View Full Version : 11th MEU (SOC) 'rides' with Army in Iraq

07-30-04, 07:20 AM
11th MEU (SOC) 'rides' with Army in Iraq
Submitted by: 11th MEU
Story Identification #: 200473055131
Story by Gunnery Sgt. Chago Zapata

FORWARD OPERATING BASE ECHO, Iraq (July 30, 2004) -- The country of Iraq is presently in a state of transformation to a democratic sovereignty as elections loom six months in the future. Now, another change has come into their lives, specifically for the people in the province of Al Qadisiyah and in the city of Diwaniyah in particular. The Marines have landed -- again.

Marines and sailors from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) are currently conducting a turnover with the U.S. Army in the province of Qadisiyah in support of Security and Stability Operations here.

Upon offloading from the USS Belleau Wood, USS Denver and USS Comstock for 10 days of training in Kuwait on July 7, MEU Marines traveled by convoy and military aircraft to the FOB here. Once an official turnover between the Army’s Task Force Crockett is complete, the MEU will take responsibility for the area.

"We'll spend approximately 10 days to two weeks showing the 11th MEU everything about the area of responsibility," said Army Maj. Michael N. Davey, coalition commander, Joint Operations Area Saddle, and executive officer of 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division. "We'll show them how we conduct operations, maintain accountability of personnel, operations we've conducted, show them strategic places on the ground as well as all the things we're doing to train the Iraqi National Guard and Iraqi Police."

The Division made it clear from the beginning that they were here to maintain stability of the area while the 11th MEU (SOC) moved into the country and prepared to take responsibility for supporting the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people, according to Lt. Col. Eugene N. Apicella, executive officer, 11th MEU (SOC). Apicella is serving as the commanding officer's senior representative in the Qadisiyah province.

"The Army is prepared to conduct as long of a turnover as needed to ensure a smooth turnover of military responsibilities in this area," said Apicella.

According to Davey, the Army will gradually step back and allow the MEU to take over operations. There are two steps to the Army's turnover process; the first is what they call "right seat ride," which means the Marines observe how they work; the second is called "left seat ride," where Marines take the wheel while the Army observes and helps out where help is needed.

"It's not a one-day quick change over," Davey explained. "We've been here longer so we have more knowledge of everything that's happened in the recent past."

Davey said there's a large exchange of information, which contributes initially to successful mission completion, until the incoming unit gets into a battle rhythm.

"At the end of that 10-day period, the commander of the 11th MEU and Task Force Crocket's higher headquarters will brief the 1st Infantry Division General on all the things that were covered for the transfer of authority," Davey explained. "If both commanders feel comfortable with the turnover, then the general transfers authority to the MEU and sends Task Force Crocket back to its parent command."

Army and Marine Corps patrols have been working together for more than a week now, learning from each other.

"So far it's been pretty seamless," said Army Staff Sgt. Earl C. Dean, scout squad leader, Scout Platoon, Headquarters Company, 1/14. "It's the same battle drill, we go over (standard operating procedures) and actually take them out there and show them how we work."

"Everything's gone pretty well overall. The Army's definitely been very helpful," said Staff Sgt. Richard M. Saxton, scout sniper platoon sergeant, Scout Sniper Platoon, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 11th MEU (SOC). "The Army scouts are well versed with the area and know their job well. We've learned a lot from them through map studies; where the hot spots are, where to go, where not to go, key points around the city and other things to look out for."

However, according to Dean, the biggest enemy the MEU has to watch out for in Iraq right now is complacency. Operations and missions can become commonplace and repetitive, especially if nothing happens.

"Complacency is the number one enemy out here in Iraq," explained Dean. "You can go out on 100 patrols and nothing will happen, but the enemy could be waiting for that one time that you let your guard down and take advantage of it."

According to Davey, the Marines will be facing several challenges during their tour here.
"When Marines were here last time it was a very different environment, different engagement," Davey said. "Now, with the transfer of sovereignty to the new Iraqi government, instead of being able to act independently the Marines are going to have to step back and spend a lot of time mentoring, teaching and coaching the Iraqis."

According to Davey, once sovereignty was transferred to the Iraqi government, the leaders in Baghdad and the provincial governors are now the ones calling the shots. It's their country.
"Marines are just like my infantry soldiers. If something happens we want to act on it right there," said Davey. "We're not able to do that right now. If we do, it makes the Iraqi police and the Iraqi National Guard that much less effective in the eyes of the people."
The Marine's mission is to work with the Iraqi civil and military leadership: governors, mayors, city and municipal councils, police chiefs and the brigade and battalion commanders of the Iraqi National Guard to assist the people of Iraq in maintaining an increasingly stable environment, according to Apicella.

"The entire civil and military leadership of Iraq is organizing, coordinating and building, so it can be tough sometimes for individual governors and leaders to get advice and information from other sources," Apicella continued. "Since we have a solid command and control infrastructure, we can send a question up that chain through the appropriate personnel and get some answers to that governor, civic or military leader to help them do their job."

The people of Diwaniyah are not totally unfamiliar with the Marines. After major combat operations were declared over last year, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, conducted SASO in the city.

"The people of An Diwaniyah very aware of the Marines because they were here before," Davey explained. "So I think there's already a positive relationship built with the IP and ING based on their previous experiences with the Marines."

Although the 11th MEU (SOC) faces several challenges during the transfer of authority from the Army, they are prepared to take them head on.

"We've learned a lot from our Army counterparts and they were more than willing to help us in any way they can," said Saxton. "We're ready to get started."

MEU Marines are also conducting a similar turnover with Army units in the neighboring province of An Najaf.


Staff Sgt. William A. Ensley, infantryman, Company C, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry, 2nd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division (left), describes the patrol route to Sgt. Eric J. Backus, Javelin section leader, Combined Anti-Armor Team B, Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), here, July 24. The purpose of the patrol was to familiarize the Marines with the city of An Diwaniyah before the army turns the area of operations over to the MEU. Photo by: Gunnery Sgt. Chago Zapata



07-30-04, 07:20 AM
Planned Iraqi national conference delayed for at least two weeks amid disarray

By: JAMIE TARABAY - Associated Press

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Iraq authorities abruptly put off Thursday a national conference of political, religious and civic leaders considered a crucial first step on the road to democracy amid disarray over choosing delegates and boycott threats by key factions.

The announcement came a day after a car bombing killed 70 people, the worst single attack since U.S. officials transferred power to an interim Iraqi government.

The national conference, which had been scheduled to start Saturday, appeared to be far behind schedule even before the two-week delay was announced. No venue had been disclosed and there were no outward signs in Baghdad of preparations for the 1,000-person gathering.

Conference organizers insisted they were ready to start, but agreed to the postponement at the request of U.N. officials, who wanted time to encourage wider participation and prepare for the meeting.

Officials hope the conference, which is to elect an interim national assembly, will give Iraqis faith in their government and isolate the insurgents who have carried out a 15-month campaign of bombings, assassinations and kidnappings.

One insurgent group linked to Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi said Thursday it had kidnapped a Somali truck driver and would behead him if his Kuwaiti company did not stop working in Iraq. Another group threatened to behead one of seven foreign truck drivers it was holding in 24 hours if its string of demands, which included a pullout by their company, were not met.

Also Thursday, a U.S. soldier was killed in clashes north of Baghdad, and a Polish soldier died in a roadside bombing. The American's death raises the number of U.S. personnel killed in Iraq since the war began to at least 909, according to an Associated Press tally.

The violence came a day after a car bombing at a police station in Baqouba, north of Baghdad, killed 70 Iraqis. In a funeral procession there Thursday, scores of silent men marched through the streets carrying a coffin holding the body of Kamal Qadouri, while a few men fired Kalashnikovs in the air. When the procession reached Qadouri's home, women wailed in grief.

Organizers of the national conference had expressed concern that the gathering would be a magnet for terror attacks. But they said Thursday that security worries played no part in their decision to delay.

"We have full confidence in our security organizations," said Fouad Masoum, head of the conference's organizing committee.

The three-day conference is to bring together 1,000 delegates from Iraq's 18 provinces to help choose a 100-member interim assembly with the power to approve the budget, veto executive orders, appoint Cabinet replacements and help guide the country toward elections in January.

Under a law promulgated by the outgoing U.S. occupation authority, the conference was to have been held by the end of July.

Masoum said Thursday that the United Nations had asked for a delay to persuade resistant factions to attend, and the organizers agreed.

The United Nations had previously called for a longer delay; Masoum said Tuesday he had turned them down, saying the conference had to be held by the end of July as "a matter of credibility."

He did not explain why he had suddenly decided to accede to the request, but problems have increased recently.

Several important groups, including radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's movement and The Association of Muslim Scholars, an influential Sunni group with links to insurgents, have refused to attend. And on Wednesday, the Iraqi Islamic Party, the first Sunni party to join the now dissolved interim governing council, said it was withdrawing.

Organizers were concerned the conference would lack legitimacy if key leaders boycotted.

The conference was beset by other problems as well.

Some towns did not receive voting forms to choose delegates until late. Infighting over who to send stalled the process in many multiethnic communities. Iraqi media reported that fewer than half the provinces had chosen their delegates just days before the conference was to begin.



07-30-04, 07:21 AM
Allawi urges Muslims to send troops to Iraq

By: GEORGE GEDDA - Associated Press

JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia -- Joined by Secretary of State Colin Powell, Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi urged Muslim nations on Thursday to dispatch troops to Iraq to help defeat an insurgency that he said threatens all Islamic countries.

Allawi made the appeal a day after Saudi officials disclosed that they had initiated an effort to encourage the creation of a Muslim security force to help bring stability to Iraq.

"The leaders of this region must unify and must stand as one group against those gangs, against those terrorists and those criminals who are threatening and causing a great deal of harm to the Arab World and the Islamic world," Allawi said.

It was apparent that many questions about the force remain unanswered, including its size and the type of tasks the force would be asked to fulfill. Nor is it clear whether Muslim countries would go along with the idea. Another issue is how such a force would relate to the existing U.S.-led coalition.

Powell, who met with Allawi in this breezy port city, said he did not know whether the proposed force would complement the coalition or would be a one-for-one substitution. The number of Muslim troops in the coalition is believed to be scant.

With U.S. casualties still running high 15 months after the formal end to hostilities, the United States would enthusiastically welcome any initiative that would permit a reduction in the U.S. deployment in Iraq without jeopardizing the country's security.

Since the beginning of U.S. military operations in Iraq, more than 900 U.S. servicemen and women stationed there have died. In addition, a wave of kidnappings is continuing. Twenty-two truck drivers have been taken hostage by insurgents determined to hinder reconstruction and drive out coalition forces.

"We must confront them. We look forward to the contribution from the Arab and Islamic states," Allawi said

In London, an Arab League official, Ali Hamid, said any such force would only be acceptable if ordered by the U.N. Security Council and linked to a specific timetable for withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.

"A solution with the help of the international community is a good idea provided that the Americans declare they are going to withdraw and not involve NATO in Iraqi affairs," Hamid said. NATO is weighing a plan to train Iraqi troops.

Allawi said that if the insurgents prevail, countries such as Saudi Arabia, Syria and Lebanon would not be safe.

Under the Saudi proposal, Arab and Muslim countries that do not border on Iraq would be invited to contribute. Iraq believes involvement by its immediate neighbors in the country's security could ultimately lead to political conflicts with them.

Powell welcomed the Saudi initiative and said the time may be ripe for a more active role by Arab and Muslim countries based on the handover of sovereignty to Allawi, along with the approval of a U.N. Security Council resolution that gives legitimacy to his interim government.

"They now have a sovereign government that is up and running," Powell said. "Based on that, there will be more intensive discussions on the basis of the Saudi initiative to see if more countries are willing to provide support."

Later, Powell flew to Kuwait, the fourth stop of a weeklong tour of Central Europe and the Middle East.

He told reporters in Kuwait that the Saudis are trying to shape their proposal in a way that garners maximum support from Arab and Muslim populations. Consistent with that goal, he said, Allawi has sent letters to leaders from these countries inviting them to dispatch forces to Iraq.

Powell seemed to take in stride an Iraqi decision to postpone by two weeks the convening of a national conference of a broad cross section of Iraqis. The conference has been billed as an integral part of Iraq's democratic development.

The decision to delay, he said, "was a function of whether they actually were ready for it. Over the last several days, it started to look like it's better to do it right than in haste."



07-30-04, 07:22 AM
Iraqi human rights minister says Saddam has prostate infection

By: RAWYA RAGEH - Associated Press

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein suffers from a chronic prostate infection and has refused to have a biopsy to rule out any chance he has cancer, an Iraqi official said in an interview Thursday on Al-Jazeera television.

X-rays and blood tests carried out by U.S. military doctors did not show anything more serious than the infection and Saddam seemed to be in good health otherwise, Iraqi Human Rights Minister Bakhtiar Amin said.

He said blood tests came back negative for cancer, but officials wanted to take a biopsy to be safe.

Chronic prostate infections are common, occurring in about 35 percent of all men over 50, but are not linked to cancer. However, routine screening for prostate cancer, especially among older men, is becoming more common.

Saddam, 67, has been held under U.S. detention at an undisclosed location in Iraq since his capture last December.

There have been several media reports saying his health was deteriorating -- which the U.S. military denied Thursday.

"Saddam did not have a stroke and he is not dead," 1st Sgt. Steve Valley told The Associated Press. He did not have further information.

A Jordan-based spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, the only neutral entity with access to Saddam, said Thursday the organization had no information about a downturn in Saddam's health.

"Saddam's sickness was rumors spread by the media," Mu'in Kassis told The Associated Press. The ICRC said it has visited him at least twice to check on his condition and carry messages to his family.

According to Amin, Saddam has lost weight after following a diet. He spends his time reading the Quran, writing poetry and tending to a garden, Amin said.

Mohammed al-Rashdan, a member of Saddam's defense team, said the lawyers have received unconfirmed information that Saddam suffered a stroke. He urged the Iraqi government to allow them, his family or a neutral party to send a doctor to Iraq to examine Saddam.

Officials at the Iraqi prime minister's office said they had no information on the deposed leader's condition.

Caused by a variety of bacteria, prostate infections develop gradually and can remain undetected for a long time because symptoms are typically subtle and sometimes there are none at all.

The most common symptoms include a feeling of having to urinate all the time, pain or burning during urination, discomfort when the bladder is full and having to get up many time each night to urinate.

The infections are not easy to cure because antibiotics do not accumulate in high concentrations in the prostate. Treatment usually involves several months of strong antibiotics.



07-30-04, 07:23 AM
August 02, 2004

Riverine unit bulks up for Iraq
Small-craft force adds Marines for fall deployment

By C. Mark Brinkley
Times staff writer

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — When you’re one of a kind, it’s hard to be two places at once.
But months of successful operations on lakes across Iraq have pointed up the need for a larger force of riverine Marines. Thanks to some recent additions, the Corps’ only small-craft company has essentially grown into two deploying units.

The only thing left to do is trade places.

“We’re basically putting together everything we’ve been doing for the last few months,” said Staff Sgt. Irwin Pollock, 35, platoon sergeant for Small Craft Company’s 3rd Platoon, as dozens of Marines prepared to load onto various boats for a day of training along the waterways that cut deep into the base.

“We’re getting everyone trained up to where they need to be,” Pollock said.

The only Marine Corps unit dedicated to such brown-water operations, 2nd Marine Division’s small craft company typically rates only three platoons of Marines.

But two of those platoons have been in Iraq for months — inserting troops, clearing tiny islands of weapons caches and supporting other operations for soldiers and Marines in the combat zone.

The only way to offer them some relief was to bulk up Small Craft Company, adding a fourth platoon to create another deployable asset.

Most of the platoon is junior infantrymen fresh from nearby School of Infantry East.

That’s been one of the toughest challenges in the pre-deployment training, said Sgt. Travis Hogan, 31, the 4th Platoon guide.

“Just getting them ready,” Hogan said, as one of his newest Marines piloted a Small Unit Riverine Craft down the New River Inlet near Camp Lejeune’s back gate. “We’re trying to teach them the individual skills they haven’t been taught yet.”

Just then, another junior Marine in the back of his boat — giving the wrong hand signal to the riverine assault craft bringing up the rear — caught Hogan’s eye.

“Do you want him to cease fire or to slow down?” Hogan asked the Marine in the back. After a quick lesson in hand signals, the trailing boat cut its throttle.

The Marines have been in the field near the inlet for nearly a week.

“Rehearsals, man, it’s all about rehearsals,” Hogan said. “It’s like putting on a play.”

There’s been much to practice. Besides getting many of the Marines off to boating schools, there’s been training in patrolling, security and stability operations and driving with Humvees and trucks.

Preparing to go to war is especially tough with new Marines to mold in such a short period of time, but the training has had its bright spots.

Some of the new Marines come ready for action, such as Hogan’s coxswain, Lance Cpl. Nick Smotherman.

“He was the top in his class, even over a couple of NCOs,” Hogan said. “So he earned himself a promotion and a chance to go to the SURC class.”

The SURCs, new boats designed to replace the Corps’ fleet of Rigid Raider Craft, have been here less than two weeks. That Smotherman is allowed behind the wheel is a testament to how much faith the unit already has in him.

Preparing for combat is exactly where he wants to be.

“I love it,” said the 21-year-old Nashville, Tenn., native. “That’s what I joined for. Watching the war steady on the news, I just wanted to come in. So I left college and joined the Corps.”

The Marines are expected to rotate by the end of September, and the new riverine force will likely stay in the war zone for seven months. Until then, the focus is on preparing for a seamless transition.

“We hear from them every once in a while,” Master Sgt. Robert Hogan, 39, the company operations chief, said of the riverine force now in theater. “Not as often as we’d like, but they’re pretty busy over there.”

C. Mark Brinkley is the Jacksonville, N.C., bureau chief for Marine Corps Times. He can be reached at (910) 455-8354 or cmark@marinecorpstimes.com.



07-30-04, 07:35 AM
MEU commander says troops ready for any challenge
July 29,2004

CAMP VIRGINIA, KUWAIT - Now in Iraq, the commander of Camp Lejeune's 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit said last week that his troops are primed to deal with any challenge that may be waiting there.

Before leaving Camp Virginia in Kuwait to prepare for the remaining MEU's arrival, Col. Ron Johnson offered an update on the unit's level of readiness. Having spent the last few weeks acclimating to the extreme temperatures and shift in time zone, his contingent is acute both mentally and physically, Johnson said.

"I'm very satisfied with where we are right now," Johnson said. "Their bodies are getting used to the desert, and Â… they are getting used to a combat environment, looking at the situations that they may face in the upcoming weeks in Iraq. Everybody is anxiously anticipating the trip, especially the new guys."

In fact, the MEU couldn't seem to get out of the training camp fast enough. Military spokesmen said Wednesday that the Marines and sailors are now in Iraq preparing for operations in North Babil province, said Capt. David Nevers. Marines in the unit will take operational control of the area south of Baghdad that includes the cities of Mahmudiyah and Iskandariyah and has a population of nearly 900,000.

"Iraq is a beautiful country with good people, and the mission is good," Johnson said. "We're here to support the Iraqi government - those people who do not want a democratic government are trying to counter what we have in place."

The harsh climate of the Kuwait desert was a prime place for the troops to practice in a field environment without outside distractions. Since the 24th MEU was called into action about six weeks ahead of schedule, many of their leaders welcomed the extra time. The MEU was originally scheduled to leave Camp Lejeune in August.

"Kuwait is a good place to Â… gel as a team. The thing about a MEU is that it forms and does a work up prior to deployment. Our (work up) was cut short, but that has not prohibited the cohesive force and purpose that allows people to feel a sense of urgency."

With the urgency there tends also to be a seriousness that surrounds the troops and the staff.

Johnson described it as a parallel between just learning about a subject and actually mastering the techniques - much like a doctor might do when put in a position to save lives.

"It makes the commander's job easier because everyone is focused, because they know the dangers we could meet in Iraq," Johnson said. "When you go to school, you only put so much attention on (your studies) to pass the test. But if you are going to operate on somebody, you would pay more attention. The Marines are still studying and trying to learn all they can."

Before leaving, small groups of very young Marines walked slowly through the powdery sand that coats the dusty desert roads around Camp Virginia. They practiced how to patrol and how to recognize threats.

"The reason for focusing on patrols is that every Marine is a rifleman, and that is more appropriate than ever before," Johnson said. "The same dangers are faced by an infantryman and a truck driver."

Most of the troops and the staff - Johnson included -are combat veterans of last year's war in Iraq.

"I think the young NCOs and other Marines on their second deployment have the sense of responsibility of a teacher," Johnson said.

During the past few decades, there was a break of several years between action in Somalia, Grenada, Desert Storm and Desert Shield - meaning only the mid-level and senior leaders had actual combat experience.

For the first time in many years, probably since the Vietnam War, there are very young combat veterans returning to a hazardous duty area and training "new" troops just a year or two younger than they are.

"We have a great mix here of those who have been there before, and the veterans have stepped up to the plate," said Sgt. Maj. Donnie "Randy" Barrett. "We're starting to see the young leadership that was missing for a while."

It is a very different world following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, Barrett said, but the event seems to have galvanized the troops in a way that suggests patriotism is alive and well within the 24th MEU.

"Right before we left, I said that I couldn't be prouder of my 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds who have joined the Marine Corps since Sept. 11," Barrett said. "On the flip side, a lot of older Marines have stayed around when they could have retired."

Contact Eric Steinkopff at esteinkopff@jdnews.com or 353-1171, Ext. 236.



07-30-04, 09:31 AM
Marines, soldiers destroy mountains of munitions, making many safer in Iraq <br />
Submitted by: 1st Force Service Support Group <br />
Story Identification #: 200472811320 <br />
Story by Lance Cpl. Samuel Bard...

07-30-04, 12:01 PM
Decompression brief assists troops in transition home
Submitted by: 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing
Story Identification #: 20047238045
Story by Sgt. J.L. Zimmer III

AL ASAD, Iraq (July 23, 2004) -- For the more than 25,000 Marines and Sailors deployed here in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the hardest part of serving in a war zone might not be the duty itself, but instead, the war-related internal conflicts they may need to deal with before returning to their loved ones.

The decompression brief, also known as the Warrior Transition Brief, is designed to allow Marines and Sailors the opportunity to share stories of their personal encounters and at the same time inform them of the dangers that come with serving in a combat environment.

Whether in direct combat or supporting combat units, each individual warrior may have had a potentially difficult deployment.

"Through a simple model of storytelling, this brief is designed to educate and build a framework to assist in stress reduction," said Navy Capt. Donald F. Lerow, chaplain, Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 3, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. "For combat veterans, storytelling in groups has (historically) been the best model of getting through a crisis."

Lerow added that although Gen. Michael W. Hagee, Commandant of the Marine Corps mandates the brief, the suggested transition methods should not end there.

"This brief can help the returning warriors transition back into their normal life," he said. "It should not stop at the brief. We will see the true value of their storytelling about one year after we return."

Lerow believes an invisible guard will remain in place until the Marine or Sailor returns to the safety of home, allowing for the one-year transition back into their family or social lives.

"I think their emotional guards will come down once they are in a safe environment," he said. "In a safer environment they will be more open to telling their stories to their families.

"We all know that Marines tell their stories to (other) Marines, Sailors to (other) Sailors and soldier to soldier, so this (decompression brief) will help them," added Lerow.

Cpl. Nicholas A. Harrell, special intelligence system administrator, MWHS-3, attended one brief and took from it what he thought applied to him.

"I thought the brief was more geared towards married Marines," said the single, 20-year-old Vista, Calif., native. "However, for the most part I think it will help me transition from a high stress, fast-paced environment back to a slow, more relaxed environment."

He added that even though his job does not require much direct interaction with combat operations, he still feels the anxiety of being here everyday.

"I may not do much that involves the overall mission out here, but I am still under pressure because of the thought of being attacked," he stated. "I think this brief gave me something new to try and apply when I get back to relieve some of that stress."

Sgt. Quyen Q. Phung, administrative clerk, adjutant section, 3rd MAW, believes that while educational, the messages relayed during his brief were directed towards younger, less experienced Marines.

"It was a very informative brief and it gave me some good information, but it (covered) things I already knew and learned in the past," said the 30-year-old Sacramento, Calif., native. "Some of these things I think are pointed towards corporals and below (who) have not been in the Marine Corps very long or do not have much deployment experience. Some of this stress may be new for them."

Maj. Paul T. Morgan, adjutant, 3rd MAW, feels the brief will help senior Marine leaders identify potential problems their troops may experience later on.

"I think this was more of a class the Marines in leadership positions can use to help with their troops when we return," said the 40-year-old Burlington, Iowa, native. "Now they can recognize what signs or symptoms of stress to look for in returning Marines. It doesn't even need to be a Marine under their command, it can be any Marine in general."

Though Lerow does not consider the transition brief a foolproof method of how to care for a warrior returning from a combat environment, he suggests that it is a viable teaching example that can help servicemembers along the recovery process.

"This is really not designed to be (a form of) therapy," Lerow emphasized. "In my mind, it is only an educational model of teaching by example of how to help another Marine or Sailor tell their story; past, present or future."




07-30-04, 06:01 PM
3rd MAW assists inbound MEU with operations and FOB build-up <br />
Submitted by: 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing <br />
Story Identification #: 200473033216 <br />
Story by Sgt. J.L. Zimmer III <br />
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07-30-04, 08:47 PM
Deployed Marine says 'I do' via video
Submitted by: I Marine Expeditionary Force
Story Identification #: 200472782631
Story by Sgt. Colin Wyers

CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq (July 26, 2004) -- It was a small ceremony. The bride wore white, the groom wore tan. It was July 26, 30 minutes until midnight at Camp Fallujah, Iraq; 30 minutes past noon at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

1st Sgt. James J. Schickel and his best man, Lt. Col. Dana D. Clark, stood side-by-side in the I Marine Expeditionary Force commanding general's video teleconference room as friends and well-wishers filed in alongside the long, black conference table and technicians at both ends adjusted the cameras.

"Now there's a four-second delay - so don't worry if you don't hear me say 'I do,'" the first sergeant joked while the cameras were being set up.

And on cue, four seconds later, laughter from the bride's party could be heard over the speaker.

It wasn't planned like this. Schickel had met Sandra in April of 2003 at a sandwich shop in Downey, Calif.

"She was sitting there waiting for her to-go order, and we started talking," he said.

She worked for the Los Angeles county department of public libraries; he worked for the Los Angeles police department. They hit it off.

After Schickel was mobilized as the I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group first sergeant, the two planned to be married in August before he deployed in September. But in June, he was told that plans had changed, and a week later he left for Iraq.

"We didn't want to wait until I got back," said Schickel. "I wanted to make sure if something happened to me, she was taken care of."

The ceremony, conducted by the bride's uncle, Hugo Chavez, was brief. Schickel watched his bride, Sandra, on a widescreen LCD monitor, with his own image sitting in the bottom right corner, looking up at her. After exchanging vows, the couple put on wedding rings they had already exchanged - after a short confusion over how it was going to work.

"Did you get my e-mail?" Sandra, asked, sending chuckles through both conference rooms.

Then Chavez pronounced them man and wife, and Sgt. Richard J. Chavez, a Marine who had worked for Schickel at the I Marine Expeditionary Force Augmentation Command Element, handed the bride a Hershey's Kiss, prompting Tatyana, Schickel's new eight-year-old stepdaughter, to exclaim, "Candy!"

Afterwards Clark, the I MHG executive officer, made a toast to the couple's success. Most of the Marines who attended held empty Dixie cups; a few had a swallow of O'Doul's to mark the occasion.

After the toast, the guests filed out of the conference room to give the new couple a chance to talk.

"Honey, they're going to give us the room for 30 minutes so we can have our honeymoon," Schickel joked.

When Schickel returns from Iraq, he and his wife already know where they want to go for their real honeymoon - Hawaii.


1st Sgt. James J. Schickel watches a video teleconference monitor as his new wife, Sandra, says "I do" July 24, 2004 at Camp Fallujah, Iraq. Schickel, the I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group first sergeant, is deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Photo by: Sgt. Colin Wyers


Maj. Robert J. Nash, the I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group logistics officer, pours a nonalcoholic malt beverage for Lt. Col. Dana D. Clark, the group's executive officer, for a toast at a video teleconference wedding July 25, 2004. Clark, the best man, offered his best wishes for 1st Sgt. James J. Schickel and his new wife, Sandra. Photo by: Sgt. Colin Wyers



07-30-04, 08:47 PM
Long-distance wedding unites Marine, bride

5:14 a.m. July 29, 2004

SAN DIEGO – This was not the wedding that they planned after meeting at a sandwich shop in Downey and falling in love.

The bride wore white, the group wore tan, but what was really unusual was that James J. Schickel and his bride, Sandra, were thousands of miles apart – he at Camp Fallujah, Iraq, she at Camp Pendleton, Calif. – when they became man and wife this week, thanks to the marvels of modern electronics.

"Now there's a four-second delay – so don't worry if you don't hear me say 'I do,"' quipped Schickel, a Marine Corp 1st sergeant, as the cameras were being set up, according to an article on the USMC Web site.

That brought laughter from the bride's party, which the groom, his best man and his friends – assembled in the video teleconference room of the commanding general of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force – heard four seconds later.

It was 12:30 p.m. at Camp Pendleton – 11:30 p.m. in Iraq – when bride and groom exchanged vows Monday and put on rings that they had previously given each other. The brief ceremony was performed by the bride's uncle, Hugo Chavez.

After some toasts, the guests filed out of the Camp Fallujah conference room to give the new couple a chance to talk, according to the Marine Corp article from Iraq.

"Honey, they're going to give us the room for 30 minutes so we can have our honeymoon," Schickel joked.

Schickel and the woman who is now his wife met April 2003 at a sandwich shop in Downey, according to the article.

"She was sitting there waiting for her to-go order, and we started talking," Schickel recalled.

She worked for the Los Angeles county department of public libraries and he worked for the Los Angeles Police Department, according to the article.

They planned to be married in August, before a planned September deployment, but in June he was told that plans had changed, and he left for Iraq a week later.

"We didn't want to wait until I got back," the article quoted Schickel as saying. "I wanted to make sure if something happened to me, she was taken care of."

The Schickels plan to honeymoon in Hawaii when the groom returns from Iraq.