Lejeune Marines: "Progress is being made" in Iraq

Thursday, Aug 23, 2007 - 06:10 PM

By Philip Jones
WNCT Greenville

As the war wages on in Iraq, more family and friends are saying goodbye to a loved one as they head off to defend our country.

With Camp Lejeune in our backyard, many of you know that feeling all too well.

Another 180 Marines left Lejeune to join Operation Iraqi Freedom on Thursday morning.

In the next few days, a total of about 440 Marines from Combat Logistics Battalion 8 will be on their way to the Al-Anbar province.

On Wednesday, President Bush spoke with the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Kansas City, drawing parallels between the current war and the Vietnam War.

“One unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America’s withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens, whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like ‘boat people,’ ‘re-education camps’ and ‘killing fields,’” the President said.

While he still won’t publicly announce a timetable for troop withdrawal from Iraq, we wondered what our service men and women think.

While packing their gear this morning, Marines offered our Philip Jones their thoughts on America’s war on terror.

The tears and hugs that are now a standard part of deployments at Camp Lejeune weren't hard to spot Thursday morning.

But after President Bush's Wednesday speech that is drawing sharp criticism from some Democratic rivals, Marines here offered up something that's growing harder to find -- open support for America’s role in Iraq.

“Progress is being made,” said Capt. Dev Spradlin. “The transition is going smoothly. The Iraqis will eventually be able to step up and take care of business. They are doing that everyday.”

Capt. Spradlin is the commanding officer in charge of a company of combat engineers.

He's been to Iraq before, and says slowly -- but surely -- progress is being made.

“The whole war in Iraq is a building block process,” Spradlin said. “Everything we do yesterday affects what we will be doing today. And everything we did last time, I see it as a good foundation for what we're doing today.”

For many of these Marines, this deployment marks their second or third trip to Iraq. And whether they're just toeing the company line, many say they're happy to fight -- and want to leave the politics to the politicians."

“Most of us here really don't give much thought to that, because that's not our realm,” said 1Sgt. Manny Clingerman. “We leave that to the powers-that-be and the leaders that are in place. We let them decide that. We're just here to execute whatever it is they need us to do.”

Even though that sometimes requires sacrifice.

Those Marines who are deploying over the next few days will be responsible for rebuilding Iraq’s infrastructure and providing things like roads, bridges and electricity.

They're scheduled to be deployed to the Al-Anbar province for seven months.