View Full Version : Living conditions for Lejeune Marines change with the flip of a switch

06-05-04, 06:39 AM
Living conditions for Lejeune Marines change with the flip of a switch
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division
Story Identification #: 20046524253
Story by Cpl. Shawn C. Rhodes

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq(June 4, 2004) -- Camp Lejeune Marines deployed to Iraq are finally feeling some cool breezes blow their way.

That's thanks to the installation of electrical hardware in their living areas.

"I can't tell you how much this affects morale here," said Cpl. Kevin J. Klink, a Marine with Company G, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. "After a day of patrolling in the heat, we can actually look forward to coming back to our tent."

And it's not just the cool breezes either. The Flagtown, N.J. Marine said he and his fellow Marines are enjoying the creature comforts only a live wire brings.

"We're taking advantage of the electricity in every way we can," Klink said. "We've got a TV set up, and people can watch it or read or do whatever they want to enjoy their down time."

Temperatures regularly reach over a hundred degrees in the desert environment more than a thousand Marines call home. The battalion's Marines were until recently returning from patrols to what many would call a cave - a dark, hot, tent that provided little relief from the day's toils. That all changed with the flip of a switch.

Electricians from Regimental Combat Team 1 installed generators, wiring and air conditioning units for many tents here. For the Marines, it's a blessing from above.

The air conditioning provides sweet relief to the rolling waves of heat outside the tents during the day. Where previously misery was the staple feeling during a midday heat wave, now the Marines can find respite without having to seek shade.

"Last year during Operation Iraqi Freedom I, we were living in fighting holes and on concrete floors of abandoned buildings," Klink added. "It's good to see our commanders doing their best to make it as nice here as they can for us,"

For many Marines, the electricity means more than air conditioning or TV. Now they can use the evening hours to write home, read a book or ready their gear for the next day's missions.

"For me, reading is like my stress reliever," said Lance Cpl. Ryan P. Taylor, a rifleman in Company G from Stafford, Va. "I like to escape this place by getting into a good story. Now that we have electricity I just need more free time to read!"


Cpl. Kevin J. Klink, with Company G, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, makes a tape recording for his girlfriend back home. The 21 year-old from Flagtown, N.J., finally has a place he's proud to call home. After a hard day of patrolling, he can come back to his tent during the night and enjoy a little light and air conditioning, courtesy of the Marine Corps.
(USMC photo by Cpl. Shawn C. Rhodes) Photo by: Cpl. Shawn C. Rhodes



06-05-04, 06:40 AM
Lejeune medical team offers care to rural community <br />
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division <br />
Story Identification #: 2004529113054 <br />
Story by Cpl. Shawn C. Rhodes <br />
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ZADAN, Iraq(May 29, 2004) --...

06-05-04, 06:42 AM
Issue Date: June 07, 2004

Web site connects gear donors with snipers deployed for war

By Christian Lowe
Times staff writer

They tell you they’ve given you everything you need to go into combat. But once you actually get there, the list can change.
Winter over-whites? Spray paint? Hand-held weather meters?

Not exactly military issue for occupation duty in Iraq, even for specialized units such as sniper platoons and cavalry scouts.

But now a small group of civilian snipers and other supporters have stepped in to help service members with their wish lists.

Early this year, Keith Deneys, a sheriff’s deputy and SWAT sniper near Green Bay, Wis., and Brian Sain, a SWAT sniper and detective with the Port Arthur, Texas, police department, created www.adoptasniper.com. The Web site acts as a conduit matching the needs of snipers in the field to donors back home.

So far, the site has received dozens of requests and feedback from deployed soldiers and Marines, and the donations are pouring in, Sain said May 24.

“There’s specialized gear that they use. That’s hard to write home to mom and tell her that you need a SureFire G2 Nitrolon light. … You’re speaking Greek to her,” said Sain, who’s been a police sniper for 15 years. He obtained some e-mail addresses of deployed snipers from contacts at the Army and Marine Corps sniper schools and sent notes asking what troops needed.

“You don’t need to request this stuff from ForceCom, SysCom, dot-com or any of that crap, all you got to do is send me an e-mail and it’s coming,” he recalled telling them.

Requests from soldiers and Marines in the field focus mostly on needs specific to the environment that weren’t anticipated before deployment, or seek help outfitting sniper teams that were hurriedly put together without standard equipment.

Officials with Marine Corps Systems Command at Quantico, Va., say they are fielding gear to troops as the requests come in.

But in many cases, the snipers need gear that is a bit unusual. One Marine, a sniper with the 3rd Battalion, 24th Marines, asked for help with an unorthodox camouflage solution.

“We’re trying to get military issue winter over-whites. … For some reason, we can’t get them through our supply system here,” the sniper wrote. “We’re not using ghillie suits over here. We can spray paint the over-whites and use them instead. They work really well in the sand and in urban conditions.”

But that doesn’t mean the troops don’t appreciate the usual care-package fare — batteries, baby wipes, energy bars. And there’s always a need for the Holy Grail among many field Marines: Copenhagen chewing tobacco in a cardboard can.

The “Adopt a Sniper” initiative is being supported by a close-knit network of Web sites catering to shooting enthusiasts. In fact, Sain said, the packages keep coming without specific requests.

“My garage looks like somebody RPG-ed a UPS truck,” Sain said.

Anyone who wants to contribute should visit the Web site. Cash donations are used to purchase specific gear, or supporters can send equipment from a list of frequently demanded gear.

“They’re just eternally grateful for whatever you give them,” Sain said. “I’m going to keep doing this until my wife says she’ll divorce me unless I stop.”

What snipers want
The items most commonly requested from www.adoptasniper.com by soldiers and Marines:
SureFire lights

G2 Nitrolon – green

P60 lamp

F16 IR filter

F17 beam cover

F26 red filter

SC1 spares carrier

Blackhawk Modular Assault Systems gear

Command recon chest harness

Gen-4 MOLLE system plate carrier harness

Back plate carrier

PRC-112 LG radio pouch

MOLLE Gen-4 M4 Single Mag Pouch

MOLLE Gen-4 pistol and rifle magazine pouches

MOLLE Gen-4 grenade pouches

MOLLE Gen-4 LRRP pack

MOLLE Gen-4 radio pouch

MOLLE Gen-4 drop leg platform

Scope pad/muzzle cover

Hellstorm aviator gloves

Pistol lanyard

Quick-disconnect bipod adapters

Heavy duty M16 foregrips

Garmin 12SL GPS

Under-armor T-shirts

Other gear

Mini-binoculars and mini-spotting scopes

CamelBaks and CamelBak cleaning kits

Black non-locking carabiners

Knee and elbow protectors – desert tan

ESS Goggles – desert tan – profile NVG

Wiley X tactical SG-1 combat goggles

Spec-Ops Gear recon wrap

Glock combat knives – tan

KaBar combat knives

SOG EOD Powerlock knife with crimpers

Gerber Demolition Explosive Technician

Multi-Plier 600

Leica 1200 range finders

Kestrel 4000 weather meters

Olive green duct tape

Water resistant paper

Mechanical pencils

Sharpie markers

Clear laminating sheets

Notebooks with Cordura covers that will fit in utility-uniform pockets


Rifle and pistol cleaning products



06-05-04, 06:44 AM
1st FSSG convoys look to sky for support
Submitted by: 1st Force Service Support Group
Story Identification #: 200462123611
Story by Lance Cpl. Samuel Bard Valliere

CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq(June 2, 2004) -- Marine helicopter pilots are using their bird's-eye view to combat concealed obstacles threatening convoys trekking through Iraq to deliver vital supplies to units throughout the country.

Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 775, a reserve unit stationed here, is sending its helos to accompany 1st Force Service Support Group convoys as they travel along the Al Anbar Province's dangerous highways.

The soaring sentinels speed ahead of a convoy hoping to set eyes on ambushes and homemade bombs before the vehicles reach them.

The number of convoy escorts has increased since April, when fighting in and around Fallujah kept only necessary convoys on the road, said San Francisco-native Maj. Christopher O'Balle, 34, the squadron's assistant operations officer.

Additionally, the helos were often tasked with high-priority missions such as protecting casualty evacuations and supporting infantry Marines in the city, leaving little time to support supply runs.

May saw a decrease in medical flights, freeing up pilots for the increased convoy escorts, said O'Balle.

The thumping choppers discourage insurgents from setting up traps, said Maj. Rob R. Russell, 37, a pilot who has escorted about ten convoys.

"It's intimidation, and they can't really defend against it," said 1st Lt. Austin J. Mroczek, Combat Service Support Company 113's motor transportation officer of Marcellus, Mich.

The helicopters aren't all bark, though. The squadron, which is based at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Johnstown, Pa., sends out birds which pack plenty of bite, said Russell, an Oceanside, Calif., resident.

"If the convoy was ambushed, we could provide aerial fire to neutralize the threat and most likely destroy it," said Russell.

That knowledge sits well with the Marines of the 2nd Military Police Battalion, of which two platoons provide security for Combat Service Support Group 15's convoys. The Marines are grateful to receive the help.

"They can see a lot more than we can see. It gives you more of a secure feeling," said 1st Lt. Nicholas P. Bialzik, 26, a platoon commander in the battalion.

Marines riding in the convoy's vehicles also appreciate the beefed-up security.

"(Air support) is invaluable in case we get hit," said Lance Cpl. Richard E. Leonard, a 20-year-old radio operator with CSSB-15 and Phoenix native. "It's good to have the eyes in the sky."

Preparation for such joint ventures began in January, when the 1st FSSG began practicing convoy-escort procedures with the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing's pilots during Exercise Desert Talon at the Marine Corps air station in Yuma, Ariz.

"Basically, it taught us how to do what we're doing now," said Mroczek of the exercise. "It helped us know what the pilots are thinking and vice versa."

There have been fewer enemy attacks during escorted supply runs, a fact he said serves as evidence that the Wing's support is effective.

"Every time I've had air on a convoy, I've never had any problems with attacks," said Bialzik, a native of Rosholt, Wis.


Perched behind a machine gun in a UH-1N Huey helicopter, Staff Sgt. Mark J. Covill, 29, a crew chief with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 775, surveys the area around a farm near Camp Taqaddum, Iraq, during a reconnaissance patrol May 25, 2004. The Marines of HMLA-775, a reserve squadron based in Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Johnstown, Pa., provide security for 1st Force Service Support Group convoys moving supplies throughout the Al Anbar Province of Iraq. The pilots use their bird’s-eye view and firepower to try to spot and eliminate possible roadside explosives and ambushes before a convoy reaches them. Covill is a native of Rochester, N.Y. Photo by: Lance Cpl. Samuel Bard Valliere



06-05-04, 06:46 AM
Loving aunt salutes Marine hero in line for Medal of Honor

Rochester memorial tells people 'freedom isn't free'

By Benning W. De La Mater
Staff Writer

(June 3, 2004) — There is a month-old makeshift memorial at 754 Blossom Road in Rochester that has inspired inquisitive stares, honks from cars and a crayon drawing from a young boy.
It’s here on the porch of a two-shades-of-green house, where Vickey Layton has placed her nephew’s Marine Corps photo above pink roses, below American and Marine Corps flags and between two yellow ribbons.

It’s a tribute to Jason Dunham, a 22-year-old Marine from Scio, Allegany County, who jumped on a grenade in Iraq to save his friends.

”It helps me … through the hard times,” said Layton of the memorial. “I had to honor him in some way.”

For his action, Cpl. Dunham was recommended for the Medal of Honor by his commander and Sen. Charles Schumer, who in a May 27 letter to President Bush wrote: “I can imagine no clearer a case of an individual soldier exhibiting the ideals that the Congressional Medal was established to honor.”

Dunham is the first soldier in Operation Iraqi Freedom to be nominated for the nation’s highest medal. Only 3,459 medals have been awarded since March 1863. If Bush approves the award, Dunham would be the first to be awarded the medal since two soldiers were honored posthumously 11 years ago for their courage in Somalia.

Gary Beikirch of Greece was awarded the medal for valor in Vietnam.

Layton, 37, and her two roommates, Lisa Cox, 37, and Brenda Brennan, 37, constructed the memorial two days after Dunham died in April. Layton says she did it for therapy, to celebrate his life and to make people think.

“I want people to realize that freedom isn’t free,” Layton said.

The inside of the women’s apartment is scattered with pictures of Dunham posing with family. Dunham and his brother, Justin, would visit Rochester once a summer to spend time with their aunt and her friends.

The group would skate at Cobbs Hill Reservoir, hit balls at batting cages in Greece and jump into garbage cans at the zoo. Layton said she had a special bond with Dunham. Layton was 15 when Dunham was born and she spent several years living with his family in Scio.

”I would always joke with him that I used to change his diapers,” she said.

Dunham took to Layton’s roommates as well.

”He was just a fun-loving, great guy,” Cox said.

In high school, Dunham would call the women and ask for advice on girls. Layton said the four of them were like best friends. And that’s what made it even harder when Layton received a call the night of April 14.

Dunham had wrestled an Iraqi terrorist to the ground at a checkpoint near Karbala. He caught a glimpse of what looked to be a grenade in the Iraqi’s hand and yelled out a warning to Marines close by.

As the grenade fell to the ground, Dunham, on instinct, placed his Kevlar helmet on top of the grenade and absorbed the blast with his body.

Dunham, badly wounded by shrapnel, was shipped to a Baghdad hospital, then to Germany and finally to Bethesda Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Md., where eight days later, with his parents by his side, he died.

He was scheduled to be out of the service in July.

”Jason didn’t need to be a Marine to do what he did,” Brennan said. “He’s just that kind of person.”

Layton, wiping away tears, described a man who would ask for packages of candy and hand wipes. The hand wipes were for him, the candy for Iraqi children.

Amanda and David Ladwig took their son, Sean, 5, for a walk down Blossom Road a few weeks ago. Sean noticed the memorial and asked what it was.

”We told him what had happened,” Amanda Ladwig said, “and when we got home he wanted to draw a picture.”

On the front of the paper card is an American flag. In the script of a 5-year-old is written: “Marines keep me safe.”

Inside the card is a self portrait of Sean with the words: “Thank you for my freedom.”



CARLOS ORTIZ staff photographer
Vickey Layton, front, with roommates Lisa Cox, left, and Brenda Brennan, visit their memorial to Layton’s nephew, Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham of Scio, Allegany County. Layton says the memorial “helps me through the hard times.” Cpl. Dunham has been recommended for the Medal of Honor for jumping on a grenade in Iraq to save his friends.



06-05-04, 06:48 AM
Families, friends welcome Marine reservists returning from Iraq

By Shahien Nasiripour
Staff Writer
Posted June 4 2004

WEST PALM BEACH · With friends and family rushing toward them, the Marines stepped off their chartered bus, finally ending a nine-month deployment to Iraq.

And with tears rolling down toward their jaws as they saw family members and loved ones for the first time since September, they smiled.

As 45 friends and family members shouted choruses of "I missed you," the Marine reservists of the 4th Air/Naval Gunfire Liaison Company in West Palm Beach arrived at the Naval and Marine Corps Reserve Center to find U.S. flags and welcome-back signs.

The Marines wasted no time greeting wives and girlfriends with passionate embraces. Some Marines were reduced to tears after seeing the proud and relieved looks on their parents' faces.

"He's the youngest of my boys," Nestor Hernandez, of Lehigh Acres, said of his son, Luis. "I've been dying to see him. It's been a long, long time."

The 4th ANGLICO unit of assault paratroopers specializes in relaying target information for air strikes and artillery. Its Bravo Company had been split in two for deployment purposes, and the 14 members who returned Thursday were the last ones back. After being relieved by Charlie Company, Bravo members were anxious to get back to normal.

Capt. Matt Brannen, 28, a second-year law student from Gainesville and father of 3-year-old Delaney, couldn't wait to see his newly built house and have dinner at all his favorite hometown restaurants, said his wife, Heather. Some of the newlyweds in the unit are eager to have babies, joked Maria Ibanez, the liaison between the Marines and their families.

Those who had children found creative ways to maintain a presence in their lives. Brannen's daughter frequently awoke in the middle of the night crying "Daddy," Heather Brannen said. So Brannen sent video and cassette tapes of himself talking and reading to Delaney. Now that he has returned, he's taking her to Disney World.

Heather Brannen said her husband, who's hoping to focus on intellectual property upon returning to law school, is undecided about whether to remain a Marine. He has a young daughter and a promising future as an attorney, but ultimately, she says, "He's a Marine. It's part of who he is."

Others found ways to cope with the distance and uncertainty. Heather Brannen always made sure to pack their weekends full of events.

Natalie Iglesias, who married Cpl. Raul Iglesias of Miami two days after finding out he was being deployed, pondered potential honeymoon destinations.

While wives and girlfriends discussed whether their Marines would remain in the Corps, all openly hope there wouldn't be another deployment.

"It's his decision [if he wants to remain a Marine]," Natalie Iglesias said. "And I don't mind ... if they promise me no more deployments."

But those thoughts temporarily vanished as soon as the chartered bus from Andrews Air Force Base, Md., appeared on the horizon. Anxiety was replaced with excitement, anticipation and happiness that would come with the first shared sight of one another.

"It's the moment you think about for eight months, and when it happens, you're just overwhelmed," said Cpl. Fahim Mortazavi, of Miami. "Words can never explain it."

Shahien Nasiripour can be reached at snasiripour@ sun-sentinel.com or 561-243-6690. Email story
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Daddy's home
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(Sun-Sentinel/Scott Fisher)
Jun 4, 2004

Copyright © 2004, South Florida Sun-Sentinel



06-05-04, 10:20 AM
Marines Ride Out With Less Armor
Associated Press
June 5, 2004

CAMP MERCURY, Iraq - They ride out of remote camps in Humvees, often with flak jackets and rifles as their only protection for long - and sometimes lethal - patrols through Iraq's desert expanse.

The small U.S. Marine convoys, lacking tanks and heavily armored vehicles, may seem an easy target for Sunni insurgents in the restive Anbar province, the largely uninhabited swath of land stretching north and west of Baghdad to the borders of Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Unlike the Army - whose daunting Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles shake the ground and send villagers scurrying for their homes - the Marines say they prefer not to use heavy armor.

"Sometimes, the armored vehicle gives a false sense of security," says Maj. Larry Kaifesh of the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, which is based near Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad.

Sitting inside a heavily armored vehicle can prevent a Marine from seeing his enemy. It also puts distance between the gun and the enemy, Kaifesh said.

The Marines stand out among U.S. troops in Iraq, for their digital-print camouflage uniforms as well as for the lack of tanks and Bradleys inside their camps.

Most of their Humvees have armor plates but no side windows. The open-top back is often reinforced only by simple metal plaques placed on the sides.

Many would conclude that the sparse use of armor - so different from the Army's way - makes the Marines more vulnerable on the battlefield.

The Marines disagree. By appearing to be exposed, they say they are baiting insurgents, trying to draw fire so they can locate insurgents, then go for the kill, said Sgt. Mathew Conrad.

"We like to go look for (them) instead of having them come to us," said Conrad, 30, from Simi Valley, Calif. "We go out looking for trouble for the sake of everyone's peace."

Since the battalion arrived here in March, hundreds of insurgents have been killed, officials have said.

"It is like boxing. You pretend that you miss with your right, they take a swing at you and than you hit them back hard with your left," said Gunnery Sgt. Mark Kline, 42, of Kansas City, Mo. "If you do not take risks, you won't win a match."

Jeremy Binnie, a Middle East military analyst with the London defense consultancy, Jane's, said that any "intentional placing of troops in harm's way" carries serious risks.

British troops have been known to shun their armor to "boost relations with the local people and show them they were not intimidating," he said.

"But looking to draw Iraqis (insurgents) into a standoff fight this way ... is dangerous," Binnie, who has closely followed the war in Iraq, told The Associated Press.

He suggests that the Marines may be acting out of necessity rather than intentional tactics.

"The message we are getting is that they are not getting enough armor," he said. "But the Marines are known to be somewhat more innovative ... And they do have a history of trying to resolve a conflict in different ways."

When the Army rotated fresh units into Iraq this spring, the newly arrived forces left some of their tanks, Bradleys and armored personnel carriers at home, figuring they needed a higher proportion of Humvees to be light and more agile to deal with insurgents.

But as the anti-occupation violence has grown, Army leaders have concluded that the lighter force should be stiffened with more armor. Initially the response was to add armor plates to the Humvees, giving them a measure of extra protection. Now, even that seems too little, and the Army is asking for additional tanks or other heavy armored vehicles to improve protection for soldiers.

The Humvee is a utility vehicle, designed to carry troops, equipment and wounded soldiers and not intended at first for combat zones.

Since arriving in the Fallujah area, known for fierce anti-U.S. insurgency, the Marines have taken a heavy toll.

Almost 10 percent of Kaifesh's battalion has been wounded, many of them during a three-week siege of the city of Fallujah. That attack was prompted by the April 5 massacre of four American civilian contractors.

At least 10 Marines were killed in those battles, along with hundreds of Iraqis.

Since then, attacks on the Marines have decreased, but mortars are still lobbed at their bases and roadside bombs are placed in the path of their patrols.

This has not deterred the Marines, who still "seek the enemy and try to destroy it," said 1st Lt. Richard Wilkerson, 28, of Knoxville, Tenn.

Killing the enemy is not the problem, Kaifesh said.

"Finding him is difficult," he said. "It is like looking for a needle in a haystack."


06-05-04, 03:48 PM
Another 80 Marines activated for Iraq duty
3rd Force Reconnaissance Company members to ship out next week
Friday, June 04, 2004
Staff Reporter
An additional 80 Marines from the 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company in Mobile will be deployed early next week to assist in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The company already sent about 45 reservists to Iraq in January. They're expected to return in November at the earliest.

Col. Jerry Steele said the deployment probably came as no great surprise to most of the Marines, who found out about their call to duty last month. "With the onslaught of all of this, I think they've been anticipating their turn to go," he said. "I don't think it was a big surprise to anyone."

The reservists most likely will spend six to seven months of their one-year deployment in Iraq, and the rest of the time at their respective Corps bases in either Twentynine Palms, Calif., or Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Most likely, Steele said, they'll serve two or three months in the United States before going to Iraq, then two or three months back at their bases after Iraq.

Steele said the Mobile company is trained in reconnaissance -- missions focusing on long-range patrol and gathering information -- but their duties during this call-up will be "dictated by the unit they join."

"I just assume they're doing the normal patrolling that you see on television," Steele said.

The 45 Marines from the Mobile company already in Iraq are stationed in the Sunni trian gle, Steele said. The triangle is an area of central Iraq encompassing cities such as Baghdad, Tikrit and Al-Fallujah.

The new deployment will not necessarily join the rest of their unit, Steele said, and the 30 or so remaining members of the 3rd are made up mostly of support staff for the Mobile base and probably won't be deployed.

Steele said the spirit of the Marines being deployed, who will leave Monday or Tuesday, "is not one of regret."

"Believe it or not, as youngsters, they're excited about the opportunity to put in place the training they've received as Marines," he said. "Ninety-nine percent I would assume are raring to go. I think they see it as an opportunity to give back to their country."

Steele said though it seems that not as many Marines are assisting with Operation Iraqi Freedom, in reality the Marine Corps is sacrificing as much or more as other branches of defense.

"The Marine Corps Reserve itself is (one of) the smallest of all the armed services, but proportionately, we probably send as much or more of our share," he said. "I'm pretty sure almost every Marine unit in Alabama has been deployed now."

Before January, the 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company was last mobilized 13 years ago for Operation Desert Storm and Desert Shield.

Staff Sgt. Brad Stuart said about five to 10 Marines who served in that mobilization remain in the unit. Of the 170 Marines in the Mobile Corps, 35 are students, 64 are married or married with children, 10 are law enforcement officers, 50 are locally employed, and six are small-business owners.