MUDIQ, Iraq --
MUDIQ, Iraq (July 7, 2008) – The transition of authority in the al Anbar Province from Coalition forces to the Iraqi government is a priority in the province. However, this cannot be accomplished without the trust and support of the Iraqi people.
To strengthen their relationship with local Iraqis, Marines of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, conducted a combined medical engagement here July 6.
“The people need to see our presence – know we are here to help them,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew G. McDonald, a corpsman with Headquarters and Service Company, 2nd Battalion, 24th Marines. “Our support through (medicines), food, stickers, suckers and interaction with the children is very important.”
The purpose of a CME is to provide the local Iraqi people with medical attention to those incapable of affording or reaching a clinic that provides proper medical attention.
Throughout the afternoon, the corpsmen with the unit cared for several hundred Iraqi patients, who are recently showing more faith in Coalition forces’ efforts to secure a safe and hospitable environment for them to live in.
“The Iraqis see that we are here to help them and, in turn, begin to realize that we are not here to hurt them,” said McDonald, a 25-year-old from Hanover Park, Ill. “We’re here to bring them hope.”
Female Marines were on hand to search Iraqi women and children in accordance with Muslim traditions.
“Having us there really fostered a positive image, showing the Iraqis that we care enough about them to (respect their traditions),” said Capt. Lisa M. O’Brien, the communications officer for Marine Wing Support Squadron 374. “We’ve seen at least 300 people today and without the girls here helping it would make it hard on not only the Marines, but the Iraqis as well.”
Attending her first CME, Lance Cpl. Amanda R. Carnagey, a 20-year-old Marine from Vancouver, Wash., said she was a little nervous before coming to the CME, but calmed down eventually and had fun interacting with the Iraqi people for the first time.
“It was a blast. I wasn’t sure what to expect at first, but it turned out to be a great experience,” she said. “It was funny; the Iraqi women would come at you and try to do everything they could to get us to understand what they needed, using hand gestures while speaking in Arabic. It was confusing at first, but I got it towards the end and just had fun. If I could volunteer to go out again, I would in a heartbeat. It was very rewarding knowing that I was actually out there helping the Iraqi people.”
At the end of the day the Marines and sailors packed their medical supplies and headed back to the respective bases only to begin planning their next operation to support the Iraqi people.