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Marines in Fallujah kick back for Independence Day

5 Jul 2004 | Sgt. Jose E. Guillen

Marines, sailors and soldiers from Regimental Combat Team 1 brought a little red, white and blue to this dusty camp in Iraq.  They celebrated this year's Independence Day with a good-old American style barbeque at Camp Fallujah, Sunday.

The Fourth of July bash was held at the Rest and Relaxation Center, including plenty of food, sports tournaments, a talent show, a disc jockey that blared music from country to salsa and a swimming pool.

"I think the swimming pool was ridiculously packed with people just having a good time," said Cpl. Derian J. Caudle, the 20-year-old noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the Unit Movement Command Center for RCT-1, from Whitakers, NC.

The event wasn't without a fireworks display, even though most Marines didn't mind opting away from explosives.  A helicopter flew nearby and deployed flares to help complete the Independence Day celebration.

"It's important to celebrate Independence Day, especially in Iraq to remind everyone why we're here," said Master Sgt. Albis Delrosario, the staff NCOIC of the R & R facility.

"We had basketball and volley tournaments for the Marines and the champions received trophies, T-shirts and a hat," added Delrosario, a 42-year-old from Bronx, NY.

Winners of other tourneys like softball, soccer and flag-football, also received prizes.

"Even though it was really hot, it was a lot of fun," said Cpl. Ryan E. Deady, a 21-year-old assaultman from Chicago with Company A, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. "I'm sure glad Bravo Medical Company brought a team out to play, just in case some of us dehydrate."

Deady's team, the Blue Falcons, lost to Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment for the one of the tournament championships.

To help ease their appetite, slabs of ribs, chicken, burgers and sausages were on hand for the more than 1,500 partygoers.

"The food has to be good because that also helps boost moral," said Staff Sgt. Juan Contreras, a 29-year-old food services specialist with the regiment from Santana, Calif.
The Independence Day part ended with a talent show for those brave enough to sing, play an instrument, and recite a poem or to simply embarrass themselves.

"There are different categories, but all the first place winners get a round trip ticket for leave outside Iraq and Kuwait," Delrosario said.

"Events like this give the Marines an opportunity to take their minds off of what's outside the camp, where Marines have died," Contreras said.  "We have to enjoy life for what it's worth."