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Gunnery Sgt. Gary M. Gonzales, the assistant team leader with Detachment 1, Civil Affairs Team 5, 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, inspects the outside of a building in Anah, Iraq, May 20, that is being refurbished after Coalition forces relocated. The building was previously a hotel that belonged to the local government. Until recently, the hotel was being used as a combat outpost and joint community center.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Paul Torres

All checked out: Marines turn over hotel to Iraqis

20 May 2008 | Lance Cpl. Paul Torres 1st Marine Division

As Coalition forces are beginning to consolidate and move out of Iraqi cities and towns, they are returning many of the military outposts to the people of Iraq.

A local contractor and an engineer from the city of Anah met with Marines from Detachment 1, Civil Affairs Team 5, 2nd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, to survey what used to be a hotel.

“The hotel had been used as a combat outpost by Coalition forces,” said Staff Sgt. Rick S. Sterner, 38, from Winchester Va., who is the team chief with CA Team 5.  “Since it has been demilitarized, the (CA team) is working with the local contractor to refurbish the building so it can be used as a hotel again.”

The Marines, engineer and contractor walked through the building room by room to inspect what damage had been done and what repairs needed to be made to make the building functional as a hotel again.

“Our main concern is to restore the structure and the grounds back to the way it was before it was being used by the military,” said Gunnery Sgt. Gary M. Gonzales, 39, from Alhambra, Calif., and the assistant team leader for CA Team 5. “We are not going to furnish the building with beds, desks, tables, lamps and chairs, but we are planning on fixing the electricity, plumbing and landscaping of the grounds.”

The local government originally owned the building and property. Once it is finished, it will be returned to the government to use at their discretion.

“The mayor has mentioned that it could be used mainly by the family members of people in the hospital,” said Sterner.

“There has also been some talk about having students who are attending the teachers’ institute stay there, said Gonzalez. “Whatever they use it for, it will provide jobs for the civilians, and it will be a source of money to fund further projects within the city.”

The project is currently still in the development stages, but once the paperwork is approved, it is not expected to take longer than three months to complete.

1st Marine Division