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04-11-06, 11:53 AM
April 17, 2006
Mean & Green
Marines bring shrub back to life in Iraq smoke pit

Secondhand smoke is usually considered unhealthy. But it doesn’t seem to bother Bob, who lives in a Fallujah, Iraq, smoke pit. Then again, green shrubs aren’t exactly known for thriving in the sandy desert.

Bob is the exception — a blooming shrub growing in the smoke pit used by leathernecks with 1st Battalion, 1st Marines’ combat operations center.

Despite the smoke, Bob has thrived since the Marines of 1/1 discovered him “almost dead” upon their arrival, said Cpl. Matthew Matosich, an administrative clerk with the unit. Lance Cpl. Steven Kalchik, who also works in admin, said Bob’s name came from them, as well.

“I was talking to another Marine one day, and when I referred to the bush, I called him Bob,” Kalchik said.

Taking care of the plant gives the Marines a break from their daily work, Matosich said.

Luckily, “Bob is not a TLC [tender, loving care] kind of plant,” said Kalchik, who denies having a green thumb.

In return, the leathernecks have created a friendly environment for the plant, as Bob’s place against the sandbagged walls makes him a permanent part of smoke pit chats. “He’s become one of the guys,” said Kalchik, who hopes Marines deployed in the future “will appreciate Bob as we do.”