Photo Information

A Marine from Bravo Co., Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 2nd Marines gives local Iraqi children bags filled with school supplies in Hit, Iraq in an effort to engender goodwill between the Iraqi people and coalition forces, Dec. 30, 2005. BLT 1/2 is the ground combat element of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), which is in Iraq conducting counterinsurgency operations in Iraq's Al Anbar province with the 2nd Marine Division.

Photo by Cpl. Christopher S. Vega

BLT 1/2 makes friends in Iraq

9 Jan 2006 | Cpl. Christopher S. Vega

Hand in hand with combating insurgents around the ancient city of Hit, the Marines of B Company, Battalion Landing Team 1st Bn., 2nd Marine Regiment, are looking to build bridges between Coalition forces and the Iraqi people. First Lt. Chris Richardella and a handful of his Marines were recently able to deliver school supplies and sports items to children in neighborhoods surrounding their combat outpost. “Our first mission is to provide security and stability,” said B Company's executive officer. “But when we get the chance, we try to start on our secondary mission, improving the quality of life here,” said the Washington D.C., native. With that goal in mind, Richardella and his Marines loaded the back of a Humvee with backpacks filled with pens, notebooks and other supplies to take to a nearby elementary and middle school. Most of the school supplies were sent by church groups and other organizations in the U.S., while an international sports equipment company also pitched in by donating soccer uniforms. “These kids don’t have much, so any little thing we can give them, they are happy to receive,” said Richardella. “I encourage all my Marines to go out and wave or purchase items from the markets in town.” As for the individual Marine, most will readily part with candy and other trinkets like pens and pencils the Marines have during their patrols just to see the smile on the face of an appreciative Iraqi child. “It’s nice to see a smile on the children’s faces in city again,” said Lance Cpl. Brandon Howerton of Adairsville, Ga., and a forward observer attached to B Co. “I try to wave at everyone so they know we are here to help them, not overtake their country.” In addition to the school supplies, the Marines also donated extra lights and chalkboards to the school to provide an effective learning environment for the Iraqi children. Talks of building a public park with a volleyball and soccer field are also circulating around Bravo Company, proving there is more to the BLT then meets the eye. “These people could survive on their own if they had to,” said Richardella. “We are just trying to give them some added comfort. It’s like the bumper sticker reads, there is no better friend and no worse enemy then a Marine.” BLT 1/2 is currently deployed as the ground combat element of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), which also consists of its Command Element, MEU Service Support Group 22, and Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 261 (Reinforced). The MEU is currently conducting counterinsurgency operations in Iraq’s Al Anbar province. 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.
22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit