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1st Marine Division


1st Marine Division

Camp Pendleton, CA
Marines and Illinois students donate to Iraq's future

By Pfc. Jerry Murphy | | June 18, 2008

When a child thinks of school supplies, one thing comes to mind: the end of summer. No more going to the pool on hot summer afternoons. No more trips to the lake; just another year of sitting in a small classroom with columns of desks lined-up in front of a white board and a school teacher, every single day. In Iraq, on the other hand, a Marine gunner passing out pens and pencils to children from his turret or Marines delivering school supplies can always bring a smile to a their face.

Marines of Mobile Assault Platoon 1, 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, alongside members of the Iraqi Police provided the local populous with some much needed school supplies and food rations.

“I think that by helping the children, it shows the Iraqi people we care about their future,” said Staff Sgt. Marco Gomez, MAP 1 platoon sergeant.

“Furthermore, mentoring the Iraqi Police in community relations is vital to their future success of providing internal security to the people they are sworn to serve and protect.”

Thanks to donations made by teachers and students of the Oswego, Ill., Public School District #308, the Marines were able to accomplish this task, hoping to strengthen their relationship with the local Iraqi people.

“The donations kids at home make directly affect the kids of Iraq,” said Staff Sgt. Jason Blankenburg, platoon commander for MAP 2. “This message amounts to leverage of an unimaginable amount over the insurgency. This type of influence reflects the current pacifying status of Iraq by showing the citizens of this country the true colors of Al Qaeda and local insurgents verses the caring people of the United States.” 

With the way the War in Iraq is going now, it is these types of non-military operations that win over the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.

Blankenburd agreed, saying: “It sends a message to the average Iraqi of the Coalition force’s true intentions. In the end, wars of this scale, and especially Iraq will be won through these type of operations more so than the typical search and destroy tactics.”

During the non-combat operation June 10, more than 45 bags of school supplies and 20 bags of food were distributed throughout the community.

When the day was done and all the supplies and food were handed out, the Marines and members of the Iraqi Police witnessed nothing but smiles, thankful parents and enthusiastic children, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

“Seeing them like that really makes us feel like we’re making a difference,” Gomez said. “It’s very rewarding and we hope they can understand that we’re here to help them.”

Developing a strong, positive relationship with the Iraqi people is the solution to the United States success in Iraq. Providing school supplies and food brings the Coalition Forces one step closer to victory and having the support of the Iraqi people is key in the path of success in Iraq.