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‘America’s Battalion’ arrives in Iraq, ready for duty

28 Jul 2006 | Lance Cpl. Erik Villagran

The sound of tires driving over loose gravel woke Marines at here July 28, as Marines from 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment arrived.

The Marines rolled in to the camp after nearly 20 hours of traveling. The unit is relieving 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment.  That battalion has been serving with Regimental Combat Team 5 for the past seven months.  The Camp Lejeune-based Marines were eager to take over their new responsibilities.

“I wanted to get here as soon as possible,” said Lance Cpl. Jose D. Moya, a 25-year-old administration clerk from Palmdale, Calif. “I just wanted to get in country to get adjusted to the work schedule.”

The work schedule, initially, was challenging for the incoming Marines because of the amount of time they are spending in their shops and in the field. They are pulling a double-duty of sorts, performing their missions outside the wire and learning as much as possible.  It makes for long days.

“The changeover is going well,” said Cpl. Tomas Garcia, a 22-year-old administration clerk from Brooklyn, New York. “They have taught us things that would have taken months to learn.”

It’s not just learning.  The new battalion’s Marines are getting used to new gear too.  They’ve picked up enhanced small-arms protective inserts – or SAPI plates – along with side SAPIs, flame-retardant gloves and flight suits.  The extra personal protective equipment will ensure Marines are as safe as possible in the field.

Despite the near gear, learning a new area, facing threat of improvised explosive devices and small-arms attacks, the battalion is more than ready.  They’ve completed a comprehensive predeployment training package that was drawn from the lessons and experiences of Marines already fighting in the region. 

The Marines feel they are prepared for the task.

“We’re going to continue the success that made us ‘America’s Battalion’,” Garcia said.