CAMP BAHARIA, Iraq --
CAMP BAHARIA, Iraq (Aug. 16, 2008) – With the hot Iraq weather sweltering down on an assembly of Marines gathered on Camp Baharia, Sgt. Maj. Carlton W. Kent delivered a riveting speech about subjects ranging from progress Marines are making in Iraq and Afghanistan to the Marine Corps’ new physical training uniforms.
Marines with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment; 2nd Bn., 3rd Marines; and 3rd Bn., 6th Marines, all elements of Regimental Combat Team 1, listened attentively as the Kent congratulated them on the job they have done during their current and previous tours in Iraq.
“As we were riding up, there were kids standing out there by the checkpoint waving at the Marines,” Kent said. “You would never have seen that back in 2004 and 2005, and even part of 2006; those kids would have turned their heads back then. Because of the job you all have done out here, that is possible today.”
The Marines enjoyed Kent’s visit, and remarked about him taking time out of his life to address issues concerning the future of the Marine Corps.
“He came out here to check up on our well-being,” said Sgt. Phil A. Oblak, the company radio operator for Weapons Company, 1st Bn., 3rd Marines. “It really shows us, first hand, that he cares.”
“You know, it means a lot that he’s out here,” said Sgt. Scott Patterson, a section leader with Wpns. Co., 3rd Bn., 6th Marines. “Most of the stuff that he talked about answered questions that Marines had going into the meeting. It took a lot of stuff off people’s minds, which is important, especially out here. He really drilled home the fact that the Marine Corps isn’t (pulling out of Iraq) anytime soon.”
Kent said he is proud of each and every Marine serving here and is proud to be serving next to them in the Marine Corps.
“You all will continue to live the Marines Corps’ legacy and we are extremely proud of what you are doing,” he said. “When I retire in a couple of years, I’m going to retire knowing that the Marine Corps is in good shape for many years to come because of Marines like you. I will tell you all that in my more than 30 years as a Marine, the Marine Corps has never been in better shape than it is right now.”
A few days prior to his stop in Iraq, the Kent and Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James T. Conway, visited with Marines of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit and 2nd Bn., 7th Marines in Afghanistan.
Kent said he was astonished by the Marines’ morale given their living conditions, and compared their dedication to Marines serving here.
“The Marines were ankle deep in dust, sitting on (Meals Ready to Eat) boxes,” he said. “One platoon is separated by about 60 clicks from their company headquarters, but when the Commandant and I talked to them, they were all happy as hell, just like you.”