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Monday, 12-Dec-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Stars & Stripes Golf - Karmah

 
http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?article=33664

Some Marine posts have just the bare necessities
Hot meals, showers in short supply at smaller Iraq bases

By Andrew Tilghman, Stars and Stripes
Mideast edition, Tuesday, December 13, 2005

KARMAH, Iraq — Lance Cpl. Aaron Snell was eagerly devouring his Thursday morning breakfast, the only hot meal served each week at this small outpost, known here only as “O-P Three,” just a few miles east of Fallujah.

“We haven’t had hot dinner in, like, months,” Snell said as he shoveled scrambled eggs, bacon and fried potatoes from a cardboard tray.

Although the relative luxuries of Camp Fallujah are just a few miles away, many Marines at smaller bases spend weeks — or even months — at a time without returning to dining hall food, hot showers, laundry services and Internet access.

“We used to go back once a week, but the risk was just too high,” said 1st Sgt. Craig Yohe, of the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment’s Company G.

The risk is roadside bombs, one that has dramatically altered these Marines’ lives and the tactics they use in this persistently dangerous patch of Anbar province. Limiting nonessential vehicle travel has been a key element to this battalion’s strategy for staying safe.

“We have changed everything we do,” said Maj. Christopher Dixon, executive officer of the 2/2 Battalion, which is based at Camp Fallujah but has dispersed most of its Marines to small bases across the countryside north of the city.

Changes since Dixon’s battalion arrived in July include converting many vehicle patrols into foot patrols, which allow troops to detect roadside bombs more easily. They use helicopters for operations, if possible. And all logistics are consolidated into large and infrequent convoys, sent at strategic windows of time after checking the main routes for bombs.

That has helped drive down the number of roadside bomb attacks — from 41 in June and 40 in July to just 14 in October and eight in November, according to data provided by the battalion.

Some 15 Marines from the 2-2 Battalion have been killed since they arrived in July, most of them victims of roadside bomb attacks.

For the Marines posted at the small bases, day-to-day life has few amenities.

“I haven’t had a shower in two months,” said Cpl. Michael Fournet, 27, from Louisiana who was living with his platoon at an abandon police station in Karmah.

Lance Cpl. David Rogers from Rochester, N.Y., said he recently wore the same camouflage fatigues for about six weeks in a row without washing them.

Lance Cpl. Matt Boggs said he had not checked his e-mail in nearly two months.

Each Marine is permitted to use a satellite phone for one 10-minute phone call each week. Mail arrives about once a week at O-P Three, an Iraqi residence surrounded by sand-filled barriers and razor wire.

Many of the Marines are so tired of Meals, Ready to Eat that they now subsist on packaged tuna fish, ramen noodles, Spam and other prepackaged food sent in care packages from home.

Despite their relative isolation, many Marines maintain a steady supply of cigarettes and chewing tobacco and insist their assignment to these isolated posts is not entirely unpleasant.

“I enjoy being out here,” said Cpl. Austin Collom from Nashville, Tenn. He said he usually makes a night trip to Camp Fallujah once every two weeks, when he can eat at the chow hall around midnight before returning again before dawn.

“There’s work that’s got to be done out here, so we might as well get it done,” Collom said. “I enjoy being out here with the squad; we’ve been pretty close.”

“There’s too many people at Camp Fallujah who take it for granted, people who get to go to the chow hall every day,” Collom said.

Photo - Andrew Tilghman / S&S
Several U.S. Marines enjoy Thursday morning breakfast, the once-a-week hot meal at their small post outside Fallujah.




Saturday, 10-Dec-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
LCpl Brandon Wesley WIA

Photo # 1
Photo # 2
Since Brandon's story just came out I thought I'd combine the two entries. A double shot of Jarhead! Heh!

http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/lookupstoryref/200512121082

Liberty, Ky. native endures Corps hardship
Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 200512121082
Story by Pfc. Terrell A. Turner

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (Dec. 09, 2005) -- Marines go through stressful situations and face hardships on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s the loss of a brother in arms, other times it’s a personal hardship or a painful circumstance that can alter a Marine’s career in an instant.

For Lance Cpl. Brandon J. Wesley of Liberty, Ky. that day came for him when he sustained an injury while deployed fighting in the Global War on Terrorism.

Wesley was a rifleman with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in July. While part of a reaction force his team responded to rocket-propelled grenade fire.

The team took off after the enemy and was overtaken in a firefight. Wesley jumped a wall for cover and tore his knee.

“I have surgery this month (November) followed by six months of rehab,” Wesley said. “After that I have another surgery, followed by six more months of rehab. I’ve got a long road ahead of me.”

The injury occurred while the 20-year-old was on his second tour of duty in Iraq.

Wesley will have six months left in the Marine Corps when he rehabilitates. He plans to make use of his time as he recovers.

“During this time I will be taking college classes,” Wesley said.

When his enlistment ends Wesley won’t return for another tour of duty, but he still wants to stay close to the Marine Corps.

“I have two options in mind for now,” Wesley explained. “I would like to work for the government. I would also like to be a game warden on base. I always liked hunting and fishing so that would be a dream job.”

Wesley’s injury forced him to leave friends behind in Iraq, but still can positively reflect his time in the Corps.

“It’s sad to hear about my friends getting hurt and knowing I’m powerless to do anything about it,” Wesley admitted. “After all that has happened, I’m still glad I joined the Corps and did what I could.”

# 1 - MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (Dec. 9 2005) - Marines go through stressful situations and face hardships on a daily basis. For Lance Cpl. Brandon J. Wesley of Liberty, Ky. that day came for him when he sustained an injury while deployed fighting in the Global War on Terrorism. Photo by: Pfc. Terrell A. Turner

And from 11/30/05:


Ah yes, the LCpl sittin' back in the Wounded Barracks hobnobbing with the elite politariat! Wait 'til the boys come home and give him grief! he-he! Juuuust teasing!

The LCpl has excellent taste in reading material as well! I have plenty of Louis L'Amour books to send if you run out of reading material LCpl! All the knuckleheads got my W.E.B. Griffin's last time but I still have some L'Amour.

It's really good to see some pics of the guys that gave so much for their Brothers! God Speed LCpl Wesley. Here's hoping you get well soon! - JHD


PhotoID: 200512117319
Submitted by: II Marine Expeditionary Force
Operation/Exercise/Event:
gov

Caption:
# 2 - MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C.--Lt. Governor of N.C., Beverly E. Perdue, visits with Lance Cpl. Brandon Wesley Dec. 1 at the Injured Support Unit barracks here. Wesley, 20, is a native of Liberty, Ky., and was injured in Iraq while serving with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division. Wesley is rehabilitating in the wounded warrior barracks.
Photo by: Sgt. Tracee L. Jackson


Friday, 9-Dec-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
LCpl Johnny Burra WIA

Photo # 1
Photo # 2
http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/C30E334D376493D4852570D50048367B?opendocument

Rochester, N.Y. native receives Purple Heart
Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 200512128845
Story by Pfc. Terrell A. Turner



MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (Dec. 9, 2005) -- Lance Cpl. Johnny R. Burra was injured in combat after only a year and a half in the Marine Corps. With a broken foot and a shredded leg, the Rochester, N.Y., native’s only duty is to heal. He doesn’t even have to wear his uniform, but everyday you see him wearing it, with his combat boot on his good foot. He’s a Marine through and through.

The rifleman with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment was awarded the Purple Heart medal here Nov. 30 for injuries received while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

While attached to a reaction force, Burra’s group was performing improvised explosive Device dsweeps in Karmah, a city outside of Fallujah. Afterwards, as the team headed back to the base, their humvee was hit by an IED less than five meters away. The humvee continued forward until it flipped into a canal.

“I thought I was going to drown,” Burra explained about his experience. It took us a while to find the surface and we had another Marine pinned under the humvee.

“We helped each other get out of the humvee until more Marines came to aid us,” Burra continued. “Then they called for a wrecker (truck) to pick up the humvee and free the Marine pinned underneath. Then we were medically evacuated.”

The 19-year-old received shrapnel to both legs and suffered from a broken left foot.

Now Burra resides at the Wounded Warrior Barracks. He received surgery to remove metal from his legs, and had the bone in his foot set with screws and plates. He has six months of limited duty to recover.

After his healing process Burra will return back to 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment where he will complete his first enlistment.

Burra graduated from Irondequoit High School in 2004 where he played baseball and football. During sports seasons, Burra had nearly 1,400 students depend on him among other players to represent their school.

Now Burra works with a team of Marines and millions of Americans depend on Marines like him to represent their country. Burra already plans on continuing to serve the Corps after his first enlistment.

“I plan on reenlisting and staying infantry,” Burra said. “I have family members who are Marines and it’s something I always wanted to do.”

Photos: MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (Nov. 22, 2005) – Lance Cpl. Johnny R. Burra was injured in combat after only a year and a half in the Marine Corps. The rifleman with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment was awarded the Purple Heart medal here Nov. 30 for injuries received while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Photo by: Cpl. Michael J. Escobar


Thursday, 8-Dec-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
LCpl Brandon Love WIA

Photo # 1
Photo # 2
http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/83D281100D63DD13852570CF0060FD5E?opendocument

Wounded Charlottesville, Va. Marine looks toward uncertain future
Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 2005126123923
Story by Cpl. Mike Escobar



MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (Dec. 6, 2005) -- Like many of his brothers-in-arms wounded in the line of duty, Lance Cpl. Brandon Love stoically accepts his fate while looking to the future with hopeful eyes.

Love, an infantryman with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, was presented the Purple Heart Medal Nov. 30 for wounds suffered while conducting combat operations in Iraq’s Al Anbar province in September. But despite the heavy weight of what this award represents, the 19-year-old native of Charlottesville, Va. spoke only of recovering and getting back in the fight.

“I’m still motivated, and I hate being over here knowing that I still have friends over there (Iraq),” said the 2004 Waynesboro High School graduate.

Love added that he wished to rejoin his comrades, but that a long, uncertain road awaits him toward this goal. He recalled the events of Sept. 23, and how, in the blink of an eye, his life was forever changed.

He and several of his teammates had been driving in a convoy outside of Karmah, a city outside Fallujah. Love said he had noticed a black Jeep Grand Cherokee that had pulled over on the side of the road, something military forces ask Iraqi citizens to do for the safety of the passing convoys.

“It blew up when we were about ten feet away,” Love recalled, adding that the vehicle-borne
explosive injured seven people in his humvee.

“I woke up, and there was blood and smoke everywhere. All I could feel was this warm, sticky feeling running down my right arm,” Love continued. “I didn’t know what was going on, so I just got my rifle and held (perimeter) security until the helicopters landed (to evacuate the wounded Marines).”

Medical personnel later explained to him that he had suffered shrapnel wounds to his right arm, and that the blast had blown out both of his eardrums.

Love was sent stateside to receive further medical care, and currently resides in Camp Lejeune’s Wounded Warrior Barracks. He is pending further medical review to determine whether he is to be medically discharged from the Corps.

“I still have shrapnel in me, and I can’t feel half of my right hand,” Love stated. “I can’t straighten it out or close it all the way, and I can only type by moving my whole arm around, not just my fingers. I can hear fine out of my left ear, but my right one is still not as good as it used to be.”

Love said he hopes to be given extra time to recover, and to one day be evaluated as fit for duty.

“I need to get better and get back to duty, but if I can’t be combat effective, I don’t want to hold my unit back.”

# 1 - MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – Lance Cpl. Brandon Love, an infantryman with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, is presented his Purple Heart Medal here Nov. 30. The 19-year-old Charlottesville, Va. native suffered shrapnel wounds and busted eardrums when an improvised explosive device detonated near his convoy while he and his unit had been conducting combat operations in Iraq’s Al Anbar province in September. Photo by: Cpl. Mike Escobar

# 2 - MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – Lance Cpl. Brandon Love, an infantryman with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, right, poses for a photo with Brig. Gen. Joseph Mcmenamin, 2nd Marine Division (Rear) commander, shortly after receiving his Purple Heart Medal here Nov. 30. Love, a 19-year-old Charlottesville, Va. native, suffered shrapnel wounds and busted eardrums when an improvised explosive device detonated near his convoy while he and his unit had been conducting combat operations in Iraq’s Al Anbar province in September. Photo by: Cpl. Mike Escobar


Wednesday, 7-Dec-2005 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
LCpl Ryan Cahill WIA

Photo # 1
Photo # 2
http://www.marines.mil/marinelink/mcn2000.nsf/main5/3D715277B87DACD2852570CF00642A86?opendocument

Looking on the bright side: Baton Rouge Marine on the road to recovery
Submitted by: 2nd Marine Division
Story Identification #: 200512613144
Story by Cpl. Mike Escobar



MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (Dec. 6, 2005) -- A Baton Rouge, La. native was presented the Purple Heart Medal here Nov. 30 for injuries he suffered while deployed to Iraq in September.

Lance Cpl. Ryan Cahill, an infantryman with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, and several members of his unit had been searching for improvised explosive devices in Karmah, a city outside Fallujah, at the time he was injured.

“The IED went off about five to 10 yards from the humvee I was driving,” said the 19-year-old Cahill.

“There was a lot of confusion that followed, because I didn’t know where anyone else was,” he continued, explaining that his surroundings were ‘smoked out’ from the dust and debris the blast had kicked up. “The shrapnel had come up from underneath the humvee. I ended up with a nice-sized piece of shrapnel lodged (on the underside of) my right knee.”

Cahill, a 2004 graduate of Tara High School, added that his humvee continued coasting for approximately 80 yards further. He was unable to see where he was going and had lost mobility in his right leg.

Shortly after, the vehicle tumbled into a nine-foot deep canal running alongside the rural road.

Cahill was subsequently sent stateside to receive medical care, and he currently resides at the Wounded Warrior Barracks here. Under the care of the Injured Support Unit (ISU), he claimed to have experienced an 80 percent recovery, a number that increases as the weeks go by.

Within this barracks, Cahill said he and fellow rehabilitating Marines are given ample time to relax and recover as they attend their surgeries and physical therapy sessions at the nearby sports medicine clinic.

Cahill cited this care as a determining factor in his recovery.

“The program here is really awesome,” he said. “I feel I’ve received the best medical attention possible. I’ll be back to full duty eventually.”

Nevertheless, he often deals with boredom and restlessness as he waits to someday rejoin the infantry. He jogs, lifts weights and converses with his fellow Marines to spend what he describes as his ample free time.

“Sometimes it seems like there’s nothing to do here, but at least we’re getting plenty of sleep,” Cahill stated. “I know some of the guys in my unit who are still over there would give anything just to spend one day in my shoes.”

“Every day has its ups and downs, and sometimes, I start wondering if I’ll ever be able to do everything the way I used to,” he continued. “Whenever I get down about something, I think about that and remember that I still have my leg, so I really have no room to complain.”

# 1 - MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – Lance Cpl. Ryan Cahill, an infantryman with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, is presented his Purple Heart Medal here Nov. 30. The 19-year-old Baton Rouge, La. native suffered shrapnel and other wounds in September after an improvised explosive device detonated near the vehicle he had been driving, causing it to tumble into a nearby canal. Cahill and his teammates had been conducting an IED sweep in Karmah, a city outside Fallujah. Photo by: Cpl. Mike Escobar

# 2 - MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – Lance Cpl. Ryan Cahill, an infantryman with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, right, poses for a photo with Brig. Gen. Joseph Mcmenamin, 2nd Marine Division (Rear) commander, shortly after receiving his Purple Heart Medal here Nov. 30. Cahill, a 19-year-old Baton Rouge, La. native, suffered shrapnel and other wounds in September after an improvised explosive device detonated near the vehicle he had been driving, causing it to tumble into a nearby canal. Cahill and his teammates had been conducting an IED sweep in Karmah, a city outside Fallujah. Photo by: Cpl. Mike Escobar


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