HELMAND PROVINCE – Marines from Bridge Plt, Co B, 8th ESB, recently built 2 bridges near the village of Durzay, to assist infantry Marines. The medium girder bridges were constructed to assist the Marines of 2nd Bn, 1st Marine Regt, 1st Marine Div (Fwd) during a 1-day clearing op, that aimed to provide enhanced security in and around the village.
"Once the area was cleared, Marines intended to build patrol bases in the village to ensure that Taliban forces didn’t return," said 1st Lt. Robert Jorgensen, plt. cmdr., Bridge Plt., Co. B. The only things standing in the Marines’ way were 2 canals that had to be crossed, in order to access the new patrol bases from the main supply route.
“There were local land bridges in place over these canals, providing crossing points for local traffic, but these bridges were not capable of supporting the heavy military traffic, required to construct and supply the new patrol bases,” said Jorgensen, 25. The Marines worked for 14 hours straight in order to complete the bridges, “providing access to follow-on engr forces, and allowing the infantry to continue with the momentum they had generated by swiftly clearing Durzay,” said Jorgensen, after the Marines returned from the mission, Feb. 1.
"Once the platoon’s mission was complete, the 2/1 Marines were able to continue to do what they do best: securing the population from the Taliban, and building the Afghan SECFORs," Jorgensen continued. “The Marines of my platoon performed extraordinarily during this mission,” said Jorgenson.“The Marines knew that the infantry and their associated engr forces were waiting on us to build these bridges so that they could continue the op, and I believe this inspired the Marines to work as hard as they did.”
“I enjoyed studying about burns,” said ANA soldier Sayed Rahim, one of the combat medic graduates. “Too many people have been burned badly in Afghanistan, and I would like to be able to help treat them.” These skills are vital to the battlefield. Afghan soldiers put them to the test a week prior to graduation in a trauma lane exercise. The trauma lanes put soldiers into a simulated battle environment, intended to simulate stress similar to what they will face in real life.
“We try to make the training as realistic as possible,” said Sgt. Erin King. “Because of the intensity of the training, we're confident at the end of the day that they're better prepared to handle any medical issues, that they may come across on the battlefield.”
“We help to make sure that what they're doing is correct and to standard” said Spc. Christopher Theodule, a member of the combat medic TT. “We put them under stress to help them get used to the intensity of being a real combat medic, while helping to guide them, and teach them what they need to do and what they can’t do.”
Instructors and students share a sense of pride upon completion of the course. “Watching our 30 students receive their certificates was a proud moment in this deployment,” said King. “We’ve been with this group of students longer than usual, and we were able to interact with them and learn from them, as well as teach them.”
“We’ve done training like this several other times, and usually when it’s scheduled to start at 9 a.m., we can expect to get started around 10 a.m. or a little later,” Sheasley said. “I really credit the local officials, and the Kunar Prov. dir. of women’s affairs for getting this organized so well.”
Sheasley trained the women on basic animal care procedures, recognition and treatment of animal parasites, as well as rabies control and prevention. These topics, Sheasley explained, are vital to Afghan women, because they're the primary caretakers of livestock, that typically live in the compound with the families of the women.
“The animals are very important to these women, because they provide most of the protein through milk, eggs and meat that their families get,” Sheasley said. “In some cases, they’re also a source of additional income to the family.”
The women at the training included both teenagers and senior citizens. At the training’s conclusion, each expressed gratitude, as she received her certificate of completion. One young woman, Asan Jan, lauded Sheasley’s bravery.
“We're very glad you had the courage to come and teach us today,” Jan said. “We're an uneducated people, and this will help us to better provide for our families.”
Sheasley pointed out the veterinary training is virtually cost-free, yet is immensely popular among the trainees. Just as importantly, she added, the training bolsters the credibility of the Kunar Provincial GoA, and is basic enough for govt officials to conduct by themselves in the future.
“This is a relatively small thing for us to do,” Sheasley said, “but it’s a big deal to them.”
CAMP DWYER – Fifty-two Marines from 1st MLG (Fwd) and 1st Marine Div (Fwd) attended the 3-day seminar, which instructed the junior Marines on leadership traits, leadership principles, mentoring, team building and cultural awareness.
“The purpose of the Lance Corporals Seminar is to help them become better NCO's,” said Gunnery Sgt. Clarence Thomas, course dir. “This will give them the foundation needed to become good NCO's.”
The seminar focused on reviewing the required “Leading Marines” Marine Corps Institute course, and also provided a chance for the lance corporals to have a guided discussion with the 1st sgts. of CLB-3, who spoke about their personal experiences as leaders, and becoming better at their military occupational specialties.
“The thing I enjoyed was talking to the 1st sgts, who took time out of their day to come and speak to us,” said Lance Cpl. Benjamin Mann, data specialist, H & S Co, CLR 15 (Fwd). “They taught us the traits needed to be a good leader, and what it takes to gain the respect of your subordinates, as well as your peers.”
The class concluded with a written test, which Marines had to pass in order to graduate. "The course curriculum should set the lance corporals up for success," said the director. “I believe all the topics covered are the fundamental foundation to leadership in the Marine Corps,” said Thomas, 35. “That’s what sets us apart from the other branches; our basic leadership fundamentals.”
The training was beneficial to the Marines, because of the guidance given by the instructors and guest speakers, including the comm. gen. of 1st MLG (FWD), Brig. Gen. Charles Hudson, who spoke about the expectations of an NCO in the Marine Corps. "A corporal is the first link in the chain of command, and a very important one," said Hudson, which is why junior Marines should prepare themselves to assume the role of NCO.
When the class graduated, the Marines returned to their units within RC-SW, and were encouraged to pass on what they learned to their fellow junior Marines, and continue the tradition of strong leadership.
“This will allow the Marine Corps to continue the successes of the past,” said Thomas. “It’ll make sure we're instilling leadership principles for the leaders of tomorrow. Education is vital to the success of any org., and this ensures that the Marine Corps will still be the world’s greatest fighting force.”
By Spc. Eve Ililau
BASRAH - David Diaz received the SCSA in recognition of his tireless service and selfless efforts in the pursuit of warrants and detention orders against dangerous extremists. "He worked very hard in getting and finding warrants." said Gregory Barker, 36th ID LEP. "When we were concentrating on ops for detainees, Diaz was diligent at getting warrants for detainees. He also made sure that the warrants wouldn't fall through the cracks."
Prior to being assigned to the 36th ID., Diaz had worked with elements of the 203rd MP Bn, British contractors, Iraqi Officers, and techs of the Basrah Crime Lab. He trained, mentored and advised Iraqi personnel in proper tactical site exploitation techniques.
The law enforcement veteran of 20 years brought together forensic evidence and witness statements, in a manner that allowed the Staff Judge Advocate to present enough evidence for the Iraqi judiciary for prosecution.
Diaz traveled to Basrah city 2 to 3 days a week, to assist in training the IP recruits processing crime scenes. "David went on many KLEs; he met with Iraqi judges and police to get warrants for insurgents." Barker said.
The Florida native initiated an investigation into the counterfeiting and attempted distribution of more than $150,000.00 in U.S. currency, in Basrah prov. The investigation led to the apprehension and prosecution of the individual involved. "You don't often get a chance to utilize your skills, and use it to help others in everyday missions."
In his role as a LEP, Diaz, not only trained and advised, he also graduated 156 IP investigators.
"It's a great feeling to be able to train these individuals, and see them graduate." Diaz said.
Diaz also trained U.S. Soldiers at COB Basra. "To have worked with the U.S. military, is something very special to me." Diaz said.
Diaz will be returning home mid-January to get reacquainted with his family, and after a few months of R & R, he plans to continue training and assisting the police force, in investigative work in Afghanistan.
"It's been a great honor to be part of something very special, to be part of the armed forces and basically working against terrorism." Diaz said. "It's also a tremendous honor to have worked with many great Soldiers, who dedicate their lives out there, to protect the safety and freedom of the U.S.A."
“We showed them a little bit about every ensemble that we have; the different styles that we perform, and classes on each individual instrument,” said Spc. Carlos Meda, a Tuba player with the band. The band members played music ranging from a spiritual hymn and a Dixieland style of “Amazing Grace,” to a meringue march from the Dominican Republic.
To give back to their teachers, (the band who volunteered their time), the students played some of their finest Arab melodies, as well as an innovative excerpt from Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 9”.
A wealth of musical knowledge was exchanged as Soldiers and students shared comments, questions, ideas, and personal experiences related to music. “Everyone loves music and can understand a feeling through music,” said Meda. “It's an expressive way for anyone.”
“The interaction with music; you can do a lot with it,” Lightsey said. “We're looking to continue this, do a lecture series and play a little bit, and explain some historical pieces, as well as get them to use computer programs, and get them up to par with unfamiliar equipment.”
"The reemergence of music education in Iraq looks promising," he added, "and the introduction of American music would add to the Iraqi students’ repertoire, and serve as a bridge between their cultures."
“It shows that we're here for peace,” said Meda. “We're here to start a good relationship and music helps with that aspect.”