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A sneak peek of home brightens a few Marines’ days

15 Jul 2006 | Cpl. William Skelton

Even pulling an all-nighter in the communications shop couldn’t stop Marines like Cpl. Paul R. Beaulieu from the chance to see his wife.

“After not getting to see my wife for the past six months now, it was a nice surprise that I was able to do this,” said the 26-year-old information systems specialist from Webster, N.Y.

Thirteen Marines from the battalion got the opportunity to talk live, via satellite, to their wives and children at home July 15 in a video teleconference.

The battalion is nearing completion of their deployment to Iraq. That didn’t stop these Marines from cashing-in on the opportunity to get a sneak peek of home and the people they miss the most.

“I have missed my wife and getting to spend time with her,” Beaulieu said. “We don’t have to do anything special – just spending time together is what I have missed the most.”

Marines serving in line companies with an infantry battalion spend countless days in the field at forward operating bases. These Marines don’t have regular access to phones to be able to call home.

“This was good for her,” said Cpl. Robert W. Goodman, a 28-year-old communicator from Skiatook, Okla. “I voluntarily extended to stay out here until January or February.”

The Marines were chosen by their companies to participate in the VTC opportunity. The battalion reserved the times for married Marines to be able to see their families.

“Nothing but good can come from having the video conferencing available,” said Amy M. Beaulieu, the 24-year-old wife of Beaulieu, from Corinth, N.Y. “Six or seven months is a long time to be away from the people you love, and if that time can be broken up even just a little by getting to see your family, then it is a great tool.”

Most of the Marines are heading home soon, but opportunities like this don’t come around everyday. Those who were able to take part in the VTC walked away with smiles and a renewed spirit for the coming weeks.

“This is definitely a morale booster,” Goodman explained. “It would only be better if we could do it more often.”

Marines from 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment have turned over security responsibilities for more than 60 percent of their original battle space to Iraqi soldiers. Operations have been at a constant high for the Marines, so this chance was a welcomed break from the normal routine.

“Emails and phone calls are great when you can get them during a deployment, but being able to actually see Paul was priceless,” Amy explained. “Seeing him smile and laugh during our conversation was the best; it’s the little stuff like that that I really miss when he has to be gone.”

Beaulieu said he talked about the normal things with his wife. He used this occasion to update his wife on how he’s doing and to make plans for their long awaited reunion.

“I told her about how chaotic my last week has been and about working long hours,” Beaulieu said. “So taking a break to do this was great.”

One of the major goals of the command for Regimental Combat Team 5 is to make opportunities like this more frequent for deployed Marines. Chances like this are greatly appreciated by Marines and their families back home.

“We are close to going home, but any chance I get to talk to my wife that the Marine Corps gives me, I’m going to take it,” Beaulieu added.

“The video is not the same thing as actually being with family, but it can serve as a good reminder for Marines as to why they put in all the hard work and effort that they put in. And that no matter what, there are people back home that love and support them.”