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3/7 prepares to make the trip home

16 Sep 2004 | Cpl. Randy Bernard

3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment has spent the last seven months operating out of Al Qaim, Iraq, successfully completing each mission. Their mission was to improve the way of life for the Iraqis by removing insurgent threats and finding materials and locations used to make improvised explosive devices."The quality of life for the basic Iraqi person increased greatly," said Sgt. Maj. Daniel A. Huff, the battalion sergeant major, 42, from Bellevue, Neb. "There hasn't been a day gone by when I don't think about how well the Marines perform on a day by day basis."With their mission now in the hands of 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 3/7 moved back to Al Asad for a little bit of rest before heading back to 29 Palms, Calif. To help send them off, the 1st Marine Division sergeant major, Sgt. Maj. Wayne R. Bell, gave them a few words of bolstering encouragement and praise."Every time I am around these Marines, I feel like I am standing in the shadow of greatness," said Bell, 47, of Boston. "They will be read about for a long time."Bell congratulated the Marines for doing a great job, and for serving the Marine Corps honorably in a time of war. He said there were two kinds of Marines, those in Iraq, and those going to Iraq. Bell also addressed issues and the importance of voting, now that the Marines would be going home. When questioned about unit awards, he responded that there was already paperwork in the process for the humanitarian service and an Iraqi campaign medal for the Marines of 3/7.With all of the formality out of the way, the Marines of 3/7 didn't seem to care about the medals or all of the praise, they were just eager to get home."We completed our mission we were assigned to do, now we are looking forward to heading home and being with our families," said Huff."We worked hard and we tried to do the best we could," said Lance Cpl. Clinton N. Shumway, 25, machine gunner with Company I and native of Atlanta. "We found a lot of IED materials and the people making them. I think we improved (the Iraqis') opinion of Americans. I wish 1/7 the best of luck, and I can't wait to see my wife and two kids.""I think it was a decent thing to come out here," said Cpl. Charles E. Flockhart, a team leader with Company K. I actually extended for 10 months to come back out here." Flockhart, 25, from Newport, Tenn., deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom last year. He thinks that coming back and helping the Iraqis was a good thing. "Seeing the kids wave at you and smile definitely made it all worth while," said Flockhart.