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POLITICS1 Goes to War with the
1st Battalion/23rd Marines

Editor's Note: Politics1 "adopted" the 1st Battalion/23rd Marines -- an infantry battalion of reservists from Texas (and neighboring states) deployed to Iraq in August 2004. Lt James Crabtree, a regular Politics1 reader, belongs to the battalion and he submits regular dispatches to us. Anything you can do to show support for these brave yound men and women is greatly appreciated (regardless of whether or not you support the war). If you'd like to send them any care packages -- and they'd certainly be appreciated -- please send them to: Lt Crabtree, 1/23 H&S Co, Unit 41900, FPO, AP 96426-1900 -- and James will distribute whatever you send to many of the Marines in the 1/23d.

Editor's Second Note to the USMC Families: I've received notes from several of you unhappy with the heavy Democrat slant of the banner ads that run in the left-side column. It takes money to run Politics1, and those are PAID ads. If a campaign -- or a political group -- wants to buy an ad here, I'll only reject it in the rarest of circumstances. We've run ads in the past from candidates associated with the Democratic, Republican, Green, Libertarian and Constitution parties (plus MSNBC, the Wall Street Journal, New Yorker magazine, Fox, and others). If your favorite candidate buys an ad: I'll likely run it.


Paul HansenOCTOBER 28, 2004: REPORT FROM IRAQ: IRAQI SPECIAL FORCES ... AND A CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE IN THE 1/23. Before we get to our latest report from Iraq by our friend and special correspondent Lt. James Crabtree of the 1/23 Marines in northwestern Iraq, we learned an interesting political tie to one of the guys in the 1/23. It turns out that LCpl Paul Hansen of 1/23 A Company is also the Libertarian nominee for Congress in Texas CD-8. Hansen, who works as a UPS supervisor and is also an activist in the Texas Libertarian Party in his civilian life, was among the 1/23 Marines who shipped off to Iraq back in August. That said, on to James' report ...

Dear Readers of Politics1.com,

Greetings once more from the desert of western Iraq. I've got lots of interesting items to share with you and will do my best to fit them all into this update. First off, we are really seeing the effects of the radio calls we did a few weeks ago. The letters and boxes are starting to come in better then ever. It's truly inspiring to get letters from people that say they saw us on this webpage or heard us on the radio. It does wonders for boosting morale. We've also received more correspondence from our Texas elected officials: Congressmen Jeb Hensarling, Randy Neugebauer, and Congresswoman Kay Granger sent nice personalized notes wishing us well. We also got a letter from California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. I've made sure to add these great letters to our growing "Wall of Thanks" in one of the main hallways.

We've also had a lot of good fortune in setting up more radio calls. Today the Marines and sailors called in again to "The Sam Malone Morning Show" in Houston on KRBE 104.1FM. It went great! Tomorrow the Austin folks will be on the air once more with Sammy and Bob on KVET 1300AM, and on Friday the San Antonio area troops will be heard on KISS FM 99.4. The two upcoming calls will both be aired at 8 am Central. I'm continuing to work on arrangements for the Corpus Christi/Harlingen and Shreveport areas, but have not had much luck as of yet.

The focus of today's update is on some of our new neighbors here in Camp Lonestar: the Iraqi Shawani Special Forces soldiers. I've been able to spend some time around them and they are a really friendly and hard working group. Here's my report ...

Sgt Sullens, me, and HM2 Saba (on the right side) with a
platoon of the Iraqi Shawani Special Forces.

The young Iraqi Lieutenant smiles easily and laughs as his American counterpart tries to speak in Arabic. For the ever friendly and outgoing Lieutenant Nehad (I'm using his first name only for security reasons), it is a pleasure to attempt to teach an American Lieutenant how to speak in his native tongue. Tall, skinny, and only 25 years old, Lieutenant Nehad has seen and done more in his life than most people would ever hope to endure. Hailing from a large family in a nice Baghdad neighborhood, he graduated from Iraq's prestigious military academy. Like his grandfather before him, he chose to serve as an officer in his nation's military. He has now seen a regime he hated fall from power and lives in a country that is truly facing some gigantic obstacles. Still, he is full of optimism about his future though and it's easy to see why after spending some time with his men.

The "Shawanis" are named after their founder -- General Shawani -- and are the hardest working and best-trained troops Iraq has to offer. General Shawani is now the head of Iraq's intelligence office and -- as someone whose sons and brothers were killed by Saddam Hussein -- he is bent on ensuring that his nation never returns to a dark period like Saddam's reign. The Shawani soldiers appear to be a positive step in that direction. They range in age from 17 to 55, come from all over the country, and are very eager to learn tactics and techniques from the US Marines. 2nd Lt. Scot Kleinman, 25 years old and a graduate of UC San Diego, has been tasked by 1/23 to train the Shawanis. He is assisted by Sgt Andrew Sullens, 26, a Texas A&M student from Katy, Texas; HM2 Scott Saba, 37, a paramedic from Plymouth, MA; and Sgt Tim Weaver, 27, a heavy construction equipment manager from Crosby, TX. Together, the four of them must work with the interpreters to teach the Shawanis everything from fire team maneuvers, first aid, spotting land minds and IEDs, to speaking basic English and ensuring that the Iraqis are properly paid and feel at home within the camp.

Sgt Sullens works with a Shawani soldier on fire team tactics.

The only one in the group of the Shawanis that seems to speak any English is Lieutenant Nehad, but all of his men are gregarious and quick to learn. It is with a good deal of enthusiasm that they run through their fire team assault practice and also shout words they learn like stop, mine, danger, and weapon. The Marines respond in kind with the Arabic word for "good." As Lieutenant Nehad says, "We are like brothers. We work together." It appears that his men fully embrace that comment. "It's an honor to teach them because they are so eager to learn and do well," says Lt. Kleinman. "These guys are the future of Iraq and they pick things up really quickly." Sgt. Sullens agrees and adds, "There is a great deal of mutual respect between us and the Shawanis. You can tell they want to learn everything they can." Each period of instruction begins with a joke told by one of the interpreters and surprisingly some of the jokes actually translate well in Arabic.

Some of the Shawani Special Forces (SSF) guys and me.
Despite the looks of it in the photo, they are really friendly folks.

Over the course of dinner in the chow hall with a USMC officer, Lieutenant Nehad talks more about his family and his life. "I have never been outside of Iraq. Saddam would not allow officers to leave country," he says. He then smiles and says, "I have never been to Mecca. One day I hope to." He also adds that he is not married because, under Saddam, he felt like he did not earn enough money to have a wife. Lieutenant Nehad is greatly interested in learning more about America. His dinner companion tells him that he wants to teach him about baseball and the Lieutenant smiles and says he will teach his "brother" how to play dominoes. This moment is one that probably would never make the news. The simple dinner conversation wouldn't be a sensational enough story for the "if it bleeds, it leads" style of journalism, but in reality it is conversations and experiences like this that must happen everyday if Iraq is to eventually become a free and peaceful country. These events happen far more than most people will ever realize and they -- and not more bombs or money -- are the true answer for how to make this country the type of place where Lieutenant Nehad can one day raise a family in peace and prosperity. Until then, the Shawanis and Marines will continue to train and work together as brothers.

Well, that's all the time and space I have for this report. Thank you as always for all of your support!

Semper Fi,

If you'd like to send the 1/23d any care packages, please address the packages to Lt Crabtree, 1/23 H&S Co, Unit 41900, FPO, AP 96426-1900 ... and James will ensure that whatever you ship gets distributed to the Marines in the 1/23.

OCTOBER 17, 2004: REPORT FROM IRAQ: KEEP OFF THE GRASS. Our latest report from Iraq by our friend and special correspondent Lt. James Crabtree of the 1/23 Marines in northwestern Iraq.

Dear Readers of Politics1.com,

Hello once more from Camp Lonestar at the beautiful Al-Asad air base. At my request, my Mom recently sent me a Sonny and Cher CD because I wanted a a copy of their song "I've Got You Babe." For those of you who remmeber the Bill Murray comedy "Groundhog Day," you'll know why I asked for that song. Many days it feels like everyday here is a repeat of the day before, just like movie. In that film, he awakes every morning to the sound of Sonny and Cher's hit blaring out of his radio alarm clock to find he is, yet again, stuck repeating the same day. Each morning now in the battalion's S-1, we play that song as a tribute to our lives here in Iraq. It always seems to make us laugh. Perhaps it'll become our theme song.

This sign was recently posted in good humor outside our headquarters here
in order to make sure our "nice" landscaping stays so immaculate.

Anyone that followed the news over the last week knows that our area was busy for us, but I'm glad to report everyone here is well. Lance Corporal Spivey was shot in the leg, but he's going to make a full recovery and stay here with us. He was the Marine that was quoted in the ASP Dulab story I wrote about the Iraqis fishing with hand grenades. He and two other Marines also did a phone interview with the Shreveport Times yesterday. Our Marines did an exceptional job in their operations and the full details of their operations will be told down the road.

We've also received a recent influx of care packages. The Houston Texans football team sent us a bunch of DVDs of one of their football games. It was a nice surprise. Another nice surprise has been an increase of females back in America wishing to correspond with some of our single Marines. I don't think anything makes these guys happier than getting a letter or an email from a pretty girl. One of those letter was from Melissa Salter and her fellow sorority sisters of Kappa Delta Sorority of Louisiana Tech. They said they read the updates on Politics1 and want to adopt some of our Marines. They also enclosed a nice photo of four of the sorority sisters. They are all attractive and it made our day to get a photo like that, as we don't see a lot of pretty stuff out here. We also got a nice letter today -- along with a US flag that was flown over the US Capitol building -- from Congressman Silvestre Reyes (D) of El Paso, Texas. It's awesome to get something like that. I've hung the flag up in one of the main hallways of our headquarters building along with all of the other letters we have received from elected officials.

This week I'm going to revive our "Marine of the Week" series by profiling Lance Corporal Jason Hagerup from our Weapons Company based out of Austin, Texas. Hope you enjoy meeting him.

Jason Hagerup

In a land that can sometimes turn quickly hostile and dangerous, the Marines of 1/23 have an ace in the hole for any problems they may encounter by calling forth their Quick Reaction Force (QRF). They are a well- trained unit that can spring into action and make an unpleasant situation much better with some skillful driving and a few well-aimed rounds from their weapons systems. For Lance Corporal Jason Hagerup, a 22-year-old from Seguin, Texas, the days spent on the QRF are much like being a fireman waiting for the alarm to sound. As a .50 caliber machine gunner, Jason is in a position to get the job done should the need arise. With a laid back demeanor, he willingly talks about his experiences driving through the Iraqi country side and describes the times he's been able to interact with the local population. "The Iraqi people are usually friendly and the kids are like kids anywhere. They always want candy," says Jason. He also recounts the pleasure he has had in trying to speak with those Iraqis that have a broken grasp of the English language. Perhaps his enjoyment from speaking with the local population springs from the fact that as a student at Texas State University in San Marcos, he is a Mass Communications major.

Being a .50 caliber gunner requires that Jason stand inside of the vehicle's ring mount during the entire mission and be ready to use the powerful weapon if need be. He describes riding in the ring mount as being "Like skiing in the desert. You just hold on tight to the .50 cal's spade hand- grips, the wind blows in your face and against your goggles, and there is sand as far as you can see." He has also had his mind put more at ease since his arrival here in the theatre of operations. "I think I was actually more nervous about this deployment during the time we spent in California training, prior to coming here, than I am now. While we were in the U.S. the situations were notional, but here they are actual and I can see exactly how our training applies to what we do here. That gives me a certain peace of mind that I had not yet found before we got here," explained Jason. Even with all of the proficiency and training however, he ads that he still "breathes a sigh of relief and takes a deep breath" whenever his patrol finally returns back to the relative safety of the camp. Once back inside the wire he says he tries to get something to eat, wash off the dust as best he can, and get some sleep. He never knows when the next call may come. One thing he does know however is that when he gets back to the states he plans to take a trip to visit his Grandfather in Chicago -- a place where vehicles cruising down the JFK or Dan Ryan Expressway don't have .50s despite the fact their owners might wish they did.

Well, that's all the time and space I have for this report. One last note: most of the Marines here are very excited about the Houston Astros amazing late season run. The way we figure it, with all of us here in Iraq, it would be our luck that the Astros will probably win it all. Also, the squadron that shares our camp with us flies C-130 transport planes and is based out of the NY area. They call themselves The Yankees and wear the New York Yankees insignia on their flight suits. It would have made for some interesting conversations if the Yanks and Astros had squared off against each other in the World Series. Maybe Steinbrenner -- in his rage over being beaten by the BoSox -- will now dispatch George Costanza over here to make the squadron either pay royalties or remove their insignia?

Semper Fi,

P.S. The Houston area Marines are making another phone call to The Sam Malone Morning Show on KRBE 104.1FM on Wednesday, Oct. 27th at 6:10am Houston time. Hopefully a bunch of the Marines that were not on last time will be able to get on this time.

If you'd like to send the 1/23d any care packages, please address the packages to Lt Crabtree, 1/23 H&S Co, Unit 41900, FPO, AP 96426-1900 ... and James will ensure that whatever you ship gets distributed to the Marines in the 1/23.

OCTOBER 17, 2004: REPORT FROM IRAQ: SANDSTORMS, POLLING PLACES, AND TEXAS CONGRESSMEN. Our latest report from Iraq by our friend and special correspondent Lt. James Crabtree of the 1/23 Marines in northwestern Iraq.

Dear Readers of Politics1.com,

Howdy. Hope all is well with you and yours back in CONUS (Marine-speak for the Continental United States, though they still use that term for Hawaii and Alaska, too -- so who knows what that is all about).

We're busy here right now and I'm sure -- if you have been following the news -- you will have a pretty good idea about some of what our Marines have been up to.

I just wanted to share a photo with you that I took on Tuesday of a really strong sandstorm that served to make everything look orange. I had to venture out in it for a bit and it was a surreal experience. Everything looked like what Voyager saw when it landed on Mars.

We've also been able to keep up our "Operation Write-In" campaign. Here's a picture of some of our Marines filling out their ballots at our little polling place. We even printed up and posted "Vote Here Aqui" signs to make everyone feel more at home.

Finally, we got another great letter from a Member of Congress yesterday. Congressman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) -- from the Panhandle area -- sent a nice letter that referred to us as the "Fighting Texans," mentioned that he enjoyed seeing our updates on Politics1, and said he's sure the families appreciate them as well. I've added his letter to our growing "wall of letters" in our headquarters building.

That's all I have time for now. I'll write another update again when I can. Thanks for everything! Oh, and today -- well, the day that I'm writing this -- is the Navy's birthday. Happy Birthday Navy!

Semper Fi,

P.S. I also got an email from Bob Cole yesterday of KVET radio and he said, "this was the single greatest radio-event I've EVER been a part of. Thank you very much, let's begin planning the next one." I feel the same way and once we can we are going to set up phone calls to radio stations in San Antonio and Shreveport as well.

P.P.S. Just have one quick note to add: Congressman Gene Green (D-TX) -- who represents Houston -- sent us a huge box of stuff that arrived today. It was filled with beef jerky, power bars, pens, flags, pocket US Constitutions, toilet paper, etc. It was awesome to get it. He also enclosed a nice personal note as well as a letter he sent to the Marine Corps Commandant about improving our phone system for our Marines. I just hope that the powers that be in the USMC don't come down on me, because I was never complaining about our phones in the updates. I think I simply mentioned in one update that the waits for a phone could be long. I never expected a US Congressman to take that issue up with the Commandant! I showed my CO the letter the Congressman had sent to the Commandant -- as well as what I've written about the phones -- and the CO laughed and said not to worry about it. I'd never said anything untrue or critical about the phones anyway, but I just wanted to give my CO a heads up just in case. Thanks for everything. I think this shows how many folks read Politics1.

If you'd like to send the 1/23d any care packages, please address the packages to Lt Crabtree, 1/23 H&S Co, Unit 41900, FPO, AP 96426-1900 ... and James will ensure that whatever you ship gets distributed to the Marines in the 1/23. If you'd like to read more about our adopted 1/23 Marine battalion in Iraq, please click here.

OCTOBER 12, 2004: PARTICULARLY OBNOXIOUS BLOGGERS (AND CENSORSHIP). I've received a whole bunch of complaints in recent days that I should block one particularly obnoxious blogger from making further postings -- particularly on the threads related to the 1/23 Marines. While I have blocked a few individuals from posting here in the past, I am unable to do so in the case of individuals who connect to the net with unassigned IP addresses through some of the larger ISPs (AOL, cable companies, etc.). The blogger many of you have complained of is among those who fall into this category. Blocking him would only result in a very temporary blocking of his access. However, I would offer a suggestion: ignore him entirely. And, if needed, I'll delete any inappropriate postings by him. Finally, I'd remind everyone that the wonderful thing about free speech is that it more easily allows us to identify the village idiots who live among us.

OCTOBER 12, 2004: RADIO CALLS AND ABSENTEE VOTING. Our latest report from Iraq by our friend and special correspondent Lt. James Crabtree of the 1/23 Marines in northwestern Iraq.

Dear Readers of Politics1.com,

Howdy once again from the Al-Anbar Province of Iraq. Our battalion continues to be busy in our area of operations and I've got more things to write about then I have either the time or space for. These updates seem to be growing more and more popular based upon the volume of emails and letters I've received about them. In fact, in the last week I've gotten letters from four Texas Congressmen: Sam Johnson, Martin Frost, Ralph Hall, and John Carter. They represent both major parties. Each wrote a really great letter in support of our battalion and all of them appear to have seen the updates on Politics1 because they mention things in their letters that they wouldn't know about otherwise (or they come right out and say they enjoy the updates). This is a nice surprise. I've posted these Congressional letters in a main hallway in our building so that all the Marines and sailors can see them.

GunnerySgt Sepeda and SSgt Mireles wait in line, while
LCpl Alanis speaks on the air with Bob Cole on KVET.

Well, this past Friday we were able to use our satellite based phone network to call in live to "The Sammy and Bob Show" in Austin on KVET radio. The folks at the station were exceptionally generous to us. In fact, our Marines ended up spending over a half-hour on the air during prime morning rush hour. The producer told me later that they have received a tremendous response from folks that called in to the studio wanting to write letters and send care packages. You can now go to www.kvet.com to listen to clips from the program. My only regret is that many of the Marines from the Austin area had spent the day conducting operations and were unable to make it to the phone. The good news is that KVET wants to do the call again, so we should be able to get some of the guys on there that missed-out last time. I also want to extend my thanks to Jay Vise, Bob Cole, and Sammy Allred for making the call possible. They were great to us throughout. It's also interesting to note that Bob Cole sounds the same off the air as on.

Friday actually turned into a full-blown Austin media day as some of the Marines also spoke with KLBJ-590 AM for a recorded radio interview and also with Fox-7 TV in Austin. Each of those calls was conducted late at night here in Iraq and most of the Weapons Company Marines were well asleep by that point. I can't say I blame them. They'd been up since 0100 and had spent a day conducting a sweep through a town near us. I'd say it was definitely a case of sleep being more important than the opportunity to speak to a reporter in Austin.

Last night was the big UT vs. OU football game. Our battalion recently received a nice big screen TV and put it to good use (above) with over 150 Marines packed into a tent to watch the game via the Armed Forces Network. Most of those watching were for the Longhorns, but there was a small and vocal group that was glad to see OU win. As a Longhorn alum, I was disappointed to see them lose, but I was grateful that so many of the troops were able to escape their surroundings for a few hours. It was also nice to be able to see green grass and rain on the TV. What a sight!

This Wednesday I'm kicking off our Operation Write-In campaign. We have 500 Federal Absentee Write-In Ballots for those who have still not received their requested absentee ballots. No one from Travis County has received a ballot yet, so I'll be voting this way too unless my ballot shows up by the 13th. Luckily many other counties and parishes were much better than Travis County and thus many of the Marines and sailors have already cast their votes. I'm just glad we have the write-in ballots as a back up plan. The write-in effort will go for 24 hours a day for three straight days. We plan to have all the ballots mailed by the 15th in order to get them to the county clerks on time. I'm also hoping to take a trip to our forward operating base in Hit (pronounced "Heat") in the next few days in order to see Charlie Co and give them their ballots. I spoke with their CO, Major Rodriguez, today and he's all for it. I guess when I get down there you could say I'm in Hit (Heat.) Well, maybe that doesn't sound so good. Ha.

Well, that's about all I have time for in this report ... except for this: I've enclosed a photo of a directional sign that SSgt Moser and Sgt Sullens came up with a la the old TV show M*A*S*H. It has directional arrows for all of the main towns that our Marines and sailors are from, as well as some spots like Timbuktu and the North Pole. The sign is located in the heart of our camp.

Finally, I hope these reports read like a conversation between you and I. They certainly aren't being written to win a Pulitzer or impress any Shakespearian scholar. Take care and thanks for everything!

Semper Fi,

P.S. Secretary Rumsfeld visited our base today. He didn't get down to our area to see the 1/23 Marines, but its still cool that for a moment we were on the news because of his visit. The radio here played a news report from the states that said "The Secretary of Defense made a surprise visit to a Marine base in Iraq today....." Shoot, we knew about that a week ago. It's just an example of things we know about that the media isn't aware of.

P.P.S. The parents of LCpl Schick -- the Marine who recently suffered serious injuries -- started a website called www.jacobschick.org. Check it out.

If you'd like to send the 1/23d any care packages, please address the packages to Lt Crabtree, 1/23 H&S Co, Unit 41900, FPO, AP 96426-1900 ... and James will ensure that whatever you ship gets distributed to the Marines in the 1/23.

OCTOBER 7, 2004: REPORT FROM IRAQ: ROAD TRIP. Our latest report from Iraq by our friend and special correspondent Lt. James Crabtree of the 1/23 Marines in northwestern Iraq.

Dear Readers of Politics1.com,

Greeting once more from ever-sunny Al-Asad, Iraq. Yesterday I received a letter from a mom in Washington who has a daughter assigned to a Marine support unit here at Al-Asad. She had seen these updates on the webpage and did not have a mailing address for her daughter yet, so she sent the letter to me and asked that I deliver it for her. I feel a bit like the character in the movie "Saving Private Ryan." This is a large base and -- as an infantry battalion -- we are well away from the support units. But, Mrs. Rattray, rest assured that I'll get the letter to her -- though it may take some time.

Rather that profile one individual Marine this week for our "Marine of the Week" series, I decided this week to write about one of our Marine platoons. Hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed spending time with these motivating Marines.

The old Iraqi Ammunition Supply Point (ASP) located in the middle of the desert in Dulab is a quintessential example of barren desolation. Everywhere one looks they are confronted by the stark imagery of hot powdery sand and thousands upon thousands of old unexploded pieces of ordnance. The Marines of Bravo Company are the ones responsible for guarding this huge and remote location in order to keep anti-coalition forces from stealing and using 155 howitzer rounds and the like for improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Virtually everyday an Explosive Ordnance Disposal unit detonates a large portion of the ammo so that it will never be used. The days on this post are often long and exhausting, but these Marines understand the vitality of their mission and enjoy being able to show a visitor how they do their job.

The other day I was fortunate to be able to go out on a convoy to ASP Dulab with the Marines from the 3rd platoon of Bravo Company based out of Austin, TX. Led by Staff Sergeant (SSgt) Jesse Noriega, a 30-year-old police officer from San Antonio, Texas, "Bravo 3" was to conduct a Relief In Place (RIP) with their counterparts from Bravo's 1st platoon, which is from Bossier City, Louisiana. SSgt Noriega, as the convoy commander, had to ensure that every Marine in the convoy understood the mission and their role in the event that the convoy struck a mine or was attacked by an IED or small arms fire. After the last details had been covered in depth, it was time to mount up and head out of the gate. Marines who had been joking and talking moments before now quite literally put on their game face as they headed out into the sometimes unforgiving wilds of Iraq.

On the road to ASP Dulab.

One small child waved as the convoy drove past his town and he pointed at his mouth in the hopes that someone would toss him candy. Iraqi vehicles that appeared to defy the laws of physics and engineering rumbled past the convoy in the opposite direction. The road to ASP Dulab is only two lanes wide, but it is considered a main highway to the Iraqis. The Marines maintained a constant watch along the route looking for anything that might indicate that a landmine or IED is near. This is no small task at 50 or 60 miles an hour. Fortunately the convoy encountered no problems along the route and ultimately arrived on time to the small command post manned by Bravo 1.

A message written in sandbags on the hill overlooking ASP Dulab.

From the top of the hill, the view in all directions looks like this.

Bravo 1 is led by Captain Shayne McGinty of Bossier City, Louisiana. His platoon was staged and ready to conduct the RIP with SSgt Norreiga's Marines. As soon as the change over was completed his Marines would be able to return to the friendly confines of Camp Lonestar and for the first time in days be able to take a shower, eat a hot meal, and sleep in a bed. Needless to say, Bravo 1's morale was high. As always, the details of how exactly the posts are stood and what the platoon does to accomplish its mission can not be told to the general public, but it requires everyone in the platoon doing their share and involves many long and lonely nights. Lance Corporal (LCpl) Kenneth Avery from 1st platoon is a 31-year-old employee of Halliburton from Shreveport, LA, and he describes ASP Dulab well when he says, "It is a getaway in the middle of nowhere. It's like you are lost from the rest of the world." LCpl Jesse Spivey, a 29-year-old financial analyst for State Farm from Bossier City, LA, has spent nine months with Bravo Company and he echoes LCpl Avery's sentiments. He also tells an interesting account of seeing some local Iraqis in the Euphrates River. "One day one of our patrols was near the river when we saw a huge splash and a few seconds later heard the sound of an explosion. It turned out the Iraqis were fishing in the river with hand grenades," said Spivey. This is certainly something that most American game wardens would not allow.

Marines from Bravo Company at one of their many
Observation Posts (OPs) that surround the perimeter of ASP Dulab.

After all of the changing over was completed Bravo 1 bid adieu to Bravo 3 and began the trek back to Al-Asad. The convoy, like its predecessor, ran well and it wasn't too long before we arrived back within 1/23's camp. For LCpl Justin Page, the return to the battalion's area is bittersweet in some respects. The 24-year-old Texarkana, TX, native has been with the company for four years and says, "I'd rather be out there so that we can catch someone." Thus far Bravo Company has seen its share of action and has been successful in keeping the ASP securely guarded despite its enormous size.

Often times Marines like to speak of the Corps as a spear and they say that those out on the patrols and standing the posts are the ones that are on the "pointy tip of the spear." Marines like LCpls Spivey, Page, and Avery are typical of the Marines in Bravo Company and are proudly part of that pointy tip. It is a pointy tip that hangs over the heads of the terrorists like the Sword of Damocles.

Well, that's all I have time for in this report. Please keep the letters and packages coming and thank you for all of your support!

Semper Fi,

P.S. Sgt Garcia-Ovando, who as a Cpl was the first Marine of the Week profile sometime back, was promoted to Sgt on October 1st. Congratulations to him and all of our Marines who earned promotions this last month.

P.P.S. One note to add is that the live call-in to the "Sammy and Bob Show" on Austin's KVET 1300AM/98.1FM is set for 7:10 am this Friday. I'm pretty excited about it. This is the top rated radio show in Austin, has been around for years, and I used to listen to it on my way to high school.

If you'd like to send the 1/23d any care packages, please address the packages to Lt Crabtree, 1/23 H&S Co, Unit 41900, FPO, AP 96426-1900 ... and James will ensure that whatever you ship gets distributed to the Marines in the 1/23.



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