Some people just don’t get it. When you hear the title Marines, people usually think or have the thoughts of the 200lb monsters ready to pull you appendages off who are locked in a glass cage that has a sign reading, break only in case of war. Well……ok, the cages are really steel but that doesn’t matter.
In today’s battles and continuous threats against America, Marines and the other services have grown way past the traditional in your gut fighting. Don’t get me wrong for a second, we Marines like to fight and are more than happy to do it when the call comes. Throughout the past few years when the light came on your Marines were ready. Not only to kick butt but to go way beyond of basic tactics. Today’s demands require Marines to be able to evolve from one mission to another in a blink of an eye. Terms like 3 block war use to be the foundation of Marine training. Now young Marines find themselves fighting head on one minute then conducting humanitarian missions the next only to roll back into head on fighting an hour later.
“By 2020, eighty-five percent of the world’s inhabitants will be crowded into coastal cities — cities generally lacking the infrastructure required to support their burgeoning populations. Under these conditions, long simmering ethnic, nationalist, and economic tensions will explode and increase the potential of crises requiring U.S. intervention”
As Marines operate in Iraq and Afghanistan it is more and more evident that things will get busier for us and other services. Busier and at times it may be very difficult or blurred at times. Regardless of training one cannot always tell the difference between combatants and noncombatants because sometimes one becomes the other in a flash. So as young Marines are making life and death decisions in a blink of an eye and continue to excel past the expectations of even senior leadership, before judging on “how well” we are doing in Iraq know that there are thousands if not tens of thousands events that transpire and lead to the success of a major events, like the successful elections in Iraq but you may never here of them. These marines and their actions are the meat and potatoes that produce unsung heroes in our Corps and in our country.
The Marine Corps is a young gun club. The majority of our front line fighters are from 17-26 years old. In many situations the determining factor in if a mission succeeds or not is if the young rifleman makes the right decision, at the right time. Life altering decisions made with his experience and reinforced with confidence and judgment.
So while you may think there is nothing but fighter jets skreeetching down over in Iraq (sometimes but not much any more) remember that large groups of young Marines are accomplishing tough missions in the trenches and making the right call. Conducting operations that may have taken weeks before and completing them in days. Operating in remote regions with only their Staff Non Commissioned leadership or even alone with Corporal’s running the squad. It’s a young man taking his orders, understanding what needs to get done and doing it right. Regardless if it’s taking a building or handing out chow for starving citizens, your Marines are on the job and winning.
CAMP FALLUJAH, Iraq (May 31, 2006) — The sound of a cement mixer breaks up the darkness on a lone Iraqi road near the city of Fallujah. Marines are working in what is known as “black out” condition – no light other than the moon and the occasional glimmer of a flashlight. It’s 6 a.m. on May 24, and the lazing Iraqi sun will soon be rising. This is the time many Americans get up for work, but for the combat engineers of Charlie Company, they’ve already put in an eight-hour day. The Marines of Charlie Company, commonly referred to as “Hell-Bent Charlie,” of Combat Logistics Battalion 5, are hard at work repairing the roads that intersect the city and countryside of Fallujah.Repairing the streets of Iraq isn’t quite like repaving a road in the United States. Instead of fluorescent orange vests and hardhats road workers wear in the States, Marine engineers carry rifles with optic sights, and wear combat gear consisting of a protective vest, helmet and ammunition for a combined weight of over 50 pounds. The roads these Marines work on are traveled by Iraqi citizens, along with coalition and Iraqi Security Forces and are constantly damaged by roadside bomb attacks. Fixing them is crucial to the movement of supplies and troops in the area, said Maj. Steven R. Svendsen, the executive officer of CLB-5 and 40-year-old native of Beaman, Iowa. The work done by the Marines is also helping rebuild the Iraqi infrastructure, he said.The night repair mission begins right after dusk with a quick meeting entailing the mission and latest intelligence findings. Last minute gear checks are conducted before they leave the security of Camp Fallujah where they’re based. “Hell Bent Charlie” goes straight to work quickly filling two holes as soon as they leave the confines of the base.Not much longer afterwards they encounter the very threat they are trying to fight – an improvised explosive device, commonly called IEDs. The engineers set up security and call the explosive ordinance disposal team. The potentially deadly device is neutralized in minutes and the Marine road workers press on. These road-side bombs are a favored weapon used by the enemy to wreak havoc on coalition forces. The threat of IEDs is one of the main reasons these Marines are on the road. “A lot of (the roads) have fallen into disrepair over the years; (they are) a perfect place for an insurgent to put an IED,” said 1st Lt. Edward J. Walsh, a 26-year-old native of Melrose, Mass.Sometimes craters from IEDs are used multiple times making the work to fill these dangerous potholes very important, explained Walsh.For the craters to be repaved efficiently, the Marines must work together while performing individual tasks. Different teams of engineers have specific jobs and responsibilities that fit into the overall route repair process. While conducting the repairs separate teams are tasked to provide security, survey the crater to make sure it is safe to repair, and conduct the actual repair, said Sgt. Shawn Peterson, a 27-year-old native of Missoula, Mont. The Marines have to work fast to avoid being a target of insurgents and still perform their job with precision. Many of these missions have been subject to deadly sniper and mortar attacks. Surveying is the first step to repairing the road. Many factors must be calculated to properly repair a crater.”We have to account for the size of the hole, depth of the hole and how long we’re going to be on site,” said Peterson. For a crater to be filled properly, dirt is molded into a foundation, then cement is poured in, said SSgt. Jose R. Miranda, a 26-year-old from Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.After smoothing off the top of the quick-drying road patch their off in search of more roads in need. Working with hundreds of pounds of concrete mix and dirt – in temperatures well above 100 degrees during the day – is a physically demanding job for these Marines. The results of their efforts are evident to the engineers every time a convoy rides a road made safer by their work.Riding in the back of a vehicle on a freshly repaired road in Iraq, his uniform splattered with dried concrete mix, Lance Cpl. Joshua I. Hamptonhanshaw, looked content.”It’s nice seeing the results of what I’m doing,” said the 21-year-old native of Phoenix, Ariz