CAMP HABBANIYAH, Iraq -- Sgt. Jeff Bell is Denver’s latest hometown celebrity.
He was one of several Marines from 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment who took the opportunity to talk to the hometown media by satellite from Iraq here July 21. The Marines are just days away from finishing their seven-month tour with Regimental Combat Team 5.
The interviews were taped and held live in cities ranging from Spokane to Houston using the I Marine Expeditionary Force’s Digital Video and Imagery Distribution system.
Bell, a squad leader for L Company, appeared on KMGH-TV in Denver. The 27-year-old from Littleton, Colo., spoke with the local anchor mostly about his experiences during his third deployment in his area of operations.
“He asked a lot of questions about Iraq, about the people, the temperament of the AO, and the particular stress that we face day-to-day,” Bell said.
The interview request came with only a few days notice, but Bell said he felt sharing his story is another part of his duty.
“I think the American public needs to hear more of the grunts talk about the war,” Bell explained.
He said retired military brass often offer their views of what might be happening, but they haven’t trudged in the same boots up the same dusty roads. They don’t know the experience of assisting Iraqi soldiers and police or taking the fight to insurgents.
“They don’t have any frontline accounts like we do, at least not from this war,” Bell said.
The Denver station even brought a special guest to the studio – his mother.
“It was a nice surprise, especially having my mother on the line,” he said. “I didn’t think that was going to happen.”
Cpl. Estafanos Getahun, an infantryman with L Company, appeared on live television in Spokane, Wash., where he graduated from North Central High School before moving to Las Vegas.
He said being a spokesperson to a city of 200,000 people wasn’t exactly a role for which he prepared.
“The Marine Corps doesn’t teach you how to talk on television,” Getahun said.
He said his specialty in the past seven months has been battling insurgents.
Bell had similar butterflies about his on-screen appearance, but said he’ll worry about it later.
“I guess I’ll have to wait until I talk to some people back home to see whether or not I had my stuff together,” he added.
That will happen soon enough, as the battalion recently transferred authority of Camp Habbaniyah and its surrounding area of operations to Marines of 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment.
Marines from 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment are schedule to return to Camp Pendleton, Calif., in the coming weeks.