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    Cool For Marines, a Frustrating Fight

    For Marines, a Frustrating Fight
    Some in Iraq Question How and Why War Is Being Waged

    By Steve Fainaru
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Sunday, October 10, 2004; Page A01

    ISKANDARIYAH, Iraq -- Scrawled on the helmet of Lance Cpl. Carlos Perez are the letters FDNY. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York, the Pentagon and western Pennsylvania, Perez quit school, left his job as a firefighter in Long Island, N.Y., and joined the U.S. Marine Corps.

    "To be honest, I just wanted to take revenge," said Perez, 20.

    Now, two months into a seven-month combat tour in Iraq, Perez said he sees little connection between the events of Sept. 11 and the war he is fighting. Instead, he said, he is increasingly disillusioned by a conflict whose origins remain unclear and frustrated by the timidity of U.S. forces against a mostly faceless enemy.

    "Sometimes I see no reason why we're here," Perez said. "First of all, you cannot engage as many times as we want to. Second of all, we're looking for an enemy that's not there. The only way to do it is go house to house until we get out of here."

    Perez is hardly alone. In a dozen interviews, Marines from a platoon known as the "81s" expressed in blunt terms their frustrations with the way the war is being conducted and, in some cases, doubts about why it is being waged. The platoon, named for the size in millimeters of its mortar rounds, is part of the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment based in Iskandariyah, 30 miles southwest of Baghdad.

    The Marines offered their opinions openly to a reporter traveling with the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines during operations last week in Babil province, then expanded upon them during interviews over three days in their barracks at Camp Iskandariyah, their forward operating base.

    The Marines' opinions have been shaped by their participation in hundreds of hours of operations over the past two months. Their assessments differ sharply from those of the interim Iraqi government and the Bush administration, which have said that Iraq is on a certain -- if bumpy -- course toward peaceful democracy.

    "I feel we're going to be here for years and years and years," said Lance Cpl. Edward Elston, 22, of Hackettstown, N.J. "I don't think anything is going to get better; I think it's going to get a lot worse. It's going to be like a Palestinian-type deal. We're going to stop being a policing presence and then start being an occupying presence. . . . We're always going to be here. We're never going to leave."

    The views of the mortar platoon of some 50 young Marines, several of whom fought during the first phase of the war last year, are not necessarily reflective of all or even most U.S troops fighting in Iraq. Rather, they offer a snapshot of the frustrations engendered by a grinding conflict that has killed 1,064 Americans, wounded 7,730 and spread to many areas of the country.

    Although not as highly publicized as attacks in such hot spots as Fallujah, Samarra and Baghdad's Sadr City, the violence in Babil province, south of the capital, is also intense. Since July 28, when the Marines took over operational responsibility for the region, 102 of the unit's 1,100 troops have been wounded, 85 in combat, according to battalion records. Four have been killed, two in combat.

    Senior officers attribute the vast difference between the number of killed and wounded to the effectiveness of armor -- bullet-proof vests, helmets and reinforced armored vehicles, primarily Humvees -- in the face of persistent attacks. As of last week, the Marines had come upon 61 roadside bombs, nearly one a day. Forty-nine had detonated. Camp Iskandariyah was hit by mortar shells or rockets on 12 occasions; 21 other times, insurgents tried to hit the base and missed.

    Realities on the Ground

    Several members of the platoon said they were struck by the difference between the way the war was being portrayed in the United States and the reality of their daily lives.

    "Every day you read the articles in the States where it's like, 'Oh, it's getting better and better,' " said Lance Cpl. Jonathan Snyder, 22, of Gettysburg, Pa. "But when you're here, you know it's worse every day."

    Pfc. Kyle Maio, 19, of Bucks County, Pa., said he thought government officials were reticent to speak candidly because of the upcoming U.S. elections. "Stuff's going on here but they won't flat-out say it," he said. "They can't get into it."

    Maio said that when he arrived in Iraq, "I didn't think I was going to live this long, in all honesty." He added, "it ain't that bad. It's just part of the job, I guess."

    As a reporter began to ask Maio another question, the interview was interrupted by the scream of an incoming rocket and then a deafening explosion outside the platoon's barracks. Pandemonium ensued.

    "Get down! Get down!" yelled the platoon's radio operator, Cpl. Brandon Autin, 21, of New Iberia, La., his orders laced with profanity. "Get in the bunker! Get in the bunker now!"

    Members of the platoon raced out of their rooms to a 5-by-15-foot bunker, located outside at the end of the one-story building. The dirt-floor room was protected by a low ceiling and walls built out of four-foot-thick sandbags. Once in the bunker, several Marines lit cigarettes, filling the already-congested room with smoke.

    "The reality right now is that the most dangerous opinion in the world is the opinion of a U.S. serviceman," said Lance Cpl. Devin Kelly, 20, of Fairbanks, Alaska.

    Lance Cpl. Alexander Jones, 20, of Ball Ground, Ga., agreed: "We're basically proving out that the government is wrong," he said. "We're catching them in a lie."

    Senior officers said they shared many of the platoon's frustrations but added that it was difficult for low-level Marines to see the larger progress being made across Iraq. Maj. Douglas Bell, the battalion's executive officer, said "one of the most difficult things about the insurgency is identifying the enemy."

    Bell said it was frustrating for "every Marine in the battalion" to search for insurgents on a daily basis, only to be attacked repeatedly with bombs and mortars detonated or launched by an invisible enemy. "You want to get your hand around his frigging collar and kick his ass," Bell said. "But they slip away."

    Bell said Marines offering dire predictions for Iraq were not taking into account the training of the new Iraqi security forces. He said the installation of the new Iraqi army, Iraqi National Guard and police across the country would lay the foundation for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.

    "That's how we're going to get out of Iraq," Bell said. "That's how America is going to get out of Iraq."

    The Marines acknowledged that the elusiveness of the insurgents was frustrating. "You don't really know who you're fighting. You're more or less fighting objects," said Elston, the lance corporal from New Jersey. "You see something on the side of the road. It blows up."

    But the Marines said their frustrations run deeper. Several said the Iraqi security forces who are supposed to ultimately replace them were nowhere near ready and may never be.

    "They can't take care of themselves," said Lance Cpl. Matthew Combs, 19, of Cincinnati, who added that he didn't think the National Guardsmen "can do anything. They just do what we tell them to do."

    The Price of Precaution

    The Marines also expressed frustration that they were unable to fight more aggressively because of restraints in the rules of engagement imposed by senior commanders.

    The rules, which require Marines to positively identify their target as hostile before shooting, are cumbersome in the face of urban guerrilla warfare, several of them said.

    "When we get called out, we'll sit there staging there for an hour," Maio said. "By the time we're ready to move, they're up and gone. A few weeks ago, the Iskandariyah police station was under attack. We staged for damn near an hour before we went out. It's stupid. You have to wait to get approval and all this other stuff."

    Kelly, the lance corporal from Alaska, said he understood the need to protect civilians but that the restraints were jeopardizing American lives. "It seems as if they place more value on obeying the letter of the law and sacrificing our lives than following the spirit of the law and getting the job done," he said of his commanders.

    Bell said the Marines' frustration was understandable but that it was extremely difficult to make a determination of hostile intent following a roadside bombing that might have been detonated by anything from a remote-controlled toy car to a cell phone. "That's a pretty difficult decision to make for a 19-year-old kid," he said.

    Lance Cpl. Jeremy Kyrk, 21, of Chicago, said the insurgents took advantage of the limitations imposed on U.S. troops. "They don't give us any leeway, they don't give us any quarter," he said. "They catch people and cut their heads off. They know our limits, but they have no limits. We can't compete with that."

    A Decision to Serve

    Perez said the frustrations inherent in the war became apparent almost immediately after he arrived in Iraq in late July. A Colombian immigrant, he said he decided to join the Marine Corps after attending the funeral of a friend who had died in the Sept. 11 attacks. The friend, Thomas Hetzel, was a volunteer firefighter at the Franklin Square & Munson Fire Department on Long Island, where Perez also volunteered.

    At the time, Perez was studying criminal justice at Nassau Community College. "While I was at the funeral I was looking at his little daughter cry," he said. "He had a pregnant wife and two kids. I just said, 'All right, this is what I want to do.' "

    But Perez said he came to think that war in Iraq was unrelated to his anger. "How do I put this?" he said. "First of all, this is a whole different thing. We're supposed to be looking for al Qaeda. They're the ones who are supposedly responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks. This has no connection at all to Sept. 11 because this war started just by telling us about all the nuclear warheads over here."

    Snyder, who was listening, added: "Pretty much I think they just diverted the war on terrorism. I agree with the Afghanistan war and all the Sept. 11 stuff, but it feels like they left the bigger war over there to come here. And now, while we're on the ground over here, it seems like we're not even close to catching frigging bin Laden."

    Perez said he thought that in some ways he was still fighting terrorists "and I can see how they might attack the United States in the future. It's a link, but it's not really based in the same thing."

    Perez added that he now believes the primary reason for the U.S. presence is to help the Iraqis. "But they don't seem like they want to be helped," he said. "I've only been here two months, but every time you go out, people give you bad looks and it just seems like everybody wants to shoot you."

    Questioning Orders

    The frustration of the Marines was evident one afternoon last week as members of the platoon traveled from Forward Operating Base Kalsu back to Camp Iskandariyah. An attack had reportedly taken place in the area, and members of the platoon were asked to leave their Humvees and walk up a road to look for suspicious activity.

    Traffic quickly began to pile up: cars packed with families, trucks loaded with animals and vegetables. The line of vehicles would have taken hours to search. An order was suddenly passed for the Marines to search all buses for insurgents or weapons.

    "This is what we call a dog-and-pony show," said Kelly, the heavyset, sharp-tongued lance corporal from Fairbanks. He said the operation was essentially a performance for American reporters who were traveling with the Marines. "This is so you can write in your paper how great our response is," he said.

    continued..........

    IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
    ONE PROUD MARINE
    1961-1977
    Vietnam 1968/69
    Once a Marine...Always a Marine

    https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1204617174

  2. #2
    Combs and another Marine boarded a small bus packed mostly with women and children. He walked up the center aisle carrying his M-16 assault rifle, then got off, disgusted.

    "We just scared the living [expletive] out of a bunch of people," he said. "That's all we did."

    When the Marines returned to their truck, Autin and Kelly began to debate the merits of the American presence in Iraq.

    "And, by the way, why are we here?" Autin said.

    "I'll tell you why we're here," Kelly replied. "We're here to help these people."

    Autin agreed and said he supported the mission.

    He added later that it was difficult to wage the battle when American commanders were holding them back.

    "We feel they care more about Iraqi civilians than they do American soldiers," he said.

    Asked if he was concerned that the Marines would be punished for speaking out, Autin responded: "We don't give a crap. What are they going to do, send us to Iraq?"


    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...004Oct9_4.html


    Ellie

    IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
    ONE PROUD MARINE
    1961-1977
    Vietnam 1968/69
    Once a Marine...Always a Marine

    https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1204617174

  3. #3
    Families learn to face homecoming challenges

    By Linda McIntosh
    UNION-TRIBUNE COMMUNITY NEWS WRITER
    October 9, 2004

    CAMP PENDLETON – Their husbands were coming back from deployment, and they were blowing up balloons.

    But not for a party.

    These military wives were taking a stress test.

    It is one of several exercises in a workshop on base designed to help couples readjust after deployment.

    "We ask the spouse to think about the stress she's been under while her husband was deployed and put it in a balloon," said Mercedes Roen, deployment readiness coordinator.

    The balloons get pretty big.

    But then the spouses are asked to think about the stress their partner is under in combat.

    By the end, some balloons look like they're ready to burst.

    "They've both been through serious situations and you can't compare them, but they're just as stressful," Roen said.

    Families have to come to terms with that when their Marines comes home. During the two-hour workshop called "Reunite, Readjust and Rediscover," spouses learn tips for planning a realistic homecoming and for handling the first weeks back.

    "Even for those married 20 years with many deployments behind them, this may be the first combat deployment," said Rebekah Duda, deputy branch manager for Marine Corps Family Team Building.

    As part of the workshop, spouses see a slide show of where their husbands have been and what they have been going through.

    "It brings them up to speed to where their spouse has been physically, mentally and emotionally," Duda said.

    To go along with the class, Family Team Building staff puts together a resource book using input from spouses.

    The 75-page book is divided into three main sections on reuniting, readjusting and rediscovery. It includes everything from practical tips on cooking meals ahead of time for the first week back to advice on figuring out how soon extended family should come visit.

    "We asked spouses what they remembered from the last deployment," Duda said.

    Duda remembered how her husband came back and would often scan the area for brown uniforms when they went somewhere together.

    "He was looking for other Marines he had been with in Iraq," she said.

    Other wives talked about jet lag and changes in time zones and the toll it can take.

    "We remind them so they don't take it personally," Duda said. "It's all about communicating and relationship building."

    For information about the workshop, call Marine Corps Family Team Building at (760) 725-9052 or (760) 763-1337. To pick up a resource book, go to Bldg. 1344.

    http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/m...09camppen.html


    Ellie

    IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
    ONE PROUD MARINE
    1961-1977
    Vietnam 1968/69
    Once a Marine...Always a Marine

    https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1204617174

  4. #4
    Winds of change coming to Iraq
    Submitted by: 1st Force Service Support Group
    Story Identification #: 200410911758
    Story by Lance Cpl. Travis J. Kaemmerer



    CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq (Oct. 9, 2004) -- Cooler days are approaching the sandy horizon of the Iraqi desert.

    Soon, the thermometer will rest between 75 and 90 degrees during the day, and can plummet to a bone-chilling 30 degrees at night, a drastic change from the 120-plus-degree days of the summer months.

    "During the winter months, it's (the weather) easier on personnel. They (the Marines) can get more work done," said Cpl. Chris L. Reighard, a weather observer for the 1st Force Service Support Group's intelligence section.

    Marines here worked shortened hours outside due to the constant threat of dehydration and heat exhaustion during the summer, said the 23-year-old Pleasant Hill, Mo., native.

    Simple projects seemed to drag on during the sweltering days of the peak summer months.

    "The heat alone isn't that bad. It's the wind's hairdryer effect that kills you," said Pfc. Richard W. Oates, a Fayetteville, N.C., native, who works outside all day doing base security with 2nd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment. "You start sweating and the wind blows sand all over you. It sits on your back, and after a while it feels like little red ants biting you."

    During the winter months, the extreme heat and the "wind's hairdryer effect" is replaced by severe weather of a different form - rain and sandstorms. These storms are caused when cooler air from cold fronts sweep across the area, said Reighard.

    The large levels of dust and mud created by these storms can reduce visibility and clog vehicle engines, which in turn can halt or slow down operations.

    When a thunderstorm immediately follows a sandstorm, the inconveniences begin to mount, said Reighard.

    "If you get a good dust storm before the thunderstorm, everything you have is covered by dust, and before you can clean it off, it starts down pouring rain that turns into mud," said Reighard.

    Marines receive cold-weather clothing such as caps, thermal underwear, military fleeces, gloves and ski masks to help them keep warm and help protect from windburn. Ballistic goggles are also provided, which not only protect the eyes from the sand and sun, but can protect vision during an explosive blast, said Cpl. Steven P. Marruffo, an embarkation specialist with 1st FSSG.

    Marines are issued these items before leaving for Iraq, but if a Marine was deployed quickly and not able to get what they need, they can go to their supply issue point here and sign the items out, the Pecos, Texas, native said.

    "(Ordering supplies) really depends on the need for the item but if there are things (Marines) didn't get, we can definitely have it sent here," Marruffo said.

    Some Marines may feel they don't need to wear extra layers during the winter months since they're in the desert - a common misconception, said Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Joseph Zweifel, a corpsman with Headquarters and Service Battalion here.

    "It gets colder at night than they think and that's how they get sick," said the 21-year-old Brookings, Ore., native.

    Marines also need to continue to hydrate as they would in the summer months, said Navy Seaman Tony Romero, a corpsman with H&S Bn. Proper hydration allows the body to better regulate its temperature, keeping Marines cool during the day and warmer at night.

    Along with hydration and wearing their cold weather clothing, Marines need to keep up with proper hygiene habits to prevent the spread of diseases and viruses that come with cold weather, Romero said.

    Romero recommends Marines wash their hands as frequently as possible. When warm water and soap is not available, anti-bacterial hand lotion is a good alternative.

    "There will be a lot more germs going around, and that means a lot more people are going to have cold symptoms and upper respiratory infections," the 22-year-old Houston native said. "These (viruses) are really easy to pass along."

    While the cooler weather should make life here somewhat more bearable for Marines, the dropping temperatures will also give a much needed break to the hundreds of military vehicles used daily.

    Marines with the 1st FSSG use vehicles such as seven-ton trucks and High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicles, or "Humvees," and log thousands of miles on their odometers convoying supplies across Iraq's roads.

    Scorching temperatures take their toll on these vehicles, increasing the need for maintenance. Fluids, such as engine coolant and oil, needed to be constantly checked during the summer months because they deteriorate much faster than usual. But as the temperature begins to drop, so will the need for high-level repairs, said Lance Cpl. Brandon H. Short, a wrecker operator with 1st FSSG.

    "The sand will eventually cause rubber parts of the engine to tear, but the (winter's) heat won't weaken the rubber as much as it did in the summer," the 24-year-old Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., native said.

    Generators, which are used as a primary source of electricity here, were another area of concern during the summer months. Overuse caused inefficient oil consumption and seal damage, explained Pfc. Gregory Dutcher, 19, a generator mechanic with base operations here.

    "We can do the basic repairs, but we don't have the resources to overhaul all the engines," the Mayfield, N.Y., native said.

    With only four Marines on call to maintain 120 generators, those with a basic knowledge of diesel engines are encouraged to perform preventative maintenance, said Staff Sgt. William E. Luna, base operations utilities chief. This will help keep the generators running smoothly when they transition from running air conditioning units to running heaters.

    "Our motto is 'Mission first, Marine always,'" the Hialeah, Fla., native said. "That means if a call deals with the mission out here, it takes top priority. If it deals with what the Marines need, it's the second highest priority."

    Colored flags are displayed atop a tower about 50-feet above the sand here several times daily, reflecting different ranges of the heat index, explained Los Angeles native, Sgt. Valo S. Gonzalez, a weather observer with Marine Wing Support Squadron 373.

    Green, yellow, red and black flags, from coolest to warmest, are flown to warn Marines of how much physical activity is suggested, said Lance Cpl. Terry W. Soto, a weather observer with MWSS 373.

    Marines who work outside most of the day, such as gate guards and engineers, as well as anyone spending mere minutes outside, will welcome the change in weather, said 1st Sgt. Laura L. Brown, Service Company first sergeant, H&S Bn.

    "The change in temperature will be to our advantage," the 38-year-old San Antonio native said. "Now that it's cooling off, devil dogs outside won't be so miserable."

    In the cooler months, Marines will be able to accomplish more, as long as they take some simple precautions to keep themselves, and their equipment, healthy.



    Lance Cpl. Joseph R. Davis, a data technician with Headquarters and Support Battalion, 1st Force Service Support Group, takes a break after spending several hours running fiber lines from one building to another at Camp Taqaddum, Iraq, in 104-degree weather Oct. 1, 2004. As the winter months approach, thermometers will rest between 75 and 90 degrees during the day, and can plummet to a bone-chilling 30 degrees at night, a drastic change from the 120-plus-degree days of the summer months. The cooler months will be a welcome change for Marines here. "The heat alone isn't that bad. It's the wind's hairdryer effect that kills you," said Pfc. Richard W. Oates, a Fayetteville, N.C., native, who works outside all day doing base security with 2nd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment. "You start sweating and the wind blows sand all over you. It sits on your back, and after a while it feels like little red ants biting you." Davis is a 22-year-old native of Lincoln, Ill. Photo by: Staff Sgt. Jim Goodwin

    http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn20...8?opendocument


    Ellie

    IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
    ONE PROUD MARINE
    1961-1977
    Vietnam 1968/69
    Once a Marine...Always a Marine

    https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1204617174

  5. #5
    Marine thanks students for support
    While on leave, Johnston visits Chestnut Mountain Elementary
    By PEARCE ADAMS
    The Times

    A Chestnut Mountain Marine was on a mission Friday: Seek out those who showed him support during his seven-month tour of duty in Iraq.

    Pfc. Justin Johnston found them at Chestnut Mountain Elementary School.

    The 20-year-old visited a group of second-graders to thank them and their teacher, Lori Whitmire, for writing letters to him while he was overseas.

    Whitmire's class last year also sent letters to Johnston.

    Johnston, currently on a three-day leave, was shot in the hip April 22 while he was on patrol in Fallujah.

    About six months later, he fielded students' questions like "Did it hurt?"

    "My mind went blank," said Justin Johnston, who has since recovered fully. "It was like being hit by a 2-by-4 and then burnt with the red-hot tip of a cigar."

    While he was at the school, Johnston ran into teachers he had when he was a student at Chestnut Mountain.

    "It's amazing," said Betsy Elrod, a physical education teacher at the school since 1991. "I can't believe one of my students has been in a war and been shot."

    At the time, he was on patrol with about 20 Ma-rines near Fallujah. The bullet penetrated his right hip and put him out of action for about six weeks, he said.

    "Our company was one of the first into hell on earth," Johnston said after speaking to the students.

    He said his patrol was in tall grass about 650 yards from Fallujah when they came under attack from mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and rifle fire.

    "A medic checked my wound and told me to make my way back on my own," Johnston said. "I had my weapon in one hand and my pants in the other. They were still shooting at me."

    Judy Johnston, Justin's mom, said a Marine officer called her home, initially saying he had been hit by shrapnel.

    His father, Joey Johnston, was on a business trip to Southeast Asia at the time. Later, they learned that their son had been shot.

    According to the U.S. military 1,064 American soldiers have died in Iraq since the war started last March.

    Johnston arrived at the school about an hour after he landed at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. Earlier in the week, he returned to Camp Lejeune, N.C., where his unit is based."When I saw him step off the bus, it was the best day I've had," Judy Johnston said.

    Monday, Justin Johnston said he will return to Camp Lejeune. A combat leave would allow him to return home Oct. 22, he said.

    Once he's back, he won't have the opportunity to vote in his first presidential election. The deadline to register to vote was Monday, and he returned to the United States on Tuesday.

    Johnston said he didn't know he would miss the deadline.

    "It's unfortunate that this happened to someone in combat," said Anne Phillips, director of elections for Hall County. "If I could change it, I would. But I have no authority. It's state law."

    Johnston said he wants to vote and keep the lead-ership that ordered the invasion of Iraq and later sent Marines on an aborted mission to retake Fallujah from insurgents.

    He said the effort has been worth it.

    "It wasn't the wrong war," Johnston said. "It wasn't the wrong time. If we had not done it, we would not have been able to stop Saddam."

    E-mail: padams@gainesvilletimes.com

    Originally published Saturday, October 9, 2004

    http://www.gainesvilletimes.com/news...ws/41833.shtml


    Ellie

    IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
    ONE PROUD MARINE
    1961-1977
    Vietnam 1968/69
    Once a Marine...Always a Marine

    https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1204617174

  6. #6
    Small Craft patrols Euphrates: Photo Essay
    Submitted by: 24th MEU
    Story Identification #: 200410942156
    Story by Lance Cpl. Zachary R. Frank



    FORWARD OPERATING BASE ISKANDARIYAH, Iraq (Oct. 1, 2004) -- Marines of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit watch the shores as they patrol the Euphrates River.

    The Marines are from Small Craft Company attached to Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines – the ground combat element for the 24th MEU.
    The 24th MEU is currently conducting security and stability operations in Northern Babil province.



    Marines attached to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit patrol the Euphrates River outside Forward Operating Base Iskandariyah, Iraq, Oct. 1.
    The Marines are with Small Craft Company attached to Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines.
    The 24th MEU is currently conducting security and stability operations in Northern Babil province.
    Photo by: Lance Cpl. Zachary R. Frank



    Preparing to leave dock, Marines attached to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit make last-minute checks of their crafts before patrolling the Euphrates River outside Forward Operating Base Iskandariyah, Iraq, Oct. 1.
    The Marines are with Small Craft Company, attached to Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines.
    The 24th MEU is currently conducting security and stability operations in Northern Babil province.
    Photo by: Lance Cpl. Zachary R. Frank



    A Marine attached to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit watches the shores as his watercraft patrols the Euphrates River outside Forward Operating Base Iskandariyah, Iraq, Oct. 1.
    The Marine is with Small Craft Company, attached to Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines.
    The 24th MEU is currently conducting security and stability operations in Northern Babil province.
    Photo by: Lance Cpl. Zachary R. Frank

    http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn20...2?opendocument

    Ellie

    IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
    ONE PROUD MARINE
    1961-1977
    Vietnam 1968/69
    Once a Marine...Always a Marine

    https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1204617174

  7. #7
    MAG-16 Marines continue training in Iraq
    Submitted by: 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing
    Story Identification #: 200410895027
    Story by Sgt. Nathan K. LaForte



    AL ASAD, Iraq (Oct. 5, 2004) -- “If it ain’t raining, we ain’t training!” the old Marine Corps saying clearly states.

    It hasn’t rained at the desert air base of Al Asad, Iraq in months, but there has definitely been training for the personnel of Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.

    In the past several months, the Marines have been engaged in a wide array of training - some routine and some unique to the environment - since deploying in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

    The mission at hand is first and foremost for all the deployed Marines, but if the situation permits, opportunities should always be taken to train, said Sgt. Francisco Rubio, training chief, MAG-16.

    “A lot of personnel here are operationally committed to their jobs,” said the 26-year-old from Pacoima, Calif. “It’s hard to get them away, so if we have the time, we definitely love to do training.

    “It’s not hard to teach a Marine, because they are always ready to learn,” he added. “Regardless of the type of environment, if you have downtime, you can do some training.”

    The different training courses that MAG-16 has offered their deployed Marines encompasses many aspects of the Marine persona: leadership, marksmanship and close combat skills.

    One recent training event was Corporal’s Course 03-04, a first in country for many of the deployed Marines involved, said Sgt. John W. Gerbacia, a 34-year-old faculty advisor with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 452, MAG-16. Gerbacia, who normally works in the administrative section of his unit, talked about how his commanding officer, Lt. Col. Bradley S. James, brought the idea to the squadron sergeant major, Sgt. Maj. Leland H. Hilt.

    “The CO went to the sergeant major, who presented us with the task of running a Corporal’s Course. We have run other courses before, and we felt like it would be good for the unit,” said Gerbacia, who has helped run two other courses this year, but only this one while deployed to Iraq. “It’s a motivating thing teaching young Marines and molding them into what Marines should be: leaders.”

    The course consisted “mostly of leadership traits and principles, five-paragraph orders and things like that,” Gerbacia continued. “It’s all geared toward small unit leadership and how we operate on that level. To make good decisions you have to be a good leader. That’s what we teach them.”

    The course was an overall success because of the fact that every Marine who participated not only passed, but also improved in every area the course covered, said Cpl. Jason M. Montoya, nuclear, biological and chemical specialist, MAG-16, and 20-year-old Aurora, Colo., native.

    “It was motivating and it taught me a lot about the Marine Corps,” noted Montoya, who just graduated from the course as the class guide, or leader. “I enjoyed it.”

    “The course will help us to become better people, which will help us become better Marines,” the MAG-16 Marine added. “It makes us more knowledgeable in everyday life and shows us different viewpoints on how lead.”

    Initially, the idea of holding a corporal’s course seemed a daunting task to the faculty advisors because they believed the air base and combat circumstances wouldn’t be conducive to the class, Gerbacia said. The advisors soon learned that it might be the ideal place for the course, he added.

    “Just like Marines do, we overcame the environment,” Gerbacia said. “We actually got to do things we didn’t expect.”

    As part of the course, the leaders were able to incorporate a fire and maneuver range into the training syllabus. Gerbacia noted that the range ‘teaches the Marines how to communicate while firing, which is small unit leadership in its purest form.”

    Small unit leadership isn’t the only thing gained from the ranges held at Al Asad, Rubio noted. Familiarity with how the Marines will fire in full battle gear is what prompted most of the battle-sight zero ranges MAG-16 has held.

    “It’s important to get their true (weapons sight settings) in the battle gear,” said Rubio. “In the ‘rear’ you don’t have all that gear on, but here in a combat situation, you need to have those rounds well-aimed and well-placed to be able to hit your target while having all you gear on. It can make the difference between life and death.”

    Pfc. James A. Lowe, aviation operations specialist, MAG-16, and 21-year-old Louisville, Ky., native agreed that everyone in Iraq, especially those in military occupational specialties other than combat arms, should be afforded the opportunity to BZO their weapon.

    “If you don’t have a proper sight setting on you rifle, how can you expect to hit anything?” Lowe asked in reference to Marines who think that finding a correct battle-sight zero is unnecessary. “We are all Marines and riflemen.

    “It makes each person that much more prepared for anything,” he continued. “These little things not only make us better Marines, but also better qualified to survive out here (in Iraq).”

    MAG-16 has also been holding courses in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program to prepare its Marines for this unwanted eventuality, Lowe said.

    “We live in a pretty secure environment (at Al Asad, Iraq),” Lowe said. “MCMAP gets us out there and our hands dirty. If something bad were to happen, it just helps us maintain that warrior mentality, which you need in a combat zone.”

    “What’s wrong with taking a few hours a day, getting some MCMAP training and keeping that warrior mindset,” Lowe added. “It keeps our minds from going soft. The training is not only physical, but your thinking about situations and that keeps your mind alert.”

    Operational commitments again came into play as the course was scheduled during most of the Marines’ spare time, Lowe said, which they didn’t seem to mind much.

    “The MCMAP courses are carefully selected by what works best for the entire class,” Lowe said about the scheduling for the courses. “They we’re very liberal in their schedules. The thing most people are sacrificing is just time to sit around and not do anything.”

    Sometimes in a Marine’s mind, training simply boils down to not wasting time, Lowe concluded.

    “People use all the training to help pass the time,” Lowe said. “Time efficiency has always been key in the Marine Corps. If we have the time and resources to get these things done, why not?”

    Marines know, however, that training for contingencies in Iraq and Afghanistan is not just something to pass the time and keep the Marines occupied, it is invaluable to the Marines and related to everything they will encounter while deployed, explained Montoya.

    “You need to continuously train,” Montoya explained. “We trained for what we thought would happen but when we got here, we started encountering other things. The enemy is going to keep changing, so we need to adapt and overcome. That’s why we need training.”

    MAG-16 plans to continue its pace for training in the coming months, all of which is subject to operational commitments, Lowe said. VMGR-452, a subordinate unit of MAG-16 while deployed, plans to hold another Corporal’s course, and MAG-16 is planning more fire and maneuver ranges, BZO ranges and MCMAP courses are being discussed. They are also planning crew-served weapons courses and hopefully a heavy-caliber range, Lowe said.

    With no rain looming in the horizon and the skies clear, MAG-16 is not training according to the old adage, but the training schedule remains full.



    The Marines of Corporal's Course 03-04 perform crunches at Al Asad, Iraq, Sept. 30, for the final physical fitness test portion of their class. The course was held by the faculty advisors from Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 452, Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, who have held two other classes this year. This is the first course they have held aboard Al Asad and they hope to hold another one later in the deployment. Photo by: Sgt. Nathan K. LaForte

    http://www.usmc.mil/marinelink/mcn20...D?opendocument

    Ellie

    IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
    ONE PROUD MARINE
    1961-1977
    Vietnam 1968/69
    Once a Marine...Always a Marine

    https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1204617174

  8. #8
    Bigley beheaded ‘after MI6 rescue backfired’
    The Sunday Times (UK) [subscription site]

    DISGUISED in an Arab robe and headdress, the British hostage Ken Bigley escaped from his captors in Iraq by car the day before they beheaded him, it was claimed last night.

    A Saudi described as a spokesman for the group that kidnapped Bigley said two of his captors had accepted a large sum of money to help him flee after three weeks of captivity. The money was provided by a Syrian and an Iraqi who had penetrated the group on behalf of British intelligence, the spokesman claimed.

    Bigley was bundled into the car last Wednesday and driven towards the safety of an area under the control of American forces near Latifiya, southwest of Baghdad, he said.

    But after only five minutes the vehicle was halted by other members of the Tawhid and Jihad terrorist group.

    The terrorists, who were patrolling the road in two separate cars, were from a different cell but recognised Bigley’s face and detained him, along with his companions.

    They took the 62-year-old Liverpool engineer back to the house where he had been held, and he was beheaded on Thursday. His two helpers were also executed, the spokesman said.

    The claim of an MI6 rescue attempt that backfired came from a man described by resistance fighters in Latifiya as the only person who could speak for the Tawhid and Jihad group. They gave his name as Abu Ahmad al-Saudi and his temporary address as a house in the village of Jars al-Sakher.

    Speaking at the house, al-Saudi said Bigley had been generally well treated before he tried to get away, and had been given plenty to eat and drink. The Foreign Office refused to comment and Downing Street said it did not know if the claims of an escape were true.

    An American official described them as credible and an Iraqi government source was quoted as saying that witnesses had reported seeing Bigley recaptured.

    An Iraqi resistance commander with connections to Tawhid and Jihad later supported al-Saudi’s account. He said that when the group realised it had been compromised, it killed Bigley in the belief that its bolthole was about to be stormed.

    According to an Iraqi cameraman who saw a video of Bigley’s last minutes, he was dressed in an orange jumpsuit and allowed to make a final plea for his life, saying: “I am a simple man. I don’t want to die.”

    The cameraman said Bigley had reiterated that he needed his government’s help, adding: “Tony Blair has not done enough for me.”

    A statement was read in Arabic by one of the captors, who complained of the British government’s failure to secure the release of Iraqi women prisoners held in American custody as the kidnappers had demanded. A man standing behind Bigley then beheaded him with a knife.

    The video was delivered to the Baghdad offices of Abu Dhabi television but was not broadcast and the cameraman’s account could not be verified.

    The resistance commander said Tawhid and Jihad was concerned about US and Iraqi government forces in the area and did not want to risk what would have been a coup for the coalition if Bigley had been rescued.

    Iraqi government officials dismissed the claim as an excuse for carrying out a murder that many had seen as inevitable ever since Bigley and two American companions were seized from their villa on September 16 by followers of the Jordanian-born terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

    Bigley’s brothers, who had mounted an international campaign for his release after the Americans were beheaded, were comforting his 86-year-old mother Lil yesterday at home in Liverpool, which declared a day of mourning. A two-minute silence was observed across the city in churches, cathedrals, shops and homes.

    In Bangkok, Bigley’s Thai widow Sombat, 42, read out a statement at the British embassy asking to be left in peace to grieve for her husband.

    “No words can express the agony I feel for the loss of my husband Ken,” she said. “He was a good man and a loving, caring husband.”

    Terry Waite, the former Beirut hostage who visited the Bigley family in Liverpool during the ordeal, said he felt an “immense sadness”. A further minute’s silence was observed before the start of yesterday’s World Cup qualifier between England and Wales at Old Trafford.

    It emerged yesterday that the Foreign Office had earlier called on Scotland Yard’s expertise as efforts intensified to save Bigley. Peter Clarke, the deputy assistant commissioner and head of the anti-terrorist branch SO13, sent two experienced negotiators to Baghdad.

    It is likely that they helped to draft a series of messages relayed to the hostage takers by an intermediary said to have offered to help last Monday.

    MI6 and GCHQ, the government eavesdropping centre at Cheltenham, had been closely involved in attempts to locate Bigley. An SAS unit had also been put on standby to move in.

    “When the prime minister said everything possible was being done to secure Bigley’s release, he meant that . . . every possible resource was mobilised,” a senior diplomat said.

    Blair is expected to face questions from Labour backbenchers tomorrow about whether the government did all it could to save Bigley. In Iraq, British officials were making efforts to recover his body.

    Al-Zarqawi — who is linked with Osama Bin Laden, the Al-Qaeda leader — has been under pressure to change his group’s tactics after protests at the number of local people killed by suicide bombings directed at coalition and government forces.

    The commander claimed that Bin Laden had sent a message to al-Zarqawi, warning him not to risk exacerbating the divide between his largely foreign fighters and an increasingly resentful Iraqi resistance.

    Additional reporting: Stephen Grey, Baghdad, David Leppard, David Cracknell and Maurice Chittenden


    Ellie

    IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
    ONE PROUD MARINE
    1961-1977
    Vietnam 1968/69
    Once a Marine...Always a Marine

    https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1204617174

  9. #9
    Warfare technology displayed in Iraq
    Pfc. Lucian Friel
    Combat Correspondent

    Warfare in this day and age is completely different from that of the American Revolution. To better understand the tactics used in current conflicts, Marine leaders are attending briefs on fourth generation warfare in Iraq.
    Marine officers and staff noncommissioned officers of 2d Marine Division attended a brief given by Col. Thomas X. Hammes of the Senior Military Fellow Institute for National Strategic Studies at the II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters building here, to help the leaders of Marines better understand the situation in Iraq so they will prepare their Marines accordingly.
    The St. Maries, Idaho, native explained how the evolution of war reflects the society as a whole.
    The evolution of warfare consists of four generations, which has come about through technology and physiology of the participants. These generations span from the American Revolutionary era of mass manpower to the fourth generation in Iraq, consisting more of an intelligence-driven war.
    He explained the fourth generation of warfare as being an insurgency on steroids, using all available networks including political, economical, social and military to attack policy makers directly. Images sent back play a big factor in the public’s outlook on the war. In fourth generation warfare, superior political power often defeats greater economic and military power.
    This type of war is measured in decades versus years according to Hammes.
    “The key thing I wanted these leaders to understand is that I don’t think this war is going to be over anytime soon. Get used to the idea of a two decade struggle,” explained Hammes.
    The struggle that Hammes discussed was the idea that insurgents in Iraq are continuing to grain knowledge of America’s tactics and understand the situation in which they are currently engaged.
    “We have a tough situation in Iraq right now,” Hammes said. “There are always things that we can do as leaders to make it better. In all the polls we’ve conducted in Iraq, the main thing the Iraqis said they want is better security.”
    Continuing the seminar, he explained how the political, social and technical aspects of the situation in Iraq affects the nature of war efforts.
    He also discussed and analyzed the insurgent tactics, techniques and procedures in Iraq and discussing possible tactics they use, and the situation with the Iraqi security forces and how to relate and work with them.
    He discussed Marines handling situations with the Iraqi people thus far in Iraq.
    “The Marines have done a great job so far in handling situations over there, but I just want to stress the fact that some have been forced to do things they shouldn’t have and to remember that there’s always a better way to handle a situation,” explained Hammes.
    He stressed to the leaders the importance of explaining to their Marines the situation in Iraq and prepare them for what they’ll face.
    “I did come away with a better understanding of the 4th Generation Warfare concept and how it applies to what we’re seeing in Iraq today,” said Maj. William A. Sablan, the operations officer Weapons Co., 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment.
    Hammes gave advice to the leaders about ways to handle certain situations while deployed to Iraq. He also advised them about the Iraqi culture and the different groups to watch out for in Iraq, explaining their different roles in this war on terror.
    “The historical perspective provided by Colonel Hammes not only painted a pretty clear picture of how this insurgency has evolved since August of last year, but also showed how closely it parallels insurgencies from the past,” explained the Belton, Mo. native.
    This briefing was a step in the process of planning for deployment to Iraq. It gave the leaders of 2d Marine Division a better insight to make their own decisions and prepare their Marines for Iraq.
    “Hopefully it generates some in depth thought and discussion, particularly among the planners who will be involved in this conflict for some time to come,” Sablan said.


    Ellie

    IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
    ONE PROUD MARINE
    1961-1977
    Vietnam 1968/69
    Once a Marine...Always a Marine

    https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1204617174

  10. #10
    Farmers' grandson gets unexpected visit from president
    October 10,2004
    CAROLYN ALFORD
    DAILY NEWS STAFF

    Hello, friends and neighbors. It is good to see you here.

    National Guard Specialist Brian Farmer, 18, left from Ft. Bragg Sept. 23 for an expected year's duty in Iraq. Brian is the grandson of Pat and Beth Farmer of Jacksonville.

    Brian is with the 30th Heavy Separate Brigade that is expected to hook up with the 120th Engineers in Kuwait. They were supposed to be in Kuwait three weeks, but they are already headed to Iraq.

    When the plane stopped in Bangor, Maine, President Bush boarded the plane and shook the hands of all the service members. The president spoke to all the men and women, wished them Godspeed and signed Brian's "Bush" hat, Brian told his family in a hurried cell phone call to his mother in Durham.

    "He got photos of Bush," Pat Farmer said. "I thought it was neat that (Bush) got on the plane and spoke to them. Naysayers will say that he did it for a photo op, but I don't think so. I think he feels for these young kids. I believe he really does."

    Brian, a graduate of Durham High School, was accepted to Virginia Military Institute, but decided to go with his unit to Iraq. Brian spent his 18th birthday in boot camp.

    Although Pat retired from the Marine Corps after serving his country for 26 years, he said he is concerned about Brian. He went off to war and never thought about it but "it is different when it is your grandson."

    A terrible accident

    We got some bad news in my family this week. My brother-in-law, Mike Morley, 45, owner of Backroads Triumph on Pony Farm Road in Jacksonville, was involved in a motorcycle accident Monday in Kershaw, S.C. Mike was there for Track Day at the Carolina Motor Sports Park. During the track ride, Mike's motorcycle got entangled with another motorcycle and he went over the handlebars. Mike was taken to Richland Palmetto Hospital in Columbia where doctors operated immediately to relieve pressure on the brain caused by his head injury. He also has a broken collar bone and some fractured ribs.

    As I write this, Mike is being kept under sedation to alleviate swelling in the brain. We should know something by today.

    I am staying with the children, Katie, 6, and Evan, 3, while Kelly is with Michael in South Carolina. My sister-in-law, Brenda Boyt, is with Kelly. I am having a great time with the children, but I had forgotten how much work two children can be. Todd and Lori Saski are helping. Todd takes Katie to Blue Creek Elementary School with his daughter each morning and Evan stays with Lori while I work some during the day.

    I appreciate their help so much. I couldn't do it without them.

    There have been so many calls and offers to help. As usual, the people in Onslow County have rallied around one of their own. Thank you for all the calls and support. Please keep Michael and the family in your prayers.

    A word from Haleigh

    I was talking to my son, Andrew, on Wednesday.

    He is in the Coast Guard and stationed at Petaluma, Calif. I heard my granddaughter, Haleigh, 3, in the background and asked to speak to her. She came to the phone.

    "Hey Grandma," she said, "you are gone and I can't find you."

    That just broke my heart.

    Haleigh told me she is going to ride on the plane and come home. The money for the ticket would be in the mail if I thought she could really come.

    If she tells me a couple more times that I'm gone and she can't find me, I'm going to find her. If I turn up missing, you know where I am.

    Candlelight vigil

    The Onslow Women's Center has scheduled the 10th annual Candlelight Vigil at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the New River Waterfront Park.

    The vigil honors those who have died as a result of domestic violence. Please come and bring the family.

    Kids will be voting?

    Louisa Ringo and Onslow County Schools are holding Kids Voting for the presidential election.

    Parents are encouraged to bring their children to the polls with them when they come to vote. A Kids Voting volunteer will help the children vote, too, using special sample ballots with real candidates and real issues.

    Although these young voters won't get to cast an official ballot on Nov. 2, their votes in the Kids Voting campaign will be counted and we will get to see the issues that interest future members of the electorate.

    Anyone willing to volunteer for Kids Voting may call Louisa Ringo at 455-2211.

    Kids Voting is a private, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that promotes voter participation by educating America's youth about the importance of an informed electorate and the responsibilities of voting to sustain democracy.

    Parents, please don't forget to vote.

    Thank you for coming.



    Contact Carolyn Alford at calford@jdnews.com or 353-1171, Ext. 218

    http://www.jacksonvilledailynews.com...ection=Columns

    Ellie

    IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
    ONE PROUD MARINE
    1961-1977
    Vietnam 1968/69
    Once a Marine...Always a Marine

    https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1204617174

  11. #11
    In Iraq, car bombs seen as growing threat


    By Ward Sanderson, Stars and Stripes
    European edition, Sunday, October 10, 2004


    BAGHDAD — Car bombs are increasingly becoming the nerve-firing new threat in Iraq.

    They are more indiscriminate than the old roadside bombs, soldiers say.

    They’re also bigger and deadlier. Roadside bombs usually target a specific vehicle as it drives over the trap. Not so with car bombs, which can be remotely detonated or driven into crowds.

    According to U.S. figures, nearly 30 international or Iraqi troops died in car bomb attacks last month. October began on the same dissonant note. On Monday, car bombs near the fortified International Zone, the former Green Zone, and in the heart of Baghdad killed about 20 people and injured maybe 100 more.

    The threat of cars as weapons of urban destruction is a migraine for soldiers. Troops are the targets. They are also the ones who decide whether to open fire on a speeding driver and the ones first on the scene after an attack.

    Soldiers from the Oregon National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry Regiment, were about two miles away from Monday’s second blast. They still heard it. They’re almost used to it now.

    That’s why Staff Sgt. Robert Sotir reacted to the carnage with an exhale. This time at least his guys weren’t there when it happened.

    “It’s sad to say,” Sotir said, face shining with sweat, “but it’s a relief.”

    Sotir wasn’t there when the silver Opel sped into the crowd, so he didn’t have to think about whether to shoot it. But he and other soldiers carry the weight of past decisions in their guts like swallowed buckshot.

    “You’re a little desensitized,” Sotir said, but “you have bad dreams. I kinda wonder whether I’ll still have bad dreams when I go home.”

    In August, Sotir shot a father and son because he believed he had to do it. A car drove through the soldiers’ perimeter. There was a warning shot. The car kept coming. Sotir opened fire. He hit the father in the shoulder and the 12-year-old boy in the head.

    “I was messed up for a while,” Sotir said, “but once I found out they were all right …”

    The father survived and so did the boy. The bullet traveled around the curve of the boy’s skull and lodged in the back of his neck. Sotir has a 12-year-old son himself.

    They had no bombs. But Sotir, not knowing, did as he was trained to do.

    “Sometimes being right still hurts,” Sotir said.

    Monday’s attack showed what could have happened.

    A blackened van owned by a Western security firm was hit directly by the blast. Five people were inside, according to the soldiers. Three survived, though the street was littered with remains afterward. No Americans were reported among the dead.

    A car had sped toward the van, the soldiers said, and apparently had stopped. Someone from the car fired a weapon and shouted, “This is day you’re going to die.”

    Then came the fireball, and everything went to hell.

    Spc. Martin Miller pulled out a video camera to show the aftermath, scorched concrete jerking on the LCD screen. Half the blown-up Opel had embedded itself into the second story of a building.

    “That was something else,” Miller said. “It actually still had the side mirror attached to it.”

    A spokesman for multinational forces in Iraq, Air Force Tech. Sgt. Eric Grill, said it’s difficult to predict when to expect trouble. You have to expect it every day and hope you’re wrong.

    “Every day is different,” Grill said. “There will be days when nothing happens. There will be days when several things happen. Every day, every moment, has the possibility of something happening. And we are living in a war zone.”

    Sgt. 1st Class James Terrel would agree. He was in charge Monday. All of it reminded him of the luckiest, saddest day of his life.

    It was Sept. 12, the day a car passed his convoy, jumped lanes, then detonated in front of a parked security team of soldiers and Iraqis on the other side.

    The blast left a hole 6 feet deep and 12 feet wide. It picked up a Humvee and tossed it 10 feet into the air and 10 feet to the left, then split it in half. Two other car bombs had been set to go off simultaneously. One failed to blow, but the other did.

    Terrel and his convoy survived, but at a cost. Terrel’s gunner wanted to shoot the quick-moving car. Terrel chose not to OK this. The car was moving fast and light, not slow and low-riding like most lugging explosives.

    “It might be a drunk,” Terrel said. “You just can’t shoot every car.”

    Bodies littered the highway. Terrel’s troops cared for some of the victims: three Iraqi National Guard members, two U.S. soldiers and a local woman and her baby. One of the guards died, Terrel believes. The baby’s scalp was peeled away.

    If the car bomber had detonated near Terrel’s convoy, the blast would have set off a 5,000-gallon fuel truck. Things would have been even worse. Terrel said he’s thankful that didn’t happen.

    Opening fire on the car may have also set it off, blowing the tanker. Or maybe it would have stopped the whole attack, and everyone would be fine today.

    Maybe, maybe, maybe. What if, what if, what if. Terrel has just had to accept it.

    “It was my lucky day,” he said. “It was their unlucky day.”

    http://www.estripes.com/article.asp?...&article=24825

    Ellie

    IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
    ONE PROUD MARINE
    1961-1977
    Vietnam 1968/69
    Once a Marine...Always a Marine

    https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1204617174

  12. #12
    Rumsfeld Visits Marines In Iraq
    Associated Press
    October 10, 2004

    AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq - Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld greeted U.S. Marines at this dusty air field in Iraq's western desert Sunday morning, telling them it was unlikely the United States would pull out any troops before Iraq's elections in January.

    It was his first visit to Iraq since its interim government was installed in June.

    Rumsfeld had breakfast with senior Marine leaders, including Lt. Gen. John Sattler, the top Marine in Iraq, and Major Gen. Keith Stalder, commander of the 3rd Marine Wing, which is based at Al Asad, one of the biggest air fields in the country.

    Rumsfeld then gave a pep talk and fielded questions at a "town hall" style meeting with about 1,500 Marines.

    "We're so fortunate to be able to count on you in this time of peril," Rumsfeld said to applause as he stood at a makeshift podium inside an aircraft hangar.

    Insurgents, he said, were likely to increase the level of violence between now and the elections in January, so it was unlikely the U.S. military could withdraw any troops before then.

    "Our hope is that as we build up Iraqi forces we will be able to relieve the stress on our forces and see a reduction in coalition forces over some period of time, probably post-Iraqi election. But again, it will depend entirely on the security situation here in this country," Rumsfeld said.

    It was Rumsfeld's sixth trip to Iraq but his first to Anbar province, which includes portions of the so-called Sunni Triangle north and west of Baghdad. The region had been the heart of tribal support for deposed president Saddam Hussein. Anbar is an insurgent stronghold, including the provincial capital of Ramadi, and the city of Fallujah, where Marines fought fierce battles last spring.

    Marines have taken a large share of U.S. causalities in Iraq in recent months. In August, for example, they had 32 deaths, marking the first time since the U.S. invasion in 2003 that their monthly toll exceeded that of the Army, which has four times as many soldiers in Iraq.

    In light of the insurgent violence that is killing American troops at a rate of more than one per day throughout Iraq, Rumsfeld's trip was not announced in advance. Reporters traveling with the secretary were instructed not to disclose his travel plans until he arrived here from Bahrain aboard an Air Force C-17 cargo plane.

    It was Rumsfeld's first trip to Iraq since May when he made a one-day visit to the Abu Ghraib prison, the focus of the prisoner-abuse scandal that is still playing out in military courts.

    Ellie

    IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
    ONE PROUD MARINE
    1961-1977
    Vietnam 1968/69
    Once a Marine...Always a Marine

    https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1204617174

  13. #13
    Families learn to face homecoming challenges

    By Linda McIntosh
    UNION-TRIBUNE COMMUNITY NEWS WRITER
    October 9, 2004

    CAMP PENDLETON – Their husbands were coming back from deployment, and they were blowing up balloons.

    But not for a party.

    These military wives were taking a stress test.

    It is one of several exercises in a workshop on base designed to help couples readjust after deployment.

    "We ask the spouse to think about the stress she's been under while her husband was deployed and put it in a balloon," said Mercedes Roen, deployment readiness coordinator.

    The balloons get pretty big.

    But then the spouses are asked to think about the stress their partner is under in combat.

    By the end, some balloons look like they're ready to burst.

    "They've both been through serious situations and you can't compare them, but they're just as stressful," Roen said.

    Families have to come to terms with that when their Marines comes home. During the two-hour workshop called "Reunite, Readjust and Rediscover," spouses learn tips for planning a realistic homecoming and for handling the first weeks back.

    "Even for those married 20 years with many deployments behind them, this may be the first combat deployment," said Rebekah Duda, deputy branch manager for Marine Corps Family Team Building.

    As part of the workshop, spouses see a slide show of where their husbands have been and what they have been going through.

    "It brings them up to speed to where their spouse has been physically, mentally and emotionally," Duda said.

    To go along with the class, Family Team Building staff puts together a resource book using input from spouses.

    The 75-page book is divided into three main sections on reuniting, readjusting and rediscovery. It includes everything from practical tips on cooking meals ahead of time for the first week back to advice on figuring out how soon extended family should come visit.

    "We asked spouses what they remembered from the last deployment," Duda said.

    Duda remembered how her husband came back and would often scan the area for brown uniforms when they went somewhere together.

    "He was looking for other Marines he had been with in Iraq," she said.

    Other wives talked about jet lag and changes in time zones and the toll it can take.

    "We remind them so they don't take it personally," Duda said. "It's all about communicating and relationship building."

    For information about the workshop, call Marine Corps Family Team Building at (760) 725-9052 or (760) 763-1337. To pick up a resource book, go to Bldg. 1344.

    http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/m...09camppen.html

    Ellie

    IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
    ONE PROUD MARINE
    1961-1977
    Vietnam 1968/69
    Once a Marine...Always a Marine

    https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1204617174

  14. #14
    Baghdad Car Bombs Kill 11, Including GI

    By SABAH JERGES, Associated Press Writer

    BAGHDAD, Iraq - Car bombers struck twice in rapid succession in the capital Sunday, killing at least 11 people including an American soldier, as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld warned that violence may increase before the January election.


    Iraq (news - web sites)'s most feared terror group — Tawhid and Jihad — claimed responsibility for the near-simultaneous car bombings, one near an east Baghdad police academy and the other outside an east Baghdad market as an American military convoy was passing by.


    At least 16 people were wounded.


    An American soldier was fatally injured in the convoy attack, U.S. and Iraqi officials said. One Iraqi was wounded in that attack. The Kindi Hospital said it received 10 bodies from the police academy blast, and police said 15 others were injured there.


    The dead at Kindi hospital included three police academy students and a female officer.


    In a statement posted on the Web, Tawhid and Jihad, led by Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, said the car bombings were carried out by its military wing and were "martyrdom" operations, meaning suicide attacks.


    Improvised bombs — some left by the side of the road, others rigged in vehicles — have become insurgents' weapon of choice in turbulent Iraq and have accounted for about half the American battle deaths in recent months. U.S. officials are struggling to build up Iraq's own security resources to cope with the threat.


    Al-Zarqawi's group also warned it would continue "to slaughter infidels" until the Americans and their Iraqi allies release all women detained in Iraq. The warning was part of a message contained in a videotape posted Sunday on the Web depicting the brutal decapitation of British hostage Kenneth Bigley.


    Bigley, whose death was announced by his family Friday, was shown pleading for British Prime Minister Tony Blair (news - web sites) to save his life moments before assailants severed his head with a knife. His body has not been found.


    "Here I am again, Mr. Blair, very, very close to the end of my life," Bigley said in a calm voice. "You do not appear to have done anything at all to help me."


    One of the hooded men then spoke, saying the British government "pretended to care about its people" but "they are lying." He accused the British of lying when Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the government did not know how to contact Tawhid and Jihad.


    "Britain is not serious," the speaker said. "So this malicious Britons has nothing except the sword."


    The speaker then drew a knife and cut off Bigley's head while three others held him down.


    The Sunday Times newspaper of London reported that Bigley was killed after briefly escaping by car after British intelligence helped bribe two of the captors. Bigley was recaptured and the two captors who helped him were killed, the newspaper said.


    Elsewhere, the U.S. command said a Marine was killed Saturday by hostile fire in Anbar province but gave no further details. Insurgents ambushed a Marine convoy Sunday near the western town of Hit, U.S. officials said. Marines killed three of their attackers and wounded five but suffered no casualties.


    In Baghdad, an Iraqi intelligence officer was killed Sunday morning in a drive-by shooting as he left home for work, according to Col. Adnan Abdul-Rahman of the Interior Ministry.


    South of the capital, the U.S. command said 15 more insurgents were rounded up Saturday in a joint American-Iraqi operation to suppress resistance in an area notorious for ambushes and kidnappings. At least 78 people have been apprehended since the push began last week, the military said Sunday.





    The latest violence occurred as Rumsfeld arrived for an unannounced visit, his first to this country since the United States handed over sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government June 28.

    Rumsfeld flew to a U.S.-controlled air base in the western desert, where he fielded questions at a town hall style meeting with about 1,500 Marines. He warned that the insurgents were likely to step up attacks before national elections in January, so it was unlikely the U.S. military could withdraw any troops before then.

    "Our hope is that as we build up Iraqi forces we will be able to relieve the stress on our forces and see a reduction in coalition forces over some period of time, probably post-Iraqi election. But again, it will depend entirely on the security situation here in this country," Rumsfeld said.

    The secretary later flew to Baghdad and met with U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte, Gen. George Casey, the top American commander in Iraq, and Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, who is in charge of training and equipping Iraqi security forces.

    Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi hopes to suppress insurgents and take control of rebel enclaves before the legislative elections. U.S. and Iraqi officials have been negotiating for weeks with tribal and religious leaders in key rebel areas but have said they are prepared to use force if talks fail, as they did in Samarra last month.

    Under an agreement with government negotiators, Shiite militiamen loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr are to begin handing over weapons to Iraqi police Monday in their stronghold Sadr City. The weapons transfer is supposed to last five days, after which Iraqi police and National Guardsmen will assume security responsibility for the teeming Shiite district.

    The government's national security adviser, Qassem Dawoud, said Allawi's administration will commit more than $500 million to rebuild Sadr City, scene of weeks of heavy fighting between U.S. troops and al-Sadr's militia.

    Talks are also under way between Allawi's government and representatives of Fallujah, the main insurgent bastion west of Baghdad. Iraqi officials have said a final agreement is near to allow the government to regain control of the city but some key details must be finalized.


    http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmp...e_mi_ea/iraq_2


    Ellie

    IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
    ONE PROUD MARINE
    1961-1977
    Vietnam 1968/69
    Once a Marine...Always a Marine

    https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1204617174

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