FORWARD OPERATING BASE HIT, Iraq -- As part of their tour of Marine forces in Iraq, a small delegation from Washington, D.C. recently visited the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) at Forward Operating Base Hit, Iraq.
Among the group was General Robert Magnus, the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, Lt. Gen. Jan C. Huly, the Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies and Operations, and Col. Harvey C. Barnum Jr. (USMC, Ret.), the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Reserve Affairs).
After an update on the MEU’s ongoing and planned counterinsurgency efforts with the 2nd Marine Division in Iraq’s Al Anbar province, the three were given a brief tour of the base where they met and chatted with a number of Marines before reboarding their helicopter to resume their tour of Iraq.
For any young Marine, meeting a general officer is in itself a rare occasion, but getting face time with Col. Barnum was something special.
In 1965, Barnum was a 25-year-old Marine artillery officer in Vietnam when he assumed combat of a rifle company after its commander was killed during a vicious firefight with communist forces. He immediately reorganized the badly mauled company into defensive positions and led a series of counterattacks that eventually destroyed the enemy forces, all the while directing close air support and medical evacuation of wounded Marines.
For this feat, Barnum was awarded the Medal of Honor, and during a subsequent tour to Vietnam, received the Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars and one Navy Achievement Medal for valor. He retired from the Marine corps in 1989 and held a number of key government positions until his appointment as Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Reserve Affairs) in 2001.
“It was a big morale boost to have a man of his stature come all the way out here to shake hands with Marines and talk to them for a while,” Corporal Stephen M. Koren, of Belleville, Mich., a motor transport mechanic with MEU Service Support Group 22.
In addition to MSSG-22, the MEU consists of its Command Element, Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 2nd Marines, and Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261 (Reinforced).
For more information on the 22nd MEU (SOC)’s role in Operation Iraqi Freedom, visit the unit’s web site at http://www.22meu.usmc.mil.