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Marines with Support Platoon, 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5 work on a traffic control point for the Iraqi Army in Baghdadi, Iraq, May 4. The IA have been working out of a schoolhouse that will soon be returned to the children of Baghdadi. The new TCP will allow the IA to continue providing security to the Baghdadi area.

Photo by Cpl. Shawn Coolman

A helping hand; 3rd CEB aids in turning school over to Baghdadi children

6 May 2008 | Cpl. Shawn Coolman

A schoolhouse once used as an Iraqi Army headquarters here is now being transformed back into a school house for the local children.

May 2 marked the beginning of the demilitarization process of the school along with the ground-breaking for a new traffic control point headquarters buildings directly across the street from the existing schoolhouse. The new traffic control point will allow the IA to continue to provide security to the Baghdadi area and give the school back to the children.

Support Platoon, 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5, worked around the clock over the past few days to complete the extensive mission of building the TCP.

Even though the Marines are putting in exhausting hours to complete their objectives here, they have high hopes for the local residents’ future.

“It’s going to give the IA a better chance to watch over the community and to ensure that the children have a safer environment,” said Sgt. Jay. S. Calles, 23, a motor transportation operator attached to 3rd CEB.

 “This (project) will let the children concentrate on their education instead of everything else that is going on in the country,” said Calles, who is from Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.

The schoolhouse is scheduled to be complete in August, one month prior to the beginning of the new school year here.

The Marines have been aiding the Iraqi people in improving the area for some time now.

“It gives me a good feeling that kids can start going back to school in the schoolhouse and the IA are moving across the street to the new TCP,” said Cpl. Luis A. Alvarez, 22, a motor transportation operator, 3rd CEB, who is from Fajardo, Puerto Rico.

A growing and persistent friendship is apparent between the residents of Baghdadi and the Coalition forces that inhabit the area around them.

“We want to show the Baghdadi residents how much the Marine Corps cares and how much they take care of the Iraqi people,” said Alvarez.