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thedrifter
12-18-08, 07:50 AM
World War II raider talks with BLT 3/2

December 17, 2008 - 7:19 PM
JENNIFER HLAD

In the midst of raid training with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, some of the men of Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment got a visit from one of the original raiders.

Ken O'Donnell, who served as a Marine raider in World War II, spoke to the men of BLT 3/2 Wednesday morning at Onslow Beach, as the men prepared for a night raid exercise.

"We love talking to you because we know you are the raiders of today," he said. "I'm extremely proud and honored to be here."

O'Donnell showed photos and his uniform from his time as a member of the elite force, and shared stories of his service.

Marines had to volunteer to be raiders and were constantly evaluated - but they had some of the best leadership in the Corps, he said.

"If you want(ed) into combat, the fastest way to get there (was) raider battalion," he said.

Lance Cpl. Dan Lawrence said he enjoyed hearing O'Donnell's stories.

"He was really cool," Lawrence said. "You kind of get some perspective."

Sgt. William Clayton also appreciated the visit.

"I like history, so it was good to hear about Marines of the past," he said. "I like hearing it from actual people who were there, just the lessons learned."

Clayton has deployed to Iraq twice - to Fallujah and Ramadi - and said the battlefield has changed from O'Donnell's days but the feeling of camaraderie remains the same.

O'Donnell agreed.

"The equipment and the mechanism" have changed, he said, but the caliber of Marines is constant.

"I think the men are ... motivated the way we were," O'Donnell said. "The strength of the Marine Corps is the guy beside you and in front of you and behind you."

The Marines of BLT 3/2 have been doing raid training for about two weeks, practicing missions with a coordinated entry and withdrawal, said Cpl. Joshua Simmons.

A raid could involve a rescue, an attack or some other type of operation, but all include a planned withdrawal.

"Having so many moving pieces ... simulated training is a must," he said.

Simmons said he thinks O'Donnell's message has relevance today.

"You can always tell someone who has actually been there, done that," he said. "I think there's always going to be a use for raids."

Contact interactive content editor and military reporter Jennifer Hlad at jhlad@freedomenc.com or 910-219-8467.

Ellie