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Marines vital skills keep communication open

5 Sep 2004 | Cpl. Randy Bernard

Communication is vital when two very different worlds try to work together. However, there are times when translators are not available.

During those crucial moments, Cpl. Garrett A. Barton, a machine gunner with Company A, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, has been able to step in and fill the communication gap for his unit.

"I've helped Iraqis explain to our corpsmen their injuries," said Barton, 22, of Gowanda, N.Y. "I've spoken with local children and asked them about terrorists, and if there are weapons hidden. (I) found out that this one town didn't have water because of a broken pipe."

Barton started his education in the Arabic language prior to this deployment, learning his first words and phrases from a sailor that was born in Kuwait.

"He taught me a little bit," said Barton. "After that I started listening to Arabic (compact discs)."

"It is impressive," said 2nd Lt. Ryan M. Hunt, a platoon commander with Company A. "He has learned this all on his own.  While back at Camp Lejeune, they sent him to an Arabic language class, and he was already ahead of his peers. 

"He helps us accomplish our mission when we are not able to make contact," added Hunt. "He helps us speak to the indigenous people, lets them know what we are doing there, asks them where the bad guys are, and if the government is providing the people with everything that they need."

Lance Cpl. Rob B. Glasgow, a mortar man with Company A, recalls how Barton's ability to speak Arabic has helped the company accomplish their mission.

We manned a border control point and stopped a vehicle. I didn't know how to tell the Iraqis that they were on a road restricted to coalition personnel, said Glasgow, 21, of Orlando, Fla. They were scared and I tried to speak with them.  Cpl. Barton took control of the situation and told them why we were there, why they weren't allowed to be on the road and to stay off of the road from now on.

"There aren't many translators available, and there are times that I don't know what to say, but he is there to back us up," said Glasgow. 

Barton also recalls a time when he was able to assist his company by communicating with the town's people.

"We were down in the villages near Fallujah," said Barton. "The Marines down there had found mortar rounds and other weapons.  They were having problems finding out (whom) the house belonged to.  I found a 15-year-old (Iraqi) to tell us who lived there."

Barton has since improved his Arabic through the translators that are attached to his unit.

"I've walked into his room, and he is in there with the translators, picking their brains," said Glasgow.

Barton even uses his talents to help train Iraqis and his fellow Marines.

"I've given crash courses to (Iraqi National Guardsmen) about how to search vehicles," said Barton.  "And I've also given a couple of classes for the platoon."

According to many of the Marines that he has worked with, Barton has proven himself time and time again and will continue to be an invaluable asset to the team.

"His skills are vital for us," said Hunt.