April 01, 2006

MARINES NOTICE THINGS :)



Hardened by the bitter experience of ambushes, roadside bombs and snipers, Marines on patrol in Iraq notice things.

They have to !

When they move through a village they size up groups congregated at corners or storefront doors. They scan faces. Are they welcomed? Feared? Ignored? They make mental notes and tuck away images that might be helpful on the next patrol.

They notice particular houses or buildings, walls or clumps of trees, irrigation ditches, junked cars. They notice things. Their lives depend on it !

The men of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, are no different. Their personal radars were scanning, scanning as they patrolled the dusty little town of Al Hasa back in January.That's when they noticed something at a particular house. That's why they showed up at that house last week. They roared up in a couple of amphibious assault vehicles. But they didn't kick down the door. They knocked. The family inside was surprised, but they weren't frightened. Greetings were exchanged. The small group of Marines seemed to be holding back smiles and anxious to get to the point. While on that patrol back in January they had noticed this large Iraqi family and particularly the cute little girl propped awkwardly in a big old rusty adult wheelchair. So, well... a bunch of the guys got together back at Camp Smitty and...

The Marines unloaded a shiny new pediatric wheelchair from one of their vehicles and rolled it into the house. The little girl had suffered a severe spinal injury in a car accident two years ago. The old wheelchair was the best the family could do for her. Until the Marines came.The family's faces lit up with the smiles. The incredulous father picked up his daughter and immediately placed her in the new wheelchair. He shook the Marines' hands, saying "Thank you,"



again and again. "They seemed pretty happy about it," said Cpl. Matthew Rivera. "We knew we had to help out in some way," said Staff Sgt. Charles Evers. The Marines didn't stay long. There were smiles and a few tears and then they jumped back into their assault vehicles and headed back to Camp Smitty.

I very much doubt you read about this little incident in your local paper, or heard about it on the TV news. I happened to spot it on one of my favorite military blogs -- www.Blackfive.net -- which tirelessly looks for things down in the nap of the earth in this war.

If you read Blackfive and some of the other "milblogs" you'd know that there have been thousands of such selfless little acts of humanity on the part of our military in Iraq and Afghanistan. I felt great pride when I heard about this little visit to an Iraqi house.

There's something about these Marines, these infidels, these Americans. Something special. And good. And right. A lot of us forget or ignore such acts. But one Iraqi family won't. Ralph Kinney

Bennett is a TCS contributing editor.

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