GORTAN, Iraq --
After a month of religious observation and fasting during Ramadan, Iraqi Muslims celebrated their holiest night with Eid ul-Fitr on Sept. 29, or the “breaking of the fasting period.”
In anticipation of the holiday, Iraqi Police and community leaders, with support from Marines with Company C, Task Force 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, held a nighttime Combined Medical Engagement Sept. 25.
During Ramadan, participating Muslims do not eat or drink from dawn to sunset, making a daytime CME difficult to achieve. The CME was held after sunset out of respect for the Muslim holiday.
More than 200 Gortan citizens were seen by a local Iraqi doctor and doctors and corpsmen from 1st Bn., 2nd Marines, during the CME.
Gortan is a small community in the Habbaniyah district and the nearest hospital is in Ramadi, making it strenuous on the ill to make the trip for proper medical care, explained Petty Officer 3rd Class Andrew Harang, the company’s senior corpsman.
“It’s important we assist communities when we can, because it stimulates trust,” added the 23-year-old, New Orleans native. “At the same time it’s crucial the police get the face-to-face with the citizens.”
The security for the engagement was provided by Iraqi Police, with Marines with 3rd Platoon, Company C, acting in an over-watch role.
“As police, it’s our duty to serve the community and protect them from terrorists,” said an Iraqi Police Officer, who requested anonymity. “God willing, we allow for (engagements like this) to run smoothly so people can receive the help they need.”
Iraqi children gathered to collect toys and school supplies, which Iraqi Police handed out after children had been seen by the doctor. Hundreds of pounds of food bags were also distributed among the families in attendance.
“When it comes to the well being of the community, the Iraqi Police and Marines share the same goal,” said Harang. “A lot of the aid we provide is not (readily available), but with the police’s help we accomplished a good service for Iraqis.”