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Marines, Iraqi Army pair up to treat locals

29 Jun 2006 | Cpl. William Skelton

Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 4th Brigade, 1st Iraqi Army Division along with Marines from C Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment delivered much needed medical care to people of here June 29.

More than 450 Iraqi people received medical treatment during the cooperative medical engagement conducted by Coalition Forces.  The purpose of the operation was to treat Shohabi residents who lack a functioning medical facility as well as foster relations between the residents and Coalition Forces.

“We are out here to give help to the people of Shohabi,” said Iraqi Army 1st Lt. Ammar Abdul Hassan, a 25-year-old platoon commander. “Most of these people don’t have access to regular medical help.”

This medical operation is the fourth such event 1st Battalion, 1st Marines has participated in since arriving in country in January. A team of Marines, Sailors, Iraqi soldiers and civilians worked tirelessly to provide the desperately needed medical support.

“We treated a variety of ages during the day,” said Iraqi Army 1st Lt. Memdoh Muhamed Ali, a 43-year-old physician’s assistant. “We mostly saw children, but we also treated women and men as well.”

The people came in with an array of illnesses for the team to evaluate. Most concerns were minor and required basic medical attention.

“Most of the patients we saw today suffered from muscular skeletal pains, allergies and coughs,” said Navy Lt. Justin R. Moy, a 29-year-old battalion surgeon from San Diego. “We couldn’t do extensive work-ups on them, so we just treated them for their symptomatic pain.”

Marines and Iraqi Police provided security for the event to ensure the safety of all the participants. Iraqi Army soldiers controlled the flow of patients and manned checkpoints with Marines.

“We were standing-in as searchers at one of the security checkpoints,” said Sgt. Kristen M. Benjamin, a 22-year-old motor transportation operator from San Diego. “We were ensuring no one tried to bring weapons into the medical operation.”

The Marines operated in the background, allowing the Iraqis to take the lead during the operation.  Iraqi soldiers saw the event as an opportunity help to reinforce a positive presence in the local community.

“We are helping out where they need us,” said Cpl. Lisa M. Mitchell, a 24-year-old engineer from Kearnua, Neb. “But, we are staying out of the way a much as possible – letting the Iraqi Army take charge of the day.”

The Iraqi people also received humanitarian and hygiene items to take home.  When the day was done, the people of Shohabi were a little healthier and a lot happier.

“I think the people know we are here to help them however we can,” Ali said. “I hope we can do more projects like this one to give aid to the Iraqi people.”