer

Article Launched: 08/29/2007

"I thought he'd grow out of it, but he didn't. He watched the Marines, saw how they lived, saw them work as a team."

But before he could realize that dream, Rogelio had to work past his own demons. Short in stature at 5 feet 5 inches tall, he felt picked on at school because of his size, said his sister, Tina Cordero. As his self-esteem sank, Rogelio lost interest in education, dropped out of Pasadena High School and felt unappreciated.

"It was in his head," she said. "He had some personal issues,

some dark moments and times. We always saw the potential in him, but he didn't." With rekindled determination, however, Ramirez in his late teens tried again to realize his dream of becoming a Marine, his family said.

But before the Corps would accept him, they told Ramirez he had to go back to school and earn his diploma, complete some college credits, clear up some truancy issues and cover over some tattoos, Cordero said.

Ramirez fulfilled all those requirements, she added.

"He was able to climb from that dark place to an honorable place," she said.

A year ago, Ramirez joined the Marines and later was sent to Iraq. He was there just five weeks when his Humvee hit an improvised explosive device.

On Sunday, U.S. Marine Pfc. Rogelio Ramirez was killed in Iraq. As of Monday, at least 3,731 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

The 21-year-old Ramirez left behind his immediate family, a girlfriend who is three months' pregnant with his child, and plans to buy a home, raise a family and get into real estate after returning home to Pasadena from his stint in the Marines, his relatives said.

His mother said the family plans to bury the young serviceman at Mountain View Cemetery & Mortuary in Altadena. Funeral plans are pending.

Knowing her son died doing what he wanted to do brings comfort to his family, his mother said.

"He was in the infantry, a gunner," said Irene "Binky" Ramirez. "He wanted to be the first one in. He said, `If I go, I don't want to be the handle on the sword, I want to be the tip of the sword."'

"He wanted to be an American hero," Cordero said. "He was short, but everybody looked up to him. He had more heart than other guys and people liked to be around him. He was always looking to get the maximum potential out of a situation. He took pride in being a man."

Ramirez attended Wilson Middle School before going to Pasadena High.

"He was my little homie," said Carlos Martinez, who attended Pasadena High with Ramirez. "I knew him since the 10th grade. We did the same stuff together. We went through good and bad times together."

Before joining the Marines, Ramirez covered up a tattoo on his side with another, a quotation about war by John Stuart Mill. It read:

"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things ... The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

Eyes, brain, brawn: Anatomy of TF 1/4's indirect firepower

CAMP AL QA’IM, Iraq (Aug. 29, 2007) -- The ground shook ferociously as the 81 millimeter mortar round ripped through it, propelling debris everywhere and destroying any living thing in its area of impact. Forward observers up on a hill viewed this destructive force through their binoculars, ready to call in air support.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/FFA58539049F996185257346003224C7?opendocument

Aug. 29, 2007

By Cpl. Eric C. Schwartz, 2nd Marine Division

Weapons Company, Company C, and Headquarters and Support Company, Task Force 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2, proved their devastating capability of denying any offensive against Camp Al Qa’im during the Fire Support Coordination Exercise.
“It’s like the hand of God,” said Sgt. Randy L. Whitmore, a Reno, Nev., native, and forward observer field instructor with Headquarters and Support Company. “It reaches down from the heavens and brings death to the wicked.”

“Indirect fire is a combined team effort,” said Gunnery Sgt. J Boyle, an artillery operations chief with the battalion’s Mobile Assault Platoon 3, Weapons Company.

Unlike a rifle, considered an extension of a rifleman, indirect fire is a being combined of three parts.

“Forward observers are the eyes, fire-directional control is the brain, and the gun line is the brawn,” Boyle said.

As much as this mechanical life-taker destroys the enemy’s spirit and fighting force, it is also a savior to its allies.

“In battle, infantry units can use this long-range weapon to give them a bigger cushion, saving lives and keeping people out of harm’s way,” said Lance Cpl. Michael Walk, a fire-directional controller and Sierra Vista, Ariz., native, with MAP 3.

Marines who were new to calling-for-fire trained in the art of forward observation while communicating with fire-directional controllers near the gun line. The FO would use a compass to find the distance and direction for their chosen target, communicating this information to the FDC.

“This is these Marines’ first time calling for fire and they are making a good effort,” said Whitmore.

The FDC would input the direction and distance of the target into a specially designed notebook computer, which outputted data explaining air temperature, barometric pressure, air density and wind speed.

“All four of these affect the trajectory of the mortar,” Boyle said.

The computer can also find the accurate target location comparing the distance of the mortar’s location to the inputted information. This new system gives much more information to the FDC than the M16 plotting board, traditionally used by FDCs.

“You still want to check your grid with the M16 plotting board because the mortar ballistic computer is usually correct but it’s good to double-check your coordinates,” Walk said.

Mortarmen adjusted their M252 81mm mortar tubes to the FDC’s new coordinates. One Marine dropped the 81mm mortar round down the tube, crouching down below the explosive noise while another Marine simultaneously braced the bottom of the tube for a more accurate impact.

”I was really nervous the first time I dropped the mortar down the mortar tube,” said Lance Cpl. Blake Gorecki, a Minneapolis Native, and machine gunner with MAP 3. “My hands were sweating and my heart was racing.”

This long-armed creature, in theory, should work perfectly, hitting the target on precisely the same spot each time; but it is still effective even when it doesn’t hit the target, as long as it impacts near the enemy. The thunderous noise smashes easily through the sound of rifles cracking, reminding the enemy how fragile their bodies really are; if they are still alive after impact.

Police, neighborhood join forces to keep Al Qa’im’s streets safe

BATTLE POSITION TARAWA, KARABALAH, Iraq (Aug. 29, 2007) -- The success of Operations Mawtini and Combined Justice is equally weighed between the leadership of Al Qa’im’s police force, the Iraqi Army and the Marines. Behind the scenes, Iraqi Police leadership is working directly with Marines to secure the town of Karabalah from insurgency.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/C6F631691D163F0A8525734600360C28?opendocument

Aug. 29, 2007

By Cpl. Eric C. Schwartz, 2nd Marine Division

“Al Qai’m District’s community policing is the best in all of Al Anbar,” said Staff Sgt. Steven Poelns, the Al Qa’im district security chief with the Police Transition Team, attached to Task Force 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2.

The IPs normally patrol the area in vehicles, but this census mission requires a door-to-door-approach.

“The IPs don’t have platoons on standby like the Iraqi Army, so they have to switch their SWAT team out for this door-to-door census patrol,” said Capt. Steven Boada, a 2002 Central Connecticut State University graduate and the Al Qa’im district PTT officer-in-charge here.

The district headquarters is an old police station. Years ago, its courtyard walls were painted bright blue; but just as the past fades away, so has the wall’s coloring. The wall’s old coloring doesn’t bother the men who work at the station because they have a bright future ahead of them.

“The terrorists have hurt the people in Al Qa’im for a long time,” said Capt. Hatam, the force protection officer with DHQ and a 17-year veteran with the Iraqi police force. “Now the area is about ninety-percent safe.”

The operation is focusing on that ten percent where terrorists feel they can find a safe-haven from coalition forces. But as Marines and IPs go door-to-door, the insurgency will be pushed into the desert.

“The police have cleared houses and had gunfights in the past,” said Sgt. Dannyray Hernandez, an IP administrator and Orlando, Fl. native with PTT.

The insurgents now aren’t putting up much of a fight in the town because of the strong Marine and IP presence and the townspeople love their help.

“The town supports them because they feel protected,” Hernandez said.

Iraq’s shaky economy affects the IPs’ paychecks; there are times when money is scarce.

“Husaybah and Karabalah’s street vendors usually give the IPs food for their families on a loan until they can pay it back,” Hernandez said.

The police have a close relationship with the townspeople and this close bond keeps the town safe and the IPs fed.

The good people of the Al Qa’im district support its police force and the team effort works to stabilize the area. There has been much progress shown here by the upstanding citizens and police in the area. Its proof the transition process is working.

Viking Red trains Iraqi PSD to secure justice

CAMP GANNON, Iraq - (Aug. 29, 2007) -- It’s not news to read that politicians, famous athletes and even entertainers have bodyguards protecting them from dangerous people; but in Iraq, their judges need protection from the same people they sentence.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/732154936992D98F8525734600324418?opendocument

Aug. 29, 2007
By Cpl. Eric C. Schwartz, 2nd Marine Division

This is why the Al Qa’im court system has a new personal security detachment fully trained by Marines with Viking Red Section, Mobile Assault Platoon, Regimental Combat Team 2.

“Part of setting up Iraq’s infrastructure is creating a normal working society,” said Cpl. Dustin Barlag, a Cincinnati, Ohio, native, and vehicle commander with MAP.

‘A normal working society’ protects its people by sentencing criminals in a court of law.

“As these judges are sentencing criminals, their life gets in danger more and more,” Barlag said.

If Iraq’s judicial system is to be fair but stern, the judges need to feel safe from any reprisals.

“This is why there was a PSD created for the judges,” Barlag said.

The newly-appointed PSD of Al Qa’im’s courts were eager to learn from the experienced Marines, who had trained in personnel-protection through a large security firm.

“You can tell, when you look at a class, who wants to learn and these guys really wanted to learn what we had to teach them,” Barlag said.

The Marines wanted to teach them as much as they were willing to learn, but the language barrier was hard to overcome at first.

“It’s hard to converse through an interpreter,” said Cpl. Dustin Engelken, a Wichita, Kan., native, and a squad leader with the section.

The Marines started explaining PSD tactics through examples and using hand motions, which the Iraqis quickly understood.

“They picked it up almost as fast as we did about a year ago,” Barlag said.

Iraqis watched Marines perform scenarios where their ‘principle,’ or VIP, is being targeted and the Marines had to quickly move him to safety. Once they practiced their actions slowly, the Iraqi PSD shadowed the Marines’ moves during their practical-application scenarios.

“I had them do everything slow at first but they ended up doing better than average,” said Cpl. Jose Corona, a Los Angeles native, and vehicle commander with the section.

Al Qa’im’s large residential areas meant that the training was focused on security in confined spaces such as one-way streets, houses, and arrivals and departures.

“They are now going to think to themselves, ‘Why is that car door open? Or why is that man’s arms crossed?’” Corona said.

The Iraqi PSD was hand picked from Iraqi Army units. They all knew how to shoot the AK-47 semi-automatic rifle, but most had never touched a pistol before their PSD training.

“They did well with the rifle-training because of their past experience but it took them some getting used to the pistol,” said Cpl. Adam Bailey, a Virginia Beach, Va., native, and vehicle commander with the section.

The Iraqi police use Glock pistols because their plastic bodies are inexpensive and easy to clean but the PSD needed a weapon that would hit its target every time. That weapon was the single-action Browning high-powered pistol.

“The Browning is more forgiving to everyone’s hands while the Glock will fit some people’s hands and others it won’t,” Bailey said.

The PSD was given classes on how to fix their new pistols and how to properly maintain them as well.

The three day course ended but the MAP will be training more PSD teams in the future. This PSD not only protects a person, it also protects the very foundation of the Iraqi court system: justice.

August 27, 2007

HOW MARINES PULLED FALLUJAH OUT OF HELL

FALLUJAH, Iraq - Fallujah and the Marines have some history. In 2004, one savage battle ended when the Marines were pulled out for political reasons. Later that year, they had to finish the job.

http://www.nypost.com/seven/08272007/news/columnists/how_marines_pulled_fallujah_ou.htm?page=0

Ralph Peters
August 27, 2007 --

And they did. They took down the terrorists' stronghold in a week of fury.

With a fundamentalist tradition, Fallujah seemed to fit al Qaeda perfectly. Robbed of their Saddam-era privileges and out for revenge, even secular locals had aligned with the terrorists. Despite the Marine victory, violence simmered on.

The extremists and insurgents believed they could wear America down. But between 2004 and 2007, two things happened: We wore them down - and al Qaeda wore them out.

With foreign fanatics butchering the innocent and enforcing prison-yard "Islamic laws" that far exceeded the Koran's demands, it belatedly dawned on the insurgents that, while we intended to leave eventually - on our own terms - al Qaeda meant to stay.

A wave of suicide bombings earlier this year, culminating in a massive attack on a funeral procession, made the population snap. The people of Fallujah may never love us, but they hate al Qaeda with the rage of a betrayed lover.

Since May, the change has been stunning. When the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines were last in Fallujah, in 2006, they took casualties from snipers and roadside bombs. The city was violent, bankrupt and partly in ruins.

Now the battalion's back. And welcome. Marines banter with the locals where, six months ago, it was risky to ride in an armored vehicle.

Paradoxically, the violence of the past set the only possible conditions for the sudden reconciliation. The Iraqis had to grasp that we meant business. Now the 1st Platoon of the battalion's Fox Company lives and works in the Hadari Precinct with the Iraqi police.

The new police are recruited from vetted locals, and the policy has paid huge dividends. The locals know who doesn't fit, and they've got an immediate interest in their neighborhood's safety. Most encouragingly, the reformed police are popular.

Fallujah still isn't a place to buy retirement property, but it was encouraging to sit down with 1st Platoon's commander, 2nd Lt. Nick DeLonga, and his Iraqi counterpart, 1st Lt. Mohammed.

DeLonga joined the Marines immediately after 9/11, because "I didn't want to just sit and vote while others were dying." Now he's the sheriff of a sprawling neighborhood in a war-torn city.

FIRST Lt. Mohammed's fa ther is a sheik, giving him a brand of authority - and insight - an outsider could never attain. DeLonga has the firepower (if ever needed) and the resources, while Mohammed has the pull. It works.

We went for a stroll in the streets. The Marines still wear full combat gear: Despite security measures, a sniper might still sneak into the city. But there was no threat from the locals in the market. The worst mood the Marines encountered was aloofness. More often, they were welcomed with a polite greeting.

People are relieved that their streets are safe again. And the kids are out in regiments, surrounding the Marines in hope of candy or just a bit of attention.

For the Iraqi police lieutenant, our patrol was a triumphal procession. DeLonga let Mohammed have center stage as citizens came out to complain about lagging utilities or, in one striking case, to protest that, as former residents of Baghdad, they had come to Fallujah to be safe, but were being charged exorbitant rents. A ward pol as well as a cop, Mohammed told his aides to write it all down.

Mohammed is effective, but he might jar anyone with unrealistic expectations. In our one-on-one meeting, he quoted Saddam: "You must be sharp as a sword with civilians - and as soft as perfume." But he's no hard-core Ba'athist: You have to remember that Saddam shaped every Iraqi's life for more than three decades.

Anyway, men such as Lt. Mohammed have figured out that nostalgia solves nothing. And thanks to al Qaeda's blood orgy, the old Middle Eastern dictum applies: The enemy of my enemy is my friend. In a sense, al Qaeda set us up for success.

BUT there's more to it. Much more. The Marines and the Iraqi police find they get along surprisingly well. The Americans realize that the Iraqis know the buttons to press to get things done, while the Iraqis learn from the Marines' professionalism.

I laughed to see Iraqi cops marveling at a Marine's, uh, interesting tattoos, while the Marines are still surprised that the environment has gone "nonkinetic" so fast.

And we're truly winning over some Iraqis. "Crash," is a Basra-born interpreter (a "terp") who, more than anything else in the world, wants to become a U.S. Marine. He lives and works with the Marines, studies their rituals, works out with them - and carries himself like a Marine. Crash also carries a weapon for self-defense - a right he earned after pulling wounded Marines to safety in combat.

"His" Marines are doing all they can to help him enlist.

Fallujah? Some districts have ugly stretches of ruins, while others are largely intact. The population has returned. And there's a construction boom. Meanwhile, the Marines have repaired generators, turned trash lots into parks and created hundreds of jobs. Suddenly, the city's movers and shakers want to work with the Marines.

Oh, and the mullah of the city's strictest mosque just sat down for the first time with Lt. DeLonga. They got along fine.

Had I been asked three years ago if we'd ever be welcome in Fallujah, I would've called it wrong. Not that the Iraqis want us to stay forever, but they'd rather cooperate than fight at this point. Given Fallujah's past, that's no small thing.

And the locals are out in front of us in the fight against al Qaeda. Which is a big thing.

I was in the city during one of the last phases of Operation Alljah, which has been bringing the rule of law back to the city's precincts, one by one. In the hours of darkness, Marine engineers swept in and blocked the roads in and out of one of the last un-purged districts with Jersey barriers. The police moved in to bust suspected terrorists and kick out hoodlums who don't have local roots.

In a "swarm," identification cards are provided to all, beginning with the local movers and shakers. Volunteers are vetted to join the police or armed neighborhood-watch groups. And revitalization programs go into gear.

Capt. Mason Harlow, the Fox Company commander, was wounded by shrapnel two years ago. In Fallujah. Now he's back, overseeing the Hadari District and two others. His Marines haven't been attacked for months. And his former enemies are doing his work for him.

Capt. Harlow didn't think he'd live to see the day.

August 25, 2007

Lima Company 3/1 turns routine patrol into payday

NEAR KARMAH, Iraq (Aug. 25, 2007) -- Using the term “Motivating Marine Corps day” in the morning is usually an indicator of sarcastic optimism throughout the ranks. Generally speaking, “motivating” can mean tired, frustrated and dirty. Rarely is the term prophetic.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/7745738049D35F3C8525734200321E0B?opendocument

Aug. 25, 2007; Submitted on: 08/25/2007 05:07:24 AM ; Story ID#: 20078255724
By Sgt. Andy Hurt, 13th MEU

Today, however, what began as a standard counterinsurgency patrol in Al Anbar Province turned into a truly motivating day as Marines from Lima Company, Battalion Landing Team, 3rd Battalion 1st Marines uprooted several large weapons caches, Homemade Explosives (HME) and a Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device factory.

Canvassing the remote desert region near Combat Outpost Chicago, Weapons Platoon Marines swept several routes and fields before a local citizen tipped them off and pointed them toward suspicious sites in the area.

Conducting a search based on this lead, Marines discovered numerous weapons, including a mortar tube, hundreds of automatic weapons rounds (of varying caliber and munitions type), a Simonov SKS rifle and American-made flares.

The citizen then escorted Marines to two buried containers, both filled to the brim with enemy “accelerants,” including a Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) launcher with several rounds and boosters, a 14.5mm anti-aircraft weapon with seven receivers, grenades, mortars, rifle magazines, primers and IED trigger mechanisms.

Continuing the search in close proximity to the buried containers, a house, identified as a car bomb factory, contained evidence of a massive HME-mixing operation, including tarps, several pair of rubber boots and a children’s swimming pool (used as a mixing vat).
Personnel from Combat Logistics Battalion 13’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal section destroyed the caches after site exploitation was complete.

Successful days like today are becoming surprisingly routine. As BLT 3/1 continues counterinsurgency operations here, willing locals are frequently offering up information on insurgent activity and weapons cache sites. The constant accomplishment is causing some Marines to make confident, early morning predictions of success.

“I woke up this morning, and I just knew it was going to be a ‘motivating Marine Corps day,’” said Lance Cpl. Randy Cantrall, a native of Peoria, Ariz. “And it was. It was beautiful.”

For more information about Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, or the warriors of the Fighting 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, visit the unit’s Web site at https://ww.usmc.mil/13thmeu.

Cpl. Jason Dunham honored at Kings Bay, Ga.

NAVAL SUBMARINE BASE KINGS BAY, Ga. (Aug. 25, 2007) -- It was no average summer day Aug. 17, in Kings Bay, Ga., at least not at the Marine Corps Security Force Company’s barracks. There was a special feeling in the air for every fellow Marine, sailor, friend and family member of a true American hero.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/2449F0B377EC35AB8525734100703216?opendocument
Please cLick on above link for photos.

Aug. 25, 2007; Submitted on: 08/24/2007 04:25:28 PM ; Story ID#: 2007824162528
By Cpl. Lucian Friel, 2nd Marine Division

This hero is Cpl. Jason Dunham, Marine Medal of Honor recipient.

The Marines dedicated their barracks to Dunham in a ceremony in front of his family, friends and Marines who served with Dunham during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“Corporal Jason Dunham is a Marine hero for today’s era,” said Lt. Col. Andrew J. Murray, commanding officer of Marine Corps Security Force Company Kings Bay, Marine Corps Security Force Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force. “He will be a Marine leader to be emulated by Marines here (for years to come).”

On April 14, 2004, while serving as rifle squad leader in 4th Platoon, Company K, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 7, 1st Marine Division, Dunham’s squad was conducting a reconnaissance mission in the town of Karabilah, Iraq, when they heard rocket-propelled grenade and small-arms fire erupt approximately two kilometers away.

Dunham led his team toward the engagement to provide fire support to their battalion commander’s convoy, which had been ambushed as it was traveling to Camp Husaybah near the Iraqi-Syrian border.

As they advanced, Dunham’s team began to receive enemy fire themselves. Dunham ordered his squad to dismount their vehicles and led one of his fire teams on foot several blocks south of the ambushed convoy.

Discovering seven Iraqi vehicles in a column attempting to depart the area, Dunham and his team stopped the vehicles to search them for weapons.

As they approached the vehicles, an insurgent leaped out and attacked Dunham. Dunham wrestled the insurgent to the ground and, in the ensuing struggle, saw him release a grenade.

Dunham immediately alerted his fellow Marines to the threat. Aware of the imminent danger and without hesitation, Dunham covered the grenade with his helmet and body, bore the brunt of the explosion, and shielded his Marines from the blast.

Sacrificing his own safety in an act of bravery which left him mortally wounded, he saved the lives of two fellow Marines. He gave his life fighting for his country.

On Jan. 11, 2007, the president of the United States awarded Dunham the Medal of Honor posthumously for his heroic actions and gallantry.

So here at the Marine Corps Security Force Company barracks, where Dunham served from 2001 to 2003, the Marines dedicated their building, which is now known as Dunham Barracks, to him.

General Robert Magnus, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, was on hand for the ceremony and offered these words to the audience as the barracks’ name was unveiled.

“He knew his mission was to stop the insurgents and protect his fellow Marines. He would stand up in front of those who would bully his fellows,” Magnus said. “ … Dunham (is) courage, honor and commitment. It is with great honor that we dedicate this barracks in memory of Corporal Jason Dunham.”

A few of the Marines who served with Dunham in 3rd Bn., 7th Marines, were there as well and they explained Dunham’s charisma and sense of pride and how it felt to watch the barracks dedication.

“He was a tough, good-looking, likable young guy with all the charisma in the world,” said Capt. Dave Fleming, Dunham’s platoon commander while he served with Weapons Platoon, Company K. “The Marines looked up to him. The sense of pride he had, he instilled in them.”

“I’m glad I came here to see this; it’s beautiful,” explained Sgt. Jimmy Moronta, who served with Dunham in Weapons Platoon.

Perhaps no one was more touched by the dedication than Dunham’s family, who was there in the front row.

“It’s an honor and it’s wonderful the Marines have the history they do to keep him alive,” said his mother, Deb Dunham. “(The Marines) are his family just as we’re his family.”

“It’s our family name (up there), but it’s about Jason. It’s not about us,” said his father, Dan Dunham. “Jason was very humble; this would have been something he really respected.”

Some say immortality means to be remembered throughout history. For the Marines and sailors stationed here at Marine Corps Security Force Company, Dunham’s memory will last for years to come, inspiring young Marine leaders to carry on the tradition built by Marines like Dan Daly, Chesty Puller, Smedley Butler … and now Jason Dunham.

To war and back: Injured soldiers find healing in the wilderness

LINCOLN CREEK VALLEY -- When Bryon Chambers stopped on a ledge halfway through the climb to catch his breath and plan his next move, everyone watching was unsure if he would continue.

http://www.aspendailynews.com/archive_21354

Christine Benedetti - Aspen Daily News Staff Writer
Sat 08/25/2007 08:01PM MST

But 10 minutes later, he was at the top of the pitch with a huge grin.

"It kicked my butt, but if felt good and I would do it again -- not today though," he said.

For Chambers, completing a rock climb is more than a physical accomplishment -- it's a metaphorical feat, too. A roadside bomb in Iraq injured the 20-year-old U.S. Marine Corps lance corporal in February. The driver of a light armored vehicle, he suffered a brain injury and a shattered right heel that ultimately cost him his leg from the knee down. Three others essentially walked away from the accident, but his vehicle commander, Chad Allen, was killed on the spot.

"The three-ton engine next to me was thrown 40 yards, so that tells you something," said Chambers. "I'm extremely lucky to be here. ... Everything I worked for I lost."

Chambers is spending a week in the Rockies with other recently injured Iraq war veterans as part of a program hosted by Challenge Aspen. Eighteen men are in town for the Aspen Wilderness Program, and after spending three days river rafting through Westwater Canyon on the Utah/Colorado border, they spent some time scaling rock up the Lincoln Creek valley.

Chambers has only had his prosthetic leg since mid-July, and learning to walk has been a hurdle.

"I was 200 pounds in February, and that's the last thing I remember," he said. "I woke up four months later, and had lost it all. I'm about 150 pounds now."

Chambers underwent 22 surgeries during that period, and while he wasn't in a coma, he says it almost felt that way.

"I was in a dream state. If I didn't like what I was doing, I would just go to sleep," he said. "I thought I would wake up again in Iraq and be late for post or patrol."

Part of his traumatic brain injury (TBI) was short-term memory loss, which affected long-term memory loss too. Basically for four months of his life he blacked out.

"I think when I stopped trying to wake up from the dream is when things changed," he said.

The Delta, Colo., native went home for the second time since the injury on Thursday night to visit family and friends. He's an outpatient at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and has also spent time at a brain injury facility in Tampa, Fla.

"I'm mentally stable enough not to go crazy, or I'd like to say I don't have it (post-traumatic stress disorder)," he said, laughing with a surprisingly good sense of humor.

PUSHING THROUGH
The Aspen Wilderness Program is in its third year and, like many Challenge Aspen programs, it's recreation-based therapy, said program director Sarah Volf. It encourages the soldiers to test their physical skills, in turn building self-confidence they may have lost along with their leg or arm. In September, Challenge Aspen will host the first TBI outdoor rehabilitation program in the country.

"It's a way to work back into society," said Volf. "Nature is so therapeutic. The changes we've seen, even in five days, is incredible."

She points out Jake Altman as one of those cases.

The 20-year-old Army Spc. was stationed in Germany. After five months of deployment in Iraq, his vehicle -- the lead car in his convoy -- was destroyed by a bomb.

"I didn't really feel pain when my hand was blown off," he said. "It felt like a lot of pressure and my hand was dangling by the fabrics of my uniform."

Besides losing his right hand and forearm, both knees were severely injured, and physical tasks like rock climbing and rafting have been work -- and fun.

"It's really boosted my self esteem and I think it's wonderful that they do this for the soldiers. It's inspired me to work harder," he says. "Honestly, this is the funnest experience of my life."

A support system is something Altman could use right now, considering his wife -- a German native -- and 10-month-old son are still overseas. He hasn't seen either since he left for Iraq, and he says securing a passport and dual citizenship so they can travel to America has been difficult.

"I still have fear but I just try to push through it," he said.

And that is one of the Aspen Wilderness Program's goals, notes Kristi Say, an occupational therapist at Walter Reed who accompanied the veterans to Aspen. It's her third summer participating in the program.

"The meaningful goal is to independence," she said. "That's breaking down all barriers, whether or not they're an able-bodied person or missing a limb. Some of these activities were a huge mental block before and it opens up the door to possibilities."

Those options are different for each man. After completing therapy at Walter Reed, Chambers is returning to the Western Slope to attend college at Mesa State University in Grand Junction, where he hopes to go into computer systems. Greg Robinson, a 28-year-old Army Corps of Engineers staff sergeant based out of Fort Bragg, Calif., said he'll return to his station for another 10 years to earn full retirement.

"It's not for everyone, but I like the lifestyle and I like what I do," he says.

Having been deployed to Kosovo, Korea and Iraq, Robinson was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in Afghanistan in May, and it tore off his right leg. He already participated in a ski program for soldiers in Breckenridge and Vail last fall, and says gliding on two boards was easier than walking.

Looking back at where he's been is tough, though.

"I would rather be there (Afghanistan) than Iraq, because you can actually see hope," said Robinson. "Since the invasion the country has evolved, and it's the smaller villages that are unstable. But in Iraq, when I was there, it was chaos."

Volf said she's sees a difference in the injuries that are coming back from overseas. She said what used to kill people now leaves them amputees because of the changes in armor and technology, which means wounds tend to be more severe.

"It's a population that we need to proactively serve because in 10 to 15 years, these guys still don't have a limb," she said.

As a patient at Walter Reed, Robinson compares his progress rate with others to see where he should be in the future.

"If someone is six months ahead of me, I set goals to see where I should be compared to people that are already there," he says.

For this group, those physical checklists are much more visible this week, and they all cheer each other on as they take on things like climbing and paddling.

As Chambers rappels down the rock face, everyone watching hoots, hollers and gives him a round of applause.

"These people are great," said Altman. "They actually pushed me to keep going. ... Now I face that fear and before I didn't have the tools."

August 24, 2007

Outward Bound program helps veterans heal their emotional scars

THE nine men who climbed to the summit of the Colorado mountain were combat veterans who had fought in Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam.

http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/08/24/travel/24vets.php?page=1

By Conrad Mulcahy
Published: August 24, 2007

Several knew the pain of bullets tearing through flesh. Others couldn't gather memories blown away by an explosion. Some had seen combat so close they killed with their knives.

They were a wary group of strangers, guarded and slow to trust, who had arrived at the Outward Bound Wilderness school in Leadville, Colorado, a few days before, wondering how a one-week course in the wilderness could help them heal. But on the fourth day of their five-day journey in mid-July, after more than three hours of tough climbing up steep, moss-covered scree fields and beyond the tree line, these hard military men, ranging in age from 23 to 52, mourned in silence, 13,000 feet above sea level on the summit of Virginia Peak. Stripped of life's routines, they stood under an iron-gray early morning sky and finally allowed the tears to fall for friends who would never see this place.

"Look around this countryside: you guys deserve this," said Bob O'Rourke, a 62-year-old retired marine and one of the instructors for the Outward Bound course. "Don't forget this moment." O'Rourke, a Vietnam veteran, choked back tears of his own. The men with him were silent as they looked out across vast granite bowls speckled with old mine entrances among the evergreens. The imposing silhouette of Huron Peak stared back from the southwest.

All Outward Bound courses — whether for people seeking wilderness experience, for troubled teenagers seeking a new course in life, or for adult professionals taking a moment to reflect on the road they've taken — follow a carefully designed arc. Strangers come together, they are presented with activities that challenge them mentally and physically, and, ideally, their shared experience creates a strong bond among the members.

The five-day veterans' course, however, sought to be much more. These men may have left the war, but it never left them. This program was designed to be a part of their continuing therapy, which for some has lasted as long as five years. Physical injuries were common in this group, and they eagerly compared the bands of scar tissue, shiny and too smooth, that crisscrossed their bodies. But the specter of emotional trauma loomed just beyond most conversations.

By being pushed to their physical and emotional limits in the company of military men who had seen it all before, however, the veterans learned how to confront emotional injuries like post-traumatic stress disorder in a way that traditional group therapy cannot hope to replicate.

O'Rourke, who received two Purple Hearts in Vietnam, has participated in Outward Bound courses before and is a true believer. His first Outward Bound experience, five years ago, was not specifically designed for veterans, but it helped him look beyond his Vietnam experience.

It was in that spirit, after conquering the summit together, that the veterans held an impromptu memorial service on the mountaintop. One by one, they chose small rocks from the ground and gently piled them on a larger boulder. The solemn tempo of their procession was set by the crunching of boots on the ground and the clacking of stone on stone. Some spoke the names of dead comrades into the wind — Staff Sergeant Mike Conner, Lance Corporal Greg Rund. Others remained silent, letting the tears on their faces speak for them.

One of the men on the summit was Jonathan McMaster, an insightful 23-year-old former marine who was injured in 2004 in Iraq, when a piece of shrapnel from a roadside bomb slammed into his head. That wound healed, but unseen injuries remain.

"I wish that civilians and policy makers really understood, at an emotional level, the tremendous toll and cost of war on those who actually experience it," McMaster said the next day, as he hiked down the mountain and across a green field. He chose his words carefully, as if the night's sleep had crystallized the emotion of the previous day. Grieving in the safety of this group had been a welcome release, he added.

Kyle Stozek, a 27-year-old former soldier in Afghanistan, spoke to the struggles faced by the men who were there on the summit.

"I think if there's one message I could get across to the public, it'd be to not give up on us," he said as the group walked through the mountain sunshine to the trailhead.

The veterans' introspection was nonexistent when the journey began. After arriving at the Outward Bound facility, a collection of rustic but sturdy buildings tucked into a wooded corner of the old Leadville mining district, the veterans were taken outside and issued their gear. It was bright and hot, and the air was thin. People tried awkwardly to learn one another's names.

They were soon restless for activity.

Eventually, their patience was rewarded. The first challenge was a well-known standby for Outward Bound: the high ropes course. After a brief safety lesson, they were asked to navigate a path of beams, ropes and cables suspended 30 to 40 feet off of the ground.

The ropes course quickly brought out a time-honored military tradition: cross-branch rivalry. If a soldier hesitated as he moved from rope to rope, the marines gave him a hard time. When the marines had trouble, the soldiers happily reminded them how easy they'd found the course. "Boot mistake," they called out to each other, using the slang for a brand new recruit as they shook their heads in mock disgust. They were testing boundaries, trying to find the line between motivation and insult.

THE following day the men and their gear were jammed into a van and driven farther into the countryside for a day of rock climbing. Well before they traded asphalt for pockmarked dirt trails, some of the men started swapping war stories, from driving tanks across Kuwait to street battles in Falluja. Others rolled their eyes. Already they had grown tired of the constant talk of war. At one point, Matt Payton, a k a Doc, now 24, a former navy corpsman who served in Iraq and the lone sailor in the group, pressed for the conversation to be about "anything but the military," a worn out look suddenly darkening his youthful face.

With war stories off limits, the men again turned to one another for material. Their humor was rough and profane, locker room stuff but affectionate in a way. Throughout the sun-drenched afternoon they joked constantly.

The instructor tried to teach climbing technique, but the ropes and the harnesses never really captured the group's attention. Only two or three men could climb at any one time. And even though holding the safety line for another man meant holding his life in your hands, the group seemed unfocused. The only time the men snapped to attention was when two military helicopters buzzed past — the sound of the rotor blades was all too familiar.

After several hours, a fierce storm barreled down the valley. Within minutes, the men were soaked, and the rocks were too slick to hang on to. Climbing was called off, and the group decided to break for lunch.

Standing in the rainy lee of a rock face, the first signs of a bond were apparent. The men were hungry and wet, and still they looked after one another. Before one could ask for it, another man would hand him a chunk of sausage and a slab of cheese. "Got a blade?" someone asked. "Right here," and a knife came handle first across the circle.

The rain never let up enough for climbing again, and the instructors cut their losses. The group was driven to a trailhead while the storm continued to pound the woods. At this higher elevation, some 11,000 feet, the rain mixed with hail.

When the weather finally broke, each man shouldered his pack, now stuffed with 70 pounds of dehydrated food, clothing, stoves and the tarps that would be their only shelter. Thus laden, they began hiking for the first night's campsite, almost two miles away.

The night grew colder, and another storm came with the dusk. Some of the men ate a hurried meal, while others tried unsuccessfully to stay dry under the canvas shelters. David Sweet, the course director, later called it some of the worst rain he'd seen.

The next morning was clear, and after bagels and hot chocolate, it was another short hike to the next campsite. On the topographical map the route looked easy. The only challenge was a thin blue line labeled "Clear Creek."

Outward Bound has rules, and one is that the group must remain together at times like this. Adrian Maldonado Jr., a 26-year-old former marine who participated in the veterans' program twice before this year, following two tours in Iraq, eagerly waded into the stream ahead of the others. Sweet called out to him to stop. He didn't hear, or chose not to, and kept going. Voices rose, and a heated argument broke out.

Sweet, who is not a veteran, quickly became a lightning rod for simmering frustrations.

Standing toe to toe with Sweet in the cold mountain stream, Maldonado barked that if he wanted someone "to tell me what to wear, what to do, where to go, what to say," he would have stayed in the Marines. After 45 minutes of arguing, Maldonado threatened to walk off of the course. Immediately, three other veterans rose to his defense. "If he goes, I go," they repeated.

Maldonado's level of frustration was obvious as he folded his arms impatiently and clenched his jaw between bursts of speech. But the two Vietnam veterans knew what to say to draw the heat out of the argument. They spoke bluntly but also listened and gave him enough space to come around on his own. The resolution was tenuous, but the center held and the group waded through the knee-deep water before trudging on to that night's camp, wet and quiet.

Looking back on the incident later, the other Vietnam veteran, Bob Dawes, 59, a former Army Ranger and O'Rourke's co-instructor, felt that it was an important, albeit precarious part of this trip.

Most of these men suffered life-threatening injuries in combat, he pointed out. And then there are the emotional scars. Now, they're stuck trying to find their place in a civilian world that doesn't always understand what it means to come out alive from the white-hot forge of combat.

"They gave more for their country than what they were asked to give, and they just want some respect," Dawes said. They may have understood Sweet's rules, but they also needed him to know that they were not like any other Outward Bound group he'd ever seen.

It was a lesson for everyone — one of many on this five-day journey.

KYLE STOZEK had arrived at Outward Bound ready for a week of camping and spending time with other veterans, but also preparing to return to war.

Stozek nearly died of a gunshot wound in the abdomen in Afghanistan in 2001. His injuries forced him to leave the army, and he seemed adrift without its structure. He was considering a job with a private security company in Iraq, resigned to the idea that he would die violently. While Stozek has spent the last few years in marketing and consulting jobs, they never brought him the satisfaction or sense of duty that his time in the army did. At the same time, he acknowledged that this sense of fulfillment came at a steep price. He distanced himself from the people who cared most for him instead of sharing his complicated feelings and experiences with them.

But after the fierce emotion he felt on the summit, where the safety of being with fellow veterans allowed him to cry for the first time in years, he seemed reborn. "I think now it's time to get back to learning what love is and what I want my life to be about," he said, smiling broadly on the last day of the course. "This trip really helped me learn that."

MORE INFORMATION

OUTWARD BOUND has its roots in wartime.

In the early months of World War II, as German U-boats were sinking naval and merchant ships in the Atlantic, Lawrence Holt, a British shipping executive, resolved to improve the dismal survival rate of young seamen left to struggle in the ocean after the attacks.

He saw a possible solution in the teachings of Kurt Hahn, the founder of Gordonstoun, a Scottish school where Holt's son was a student.

Holt reasoned that the physical and psychological skills that Hahn was teaching could also help the young seamen. Though the younger men had formal training in seamanship, they seemed to lack a sense of self-reliance and camaraderie — qualities that often steeled older sailors in a crisis.

Hahn had formed his ideas while teaching in Germany in the 1920s. Before leaving for Britain, he had spoken out against the brutality of the Nazis and been swept up in mass arrests in 1933.

With money from Holt, Hahn opened an academy in Aberdovey, Wales, in 1941. At Holt's insistence, they called it Outward Bound, a nautical term used when a ship leaves port. Originally, the course lasted 28 days and included small-boat training, orienteering and community service.

By 1946, a group of prominent citizens seeking to relieve Holt's company of the burden of supporting the program established the Outward Bound Trust, which provided the groundwork for early fund-raising. First in 1950, and then again in 1955, the trust oversaw the establishment of new facilities in the Lake District. Hahn continued his work in Wales, and by the 1960s there were Outward Bound schools from Australia to Zimbabwe.

Now an international nonprofit enterprise with more than 30 schools on six continents, Outward Bound runs courses that not only try to help veterans recover from war but also guide adults through midlife renewal or even help young people to, as Hahn had said, "defeat their defeatism."

More than 70,000 people participate in Outward Bound USA programs annually, and more than 200,000 internationally. But John Read, the president and chief executive of Outward Bound USA, based in Long Island City, Queens, said the programs had reached "far more, as the participants who experience the transformative power of Outward Bound return to their friends, families and communities as more compassionate, service-oriented leaders."

The organization also runs a program called Expeditionary Learning Schools, which integrates the principles of Outward Bound into primary schools. In the United States, there are more than 140 such schools.

Outward Bound also has courses and events for its alumni, like the sea kayaking expedition to the San Juan Islands in Puget Sound scheduled for early September.

Course fees can run $695 for a 4-day backpacking trip in North Carolina to $9,095 for a 72-day program that takes students from the Andes to the Appalachians.

More details can be found at www.outwardbound.org, and information on the programs for veterans is at www.outwardboundwilderness.org/veterans.html.

For first time, Pentagon sending battalion of U.S. Marines based in Pacific to war in Iraq

CAMP FOSTER, Japan – Lance Cpl. Alexander Karman is waiting around the barracks for his friends to finish up so they can head to the gym and a karaoke joint just outside the gates. This is Karman's last payday on Okinawa, and he has to report back for duty at 3 a.m.

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/world/iraq/20070824-0843-okinawatoiraq.html

By Eric Talmadge
ASSOCIATED PRESS
8:43 a.m. August 24, 2007

Karman's three bags of gear have been inspected and stowed in the locker next to his bunk. The scope on his M-4 rifle has been adjusted. He has finished the physicals, the marksmanship qualifications, the lectures on how to write a will.

His next stop: Iraq.
The 21-year-old explosives disposal specialist from Miami is part of the first full battalion of Marines from a Pacific base to enter the war. The deployment now under way from the Japanese island of Okinawa – site of a famous World War II battle and one of the Pentagon's most important outposts in the region – reflects shifts in both Washington and Tokyo.

It's part of Washington's increased emphasis on military mobility and the option to move forces to hotspots as needed. But Iraq has pushed this doctrine to the limits, pulling in troops already sent abroad on another mission. In Okinawa's case, it's no small assignment: countering potential threats from North Korea and the growth of China's military.

Japan, too, has been forced to examine what it means to host 50,000 U.S. soldiers spread across Okinawa and other bases. A debate rumbles over the role of American forces in Japan: whether to only fulfill a mutual security pact, or also to be battlefield resources for wars elsewhere.

And for the Iraq-bound troops, it's a little like deploying from limbo.

Karman, who like many in his unit has already been in Japan for about a year, said goodbye to his mother, father and fiance at Florida's Fort Lauderdale airport last month while on leave. They already knew they were in effect seeing him off to Iraq.

Now that he's back on Okinawa, there won't be anyone to see him off.

“It's hard,” he said, a big American flag from Wal-Mart pinned up beside the desk he shares with three roommates. “You get adjusted to life here, then you have to go home and say your goodbyes, then come back and wait. I just want to get going.”

What they'll leave behind is Japan's version of Hawaii.

Every August, the island's hotels swell with newlyweds and families with small children. Airlines promote Okinawa, which lies 1,000 miles southwest of Tokyo and was once an independent kingdom, as a “Paradise Island.”

But the Marines live in a very different world.

There's a midnight curfew for enlisted troops. Drinking is tightly restricted. Car ownership is banned.

And then there's the money. A private makes about $1,000 a month, which doesn't go far on Okinawa. The Japanese tourists on the beach are likely to be making at least twice as much as the Marines.

Few married Marines are allowed to bring their wives and children. But that also makes them more willing to head off into the dangers of Iraq.

“I want to see more action, to do my part,” Williams said. “But I also just want to get out of Camp Schwab.” Schwab is one of several Marine camps spread across the island.

The 1,000-strong battalion heading to Iraq is just a small part of the nearly 15,000 Marines based across Okinawa.

Until now, the Okinawa Marines sent only small contingents to Iraq to help other units. But with American forces around the world stretched thin – and with the demands in Iraq not easing up – the Pentagon has decided more help is needed.

In Japan, this feeds a debate that began with the 2003 invasion to topple Saddam Hussein.

Japan struggled over how much to support its American ally and whether U.S. forces in Japan should stay out of the fight. Opponents argued that U.S. troops are in Japan under a mutual security pact, not as a forward-based force for America's battles around the world.

In the end, Japan chose to support the U.S. and in 2004 even sent its own ground troops. They came home last year, having seen no combat and suffered no casualties.

Japan's top opposition party, energized by big gains in parliamentary elections a month ago, is calling for a reevaluation of the Japan-U.S. security alliance.

“Be it Afghanistan or Iraq, I don't think Japan-U.S. relations are all about following the Bush administration's policies,” says the party's leader, Ichiro Ozawa.

Even so, with attention focused elsewhere, stepped-up deployments from U.S. bases have gone largely under the radar.

The dispatch of a U.S. fighter squadron to Iraq from a northern Japan air base earlier this year – also the first of its kind – drew virtually no public comment.

Okinawa, however, remains a political mine field.

Protests after three U.S. servicemen raped an Okinawan schoolgirl in 1995 led to a major, ongoing streamlining of the U.S. military footprint, including the closure of facilities and the return of land.

Off-base restrictions imposed since then left a big mark. Once rowdy backstreets are now ghost towns after midnight.

An even bigger shake-up is in the works.

As part of a sweeping overhaul of the U.S. forces throughout Asia and Europe, Washington announced last year about half the Marines on Okinawa will be moved to the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam by 2012.

Black flags are up all across base, a warning the heat and humidity are so high physical exertion outdoors is to be avoided.

Most of Combat Logistics Battalion 4 is sweating it out on a training field anyway. It likely will be even hotter in Iraq.

They have just gotten the final pep talk from their commanding general and have broken up into smaller groups to wrap up any unfinished business. There are a few promotion ceremonies, cautions about breaking in new boots before packing them up, scheduling reminders.

“It's real,” a gunnery sergeant told his unit. “You're going.”

Keeping young Marines who are far away from home – often for the first time – both in line and combat-ready is no easy task.

“It's been a learning curve. It hasn't been ideal, but we are used to that in the Marine Corps,” said Lt. Col. Brent Spahn, the battalion's commanding officer. “We train hard, and we think our training is the best in the world. You fall back on that. That's what gets you through.”

Spahn said his main concern isn't getting the troops motivated to go, but keeping them reined in once they get to Iraq and start their primary mission, which will be running convoys.

“The Marine Corps doesn't recruit the same kind of people as the other branches of the military. We tend to get aggressive people, which is good if you want a strong military,” he said. “My biggest concern will be keeping the enthusiasm and the adrenalin under control.”

August 23, 2007

Flag protocol clarified

An Oklahoma lawmaker has changed the way veterans and out-of-uniform servicemen can honor the American flag at public gatherings.

http://www.dcmilitary.com/stories/082307/tester_27943.shtml

Thursday, August 23, 2007
By Paul C. Leibe
Special to the Tester

Until this year, flag protocol directed that when the Stars and Stripes passes a group of people, or when a flag is being raised or lowered, active duty military members in uniform ‘‘should render a military salute.”

Military members not in uniform, however, along with veterans and civilians in the crowd who had never served in the military, were directed to place their right hand over their heart to honor the flag.

The bill sponsored by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), permits active duty members and veterans to snap a salute to Old Glory, even if they aren’t in uniform.

Inhofe’s bill, unanimously approved by the House and Senate July 25, does not change flag protocol, he said, but instead clarifies the interpretation of the public code which covers flag protocol.

‘‘Current U.S. law leaves confusion as to whether veterans and service members out of uniform can or should salute the flag,” said Inhofe in a statement explaining his bill. ‘‘My legislation will clarify this regulation, allowing veterans and servicemen alike to salute the flag, whether they are in uniform or not.”

‘‘We’re all for it,” said Mechanicsville resident Gail Murdock, who serves as first vice commander for Maryland’s American Legionnaires. ‘‘There’s always been a bit of problem and this clarifies how we do things. It simplifies the rules and will end the confusion we sometimes have in our programs.”

‘‘The salute is a form of honor and respect,” said Inhofe, ‘‘representing pride in one’s military service. Veterans and service members continue representing the military services, even when not in uniform. I look forward to seeing those who have served saluting proudly at baseball games, parades and formal events.

‘‘I believe,” the senator said, ‘‘this is an appropriate way to honor and recognize the 25 million veterans in the United States who have served in the military and remain as role models to others citizens. Those who are currently serving or have served in the military have earned this right, and their recognition will be an inspiration to others.”


Cycle art captures Marine's 'spirit'

A painted likeness turns into an expression of tribute to Americans killed in Iraq.

It's been two years since Marine Sgt. James Randolph Graham III was killed in Iraq, yet on Wednesday a small bit of him -- his spirit, his mother believes -- returned home.

http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?articleID=070823_1_A1_hApai78400
Please click on above link for a slide show of photos and to listen to an interview with Katrina Graham.

By MANNY GAMALLO World Staff Writer
8/23/2007

"I believe my son's spirit is not very far from me," said Katrina Graham.

"This just firms up my belief," she said, gazing at a shiny black motorcycle bearing the painted likeness of her son, along with three other Marines killed in 2005.

The motorcycle is a rolling tribute to the sacrifices being made by America's young in Iraq, and the sacrifices made by their families.

That was what John Favorite of Cleveland, Ohio, had in mind when he decided to honor the troops and the military on his motorcycle.

A Marine veteran from the Vietnam War, Favorite is still embittered by what he says is the

lack of gratitude or even a simple thank you after his generation returned home from that war.

"I didn't want that to happen again for our fighting people in Iraq," said Favorite, saying that the Iraq war is fast becoming another Vietnam.

"So I had this idea to do something special to honor them, to honor their families."

Favorite has traveled thousands of miles on his Yamaha motorcycle since the Memorial Day weekend, going to the homes of the other three Marines painted on his bike, showing their parents how their sons have been honored.

The Graham home in the 6700 block of East Eighth Street was the last on the list, said Favorite, who left Cleveland, Ohio, on Monday morning for the cross-country trip.

Accompanying him on another motorcycle was a longtime Marine buddy from Vietnam, Carl Mitchell of Monroe, S.C.

Graham's parents, his mother and father, James Randolph Graham II, were overwhelmed by what they saw.

At one point, Katrina Graham fought back tears as she described what the tribute to her boy meant to her.

"I didn't know what to expect until I saw this," she said.

Her son's two boys -- James R. Graham IV and Thomas Graham -- also were highly approving of the homage paid to their dad. The two live in Coweta with their mother, who has remarried.

"I think it's pretty cool," said 11-year-old James, the oldest of the two, as he donned a helmet for a ride on the cycle.

In a flash, James hopped on the back of the bike and, with Favorite in the driver's seat, they whisked east along Eighth Street at a good clip.

Favorite has been to Maryland to visit the family of Marine Cpl. Norman Anderson; to Virginia for the family of Marine Lance Cpl. Karl Linn; and to Ohio, where Marine Cpl. Andrew Nowacki lived.

Together with Graham's likeness, the paintings on the motorcycle adorn the fuel tank -- two faces on each side.

Graham was killed Aug. 1, 2005, at Hit, Iraq, in an insurgent suicide attack.

His image on the motorcycle comes from a family photo taken of him in Iraq a few months before his death, his mother said. In the picture, Graham is dressed in full battle gear and his right eye is closed as a shield from the intense sunlight.

The image on the motorcycle was a good match to the family's photo of him, his parents said.

Favorite had a Vietnam veteran friend of his in Cleveland airbrush the faces on the cycle, and Favorite said he paid the $1,200 cost for having the work done.

When he got the idea to honor Iraq troops, Favorite said he approached the Gold Star Mothers organization, which asked its members if there were any families who wanted their sons honored.

Favorite said he received six responses, the Grahams included, but he only had room on the motorcycle for four images.

He expressed surprise at the widespread attention his motorcycle has received.

"I feel like I've done something really good," Favorite said.

August 22, 2007

‘BadA** Marine’ identified

Call off the manhunt. The leatherneck whose patriotic spoken-word performance in a YouTube video called “BadAss Marine” that has received well over 400,000 hits has been found.

http://www.militarytimes.com/news/2007/08/marine_video_marine_070816/

By Michael Hoffman - Staff writer

Posted : Wednesday Aug 22, 2007

Staff Sgt. Lawrence Dean II, an instructor with the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., has been identified as the poetic Marine.

A national search began this week after Fox News and multiple blogs posted Internet stories pleading with the mystery man to step out of anonymity.

Dean, who spoke to Marine Corps Times on Thursday, said the video clip was filmed a year ago on a cell phone after one of his students asked him for help explaining to his family why he was joining the Corps and risking being sent off to war. In the midst of the student’s final room inspection, he performed the spoken-word poem, which many mistakenly refer to as rap, he said.

Dean said he wrote the inspirational poem after his grandmother asked him whether he would go to war if called.

“The best thing I could come up with to explain it to her was [the poem] ‘She Called,’ ” he said.

The 3 1/2-minute poem starts slowly with the first verse, “She called. …”

Dean’s voice builds with intensity and emotion as he refers to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as a calling and thanks the military’s men and women for looking past race, religion and political affiliation and fighting for Americans’ freedom.

“Thank you to the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, for preserving my rights to live and die for this life and paying the ultimate price for me to be … free!” he rhymes.

Commandant Gen. James Conway watched the video after his spokesman saw it and sent the link to him Wednesday morning.

“I was never a fan of rap until today,” Conway said after watching it, according to his spokesman, Lt. Col. T.V. Johnson.

Dean, whose stage name is Life, said he started performing his spoken-word poetry three or four years ago. He has a local following in the eastern North Carolina region, performing at local churches and clubs, along with events at Camp Lejeune and Cherry Point. He’s even performed at the House of Blues in New Orleans.

He used to perform under his given name until he was announced at a poetry club event as “Life” because almost all of his lyrical poetry revolves around his personal life experiences, he said.

“At first, I was looking around to see who was going to stand up, but then I realized they were talking about me and the name just kinda stuck,” said Dean, a KC-130 avionics technician who has spent 12 years in the Corps.

Dean said he found out about his newfound national celebrity when Gunnery Sgt. Anthony Wetherell, who works with him at Cherry Point, told him he was the lead story on Fox News’ Web site.

“I really couldn’t believe it because [the video] was recorded a year ago,” Dean said.

The history on who originally imported the video on YouTube’s Web site is also hazy, since the original poster, “studman20673,” has not responded to e-mails.

Then last October, Matthew Denton, who didn’t know Dean at the time, posted a link to the video on his personal YouTube site after his brother found it while searching for inspirational clips.

During the first year it was up, under the title “BadAss Marine,” it received “a few hundred clicks a week,” Denton said, but no one knows what spurred its recent popularity.

Cpl. Mike Griffith, who works with Dean at Cherry Point, said the spontaneous national following is long overdue. He said each time Dean performs, he leaves the stage to standing ovations.

“Life talks with such an aura, it moves you,” Griffith said. “You’re just hearing it and at the same time you are just like, ‘That’s so true.’ ”

As for Dean’s reaction to all the attention: “I’m just real proud of the situation. I think the Marines I work with are even more excited about all of it than me.”

‘BadAss Marine’ identified

Call off the manhunt. The leatherneck whose patriotic spoken-word performance in a YouTube video called “BadAss Marine” that has received well over 400,000 hits has been found.

http://www.militarytimes.com/news/2007/08/marine_video_marine_070816/

By Michael Hoffman - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Aug 22, 2007 13:30:04 EDT

Staff Sgt. Lawrence Dean II, an instructor with the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., has been identified as the poetic Marine.

A national search began this week after Fox News and multiple blogs posted Internet stories pleading with the mystery man to step out of anonymity.

Dean, who spoke to Marine Corps Times on Thursday, said the video clip was filmed a year ago on a cell phone after one of his students asked him for help explaining to his family why he was joining the Corps and risking being sent off to war. In the midst of the student’s final room inspection, he performed the spoken-word poem, which many mistakenly refer to as rap, he said.

Dean said he wrote the inspirational poem after his grandmother asked him whether he would go to war if called.

“The best thing I could come up with to explain it to her was [the poem] ‘She Called,’ ” he said.

The 3 1/2-minute poem starts slowly with the first verse, “She called. …”

Dean’s voice builds with intensity and emotion as he refers to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as a calling and thanks the military’s men and women for looking past race, religion and political affiliation and fighting for Americans’ freedom.

“Thank you to the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, for preserving my rights to live and die for this life and paying the ultimate price for me to be … free!” he rhymes.

Commandant Gen. James Conway watched the video after his spokesman saw it and sent the link to him Wednesday morning.

“I was never a fan of rap until today,” Conway said after watching it, according to his spokesman, Lt. Col. T.V. Johnson.

Dean, whose stage name is Life, said he started performing his spoken-word poetry three or four years ago. He has a local following in the eastern North Carolina region, performing at local churches and clubs, along with events at Camp Lejeune and Cherry Point. He’s even performed at the House of Blues in New Orleans.

He used to perform under his given name until he was announced at a poetry club event as “Life” because almost all of his lyrical poetry revolves around his personal life experiences, he said.

“At first, I was looking around to see who was going to stand up, but then I realized they were talking about me and the name just kinda stuck,” said Dean, a KC-130 avionics technician who has spent 12 years in the Corps.

Dean said he found out about his newfound national celebrity when Gunnery Sgt. Anthony Wetherell, who works with him at Cherry Point, told him he was the lead story on Fox News’ Web site.

“I really couldn’t believe it because [the video] was recorded a year ago,” Dean said.

The history on who originally imported the video on YouTube’s Web site is also hazy, since the original poster, “studman20673,” has not responded to e-mails.

Then last October, Matthew Denton, who didn’t know Dean at the time, posted a link to the video on his personal YouTube site after his brother found it while searching for inspirational clips.

During the first year it was up, under the title “BadAss Marine,” it received “a few hundred clicks a week,” Denton said, but no one knows what spurred its recent popularity.

Cpl. Mike Griffith, who works with Dean at Cherry Point, said the spontaneous national following is long overdue. He said each time Dean performs, he leaves the stage to standing ovations.

“Life talks with such an aura, it moves you,” Griffith said. “You’re just hearing it and at the same time you are just like, ‘That’s so true.’ ”

As for Dean’s reaction to all the attention: “I’m just real proud of the situation. I think the Marines I work with are even more excited about all of it than me.”

Marines track across Dulab in search of weapons

DULAB, Iraq - (Aug. 22, 2007) -- No house here was neglected during a recent operation to rid the area of weapons and caches.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/90D74678FCF6A2AE8525733F00522903?opendocument

Aug. 22, 2007

By Lance Cpl. Brian L. Lewis, 2nd Marine Division


Marines from Company B, 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 2, diligently searched house-to-house in an effort to find any hidden weapons, while Marines from 1st Combat Engineer Battalion searched the surrounding area for caches.

“Basically, the operation is a sweeping mission throughout Dulab to find any weapon caches that may be hidden,” said 1st Lt. Todd P. Forsman, executive officer for Company B. “This is also a test for the Iraqis to monitor their progress.”

This company-level operation took place during Operation Mawtini (My Homeland) which encompassed most of western Al Anbar province.

The mission began in the early morning as both Marines and members of the Iraqi Army prepared for the two-day search. They had a set distance to cover in a limited amount of time. Nothing was going to stand in their way.

The Marines set out and the first house of many was visited. A young Iraqi woman answered the door, and happily allowed them inside. The house was empty, and it was time to keep moving.

Marines slowly crept through the narrow passageways, staying on the alert. Then, a call came across the radio.

“Be advised, we have found a cache in the ridgeline,” the voice said.

The engineers had come through. A cache containing numerous weapons and improvised explosive device materials had been found, but this was only the beginning.

The day was certainly looking up for the Marines as more houses were searched. The operation seemed to flow like clockwork due in large part to support of the Iraqi locals. This can only be traced back to the battalion’s relentless efforts to keep them safe and secure.

The mission continued as the afternoon sun climbed higher into the sky, giving subtle hints of the hardships to come.

Under the heat of the mid day sun, the Marines established security and paused in a local Iraqi’s house. He gave them a place to rest their feet, as well as provided them with food and water.

The Marines continued to stay focused on their mission. The 27 men, spread from the green palm groves to rocky ridgelines overlooking Dulab, were going to complete the mission.

Houses were visited in sequence as the Marines became determined to properly complete their mission. Members of the Iraqi Army also became filled with determination as they covered ground in record time.

A few obstacles were met. The occasional household hid small weaponry or ammunition amounts that exceeded the allowed amount. The problems were nothing to worry much about, and after being dealt with accordingly, the Marines moved on.

The sun began to fall. An old abandoned house was selected and the Marines slept under the watchful eye of their fellow brothers.

Morning came soon and the Marines shaved and cleaned up before finishing the last piece of their mission. They had to make it to a nearby wadi, which is a dry river bed, and sweep it clean of anything the insurgents might be trying to hide.

Houses were scarce and the only obstacle in their way was two miles of rocky path winding aside a mountainous ridgeline leading to the extraction point.

Determination soon paid off as an area of concentrated greenery appeared in the eyes of those brave Marines enduring the long patrol.

“That’s it,” Staff Sgt. Joshua M. Utto, a section leader with 3rd Platoon, said in a sigh of relief, “only 600 meters to go.”

What followed was a final push by the Marines to make it to the wadi. In what seemed like only seconds, the troops set foot on the edge of their objective.

The Marines were met up with members of other platoons pushing similar missions from the Baghdadi area. With the combined power of the Marines and the Iraqi Army soldiers, the ground was cleaned of any possible dangers in the area and the mission was complete.

“It’s over,” one Marine said as he sat.

Trucks soon came to transport the Marines back to their forward operating base. They were finally given a chance to rest – a reward well deserved.

“We swept the palm groves and houses of Southwest Dulab, and the Marines are still strong,” said 1st Lt. Kyle M. Gallagher, the commander of 3rd platoon. “These Marines know how to do their job, and they do it well.”

Local Government Shows Progress in Iraq’s Anbar Province

WASHINGTON, Aug. 22, 2007 – Local governance is making progress in Iraq’s Anbar province, and Iraqis are joining the security forces in record numbers, a top Marine operating in the province said today.
As a result, improvised explosive device attacks and casualties are down in his region, said Marine Col. Richard Simcock, commander of Regimental Combat Team 6, operating in eastern Anbar province.

http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=47144

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

Simcock answered questions today from Internet reporters and “bloggers” during a conference call from Iraq. His troops recently launched Operation Alljah, which sectioned off Fallujah into small, manageable areas and established security outposts in the communities.

“To say that I feel good would be an understatement. I am continually amazed at … how much the local Iraqi government is actually doing to better their situation,” Simcock said. “They are working hand in hand, not only with my Marines and soldiers on ground, but also with the provisional reconstruction teams that are out here. I am very, very pleased with the efforts that local governance is putting forth.”

Limited support is trickling to the region from the central Iraqi government for Iraqi police salaries and equipment, he said.

“We need more. We need a lot more to come a lot faster. It is working, but it’s not working fast enough, and it’s not working in sufficient amounts,” he added.

Recruiting for the Iraqi police is on the rise in the region, and the security forces continue to grow in the form of the army, the Iraqi police, the provincial security forces and neighborhood watches, Simcock said.

“That has been the key element to allow me to do my mission and work with them so that we’re both trying to accomplish the same thing,” he said.

He also said that the local citizens are setting aside their sectarian differences to work together as Iraqis to rebuild the region. This has been a critical turning point, as more Sunnis join the Iraqi army.

“We don’t see a lot of problems in the army between the Sunni and the Shiia; they work as one,” Simcock said. “They downplay the religious aspect of it. They don’t identify themselves as Sunni or Shiia. They’ll identify themselves as Iraqis and are working for the betterment of Iraq, and I think that’s a huge step forward for them.”

When questioned whether the Iraq security forces were capable of independent operation, Simcock said he doesn’t want his forces operating independent of the Iraqis.

“I can’t overstate the importance of having the Iraqis working with us,” the commander said. “We get more and more benefit out of their participation in what we’re doing over here. We want to stay engaged with them for what they give to us as a combat multiplier here in our (area of operations).”

Simcock said the two forces benefit from a partnership that provides invaluable intelligence to U.S. forces and training to become a more capable force to the Iraqi forces.

He also had high praise for the mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles. Simcock’s unit recently had 25 more of the vehicles, which feature V-shaped hulls to deflect explosions, delivered, and he said he expects hundreds more.

“They are especially good being used out on the road networks. As you know, that is the chosen battle space of our enemy. That’s where they emplace the improvised explosive devices,” he said. “The MRAPs are truly superior, from a defensive nature, in protecting our Marines and soldiers. I can’t get enough of them. I am supposed to get over 400 of them, and I will definitely employ every one of them.”


August 20, 2007

Fun in the mud to support Wounded Warriors

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. 2007) – (Aug. 20, 2007) -- How do you create a world class event to increase awareness and raise support for the injured Marines, Sailors and families of the Wounded Warrior Battalion-East? Simple: Start with equal parts dirt and water. Mix vigorously. Then add 14 obstacles and invite hundreds of people who thrive on challenge.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/B0324DDB4F09F0B18525733D004E062B?opendocument

Aug. 20, 2007; Submitted on: 08/20/2007 10:12:13 AM ; Story ID#: 2007820101213
By Lance Cpl. Josephh Stahlman, Marine Forces Special Operations Command

More than 65 four-person teams, including two teams from Marine Special Operations Advisor Group, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command, participated in the inaugural Marine Mud Run at Belmont Abbey College at Belmont, N.C. Aug. 4.

"Having fun in the mud and raising money for Wounded Warriors: It doesn't get much better than that," explained Gunnery Sgt. Kent Groves, a team sergeant with MSOAG. "The entire event was a lot of fun and was for a great cause."

The event was open to the public and included military, public safety,
corporate, college, community, and military youth group team categories.

"The community has really pulled together for this event," said Monty
Monteleone, a retired Marine and Director of Corporate and Foundation
Relations for Belmont Abbey College. "We are glad to have MARSOC out here for such a great cause."

Monteleone, who began co-planning the event more than eight months ago, gathered sponsors and participants from the surrounding area to rally
support for the Wounded Warriors.

"We gained a lot of support for the run and had over 70 volunteers to help out with the day's events," explained Monteleone.

The mud run teams slogged their way through the mud-soaked 3.8 mile obstacle course that included challenges such as a 50-yard duck walk, push-up and jumping jack stations, sand-bag carries, climbing walls and the crowd's favorite, a "big ol' mud pit."

“Some of the obstacles were pretty tough, but I'd have to say the 50-yard duck walk was the hardest," said Groves.

The final stretch - a 25-yard low crawl - was tough as well.

"Carrying all the extra mud in our pockets and boots weighed us down,"
Groves explained.

Some participants were able to run throughout the course, others had to walk at times, but the participants from each team finished together to show
support for a worthy cause.

"I was very impressed with everyone's performance," said Lance Cpl. Ryan Harper, a motor transportation operator who was wounded in Ramadi, Iraq, Feb. 16. "It's great to see how many people still care."

Monteleone hopes the show of support for this inaugural Marine Mud Run is just the start. "We hope to make this an annual event and make it even
bigger next year," he said. "We would love for MARSOC to come back next
year."

"I would definitely do that again next year," said Groves, whose team
finished second in the military category with a time of 44 minutes, 47
seconds. "It impressed me to see the community show so much support for our Wounded Warriors."

A team of Marines from the 4th Maintenance Battalion, Marine Corps Reserve Center, Charlotte, N.C., placed first in the military category.

Sergeant returns to new Iraq

BARWANAH, Iraq (Aug. 20, 2007) -- In the Fall of 2004, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines fought in the Battle of Fallujah. It experienced some of the Marine Corps’ most intense urban fighting since Vietnam’s Hue City. That deployment left a lasting effect on this battalion and the individuals involved. Although they are mostly stationed elsewhere or out of the Marine Corps, 1/3 still has a few of its Fallujah Veterans through its ranks and companies. These Marines bring much knowledge and determination with them, and they play a large role in the success this task force has achieved in the Hadithah Triad

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/39DEB8EFE8342B6F8525733D003F4282?opendocument

Aug. 20, 2007; Submitted on: 08/20/2007 07:30:57 AM ; Story ID#: 200782073057
By Cpl. Rick Nelson, 2nd Marine Division

Sergeant Adam R. Morrison, a squad leader with 2nd Squad, 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2, decided to enlist into the Marine Corps in Sept. 2002 after speaking to a recruiter.

“I was originally going to go to college to wrestle but that fell through,” said Morrison. “A gentleman who used to come to our wrestling matches was a Marine Corps recruiter, so I spoke with him and signed up as a 0311 infantryman.”

Morrison described himself as an indoor person before joining the Marine Corps and didn’t know what to expect from bootcamp and the School of Infantry.

“When I enlisted, it was during (Operation Iraqi Freedom) I, so my mother was really worried,” said the Puyallup, Wash. native. “My father, on the other hand, knew it would be a good experience for me and would help me in the long run.”

Upon completion of boot camp, Morrison began training at the School of Infantry at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and then checked into 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, where he was assigned to 2nd Squad, 1st Platoon, Alpha Company.

“I’ve been with my squad since I got to the fleet,” said the 22-year-old. “I remember when I first checked in, I had a platoon sergeant that wanted nothing but combat. I never had it too bad when I first got there because I always did what I was told and tried to improve myself.”

Morrison soon deployed with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. The battalion was conducting training in Japan when it was ordered to sail to the Persian Gulf in order to support Operation Iraqi Freedom II. The sudden change took the Marines of 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment to Fallujah.

“It was a shocker, and I’ll admit I was a little nervous when I found out,” he added. “I look back at it now, and the lack of sleep stands out a lot. We were always on the move. The first couple of weeks we were there was like hell on Earth. I can say now, it was the worst time in the world, but at the same time we got to be Marines and do what we were trained for.”

Morrison said many events happened during the deployment he will always remember, but one stands out among all others.

“November 14, 2004, that’s the day I’ll always remember. It puts chills down my spine when I think of it,” said Morrison. “It was the day Sergeant Peralta gave his life for the rest of us. When we cleared a room, it all happened so fast. Before I knew it, Peralta had taken the grenade and saved the rest of us. I know if it wasn’t for him, the rest of us would’ve been injured a lot worse and some probably wouldn’t have made it out.”

Morrison described Peralta as a hero and said he may not be here today if it wasn’t for his bravery.

Peralta is currently being considered for the Medal of Honor for his actions that day.

“I think being in the Battle of Fallujah as my first deployment put thing in perspective for me. I now relate everything to combat and trying to keep my Marines safe,” said Morrison.

Lance Cpl. Christopher J. Telles, a team leader in Morrison’s squad, said it’s comforting to know his squad leader has experience in Iraq and trusts him completely.

“He’s a hands down grunt and knows what’s going on. He knows how do get the job done,” added Telles, an El Paso, Texas, native.

After returning from his first deployment to Iraq Morrison returned to Hawaii and began training with his squad for his next deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and departed with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines in January 2006.

“Afghanistan was a lot different because we were constantly hiking up mountains. It was a different world compared to Iraq,” said Morrison.

While in Afghanistan, Morrison’s squad was involved in Operation Mountain Lion and was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Combat Valor for their actions during the operation.

“A deployment is a deployment, but I liked Afghanistan better because I felt like we had more of a reason to be there because of the attacks on Sept. 11,” he added.

After Afghanistan, Morrison returned to Hawaii and had to decide if he would extend or reenlist and report somewhere else.

“I originally reenlisted and wasn’t going to deploy with 1/3 again. However, I cancelled my orders to deploy with 1/3,” he said. “I did it for my Marines. I wanted to help them out because I was expecting the next deployment to be similar to the first. It feels good when you put your training to use. In combat you’re never going to know how exactly to act, every situation determines how you react and training plays a big role in that.”

Currently in Barwanah, Morrison is assisting in the fight to help the Iraqi people achieve a state of self-governance.

Morrison said the toughest part of the deployment for him is making the transition from combat to winning the hearts and minds.

“I recently reenlisted to be a Mountain Warfare instructor at Bridgeport, Calif.,” he said. “I’d like to deploy again to Afghanistan when I get there, but we’ll see.”

After his next enlistment, Morrison said he would like to be part of the Special Weapons and Tactics team for the Seattle Police Department.

“I’m unsure if I’ll stay in the Corps or not right now, I’m just going with the flow,” he added. “I will admit though, there’s no better job then being a squad leader. If you have a good squad leader then you’ll have good Marines. It’s an NCO war, so I can’t think of anything else I’d want to be if I stay in.”

Tanks, Highlanders, Wolfpack, Army combine forces in Al Anbar

RAWAH, Iraq (Aug. 20, 2007) -- Marines in Iraq spend weeks, and sometimes months, outside the ‘wire’ conducting numerous operations and patrols. Their operational tempo requires an enormous amount of logistical support, and creative ways of re-supplying in the seemingly endless desert. A mobile unit can use over 10,000 gallons of fuel per week just to keep going, not to mention food, water, and other consumable items a unit on the move might need.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/8C73F8BEB17AD5DD8525733D0055C365?opendocument


Aug. 20, 2007; Submitted on: 08/20/2007 11:36:45 AM ; Story ID#: 2007820113645
By Cpl. Ryan C. Heiser, 2nd Marine Division

Company B, 1st Tank Battalion, which has been supporting 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion (Task Force Highlander), Regimental Combat Team 2 since the beginning of their tour in March, utilized a unique solution to this problem: a joint air and ground mission called ‘rapid ground refueling.’

“The RGR (rapid ground refueling) allows a company to sustain forward operations,” said Master Sgt. Jerri A. Schlickenmayer, the company tank leader. “Bringing in fuel by air allows us to keep going without having to go to a nearby outpost or base. It probably cuts down one or two days of logistical travel per week in the field, and it’s faster and safer than bringing in a convoy. We can literally get thousands of gallons of fuel in less than an hour.”

To help sustain themselves during forward operations, the tank company takes along a ‘combat train’: a convoy of vehicles which supplies everything the unit may need to support itself in the field.

“The combat train provides our logistical support, so we can operate much further from a base. They have chow, fuel, water, repair parts, and recovery assets,” said Schlickenmayer, a native of Bismarck, N.D. “They also provide limited infantry support for snap VCP (vehicle check points), limited cordon and search, detainee handling, and several other functions.”

The tanks go through fuel faster than any of the other items, so during long operations the combat trains rely on air support from the CH-53E “Super Stallions” of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 466 to re-stock.

“A tank can take 200-250 gallons of fuel per stop,” said Army Pvt. James D. Green, a motor transport operator for the combat trains of 541st Transportation Company in support of 1st LAR and Task Force Highlander. “It’s incredible when you think about it, it really adds up quick. Without the air support and the RGR, their range would be very limited, but because of this asset the Marines can go pretty much anywhere.”

“I have no doubt the Marines would find a way to complete their mission one way or another, because that’s what they do, but time is essential in this environment,” said Army Sgt. Sady Oandasan, a motor transport operator with the combat trains. “Every mission these guys do is important and that’s why we are here at a moment’s notice, to support them and make their lives easier. They’ll get the job done no matter what, have no doubt, but the (combat) trains help grease the machine.”

Because of the support from the helicopter squadron, also known as the “Wolfpack,” and cooperation between Army and Marine Corps logistics, Task Force Highlander and its supporting units continue to complete successful missions throughout the western Al Anbar province.

“This type of thing is really the spirit of the Marine Corps expeditionary mission. The kind of thing that makes us feared and loved throughout the world,” said Schlickenmayer, a Desert Storm veteran serving on his third tour in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. “It’s a true Marine answer to a problem, ‘How can we survive for weeks on end in the middle of a desert?’ Just leave it to the Marines to figure it out. And we did.”

Marines and Iraqi Police host Youth Soccer Day

HADITHAH, Iraq -- The morning of July 4th started out like any other day inside the Hadithah Police Station. The Iraqi Police conducted morning police call, uniforms were set straight, and reports were prepared. The Marines of the Hadithah Police Transition Team (PiTT) gave guidance to their Iraqi counter-parts, making corrections wherever necessary. As the heat began filling the building, the anticipation for the day’s events grew.

http://www.centcom.mil/sites/uscentcom2/FrontPage%20Stories/Marines%20and%20Iraqi%20Police%20host%20Youth%20Soccer%20Day.aspx

20 Aug 07
By Gunnery Sgt. Eric Johnson
2nd Marine Division

Within the building’s multi-purpose room, the morning formation lined up. However, the formation wasn’t made up of Iraqi police officers standing at attention, ready for drill practice. In fact, no one was standing at attention. July 4th was the first Youth Soccer Day held at the Hadithah Police Station.

Over 200 local children gathered at the police station for a chance to play soccer with their police officers. The police and children were equally excited for the day’s festivities.

The first hour was spent posing for pictures. After the initial photo op and introductions, soccer balls were passed out. Through donations from friends and family back in the United States and from some Iraqi Police Officers, over 100 soccer balls were given to the kids. Along with the soccer balls, hundreds of toys, stuffed animals, and backpacks were also donated.

Lieutenant Col. Mazher Hasan Khazal, the Hadithah Police Chief said, “today is a great day, not only for the Iraqi Police, but for all of Hadithah. We will never forget what our Marine brothers have done to make this possible.”

The current Iraqi Police Station is actually a hardened building, which once served as the city’s Youth Center. The Marines and Iraqi Police took over the building in October 2006. For the past several years, there hasn’t been a need for a youth center, most of the city’s children would rarely go outside.

The need for some type of outlet for the kids during their summer school break, a time when terrorists recruit young children, prompted the PiTT Marines to come up with a youth-oriented soccer program.

Members of the PiTT team were sitting around talking about their families one night with the Iraqi leadership. They tried to explain the Boy and Girl Scouts of America to the police chief, and he asked if they could help set something like that up in Hadithah. That’s when the PiTT came up with the idea for a soccer camp. The police chief loved the idea

Friendliness from the locals toward Marine and Iraqi Forces over the last few years has been minimal. Anyone approaching a Marine or Iraqi patrol was looked at as a possible insurgent, and not allowed to get too close. The city has seen a shift in the security and the attitude of the local people. The success of the Youth Soccer Day proved the rebirth this city has seen. Marines and police alike were covered with hugging hands and grabbing fingers.

“I thought that at one point the kids were just going to mob me over,” said Cpl. Joseph Dayner, PiTT communications advisor. “I just kept pushing through the crowd passing out toys.”

The Youth Soccer Day was a testament to the successful counter-insurgency campaign 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines is conducting in the Hadithah Triad. The Iraqi Police have played a large role in the city’s stability. The force is a lot larger, more professional, and the people of Hadithah readily accept them. It is a sign of hope that the situation here has turned the right corner.




August 19, 2007

Falluja’s Calm Is Seen as Fragile if U.S. Leaves

FALLUJA, Iraq — Falluja’s police chief, Col. Faisal Ismail Hussein, waved aloft a picture of a severed head in a bucket as a reminder of the brutality of the fundamentalist Sunni militias that once controlled this city. But he also described an uncertain future without “my only supporters,” the United States Marine Corps.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/19/world/middleeast/19falluja.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1

By RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr.
Published: August 19, 2007

Nearly three years after invading and seizing Falluja from insurgents, the Marines are engaged in another struggle here: trying to build up a city, and police force, that seem to get little help from the Shiite-dominated national government.

Fallujans complain that they are starved of generator fuel and medical care because of a citywide vehicle ban imposed by the mayor, a Sunni, in May. But in recent months violence has fallen sharply, a byproduct of the vehicle ban, the wider revolt by Sunni Arab tribes against militants and a new strategy by the Marines to divide Falluja into 10 tightly controlled precincts, each walled off by concrete barriers and guarded by a new armed Sunni force.

Security has improved enough that they are planning to largely withdraw from the city by next spring. But their plan hinges on the performance of the Iraqi government, which has failed to provide the Falluja police with even the most routine supplies, Marine officers say.

The gains in Falluja, neighboring Ramadi and other areas in Anbar Province, once the most violent area in Iraq and the heart of the Sunni Arab insurgency, are often cited as a success story, a possible model for the rest of Iraq. But interviews with marines and Iraqi officials in Falluja suggest that the recent relative calm here is fragile and that the same sectarian rivalries that have divided the Iraqi government could undermine security as soon as the Marines leave.

Rank-and-file marines question how security forces here would fare on their own, especially when the vehicle ban is lifted.

If Falluja were left unsupervised too soon, “there is a good chance we would lose everything we have gained,” said Sgt. Chris Turpin, an intelligence analyst with a military training team here.

Marine commanders emphasize there is no hard-and-fast date for leaving the city. “A lot of people say that without the Americans it’s all going to collapse,” said Col. Richard Simcock, the commander of Marine Regimental Combat Team Six in eastern Anbar. “I’m not that negative. I’ve seen too much success here to believe that.”

Most of the fuel, ammunition and vehicle maintenance for the Falluja police is still supplied by the American military, said Maj. Todd Sermarini, the marine in charge of police training here.

Some police officers have been forced to buy gasoline from black-market roadside vendors. “Ammunition is a big problem, weapons are a problem, and wages are a problem,” said Capt. Al Cheng, 34, a company commander working with the police here.

Many Sunni leaders here contend that the Shiite-dominated government is neglecting them for sectarian reasons, and the bad feelings at times boil over into angry accusations. In interviews conducted in early August, some said that factions in the Interior Ministry were taking orders from Iran, or that the government was withholding money and support because it did not want to build up Sunni security forces that it could end up fighting after an eventual American withdrawal from Iraq.

Iraqi officials in Baghdad deny shortchanging Falluja, saying they have authorized more than enough police forces for Anbar. “We’d like to support them, but that does not mean we can respond to their requests or demands,” said Sadiq al-Rikabi, political adviser to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. He said the government had problems supplying the police throughout Iraq.

The Marines operate as a “shock absorber” between the locals and the central government, said Brig. Gen. John Allen, the deputy Marine commander in Anbar Province. The animosity toward Baghdad among the Sunnis here “worries me, but I don’t despair of it,” he said, adding that he thought the government’s lack of support was more a result of bureaucratic inefficiency than sectarian hostility. “The challenge for us is to connect the province to the central government.”

But first, marines in Falluja have to connect residents with their own police force. On a recent weekend, that involved establishing a joint American-Iraqi security outpost in Andalus, one of the city’s worst neighborhoods, where the pockmarked buildings still bear the scars of the 2004 American assault.

In just 24 hours, marines cut enough electrical cable and plywood to turn a shell of a building into a functioning outpost, one of the 10 they are building, one for each precinct, and to wall off the precinct behind concrete barriers, leaving only a few ways in or out.

The next step was to recruit an auxiliary force to help the police. After careful screening, they hired 200 Iraqis to serve in a neighborhood watch for the precinct, part of an effort to bolster the undersized force of slightly more than 1,000 police officers for the city and surrounding area. The members of the new force are paid $50 a month by the Marines to stand guard — mostly at checkpoints at the entrances to the neighborhood — with weapons they bring from home, typically AK-47s.

Seven of the city’s 10 precincts have now gotten the same treatment as Andalus. The idea behind the outposts was to roust the Iraqi police from their central headquarters, which they seldom left, and get them into the neighborhood outposts.

The new plan makes it easier for marines to act as mentors for the policemen, whose heavy-handed tactics remain a concern. The police need to learn not to arrest “a hundred people” for a single crime, Colonel Simcock said. “What’s going to stop Al Qaeda is not having 99 people angry at the police because they were wrongfully arrested,” he said.

Despite the marines’ best efforts to screen recruits, Captain Cheng said, “it wouldn’t surprise me that a lot of the guys we used to fight are in the neighborhood watch.” But he says the new force has already made a difference, turning in active insurgents and guarding precincts that have only 10 or 20 police officers on patrol at any one time.

Captain Cheng says the plan to turn Falluja’s security over to the police is on track, but he points out how much the marines still do. “We are the ones emplacing the barriers, we are the ones hiring the neighborhood watch,” he said. “We are the ones establishing the conditions for them to succeed.”

Violence has dropped sharply in the city, where no marines have been killed or wounded since mid-May. But deadly skirmishes have been common around the nearby village of Karma and in remote areas north of Falluja.

Twenty-five service members have been killed in Anbar Province since the beginning of July, according to Icasualties.org, making it by far the deadliest province after Baghdad.

The struggle to supply the police overshadows another important element in the American military’s gains in Anbar: contracts awarded to Sunni tribal allies in rural areas.

The tribes have relatively little influence in Falluja but dominate elsewhere in the province. Their decision to ally with the Marines helped stabilize the entire region, and men from tribes now serve in provincial security forces to help keep insurgents at bay.

One Marine civil affairs officer estimates that a quarter of the $10 million his unit has committed to spending around Falluja since March has gone to the Abu Issa tribe, which is centered west of Falluja. The Jumaili, a tribe near Karma, has received $1 million, the officer said. The contracts are typically for water treatment plants, refurbishing clinics and similar projects.

“The politics here are very much governed by greed, and this is the real alliance in Anbar,” said an American reconstruction official here who worries the contracts are only a temporary glue with the tribes and who was not authorized to speak publicly. If the Iraqi government provided more, “everything would be much more sustainable.”

The last security outpost is set to be finished in September, followed by four new police stations scattered throughout the city. If all goes as planned, the marines should begin leaving the city early next year, said Lt. Col. Bill Mullen, who commands the Second Battalion, Sixth Marines, the unit that patrols Falluja.

In effect, the Marines are predicting they can leave Falluja on the same timeline many in Congress want to see troops pulled back to larger bases or leaving altogether. Troops who would have patrolled Falluja would deploy into outlying areas by April, but close enough to reinforce the city in a crisis, Colonel Mullen said. Small police training and liaison teams would also remain.

“Everything we are doing is oriented toward our ability to leave,” he said, adding that the most likely obstacle to leaving by April would be the continued failure of the Interior Ministry to supply the police. “You can’t help hearing stuff going on back in the United States, and Congress reaching for the chain to pull the plug out of the bathtub. The smart money says there is finite time.”

The Iraqi Army has already been pulling out of Falluja. The last battalion is scheduled to leave in September. Though the marines here say the Iraqi soldiers were a good unit, there has been tension between the police and the soldiers, who one marine commander said were 90 percent Shiite. Marines say guns-drawn confrontations have occurred, though none recently.

The tensions briefly boiled over on a recent joint patrol through Andalus, when the police accused Iraqi soldiers of stealing blankets from large bags of supplies being handed to residents from the back of trucks.

As people from the neighborhood looked on, the soldiers accused the police of being “moles” and “spies” for insurgents, and the Iraqi Army commander shouted and shook his finger in the faces of policemen. The police shouted back, accusing the soldiers of serving as Iranian agents. Afterward, the police and army commanders calmed down their troops and shook hands.

If the Iraqi government provided a large and steady supply of men, weapons, vehicles and equipment, the police could secure the city, said Colonel Hussein, the Falluja police chief. But he complained of little support from the government except for salaries, which he doubted would be paid if the Americans were not here. He said he also needed four times more policemen. “Without the role of the Marines, I’ll fail,” he said.

Brig. Gen. Abdul Karim Khalaf, a senior Interior Ministry spokesman, called Colonel Hussein’s comments “unprofessional.” In an interview, he said if the Falluja police had an equipment shortage then they failed to request enough gear earlier.

He added that if Colonel Hussein is so fond of the Marines, perhaps he should apply for American citizenship.


August 18, 2007

Crew members aboard crashed helicopter identified

Marine Corps Air Station Yuma has released the names of the three Marines and a sailor killed when their search and rescue helicopter crashed in the Yuma desert Thursday. The base also identified a Marine who was injured in the crash and remains hospitalized at Yuma Regional Medical Center.

http://www.yumasun.com/news/yuma_35964___article_news.html/members_mcas.html

BY DARIN FENGER AND JOYCE LOBECK, SUN STAFF WRITERS
August 18, 2007 - 10:58AM

All five were crew members with Search and Rescue (SAR) attached to Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron at MCAS Yuma.

Next of kin have been notified, according to a news statement released by the military Saturday morning.

The four who died in the crash were identified as:

-Maj. Cesar Y. Freitas, 35, a pilot, from Boulder, Colo.

-Capt. Bradley E. Walters, 33, a pilot, from Arlington, Texas.

-Sgt. Charles L. Osgood, 27, crew chief, from Phoenix.

-Hospitalman 2nd Class Brendon W. Sandburg, 25, a Navy corpsman assigned to the Branch Medical Clinic in Yuma, from Stuart, Fla.

Lance. Cpl. Brian D. Stahlhut, 21, is hospitalized in fair condition, according to Machele Headington, a YRMC spokeswoman.

The five were aboard an SAR helicopter that crashed 20 miles north of Yuma near the Colorado River, according to the MCAS Yuma public affairs office. The accident happened late Thursday afternoon during a routine training flight near the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground. The helicopter was one of four SAR helicopters based at MCAS Yuma.

Communication with the helicopter was lost at about 4 p.m. Thursday. The wreckage was found about midnight by another SAR team, according to base officials.

The cause of the accident is still under investigation, MCAS Yuma officials said.

"On behalf of Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, I extend our deepest condolences to the family members of the Marines and sailor," Col. Ben Hancock, MCAS Yuma commanding officer, said in the news statement. "Devotion to duty, patriotism and selflessness are hallmarks of search and rescue crew members. They were outstanding members of this command and as a close-knit family we mourn their loss."


Marine Helicopter Crashes Over Arizona; Four on Board Are Killed During Training Flight Accident

PHOENIX (Aug. 18) - Military officials released few details about the crash of a U.S. Marine Corps search-and-rescue helicopter that went down during a training flight over southwest Arizona, killing four people on board.

http://news.aol.com/story/_a/marine-helicopter-crashes-over-arizona/20070817142909990001?ncid=NWS00010000000001

By MOISES D. MENDOZA,AP
Posted: 2007-08-18 04:11:25
Filed Under: Nation News

One person survived and that injured Marine was transported to Yuma Regional Medical Center and listed in fair condition Friday.

The HH-1N Huey crashed about 20 miles north of Yuma on Thursday. The wreckage was discovered early Friday, and three Marines and one Navy sailor were pronounced dead at the scene, said 1st Lt. Rob Dolan, a spokesman for the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma.

The names of the dead and injured were expected to be released sometime Saturday.

The cause of the crash was under investigation, according to Marine officials.

The chopper assigned to the Marine Corps Air Station in Yuma was last heard from at about 4 p.m. MST Thursday, Marine Sgt. Ryan O'Hare said.

The aircraft was flying alone on a routine training mission near the Army's Yuma Proving Ground, a sprawling 1,300-square-mile military reservation along the Arizona-California border used to test combat systems and helicopters.

The missing aircraft was assigned to the Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron at the Marine Corps Air Station.

Yuma Mayor Larry Nelson ordered all flags in the city Friday lowered to half staff.

"They put their lives on the line all the time," Nelson said. "It's just sad that they lost their lives training to prepare for emergencies, to save the lives of others."

The Yuma facility is the home base for several air squadrons and is the world's busiest Marine Corps air station.

In 2005, a Marine Corps Harrier jet crashed into a neighborhood near the air base but the pilot had only minor injuries and no one on the ground was hurt.

Hueys, first produced in 1956, are Vietnam War-era workhorses. New aircraft are scheduled to replace them beginning in 2008.

Anbar’s rule of the road: Stop when told

By Franklin Fisher, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Saturday, August 18, 2007

COMBAT OUTPOST RAWAH, Iraq — When a U.S. Marine foot patrol was heading back to its base recently in Iraq’s western Anbar province, the Marines noticed a white truck about two blocks off heading their way.

To continue reading:

http://stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=55729&archive=true

August 17, 2007

Kings Bay Marine Barracks Named To Honor Hero; Cpl. Jason Dunham Died Saving Fellow Marines

KINGS BAY, Ga. -- Friends and family of a U.S. Marine who gave his life in Iraq to save others was remembered on Friday as the Marine barracks at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay were named in his honor.

http://www.news4jax.com/news/13918637/detail.html

POSTED: 4:38 pm EDT August 17, 2007

The Marine Corps Security Force Company's living quarters at the submarine base will forever be known as the Cpl. Jason Dunham Barracks. It is the first in a pair of dedications for the 22-year-old military hero, as the U.S. Navy also plans to name a ship in his honor.

Dunham, who was awarded the Medal of Honor by President George W. Bush earlier this year, was described in the ceremony as a Marine hero for not only today's era, but the future as well.

"Cpl. Dunham will be a Marine leadership example to be emulated by future generations of Marines and sailors," said Lt. Col. Andrew Murray.

"Jason knew that his mission was to stop the insurgents, and it was also to take care of his Marines," said Gen. Robert Magnus, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps. "In a split second that many think was a thoughtless action, it was an instant decision of what to do ... he threw himself on his helmet on that grenade to protect his two Marines."

Dunham's parents attended the solemn ceremony.

When asked what they learned from their son, his mother said: "Kindness -- to put other people first always."

For more information about Dunham or to donate to his memorial fund, log onto JasonsMemorial.org.

Kings Bay Marine Barracks Named To Honor Hero; Cpl. Jason Dunham Died Saving Fellow Marines

KINGS BAY, Ga. -- Friends and family of a U.S. Marine who gave his life in Iraq to save others was remembered on Friday as the Marine barracks at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay were named in his honor.

http://www.news4jax.com/news/13918637/detail.html

POSTED: 4:38 pm EDT August 17, 2007

The Marine Corps Security Force Company's living quarters at the submarine base will forever be known as the Cpl. Jason Dunham Barracks. It is the first in a pair of dedications for the 22-year-old military hero, as the U.S. Navy also plans to name a ship in his honor.

Dunham, who was awarded the Medal of Honor by President George W. Bush earlier this year, was described in the ceremony as a Marine hero for not only today's era, but the future as well.

"Cpl. Dunham will be a Marine leadership example to be emulated by future generations of Marines and sailors," said Lt. Col. Andrew Murray.

"Jason knew that his mission was to stop the insurgents, and it was also to take care of his Marines," said Gen. Robert Magnus, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps. "In a split second that many think was a thoughtless action, it was an instant decision of what to do ... he threw himself on his helmet on that grenade to protect his two Marines."

Dunham's parents attended the solemn ceremony.

When asked what they learned from their son, his mother said: "Kindness -- to put other people first always."

For more information about Dunham or to donate to his memorial fund, log onto JasonsMemorial.org.

August 16, 2007

An Extra-Special Homecoming for One Marine

From fighting just west of Fallujah to “home, sweet home,” about 170 Marines and sailors returned to Camp Lejeune from Iraq Thursday morning.

http://www.wnct.com/midatlantic/nct/news.apx.-content-articles-NCT-2007-08-16-0052.html

Thursday, Aug 16, 2007

By Philip Jones

Hundreds of folks endured the heat to welcome back members of the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force.

And while all homecomings our special, our Philip Jones explains why this one has a little added significance for one Marine.

As a half-dozen buses pulled in to Camp Lejeune Thursday morning, hundreds of friends and family members saw their prayers answered right before their eyes.

A Marine playing a bagpipe signaled that almost two hundred marines and sailors were home.

But the music quickly gave way to hugs, kisses and tears -- and for Marisa Maloney, the surprise of a lifetime.

“Everybody kept it from me,” she said. “My whole entire family. I'm really shocked. I'm still in shock.”

In shock -- and now, engaged.

Her boyfriend, Cpl. Brian Borzek, proposed as he came off the bus.

“I already had this all planned out, to get her parents down here and everything,” Borzek said. “I bought the ring while I was in Iraq.”

That's an impressive feat, considering he just spent the last seven months fighting Iraqi insurgents.

He says he mailed a letter to Marisa's dad a couple of months ago, asking for his her hand in marriage.

Once her father said yes, Borzek started counting down the days until he got home.

“It was just the feeling that I had in me,” he said. “We've been talking about it for a while, and it just felt right. It was a great moment to do it.”

A moment this couple will never forget.

They say they haven't set a date yet. For now, they're just going to take some time to enjoy Brian’s return home before they kick wedding planning in to high gear.

August 15, 2007

Services planned for oldest female U.S. Marine veteran

OWASSO -- Maye Ryan, who had been the oldest female Marine veteran in the nation, died Monday night at the Baptist Village, where she had lived for the last 14 years. She was 97.

http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?articleID=070815_1_A10_spanc81170

By Staff Reports
8/15/2007

A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the Baptist Village Chapel, and a graveside service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday at the Red Oak Cemetery in Latimer County.

According to John Ryan, his mother fell and broke her hip last Wednesday.

She was hospitalized in Tulsa until Monday afternoon, when she returned to the Baptist Village. She died three hours later, her son said.

In the end, he said, his mother died where she wanted to -- in the only home she's had since the death of her husband, Pete Ryan.

They had married in 1946 in San Francisco, where they met.

Maye Ryan's life began May 18, 1910, in Red Oak. Her father's job as an oil pumper took the family from Red Oak to Avant in Osage County and then south to Wewoka in Seminole County, where she finished high school.

She attended college in Wilburton and then taught school. Throughout the Depression and Dust Bowl years, Ryan, an only child, used her teacher's pay to help support her parents.

By the time World War II was well under way in 1943, she joined the first class of the newly established Marine Corps Women's Reserve.

She was assigned as a typist in Mojave, Calif., where she served for 32 months. She was discharged as a corporal.

In an April interview with the Tulsa World, Ryan said things didn't go easily for those first few women in the Marine Corps.

She said her male counterparts often would look down their noses at the female Marines and that many of the men had ugly names for them.

Eventually, though, the women became well-accepted by the men, Ryan said.

She was proud of being able to take care of herself.

She only recently applied for veteran's benefits -- 50 years after she had qualified for them -- and she applied for Medicaid 30 years after she qualified for that program.

That's the way Ryan lived her life.

She was a Marine to the very end -- and proud of it, saying in April, "I had no use for those other branches of service."

Parris Island, Kings Bay to honor Dunham

Staff report
Posted : Wednesday Aug 15, 2007 12:04:31 EDT

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. — Cpl. Jason Dunham, the first Marine to receive the Medal of Honor in the Iraq war, earned the title Marine at the recruit depot in Parris Island, S.C.

To continue reading:

http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2007/08/Marine_dunham_ceremonies_070815/

August 14, 2007

Understanding stress in a combat environment

NEAR KARMAH, Iraq (Aug. 14, 2007) -- We live in the electronic age. The added comfort of phone and internet capabilities in forward areas can ease strain on personal relationships and business matters “back home.” During the brief contact service members have with their loved ones, generally only the most important words are exchanged: “How’s the baby? Really, her first tooth?” or “I’m safe, I love you.” Our phone calls “back home” are a great break from the reality of everyday life here. Rest assured, when a Marine hangs up the phone, he goes right back to scratching heat rash. He can smell his dirty body, feel his sore shoulders and hear IEDs in the distant night. While making a phone call can be the best part of the week, hanging up is the worst.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/FF297C171C1E0AB285257337002FA57E?opendocument

Aug. 14, 2007; Submitted on: 08/14/2007 04:40:25 AM ; Story ID#: 200781444025
By Sgt. Andy Hurt, 13th MEU

Stress is a big factor in a combat environment.

Navy Lts. Stephen Staub and Alan Bates are the Chief and Assistant Battalion Surgeons, respectively, for Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines. Both agree that explaining stress factors and solutions to cope often brings factors to the table. Untreated stress, for example, can cause frequent headaches. A million things can cause headaches, so how is stress the automatic diagnosis?

Explaining the science behind stress, the doctors say, is the key to identifying and coping with it.


A Day in the Life

A day in a combat zone seems to last a lifetime. The environmental factors (relative to your location) alone can bring a man to his wit’s end. Dust, wind, heat, dust, bugs, dust … did we mention dust?

“Just being here is way more stressful than a day back in (the U.S.),” said Bates. “You’re away from your support system, your friends and your family … and you don’t have normal stress reducers like fast food, bars and clubs. Here, there’s no avenue of escape.” Everyday things like showers and cold water disappear once a unit goes “outside the wire” for patrolling and sweeps, which Bates’ says increases stress exponentially.

“Now we’re talking about life-threatening situations. You’re out there on a fourteen hour patrol, and every step you take could be on a pressure plate or something … you’re sleeping on dirt and drinking hundred-degree water.”


The Price We Pay

For the “Docs,” the cost cause results of stress are obvious and everywhere.
“Look around you,” said Staub, “everyone around here has lost ten to fifteen pounds … that’s the most obvious indicator of stress and you can see there is a negative balance here.”
Bates added: “I can see it in some of my corpsmen even. They came here as baby-faced nineteen-year-olds, and now that they’ve been in the sun everyday for sixteen hours on patrols, their skin is all leathery, they look older, some of ‘em got the ‘thousand yard stare’ or whatever. It’s stress.”

Sometimes stress is not so obvious, the two explained. When the initial symptoms of weight loss and visible fatigue have become commonplace, a keen eye and compassionate ear are needed to pinpoint excessive stress.

“When you’re under stress,” Staub began, “your body produces more stress-related hormones that cause high blood pressure, raised metabolism and increased blood sugar.

“The other thing we see is when stress gets to a level Marines can’t handle and it causes psychosomatic illnesses,” Staub said.

“They subconsciously turn their problems into something they can deal with like headaches, back pain, knee pain or stomach problems.”

“It’s usually some kind of pain,” Bates said.

Staub added, “But it’s based on psychological manifestations.”
“So,” continued Bates, “we can treat the pain, but if you remove the stressor, the pain will go away.”

The two explained that pain comes from two places: nerves and emotions. When a Marine is physically hurt, Tylenol and Motrin can treat the pain. When there are emotional factors involved, pain, or a manifestation thereof (i.e. stress), can be very difficult to treat.
“That’s why morale is so important,” said Staub. “If you’re in a good state of mind, the little things won’t seem as bad.” Quoting NFL quarterback Brett Favre, Staub added, “Pain is an issue of ‘mind over matter.’ If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”

In basic training, Staub said, service members are taught to fight through stressful pain by executing on order countless push-ups, sit-ups and other rigorous physical activities. When the body is forced to perform, the mind learns it can perform. For combat-experienced Marines, the reaction to stress contrasts with that of Marines on their first deployment.

“The young guys may not have the consciousness for what’s going on,” Bates said. “They think ‘this hurts, but my platoon sergeant said keep going so I will.’ The sergeants, gunnery sergeants and first sergeants realize what’s going on inside themselves, and they know that stress does not equal shutting down.”


The Science of Stress

Stress and its symptoms boil down to a chemical release and reaction, synaptic relays and sensory input. There is an explanation for everything, but the truth is nothing short of pure magic, keeping Marines on the move.

“When you’re under stress,” began Staub, “your body produces more stress-related hormones like cortisol. They raise your blood pressure and metabolism, and basically get you ready for a meeting with a Saber-Tooth Tiger. It’s very primal.”

Staub continued: “On an evolutionary level, stress was created to get you running down the road, ‘fight or flight’ or ‘duck and cover,’ but it wasn’t meant to sustain you at this level for long periods of time.”

Said Bates: “The adrenaline rush you get is for a period of minutes, or an hour. Out here, we’re patrolling for four days.”

The prolonged high-intensity experiences on the battlefield take their toll on normal human stress reactions.

After a few days, said Staub, “You don’t respond as effectively to the short bursts. When someone is so stressed for so long, there may be a big blast – and you’re numb to it.”
“It could take something really catastrophic to get a normal stress response,” Bates added.
It is the long durations of chaotic experience, combined with geographic factors (the dust, wind and heat), combined with human factors like isolation, frustration and adrenaline bursts that begin to take a serious toll on health.

“In ‘normal life’ back home, your cycle is regulated,” said Bates. “The release of cortisol usually happens when you sleep and can help your body recover from stress. Here, the extended release of these hormones causes more negative effects, and Marines are more prone to infections, canker sores and depressed immunity.”


Sweet Relief

The spectrum of techniques for managing stress is enormous. Both doctors agree there is no “one size fits all” method, but there are eclectic methods Marines engage in every day – some of which they would normally condemn.

“We always talk about the benefits of exercise back home, but here there is nothing better than coming back from a patrol and sitting in your tent for awhile,” said Bates. “And as a physician I would never encourage someone to smoke or dip (chewing tobacco), but here it’s all we have, and it’s a social thing.”

“Some people need to be on their own,” Staub said, “but some people need a group. Some people need a book or movie to escape into and lose touch with reality, and some people need a physical challenge. The internet café is a great connection to ‘the real world’ and it acts like a light at the end of the tunnel.

“Guys that have been here two or three times know what their coping mechanisms are,” said Bates.

“The key is you have to have more than one,” Staub said, “If your only mechanism gets taken away, you won’t know what to do.”

When stress levels are balanced, however, Staub says the little bit of normal stress is effective in keeping Marines’ killer instinct in tact.

“We don’t want the whole camp Zen’d out like a Buddhist temple where everyone is fat and happy, but …”

“ … You don’t want the scales to tip, either,” Bates finished.
Scientifically speaking, the Doctors also agree that, while it may be undesirable, exercise is possibly the best way to cope with stress.

“If you look at long-endurance athletes who have sustained adrenaline, their body releases endorphins, like natural opiates,” said Bates. He explained that the “natural opiates” interact with pain receptors in the nervous system, causing the mythical “runners high.”

Bates continued: “So your body is releasing all these chemicals that tell you the pain is going away, which makes physical fitness effective stress relief, not only physically, but mentally.”

In a combat environment, all methods of stress relief share one common goal: War fighting effectiveness.

“If you’re physically fit, you’re going to be a better warrior,” Bates said. “When you’re out on a sixteen-hour patrol and you’ve already mimicked that stress (with exercise) you can get over that ‘wall.’”

“The wall,” said Staub, “is when someone starts exercising, they’re burning sugar in their muscles called glycogen. When it’s all used up, you feel exhausted like you can’t go anymore, and that’s when the body shifts gears and releases other types of energy – you get your second wind.”

“The Marine who’s physically fit is always better prepared to cope with stress,” Bates said. “Stress is a see-saw. When stress response worsens some aspects of health, exercise can make it better.”


Unanswered questions

Through exercise, reading or smoking, Marines in a combat environment have an effective means of stress management; but the question remains: Is stress turning us into perfect warriors through exercise and focus or is it slowly destroying us?

“In our country,” said Staub, “we work harder and take less vacation than most other countries. We’re the richest and most powerful country in the world, but we have more mental health issues and preventable issues like hypertension and diabetes. Is it worth it? It’s not for us to decide.”

The bottom line is this: Marines are warriors, first and foremost. For nearly 232 years, they have proudly excelled in situations similar to the perilous battlefield in Iraq. It is our hallmark to “adapt and overcome,” and by keeping watchful eyes on our brothers and sisters in arms, we will continue to fight our nation’s enemies in an effectively managed, stressful world.

For more information about the warriors of Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, or the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, visit the Unit Web site at https://ww.usmc.mil/13thmeu.

Company A catches another HVI

HUSAYBAH, Iraq (Aug. 14, 2007) -- It was supposed to be a normal patrol. Their mission was to provide a presence down Market Street, but a red truck caught their eye. Was this the red truck they’ve been looking for? They weren’t sure but they had to find out.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/1BF7756DD377E56185257337003F4E33?opendocument

Aug. 14, 2007

By Cpl. Eric C. Schwartz, 2nd Marine Division

“The truck pulled up and saw us, so it backed in reverse. Cpl. Schwartz chased him, so we followed,” said Pfc. Phillip Stevens, a Trego, Wis., native, and rifleman with Headquarters Platoon, Alpha Company, Task Force 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, Regimental Combat Team 2.

A teenager stepped out of the vehicle, hands up in the air. The passengers, two children and a woman stepped out of the vehicle and were placed to the side. The Marines quickly realized the 17-year-old driver wasn’t the truck’s owner.

“The nephew brought his uncles over to the truck,” said Lance Cpl. Kristian Bandy, a 2000 Carbondale High School, De Sota, Ill. graduate and team leader with A Company.

One of the driver’s uncles owned the shiny, red truck that matched the description of a vehicle of interest, but the owner didn’t match the description of the insurgent.

“I seriously thought they were innocent,” Bandy said. “They showed no hostilities and were cooperative in every way.”

The Marines followed proper procedure and after searching the men, driver and the vehicle, they then called their combat operations center to report their findings. The COC responded with a “Stand by.”

Streetlights gave an orange glow to the darkness, but the Marine’s gear seemed to trap in the day’s heat as they stood by for further information.

“No matter how hot I was or how tired my men were from standing security,” Bandy said, “we weren’t going to become complacent by taking anything off.”

Time passed and the vehicle-owner’s brother walked around the corner to his store with two Marines, while others stood security, so the Marines could search the store. It was filled with candy, sodas and cigarettes not unlike an American convenience store. These people were beginning to seem less and less like terrorists to the Marines.

The streets were cordoned off while the Marines waited for the Quick Reaction Force, or QRF, to show up and pick the two uncles up for questioning. No alarms were raised because the Marines knew, as do the Iraqis, that innocent civilians are brought home safely after a few questions.

Curiosity sparked a few onlookers who quickly became interpreters for Marines standing watch on Market Street, keeping vehicles away from the cordoned-off area.

“Civilians were not only cooperative, but they were willing to help,” Evers said. “This made our job easier and less stressful.”

The Marines started to feel foolish for detaining two seemingly decent Husaybah citizens who offered drinks from their store as well as cigarettes from their pockets to the patrol. That feeling quickly changed when the QRF rolled up in up-armored humvees.

The two men’s faces turned ghostly-pale when they recognized one of the Marines coming out of the vehicle. They started to forget about any chance of walking away when they heard the QRF Marines call them by name.

A high level Al Qaeda in Iraq international financier had just been caught by the Marines of A Company.

The unknown Marine took the detainees into the humvee for questioning at the detention center.

“We didn’t think any of these guys were anybody important,” said Lance Cpl. Alantino Garcia, a San Carlos, Ariz., native, and assistant patrol leader with A Company.

“I’ll never go by my own intuition again,” Bandy said.

The enemy in Husaybah might hide right in front of the Marines for a short time, but intelligence and patience allows the Marines to unmask these terrorists and expose them to the townspeople for who they really are; an enemy to peace.

It's not about the war, or politics: Chico couple off to bootcamp

Mario Sagastume was an infantry Marine who served in Vietnam 40 years ago. He and his wife, Nanette Sagastume, have a son who served as an infantry Marine in Iraq in 2004.

http://www.chicoer.com/lifestyle/ci_6617141

By MARY NUGENT - Staff Writer
Article Launched: 08/14/2007 12:00:00 AM PDT

Father and son both served in Marines 2/1, Fox Company, Third Platoon. Son Daniel Sagastume of Chico, wanted to be in the same battalion, company and platoon that his father had.

Though Mario and Daniel, 25, are no longer in the Marines, the military institution is still important to Mario, a retired accountant and business owner, and Nanette, a retired nurse practitioner.

The couple will participate in Team Marine Parents' Bootcamp Challenge Oct. 6 in San Diego at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot. The fundraiser involves individuals and teams doing athletic activities similar to what young people go through in Boot Camp. Similar — but more good-natured and not nearly as demanding.

Teammarineparents.com describes the event as "A fun and furious 3-mile course featuring obstacles used only by Marine recruits at the Marine Recruit Depot."

"There will be running, crawling over hay bales and cargo netting, hurdles and trenches in the mud. And there will be drill instructors along the way," said Nanette.

Team Marine Parents promotes supporting the troops and accepts donations to sustain three programs that specifically support troops.

"This project is not about the war, it's not about politics. This is about doing something for those who have offered their lives to protect us," she said.

The Sagastumes hope to raise $1,000 for the Bootcamp Challenge. "We always look for ways to do something for the troops. The challenge seems like a good idea and a fun thing to do," said Mario, who has attended reunions of Vietnam War veterans in San Diego, the Midwest and Washington, D.C.

Nanette said although she runs, she has a few concerns about the challenge. "I'm worried about push-ups since I have little upper body strength. I have a personal trainer and we're making up a program, things I can work on ... I plan to do girlie push-ups."

She said those who participate in the challenge are asked to do so in memory of, or in honor of, a Marine. Mario is participating in memory of Marines from the Vietnam era: Gunnery Sgt. Jim LaChance and 1st Lt. Jim Little.

Nanette is participating in honor of her husband and son, and in memory of six Marines from her son's platoon killed in Iraq: Lance Cpl. Michael Allred, Pvt. David Burridge, Lance Cpl. Quinn Keith, Cpl. Joseph McCarthy, Cpl. Mick Nygard-Bekowsky and Lance Cpl. Lamont Wilson.

She wears a bracelet in memory of those Marines. "I was so affected by that tragedy — perhaps I felt emotionally connected to the Marines' families because I too waited all day to see if my Marine was among those killed in action that morning — that I truly grieved intensely for months."

Bootcamp participants will wear T-shirts with the names of the Marines they are honoring or remembering.

Besides the Bootcamp Challenge in San Diego, Team Marine Parents also sponsors a marathon in October in Washington, D.C.

Team Marine Parents is a project of Marineparents.com, a Web site that provides information and communication for families of Marines.

————

How to help

Nanette and Mario Sagastume are accepting donations for their participation Oct. 6 in the Bootcamp Challenge at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego.

The couple hope to raise $1,000, which will specifically go toward a care package project for deployed troops.

Information can be obtained at www.teammarineparents.com.

August 13, 2007

Valor not always recognized, says MOAA chief

By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Aug 13, 2007 12:34:08 EDT

Troops and their commanders are complaining that acts of valor in Iraq have become so routine they not longer qualify for either the attention of military leaders or of the general public, according to a retired Navy vice admiral who heads a major military organization.

To continue reading:

http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2007/08/tns_valor_moaa_070811/

The cycle begins, 24th MEU activated

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (Aug. 13, 2007) -- The countdown has begun.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/328487E28E12106685257336004FC9E8?opendocument

Aug. 13, 2007; Submitted on: 08/13/2007 10:31:30 AM ; Story ID#: 2007813103130
By Cpl. Randall A. Clinton, 24th MEU

In less than 7 months one of the Marine Corps' smallest, fiercest and most agile Marine Air-Ground Task Forces will deploy to support operations for European and Central Commands.

During an activation ceremony at William P. T. Hill Field here Aug. 10, the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit assumed operational control of its air, ground and logistical elements in order to support a wide array of combat and humanitarian operations around the world during its deployment scheduled for February.

1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment became the Battalion Landing Team, the ground element of the MEU. This element is a combat-ready infantry unit ready to go to any clime and place.

“The BLT gains a recon platoon, an amphibious assault vehicle platoon, a light armor reconnaissance platoon, a combat engineer platoon and an artillery platoon. With all these reinforcements to the (unit), it becomes a BLT and the capabilities that we have grow in regards to the missions we are capable of,” said Capt. Todd Mahal, BLT 1/6 operations officer.

Allowing the 24th MEU to sustain itself in full combat for 15 days without resupply is the job of the Combat Logistics Battalion 24, the MEU’s logistical element.

“We make sure the war fighters are ready to fight,” explained First Sgt. Luke Mercardante, CLB-24 sergeant major. “The CLB is the complete support network for the BLT and the MEU.”

As such, they allow the commander to conduct non-combat evacuations, medical treatment and humanitarian aid operations, while also providing their own explosive ordnance technicians and security force, he added.

“Knowing that we are just as important to the Global War on Terrorism as any other part of the MEU, we bring our own punch to the fight,” said Mercardante.

A hallmark of the CLB's ability was the 24th MEU's evacuation in Beirut, Lebanon during their last deployment -- the largest evacuation of American citizens from foreign shores.

Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 365 (Reinforced) joined the 24th MEU as the Air Combat Element. Much more than a normal medium helicopter squadron, the designation means the squadron comes loaded with a wider assortment of aircraft.

“We became reinforced because we attach non-organic capabilities from other units to the core CH-46 “Sea Knight” squadron such as CH-53E “Super Stallion,” AH-1W “Super Cobra,” UH-1N “Huey” and the AV-8B “Harrier,” said Lt. Col. John C. Vara, HMM-365 (Rein.) commanding officer.

The range of attack and transport helicopters to attack planes adds to the fire power and maneuverability of the 24th MEU, while increasing the distance and speed at which Marines can support operations, he said.

The ceremony signals the start of an intense period of preparation for all of the elements of the 24th MEU. During the work-up phase they will transform from four separate elements (BLT, CLB, ACE and command element) into one unit with one mission, to become the Marine Corps' fully-integrated, versatile, crisis-response force.

“(The activation ceremony) is a significant event, up until this point we have been a group who knew they are going to go forward soon and deploy,” said Col. Peter Petronzio, 24th MEU commander. “Today beings our six-month training followed by deployment and each of you brings a unique skill set and a unique fighting spirit to the history of the 24th MEU. The (MEU) has an incredible history, has done some amazing things and I know that together we will add to that.”

As the commander of the MEU, Petronzio has the awesome power of the MAGTF at his fingertips.

“It's the singular greatest job that I could aspire to. To serve with and for the 2,200 Marines and sailors that are part of the 24th MEU,” he said. “I basically have my own Marine Corps out here.”

This Corps of highly trained Marines and sailors will head out into the European and Central Command theaters to serve as a quick response force, capable of amphibious operations, mechanized and helicopter raids, noncombatant evacuations, humanitarian assistance, urban warfare, peace enforcement and more. And on this day, enemies of the free and brave received their warning order.

August 12, 2007

Run memorializes Marine, honors other U.S. veterans; 1,000 register for second annual event

HOBART — Nothing against Jeff Pentek or Matt Mroczynski, the top two finishers at Saturday morning's Pfc. Ryan Jerabek, USMC Memorial Challenge in Hobart.

http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070812/GPG0101/708120662/1978

By Thomas Rozwadowski
trozwado@greenbaypressgazette.com
August 12, 2007

But it was hard to focus on anything but Ken Jerabek's enthusiasm as he slapped hands and saluted runners while pacing beneath a finish line banner that read, "Support Our Troops, Thank Our Vets, Honor Our Fallen."

"I know they're looking at it from the father's perspective. The father who lost his son in Iraq. Ryan was so special, so unique, and everyone in Wisconsin knows his story," said Jerabek, who on more than one occasion implored runners to "finish strong" as the end neared.

"But really, I just can't thank these people enough for being here. My being out front is one way for them to understand what the run is about."

At its core, the second annual Jerabek Memorial Challenge was about bringing people together so they could celebrate and remember the troops. Take Pentek, for example, a cross country standout at St. Norbert College whose first-place finish at 20:20 was a nice notch in his training for the upcoming season. Then again, Pentek couldn't deny that participating in the 4-mile run meant a bit more than other aspects of his workout regimen.

Maybe it was the patriotic music blaring on speakers throughout Four Seasons Park.

Maybe it was the resounding ovation that greeted a group of Marines as they charged to the finish line in unison.

Maybe it was the widespread support displayed through T-shirts bearing the name of Ryan, who was 18 when he was killed with 11 other Marines in an ambush in Ramadi, Iraq, on April 6, 2004.

"My dad is a Navy reservist, and I mean, it's really great that this many people can get together for this kind of cause," Pentek said. "Even though we were just running, it's something, I think, all of us were paying attention to."

Event organizers said roughly 1,000 runners registered for Saturday's race, with an extra boost from special guest Marines like Sgt. Peter Vargo of Marinette and Lance Cpl. David Nickerson of Rhinelander, both reservists based in Ashwaubenon.

"As far as Marines go, we're all a brotherhood. We're here for each other all the time. For us to run for a fallen Marine, it's an honor for us," Nickerson said.

While combing the grounds looking for ways to offer help, Chuck Tappa also reflected on the uniqueness of the cause.

"It's very moving to be here," said Tappa, of Hobart, a neighbor of the Jerabeks. "It's to honor the veterans. Honor those who didn't make it back. Honor those who ever really served."

The last observation particularly rings true, with Ken and Rita Jerabek's youngest son, Nick, leaving today for boot camp in San Diego. Nick, 19, politely declined comment, appearing to not want the day to be about his following in Ryan's footsteps.

"I told him, 'I'll see you in 13 weeks,'" Ken Jerabek said. "It was a tremendous tribute for Nick to run today, and the outpouring of support by the community for my sons, my family, is greatly appreciated."

Marines appreciate Seabees making living conditions bearable

By Franklin Fisher, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Sunday, August 12, 2007

PATROL BASE GETTYSBURG, Iraq — Yes, there’s the well-known interservice rivalry of, say, the Army-Navy game, or that of movies, as when Jack Nicholson playing a Marine colonel mocks the white uniform of Tom Cruise playing a young naval officer in “A Few Good Men.”

To continue reading:

http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=48043&source=rss

Marines work to keep bridge, area secure; Hiding spots, complacency among foes faced on patrol

PATROL BASE GETTYSBURG, Iraq — Each time the tide ebbs to reveal small nooks and inlets along his stretch of the Euphrates River, Marine Lance Cpl. Jori Ford wonders whether insurgents would try to use them as hiding places.

http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=48042&source=rss

By Franklin Fisher, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Sunday, August 12, 2007

“The river levels will rise and drop,” said Ford, 23, of Sicily Island, La., “and so you can see little sandbars and islands around the banks. And you can see little caves or inlets …”

“So we make sure to sweep those really well,” he said.

Ford is one of the Marines of Company D, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, who man austere patrol bases on both sides of the river, which runs through Rawah, in western Anbar province. They guard the bridge along with Iraqi security forces.

Ford and fellow Marines of the company’s 3rd Platoon work out of Patrol Base Gettysburg, on the bridge’s north bank.

Besides keeping close watch on the river itself, the Marines and Iraqis keep up a night-and-day schedule of patrols, some on foot, some in vehicles.

The Iraqis check vehicles wanting to cross the bridge. They and the Marines patrol the area continually, hoping to thwart any attempt to destroy or disable the bridge.

Coalition forces see the bridge as a crucial strategic asset because it’s one of few bridges in the region that span the Euphrates to begin with. But it’s also the route for oil trucks moving from a refinery in Beiji, to the northeast.

“This is a big-time strategic asset,” said Marine Capt. Ruben Gutierrez, Company D’s commanding officer.

“It’s crucial because all the fuel and the oil that comes from a refinery up in Beiji, is through here, to Ramadi,” he said.

But other traffic uses the bridge, as do shepherds who move their flocks across, occasionally a thousand sheep at a time, Gutierrez said.

“So that bridge is important for people. … So if we do keep the bridge up for them, that means they get food, they get commerce. That’s why the bridge is a big deal.”

The Marines are ready to kill any insurgents or criminals who might try to ram their way onto the bridge, said Marine 1st Lt. Damon Doykos, Company D’s 3rd Platoon commander.

“Any vehicle that tries to run on to the bridge is going to get lit up,” Doykos said.

But while the Marines stay ready, they say that coalition efforts have largely run the insurgency out of area cities in recent months. While attacks do occur still, for the past several months they’ve been only sporadic.

That poses an important challenge for Marine leaders and their Marines, Doykos and other Marine officers have said in recent interviews.

Part of the challenge now has become “basically … fighting complacency,” he said. “… when nothing’s happening, that’s the biggest problem, the Marines just” keeping the needed combat edge when there’s little in the way of combat.

Ford looks forward to going home after his Iraq deployment, and he’s not about to let his guard down.

“The hardest part is, it’s kind of hard to fight what you can’t see, not knowing exactly what they might throw at you … the what-ifs.

“Sometimes you feel, even though you’re surrounded by Hesco barriers and C-wire, you feel vulnerable. But it’s good to think that way,” Ford said. “It’ll keep you alive.”

August 10, 2007

BLT 3/1 brings successful conclusion to Operation PEGASUS BRIDGE

NEAR KARMAH, Iraq (Aug. 10, 2007) -- Following six days of counterinsurgency operations in an eastern area of operations in Al Anbar province, Marines from Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, dubbed Operation PEGASUS BRIDGE a “mission complete.”

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/0CDF8D625D25BFFF852573330042D1BC?opendocument

Aug. 10, 2007; Submitted on: 08/10/2007 08:09:50 AM ; Story ID#: 20078108950
By Sgt. Andy Hurt, 13th MEU

The battalion executed cache sweeps, local “knock and talk” visits and engaged enemy fighters throughout the operation, which held an original time block of ten days, beginning July 30. The operation involved Lima, India and Weapons companies, along with support from Tanks platoon and air strikes courtesy of 2nd Marine Air Wing (Forward) and Multi-National Forces-West.

Numerous weapons caches, one of which consisted of 11 tons of ammonium nitrate, are among operational highlights. Dozens of enemy munitions, homemade explosives (HME) and rigged-to-blow Improvised Explosive Devices were also uncovered and destroyed in place by Combat Logistics Battalion 13 Explosive Ordnance Disposal personnel.

In addition to enemy accelerants, an execution chamber was discovered July 30. The multi-level chamber contained two corpses less than three weeks old and ten human skeletons. Marines from Weapons Co., who discovered the bunker, said it appeared victims had been lined up and shot against a wall.

The difficulty of conducting counterinsurgency operations has caused frustration among junior Marines who expect high enemy body counts, according to 2nd Lt. Aaron Bell, an India Co. platoon commander. The positive impact on the local populace, however, speaks volumes on the effort of BLT 3/1 to maintain security in the area. During the operation, Bell said, local citizens freely offered information on insurgent activities and pointed out IED locations.

“I’ve been most impressed to see the Marines interacting with the Iraqis,” Bell, a Wausau, Wis. native said. “They do a good job and they’re respectful. They realize that most of these guys are just day-to-day people caught up in a war and looking after their families.”

Bell said the success during PEGASUS BRIDGE is a direct reflection of BLT 3/1 enlisted Marines and small unit leaders.

“I couldn’t be more proud of them. They’ve been kicking (butt) this entire time and exceeding expectations.”

As Battalion Landing Team 3/1 continues counterinsurgency operations here, the success of Operation PEGASUS BRIDGE has proved the tireless efforts of Marines are paying off in multitudes.


Certain 'old' soldiers are just fine with the U.S. Army; Libertyville surgeon has skills that allow him to follow his son into the service

As her husband, an orthopedic surgeon, swore an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution, Nancy Baier sat near the back of the room, arms crossed, looking a little nervous.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/northshore/chi-oldsoldieraug10,1,6495374.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

By Andrew L. Wang | Tribune staff reporter
August 10, 2007

But when he finished, she broke into a smile and applauded. Then she pinned an oak-leaf cluster to his lapel.

Thus capped the commissioning ceremony Thursday, in the lobby of his Libertyville medical offices, at which Dr. Thomas Baier, 53, became a major in the U.S. Army.

"I'm concerned," Nancy Baier said of her husband's decision. "I'm proud of him, but I'm concerned."

A year ago, Thomas Baier, father of four, walked into a recruiting office to see if the Marines could use his decades of experience healing bone and joint injuries. Only a few months earlier, his son Michael, a Marine lance corporal now in Iraq, had graduated from basic training in San Diego. After mulling it over, Baier, of Libertyville, decided he wanted to join too.

"I'm at a stage where I don't have kids around the house anymore," he said. "I saw this as a way I could help my country."

But the Marines told him he was too old and passed his name to the Army. After going through physical examinations, having his qualifications vetted by the Department of Defense and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Baier was sworn in as an officer.

"I told my son he's going to have to salute me," he joked.

The Army is glad to have him, and Baier was well under the age limit, 62, for medical professionals to join its reserve medical corps.

Nurses, doctors and therapists joining the Army are considered to have a skill that's "wartime critical," said Sgt. Thomas Voye, a health-care recruiter for the Army Reserve. "He's not going to be kicking down any doors. His hands and head are much more important."

The first step in Baier's military career, which he likely will take this fall, is four weeks of officer basic training at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio, Voye said. Then he will be assigned to the 801st Combat Support Hospital unit at Ft. Sheridan.

Baier is looking forward to new experiences, such as training to fire a handgun and figuring out the lexicon of Army acronyms.

"That's kind of the exciting part of doing something new," Baier said. "It's kind of a career change for me."

August 9, 2007

Long line of Marines honors fallen ‘brother’

By Franklin Fisher, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Thursday, August 9, 2007

COMBAT OUTPOST RAWAH, Iraq — Hundreds of U.S. Marines in western Iraq waited their turn in intense heat Tuesday to show respect for a fellow Marine killed earlier this month in western Anbar province.

To continue reading:

http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=47965&source=rss

Brothers in arms re-enlist to fight together

MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. (Aug. 9, 2007) -- With 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment ready to deploy to Iraq, approximately a dozen dedicated Marines and Sailors chose to re-enlist or extend.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/E485A45E5EE389E4852573320070D3DD?opendocument

Aug. 9, 2007; Submitted on: 08/09/2007 04:32:22 PM ; Story ID#: 200789163222
By Lance Cpl. Shawn M. Coolman, MCB Camp Pendleton

Eleven Marines and two Navy corpsmen of Company I chose to re-enlist or extend so they can stay with each other for another tour in Iraq.

"The main reason they extended is because of their fellow Marines here," said 1st Sgt. Thomas D. Russi, 40, Company I first sergeant, from Temecula. "They are top caliber Marines and Sailors, they have benefited the strength of the company."

The service members said they chose to remain together for several reasons.

"I didn't feel like I was done yet," said Cpl. Brandon A. Koch, 24, a mortarman from Potosi, Mo. "I have new Marines that I didn't want to send over to Iraq by themselves."

"Originally I wasn't going to extend but I felt that it wasn't my time to leave," said Cpl. Cody C. Turpen, 22, a squad leader from Del City, Okla.

"I am going to do another four years and see what happens from there. Mainly because of the guys I came in with. I couldn't see them go to Iraq without me.

"Also, I have a wife and a child on the way, and I need to do what is best for my family," said Turpen.

The Marines and Sailors capitalized on the opportunity to pass invaluable experience and knowledge they've learned in Iraq to younger Marines who haven't deployed yet.

"I got to deal with two different deployments, I can give them knowledge of their weapon systems and infantry knowledge," said Koch.

"Having these guys here is very good for our company because of all their experience," said Pfc. Chris J. Rogers, 21, a mortarman from Brighton, Mich. "And it helps all of the guys who haven't been over there yet."

It takes a dedicated warrior to stay for another deployment, said Russi, adding that the Marines and Sailors who re-enlisted represent the top leadership for Company I, and they have the love for the Corps to stay for another deployment.

August 8, 2007

Father and son spend family-time together in Iraq

CAMP AL QA’IM, Iraq – (Aug. 8, 2007) -- Families come together in times of crisis, holidays, celebrations, and other average events, but it’s not normal news to hear about a father visiting his son in a war-torn country. Father and son vacations are normally to the ballpark, going out fishing, hiking, museums but how about Al Qa’im, Iraq?

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/41D78CE6E2101FB7852573310045F264?opendocument

Aug. 8, 2007; Submitted on: 08/08/2007 08:44:00 AM ; Story ID#: 2007888440
By Cpl. Eric C. Schwartz, 2nd Marine Division

Lt. Col. David McMorries, the Deputy Communications Officer with Multinational Forces West stopped by Camp Al Qa’im to visit his son, Lance Cpl. Brennan McMorries, a rifleman with Charlie Company, Task Force 1st Battalion, 4th Marines attached to Regimental Combat Team 2 after conducting business at a nearby camp.

“I was deploying the same time as my son, so I wanted to make sure I could come see him,” McMorries, the proud father, said.

Brennan enlisted, and it became hard for him and his father to see one another because of their busy lifestyles. David wanted to make sure he saw Brennan while they were both deployed.

“Nobody told me at the battle position what was going on,” Brennan said. “I was told to pack my stuff, because I was heading to Al Qa’im.”

Brennan was finally told by his company commander that his father was going to stop by and surprise him with a visit.

“I was pretty excited,” Brennan said referring to how he felt when he was told his father was to visit him.

Task Force 1/4’s hospitality allowed Brennan some rest and relaxation with his father here, but this has been the only time he has received any special treatment.

“I never really told anyone that my father is a lieutenant colonel because I didn’t want any special privileges,” Brennan said.

“Every Marine has to earn the title,” David added. “Your venture is your own.”

The two walked around the camp while David’s son showed him how 1/4 Marines live.

“It’s pretty different being out at the tip of the spear because we hear 1/4 is doing a great job from what we hear at headquarters, but now I can see they’re doing a great job!” David said.

The two Marines, father and son, lieutenant colonel and lance corporal have a strong bond because of their eagle, globe and anchor that many parents cannot compare.

“I didn’t take the path to boot camp because OCS is different,” David said. “He’s completed boot camp and I’ve completed OCS, but the end result is the same.”

The father and son outing on the camp wasn’t like going fishing, or hunting because they were restricted to the safety the base had to offer. They decided to use the Morale, Welfare and Recreation room to relax and watch a movie with one another. Brennan and his father were able to enjoy their time together as a family and as Marines, no matter what their rank.

“The two paths are different, but both earn the title of US Marine,” David said.

The Marines walked off wearing their digital desert-camouflage uniforms. One looked slightly younger with less weight on the collar and the other looked a bit saltier, but both wore a striking resemblance of family and brotherhood on their upper-left blouse pocket. The family name was U-S-M-A-R-I-N-E-S.

Commandant visits Task Force 1/4 AO

CAMP GANNON, Iraq – (Aug. 8, 2007) -- General James T. Conway, Commandant of the Marine Corps, recently visited the Marines here with Alpha Company, Task Force 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, attached to Regimental Combat Team 2.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/0DAEFE73487BC87185257331003DA880?opendocument

Aug. 8, 2007; Submitted on: 08/08/2007 07:13:28 AM ; Story ID#: 20078871328
By Cpl. Eric C. Schwartz, 2nd Marine Division

The Marines listened as the Commandant explained how the Marine Corps is expanding its force, the new air and ground vehicles replacing the up-armored humvee and the CH-46 and CH-53D helicopters respectively, how America views Marine operations and the new physical training uniform.

“We owe the nation an amphibious force,” Conway said.

The Commandant explained that the Marine Corps infantry is currently on a 1:1 deployment rate. This means the battalions have been deployed for 7 months and have had a 7 month dwell-time at home before their next deployment. He said, the additional 27,000 Marines should help change the current ratio, but the effects will not be felt for a few years.

“If you were thinking about having a 9 month dwell-time before being deployed again, that’s not the truth,” Conway said.

The Commandant also spoke about the Marine Corps’ push to receive new vehicles in deployed areas.

“The up armored humvee is what’s golden here,” he said, “but we now see an even better vehicle.”

The ‘better vehicle’ is called the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP). The Marine Corps chose this vehicle based on its v-shaped hull and ability to withstand a larger explosive force, such as an improvised explosive device, and its already excellent track record of keeping American service members alive.

“There have been over 348 attacks against MRAPs and we are yet to see a single Marine or sailor die,” he said.

The Commandant expressed that the Marine Corps has been unusually less-frugal with its funding for these vehicles.

“Price is not an issue when it comes to protecting our Marines,” he explained.

There will also be a new mechanical bird of prey in the Al Anbar province. The V-22, commonly known as the Osprey, will be replacing some of the older CH-53D and CH-46 helicopters already deployed here. The commandant explained how the Osprey has had problems in its past but it’s now safe for a combat zone.

“It’s had a pretty checkered past, but I’ve ridden in it three times now and it’s an excellent ride,” Conway said.

The Osprey also has the ability to fly higher than the older Vietnam-era helicopters currently being used by Marines.

“It can fly well above anything out here that could knock it down,” he said.

Conway also spoke to Marines about how the American public and its politicians view the ongoing operations in Iraq.

“The country is behind you,” he said.

He also explained, majority of the American public’s opinion concerning the surge is that it has generally worked. The politicians, however, have had a longstanding argument between each other over the possibility of troop withdrawal.

“People are making the difference between the argument on policy and the decision to support our troops,” he said.

At the beginning of Conway’s term as the Commandant of the Marine Corps, he expressed wanting to change the simple olive-green cotton physical training uniform. The goal was to transform the new PT uniform into a multiple climate-capable uniform up to date with today’s outdoor exercise clothing. The new uniform is almost finished and features a new wicking material, but the commandant is unsure about certain features such as its dark color.

“Right now it’s mainly black and that’s the problem I have with it,” he said.
The Commandant is concerned that the dark coloring will hinder Marines in warmer climates.

“We’re going to put some fairly obvious reflective material on the new uniform,” he said.

The reflective material would allow Marines to exercise outside during the early morning hours before work. The Marine Corps currently mandates Marines to wear a reflective belt when exercising during hours of darkness.

The new uniform’s dark colors will be changed and Marines should expect to wear the new uniform this winter.

“It will be in the sea bag this November,” he said. “It will be issued to enlisted Marines, but officers will have to pay for it themselves.”

The Commandant answered Marines questions, thanked them for their successes during their deployment and left for his helicopter.

Marine officers have always informed their Marines on changes in the Corps and how it affects their Marines. The Commandant chooses to inform his Marines in person.

Marines walk the beat keeping enemies off the street

HUSAYBAH, Iraq - (Aug. 8, 2007) -- It was a quiet morning patrol; a standard Alpha Company mission. Donkeys, attached to carts, were unmanned while their owners were just waking up to the sound of roosters making their morning calls. The Marines were heading directly to solve a mystery. Who shot up a citizen’s house and why?

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/7A3A36FE5AF37E1E85257331003A2462?opendocument

Aug. 8, 2007; Submitted on: 08/08/2007 06:35:04 AM ; Story ID#: 2007886354
By Cpl. Eric C. Schwartz, 2nd Marine Division

“We had an intelligence-driven patrol where a house was shot up a week ago,” said Cpl. Travis Banks, a team leader with 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, Task Force 1st Battalion, 4th Marines attached to Regimental Combat Team 2.

Marines are trained in various ways to combat terrorism, whether it is a full-scale battle, investigative searches or looking for rogue Iraqi policeman or local gangsters.

“These people are tired of being threatened by the insurgents,” said Cpl. Brian McNeill, a Springfield, Mo., native and team leader with A Company.

Husaybah used to be a hotbed for insurgency activity, but after years of fighting Marines, the townspeople now want to live in peace and realize the insurgents were only there to cause destruction. The new battle is winning the “hearts and minds” of the people here and that’s done by showing Marines care about the citizens here and by keeping fear away from their homes.

“The big fighting is done, but the insurgents are trying to intimidate the people,” said Cpl. Peter Andrisevic, a rifleman with A Company.

A handful of bullet holes in someone’s door won’t make the strong-willed citizens cower to insurgents, but the quicker the culprits are found, the quicker the people can go on living in peace.

“This is a dramatic change from OIF II,” Banks said. “This is a one-hundred and eighty degree turn around from what I saw before.”

Operation Iraqi Freedom II had major battles in large cities throughout Iraq, but this intelligence-driven war for the safety of Husaybah uses information from its people to capture insurgents and Al Qaeda in Iraq.

“The people who know the most are the average citizens,” Andrisevic said.

Insurgents and AQI know the Iraqi Army and Police, and the Marines are hunting them down through intelligence gathered by citizens looking for justice and peace, so they hide in towns like Husaybah, using guerrilla tactics.

“Insurgents are hiding here as a resting area,” Andrisevic said. “They aren’t trying to find us but we’re trying to find them.”

The enemy can’t hide forever because the people don’t want them in their town. Husaybah thrives off trade and business, and without safety and security, they can’t do either. Working with the newly formed government and coalition forces seems to be the right way in their minds.

“An IP called in with information about a weapons cache,” McNeill said.

The Marine said the IP was a former supporter of the insurgency here but has joined the police force and now fights for the peace and prosperity of his people.

The people here want their families to live in peace. Coalition forces want them to have peace.

“If we don’t stabilize the area and find the insurgents, we’ve wasted the last four years here,” Andrisevic said.

Station residents dodge second storm of season

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan (Aug. 8, 2007) -- Last week station residents braced for Typhoon Usagi, which made landfall early Friday, bringing rain and wind to the station.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/F91B0C361D0A90D98525733100051338?opendocument

Aug. 8, 2007; Submitted on: 08/07/2007 08:55:26 PM ; Story ID#: 200787205526
By Lance Cpl. Chris Dobbs, MCAS Iwakuni

The storm was the second typhoon to hit the area this season. The first was Typhoon Man-yi, which grazed Iwakuni on July 14.

Usagi was moving about 17 miles per hour when it landed 12 miles east of Iwakuni at approximately 2 a.m. Friday. Sustained winds of 37 mph and a maximum gust of 54 mph were felt aboard the station during the brunt of the storm, according to station weather services personnel. The storm also dropped about an inch and a half of rain.

More than five hours after landfall – at approximately 7:30 a.m. – the “all clear” signal was given. Inspectors failed to find any damage aboard the station.

“It was a pretty soft blow,” said Navy Lt. Kevin W. Crowder, assistant facilities officer and native of Hampton, Va. “There was zero damage – just a bunch of loose leaves.”

While Usagi had little effect on station residents, many prepared according to the saying, “better safe than sorry.”

“We had three gallons of water for everyone in our family,” said Siony Bowers, a mother of two. “We bought a flashlight, radio and a ton of food.”

The Bowers’ family recently moved to station from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., and one of the first things they were advised to do was prepare for the typhoon.

“We secured all of our large items in the garage,” said Bowers, who said that being prepared made her feel comfortable during the storm. “We found a safe place under the stairway we decided we would stay in case it got bad.”

But the winds didn’t pick up to howling speeds, and the rainfall wasn’t anything more than steady at times. The area’s mountainous terrain was likely the cause of the storm’s weakening upon landfall, according to station weather personnel.

“When a storm hits the mountains, it completely breaks up,” said Staff Sgt. Patrick A. Ozborn, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron weather forecaster and native of Plainview, Texas.

For the second time this typhoon season, the station survived a near-miss. That doesn’t mean residents can drop their guard.

“We stay in TCCOR (Tropical Cyclone Condition of Readiness) 4 throughout the season (which lasts until Nov. 30),” said Cpl. Daniel Rodriguez, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron weather forecaster and native of Union City, N.J. “Residents should always have a typhoon kit with essential supplies – a flashlight, radio, extra batteries. They should also stay stocked with at least a couple days worth of food.”

August 6, 2007

2D ANGLICO Jane Wayne Day

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – Pretty pink T-shirts augmented the customary desert regulation uniform, as 26 wives from 2nd Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, II Marine Expeditionary Force, rolled up in seven-ton vehicles to spend the day filling their husbands’ shoes during Jane Wayne Day here, Aug. 6.

http://www.iimefpublic.usmc.mil/Public%2FInfolineMarines.nsf/0/0F183FD022CC3F9E85257331006F5732?OpenDocument

Despite pink T-shirts sporting 2nd ANGLICO’s logo, no one dared to contest proper uniform regulations to these tough women; some bearing children, all bearing arms.

Lt. Col. Michael Robinson, the commanding officer of 2nd ANGLICO, said the purpose of the event was to give the company wives a better understanding of the weapons and equipment the Marines utilize and also familiarize them with the company’s operations during deployments.

“Today we gave a class to familiarize the wives with the M4 carbine rifle and M9 pistol, and allowed them to fire live rounds,” said Robinson. “They also got a chance to see our workspaces and try a (Meals Ready-to-Eat) lunch.”

The wives also got a look at static displays of humvees and took a seven-ton truck ride through a simulated Iraqi village used by many units here to train in combat scenarios.

Second ANGLICO specializes in coordinating artillery, naval gunfire and close air support and can employ a variety of teams such as joint terminal attack controllers (JTAC), supporting arms liaison teams (SALT) and firepower control teams (FCT), into a combat situation.

Robinson added how the company’s duties are often misunderstood from an outsider’s perspective. "When 2d ANGLICO deploys, they are attached to U.S. ARMY and coalition forces to support units such as NAVY RIVRON, and Iraqi Army Divisions. It’s a small but extremely critical role the wives now have a better understanding of."

“The unit is much smaller than the squadron my husband comes from,” said the wife of Capt. Daniel T. Smith, a SALT leader. “But it makes it easier to communicate with the other wives, so we maintain contact with one another while they deploy.”

Communication amongst wives proved to be essential for each other’s support during deployments, as these women continue to make the sacrifice of separation, so their Marines can fight in the Global War on Terrorism.

“Today’s event brought camaraderie amongst us women,” said the wife of Army Maj. Michael Lisowski, the operations officer for the company. “The Marine Corps has fully embraced us. It makes it easier to call other wives for support during our husbands’ deployment.”

The commanding officer’s wife described 2nd ANGLICO’s Jane Wayne Day as informing as well as entertaining.

“It’s one thing to see their individual jobs,” she said. “Seeing how all the roles come together is very important to us. It was an awesome experience to participate in this today.”

Second ANGLICO is slated to deploy later this year throughout Iraq’s Al Anbar province.

New regs clarify grooming standards

By Michael Hoffman - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Aug 6, 2007 13:17:53 EDT

To the Marines convinced they weren’t violating a real reg even while getting chewed out for keeping their hands in their pockets or wearing a cell phone on their belt — listen up.

To continue reading:

http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2007/08/marine_grooming_070805/

Senate Confirms Mullen, Cartwright for Top Military Positions

WASHINGTON, Aug. 6, 2007 – The Senate confirmed Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen and Marine Corps Gen. James E. “Hoss” Cartwright as chairman and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, respectively, Aug. 3.

http://www.defenselink.mil/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=46957

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Mullen will assume the top U.S. military post, held by Marine Gen. Peter Pace since September 2005. Pace is slated to retire Oct. 1.

Cartwright assumes the No. 2 military post held by Navy Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani, who retired July 27. Cartwright is on the job now, with his formal swearing-in expected later this month.

Mullen currently serves as the chief of naval operations, and Cartwright has been commander of U.S. Strategic Command.

In nominating them to the top two military posts June 28, President Bush called them “experienced military officers who are highly qualified for these important positions.”

The president noted that Mullen’s and Cartwright’s nominations come at a critical time for the United States.

“America is at war, and we are at war with brutal enemies who have attacked our nation and who would pursue nuclear weapons and would use their control of oil as economic blackmail and intend to launch new attacks on our country,” he said. “At such times, one of the most important decisions a president makes is the appointment of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

As the country’s highest-ranking military officer, the chairman serves as the principal military adviser to the president, the defense secretary, the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council, Bush noted. He also is responsible for ensuring the readiness of U.S. military forces.

At STRATCOM, Cartwright has been responsible for America’s nuclear arsenal; missile defenses; space operations; information operations; global command and control; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and efforts to combat weapons of mass destruction, Bush said.

He has met these responsibilities “with honor, skill and integrity,” the president said, noting that he will apply these same principles in his position as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

During their confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee July 31, Mullen and Cartwright pledged to do their best to represent the men and women of the U.S. military.

Mullen told the senators he would represent the nation’s soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines and their families “with the full measure” of his “effort, to listen, to learn, and to lead.”

As chairman, Mullen will spend much of his time focusing on U.S. military operations in Iraq. He told the senate committee he plans to visit the U.S. Central Command area soon to help him understand the conditions on the ground.

Mullen said he also faces the challenge of resetting, reconstituting and revitalizing U.S. forces, particularly the ground forces. The U.S. military remains the strongest military on Earth, he told the Senate committee, but it is not unbreakable. “Force reset in all its forms cannot wait until the war in Iraq is over,” he said.

The admiral said he also sees the need to balance strategic risks of the future to relieve demands on the force.

(Jim Garamone of American Forces Press Service contributed to this article.)




August 5, 2007

Iraq's Less-Mean Streets; For a sign of progress, look at Ramadi—for now

RAMADI—Once the most dangerous place in Iraq, the self-proclaimed capital of the Sunni insurgency, Ramadi has become a bustling, largely peaceful city where residents are starting to repair the damage of nearly four years of heavy fighting.

http://www.usnews.com/usnews/news/articles/070805/13bush.b.htm

By Stephanie Gaskell
Posted 8/5/07

The dramatic transformation here and in much of western Anbar province is the result of the local Sunni tribal leaders' decision to cooperate with U.S. forces against the Sunni terrorist group al Qaeda in Iraq. So while violence rages in and around Baghdad, U.S. soldiers and marines are heartened by such simple sights as a man out washing his car. "Now there's a sign of hope," says Marine Capt. Marcus Mainz. "If a guy is worried about getting killed, he's not going to wash his car."

Awakening. A Bush administration eager to show progress now points to Ramadi, which has undergone an extraordinary change in the past three months. While real, this "Anbar Awakening" may be unsustainable unless the Shiite-led Iraqi government advances political reconciliation. One danger sign: Six cabinet ministers from the main Sunni political bloc quit the government last week to protest inaction by the Shiite leadership.

Still, the improved situation here comes as some relief to the U.S. military, which not long ago had counted an average of 10 to 15 attacks a day in Ramadi alone; now, there's about one attack a day, and no Americans have been reported killed in the city since mid-May (versus seven in July 2006). Elsewhere in Anbar, five Americans were killed in July, one more than in June but far fewer than the 19 in July 2006.

Abandoned buildings are being refurbished or torn down to make way for new ones. Schools and mosques get priority. "The terrorists tried to kill our education system," remarks local contractor Saad Hammad Al Sharki. "Without that, it makes it easier for the people of Ramadi to join them. So we had to fix the schools and the youth centers first."

The main marketplace is once again busy. Cars are still restricted, to pre-empt car bombs, so people rely on bicycles. Most residents have electricity for as much as 17 hours a day, and the city water system is running again. Sewer lines are being repaired. The government center, practically leveled by insurgent bombings, is open, and a Chamber of Commerce center is being built to help local businesses. The Justice Center is due to open soon to handle criminal cases against detainees. There are even plans to install solar-powered street lights and to plant trees in parks. "The rest of Iraq should look to Ramadi as an example of what can be done—not only for fighting the terrorists but for rebuilding the city," says Sheik Abdul Sattar al-Rishawi, who organized the Anbar Awakening after his father and three brothers were killed by al Qaeda in Iraq.

Stakeholders. Residents' fear that terrorists would kill anyone who cooperated with American forces dissipated once U.S.-funded contracts were approved and no one was killed when the work began. It's all part of the military's "clear, hold, and build" strategy. "The third component [of that strategy] is to maintain stability because if not, that creates conditions where the insurgents can come back," says Col. John Charlton, commander of the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division, which oversees Ramadi. "We created local councils [and] we route all the decisions through them. That builds stakeholders in the community."

Since April, more than $15 million worth of reconstruction projects have been completed here, mostly rubble removal. And there's another $50 million in projects ongoing, approved, or proposed. The Iraqi government has pledged $45 million but hasn't delivered much of it.

That's the sort of inaction that reinforces Sunni anger toward the government. "Funding from the Iraqi government is the one thing that's holding everything back," says Marine Lt. James Hanson. "It also discredits the Iraqi government because the people are looking to us for help, when they should be looking to their own government."

This story appears in the August 13, 2007 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.

August 4, 2007

Marines and Soldiers support missions with ‘STRONGHOLD’

NEAR KARMAH, Iraq (Aug. 4, 2007) -- Marines and Soldiers have spearheaded support operations for Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, alongside the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit with Task Force STRONGHOLD.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/27D1C34C3D9B986F8525732D0049C4C0?opendocument

Aug. 4, 2007; Submitted on: 08/04/2007 09:25:44 AM ; Story ID#: 20078492544
By Lance Cpl. T. M. Stewman, 13th MEU

The heart of Task Force STRONGHOLD is Marines from Combat Logistics Battalion 13, Soldiers from the 264th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion and their relentless convoys, which run day and night with necessary supplies to keep the 13th MEU in the fight.

Marines from CLB-13 work in more than 40 different occupational fields ranging from data to air conditioning mechanic. All play an extremely important role in aiding the operations of the 13th MEU in Al Anbar province through Task Force STRONGHOLD.

“There are a lot of things that go on behind the scenes to get the job done out here,” said Maj. Eric Beckmann, Task Force STRONGHOLD officer-in-charge. “The Marines are working hard to make sure that everything runs smoothly.”

The detachment of Marines has a hand in everything, to include medical, maintenance, engineering and explosive ordnance disposal, which support various BLT operations.

The Marines conduct convoys that go to and from all combat outposts to re-supply the infantry companies with items that, not only provide creature comforts, but also keep them mission effective.

“It actually makes me feel good to go out and help the line companies however I can,” said Lance Cpl. Connor Dixon, landing support specialist with CLB-13 and turret gunner for Task Force STRONGHOLD. “It makes me feel like I’m a part of something important.”

Some of these Marines even repair road craters left over by Improvised Explosive Devices. There are also EOD teams that are constantly on call, giving support to companies who come across IEDs or weapons caches. Combat Logistics Battalion 13 also supplies the mechanics who service the vehicles that belong to the MEU, making these wrench turners vital to the constant progress of operations.

“I can’t say enough about the job the Marines are doing out here,” said Beckmann. “They’ve stepped up to the challenge and I couldn’t ask for more.”

Beckmann also noted that having few officers directly involved in Task Force STRONGHOLD means the bulk of the operation is run by non-commissioned officers of CLB-13. The NCOs take initiative and lead their Marines in a manner that produces results.

“They make my job easy,” said Beckmann. “I have great confidence and faith in the work of the sergeants and corporals here.”

The Marines of CLB-13 admit the effort has been, in big part, supported by the 264th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, who has been here since Sept. 2006. The 800-plus Soldiers provide heavy equipment and operators and have in place a field service team, which offer showers and laundry services to the outposts.

“We don’t have to work together, but we do because it’s beneficial for both units,” said Maj. Donald K. Wols, operations officer for the 264th CSSB. “It’s a partnership.”

“They’ve been awesome,” said 1st Lt. Autumn D. Swinford, operations officer for CLB-13. “They’re easy to work with and have given me a whole new perception of what the Army is capable of and how they operate.”

The 264th CSSB, stationed out of Fort Bragg, N.C., have been true professionals throughout coordination and execution, according to Swinford, joining convoys and coordinating with KBR, Inc. construction company daily to ensure the outposts have everything they need.

“It is personality driven and the desire to want to work together,” said Maj. Jeffrey S. Kemp, CSSB’s executive officer. “It’s a war and we’re all fighting it together.”

The 264th CSSB’s heavy equipment trailers add a unique aspect to the convoys, which CLB-13 wouldn’t otherwise have. They’re able to recover and haul any 13th MEU vehicle and transport more than 3 million gallons of fuel to any outpost.

“Bulk fuel movements have been crucial to the way we operate.” said Swinford. “The 13th MEU has many vehicle movements.”

What the Marines from CLB-13 and 264th CSSB do isn’t easy. The hours are long, stressful and at times dangerous, but they realize without their efforts, the operations of the BLT would come to a complete halt.

“The success of what we do to support those out on the front lines, means success for those on the front lines,” said Beckmann. “We came out here to be successful.”


Marine unit commander wants to shed some gear

By Franklin Fisher, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Saturday, August 4, 2007

COMBAT OUTPOST RAWAH, Iraq — The commander of a U.S. Marine Corps unit in Iraq wants to have his Marines begin patrolling without helmets and with less body armor.

To continue reading:

http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=55416&archive=true

August 3, 2007

First sergeant inspires Marines, awarded Bronze Star

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (Aug. 3, 2007) -- First Sgt. Paul T. Archie’s Marines were put to the test during a series of heavy and sustained attacks, Oct. 19, 2006. His forward operating base faced a mass of insurgent fire power ranging from small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades to a suicide dump truck intent on disaster.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/89ACFBF1F2CD95618525732C0041D927?opendocument

Aug. 3, 2007; Submitted on: 08/03/2007 07:59:14 AM ; Story ID#: 20078375914
By Lance Cpl. Aaron Rooks, 2nd Marine Logistics Group

During the fire-fight, Archie and his company commander Capt. Scott R. Burlison exposed themselves to incoming enemy fire while moving from post to post in an effort to ensure that the Marines had the necessary supplies and wounded Marines were evacuated.

Despite his personal heroics, his actions on that day represent only a small portion of the reasons why he was awarded a Bronze Star Medal with The Combat Distinguishing Device here, July 30.

According to his award citation, Archie, now serving as the 2nd Medical Battalion sergeant major, earned the medal for his concerned leadership, intense work ethic and personal fortitude, which were instrumental to the company’s success during seven months of counter-insurgency operations.

During his deployment to Iraq with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, Archie personally participated in more than 200 combat missions and, according to his citation, provided exceptional leadership during more than 78 small-arms fire attacks, 24 indirect fire attacks, eight complex attacks such as improvised explosive devices and thousands of other routine security and intelligence gathering missions.

“I was with them during everything,” Archie explained. “Normally first sergeants and other senior members aren’t there for every mission that the Marines do. I positioned myself where I was in just as much danger as (the Marines) were.”

“The deployment started off real hot and dangerous where we were at,” he continued. “There were several places where we drove by that presented a 50-percent chance of there being an IED.”

Archie explained that despite the dangers, the Marines of Weapons Company always ran into the fight and in the process, formed close bonds, supporting Archie’s motto of “one team, one fight.”

“We can’t do anything individually,” Archie said. “Without a team, I wouldn’t be here right now. I wear (the medal for the Marines).”

Marines launch raid to stem any summer attacks

By Franklin Fisher, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Friday, August 3, 2007

COMBAT OUTPOST RAWAH, Iraq — U.S. Marines traveling in fast-moving armored columns launched a new raid into a remote stretch of desert in western Anbar province Wednesday.

To continue reading:

http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=47830&source=rss

August 2, 2007

Highlanders rock on with Mawtini

COMBAT OUTPOST RAWAH, Iraq – (Aug. 2, 2007) -- North of the Euphrates River, an unusual sound began to echo across the sands and through the hills, gradually building until words and instruments could be recognized.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/2743DD4BA976E1938525732B00545283?opendocument

Aug. 2, 2007; Submitted on: 08/02/2007 11:21:01 AM ; Story ID#: 20078211211
By Cpl. Ryan C. Heiser, 2nd Marine Division

“…thunder…,” pause.

Suddenly the ground shook as a mortar round, loosed by Lance Cpl. Shelby A. Weathers, exited its tube and ripped through the air, landing over a mile away on the side of a hill.

Pause.

“…I was caught in the middle of a lightning attack…”

Two more mortar rounds landed mere seconds apart, splitting the ground and hurling dirt dozens of yards in every direction.

“…thunder…,” pause.

Then the world exploded as the two mortar guns unloaded nearly a dozen more rounds, (10) 25mm light armored vehicles began to split the air with their guns, rocking their vehicles back onto their rear tires, and nearly three dozen Marines opened fire with M-16’s, squad automatic weapons, and 240-G medium machine guns. As the dust and smoke cleared, the music could once again be heard: “…sound of the drums beating in my heart; the thunder of guns tore me apart; you’ve been thunderstruck!”

Company C, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 2, conducted combined arms training near the end of the first week of Operation Mawtini.

“The shoot was pretty awesome, and showed we could do some incredible stuff when we coordinate together,” said Cpl. Kiante K. Walker, a fire direction control chief and vehicle commander with the company. “It proves we have massive fire suppression abilities, and according to what the targets looked like afterward, it also proved we have deadly accuracy even from a distance.”

The combined arms training, nicknamed ‘Series Thunderstruck’ after the song it was choreographed to, tested the abilities of the company’s newly formed mortar platoon.

“Generally when you fire (a mortar) you’re just trying to get rounds on target. Yes, time is critical, but it isn’t nearly as difficult as synchronizing with maneuvers. That was literally by the second,” said Cpl. John P. Wallis, a mortarman and scout team leader with the company. “This forced us to expand our skill set and work as a team. My last shot proved that, it was a once-in-a-lifetime drill that came down to a fraction of a second.”

The shot came after the long volley of initial rounds which marked the opening of the song’s first verse. The mortar team ran into a few problems and didn’t have much time to fix them.

“We had 10 seconds to get the gun up. Let me try to put that into perspective. I would say if the gun was mounted on a vehicle and had no interference or potential movement due to the ground shaking, that 30 seconds would be a great time,” said Wallis, a Kailua, Hawaii native. “On the dirt, with an unseated bi-pod and minor target adjustments to be made, it was as if God came out of the sky, reached down and said, ‘Gentlemen, I would like you to fire your gun right now.’ It was that incredible. Ten seconds. Ten.”

Wallis and Weathers, an assistant gunner and scout with the company, quickly corrected the bipod. As Weathers grabbed the next mortar round, Wallis made the necessary sight adjustments. Right as the order for ‘fire’ was sounded, Weathers got the round into the tube and the team safely, and successfully, sent it down range.

“I don’t really think about how much time we have or how hard something is. We train until our tasks become muscle-memory, so everything is just a reflex. It isn’t a question of how fast you can accurately fire, it’s a matter of how many lives are at stake if you don’t, so you find a way,” said Weathers, a Houston native.

The company fired 40 mortar rounds, (200) 25mm rounds, and (800) .762-caliber rounds during the exercise. As the sun dropped below the horizon, the tracer rounds could be seen streaking across the sky and exploding in sparks as they hit their target.

“It was a great show of force and a great way of kicking off this operation,” said Walker, a Laurel, Del., native. “The Iraqi civilians know we are still here, and we still have a massive amount of firepower if we need to use it. Most of all, we proved to them we haven’t given up, and we are still going out searching for insurgents.”

The Marines all agreed the training was an effective way to show an example of what the enemy was up against if they chose to attack.

“In general just the presence of our vehicles is enough to intimidate and ward off terrorist behavior, so I imagine it would have struck fear into the hearts of anyone who was watching and was thinking of attacking us, our city (Rawah, Iraq) or its civilians,” Wallis said.

“The enemy was probably ruining their underwear if they were watching us,” agreed Walker. “They’d have to be insane not to be afraid of us. We completely destroyed our targets and nearly flattened the hill they were on in just a few short minutes.”

The last round exploded on the hilltop as the music began to fade out; each Marine grinned widely and shared the moment with the men to their left and right. The shockwave echoed and died away while the dust settled and silence gripped the air once more.

Thunder.

Inside 1st LAR: From the perspective of two Highlanders

COMBAT OUTPOST RAWAH, Iraq – (Aug. 2, 2007) -- During my deployment as a military journalist with the Camp Pendleton, Calif.-based 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 2, I have had the amazing opportunity to do everything from raids and patrols, to week-long operations, to riding for hours sticking out the top of a light armored vehicle (LAV) speeding across the Iraqi sands in the western Euphrates River valley.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/5BED1BEB57EA3F298525732B0058C953?opendocument

Aug. 2, 2007; Submitted on: 08/02/2007 12:09:47 PM ; Story ID#: 20078212947
By Cpl. Ryan C. Heiser, 2nd Marine Division

While serving with the mobile “Highlanders,” I was afforded several opportunities to speak with grunts (infantrymen) and LAV crewmen about their past deployments, their family, their opinions on what they do everyday, and what keeps them coming back for more.

I asked two Marines I have spent a lot of time with to talk about the War, their experiences, and opinions as Marines on the front lines.

Cpl. Tyler L. Cosgray, a 21-year-old squad leader and light armored vehicle commander with 2nd platoon from Montecello, In., deployed last year with the battalion, and is currently serving on his second tour of duty with Company D.

Lance Cpl. Christopher R. Rodarte, an infantryman and squad leader with Weapons Platoon from La Puente, Calif., is also serving his second tour in Iraq with the company.

During a re-supply stop on Combat Outpost Rawah, Iraq, we sat down to talk about the differences between infantrymen and crewman, how they affect the Iraqi citizens, and how they manage to make it from one day to the next.

What made you decide to be a regular infantryman or an LAV crewman?

Cosgray – (laughs) I was told I wouldn’t have to hike as much. That made the decision right then and there; I’d get to drive around instead of walk around. I hate hiking.

Rodarte – I always wanted to be a grunt. When I joined there was no question, I was going to be on the front lines with the guys that made history. It was never a choice for me; I had already made the decision.

What are some of the differences you see between this deployment and your last one?

Rodarte – Most of our company’s job now is to patrol the city (of Rawah, Iraq). It’s more of a straight-leg grunt-type mission. The other companies do other things, but I guess it’s a good change of pace.

How does this affect the new Marines in your squads who have never deployed before?

Cosgray – It’s good and bad for the crewman. They don’t get as much time in the vehicle as they would if we were doing something else, but on the other hand they get to experience what the regular infantry guys do everyday.

Rodarte – Yeah, I agree. The 11s (infantrymen) like it because they get plenty of experience leading patrols and doing what they wanted to do when they joined.

How has your company affected the area and the city?

Cosgray – There are a lot less potshots at us. We still get the occasional IED (improvised explosive device) but only every now and then, other than that our area is pretty calm. I can’t even remember the last time the insurgents attacked our position in the city.

Rodarte – I think we are definitely closer to the local populace. The kids love us, and everyone comes out when we go on patrols. Our interpreter says the locals tell him they feel safer because of our presence in the city. We even had two IED manufacturers just turn themselves in.

Cosgray – Oh yeah! They just walked in and said, “We can’t take it anymore, we quit.” That was awesome. We are definitely getting the job done here.

How do you think 1st LAR has done so far on the deployment?

Cosgray – Outstanding. We are a mobile unit, and we have taken a city and made it safe, sticking to the more grunt-type mission. We showed everyone that LAR can adapt to any situation, any type of mission. We can do the mobile thing, or we can set up and do ground patrols. LAR is versatile, and it makes us a huge asset. We have done a great job so far.

Rodarte – People don’t see us as a ‘powerhouse’ unit, but I beg to differ. We have proved that we are capable of anything, and we will continue to turn heads with our success.

What do you think about the debate to pull out or stay in Iraq?

Cosgray – I don’t understand why our job gets highlighted like that. I signed on for four years, and I’m doing my job, just like every other guy who signed on. Does anyone ask the garbage man if he likes his job? Why? Because it doesn’t matter, what matters is the job gets done.

Rodarte – I couldn’t care less really. I came here with my buddies, and I plan on leaving with my buddies. The man on your left and right, that’s what is important.

What is the most difficult thing about being here in Iraq?

Cosgray – This is going to make some people mad. We ran out of hot pockets and pizza a few times (laughs). Seriously though, I don’t know. We get good food and sleep, so we can’t really complain.

Rodarte – Man, that’s a hard question. Actually I would say laundry is the hardest thing. But if that’s the worst I guess we have it pretty good. No wait. Adapting to the heat was pretty tough too. We are constantly on patrol and it’s hard to get used to.

Cosgray – I second that one, can I change mine?

How do you make it from one day to the next in the Iraqi desert, so far from home?

Cosgray – This guy right here (points to Rodarte). He makes us all laugh.

Rodarte – It’s all about your buddies. We have the internet and phone center, so we can speak with our families. And a good gym, so we can relieve stress and work out.

Cosgray – Yeah the phones are nice. . .yeah, how do we do it?

Rodarte – I think we realize we have it much better than last year, and much better than a lot of other guys out there.

What are some of the good times that you will remember years from now?

Cosgray – Oh wow, I got one. We stole our buddy’s boot on his birthday. He was on standby for the quick reaction force (QRF) and was sleeping between patrols. We yelled and told him that something happened and QRF was up, so he jumped up and started screaming, “Where’s my boot, where’s my boot,” in this thick southern drawl. It was so funny. Then he says screw it, throws on a sandal and went outside all geared up, flak and Kevlar and everything. When he came outside we all yelled, “Happy Birthday,” and gave him his boot for his present.

When you get home, what will you say when people ask what it was like?

Cosgray – It was hot everyday. We had a few shots taken at us and some IEDs. Not really much to say, it isn’t exactly a thing you try to remember in detail, so you can tell your friends.

Rodarte – Yeah, you can’t really ever explain something like this to anyone who never experienced it themselves. And if they did, then they wouldn’t ask. They’d know.

What are some Iraq Myths you have heard that you would like to dispel for the guys on their way over for the first time?
Cosgray – When I came over I thought IEDs were everywhere. Every time I saw trash I thought I was going to die. After a few months I relaxed and realized that you could dodge everything and still get hit. Don’t get complacent, but you have to learn how to react and prepare for the worst without driving yourself insane.

Rodarte – Yeah, the bottom line is: if it’s your day, then it’s your day. The best you can do is rely on each other and hope the enemy knows better than to mess with you.

Cosgray – You hear on the news how many people are dying and hurt and stuff, so you envision a place where you are in a never-ending firefight and everyone around you is dying. The truth is, it just isn’t that type of war here.

Rodarte – Knock on wood. Oh, and camel spiders aren’t as big as basketballs, softballs maybe.

What are you looking forward to when you go home?

Cosgray – This is going to sound weird, but I want to buy a new pair of cowboy boots. I’m into them now and I can’t explain why. Of course I want to see my family and relax without worrying about a patrol and stuff like that, but I really want those boots.

Rodarte – The same I guess, except for the boots (laughs). I really miss my daughter. I can’t wait to see my family and eat mom’s cooking.

If you could say anything to the people back home, what would it be?

Cosgray – I hate when I hear, ‘What about the troops..?’ We volunteered to do this and it isn’t anyone’s right to deny us the opportunity to come to Iraq, or anywhere, and do our job. That really makes me mad when they try to use us to make people sympathize with anti-war beliefs. The troops are fine, we wanted to be here. And mom and dad I love you. Oh, and Alex, your brother wants his money back.

Rodarte – I don’t do this for people back home anymore. I do it for him (points at Cosgray). I do it for my buddy who still hasn’t seen his newborn child yet. I do it for my brothers. If I could say one thing to the American public it would be simple: You’re welcome.

Marines to be notified of compromised personal information

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va. (Aug. 2, 2007) -- Active and reserve Marines who conducted rifle re-qualification during recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., between January 2004 and December 2006 should expect a letter from Marine Corps officials informing them about a compromise of personal information that occurred in June.

http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/ac95bc775efc34c685256ab50049d458/1e2c73b10bcece9a8525732b0041d535?OpenDocument&Highlight=2,reserve

Aug. 2, 2007; Submitted on: 08/02/2007 07:59:04 AM ; Story ID#: 2007827594
By Sgt. Jennifer Brown, MCB Quantico

Names and social security numbers of nearly 8,500 Marines were unintentionally posted on the Internet by Pennsylvania State University, who acquired the information under a research and study contract with the Marine Corps.

The data was improperly posted on the university’s Web site and was subsequently cached by Google, according to Maj. Tim Keefe, spokesman for Training and Education Command here.

The information was subject to potential identity theft for 10 days before Penn State security personnel removed the files and reviewed their systems logs upon notification of the compromise, according to Lisa Powers, spokesperson for Penn State Security Operations and Services.

In addition, Penn State officials coordinated with Google to remove the cached files from Google’s servers.

According to Keefe, the posted information was discovered by a Marine who had "Googled" his own name.

"He reported the problem to Penn State officials and is the only person known to have accessed the site," Keefe said.

Training and Education Command was notified of the incident July 6 and immediately took action to minimize any possibility of damage or loss to the affected Marines’ personal information.

"TECOM has set up a response team to notify the affected Marines and assist them in ensuring their personal information is safeguarded," Keefe said. "Marines with questions or concerns should call one of the call center numbers listed on Marine Administrative Message 443⁄07."

Affected Marines can place a fraud alert on their credit files for up to 24 months, in which a free credit report from all three credit bureaus will be generated. These reports should be carefully reviewed for any suspicious activities such as fraudulent accounts, unrequested loans, and activity on old and inactive accounts, according to MarAdmin 443⁄07.

Marines can also access the Federal Trade Commission’s Web site at www.consumer.gov/IDTHEFT for guidance on protective action against identity theft.

August 1, 2007

A LETTER TO CONGRESS FROM JENIFER ALLBAUGH

Text From the Congressional Record

Mr. GOHMERT. Mr. Speaker, I received a letter from a mother of a Marine who was killed on July 5 of this year. She asked that I make this letter known to the Members of the House, and that is what I will do at this time. I will read directly from her letter.

http://www.c-spanarchives.org/congress/?q=node/77531&id=7694792

2007-08-01

``Let me first tell you about myself. My name is Jenifer Allbaugh, my husband is Jon Allbaugh and we have three children together. My son, 2nd Lt. Army Jason Allbaugh (24), my daughter Alicia Allbaugh, college sophomore (19) and Cpl. Jeremy Allbaugh, USMC (21). Jeremy was killed in Iraq on July 5, 2007 while on a mission in a Humvee that was hit by an IED.

``Jeremy enlisted in the Marine Corps before he graduated from high school in 2004. We were at war but he very much wanted to serve his country. He believed very much in what he was doing and what his country was trying to accomplish in Iraq and Afghanistan.

``While we as a family are struggling greatly with the loss of our hero, I feel a great need to express my concerns in regards to our military.

``I do not understand why our government has to be pushed to equip our [Page: H9536]
military with the best equipment technology has to offer. We are one of the greatest Nations on this earth, but yet it took parents and other individuals to get our military up-armored Humvees and better body armor. Now we need Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles and the debate is on again.

``First of all, these vehicles were available for years before this war began, but yet we are just now realizing the need for them. This is shameful, and there is no excuse for it. I would like one person to look me and other mothers in the eye and explain why our sons were not in the these vehicles. According to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, approximately 700 American heroes would be alive today if they had been in an MRAP, my son included.

``I'm not smartest or most educated woman in the world, but it doesn't take a genius to figure out that there should be no debate over supplying our military with these vehicles.

``IEDs seem to be one of the most effective weapons terrorists have against our troops. Money should not be an issue. This country has been selfish long enough. It shouldn't matter how much it costs. If you are going to ask our military to put their lives on the line for our freedoms, then again, money should not matter. We as a country can go without perfectly paved roads and other such luxuries we seem to think we need for awhile. We gripe about the cost of gas, milk and cup of coffee. If Americans
would quit being selfish, maybe funding this war wouldn't be so hard.

``Our Congress and Senate need to stop the finger pointing, back biting, back stabbing and name calling and do their jobs. Work together. As hard as that sounds, the rest of us in the `real world' have to do it every day.

``It is also time for what I believe is a silent majority to stand up and be heard.

Since the death of our son, we have heard from people all over the country who appreciate what he did for his country. They also appreciate what our military is doing in Iraq and Afghanistan. But we as a country only hear from the ones who complain the most. The rich and famous, who don't know what they're talking about, get to tell their opinions, but not those of us who support our sons and daughters who have volunteered to serve this country.

``I had long conversations with my son while he was in Iraq. I was one of the lucky Moms who got to talk to her son quite frequently. He told me of the good things they were doing, for example opening schools, hospitals, clinics and helping recruit men into the Iraqi Army. The vast majority of the Iraqi people in the area Jeremy was in, loved and appreciated the Marines. They understood why we are there. He told me how the locals were voluntarily giving info on the terrorists and their activities
and that neighborhood watch programs had been started.

``Do we hear of this? No. Because it isn't sensational enough and it doesn't get votes.

``This war has had a lot of mistakes made, but to me it's neither here or there. We are there and there are good things being done. I want no more excuses and explanations. Write the check with no attachments and give our men what they need. MRAP's should have been there from the beginning and should be there now. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is asking for more money for MRAP's. This is a no brainer and there should no excuse for thousands to be built. I as a Mother do not care what the
obstacles are. We built ships faster than this during World War II. It can be done if we want to. Don't attach pork and other stupid stuff to it either. Just do it. Until we finish our job in Iraq and Afghanistan these vehicles shouldn't be under debate and should be top priority in the manufacturing industry. If you had done this in the first place, my son and many others would be alive today. He was in a Humvee every day he was in Iraq as are thousands of others.

``Jeremy was a bigger man at 21 than any of the men and women that are running this country. He went to war without hesitation or reservation. He did his job well and was sorely overworked and underpaid. I ask that you all start earning your paycheck and do what is right. As my son said, `We are doing good things here and we need to finish.''

Please honor our military and give them the equipment and time in Iraq and Afghanistan that they need. Please save another Soldier or Marine in a Humvee by putting them in MRAP's.

``The Iraqi people where my son was appreciated him and his fellow Marines. Too bad our own politicians don't. Quit using words of support and do it with deeds.''

I realize my time is expired, and I thank the Speaker.
END

Corps sets policy for administrative leave

By William H. McMichael - Staff writer
Posted : Wednesday Aug 1, 2007

It has taken more than three months since the policy was first announced, but at least three of the four services have finally told the Defense Department how they will implement a policy that awards administrative leave for active and reserve troops who exceed rotation policy goals while serving in the greater Middle East war zone.

To continue reading:

http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2007/07/military_marineleave_070730w/

Chasing the enemy in the Middle of Nowhere; Marines patrol Iraqi desert for insurgents

By Franklin Fisher, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Wednesday, August 1, 2007

NEAR HUSSANIYAH, Iraq

Jouncing hell-for-leather through the Iraqi night under the soft glow of a three-quarter moon, Lance Cpl. Nathan Kidd gunned the light armored vehicle relentlessly across the desert of western Anbar province.

To continue reading:

http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=47778