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Marines deliver the goods for Navy Seabees

5 May 2004 | Cpl. Paula M. Fitzgerald

Staff Sgt. Michael J. Thompson never thought he'd see anyone get so excited to see seabags and boxes until he reunited sailors with their belongings here.

Thompson and the rest of 3rd Platoon, Company L, 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment made a trip from Camp Ramadi, 60 miles east of here, to deliver a seven-ton truck full of personal gear to the sailors of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 14.

One of the 150 gearless Seabees, Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Kenneth C. Baker, said he was never so happy to see Marines.

"We've been waiting for more than three weeks for our stuff," Baker, of Deltona, Fla., explained. "It's like Christmas."

The Seabee battalion is made up of reservists from naval detachments in the southeast of United States. They were pulled together and deployed here almost two months ago in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"We were told to pack primary gear and secondary gear," Baker said. "The secondary gear was sent ahead of us but somehow got misdirected to another camp."

Some of the lost luggage eventually ended up with the battalion's Seabees at Camp Ramadi, the same camp from which 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment is operating.

"Our mission is to transport supplies and do convoy escorts around the area," explained Thompson, an assistant platoon sergeant. "We just happened to have to do a food supply run to Al Asad, so the Seabees asked us to deliver the gear."

The Marines left early in the morning and traversed for more than two hours across long stretches of treacherous roads known to be targets for terrorists to detonate improvised explosive devices.

"We were told to get the Seabees their gear, so that's what we did," Thompson said.

Still, it was more than just another mission for the Marines.

"I'm glad I had the chance to help out the Seabees," he added. "We're all one big family here for the same reason. We have to look out for each other every now and then."

The favor did not go unnoticed.

As the truck backed up to the Seabees' warehouse, sailors came out of the woodwork to help unload the bags and footlockers.

"When I got out of the truck there was a Seabee that walked up to me and said, 'Is this our personal gear?'" Thompson explained. "I said that it was, and he gave me a hug. I didn't expect to get hugs just for bringing their stuff. It was strange."

Many of the Seabees said they hope to return the favor in the future.

"We've been tasked with making the quality of life for the Marines at the camps here and on the borders better," Baker said. "Like the Marines out at the Camp Husaybah on the Syrian border have no showers or chow hall or permanent bathrooms. We are going to build them that stuff so at least they have a few creature comforts."

Baker explained the Seabees and Marines have a good "you scratch my back, I'll scratch your back" relationship. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Greg J. Smith agreed and added it's a pleasure to help the Marines.

"Our job here is to help Marines," Smith said. "That's what we love to do."