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An Iraqi boy happily holds up a sign near Baghdadi, Iraq, Saturday which an older Iraqi boy wrote in English for him on paper that was donated by the Freemont County School District Number One in Wyoming. Select Marines with Headquarters Company, Regimental Combat Team 5 are conducting operations at Combat Outpost Timberwolf as a provisional rifle platoon. The PRP is made up of non-infantry Marines trained to do a basic rifleman's job. Routinely the Marines here interact with the locals and pass out school supplies to the children to help with the locals needs.

Photo by Cpl. Shawn Coolman

Iraqi children in need; RCT-5 Marines answer the call

13 May 2008 | Cpl. Shawn Coolman

It is better to give than to receive; a common phrase said by many Americans takes on new meaning for many children in Iraq who don’t have much to offer.   

Select Marines with Headquarters Company, Regimental Combat Team 5, are acting as a provisional rifle platoon, which takes non-infantry Marines and trains them to perform a basic rifleman’s job. These Marines man Combat Outpost Timberwolf near Baghdadi, Iraq, and have taken a special interest in the welfare of the local children. 

“One of the things we do out here is to take care of the locals by providing them with the basic needs that they may not have,” said Lance Cpl. Rodolfo Ceja, 22, a supply warehouse clerk, who is from Chicago. “Especially the little kids, we try to give them food and school supplies that they need.”

“Every time we go on convoys, we try to take whatever we have and pass it out to the little kids,” said Ceja, who is a vehicle turret gunner for PRP. “And whenever the people are complaining of (an illness), we send our corpsman down to them so he can give them medication to make them feel better.”

An arrangement was made between one Marine of PRP and his hometown school district to get the local children additional school supplies they need.

“The kids over here go (crazy) over school supplies,” said Sgt. Charles B. Lock, 22, a radio technician and 1st squad leader whose hometown school district, Freemont County School District Number One, Lander, Wyo., sent over 300 pounds of school supplies to the Marines of COP Timber Wolf.

Through the donations, the Marines here are able to supply the children with much needed supplies that they may not be able to obtain otherwise.

“We focus a lot on the little kids because they are the future of Iraq, and if we can win their hearts now, we don’t have to worry about coming back to this country again later,” said Ceja.

The efforts of the Marines at COP Timber Wolf appear to be paying dividends for the future relationship between the local Iraqis and Coalition forces.

“They help us out, and we help them out,” said Lock.

“We are trying to show the Iraqis that we are not the enemy and that we are here to help them,” said Ceja. “Every single time we get to interact with the locals, we do it to show them we are here for them.”


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