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thedrifter
03-13-07, 09:05 AM
St. Lucie County Marines home from Iraq readjust to life far from war
By REBECCA PANOFF
rebecca.panoff@scripps.com
March 13, 2007

ST. LUCIE COUNTY — Marine Cpl. Will Lambie and Lance Cpl. Trevor Snyder can mark some days on the calendar with memories they'll never forget.

Like Fort Pierce native Lambie's 21st birthday, Aug. 29, when his Humvee hit an improvised explosive device buried in the road.

Or last Thanksgiving, when Snyder, 20, of Port St. Lucie, was saying prayers over his MRE (meals ready to eat) with a friend when they heard rockets soaring overhead.

Two cars loaded with men with rocket launchers began approaching Snyder's squad, and the Marines had to fire on the group because it would not stop advancing.

"We opened fire on them and destroyed one of their vehicles and a few of them until our lieutenant called cease fire. They picked up what was left of their comrades and the wounded and put them all in the vehicle and drove off. ... That was definitely a Thanksgiving I'll always remember."

The men returned home recently after a seven-month stint in Iraq with the 2nd Battalion 8th Marine based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. They returned to the camp in February. Both were in the same battalion, but different companies and stationed in separate locations in Iraq.

LIFE IN IRAQ

Roadside bombs, snipers and mortar attacks are an everyday occurrence and a way of life when you're on patrol in Iraq, Snyder said.

"(Mortar attacks) — that's a terrible sound," Snyder said.

The attack that injured Lambie, giving him a concussion, was his second attack in a week after his battalion had only been in Iraq for a month.

"We all ended up being pretty much fine, of course other than our heads being messed up. ... It definitely could have been a lot worse. Now, I'm still having migraines and memory problems from it," said Lambie, who received a Purple Heart. The medal is given to military personnel who have been wounded or killed in action.

Daily life meant standing guard at a post or patrolling all day, going back to camp and getting a few hours of rest and getting up to do it all over again the next day, Lambie and Snyder said.

At Outpost Viking, where Snyder was stationed, they were "mortared" as many as 37 times while he was there.

"Incoming was a regular event there," he said.

But the bonds of brotherhood in the Marines, which withstand the desert heat and mortar shells of insurgents, are the most important in war, Snyder said.

"It's more than just a regular friendship," Snyder said. "It's like these guys are willing to lay down their lives next to each other and the scariest thing that happens over there is not getting shot at, it's not getting blown up — it's seeing one of your buddies getting hurt."

While doing patrols, both Lambie and Snyder had many opportunities to get to know locals in those areas, especially the children.

"The kids over there are the greatest thing. You go out on patrol and you'll see the kids and most of the time they flock to you. You give them candy and they would just follow you everywhere as you go on patrol," Lambie said.

And some Iraqis befriended the troops and even helped them out if they could.

When a platoon got a Humvee stuck in an area where families were harvesting, one of the family members warned Snyder's group they needed to get out of the area soon after their group, which included children, left, so they would be safe.

"One of the older gentlemen said, 'When the sun goes down, we're leaving, and you'll have about a half hour left and you need to hurry up, because when the children are here you're safe, but once we leave it's dangerous,'" Snyder said.

COMING HOME

For Snyder, coming home meant readjusting to civilian life — if only for a month or so before he has to report back to Camp Lejeune.

He's so used to being alert and on-call every moment he was on patrol, relaxing in his family's home is not an easy task.

"I never thought I'd feel awkward coming back to my own house," Snyder said. "I feel awkward not doing something, going from doing something every second for seven months and then just being able to do nothing, its odd."

But one perk for the billiards enthusiast was the pool table he came home to, courtesy of his family.

"I come home and there's a pool table in my living room, and that's the best welcome home present I can imagine. (When I walked in,) I didn't say hi to my sisters, I hugged my new pool table," Snyder said as he laughed.

For Lambie, coming home meant seeing family and friends and driving his '66 Ford Mustang, which he hadn't driven since he got home from boot camp almost four years ago.

FUTURE PLANS

With his four-year tour behind him, Lambie's time is almost up in the Marine Corps.

"I was just doing it (the Marines) for the experience and to help me out in life and do something else," he said. He said he hopes to attend the University of Florida in the fall to study criminology or forensics.

"They basically trained me to be a policeman over in Iraq, (so I) might as well keep it going," he said.

Snyder has about 1 1/2 years left in his tour of duty, and he said he either will re-enlist for another four years or try to become a Port St. Lucie police officer.

Ellie