CAMP BAHARIA, Iraq -- Marines from “New England’s Own” are walking the beat in Fallujah.
Marines from 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment arrived here recently and took control of a large portion of Fallujah. They will be focusing on training the Iraqi Security Forces and conducting counter-insurgency operations for Regimental Combat Team 5.
“There is a tremendous enthusiasm in the Marines here,” said Sgt. Maj. Bradley E. Trudell, the battalion’s senior enlisted Marine. “We are looking for every opportunity to do good things, from pursuing bad guys to handing out candy and soccer balls.”
The battalion is taking over for Marines from 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, who are preparing to return to Camp Lejeune, N.C. They’ve been on duty here for seven months and in the last few days, passed off key lessons to the new operating forces.
“The turnover process has been great,” said Sgt. Robert S. Stone explained, the battalion’s communication’s platoon sergeant. “The Marines have taught me everything I need to know to be successful while operating here.”
No matter how much training the Marines have received in the past, coming to a new place opened new doors in operating and obstacles that may lye ahead. The 29-year-old Stone, from Nahant, Mass, said they’re learning the hazards of working in Fallujah and how to counter insurgent activity. They’re also learning to use some of the Corps’ latest innovations in troop protection.
“One big thing has been learning about the new up-armored vehicles the battalion is using here,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jesse R. Nelson, the battalion’s motor transport maintenance chief. “The Marines have been showing me what to look out for and problems areas they have faced while working on these vehicles.”
Still, working in the region isn’t foreign to all Marines in the battalion. Some veterans served tours with the battalion in the Middle East during Operation Desert Storm. They know, though, that this is a new type of warfare.
“Today’s war is very different – from the ammo to the vehicles and new equipment” said Sgt. Mark A. Sabourin, a radio supervisor with the battalion’s Headquarters and Support Company. “I definitely feel a lot more comfortable and better trained this time.
“I feel good about being here,” Sabourin added. “I’m here to help the Marines accomplish their mission and to help the Iraqi people get what they deserve.”
Both veterans and young Marines alike know that there’s a challenging tour ahead of them. But they don’t discount the value of their service to their fellow Marines and Iraqi citizens.
“We know the mission will be tough, but worth while,” explained Trudell, from Mexico, New York. “We are looking forward to making a positive impact here.”