View Full Version : Corporal pins 1st Lieutenant bars on sister in Iraq

06-07-04, 07:22 AM
Corporal pins 1st Lieutenant bars on sister in Iraq
Submitted by: 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing
Story Identification #: 200467693
Story by Lance Cpl. Matthew T. Rainey

AL ASAD, Iraq (June 7, 2004) -- When getting promoted, it's always nice to have a loved one or a mentor pin on the new rank.

Unfortunately, it can be a little difficult to find that special person when you are deployed to the other side of the world.

Although deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, recently promoted 1st Lt. Catalina Kesler, executive officer, Alpha Surgical Company, 1st Force Service Support Group, didn't have to look too far to find such a person.

Her brother, Cpl. Fabian Estrada, personnel clerk, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 161, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, is deployed to Al Taqqadum, Iraq.

"We left to come here at about the same time," said 27-year-old Kesler.

Kesler said she wanted her brother to pin on her new rank insignias, but wasn't sure if he would be able to make the trip here. Word about Kesler's upcoming promotion spread and both commands worked quickly to unite the 21 year old with his sister.

"My sergeant major and (commanding officer) told me I should come down here," said Estrada. "I think it's great. How many people get to promote a family member in Iraq?"

Although a Marine can choose anyone to pin on the new rank, traditionally, someone of a higher rank does it. Kesler, however, wanted her May 24 promotion to be a memorable one.

"I have never seen someone of a lesser grade pin someone of a (higher) grade," said Staff Sgt. Miguel Martinez, Alpha Surgical Co.

Martinez praised Kesler as professional, highly motivated, and eager to excel. He claimed that she gained some of these qualities through prior experience in the Marine Corps.

"She really supports the enlisted Marines as she was prior enlisted herself," said Martinez.

As a true mustang, a prior-enlisted Marine, Kesler once held the same rank that her brother does now.

"I enlisted in 1995," said Kesler, "and in 1998, as a corporal, I applied for the (Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program). One of the reasons I joined the Marine Corps was because I didn't have enough money for college."

Kesler received her commission in 2002. She now hopes her brother will follow in her footsteps.

"I was happy to give him my last pair of second lieutenant bars so he can wear them one day," said Kesler.

"I will definitely wear them," promised Estrada.

Kesler has led the way for her brother in the past as well.

"He was 12 (years old) when I was recruited," said Kesler. "My recruiter said he would be back in six years for my brother."

Kesler's recruiter held true on his word and returned to the siblings' hometown of Calexico, Calif., to put Estrada in the Marine Corps alongside his sister. Now the two are together again as Marines with the same mission.

"We can truly say we are fighting this war together," said Kesler.

Estrada's in-country presence has one crucial effect on his sister, she concluded.

"We talk on the phone about once every week or two," joked Kesler. "He reminds me to call my mom."


Cpl. Fabian Estrada, personnel clerk, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 161, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, pins 1st lieutenant rank insignia on his sister, Catalina Kesler, executive officer, Alpha Surgical Company, 1st Force Service Support Group, during her promotion ceremony at Al Asad, Iraq, May 24. Estrada traveled from Al Taqqadum, Iraq, to take part in the ceremony. Both Marines are deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Photo by: Lance Cpl. Matthew T. Rainey



06-07-04, 07:24 AM
Intel Marine one of NSA's chosen few
Submitted by: 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing
Story Identification #: 20046762225
Story by Staff Sgt. Houston F. White Jr.

AL ASAD, Iraq (June 7, 2004) -- The aspirations of an ambitious Marine here were realized May 29 when Sgt. Douglas B. Harris, electronic intelligence intercept analyst, Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 3, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, received confirmation of his selection to participate in an exclusive program.

Accepted into the National Security Agency's internship course known as the Middle Enlisted Cryptologic Career Advancement Program, a curriculum designed to provide select members of the 2600 military occupational specialty with training customized to fit their respective military backgrounds and service requirements.

"Not too many Marines get picked for MECCAP," said the 34-year-old from Bradenton, Fla. "These programs are strictly aimed at the 2600 signals intelligence field and they pick only a very few Marines for these courses because they normally have limited expertise."

The deployed reservist augment went on to explain that many of the Marines who attend the NSA programs normally go on to become instructors at the 2600 MOS training school, or more advanced follow-on schools.

According to Harris, what likely set him apart from many competitors in his occupational field in regards to being considered for the three-year internship was his exceptional career field experience.

"I served for four years at (Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, N.C.,) at Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 4, (2nd MAW)" he explained. "The shop I worked for was called the Tactical Electronic Reconnaissance Processing Evaluation System. I worked there from 1998 until 2002 and that (type of unit) is specific for my MOS."

Aside from his unique credentials, making the sergeant's improbable assignment even more impressive was the fact that it was accomplished under less-than ideal circumstances.

"I received the (Marine administrative message) about 18 days before I was going to deploy to Iraq and incidentally, I couldn't act on the opportunity because of (the deployment) and the fact that I couldn't talk to my chain of command, since most of my unit was pre-deployed," remarked Harris.

"To make matters more difficult, I was headed to Iraq to do a job that wasn't with my normal unit," he recalled. "Once I arrived and got settled in, I started talking to the Marines I work for about (applying for the program)."

After being granted a service extension from Headquarters Marine Corps in order to meet the application criteria for the NSA internship, Harris began gathering letters of recommendation from the officers in his new work section to submit with his résumé.

"One officer in particular, (Col. Jon M. Davis, aviation operations officer, fusion cell), did everything he could to push the application process to the top of the chain of command," he emphasized, "where (Maj. Gen. James F. Amos, commanding general of 3rd MAW at the time) signed off on it."

After completing submission procedures and enduring more than 40 days of uncertainty and anticipation, the payoff for his efforts left the normally subdued leatherneck flabbergasted.

"It was a great feeling to be selected for this program," expressed Harris. "I don't know how many other Marines applied for this school, but to be one of two picked for this particular course, (the feeling) can't be put into words.

"Working in the nation's capitol is going to be great, just because of the history there," he concluded.


Sgt. Douglas B. Harris (standing), electronic intelligence intercept analyst, Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 3, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, delivers an intelligence briefing June 3 at Al Asad, Iraq. The 34-year-old from Bradenton, Fla., is one of only two Marines with his military occupational specialty to be selected for a three-year internship with the National Security Agency as a part of the Middle Enlisted Cryptologic Career Advancement Program. Photo by: Staff Sgt. Houston F. White Jr.



06-07-04, 07:26 AM
Servicemembers baptized in Iraqi desert
Submitted by: 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing
Story Identification #: 2004674490
Story by Sgt. Sgt. J.L. Zimmer III

AL ASAD, Iraq (June 7, 2004) -- God, country and Corps is an age-old motto used since the birth of the Marine Corps more than 225 years ago.

That saying held true recently when four Marines and one soldier were baptized here May 30 by two separate chaplains of different faiths during a baptism ceremony.

The event was triggered when Navy Lt. Alan W. Lenz, chaplain, Combat Service Support Battalion 7, Combat Service Support Group 11, 1st Force Service Support Group, was approached by several servicemembers who were attending his weekly church services about the possibility of being baptized in Iraq.

"Baptism is an outward symbol of the inward reality of a person's relationship with their savior," said the 44-year-old Vista, Calif., native. "It is also a public identification with others who have followed Jesus Christ by faith."

More than 50 fellow worshippers viewed the expression of faith of the five servicemembers who were submerged into the baptismal waters.

Lance Cpl. Michael K. Kono, a 19-year-old network administrator, Marine Wing Communications Squadron 38, Marine Air Control Group 38, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, was baptized by Lenz after he expressed interest in following in the footsteps of his redeemer.

"I felt that being out here has brought me closer to the Lord," said the Sparks, Nev., native. "I received an e-mail about the opportunity to be baptized in Iraq and have always wanted to be (baptized). This felt like it was the right time for me."

Another Marine who was baptized was Lt. Col. David M. Wargo, assistant chief of staff for intelligence, 3rd MAW, and Pittsburgh native.

Until tragedy struck his family, Wargo revealed that he never knew the affect God could have on someone.

"I realized God was calling me to redemption in 1988 when my father died," he said. "Before then, I knew God, but I did not truly know him. I relied on myself to 'make it' and I wanted to prove to everyone and to myself that I could succeed no matter what came my way.

"I lived my life just like my dad in many ways," he continued. "By God's grace, my dad accepted Christ before he died and it was my dad's death that started my walk with God."

Staff Sgt. Michael C. Greenfield, motor transportation maintenance chief, Marine Wing Support Squadron 273, Marine Wing Support Group 37, 3rd MAW, believes he made the change of his life when he entered into a covenant with God.

"I believe in my heart that this was the second step in my life to come closer to God," said the 27-year-old Hornell, N.Y., native. "I think about how I was baptized in the region where (Christianity) all began, and it makes it that much more meaningful to me. I also had my fellow (staff non-commissioned officers) out there supporting me."

Lenz added that as a chaplain, the responsibility to baptize extends beyond the realm of moral service to the servicemembers in his unit; it is a direct representation of his desire to serve God.

"Being baptized has everything to do with wanting to be obedient," he said.

He also said that the Iraqi people would eventually have a taste of what it is like to worship according to your own beliefs.

"We take individual freedoms very seriously in (America) and freedom to worship is one of the reasons our country was founded," Lenz said. "Eventually, the Iraqi people will have the chance to demonstrate that same freedom."


Lt. Col. David M. Wargo, assistant chief of staff for intelligence, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, and 46-year-old Pittsburgh native, is being submerged into the baptismal waters at Al Asad, Iraq, May 30, by Lt. Michael E. Michener, chaplain, Marine Wing Support Squadron 273, Marine Wing Support Group 37, 3rd MAW. Two separate chaplains baptized five servicemembers outdoors in a water bladder during the religious event. Photo by: Sgt. J.L. Zimmer III



06-07-04, 07:27 AM
Singer-songwriter doesn't let Iraq stop his progress
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division
Story Identification #: 2004672217
Story by Cpl. Shawn C. Rhodes

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq(June 6, 2004) -- Lance Cpl. Brandon Neal was leading the life of his dreams before he joined the Marine Corps. He was a country singer, playing his guitar to large groups of people in smoky, dark rooms. When the 20-year-old from Van Buren, Mo., deployed to Iraq in March, not much had changed.

"When I was in high school, I used to take off Friday afternoon for gigs all around the southern U.S. over the weekend," Neal explained. "I've always loved playing for people, connecting with a crowd," said Neal.

The soft-spoken young man wouldn't stand out in a crowd, but when playing, he had them in the palm of his hand.

"Anyone can relate to at least one country song," he added. "The music I play reminds the guys that there's still a world waiting for them back home."

Neal is known as 'Cornbread' to his platoon-mates because of his accent and upbringing. The name suits him just fine, he said.

"I like to sing about life experiences, things I've done or gone through," Neal said. "My music takes me home."

Working the crowd during his performances across the South taught Neal how to read people, to see what songs they'd enjoy the most. He uses this skill when playing for the Marines here.

"I usually open up with something everyone knows and can sing along to," he explained. "Whatever it takes to loosen them up, then I'll sing whatever the crowd would best enjoy."

His comrades enjoy hearing the booming voice of the singer accompanied by his guitar at the end of a hard day.

"It gives people a release to be able to sit back and just listen and relax," said Pfc. Curtis M. Hazen, a 19 year-old from Dumfries, Va. "I'm not even a fan of country music, but Neal knows how to connect with people, how to make them feel better no matter what's happening."

Neal realizes the effect his music has on the people that hear it, and tries to use it to help them as much as he can.

"When I'm singing, people can forget about when the next mortar is going to fall or the next patrol they have to go on," he said. "They can just enjoy the music, and think of home."

Participating in talent shows was a regular event for Neal during his youth. His received his first guitar from his father when he was 9-years-old. Neal remembered the experience vividly.

"He handed me that guitar and said 'No matter where you go in the world or what's happening to you, as long as you have that guitar you'll never be alone'," Neal recalled.

He took inspiration from the musical members in his family to perform in talent shows and develop his skill on the guitar when he was younger.

"When I was seventeen, I won a talent show which had a record contract for two albums as the prize," Neal said. "I turned it down to join the Marine Corps."

He doesn't plan on giving up his plans for stardom, however. Making contacts with record companies through friends and by performing whenever and wherever he can, he has high hopes for his music.

"My goal is to have a song on the radio by the time I'm twenty-six," Neal said. "I don't have to think it will happen, I know it will happen. That's how I look at it. When I play guitar, I'm content with my life and it comes out in my music."

Neal's life experiences as a Marine allowed him to meet a lot of people that affect his music. Finding time to play in between his duties to the Corps is also something Neal, like many musicians, struggles with.

"Neal is an outstanding Marine and musician," said Cpl. Travis J. Lowis, from Iron Mountain, Mich. "When it hits the fan, I can count on Neal to be there for me. He's great for morale here and he's great to listen to."

Even though he can capture a crowd when singing, Neal is shy around most people. He uses his music to express himself in ways he normally can't.

"I have trouble talking about things in my life sometimes," he said. "I write about it, sing about it and I can express myself through my music,"

Even if he never makes it big, Neal said he'd still be content.

"I might be playing in bars for the rest of my life, but I'll be happy doing it."


Lance Cpl. Brandon Neal, of Company G, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, entertains his fellow Marines with his singing and playing whle deployed to Iraq with the 1st Marine Division. The 20 year-old from Van Buren, Mo. used to tour the southern U.S. playing at clubs and bars. Today, he plays for his platoon-mates and writes music in his free time.
(USMC photo by Cpl. Shawn C. Rhodes) Photo by: Cpl. Shawn C. Rhodes



06-07-04, 07:28 AM
Iraqis greet new govt with joy
The all-Iraqi line-up of lawmakers brings forth gush of national pride to the people of the occupied, war-torn country

By Borzou Daragahi

BAGHDAD - Mr Mohaned Hossein and his fellow workers watched the announcement of the new Iraqi government on television at their appliance shop.

Their joyous reaction surprised even themselves.

'The moment they declared the president it was just spontaneous,' he recalled. 'We clapped our hands. We cheered.'

Following more than 13 months of foreign occupation, the sight of a new president, prime minister and Cabinet composed entirely of Iraqis brought an unexpected gush of national pride to sullen people.

Many Iraqis and analysts say they hope a government with more legitimacy will be able to quell the violence, managing to convince enough Iraqis opposed to the new order to quit taking up arms against occupation forces and their local partners or tolerating those who do.

Iraq's most influential Shi'ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Husseini Al-Sistani, gave his tacit endorsement to the new interim government yesterday although he said it lacked the 'legitimacy of elections' and did not represent all sections of Iraqi society.

But as Mr Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations troubleshooter sent here to help build the government, put it on Tuesday: 'Security and stability cannot be achieved with weapons alone.'

Iraqis will begin to accept the new government if it delivers on services by bolstering security and the nation's flagging economy, experts say.

The new government - including leaders from the Governing Council assembled last summer as well as new faces chosen by Mr Brahimi - has a small window of opportunity to solidify its ties with the Iraqis in time for elections early next year.

'Legally, there was no legitimacy for the Governing Council or even for the president and the prime minister,' said Prof Suhal Asawi, a professor of political science at Baghdad University.

'But there is a kind of acceptance of mechanism. It's the only choice until elections. People do not completely agree on the legitimacy of the political process but they'll accept it temporarily.'

The biggest challenge for gaining legitimacy is that authority over Iraq's security and finances remains mired in the fog between the US occupation authority and the incoming Cabinet.

'It's a very vague situation,' said Mr Salahaddin Bahauddin, a member of the now-dissolved Governing Council who will serve on a commission to begin the process of creating a parliament.

'We don't have any information or details about certain key ministries. The Iraqis are still not near ready to take over the security file. The Iraqis still know nothing about the economy or financial details.'

The profiles of each minister - who they are and what Iraqi interests they represent - also play a role in determining the legitimacy of the future government. The naming of a former CIA operative and Baathist Iyad Allawi as prime minister stunned many Iraqis, for example.

But Iraqis were more approving of interim President Ghazi Al-Yawar, a leader of Iraq's Shamar tribe.

'We've known of the Yawar family for a very long time,' said taxi driver Taleb Raedi Jassem.

'We're familiar with his father and his grandfathers.'

In the few weeks before the Iraqi government formally takes control of Iraq, it must find new office space and staff its ministries. Many of those who will take posts at ministries are strangers to Iraqis, and they will have to introduce themselves to the civil servants who work under them and the citizenry they serve.

'We don't know who most of them are,' said Mr Raja Khuzai, another member of the Governing Council serving on the legislative commission. 'Most of them have foreign passports.'

In the new government's favour, most Iraqis are war-weary and though cynical about the motives of the US-led occupation and its Iraqi subordinates, appear ready to give the new government a chance.

Prof Nabil Mohammad Salim, head of Asian Studies at Baghdad's International Studies Centre, said the new government could bolster itself in the eyes of Iraqis by quickly implementing the majority's views.

'They must work hard to end the occupation status as soon as possible,' he said. 'They must represent the will of the Iraqi people and not any other people.'

Mr Brahimi promoted the idea of a Cabinet composed of patriotic technocrats who had toughed it out in the country rather than living in exile as a way of conferring the new Iraqi government with legitimacy. He wanted a caretaker government of technocrats to hold the country together until elections next year.

Ironically, according to a senior occupation authority official, security woes kept Mr Brahimi from really fulfilling his job, from speaking to a broad spectrum of Iraqis to find out who they wanted as a leader.

Instead, members of the Governing Council forced powerful politicians with vested interests into key leadership positions.

Insiders worry they will hold onto that power, elections or not.



06-07-04, 09:10 AM
Mother reconciled to her sons' decision to enlist in Marines

By Rose Post, Salisbury Post
"I knew this could happen!"

Both of Debbie and Brad Garrigues' sons, Bradford and Jonathan, are on their way to Iraq.

And Debbie Garrigues remembers vividly what she told them when they decided to join the Marine Reserves.

"I told them, 'You're committing yourselves for six years, and you could end up in some crazy war where everybody hates you!' " she says. "I advised against it.

"But they didn't listen to me. I don't want them to be in a place where someone's going to be shooting at them."

But their minds were made up.

And Monday afternoon about 3 o'clock, she and Jonathan, the youngest, who'll be 21 on Father's Day, left for Camp Geiger, which is Camp LeJeune's training school, located a few miles south of Jacksonville.

Soon another emotion gripped Debbie Garrigues.

"I'm proud of them," she says. "As proud as I can be that they're serving their country."

And by the time she kissed him goodbye and headed home, she had made a decision.

"Why worry about something I can't do anything about?" she asks herself. And certainly there's no reason to worry "until they're over there in Iraq. So I'm not going to worry and just hope and pray for the best."

Jonathan will do three weeks of combat training with the Marines at Camp Geiger. Bradford, 23, already had completed his training, and on June 28, both Marines-in-the-making will leave for Camp Pendleton, Calif., for another month of training. Then, they head for Iraq for a year.

"If everything goes as scheduled," his mother says, "they'll be back July 28, 2005. But Jonathan will miss two birthdays at home."

Bradford graduated from Salisbury High in 1999, and Jonathan followed in 2001. Both enrolled at Liberty University in Lynchburg and joined Charlie Company of the 4th Combat Engineer Battalion headquartered there.

Bradford is a rising senior at Liberty who hopes someday to teach history and coach cross country like his coach at Salisbury High, Mike Allen. Bradford and the former Sarah Keene were married last year, and he took a job at Kohl's to support them while she completed her masters degree in statistics at James Madison University in Harrisonburg.

Their plan was for her then to work while he finished his undergraduate and master's degrees.

Jonathan had still not fixed on a major after his first two years and left Liberty to take welding courses at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. He has decided he wants to get an engineering degree when he finishes his hitch in the service.

Their mother is convinced Jonathan joined because Bradford joined and Bradford joined because a close friend did, and he was impressed with the discipline and physical prowess his friend acquired.

"So he decided he'd join and get a little money for college, and then Jonathan joined, too. Jonathan has always followed in his footsteps. They were in band together, ran cross country together, both went to work at the same place and played in the Catawba jazz band together."

And both joined the Marine Reserves in Lynchburg two weeks before Sept. 11, 2001, trained in the summer and spent a weekend a month training during the school year.

Combat engineers check for minefields, build bridges and carry out similar activities, their mother says.

The boys knew she'd be upset. So when they were notified that their unit was being activated, they went to Trading Ford Baptist Church to tell her -- and suggested she sit down.

That, she says, didn't keep the tears away. "I just started bawling."

But she's wiped those tears away now and didn't shed any on her way home last night.

Still, she says, "we'd appreciate people praying for our boys."

Contact Rose Post at 704-79-4251 or rpost@salisburypost.com.



06-07-04, 10:31 AM
Issue Date: June 07, 2004

Artillerymen rebuild at local level

By Christian Lowe and Gidget Fuentes
Times staff writers

Think sheep-dipping artillery Marines into infantrymen is strange? How about turning them into civil servants?
That’s exactly what 44 Marines with a Reserve artillery regiment did earlier this year, volunteering for duty with the Camp Pendleton, Calif.-based 3rd Civil Affairs Group for a seven-month stint in Iraq.

Civil affairs units have seen heavy use in Iraq and Afghanistan, missions in which building up a shattered infrastructure often are as important as taking down enemy forces.

The Corps’ civil affairs expertise resides in the Reserve — with 3rd CAG at Camp Pendleton and 4th CAG in Washington, D.C. The two units boast a combined strength of about 250 reservists, all of whom deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom last year.

But the seven-month Marine tours for occupation duty posed a unique problem in the sheer number of projects and outreach needed, prompting group commanders to restructure their units and boost their numbers. The 3rd CAG commander, Col. Mike Walker, set out to build a 180-member force for his Iraq mission — 40 more Marines than usual.

So, as 3rd CAG canvassed the Reserve for volunteers to fill the ranks, leathernecks from 14th Marines stepped up to the plate.

“I talked to the commander of 3rd CAG … and he said getting these guys was like getting a shot of electricity into the civil affairs group,” said Lt. Gen. Dennis McCarthy, Marine Forces Reserve commander, in an interview earlier this year, before 3rd CAG deployed to Iraq.

“I met with a bunch of these lads, and they were really excited about the prospect of getting into the theater and helping to win the battle over there.”

The Marines are helping fill vital niches by providing extra radio operators, machine gunners and vehicle mechanics to a unit dominated by engineers, business experts and government specialists, Reserve officials said.

The volunteers traveled to Camp Pendleton for a two-week civil affairs course — dubbed “CAG-U” — designed by civil affairs Marines and adapted from the Army’s civil affairs school at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Then, it was off to the war.

Since March, civil affairs teams have fielded reconstruction projects at the grass-roots level, helping local Iraqis with jobs, building projects and basic government operations.

Maj. Larry Kaifesh, a 3rd CAG project officer attached to 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, from Camp Pendleton, is overseeing two projects to build a women’s center and a youth center in the town of Kharma. One day in early May, just days after the battalion withdrew from the fighting in nearby Fallujah, Kaifesh and the battalion’s surgeon toured the town’s health clinic, looking for ways to improve medical care in the farming town.

Employment programs are a large part of the civil affairs focus for the battalions, each of which is allotted money each month to use for local projects.

“A guy who has a job is much less likely to be a guy who’s out there fighting,” said Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne, who commands 1/5.

In Ramadi, 3rd CAG civil affairs teams and Navy Seabees are working to line up contractors to improve water-treatment systems for local residents and to irrigate local fields.

“Our whole focus is rebuilding some of these cities so they can function,” said Maj. Rick Smith, a 3rd CAG reservist who in civilian life works as a homicide detective for the Maricopa County, Ariz., sheriff’s department. “It’s a whole different way of thinking for civil affairs.”

Gidget Fuentes reported from San Diego.



06-07-04, 11:50 AM
June 07, 2004 <br />
<br />
Ambushed outside Fallujah, Recon Marines endured ‘the fight of fights’ <br />
<br />
By Gidget Fuentes <br />
Times staff writer <br />
<br />
<br />
At first, little seemed amiss April 7 as Cpl. James “Eddie”...

06-07-04, 11:51 AM
A former underdog leads the charge <br />
<br />
The counter-ambush charge was a bold move, in daylight, by the men to seize the enemy's momentum from the ambush and strike back when they might have expected...

06-07-04, 03:06 PM
Tanks trade treads for security role
Submitted by: 1st Marine Division
Story Identification #: 2004672301
Story by Sgt. Jose E. Guillen

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq(June 5, 2004) -- It's almost like watching ducks out of water. That is, of course, if ducks carried enough firepower to decimate nearly everything they saw.

Marine tankers from Company C, 1st Tank Battalion traded in their treaded 70-ton M-1A1 behemoths for something a little lighter - humvees. For the last three weeks, they've taken up the role as the security force for Explosive Ordinance Disposal Marines.

"There wasn't a need for tanks anymore after Fallujah," explained Staff Sgt. Manuel Herrera, a 32-year-old tank commander from Tampa, Fla. "EOD had a hard time responding to calls because they had to find a security detail and a bomb to worry about. They offered the job and we accepted."

The tankers can gear up, mount their vehicles, load up on weapons and escort the EOD Marines to the roadside bomb in a matter of minutes. That's the difference that could mean survival when improvised explosive devices are sighted.

Staff Sgt. Steven Santana, the platoon sergeant for 1st Platoon, said having the tankers on hand makes it easier for EOD Marines to concentrate on the task at hand. They're not tied up with the logistics of finding a security element and know the Marines with whom they will work.

"We make sure we provide the security that will protect the EOD guys, so they can solely focus on completing their mission," said Santana, a 36-year-old from Brooklyn, N.Y.

"We're doing the right thing," said Lance Cpl. Raymond Padilla, a 20-year-old from Houston. "They asked 1st Tanks to provide security and we're following through."

Although the Marines are accustomed to maneuver the land with their tanks, they now find themselves on the ground brushing up on their infantry skills.

Being observant is key when responding to a call, said 1st Lt. Troy M. Saylor, 1st Platoon's Commander.

"We don't want to be in the effective casualty radius, but close enough to search for anything out of the ordinary before EOD goes to work," said Saylor, a 30-year-old from Kearney, Neb.

While the company's support to EOD was slated to be a temporary one, Santana is sure their commitment will last.

"We've worked well with each other so far, so they requested us on a permanent basis now," Santana said.


Lance Cpl. Raymond Padilla, a tank crewman with 1st Platoon, Company C, 1st Tank Battalion under Regimental Combat Team 1, takes a knee to help provide security off the side of a road outside Fallujah, Iraq. Company C took a new role as security for explosive ordinance disposal Marines. They respond to approximately five calls a day.
(USMC photo by Sgt. Jose E. Guillen) Photo by: Sgt. Jose E. Guillen



06-07-04, 05:04 PM
Schwab Marines remember fallen of OIF II

Submitted by: MCB Camp Butler
Story Identification #: 20046691431
Story by Lance Cpl. Joel Abshier

CAMP SCHWAB, OKINAWA, Japan (May 29, 2004 ) -- For some Americans, Memorial Day signifies the beginning of the summer and the end of the school year; however, the national holiday is a time for remembrance as well.

Marines of Camp Schwab gathered at the 4th Marines Consolidated Dining Facility here May 29 for a memorial service to honor Marines from Okinawa who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Since their deployment to support Operation Iraqi Freedom II, 12 Marines from 3rd Batta1ion, 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, and 1st Bn., 5th Marines, currently assigned to 4th Marines via the unit deployment program, have lost their lives in the conflict.

During the ceremony, emotional speeches recognized the tragedy that has affected so many Marines and their families.

“Remembering those who have given their lives for their country is what Memorial Day is about,” said 4th Marines Commanding Officer Col. Drew A. Bennett. “From the Revolutionary War to present day, we have had service men and women pay the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom we take for granted.”

“Owning property and protecting our families are rights that Americans commonly take for granted,” according to 4th Marines administration chief, Master Sgt. Richard S. Tarbert. He said America is a free country because of the duties of patriotic service members, past and present.

“Just a couple months ago, I was running with these Marines,” Tarbert said. “None of us will ever get that chance again.”

Tarbert explained how these men gave their lives when there was nothing more to give. They were just like many of the young people attending the memorial service -- now they belong to history.

“Today is for the Marines in Iraq who are fighting and who have fallen,” 4th Marines Intelligence Chief Gunnery Sgt. Theodore A. Garro said. “I believe this ceremony has caused the Marines here to remember the sacrifices made by our brothers-in-arms and how important it is to remember the price of our freedom.”

“These are our fallen brothers. I think it’s important to take a few minutes during Memorial Day weekend to remember them and recognize that they paid the ultimate sacrifice,” Bennett said. “If you look at those Marines’ pictures, you may recognize them. There are many more service men who are in harm’s way today. They are not just names, but brothers-in-arms who were serving with us just a few months ago.”


CAMP SCHWAB, Okinawa, Japan - During a memorial service here May 28, a picture of 12 Marines deployed from Okinawa who died during Operation Iraqi Freedom II, stands as a remembrance for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
The Marines pictured:
Top Row:
Pfc. Christopher Ramos, 26, of Albuquerque, N.M.
Cpl. Jesse L. Thiry, 23, of Casco, Wis.
Lance Cpl. Matthew K. Serio, 21, of North Providence, R.I.
Lance Cpl. Shane L. Goldman, 20, of Orange, Texas
Staff Sgt. William M. Harrell, 30, of Placentia, Calif.
1st Lt. Joshua M. Palmer, 25, of Banning, Calif.
Bottom Row:
Lance Cpl. Michael B. Wafford, 20, of Spring, Texas
1st Lt. Oscar Jimenez, 34, of San Diego, Calif.
Pfc. George D. Torres, 23, of Long Beach, Calif.
Cpl. Daniel R. Amaya, 22, of Odessa, Texas
Lance Cpl. Torrey L. Gray, 19, of Patoka, Ill.
Pvt. Noah L. Boye, 21, of Grand Island, Neb. Photo by: Lance Cpl. Joel Abshier