Featured News

Camp Lejeune Marines settle into their new home

21 Mar 2004 | Cpl. Shawn C. Rhodes

Gone are the long hot nights sweltering in the open air.  No more dinners straight out of tan plastic wrapper of a Meal, Ready-to-Eat.  Living conditions this time around for Marines in Iraq is proving to be a pleasant surprise.

"The last time I was in Iraq, we all lived in dirt holes," said Lance Cpl. Joshua C. Green, team leader, 2nd Platoon, Company F, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment.  Speaking about his part in Operation Iraqi Freedom I, he continued,  "There's no use talking about the living conditions we had, because there weren't any."

A lot has changed for Green and the other Marines and sailors of 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, a unit based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.  They're finding things have changed a lot as they arrive at Camp Al-Mahmudiyah, currently the home of the Army's 3rd Battalion, 505 Parachute Infantry Regiment.

"I never expected to have all the things we do here.  We're not roughing it, by any means," said Lance Cpl. Zachary N. Long, also a team leader with Company F.  The Belmont, N.Y., Marine continued, "This place could be a lot worse."

"It took about two weeks for us to move everyone and all our assets from Kuwait to here, but once we got here, the Army was very accommodating," said Capt. William F. Wahle, Headquarters and Service Company Commander.  Serving also as headquarters commandant, the Tampa, Fla., Marine continued, "As the Army moves out to go home, we'll be conducting a relief in place and taking over a lot of their morale, welfare, and recreation facilities."

The Marines will start their tours living in tents equipped with cots, but will eventually move into the hardened shelters with bunk beds and mattresses the Army is currently occupying, Wahle explained.

"We've got the mail started up, and we're delivering it about every other day," he added. "In addition, there's also shower facilities and a chow hall." 

Religious services, an MWR facility - complete with a big screen TV, DVD player and video games - a weight room, a post exchange trailer and laundry services also make the list for Marines' enjoyment here.

But mail won't be the only way to keep in touch with loved ones.

"We are taking over the phone center and internet café from the Army when they depart from the camp," Wahle said.  "Marines will be able to use the Internet free of charge to email folks back home."

Even though the Marines are settling into a cozy lifestyle, it doesn't change their mission, Wahle explained.

"We're still expeditionary here, and even if we didn't have these things the mission would still be accomplished," he said.

As for the high quality of life, the battalion's commander sees them as another tool to gain an edge over the enemy.

"Anything that allows the Marines an opportunity to decompress will help improve their edge when they're out conducting a very dangerous mission," said Lt. Col. Giles Kyser.  The Dumfries, Va., Marine added, "We're going to do everything we can in every area to maintain that edge, whether it be training, MWR, chow, religious support or communication support with folks back home."