MUDIQ, Iraq -- Iraqis here have something new to smile about.
Marines with 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment donated a dentist chair to a local Iraqi health facility Oct. 4.
“This isn’t for us,” said Capt. Joseph Burke, 32, I Company commander from Harris, Texas. “This is to help Iraqis help themselves.”
The battalion is serving in the Habbaniyah area under Regimental Combat Team 5.
According to the facility’s manager, the chair will help provide proper dental care for more than 5,000 Iraqi civilians living in the area.
“This shows that were not fighting the Iraqis,” said Cpl. Jeremy M. Swing, a scout observer assigned to I Company. “We’re trying to get a foothold in the civilian populace.”
The 21-year-old from Overland Park, Kan., held security while other Marines brought in the chair.
Large groups of Iraqis coming from school and their jobs were eager to see what the Marines brought. When they saw that it was a dentist chair, they didn’t know how to respond.
“They were surprised,” said Cpl. Nicholas G. Schorr, an assaultman with I Company.
The 21-year-old from Watson, La., comes into contact with the Iraqis here on an everyday basis. He said Iraqis are not used to getting gifts that big, especially from Marines. Initially, they stood back, unsure of what to make of the donation.
The Marines told them they didn’t want anything in return. A simple smile would do.
Eventually they got it. When the Marines started to leave the Iraqis knew it was a gift of peace.
“We want to push away from them being dependent on us to being independent,” Schorr said.
The day was more than successful for the Marines.
“We’re appealing to more of an adult crowd,” Swing said. “Instead of handing out soccer balls and pencils, we gave Iraqis a dental chair”
Swing said it’s helping more people on a larger scale.
“Everybody needs dental care,” Swing said.
Many Marines think the new chair should now be a necessity.
“It should be really important now that they have the means to do dentist work,” said Cpl. Patrick J. Imperato, a squad leader from I Company.
The 21-year-old rifleman from Hampton, N.H., said it will help bolster their country.
“It should help their people and their economy.”