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1st Battalion, 5th Marines, arrives at Ar Ramadi

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 2005370759
Story by Cpl. Tom Sloan

MARCH RESERVE AIR BASE, Calif. (Feb. 28, 2005) -- The Marines trudged up the steps of the idling 757 passenger aircraft that would soon carry them away from California. Other than looks of determination in their eyes, the warriors’ faces were like steel, showing little to no emotion.

Many of them are familiar with what awaits them in Iraq. It won’t be fun. They are going to combat again.

More than 1,000 Marines and sailors with 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, left California Feb. 27 for Ar Ramadi, Iraq, where they will support Operation Iraqi Freedom 3. This is the infantry battalion’s third deployment in support of OIF.

Their mission will be to provide security and stabilization for the Iraqi people, train the Iraqi Security Forces, help the Iraqi people govern themselves, enable them to communicate freely and help stimulate the economy, according to the 2nd Marine Division OIF 04-06 Handbook.

The Marines of 1/5 are preparing to take over operations from other elements of 1st Marine Division. The infantry battalion will join 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, as the second infantry battalion from 1st MarDiv to serve under 2nd MarDiv.’s banner during OIF.

They’ll do a turnover with the unit they are replacing, 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, according to Staff Sgt. Ramon E. Gonzales, platoon sergeant for Company C, 1/5.

“It’s going to be interesting to see the differences in how they do things compared to us,” Gonzales said. “We’ll learn what we can from them and improve on anything that needs improving.”

Keeping the insurgency at bay is key to mission accomplishment, Gonzales added.

“Keeping continuous pressure on the insurgents will help stabilize Ramadi,” he said. “Conducting patrols through our area of operations will help to keep this constant pressure.”

Gonzales added stabilizing Ramadi and training the ISF are essential ingredients in the battalion’s recipe for a successful deployment. The country will eventually be turned over to the ISF when they are capable of bearing that burden, which will mean the Corps’ presence won’t be required as much.

Winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people is important too.

“We want the local populace to know we are there for their benefit,” said Gonzales, the 30-year-old from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who has a wife and three-year-old son.

This is the second time he’s had to leave his family for war. However, this is the third time that Lance Cpl. Matthew J. Rapp, Company C’s administration clerk, finds himself back in Iraq.

“I’ve spent half of my career in Iraq,” said the 23-year-old native of Tucson, Ariz., while smiling. “I’ve spent the same amount of time back in Pendleton as I have here. It’s not so bad, though. The extra pay softens the blow a bit.”

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