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thedrifter
12-19-05, 12:16 PM
The Iraq War: Another View
By JOHN BOYCE
News Staff Writer

Although the national media provides everyone with up-to-the-minute news of all the attacks, bombings, and other horrors of combat in Iraq and in Afghanistan, there are other facets of the effort to help the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as of the support provided to our troops in combat, which don’t get the coverage they deserve. That is the purpose of this column, in which information from various other sources will be presented.

Today’s column presents a slightly edited Dec. 6 story out of Camp Fallujah, Iraq, written by Lance Cpl. Josh Cox, II Marine Expeditionary Force.

While serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom at Camp Fallujah, one sailor temporarily put aside her duties as a Religious Program Specialist to perform another job in Fallujah.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Sarah Radel, 25, was among many female service members assigned to search Iraqi women and children entering the city. However, Radel, who is operating with II Marine Expeditionary Force, Headquarters Group, II MEF (Forward), is the only RPS to fulfill the duty for II MHG to date.

According to Radel, the month-long duty was frightening, but an experience she’ll never forget.

“I was kind of apprehensive at first because I didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “You never know what is going to happen out there. We were always ready, at the ready. I loved every minute of it; it was a new challenge. It was a good time, and I wish I could go back out there. I think the best thing about working out there was seeing the children. Some of the women were just really gracious for the Marines being out there,” she said.

The Patton, Pa., native had a formula to keep herself and her fellow Marines and sailors on the alert at the checkpoints.

“You never overcome the fear,” Radel said. “The day you overcome your fear is the day you don’t go out there. You have to be ready!”

Radel said she cherishes the time she spent with the Marines while working at the checkpoints.

“The Marines are the best,” she said, with a bright smile. “I’ve had opportunities that no one has had to experience. I had the opportunity to work with some really great Marines out there; grunts. They were really great guys. They were always making sure we were taken care of.”

Before joining the military in 2001, Radel dedicated her life to helping others, something she carried over to her career in the Navy. This holiday season, Radel will be aiding in the chaplain’s office and taking part in several programs aimed to boost morale among the troops.

Radel is the United Through Reading program coordinator at Camp Fallujah. According to Radel, the program gives service members the opportunity to tape themselves reading a book to their children or loved ones. She also helps plan video teleconferences at the camp chapel. Radel said these programs help link service members deployed here to their families at home. Despite being thousands of miles apart, the video teleconferences allow service members and their families to see each other.

“She puts in a great deal of time and energy into her work, which shows in many of the projects that she is involved in,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Gregory S. Knight, religious program specialist, chaplain’s office, II MHG, II MEF (FWD). “She helps facilitate these programs between here in Camp Fallujah and the rear. These are very important morale boosters for all of our troops, and help them connect with their loved ones back home.”

Radel looks forward to sharing her experiences in Iraq with other sailors when she returns to Camp Lejeune, N.C. She said when she returns to Camp Lejeune, she’ll be able to show shipmates how to properly search a female and how to speak Arabic.

Radel added her deployment to Iraq hasn’t discouraged her, but has pushed her to continue a career in the Navy.

“This deployment hasn’t deterred me from what I do,” she said. “This is just a little speck of time to me.”

Ellie