U.S. Marines – United States Marine Corps

Life in the Marines

Fit to fight

Three days before graduation, recruits don their Service “A” uniforms and stand tall in a battalion commander’s inspection.

“This inspection is the final graduation requirement,” said 1st Sgt. Anthony A. Spadaro, Company C’s first sergeant. “This is a chance for recruits to show off in front of their battalion commander.”

Company C lined up in its entirety Tuesday morning for the  battalion commander's inspection. In this inspection, the company is  inspected by staff noncommissioned officers and commissioned officers  from Recruit Training Regiment. Photo by: Cpl. Jess Levens

Company C lined up in its entirety Tuesday morning for the battalion commander’s inspection. In this inspection, the company is inspected by staff noncommissioned officers and commissioned officers from Recruit Training Regiment. Photo by: Cpl. Jess Levens
The soon-to-be Marines spend hours in the preceding days making sure their uniforms are ship-shape and good-to-go. The drill instructors help too.

“One purpose of this final inspection is to make sure that the recruits’ uniforms fit,” said Spadaro. “Also, this gives the battalion commander a chance to see if his recruits have the confidence and bearing to be Marines. They are in his charge after all.

According to Spadaro, most recruits pass this inspection with no problems.

“These lads know how to stand an inspection by now,” he said. “They’ve been through a senior drill instructor’s inspection, a series commander’s inspection and a company commander’s inspection.”

This inspection is quite longer than the others, and the time spent standing can make this a grueling experience for recruits. A few recruits buckle under heat or lock their knees, causing them to faint, but drill instructors are on standby to aid these recruits. There are also benches and jugs of cold water behind the big, green formation.

“This happens to Marines too,” said Spadaro. “This inspection also helps these recruits prepare for any long formations once they are in the fleet.”

A senior drill instructor inspects a recruit's rifle for  cleanliness. The recruits use cotton swabs, lubricant and cool water to  clean their weapons.

A senior drill instructor inspects a recruit’s rifle for cleanliness. The recruits use cotton swabs, lubricant and cool water to clean their weapons.
Inside the formation, recruits pop to attention and present their rifles when an inspecting officer steps in front of them. Each recruit greets the inspector by sounding off his name, rank, hometown and occupational specialty, along with active duty or reserve status. The inspector then quizzes the recruit with a series of basic Marine Corps knowledge while measuring certain lengths on the uniform and inspecting the recruit’s overall appearance.

Spadaro explained why recruits wear the Service “A” uniform for this inspection: “They wear their main service uniform,” said Spadaro. “It’s their highest inspection, so they wear their most formal, issued uniform.”

According to Spadaro, the battalion commander’s inspection is a final culmination of what the recruits have learned throughout the training cycle, and it is a time for them to present themselves to their commander as a Marine.

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Crunch Record Broken by Recovering Recruit

Pvt. Jason T. Pacheco became the depot crunch record-holder by  knocking out 260 crunches in two minutes

Pvt. Jason T. Pacheco became the depot crunch record-holder by knocking out 260 crunches in two minutes

As the Marines of Company L walk across the Shepherd Memorial Drill Field today, one individual will leave having broken the depot�s crunch record by two repetitions.

During his company�s final physical training test, Pvt. Jason T. Pacheco, Platoon 3032, executed 260 crunches in two minutes.

�It�s amazing that he broke the record,� said Sgt. Rahine Smith, drill instructor, and a Columbus, Ohio native. �Not many people can do more than 200 crunches in two minutes.�

Pacheco, a Las Vegas, N.M., native, came to boot camp able to do 150 crunches in two minutes. He was active in high school sports and played just about everything that was offered, according to Pacheco.

�The sports I played in high school helped me out a lot,� said Pacheco. �But my drill instructors were the ones who really pushed me to succeed. Without their motivation, this may not have happened.�

Pvt. Jason T. Pacheco, Platoon 3032, Company L, had to nurse a  stress fracture in his leg during recruit training.

Pvt. Jason T. Pacheco, Platoon 3032, Company L, had to nurse a stress fracture in his leg during recruit training.

Something happened to Pacheco during boot camp where he had to look to his drill instructors for their support.

During field week at Edson Range, his company was conducting a night hike when he twisted his ankle, causing a stress fracture in his right leg.

He didn�t want to be dropped from training, so he attempted to hide his injury from his drill instructors, until it got worse.

He was recommended by medical personnel to be dropped from training due to his injury.

�When he was recommended to be dropped to the (Medical Rehabilitation Platoon), he came to me and said he wanted to try and stick it out,� said Staff Sgt. S. G. Moyer, senior drill instructor. �He was a �more than an average recruit� throughout boot camp, so I made the decision to let him stay.�

His senior drill instructor kept his faith in Pacheco and let him stay in training, despite the injury to his leg. While he was on limited duty, as a result from his injury, he was unable to participate in some training events that involved the use of his legs.

However, before his injury, Pacheco had a high PFT score, including a run time of 19:30, which also convinced his senior drill instructor to let him stay.

After his injury healed, he came back, broke the crunches record and learned something about himself in the process.

�I joined the Marine Corps because I wanted to become a better person,� said Pacheco. �After I recovered from my injury and broke the crunches record, I felt more confident in myself and now I feel like I can do anything.�

Pacheco had always wanted to join the Marine Corps since he was young. He had family members in the Marine Corps and he wanted the self-improvement that he saw in them.

His grandfather, Orlando Gonzales, was a Marine during the late 1950s, and he inspired Pacheco to make the decision to join the Marine Corps.

�My grandfather used to tell me stories about the Marine Corps,� said Pacheco. �He always conducted himself in a professional manner, and I have always wanted to be like that.�

Those stories motivated him to make his grandfather�s experiences his own. Pacheco said he wanted to become a Marine to gain more confidence in himself, to stay out of trouble, to gain more respect and responsibility in life and to become a better person overall.

�Jason always had a lot of heart when he was growing up,� said Gonzales, a Las Vegas, N.M., native. �Nothing makes me more proud than to see my grandson do what he�s doing. I think all young men should join the military service, because it makes them better people.�

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Courage and Commitment in the Marines

Sgt. Isaac S. Orta, senior drill instructor, Platoon 3245, Company  L, inspects one of his Marines during the battalion commander�s  inspection Tuesday.

Sgt. Isaac S. Orta, senior drill instructor, Platoon 3245, Company L, inspects one of his Marines during the battalion commander�s inspection Tuesday.

Marines who graduate today from the rigorous 13-week training cycle of Marine Corps boot camp possess three values that set them apart from who they used to be.

The Marines of Company L were introduced to these values before stepping on the yellow footprints. They heard them when they sat down with their recruiter and memorized their definitions before departing for boot camp.

�(The core values) are the foundation of which Marines are made,� said Sgt. Matthew A. Montgomery, Recruiting Substation West Las Vegas, Recruiting Station San Diego, 12th Marine Corps District.

Montgomery said without honor, courage and commitment � the core characteristics of a Marine � an individual cannot consider himself a Marine at all.

�When individuals become Marines, they no longer represent themselves. They represent their entire organization,� said Montgomery.

According to the Navy and Marine Corps core values card, honor is having integrity, responsibility and accountability.

Honor is upholding the name and values of what an individual stands for. Montgomery said by living his life by the strict standards of the core values, he has stayed out of trouble and is able to be a positive role model for the young men and women he recruits.

The core values card states that courage is doing the right thing, in the right way, for the right reason.

Many times during recruit training a recruit will face a challenge he believes is impossible to accomplish. But, after completing what his mind told him he could not do, he feels a sense of triumph which instills in him the courage he needs to be a United States Marine, said Isaac S. Orta, senior drill instructor, Platoon 3245, Company L.

Commitment is being devoted to the Corps and to fellow Marines. It is being 100 percent willing and able to take a task and stick with it until it is complete, according to Montgomery.

�All three of the core values are equally important,� said Montgomery, a Danville, Ind., native. �Different circumstances call for one to take precedence over the other two, but in the end they all make up the mental and moral character of a Marine.�

In boot camp, recruits endure mental and physical challenges, which call for them to rely on the core values, said Orta.

�Whether it is on the battlefield or here in garrison, the core values are used in every aspect of a Marine�s life,� said Orta. �Everyone was raised different, and core values give a Marine the baseline on how to treat people and treat themselves.�

Orta, a San Antonio native, said that all of the Marines he has worked under have taught him something about the core values and how to put them into practice in his own life.

For more than 231 years, the Marine Corps has remained the world�s finest fighting force because of the strict standards Marines choose to uphold, said Montgomery.

The pride that comes with honor, courage and commitment is a pride that never fades, even years after a Marine leaves active duty. The core values are the bedrock elements that make Marines stand out as the few and the proud in America, Montgomery added.

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Corps Instills Confidence and Consistency for Detroit Marine

ImageThe Marine Corps represents different things for different people. Sometimes Marines forget why they joined ?America?s 911 fighting force?. One young Marine hasn?t let that happen.

?The Marine Corps taught me how to be consistent and confident,? said Lance Cpl. Jeremy D. Tolhurst, field wireman, 8th Communication Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Headquarters Company, II MEF (FWD).

The Detroit native explained what he meant about consistency in detail.

?Even if you?re having a bad day,? he said, ?you still have to be at work, you are still graded on your performance. If I fix a phone, my name is on the list and people will come back to me if it?s not done right. You have to be consistent in your job at all times.?

Tolhurst, a 2003 graduate of Western International High School in Detroit, said he didn?t make good grades throughout high school. He was a basketball athlete, but other than that, he didn?t have goals.

Image?Me and my friends were driving by the recruiters [office] one day,? said the 20-year-old. ?I decided I wanted to go in and see what it was all about. I wanted to be in the hardest service.?

Shortly after enlisting, Tolhurst left for boot camp. After graduating in February 2004, he was off to military occupational school in Twentynine Palms, Calif., to begin training as a field wireman.

?I graduated the highest in my class [at MOS school],? Tolhurst said. ?I picked up lance corporal because of it. I just pushed myself to learn all I could.?

On his first deployment, Tolhurst said it?s not what he expected.

Image?It?s not hard. It?s probably harder for my wife,? said Tolhurst, who has been married for nine months. ?I work long hours out here, but I know my job so well, that it?s not hard for me.?

A wireman?s job description can range from fixing phones to laying down wire or fiber. Tolhurst shares his knowledge as a wireman to aid others in his unit.

?I know my job. I ask questions when I need to and I teach the other Marines what I know,? he said.

Tolhurst said he takes advantage of the deployment atmosphere.

?I want to learn more,? he said. ?I started picking things up when I got out here and it just gets easier.?

With new Marines being deployed into his work section, Tolhurst has already started training them.

?If I had one thing to tell them, it would be to be confident in their work,? he said. ?When I first got here, I was a little intimidated because I had never experienced Iraq before. Looking back, I just wish I had been confident from day one.?

ImageDeveloping new characteristic traits while advancing through the Corps is something no one can take away from Tolhurst.

?I can proudly say I am going to be a millionaire one day. Own a business, something like that,? he said with a smile. ?I have accomplished things that I never thought I could. I have a new outlook on life now because of the Marine Corps.?

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Warrior Ethos

Marines from 2nd Platoon, A Company, 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion  comfort each other as they pay their final respects to fallen brothers,  Lance Cpl. Mario Castillo and Lance Cpl. Andrew Kilpela, after a  memorial service

Marines from 2nd Platoon, A Company, 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion comfort each other as they pay their final respects to fallen brothers, Lance Cpl. Mario Castillo and Lance Cpl. Andrew Kilpela, after a memorial service

Memorials of boots against inverted rifles, draped with dog tags and topped with Kevlar helmets are among the most common tributes paid to military personal when they die in combat.

In many cases, however, these solemn memorials are just the beginning of the homages paid to these fallen warriors. Each unit has a different way of honoring and coping with their losses and ensuring their brothers and sisters are not forgotten. Some tributes are large. Some are small. All honor people who were more than Marines to those who knew them

Sign of Respect

Outside a compound within Camp Fallujah, Iraq, home of II Marine Expeditionary Force, stands a newly painted sign bearing the words ?Camp Farrar.? The camp was recently renamed after Sgt. Andrew K. Farrar Jr., who was killed in action in the Al Anbar Province on Jan. 28, 2005. Units often rename their camps after the area of operations or as an honor to a hero in their service.

The military police officer’s death was a tragedy for his unit, A Company, 2nd Military Police Battalion, and even more so for his family. Farrar was killed on his 31st birthday.

The Weymouth, Mass., native left behind a wife and two children. He also left a lasting impression on his fellow Marines.

?I think about Andrew everyday,? said Sgt. Jonathan Bates, an accident investigator stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C. ?He taught me that Marines want to be led, and that it’s my job to step up and lead them.?

Farrar’s impact on Bates went beyond the ranks.

?I had the privilege of calling him my friend,? he said.

Closing Emotional Wounds

In another effort to honor and cope with the passing of Marines, large ceremonies are held to grieve over the fallen and to reflect on the Marines’ lives. Entire communities and family members are invited to large remembrances where they get inside views on what type of person their loved one was.

Staff Sgt. William F. Hornsby served in Iraq with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment as a scout sniper platoon sergeant and assistant operations chief. He and about 200 others recently took part in a ceremony at Marine Corps Base Hawaii to honor 1/3?s fallen.

Marines are often deployed for long stretches of time. This not only leaves a void in the community, but can also make the Marines strangers to their families, said Hornsby. Ceremonies allow families to meet people who knew their loved ones and were with them before their deaths. This gives them insight to who they were.

?They see the man that their Marine was,? said Hornsby, a Pensacola, Fla., native. ?They get a sense of closure.?

The family also sees the bonds their Marines had with their brothers and sisters.

?They witness the ?band of brothers,? that we talk about and brag about,? said Hornsby.

Indelible marks

About 1,000 people recently attended a memorial service for Marines of 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment who died in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Two Marines stood out among those people attending the memorial. Warrant Officer James R. Newton and Staff Sgt. Pasquale R. Pappalardo both got tattoos of the M-16A2 service rifle memorial on their right calves.

The tattoos honor Sgt. Byron Norwood, a squad leader with 3/1 who died in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

?He was all about the Marine Corps and he would have appreciated the (memorial) service. He was a Marine?s Marine,? said Newton in an interview with Camp Pendleton?s pubic affairs office.

Permanent honors to Norwood recently reached a national level when President Bush signed into affect a law that renamed a local post office in Pflugerville, Texas, after Norwood, according to a White House press release. The Marine’s hometown post office is now called, Sergeant Byron W. Norwood Post Office Building.

Healing Words

When many of are at a loss for words, others find their voices and are able to articulate the feelings so many have at the passing of a loved one. Songs, like ?Last Letter Home,? by the Dropkick Murphys, who played at Farrar’s funeral, at his request, remind listeners of the lives left behind by the servicemen and women deployed around the world.

Others, like Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Kelly Strong, remind us of service members’ sacrifices through their poetry. ?I wondered just how many times that taps had meant ?Amen? When a flag had draped a coffin of a brother or a friend.?

Requiem

Regardless of the size, shape or style of the memorials, friends and loved ones honor their fallen Marines in ways that mean the most to them. At camps in the faraway Iraqi deserts and in homes across America, men and women are remembered not for their deaths, but for the lives they led and the impact they made on those they touched.

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Urban Environment Survival

Marines from 3rd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment barge into a room  to clear it of any insurgents hiding inside at the military operations  on urban terrain facility here, June 7. During this training, the  Marines are taught how to maneuver in an urban environment. Photo by  Josephh Stahlman

Marines from 3rd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment barge into a room to clear it of any insurgents hiding inside at the military operations on urban terrain facility here, June 7. During this training, the Marines are taught how to maneuver in an urban environment. Photo by Josephh Stahlman

Marines from 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment and 3rd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment trained at the military operations on urban terrain facility here June 5.

During the five-day training exercise, the Marines were taught how to properly patrol through a village, clear different sized buildings with insurgents inside and use different techniques while maneuvering through buildings.

?During the first two days of MOUT training, we teach the Marines different aspects about urban terrain and how to maneuver while inside them,? said Cpl. Joel W. Winkler, a basic urban skills training instructor who has two deployments to Iraq.

?The first two days are taught in a classroom and the other three are taught in MOUT town,? said the 20-year-old Winkler, a Durham, N.C., native.

The town is made up of a hospital, bank, school, church and a number of other buildings. The Marines maneuver through the buildings while going through different scenarios. Clearing buildings with insurgents inside, counter-sniper maneuvers, and different ways of entering buildings are just a few of the scenarios the Marines go through.

Winkler said the Marines are taught different situations that might happen while deployed to a forward position. Breaking down while inside them,? said Cpl. Joel W. Winkler, a basic urban skills training instructor who has two deployments to Iraq.

?The first two days are taught in a classroom and the other three are taught in MOUT town,? said the 20-year-old Winkler, a Durham, N.C., native.

The town is made up of a hospital, bank, school, church and a number of other buildings. The Marines maneuver through the buildings while going through different scenarios. Clearing buildings with insurgents inside, counter-sniper maneuvers, and different ways of entering buildings are just a few of the scenarios the Marines go through.

Winkler said the Marines are taught different situations that might happen while deployed to a forward position. Breaking down doors to search a building or clearing buildings of insurgents is common on patrols in Iraq.

?A lot of the things we are taught here are very important because they are used every day over in Iraq when clearing buildings or patrolling villages,? said Cpl. Sidney C. Moore, a field artilleryman with 3rd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, who was deployed to Iraq in March 2005.

To add to the realism of the training, Winkler said the Marines are given simulation rounds during the final days of training.

Simulation rounds are plastic projectiles filled with colored laundry detergent and are used to simulate being hit with an actual bullet. By using these rounds the Marines get experience reloading their weapons under fire and learn to conserve ammunition during a fire fight.
doors to search a building or clearing buildings of insurgents is common on patrols in Iraq.

?A lot of the things we are taught here are very important because they are used every day over in Iraq when clearing buildings or patrolling villages,? said Cpl. Sidney C. Moore, a field artilleryman with 3rd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, who was deployed to Iraq in March 2005.

To add to the realism of the training, Winkler said the Marines are given simulation rounds during the final days of training.

Simulation rounds are plastic projectiles filled with colored laundry detergent and are used to simulate being hit with an actual bullet. By using these rounds the Marines get experience reloading their weapons under fire and learn to conserve ammunition during a fire fight.

?The sim rounds are kind of like paint balls, but hurt a lot worse,? said Moore, a Dracut, Mass., native. ?Getting shot with them also quickens your reaction time.?

Winkler said communication and teamwork while in a firefight are some of the biggest things taught at MOUT.

?The entire exercise teaches us how to go into a building, clear it of insurgents, and come back out alive,? Moore said.

Marines will be using the tactics they learned at MOUT during their deployments overseas. Moore said the Marines can use this training to effectively accomplish their mission while keeping each other alive.

?The key to any operation is getting the mission accomplished without sacrificing a life,? Moore said.

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Mess Night – A Marine Tradition

When members of the 1953 3rd Marine Regiment combat swim team were invited to have dinner with their British rivals in the midst of an annual competition, they did not realize the following events would lead to one of the Marine Corps’ most honored traditions.

During the competition, Marines from the swim team were invited to attend what the British Royal Marines call a mess night. It was a tradition that dates back to the days of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.

But, as Gunnery Sgt. Johnnie C. Watkins, Sergeants Course staff noncommissioned officer in charge, SNCO Academy, Camp Hansen explains, the event has evolved to how U.S. Marines conduct it today.

“The purpose of today’s mess night is to recognize and pay homage to the Marines who came before us,” the Brunswick, Ga., native explained. “It also gives us a chance as a band of brothers to socialize with one another in our best dress uniform.”

The mess night is fashioned to fit a formal gathering with a military flavor present. A Marine is assigned to be president of the mess; he is in charge and controls the flow of events.

The vice-president of the mess, or ‘Mr. Vice,’ as the title has come to be known, acts as the enforcer of the president’s decisions and also regulates who may speak to the president.

Invited guests are also part of the group. Conventionally, their place is at the head table with the president. The remainder of the participants make up the mess. They are the heart of the event, and are expected to pay fines as the president sees fit for issues brought up by the mess men.

During the formal meal portion of the mess night, members of the mess have the opportunity to charge another mess man with a fine if he has a legitimate reason to.

A mess member must stand at attention and ask Mr. Vice’s permission to address the mess. Mr. Vice has the option to turn the request away or to forward it to the president. If the president grants permission, the mess member must state his case on why his comrade must be fined.

If the mess member makes a good case, the president fines the guilty party a certain amount that he sees fit, or forces the defendant to perform a show for the mess, Watkins said.

“The president also forces certain members of the mess to perform humorous rituals,” Watkins added. “It all depends on how creative the Marine sitting in as president is.”

Other procedures also go into the tradition of mess night. It starts with a social hour where Marines of the mess have drinks with one another as well as meet and greet the guests.

The formalities of mess night begin when the mess marches in, followed by the head table guests. Then the fun of mess night begins with the meal. Marines of the mess sit down to a formal dinner, normally Prime Rib. During this time, Marines bring forth outrageous situations to be fined, Watkins explained.

“In the 25 plus mess nights I’ve been to since I’ve been a Marine, I’ve seen a lot of insane situations,” Watkins recalls. “For example, I’ve seen Marines have a pizza delivered to another member of the mess during the meal.”

An intermission will then sound after the mess portion of the night, followed by the toasts given by members of the mess. Tributes are given to battles Marines have fought in the past as well as the future, Watkins said.

“The toasts of the mess is what mess night is all about,” Watkins mentioned. “It pays honor and respect to all the campaigns the Marine Corps has fought in. The final toast is always to the success of the Marine Corps.”

Marines participating in a mess night at The Palms on Camp Hansen  toast to the success of the Marine Corps. Toasting is an important  portion of the mess night. It is meant to pay homage to the Marines  before us.

Marines participating in a mess night at The Palms on Camp Hansen toast to the success of the Marine Corps. Toasting is an important portion of the mess night. It is meant to pay homage to the Marines before us.

Other portions of the mess night are included as well. Normally a guest speaker will make a presentation, The Prisoner of War/Missing in Action table is recognized, and the kitchen’s head chef will parade the beef in regards to the mess’ liking.

For some Marines, mess night is a rare occasion that all Marines should take full advantage of, said Sgt. Iris M. Feliciano, wire noncommissioned officer in charge, communications platoon, 12th Marine Regiment.

“How often do Marines get in their best dress uniform and spend an evening like this with the people they work with?” the Chicago native asked. “It’s rare to have everyone from a unit, from the commanding officer to the lowest private, all in one place to socialize with one another.”

Feliciano also feels that mess night is more than just a tradition; it’s a learning experience as well.

“Mess night builds knowledge on customs and courtesies, as well as camaraderie,” Feliciano claimed. “One of its purposes is to build Esprit de Corps, and until you’re a part of one it doesn’t mean much.”

For those who have not been a part of a mess night, Marines who have been around the Corps several years and attended many mess nights recommend that no one pass up the opportunity to participate in one.

“I strongly encourage all Marines to attend and support a mess night in their unit,” said Sgt. Maj. Efrem A. Wilson, director of SNCO Academy. “It’s all about educating, training and leading Marines.

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Marines Movie – Coming Soon

It was in Stanley Kubrick?s 1987 movie ?Full Metal Jacket? that R. Lee Ermey portrayed Gunnery Sgt. Hartman, the quintessential Marine Corps drill instructor and for many Marines, a movie version of the nightmare they overcame in training. The movie is a staple on nearly every Marines shelf and has easily become the most quoted and re-enacted film in Corps history ? for now.

In the coming months and into 2006, the film industry will again turn its focus to telling the Marine Corps story. On Nov. 4, “Jarhead? starring Jake Gyllenhall and Jaime Foxx is set to open nationwide, and in 2006 ?Flags of our Fathers? directed by Clint Eastwood is scheduled to premiere

?Jarhead? is a film adaptation of Anthony Swofford?s novel of the same name. After hitting bookstores in December 2003, the manuscript made its rounds through the Corps and was met with some controversy. The bitter memoir of a sniper in the Persian Gulf War is an unyielding examination of the terror of war and leads the young Marine depicted in the book to question everyone and everything, including the Marine Corps.

The film version of the book follows Gyllenhall (The Day After Tomorrow) through boot camp and into a war he doesn?t fully understand while fighting an enemy he can?t see. Foxx (Ray, Collateral) plays a hardcharger who leads his sniper platoon into battle. They?re also joined by Chris Cooper (American Beauty, The Patriot) and Peter Sarsgaard (Skeleton Key, Kinsey) in a star-filled cast that brings the movie an air of credibility.

After viewing the trailer, the film looks to be a cross between ?Full Metal Jacket? and ?Apocalypse Now.? Once word gets out about this movie, Marines in the Jacksonville area are sure to fill the theaters, so be prepared for long lines and sold out showings. To view the film?s trailer or for more information visit www.jarheadthemovie.com.

It?s the most famous photograph, perhaps in world history. Six men standing on the summit of Mt. Suribachi during the battle for Iwo Jima, raising the American flag. Six men whose lives would be forever changed by a one-four hundreth flash in time.

Author James Bradley, whose father, John Bradley, was one of the only survivors out of the six Marines and Sailors raising the flag, penned a novel that detailed the lives of the men who appeared in the photograph. His touching story weaves together legends of the old Corps and recounted the back story of an important time in Marine history.

The movie version of the book is being directed by Academy Award winning director Clint Eastwood and stars an ensemble cast headed by Paul Walker (The Fast and the Furious) and Ryan Phillippe (Cruel Intentions). The film, set in the Pacific theater during World War II, is sure to compete for film awards at the end of 2006.

No further information concerning this film is currently available as the film is still in the production phase.

Although no one is likely to order their recruits to ?choke themselves? in either movie, each will attempt to carry on the strong tradition of quality Corps movies that started long ago with films like ?The Sands of Iwo Jima? with John Wayne and continued with ?Full Metal Jacket.? Hopefully each will find a way into Marines hearts and try and live up to the service members they seek to emulate.

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Marine Walks Away After Getting Shot in Head

Pfc. Fred M. Linck was shot in the head and walked away from the  incident. The enemy round struck his Kevlar helmet, which saved his life  by stopping the bullet from penetrating his head. A piece of  fragmentation caused a small laceration to the Marines forehead too  small even for stitches. Linck is an infantryman with C Company, 1st  Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5.

Pfc. Fred M. Linck was shot in the head and walked away from the incident. The enemy round struck his Kevlar helmet, which saved his life by stopping the bullet from penetrating his head. A piece of fragmentation caused a small laceration to the Marines forehead too small even for stitches. Linck is an infantryman with C Company, 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5.

If anyone was proud to be labeled hard-headed, it?s Pfc. Fred M. Linck. The 19-year-old from Westbrook, Conn., took an enemy shot to the head and walked away with little more than a sore noggin and a white bandage.

Linck, of 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, was struck by a single enemy bullet May 5.

?It seemed like just another day in the city of Fallujah,? Linck said, an infantryman assigned to C Company. ?But everything changed for me that day.?

The young Marine just got off of a security post and was tasked to be part of a reaction force. The force was gearing up to respond to a call for help in the city.

?We got some intelligence stating that there was a possible improvised explosive device on the corner of the main street in Fallujah,? Linck said. ?My team of Marines reacted to the call and showed up to the site. We immediately dismounted our vehicles and set up a cordon of the area.?

Some of the other men in the team didn?t want to believe that it was a normal mission for them, in fact they had planned on it being much more than that.

?Something told me that this was going to be a set up, a pretty usual tactic for the insurgents to use against us,? said Lance Cpl. Randon O. Hogen, a fellow infantrymen and member of Linck?s fire team.

Hogen?s gut instincts were right. Somewhere in the shadows of the concrete buildings, an insurgent was waiting for the Marines to come into his view.

?I was running back across the street after we had confirmed that the IED we responded to was in fact not one, when I heard the shot,? said Lance Cpl . Kelvin J. Grisales, fire team leader and friend of Linck.

A single shot cracked through the air. Everyone jolted and not even Linck, who was hit, knew what happened.

?After the shot rang out, I remember hearing someone screaming ?Man down, Man down,? Linck said. ?I realized a second later that man was me, I was on the ground.?

It took a couple seconds for everything to appear clear to Linck. The sounds of Marines calling for help weren?t for anyone but him, but he was ready to get up and fight.

?I was pretty scared when I realized that I had just taken a round to the head, but the scariest part was that I was thinking about it and I felt fine,? Linck said, who has only served with the battalion for a few months. ?It felt as if I had fallen and hit my head, that?s it.?

The rest of his team did not know his status. They didn?t take chances and followed their training, evacuating him out of the area.

?When we picked him up, he grabbed my hand and told me that he was pretty nervous,? said 22-year-old Grisales, from Hartford, Conn. ?All I could do was to try to reassure him that he would be alright, at the same time I was trying to do the same for myself.?

Linck was transferred directly from the battlefield to the nearest hospital where he was treated and released without even a stitch in his head.

The issued helmet he wore stopped the majority of the round from penetrating. A small piece of fragmentation from the round pierced through the headband inside of the helmet, causing a small laceration on his forehead.

?It was such a relief for us when we pulled up to the hospital and we found out that he was okay,? Grisales said.

?I thank God that it happened the way that it did,? Hogen added.

Linck doesn?t discount Divine intervention or luck, but trusts his gear more now than ever.

?I know for sure that if it wasn?t for that helmet, I wouldn?t be standing here right now,? Linck said. ?It pays to wear all the gear the way it is supposed to be worn.?

?It is one thing to hear about what our gear is capable of, but this just makes it a reality,? Hogen said. ?It did exactly what it was supposed to do.?

Linck?s since returned to duty with a new outlook on life.

?It is kind of like a second lease of life,? he said. ?I want to make sure I do everything right.?

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Marine Security Guard Duty

April 18, 1983, a building in Beirut, Lebanon was bombed, killing 63 people. Sept. 20, 1984, 24 people were killed when a bomb slams a shopping annex in Aukar, Lebanon. Aug. 7, 1998, buildings in Kenya, Nairobe and Dar es’ Salaam were decimated simultaneously, killing 291 people.

Every one of these bombings targeted a U.S. Embassy in an attempt to disrupt America’s influence overseas, according to the U.S. Department of State.

The U.S. has embassies in order to protect and oversee American interests in foreign nations.

It is the duty of Marine Security Guards to ensure the embassies are safe from any threat, in any place at any time, according to the MSG mission statement.

Marine Security Guards are responsible for the internal security of embassies in 115 different countries.

With so many Embassies, a large number of people are needed to fill the quota.

“We need as many people as we can get right now. If a Marine qualifies, we will use him,” said Gunnery Sgt. Edward Owens, an MSG Battalion Recruiter.

Marine Security Guard is not a primary military occupational specialty, but is a B-billet, or secondary occupation. It is a special opportunity for Marines who are willing to put in a little extra work to travel the world and see a completely different side of the Corps, according to Lance Cpl. Anna Renhard, who recently graduated MSG school.

“MSG is way different than the fleet, we have a mission unlike anyone else’s. The units are small, so you get to know the people you work with real well, real quick,” added Renhard, a former military policeman here.

The school, located in Quantico, Va., is one not to be taken lightly, according to Renhard. The curriculum is broad and intense on every subject. The school is relatively short compared to the amount of information students are required to learn, lasting only six weeks.

“The training is unlike any I have received anywhere else. There is more extensive training in martial arts and close combat weapons, you also get to use almost every weapon a Marine would come across,” said Renhard.

“Marine Security Guards are the most well equipped force, prepared and ready to complete their mission anywhere,” said Staff Sgt. Benjamin Dillon, the career planner here.

To join MSG, a Marine has to be a well-rounded individual, not just in training or physical aspects. They also have to be financially and mentally sound.

“You can’t go into MSG with a whole bunch of debt,” Dillon mentioned.

Included in the screening and interview document for MSG duty is a financial spreadsheet. The commanding officer can make a recommendation based on the financial stability of the Marine.

One requirement that cannot be waivered is sergeants and below cannot have dependents, and single parents need not apply.

Staff noncommissioned officers are allowed to have no more than three dependents. Dependents also have special requirements, which can be found in Marine Corps Order P1326.6D.

Aside from these requirements no one, except for MSG Bn. and the Marine’s MOS monitor can deny a Marine’s request to join MSG.

It may be fairly simple to get accepted to MSG School, the school and the duties assigned to the MSG Marines is no easily accomplished feat, according to Renhard.

This assignment is not something you can jump into lightly. Both Dillon and Renhard agree that if your heart isn’t in it, you don’t need to do it.

“You rely too heavily on your unit members to have someone go into it half-heartedly,” said Renhard. “The quickest way to get dropped is by showing a lack of effort.”

This special duty assignment is offered openly to any Marine who wants to do it, according to the MSG recruiters. Marines just have to look into it and see if it’s for them.

“MSG is a secret everyone should know about and everyone should take advantage of,” said Dillon. “I know that if I wasn’t retiring soon, I would jump at the opportunity.”

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Marine Scouts Swim Undectected

Stars and chemical lights provide the only illumination for a squad  of scout swimmer students as they provide security for a mock raid  force during Special Operations Training Group?s Scout Swimmer Course  March 29 at Kin Blue. The chemical lights are only used for  instructional purposes so the instructors can see the action. The  students are staff members of SOTG.

Stars and chemical lights provide the only illumination for a squad of scout swimmer students as they provide security for a mock raid force during Special Operations Training Group?s Scout Swimmer Course March 29 at Kin Blue. The chemical lights are only used for instructional purposes so the instructors can see the action. The students are staff members of SOTG.

loaked by night and veiled in silence, a squad of warriors moved undetected through Kin Bay. With deliberate actions, the squad promptly secured the beach before sending an ?all clear? report back to a ship waiting 25 miles off the coastline.

The ship was imaginary. The cold waters, stealthy tactics and exhaustion were not. The warriors swam through cold waters till their bodies cramped and shivered as III Marine Expeditionary Force?s Special Operations Training Group conducted a Scout Swimmer Course March 20-April 5 at various Okinawan beaches.

The Marines and sailors learned the intricacies of movement without detection as the course?s curriculum spotlighted clandestine insertion.

?Clandestine insertion is usually used at night when helicopter or (Assault Amphibian Vehicle) insertion is impossible,? said Sgt. Joseph L. Mills, an amphibious raid instructor with SOTG. ?It?s usually done on a secluded beach out of enemy sight.?

During the initial phases of the course, instructors gave classroom instructions covering such topics as hazardous marine life and equipment maintenance. After more than 10 hours of classroom instruction, the group moved to the Okinawan coastline.

As the course unfolded at a secluded beach near Kin Blue, the students found themselves in the water more often than not. On March 19, the students moved through water so calm it seemed to be made of glass. Their slow and methodical movements left ripples invisible to the naked eye in the water.

When conducting a clandestine insertion, a calm sea is a scout swimmer?s nemesis, Mills explained.

?In calm weather, you don?t have the sound of waves breaking to conceal your noise,? Mills said. ?This is why we try to avoid urban coastlines in actual missions.?

Manmade structures usually stop waves in urban environments, Mills stated.

The group moved to an urban training environment during the seventh day of training at Kin Red Pier, explained Sgt. Bart P. Dellinger, the senior amphibious raid instructor with SOTG.
The students were subjected to 2,800 meter swims with backpacks in tow throughout the course.

?It messes with your head,? said Lance Cpl. Kenneth A. Belovarac, an assistant small craft raid instructor. ?You keep kicking and it doesn?t seem like you have gotten anywhere.?

Once the team reaches the shore, they secure the area and send beach survey reports to the appropriate commanders. The commanders obtain detailed descriptions of what to expect on land in the swimmers? reports.

This course has proven to be extremely demanding and has one of the highest attrition rates of any course in the U.S. military, explained Mills.

?We started with 17 students and we now have eight,? Mills said on the sixth day of the 13-day course. ?The course is very physically demanding.?

According to Mills, a lot of casualties are caused by exhaustion and cold-related injuries.
The few amphibious warriors who endure the course become certified scout swimmers. The newly certified scout swimmers will have the ability and knowledge to help train units going through SOTG?s boat raid courses.

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Marine Corps Combat List of Top 20 Must-Haves

1.Advanced Combat Optical Gun Sight or Binoculars: “When you’re on post, you can tell what individuals walking down the street (blocks away) are carrying,” said Cpl. Michael Fredtkou, an M-203 gunner. “The enemy doesn’t expect you to see them that far away.”
2. Energy Bars: (not pictured) “They’re lightweight, easy to get to,” said Staff Sgt. Luis Lopez, platoon sergeant. “Plus they’re not as bulky as MREs.”
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Image of the 20 items which were listed as essentials to combat soldiers
3. Kevlar Cushions: (not pictured) “The old (helmet) padding gives you a headache after wearing it for a few hours,” said 1st Lt. Travis Fuller, platoon commander. “After a few minutes with the cushions on, you can’t even tell it’s there.”
4. Elbow & Knee Pads: “If not for these things, my knees would be completely cut up by now,” said Lance Cpl. Tim Riffe, a machine gunner. “You can only take so much jumping into a defensive position without them.”
5. Personal Role Radio: “Communication has been a huge key in our operations,” saidCpl. Tyrone Wilson, 2nd squad leader. “When my squad was across the street in a defensive position, the platoon was able to let me know insurgents were in the building next to us. Who knows what would’ve happened if they couldn’t contact me.”
6. Global Positioning System: (not pictured) “I’m able to pinpoint our location within 10 meters when calling in position reports and medevacs,” said Lance Cpl. William Woolley, a radio operator. “We’ll never get lost as long as we have it.”
7. Extra Socks: (not pictured) “My feet are nice and dry right now,” said Lance Cpl. Kaleb Welch, a squad automatic weapon gunner. “I’ve gone without changing my socks before on three to four day training exercises and I always regretted it later.”


Enlisted.info

8. Gloves: “They’re clutch because when you’re climbing over a wall you don’t have to worry about broken glass cutting your hands,” said Cpl. Gabriel Trull, 1st squad leader. “You also don’t burn your hands when changing (M-)240 Golf barrels.”
9. Baby Wipes: “A multiuse piece of gear,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Irving Ochoa, a Navy corpsman. “You don’t have much time out here for personal hygiene, so it’s the best alternative.”
10.Three-Point Sling: (not pictured) “When you’re jumping over rooftops you don’t want to worry about dropping your weapon,” said Cpl. Dave Willis, 3rd squad leader. “At any time you can just reach down and grab it.”
11. Alice or Day pack: (not pictured) “Without these I don’t know how I’d carry all of my gear,” said Lance Cpl. Geoffery Bivins, a SAW gunner. “It displaces all of the weight around my body, so I’m not uncomfortable. When you’re running with 100 pounds on your back, that’s important.”
12. Night Vision Goggles: “Wearing these at night gives you the advantage over the enemy,” said Lance Cpl. Marquirez Chavery, a combat engineer. “When you’re on a rooftop at night you can see everything.”
13. Personal Hydration System: “Water is one of the things you always need to make sure you have,” said Seaman Hugo Lara, a Navy corpsman. “Instead of struggling to get your canteens out, the cord is there within your reach. Plus it holds more water as well.”
14.Watch with Compass: “You get calls where you have to lay down suppressing fire in a certain direction and instead of wasting time to ask which way is north or south, you can just look at your wrist,” said Lance Cpl. Lonny Kelly, a machine gunner. “Knowing the time is important because everyone pulls shifts for guard duty or standing post.”
15. AA Batteries: “You use them for your NVGs and handheld radios – both of which ontribute to more effective fighting,” said Cpl. Bryan Morales, 1st squad 1st fire team leader. “You wouldn’t want either of those items dying on you, so having a spare set of batteries around is very important.”

16. Poncho & Poncho Liner: (not pictured) “The temperature at night is extremely different from the day,” said Lance Cpl. Jonathan Etterling, machine gun team leader. “If you don’t have some sort of protection at night, you end up freezing because you’re cammies are still damp from sweating during the day.”

17. Ballistic Goggles: “I was the (assistant) driver of one of our convoys and we got hit by an (improvised explosive device),” said Lance Cpl. Anthony Johnson, an assault an. “Shrapnel bounced off of my glasses, saving my vision.”
18. Multipurpose Portable Tool Kit: (not pictured) “It’s like carrying a combat knife, hammer and screwdriver in one hand,” said Lance Cpl. Evan Fernandez, an assault man. “Cutting open MREs, cleaning your weapon, tightening screws on your gear; it has a thousand uses.”
19. Carabineers: (not pictured) “Anything that you might have to grab at a moments notice, you don’t want to be digging through your pockets to try and find it,” said Pfc. Jason Kurtz, a SAW gunner. “With these you can attach anything to your flak and have right at your fingertips.”
20. High Powered Flashlight: “It does wonders,” said Cpl. Chris Williams, 2nd squad, 1st fire team leader. “After you throw a fragmentation grenade into a room it’s difficult to see because of all the dust floating around. No one can hide from them.”
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Leadership by Example

Cpl. Zachary R. Mendenhall, 21-year-old from Poseyville, Ind.,  pauses while explaining tactics to his Marines. As a squad leader with  Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines he is responsible for training  his Marines. When the company conducted training at the Military  Operations in Urban Terrain facility here Mendenhall got the chance to  tighten up some loose ends in the squad.

Cpl. Zachary R. Mendenhall, 21-year-old from Poseyville, Ind., pauses while explaining tactics to his Marines. As a squad leader with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines he is responsible for training his Marines. When the company conducted training at the Military Operations in Urban Terrain facility here Mendenhall got the chance to tighten up some loose ends in the squad.

During this time of year most people are busy preparing for the holiday season. There are presents to be bought, lights to be hung, and trees to decorate. For the Marines from Company K, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, preparations continue for what takes place after the holiday parties and the ball falls in Times Square.

While the clock ticks relentlessly toward the new year, time is at a premium for Cpl. Zachary R. Mendenhall as he continues to ensure his Marines are ready for war. Mendenhall, a squad leader with Company K, used the experiences from his previous deployment to Iraq when his Marines participated in training at the Military Operations in Urban Terrain facility here Dec. 7.

�We are focusing on MOUT operations and tightening up some loose ends,� said Mendenhall, a 21-year-old from Poseyville, Ind. �We worked on some reaction drills, things like reacting to sniper fire or an improvised explosive device.�

There were very few loose ends for Mendenhall to secure as the battalion recently returned from having their battle edge honed at Mojave Viper, a training exercise designed to simulate as fully as possible the situation on the ground in the Marine area of operations in Iraq. He said urban combat skills can get �rusty� if they�re not applied practically on a regular basis.

�If the Marines have just been sitting around the barracks for two weeks, you can still go up to any of them and ask how to do something and they can give you the answer verbatim,� Mendenhall said, �but they still need to actually get out there and do it. Ten minutes of remedial action will put them right back in (the proper mindset).�

Leading by example and making sure that his Marines know everything they need to down to the smallest detail is a trait his superiors notice.

�He�s real aggressive, a real hard worker,� said 2nd Lt. Matt D. Deffenbaugh, a 24-year-old Fayetteville, Ga., native. �He makes sure that he demonstrates everything and teaches everything in multiple ways. �

Mendenhall takes the time to share his experiences with the training and how it helped him during his first deployment to Iraq when his Marines are training.

�There�s no better trainer than combat experience,� he added. �I tell my guys all the time that they are going to learn more in two weeks over there than I have been able to teach them in seven months.�

Mendenhall isn�t waiting on his Marines to develop that experience. He said he feels his Marines are ready now after a seven month workup that he describes as 10 times better than what he got last year. It�s a different training environment as well, he said.

�Now you�re training a little different,� Mendenhall said. �When we trained last year we knew we were going to get to Iraq and do a nine day push. We knew we were going to see combat.�

The squad leader added that while combat is a near-certainty for his infantry leathernecks, the time leading up to departure, as well as the turnover process after they arrive in-country, is a dangerous time as well.

�The Marines have this big picture idea that they are going to be in gunfights as soon as they get off the truck, but we might not see any action for two weeks,� he continued. �Now it�s going to be a fight to keep them from getting complacent. It�s going to be up to the team leaders to make sure they keep their heads in the game the whole time.�

With the deployment to Iraq swiftly approaching, Mendenhall stresses the squad is more than just a collection of Marines with a common purpose; they are a family. As the holidays approach then pass, Mendenhall and other small-unit leaders will continue to take to heart their responsibility of preparing their Marines for war.

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Keeping it Healthy Smoke Free

With a new year upon the world, it?s time once again to make resolutions for 2006.
Whether it?s weight-loss, saving to purchase a new car, getting out of debt, or anything else, it?s a chance to be better than the year before. For tobacco users, why not try a tobacco cessation class for this New Year?s resolution?

Robert E. Bush Naval Hospital holds tobacco cessation classes each month.
?It?s the second leading drain on the Department of Defense for active-duty personnel,? said Martha Hunt, health promotion coordinator. ?It?s the leading cause of health problems in the US. Tobacco use causes 50,000 deaths annually, 6,000 of which are children under the age of 5.?

The human brain is made up of billions of nerve cells, and they communicate by releasing chemical messengers called neurotransmitters. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, scientists recently discovered nicotine raises the levels of a neurotransmitter called dopamine in parts of the brain dealing with pleasure. Dopamine is the same neurotransmitter found in addictions to other drugs like cocaine and heroin. This could explain why tobacco use is so addicting.

When people get bored or stressed they often respond by using tobacco to relieve that stress or boredom, and that?s an inadequate coping response, said Hunt.

?We give them the tools needed to deal with coping with boredom and stress,? she said, referring to the smoking cessation course.

With all the dangers inherent in using tobacco, it seems impossible to find a harmless version to smoke or chew. The tobacco cessation course provides support, motivation and nicotine patches to those seeking a way to give up their harmful habit.

?Tobacco is tobacco ? all tobacco is lethal,? said Hunt. ?The whole focus of the course is to get them off tobacco, not to get them to switch to a different brand.?

Since the first Surgeon General?s report on smoking and health in 1964, 27 additional reports have concluded that tobacco use is the most avoidable cause of disease, disability and death in the United States.

According the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, cigarette smoke damages lungs and airways by causing air passages to swell and become filled with mucus. Cigarette smoke can also lead to lung disease, chronic bronchitis, heart disease or cancer. Women smokers are at greater risk of developing osteoporosis, and some women may begin menopause earlier.

Smoking also affects normal breathing, making it more difficult as emphysema develops. Emphysema is a blockage in the airways that develops because of permanent changes in lung tissue, which makes getting enough oxygen difficult for even normal breathing.

Smoking is not only dangerous to smokers. Second-hand smoke can also be deadly. Considering the dangers created by second-hand smoke, breathing it is very similar to being a regular smoker.

All over the world, people die every year from disease caused by someone else?s tobacco use. For children, its effects are even more impairing. Second-hand smoke has been found to contribute to causing bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma attacks, and inner ear infections in babies and young children. In some cases it has also been associated with Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, according to studies done by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

According to the National Cancer Institues?s Web site, tobacco companies designed light cigarettes with tiny holes in the filter, which dilute cigarette smoke with oxygen. As a result, smokers are forced to inhale deeper carrying the smoke and tar deeper into their lungs, increasing their chances of contracting lung disease.

?In fact, a light cigarette doubles the rate of lung cancer, and by the time lung cancer is detectable, it?s already too late,? said Hunt.

Smokeless tobacco, while lacking some of the dangers of smoking, is not harmless. There are more than 4,000 chemicals, including nicotine, in tobacco. Thus, smokeless tobacco carries the same innate dangers as regular tobacco. It can also cause cancer of the mouth, larynx or esophagus, as well as tooth and heart problems.

?One can of dip is equal to five packs of cigarettes, and it is a lethal dose to an animal or small child,? said Hunt. ?Smokeless tobacco causes oral cancer, smoking causes lung cancer ? they?re equally deadly.?

According to the Surgeon General?s 2004 report on the health consequences of smoking, quitting will have immediate as well as long-term benefits, reducing risks for diseases caused by smoking and improving health in general.

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Every Marine a rifleman, heavy machine gunner

In support of the Global War on Terrorism, Marines from all job fields are finding themselves on the front lines of the fight, performing both their military profession and also acting as basic riflemen.

�In country who is running convoys?� asked Gunnery Sgt. James A. Miller, Infantry Training Battalion weapons chief instructor. �It is to the point where someone has to man the (M2 50 C

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aliber Machine Gun); it�s not going to be the (infantryman).�

To better prepare Marines for their increasing role in combat, the College of Continuing Education Training and Education Command, Quantico, Va., and ITB have teamed up to develop a web-based training aid aimed at helping troops stay proficient on various weapon systems.

�The objective of this (course) is to develop an online solution to ensure that all Marines have a basic knowledge of heavy machine guns, specifically the M2HB .50 caliber and MK19 40mm machine guns,� said Rob Beck, senior instructional systems supervisor.

By referencing the course, Marines from any unit have a reliable subject matter expert on all matters of the weapons at their beck and call, he added.

�Marines that need this training can obtain the basic knowledge (nomenclature, operation, etc.) on their own, so when the subject matter expert is on deck, instead of taking up valuable time covering the basics, he can teach the more complex subjects and share his particular knowledge and experience,� said Maj. Mark R. Reid, Courseware Development Section, project officer.

Regarding the specific goals of the course, Beck added, “Marines taking this course will lean the basic fundamentals to operate and maintain the M2HB .50 caliber and MK19 Mod3 40mm grenade machine guns, as well as the basic fundamentals of machine gunnery.”

As a supplement to subject matter experts and other hands-on training, the course is scheduled to be available on MarineNet this month, he said.

Reid cautioned that while the course contains the information necessary to operate the weapons systems, the Marines taking the classes need to be involved in the learning process.

�This (course) is just another tool for the small unit leader to prepare his/her Marines for combat. As such, you can’t just tell your squad to take the course and expect them to be competent machine gunners without guidance and supervision and follow on practical application,� he explained.

Reid outlined the goal of the course, saying, �A small unit leader can take his/her Marines straight to the armory, conduct a brief review to check knowledge retention and then get right into practical application, ISMT ( Indoor Simulated Marksmanship Trainer) or live-fire training.�

Just as Reid and Beck recommend bringing in knowledge experts to assist in the training, they brought in weapons experts from SOI to help make sure the class is taught the right way.

�You could see that Gunnery Sgt. Miller and his team consider this a very important subject. The whole SOI team played a key role in the quality of this course and the speed with which it�s been completed,� Reid explained.

The course creators headed back to SOI to let students get hands-on with the weapon systems after completing the newly designed course. Allowing Marines with no prior experience with heavy machine guns to learn and apply their knowledge on the weapons gave Reid and his team a chance to see their product in action.

�I think it validated out goals for this course in that the Marines had a solid understanding of the basics of these two weapons systems. It was also encouraging to see that we had some skeptics when they began taking the course who became converts when they got on the guns and could actually identify parts and perform disassembly/assembly,� he said.

Miller agreed with the course creators on the success of the course with SOI students, �We could talk to them and they know the lingo. They could tell you what it can do, take it apart and put it into the fight.�

In fact, the course worked so well that the Training and Educational Command has included the heavy machine gun training as part of the required pre-deployment training for many units including many Air Combat Element (ACE) and the Marine Logistics Group (MLG) units, said Reid.

By including units made up of non-infantry Marines in the required courses, TECOM and the Marine Corps acknowledge that while every Marine has a specific job to fill in the Global War on Terrorism, when the time comes � every Marine is a rifleman.

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Infantry Gear

The standard fighting load for Marines in Iraq is anything but “standard.” Sure, there are the “must-have” items – weapon, first aid kit, helmet and flak jacket – but when it comes to the “nice-to-haves” it’s every Marine for himself.

“We’re leaving on a patrol in five minutes! Get your gear together!” said Staff Sgt. Christian B. Amason, a platoon sergeant for Company G, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, assigned to the 1st Marine Division.

That used to be a cut and dry order, but with today’s gear, combat loads are tailor fitted. Even packs come with detachable pouches, adding and taking away space for gear. It’s a balancing act. Too much gear, it weighs the Marine down. Too little, and they suffer needlessly.

Take Amason, for example. He’s a former Army Special Forces soldier and Marine sniper. He’s got a good number of patrols under his belt. He knows what he needs and what he can live without when he takes to the field.

“I always take what I call my catch-all-gear,” explained Amason, a 32-year-old from Elora, Tenn. “Those are the basics like your weapon, ammunition, optics, navigational equipment and flak jacket and helmet. With a water supply, that makes for at least 30 pounds on your upper body. If you’re a (machine) gunner, then it could easily be 50 pounds you’re carrying.”

Amason knows what will keep him alive in the field, but there is one item with which he never parts.

“No matter where I go in the field, I always take my ‘woobie,'” he added. “That’s what my wife calls my poncho liner.”

According to Amason, the poncho liner is the best piece of gear he has, keeping him warm in cold weather and cool in hot weather. Other Marines have different necessities they insist on carrying.

“I’m the go-to-guy on a patrol, a regular walking ‘Saigon Sam’s,'” said Lance Cpl. Ryan P. Taylor, in reference to the military supply store just outside Camp Lejeune, N.C.

The Dumfries, Va. rifleman is known to always have a steady supply of chemical lights, parachute cord, fly tape, shoe-goo used to repair boots and superglue, among other things in his pack.

“You never know when you’re going to need something, so I try to bring it with me,” he added.

The mainstay of infantrymen in the field is undoubtedly chow. If not carrying the Meals, Ready-to-Eat they are issued, many Marines have a good supply of junk food.

Pfc.  Jayson Rebimbas, 20, a radio operator with Company G, 2nd Battalion,

Pfc. Jayson Rebimbas, 20, a radio operator with Company G, 2nd Battalion,
This is especially true for Sgt. James M. Back, a platoon guide from Logan, Utah. Known as ‘Snacks’ to his platoon mates, the Marine always has a steady supply of food.

“I blame it on my wife,” he said “She really takes care of me with care packages, so everyone knows to come to me for junk food.”

Back also knows how to pack for a patrol. Carrying extra sergeant chevrons, zip ties, caffeine pills for late patrols, different sized-batteries, spare socks, a whistle, sunscreen and a flashlight, Back feels prepared for whatever may come.

“Marines learn from the experience of their squad leaders and then find out for themselves what works for them,” Back said. “It really comes down to what you’re willing to carry to be prepared for whatever you could get into.”

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Brothers in the Corps

When Warren Peugh returned home from boot camp at San Diego, Calif., he expected to meet with his two brothers and tell them all about his experience. When he got home he was surprised to find that they were in the Marine Corps Delayed Entry program awaiting to attend boot camp themselves.

Lance Corporal Warren Peugh (middle), his younger brother, Chris -- also a lance corporal (first), and Edward (a corporal, last) are by all rights -- as the saying goes -- a ‘band of brothers.’ Their one commonality is a membership to the smallest military service in the U.S. But their differences brought them to three separate corners of that service to serve the Corps in the office, in the air and on the ground.

Lance Corporal Warren Peugh (middle), his younger brother, Chris — also a lance corporal (first), and Edward (a corporal, last) are by all rights — as the saying goes — a ‘band of brothers.’ Their one commonality is a membership to the smallest military service in the U.S. But their differences brought them to three separate corners of that service to serve the Corps in the office, in the air and on the ground.

The three Marines, who hail from Cerritos, Calif., have very different jobs. But no matter where they are, or what they do, their jobs all support the Global War on Terrorism.

Lance Cpl. Warren Peugh, his younger brother, Chris — also a lance corporal, and Edward (a corporal) are by all rights — as the saying goes — a ‘band of brothers.’ Their one commonality is a membership to the smallest military service in the U.S.; but their differences brought them to three separate corners of that brotherhood to serve the Corps in the office, in the air and on the ground.

“When I shipped out, I guess they thought it was a good idea to follow suit,” said Warren. “After all, we’re all Eagle Scouts as well.”

Warren is a 24-year-old Nuclear Biological Chemical specialist with the 2nd Marine Division – a ground combat unit serving in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq. He is also a sentry on the camp’s guard force and a common operational picture manager, updating intelligence reports and information from troops in the field for the division’s combat operations center. His unit is supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, here in western Iraq.

“I love NBC when I get the chance to do my job,” said the 1998 Ghar High School graduate. “To train us, we were put in a chamber with actual Sarin and VX nerve gasses. We had to assess where the gas came from and contain the site. It was dangerous, but it gave us the confidence to do our jobs.”

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Substandard armour passes ultimate test – combat

The Interceptor System, a personal body armor system, is comprised of the Outer Tactical Vest and the Small Arms Protective Inserts. The OTV was designed for use with SAPI plates and replaces the Personnel Armor System, Ground Troop Flak vest, more commonly known as the flak vest. The Interceptor System, a personal body armor system, is comprised of the Outer Tactical Vest and the Small Arms Protective Inserts. The OTV was designed for use with SAPI plates and replaces the Personnel Armor System, Ground Troop Flak vest, more commonly known as the flak vest.

More than 5,000 units of body armor issued last year to Marines deploying to Operation Iraqi Freedom were indeed substandard — but were combat-worthy enough to save lives on the battlefield, according to Marine Corps statements issued in the past week.

While acknowledging that more than 5,000 units of body armor issued to Marines headed for Iraq last year yielded “lower than contracted test results,” the vests protected Marines on the battlefield and constituted a “significant improvement” over previous generations of protective armor, the statements from Marine Corps Systems Command asserted.

Not one Camp Pendleton-based Marine or sailor deployed to the war on terrorism last year without sufficient body armor, a I Marine Expeditionary Force supply officer said Tuesday.

Lt. Col. David C. Blasko, a supply operations officer with I MEF, echoed Marine Corps Systems Command officials in response to a Marine Corps Times article reporting that some troops deployed to Iraq with substandard body armor.

After a recent precautionary recall of 5,277 sets of body armor, I MEF will inventory outer tactical vests issued to Marines and sailors who deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom last year.

“Initially, we outfitted about 26,000 personnel for OIF (with body armor), which constitutes 52,000 SAPI plates. The MEF had about 17,000 SAPI plates from (the previous deployment to Iraq), when we started preparing for (last year’s deployment),” Blasko said.

The outer tactical vest is the base component of the Interceptor Body Armor System that also includes Small Arms Protective Inserts (SAPI) that protect against direct fire from assault rifles, and the Armor Protection Enhancement System (APES), which guards the neck, arms and groin.

The recall, initiated by the Quantico, Va.-based Marine Corps Systems Command, was a response to the Marine Corps Times article by Christian Lowe published Monday. It reported that the Corps knowingly issued substandard body armor to Marines and sailors deploying in support of the Global War on Terrorism. The article also cast doubt on whether the outer tactical vests can stop a 9mm round.

A May 9 statement from Marine Corps Systems Command “categorically maintains that these (outer tactical vests) are capable of defeating the 9mm threat for which they are designed.”

The statement also explained the voluntary recall:

“Because we knew this article was forthcoming and would sow seeds of doubt in the minds of Marines in active combat, we concluded the only way to rapidly remove these doubts was to recall the vests in question.”

The body armor “was urgently needed” and fielded when Marines were ordered back into Iraq in spring 2004, the statement said. The outer tactical vests replaced the outdated Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops (PASGT) flak jacket, according to the statement.

The vests were issued after testing to provide the “best available” protection as Marines rotated into harm’s way, the statement read.

“This system is the most revolutionary personal protection system fielded to warriors in the past several decades,” the statement asserted.

Marines should not return the body armor, which is still classified as “serviceable,” until replacements are available, according to an All-Marine administrative message released May 4.

According to the statement, “present combat operations preclude us from retesting at this time to prove to our Marines these vests are effective. Therefore, we initiated the recall.”

Of the approximately 19,000 vests the Marine Corps Times article addresses, 5,277 are subject to recall. Of the remaining 14,000 vests, 10,000 have never been accepted or fielded by the Marine Corps, according to the statement.

That leaves 4,000 vests, approximately 3,000 of which passed all quality and testing standards. The remaining 992 vests also passed all tests, but were withheld by a Marine Corps contracting officer because they were in the same production run as the recalled vests, according to the statement.

Despite the lab test failures, the armor in question proved vital in the biggest test of all — combat — officials said.

Just days before last November’s offensive, Cpl. Joshua Miles, a squad leader with Company L, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, was hit by fragments from a mortar round during a security patrol on the outskirts of Fallujah, Iraq. Fragments from the mortar hit his flak jacket and Kevlar helmet, and went through the left arm sleeve of his uniform.

“It (body armor) is a great piece of gear. Marines have to make sure they are wearing the gear,” Miles said.

“Operation Iraqi Freedom casualty data gathered from the Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner and the Navy/Marine Corps Combat Trauma Registry proves that the outer tactical vest … is highly effective in reducing the number of lethal and nonlethal wounds to the chest and abdomen,” the statement said.

For example, despite the increased number of casualties received by the 1st Force Service Support Group’s Surgical/Shock Trauma Platoon during the height of Fallujah operations last November, most were saved, due in large part to body armor issued and worn by Marines, said Navy Lt. Charles L. Cather, one of the platoon’s critical care nurses.

“If they weren’t wearing their flak (vest) and Kevlar (helmet), they’d have all this damaged,” said Cather, pointing to his head and chest.

The Marine Corps has issued more than 181,000 outer tactical vests to Marines in operating forces. The recalled outer tactical vests represent less than 3 percent of the total number fielded.

“The Marine Corps’ first concern is the safety and physical protection of our individual Marines,” the statement read.

Although known to do “more with less,” the Corps wants to assure U.S. taxpayers that their sons and daughters are not sent into harm’s way without sufficient gear, the statement read.

“We would expect the concerned mothers and fathers of America to want their sons and daughters to have the best possible protection available when they deployed and entered into combat,” the statement read. “Consequently, we don’t believe that they would have wanted their Marines to deploy to Iraq with the obsolete PASGT vest while we wait for a 100 percent solution when a 99.9 percent solution was at hand.”

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Marine father, son serve together in Iraq

ImageMaj. Peter D. Charboneau is a busy man.

The communications and electronics officer for Marine Air Control Group 28 (Reinforced) isn’t just in charge of overseeing the upgrade of fiber optic lines, telephone switches and data servers around this former Iraqi air base. He’s also responsible, to the best of his abilities, for keeping an eye on one Marine who’s not even part of his unit–his youngest son, Joe.

After graduating from high school in Quantico, Va., in 2002, Joe and his older brother Pete joined the Corps following their father’s footsteps. They enlisted under the ‘buddy program’ and reported to Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C., together, graduating in January 2003.

Elder by a year, Pete is a lance corporal serving with Headquarters and Support Battalion’s Brig Company aboard Marine Corps Base, Camp Lejeune, N.C. Joe, also a lance corporal, serves as a helicopter mechanic with Marine Light/Attack Helicopter Squadron 269 from Marine Corps Air Station, New River, N.C., and is here on his first deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“I’m closer to him here than I am back in North Carolina,” said Charboneau. “The beauty of it is that he works nights. We meet in the morning and have breakfast.”

According to Charboneau, he was preparing to leave Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, N.C., and transfer to Marine Corps Base, Quantico, when he heard Joe was deploying to Iraq. He immediately asked for a modification to his reporting date to be able to come here and be near his son. Pete, trying to be near his father and brother, volunteered to transfer temporarily to 2nd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion, the unit in charge of protecting this air base.

“I pushed for Pete to come out here too,” said Charboneau. “My wife put a stop to it.”

Charboneau’s wife, the former Dinah E. Gomez, of El Paso, Texas, didn’t want her husband and her two sons to be in Iraq at the same time. She’s now ordered Charboneau to take care of Joe, and ordered both to wear their fragmentation protection armored vests and helmets at all times while they’re here.

“My wife is on an emotional rollercoaster,” said Charboneau. “She put up a sign that says ‘Having Marine son go to Iraq: Heartbreaking. Having Marine husband go with him: Awesome. Having another Marine son stay back with me: Priceless.’”

In his more than 23 years as a Marine, Charboneau, who began his career as a private, has left his family behind several times while he answers the call of duty. His most recent deployment was two years ago, when he served in Kuwait and Iraq during the beginning of the war.

“I’m not as homesick as I’ve been any other time I’ve deployed,” he said. “I could stay here for a year and I won’t miss my family because I have Joe here. I don’t think there’s a better feeling in the world than being in war with your son.”

Joe, getting his feet wet when it comes to deployments, said he misses his family, his girlfriend and some of the comforts of life back home. “You never know how good you have it until you’re shaving out of a water bottle.”

Father and son can often be spotted riding their bikes around Al Asad. They celebrated Charboneau’s birthday last month and are making plans to celebrate Joe’s birthday in July.

Not many are privileged to have breakfast with their father every day while in a combat zone. Not many can smoke a cigar with their son after a hard day of work half the world away from home. Charboneau, proud of his Marine sons, said there’s a small disadvantage of serving with one of them here.

“It’s the same thing as back at home,” he said jokingly. “I have to tell him to do his laundry, clean his room and brush his teeth.”

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