View Full Version : New warrior to lead 'wardogs'

07-05-05, 06:51 AM
Courtesy of Mark aka The Fontman

New warrior to lead 'wardogs'
July 05,2005
Cpl. James Bailey remembers walking into the chow hall with his fellow Marines from 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, covered in the dirt, blood and grime of the Fallujah streets.

"There's the wardogs!" he recalls someone shouting.

The Marines of 1/8 have a history doused in both honor and blood. They fought at Guadalcanal and Okinawa in World War II and faced tragedy when they lost more than 200 Marines to a truck bomb in Lebanon.

The war-torn streets of Fallujah - about 40 miles west of Baghdad - represent the most recent chapter in 1/8's legacy. The battalion took part in the largest campaign in postwar Iraq, when they entered Fallujah from the north in early November with another 10,000 to 15,000 U.S. troops and Iraqi security forces to drive out insurgents.

But last week, the most recent keeper of that legacy, Lt. Col. Gareth F. Brandl -- who led his troops during the four-day battle with Iraqi insurgents - passed the battalion's colors on to Lt. Col. J. Scott Alley during a formal change of command ceremony aboard Camp Lejeune.

Brandl is heading to the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va.

Brandl, who earned the Bronze Star for leadership from the front during the battle for Fallujah and for coordinating "the destruction of more than 300 fanatical enemy fighters," gave all the credit to his Marines.

"I'm very honored and humbled," he said. "But the Marines and sailors of 1st Battalion, 8th Marines earned this award. I just happened to be with them."

Alley, who comes to 1/8 from CENTCOM in Washington, D.C., said he is well aware of the history of his new troops as he addressed them for the first time.

"I couldn't ask for a better battalion," he said. "You have written history. You are continually one of the finest battalions in the Marine Corps, and we will uphold that tradition."

The tradition does not come without sacrifice. During their seven-month deployment in Iraq, 20 Marines were killed and 235 wounded, many of them during the Fallujah assault when they were tasked with fighting through the middle of the city, directly into the center of the insurgent stronghold.

Bailey, a 21-year-old Marine from Daytona, Fla., said he was part of a mobile assault platoon, supporting his comrades with guns attached to Humvees and other assault vehicles. Once they were in the city, however, he said it became a house-to-house search for insurgents, a tense hunt through rubble-strewn alleyways and abandoned homes, amid the ever-present threat of ambush, booby traps and snipers.

During the first 48 hours, Bailey said he probably caught an hour of sleep.

"You grab it when you can," he said.

Bailey was at a loss for words to describe what he felt at the time, but he did say it was the pinnacle of his deployment.

"It's a unique experience," Bailey said.

"There's no words to say how it was, you'd have to experience it."

Looking back at the battle, Brandl said he is convinced it had a positive effect on the war and that the situation in Iraq would be much worse if they had not gone in.

"It was the right fight then and I think it still is the right fight," he said.

Contact staff writer Chris Mazzolini at cmazzolini@freedomenc. com or at 353-1171, Ext. 229.