A son comes home from war, a crucial campaign has been won in Fallujah, and the homecoming of 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, Golf Company, a unit which has performed heroically in Iraq, is as remarkable for who didn’t show up as who did.
In answer to ten thousand prayers, our son, who has earned the Combat Action Ribbon, has come home safely from Fallujah. 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, Golf Company, arrived home on Tuesday, October 16th, from Fallujah, Iraq. Families were ecstatic to see the busses finally arriving at Camp Lejeune from Cherry Point.
The busses arrive at Camp Lejeune from Cherry Point, to waiting family, most of whom had been there for two or more hours.
I had what I believed to be a reliable offer to embed with the Marines and report from Fallujah, but this offer dried up, and I was left with the wonderful reporting by Jim Spiri and Bill Ardolino, along with some of my own research, all of which was better than any report from the main stream media.
It has been a hard ride for me as father of a warrior. Upon the inevitable reports of deaths of Marines in Anbar (without names being released as is the practice), I found myself unable to sleep many nights, and I spent some amount of time at the front door waiting on that visit from Marine officers that thankfully never came. I will find a way to embed with 2/6 the next time they deploy, God willing.
But it has been a productive seven months for the Marines in Fallujah. With the advances against the insurgency in Ramadi and other parts of Anbar, Fallujah (and the surrounding area) had become a safe haven for rogue elements and a veritable witch’s brew of foreign terrorists and indigenous insurgents who were using this area of operations as a launching point not only for attacks in Fallujah, but Baghdad and other areas. It was the last stronghold of the enemy in the Anbar Province, and without pacification of Fallujah, Anbar could have been turned against coalition forces and the tribal “awakening.”
Upon arrival at Forward Operating Base Reaper by 2/6, the security situation had badly degraded in Fallujah, but due in no small part to the bravery and hard work of the 2/6 Marines, it has been reported that last week there was not a single military casualty — Iraqi or U.S. — in Anbar.
The 2/6 Marines (and in particular, Golf Company, 3rd Platoon), engaged in more kinetic operations than reported in the main stream media or the Multinational Force, and 2/6 engaged in more reconstruction and rebuilding activity than reported. From intense fire fights and endless patrols, to gated communities and biometrics and sewage system reconstruction, Fallujah is a model for counterterrorism and counterinsurgency. It occurred at an accelerated pace, as if counterinsurgency on speed and steroids. It will be studied in war college classrooms for decades to come – or at least, it should be.
We stayed on Emerald Island, the Southernmost island of the Outer Banks, 20 miles from Camp Lejeune and an extremely well-kept secret and absolutely lovely and wonderful place. The next evening after receiving our son home, we fed him and six other Marines steak and all of the sides. They ate an enormous amount of beef that night, and we listened to stories until very late. It was a good time, and we knew that we were in the company of heros of Operation Iraqi Freedom, brothers to Marines who preceeded them in the great battles of the South Pacific – men, 21 and 22 years old, who had already played a pivotal role in something more important than most people will ever experience in an entire lifetime.
The day 2/6 Golf Company arrived home, only I (as a Milblogger) and Terry Nickelson were there to report on it (Terry embedded with 2/6, and is doing what he hopes to be a PBS special on Chaplains). For the next few days I monitored both the Jacksonville Daily News, and the Camp Lejeune news (The Globe), and there were no reports of 2/6 coming home.
Victor Davis Hanson observed approximately a year ago of the brave troops in battle in Iraq that “The safety of millions of brave Iraqi reformers, the prestige of the United States and its military, the policy of fostering democratic reform in the Middle East, the end to the nexus between failed autocracies and scapegoating the West through terrorists; success of the Bush Administration; the effectiveness of the Democratic opposition; the divide between Europe and America; the attitude toward the United States of the Middle East autocracies; the reputation of the Islamic terrorists — all that will be adjudicated by the verdict in Iraq. Rarely have so many ideologies, so much politics, so many reputations been predicated on just a few thousand American combat soldiers and their Iraq allies.”
Indeed. Those brave warriors recently returned to the States, and only their loved ones were there to greet them. I can recall not too long ago the press reports in the main stream media of returning warriors, their accomplishments, and their losses. It has all become so very passé, now, and few pay attention to the details. This attitude prevents us from feeling the grief that parents feel from the losses of Lance Corporal Dale G. Peterson, Lance Corporal Walter K. O’Haire, and Lance Corporal Jonathan E. Kirk; it prevents us from experiencing the joy that others feel upon the safe arrival of their sons or husbands; and it prevents us from being reminded of why we sent these men to war.