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thedrifter
04-19-03, 07:52 PM
II MEF Grunts Protect I MEF Command

by Sgt. Joseph R. Chenelly, I Marine Expeditionary Force

MARINE COMBAT HEADQUARTERS - The infantrymen with 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment are getting use to some new circumstances. The battalion, based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., is providing security for I Marine Expeditionary Force's command and control assets.

The Marines, who typically train in lush, green forests and a moderate climate, belong to II MEF in peacetime. Now, the same servicemembers are operating in the arid, harsh Iraqi desert under the direction of I MEF.

Among their duties they pull security, and they also man the perimeters of Camps Commando and Justice, both in Kuwait, that house I MEF's rear elements.

"It takes a lot to adjust to such a drastically different environment," said Cpl. Juan C. Serrano, 22, a vehicle commander with 2/6's combined anti-armor team. "We've gone from having everything you need at Camp Lejeune to having nothing but lots and lots of sand.

"It is hot in the day and cool at night, but the sandstorms are the hardest to endure," the Queens, N.Y., native continued.

"We have to clean all our equipment four or fives times a day. Weapons are broken down inside tents."

Like in many of the units taking part in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Marines fresh out of the School of Infantry are being employed by 2/6.

Pfc. Matthew J. Bocian, an 18-year-old machine gunner, graduated from SOI just two weeks before being shipped to Kuwait.

He watched the first Gulf War on television when he was six years old.

"I remember watching the tracers zipping over the desert then," the native of Akron, Ohio, said. "It seemed so far away, and now it is right here."

Another machine gunner, Pfc. David R. Banew, may be heading to combat less than nine months after graduating from high school.

But the Philadelphian is ready to go.

"I'm not looking forward to the bad things that come with war, but I feel very safe within the team I'm part of," he said from atop a humvee while looking out over the desert. "I know the four of us in this vehicle will be successful in anything we face. We'll face and defeat it together."

The young Marines among 2/6's ranks are intimately aware of the whirlwind they've been caught in.

Many were studying history in a high school classroom this time last year, but their lives are vastly different now.

Serrano is happy with the new crop of Marines.

"They've been strong," he said. "Everyone is learning fast. Each Marine strives to contribute to the team. We're really happy to be out here doing what Marines do."


Sempers,

Roger

yellowwing
04-19-03, 08:35 PM
"I'm not looking forward to the bad things that come with war, but I feel very safe within the team I'm part of," he said from atop a humvee while looking out over the desert. "I know the four of us in this vehicle will be successful in anything we face. We'll face and defeat it together."

That's one motivated Marine, ooh-rah!