Nussle meets Waterloo Marines, pledges support
By PAT KINNEY, Courier Business Editor

WATERLOO --- GOP gubernatorial candidate and U.S. Rep. Jim Nussle congratulated returning U.S. Marine reservists in Waterloo on Tuesday and offered assistance to members of the unit as it prepares to disband later this year.

"More than anything else, I just wanted to be able come here on behalf of your neighbors, friends and people who don't always get a chance to say 'thank you.' Welcome home," Nussle told members of Charlie Battery of the 1st Battalion 14th Marines, who returned from Iraq last week, where they performed security duty, guarding prisoners and escorting convoys.

"Iowans have done an excellent job in Iraq," Nussle said. "Some of you, I understand, this was not your first tour." Several members of the unit were in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, when the unit was known as Delta Battery.

"I understand you have a lot of decisions to make now that you're back," Nussle said. "I understand Charlie Battery is going to disband, and you have other locations you may be sent to. I really appreciate your service. Those of us that remain behind and do work for you in Congress want to make sure you have whatever you need. We hope you're getting that. If you're not ... we want to know."

Waterloo's Charlie Battery is disbanding sometime in September as part of the federal Base Closure and Realignment Commission's recommendations. Waterloo has had a Marine Reserve unit since the end of World War II, with its past and present members serving in multiple conflicts and in peacetime. Members will have the opportunity to join other Marine Reserve units.

Members were being informed of their options this week. Several members, while not happy about the unit disbanding, remain committed to service and have indicated they may join Marine Reserve units in the Des Moines or the Quad Cities; others may join units as far away as Chicago, all depending on their skills, interest and ability to travel. While many Charlie Battery members are from the area, some come from as far away as Minnesota.

Nussle mingled with some of the battery members to get feedback.

Asked if the government is asking too much of some reservists and National Guard troops who have seen multiple tours of duty under Operation Enduring Freedom and the Iraq war, Nussle said, "They will tell you no. And that's an important perspective. I'm sure the families and many of their neighbors, their employers, share concerns. But rarely do you hear that kind of a frustration from the troops themselves."

Contact Pat Kinney at (319) 291-1484 or