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'New England’s Own' Marines take over new turf

12 Jul 2006 | Cpl. Brian Reimers

The days spent in Saqlawiyah are over for a group of Marines here, who have moved to cover a new set of ground.

A Company, 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, took over a new area of operation and forward operating base just outside the city of Fallujah.

“It is nice to get to see a new area of the country after being in Saqlawiyah for a while,” said Lance Cpl. Matthew L. Silea, an infantryman assigned to the company.

Marines took over the area and FOB while another battalion moved on to a different location.  Most Marines here agreed the new turf is a good change for them, although many say it could be a dangerous one.

“It’s a completely different world,” said Cpl. Chad R. Stauffer, a 23-year-old rifleman.  “Within the first week of being here, we saw more action than the entire time we were in the other spot.”

The company reported several improvised explosive devices, weapons caches and various accounts of sniper fire after manning their posts for only days.

“The IED threat is a lot higher here,” Stauffer said, from Mount Joy, Pa.

“Every little dent in the road, every little spot could be an IED,” Silea added. “You just have to keep your eyes open and focus on the mission.  It’s nothing that we can’t handle.”

As the Marines noted threats in the area, they also smiled at their improved living conditions.  No longer are they forced to stay inside their barracks and only shower at certain times because of enemy mortars. The forward operating base here offers them a little more room to move about and improve their living.

“It’s a lot nicer here,” Stauffer explained. “Plus, here we are able to live with just our platoon. Where as before, we were forced to all live together in one building.”

Marines here are also enjoying another amenity that wasn’t available before – the Internet. 

“It’s great. I feel like we have a connection with our families and the outside world now,” Stauffer said.

Various local changes and cleanup kept the warriors here busy as they settled into their new homes.

“We added a few things ourselves,” said Sgt. Timothy L. Wenrich, a squad leader from Mechanicsburg, Pa. “New signs, guard posts and general clean-up of the FOB – the little things that will make it a better place for the Marines.”

The battalion’s Marines are approaching their halfway point of their deployment and are looking forward to operating in their new area supporting missions here, according to Wenrich.

Marines continue to counter the insurgency and fight the War on Terrorism on new grounds.

“They are definitely excited and motivated to get out there and work,” 28-year-old Wenrich said about his Marines. “We are shifting gears and fighting somewhere new now.”