Libernation Social Justice: The U.S. Marines In Iraq
In the mix of emails I received this was written and forwarded: Super...thanks, Ed. Will let you all work direct w/ Ms. Soria. No need for me to be in the middle. Sounds like a good venue for getting out "the rest of the story" on what's been going on over there to an impressionable audience. Thank goodness for "former Marines.!"
Subject: [U] RE: Marine Requests AssistanceImportance: High Donna, Stand by. Rounds coming down range. S/F, Max www.MarineEA.org
Doug TurlipColonel, U.S. Marine CorpsChief of Staff, Marine Forces Reserve (MARFORRES) Forwarded as requested by Col "Digger" Rotelli. FSA, when he's not helping to establish the rule of law in third-world countries, Col Rotelli is a commercial airline pilot. Yes, we do windows too. :-) Hope you get what you need for your presentation. Thanks for reaching out to help tell the rest of the story.
Col Digger RotelliDeputy Provincial Reconstruction Team Leader Al Anbar Province, Iraq “… what may be the most significant event in the social arena here in Anbar Province. While great progress has been made in living conditions, women's rights, economic development, and rule of law at the end of the month Provincial Elections will occur here. Taken for granted in the US, the idea of a free and open election amongst the entire populace is quite new here. You probably remember the pictures a few years ago of Iraqi citizens voting (purple thumbs), played up by the media- in reality, only a few thousand ballots were cast- this time, the expectation exceeds the average voter turnout in US elections. The Iraqis no longer fear repercussions from exercising the new found right to vote…
Col Digger RotelliDeputy Provincial Reconstruction Team Leader Al Anbar Province, Iraq …Truly, the first step towards representative governance. The previous Iraqi generation knew only dictatorship- talking about voting could very well result in imprisonment, or worse. We hope to be on the dawn of a new age, and should a peaceful transfer of power occur here in Anbar Province, we set our sights on National elections toward the end of the year. Hope this helps you. If you would like other issues to cover, consider that business is recovering here in Iraq, which will help alleviate significant unemployment issues, the restoration of essential services continues (water, sewer, and most importantly, electricity), which has a positive impact on the lives of everyday citizens, increased education opportunities for all, etc. Again, each of these topics could cover an hour or so, but I suggest you run with the election thing.”
Steven McKinleyColonel, Fifth Civil Affairs Group “This is a simple act of kindness in a world froth with violence but it was significant enough to make the front page of the New York Times in 2005. On a patrol in Fallujah, while we were visiting a school, I stopped to help a young Iraqi child tie his shoe. The photo was caught by a pool journalist and in 48 hours was on the front page. Though some would say nothing significant, it gave that young boy a view into the American serviceman.”
Steven McKinleyColonel, Fifth Civil Affairs Group “We were charged with helping return the governance of Iraq back to the people. As such, we helped each town develop and establish a city council. In the beginning, the USG decided the projects and priorities as it related to the spending of capital. Our goal was to ultimately get the province to do this.We started in each city and towards the end of our tour, worked our way to the provincial capital of Ramadi where the provincial government was located.
Steven McKinleyColonel, Fifth Civil Affairs Group In our process, we worked with the leaders of each village telling them that it was their responsibility to determine what needed to be done in each of their localities. They would prioritize their needs and then present them to the provincial government who would in turn prioritize them from a provincial overview. The downside as we began was that the provincial capital would attempt to disperse the money in it's capital of Ramadi but over time, we were sure it would begin to spread the wealth.This would be an ongoing process and one that we would help initiate but which would require continuous work.
Steven McKinleyColonel, Fifth Civil Affairs Group We began across the province with each team but II MEF was headquartered in Fallujah and it was the focal point given the recent battle. Hours were spent trying to win the trust of the city elders and it culminated in the first city council meeting in March of 2005.
Steven McKinleyColonel, Fifth Civil Affairs Group Once we relocated to Ramadi, our work began with the "Provincial Reconstruction Committee" to help them understand that they were the leaders responsible for the entire province and just not Ramadi. The work began with educating the local city leaders that they needed to travel (difficult given the period) to Ramadi to present their list of priorities for their towns. In turn, the Reconstruction Committee would prioritize the projects throughout the province. Trying to bring together people who never had the freedom or responsibility to do so was not easy but we did get our first meeting and project lists started. At one point the CG asked me why I hadn't spent all the USG allocated monies and I said that our goal was to develop a process and let the …
Steven McKinleyColonel, Fifth Civil Affairs Group …Iraqis determine how and when to spend the money. In the end, the procedures established remain in place and our efforts to help establish a democratic process was well received. Our mission of helping the Iraqis help themselves was achieved. Until they took or continue to take responsibility for themselves, the USG can never leave.”
Governor's Office, submitted by Col McKinley (Note Governor / Assistant Div Cmdr holding hands)
Steven McKinleyColonel, Fifth Civil Affairs Group
Chad BridwellRetired CW-03 (U.S. Marine), Deputy Project Manger (Support), currently working in Mosul, Iraq “One of the most prolific changes implemented through the Multi-National Coalition Forces initiatives is the Vocational training for Iraqi Citizens to learn a trade (Carpentry, Masonry, Electrical, Plumbing, etc.) to support the infrastructure rebuild of the country of Iraq. Another key initiative is restoring power to the cities, which has been rebuilt and maintained by the Iraqi Citizens. The freedom of electing individuals to support and lead the citizens of Iraq is also key to their success and future development as a leader in exports (oil) on the world trade market. All of these initiatives were created by a free nation and will continue to flourish with the support of all free nations.”
Chad Bridwell, retired U.S. Marine Taken 2008. “this picture was taken at the South Gate entrance of Camp Fallujah just as you clear the controlled access point of the base.”
Favorite photos submitted by T.E.V.
Favorite photo 2 submitted by T.E.V.
Favorite Photo 3 submitted by T.E.V.
Jim Lint Chairman, Lint Center for National Security Studies, IncSpecial Agent (Retired) You have a great project! Once you make that briefing, you should send it to our Blog www.LintCenter.info or for posting on our website. Keep in touch. My Director of Communication is in the CC line. He too is a student. JRL Jim Lint, Chairman Special Agent (Retired) Lint Center for National Security Studies, Inc IRS Approved 501 (c) (3) Charity
Major Paul Wendler Operation Iraqi Freedom, Executive Officer, reserve infantry company My 1stSgt's, now SgtMaj, parent were born in Baghdad. He is Christian, but was fluent in Arabic. During our move up, he talked with hundreds of Iraqis and we both gained a perspective that changed our lives. The stories that told, the statements that were uttered have assured, that regardless of the current situation, that what we did was correct. I called him today and asked him if you could contact him. Of course, he was more than willing to help. His name is SgtMaj Jejjoni.
Major Paul Wendler Operation Iraqi Freedom, Executive Officer, reserve infantry company “Near Al Fajr, south of the Qalat Sukar airfield. Meeting with the village elder, 85+ years old, a few sons killed by Saddam's forces, who lived in what used to be the fertile fields of Babylon, but had since been dried up due to Saddam re-routing the water. Early April 2003, he told us that Iraqis are violent and six months later, they will be fighting us. He asked us to remain focused on the ‘big picture’ because they will not be able to succeed without our help. Very prophetic.”
Major Paul WendlerFour quick memories that I would like to share “While two other companies were fighting in Baghdad in Sadr City, an old man walked by our unit as our vehicles were staged on the road waiting for the word to support. SgtMaj Jejjoni engaged him in conversation. It was extremely animated and boisterous. Afterward, SgtMaj Jejjoni told me that the old man said that he hated us, hated that we were destroying his home, hated the fact that innocent people were dying, but now that Saddam was removed from power he can die in peace knowing that his sons have the chance for freedom.”
Major Paul Wendler Four quick memories that I would like to share “In late April 2003, our unit conducted a random urban patrol. They stopped by a school. The school emptied and surrounded our Marines cheering, chanting, going crazy. One of the school teachers, in broken English, led the group in songs thanking us.”
Major Paul Wendler Four quick memories that I would like to share “In late May 2003, in Ad Diwaniyah, I told an Iraqi citizen who engaged me in conversation (he was a college student) that I was leaving to go home to see my newborn son, he started crying. He told me that I can't go. Iraq needs us and needs the Americans. He was full of hope for a free Iraq.”
MGySgt John A. Vanatta JrI MEF (FWD) G-9 (Ramadi), G-9 Chief “I'm with the G-9 Civil Affairs staff for MNF-West (Anbar). I'm a reservist with a job back in Michigan as a Firefighter/Paramedic, and when I got here I was given the opportunity to help the Iraqi firefighters in Anbar. The Iraqi Civil Defense (fire dept) was poorly treated under the Saddam regime, and we have helped them increase their resources immensely. I’ve made contact with other reserve/National Guard firefighters who are doing the same things I am. This includes equipment, donations, a new fire academy, and a safety awareness program. All of this is done in concert with the Iraqis.”
Submitted by MGySgt John A. Vanatta Jr Baghdad fire academy, taken on or about 12 Nov 2008
Submitted by MGySgt John A. Vanatta Jr Haditha, picture was taken on or about 20 Dec 2008
MGySgt John A. Vanatta JrI MEF (FWD) G-9 (Ramadi), G-9 Chief Attached are some pics of the training at the fire academy. The instructors are USAF, the Academy Director is US Army (NYC fireman). You don't see us in the photos because the Iraqi Information Ministry was there, we are trying to showcase them, not us. Pic Baghdad 42 is all of us American firemen with the top fireman in Iraq, MGen Rassool. Good luck in your upcoming tour. Mine has been the highlight of my career. If you need anything else, hit me up in the next couple days, as I'm on my way out of here soon. S/F MGySgt John A. Vanatta Jr.
MSgt David GoodwinSupply Chief, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC “ I was In Iraq from July 2004 to February 2005. In the triangle of death. Sorry I have no photos for you. But here are some of the things I remember we did. Passing out backpacks, soccer balls to school children; playing soccer with them. We paid Iraqi contractors to do such things as installing a Latrine at the school. They had no plumbing. Paving roads. We protected the electric power plant to keep it from getting attacked. We passed out water bottles to people on the streets. The first week , there was an angry mob and the men were throwing bottles on the ground and shouting ...
MSgt David GoodwinSupply Chief, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC …We had to leave in a hurry . As time [went] on, the people were friendlier to us. By the end we were bringing them water and candy and they would come asking for more. Some of the Marines got invited into homes and drank tea or something but I personally did not witness that. When our base got hit with rockets sometimes Iraqi's were injured , also third nation workers. We patched them up in our medical tent. We were at a Forward Operating Base where some Iraqi police were being trained. We were about an hour south of Bagdad. We hired civilians to fill sand bags for us.”
Jim Lint Chairman, Lint Center for National Security Studies, Inc Special Agent (Retired) Donna, You provoked me into adding my USMC time to my LinkedIn. I do know what S/F stands for! I did 7 yrs in USMC and then got lazy and worked 14 yrs in the Army. Life was good. Tim did have a good point, you should look into our future scholarships at http://www.lintcenter.org/scholarships.htm Jim, 0311, 0369, 0211 Jim Lint, Chairman Special Agent (Retired) Lint Center for National Security Studies, Inc IRS Approved 501 (c) (3) Charity
Justin W. ReavesSecurity Director, Silver Hawk Security Specialists “My name is Justin Reaves I was a Sergeant with B Co 1st Battalion 5th Marines. I served 3 tours in Iraq. The most influential tour was my first. My unit was a part of the invasion force into Bagdad. We did not have much interaction with the people other than EPOW’s until we got to Saddam city a suburb of Bagdad. On the day we took Bagdad the heavy fighting was over by noon and that afternoon people were flooding the streets around the palace we were headquartered out of trying to give us food, praise and trinkets.
Justin W. ReavesSecurity Director, Silver Hawk Security Specialists On the second day my platoon was tasked with security on a Army Medical unit, the focus was on helping those wounded by collateral damage and common illness. As the day progressed my platoon was overwhelmed with the true impact of what had happened in the prior days attacks. A mother came to me near the entrance holding her daughter and she was burned and charred from a mortar that her and a friend found and tried to roll away from their houses.She also had one eye swollen shut and covered in mucus and had been that way since mid 2002 the mother told us. I took the girl into the medical tent and helped the corpsmen with her treatment.
Justin W. ReavesSecurity Director, Silver Hawk Security Specialists The Medical Officer said it was Chlamydia in her eyes (a non STD form) and that she would be virtually unscarred from the burns they were mostly were her clothing melted to her skin. About two weeks later the Mother showed up and asked for my unit and the little girl gave us all friendship bracelets and hugs. The second event was a few days prior to rotating back to the states we were providing security on a mass grave site behind one of Saddam’s secret police stations. Families were rioting trying to get into the site to find their loved ones. The stories of how the secret police would kidnap known and suspected persons who defied Saddam’s way of thinking, were interrogated and tortured there, part of the torture was they had to dig their own graves and if they could not prove their innocence…
Justin W. ReavesSecurity Director, Silver Hawk Security Specialists …or prove they converted to Saddam’s way of thinking they were often shot in the arms and legs then buried alive. We were also charged with the excavation of these graves and then escort families as they searched for their loved ones. As a human this was one of the hardest scenes to take, as a Marine it was a culmination of Honor, Pride and Courage to be able to help put closure to the unrest these people had to have been under.Before we left for Kuwait city a family I helped brought me photo of their family a small gold key that once belonged to a governor in a Bathe Party Headquarters building, they told me it was their most valued possession. I took the picture and told them I could not accept the key.
Justin W. ReavesSecurity Director, Silver Hawk Security Specialists My follow on tours had meaning and many experiences that are forever going to change me and who I am. These two experiences drove me on my return tours to continue to try to make positive change. ‘Perception is reality’ is one of my favorite expressions; although we live in a world where media, peer pressure and other things direct our actions and way of thinking, the experience where I know without a doubt I helped the Iraqi people and saw their pure unconditional gratitude will forever sit in my heart as justification to the adversities I have faced to get to them. ” Respectfully submitted