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Marine Corps Connection: America's Expeditionary Force in Readiness
After fleeing Afghanistan as a 10-year-old, Lance Cpl. Behzad Razzada returned to his home country 14 years later as a member of the Marine Corps' Embedded Partnering Team (EPT), Combat Logistics Battalion 4, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward) to help Afghanistan "unite and fight for freedom." Razzada and his family left Afghanistan in 2002 after the Taliban came to power and their lives were threatened by the new regime. After spending three years in Pakistan, they eventually immigrated to the United States where Razzada joined the Marines following his second year of college. Currently, Razzada serves as an advisor and subject matter expert using his knowledge of Afghanistan to support his team's mission. "I'm extremely happy that I had this experience," he said. "What the EPT has done is make the Afghan National Army more confident in themselves and make them more capable when they are out there on their own. We accomplished our mission."
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Just getting in the Olympic boxing ring was a victory for Sgt. Jamel Herring. The captain of the U.S. Olympic Boxing team lost his first match in London to Kazakhstan's Daniyar Yeleussinov but overcame so much to get to the Olympics. Over the past few years, Herring has completed two tours of duty in Iraq and endured the loss of his daughter, Ariyanah, to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. "I thought about Ariyanah from the first moment that I stepped in the ring until the very last moment I got out of the ring," he said. "I was thinking about her, my country, my team, the Marine Corps...I was just going out there to fight for everyone in my heart."
Every day, Marines are challenged to do the right thing. But making the right decision is sometimes easier said than done. At an ethics stand-down at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., hundreds of Marines were challenged to evaluate their own moral code. The take-home message was simple: "You cannot shirk responsibility," said Lt. Col. David Bardorf, the commanding officer of Headquarters and Support Battalion. "You must train yourself to make the right decisions. Develop a sense of moral courage to make the right choice in the face of adversity." The July 27 seminar at Camp Lejuene is just one of many that will be held across the Corps in the coming weeks. The Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James F. Amos, has launched an ethics training program aimed at engaging every Marine to act ethically and responsibly both on the battlefield and the homefront.
Marines from the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the United States joined forces July 23 at Nightmare Range, Republic of Korea, to rehearse live-fire maneuvers and exchange tactics. As part of the exercise, Marines from both forces received hands-on training and experience firing the MK-19 automatic grenade launcher and the M2 machine gun. The training exercise is part of the Korean Marine Exchange Program (KMEP) 12-7, which aims to enhance the combined capabilities of both Marine forces. "I think this exercise provides us with an excellent opportunity to build a relationship with the U.S. Marine Corps," said Master Sgt. Lee Chong Sop, a medic with 8th Battalion, 2nd ROK Marine Division. "My goal for my Marines is for them to learn from the experience of the U.S. Marines and also to enhance a relationship with them." KMEP 12-7 continues until Aug. 14.
Helping to shape the next generation of civic leaders, 1st Marine Corps District Marines mentored groups of 16- and 17-year-olds and taught basic Marine Corps values during the Boys' State Conference June 24-28 at State University of New York (SUNY) in Morrisville, N.Y. The annual conference, sponsored by the American Legion, brings together more than 1,000 of New York's brightest young male leaders to broaden their understanding of American governance and instill in them a sense of patriotism. Having a Marine presence at the conference gave the young men a chance to interact with active duty Marines and learn about the Corps firsthand. "The discipline and teamwork that these kids have developed with each other in such a short time is directly attributable to the great work the Marines have done," said Capt. Jordan P. Then, Boys' State Marine Officer-in-Charge.
During a two-day visit to Australia, Lt. Gen. Kenneth J. Glueck, III Marine Expeditionary Force Commanding General, visited with Marines deployed Down Under and reminded them how crucial their work with Marine Rotational Force-Darwin (MRF-D) is to the Corps. "It's been a great opportunity for the Marines...to be able to come down here," he said. "They've done an absolutely superb job being the leading edge of the rotational force and paving the road for the future in Southeast Asia." The Marines with MRF-D are part of a bilateral initiative to establish a rotational Marine presence in Australia and in the upcoming months, MRF-D will conduct bilateral martial arts training, small-unit operations and other combat trainings in close cooperation with the Australian Army's 1st Brigade.
U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Gen John Kelly was named Commander, U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), following a Senate confirmation panel July 25. Kelly, who has been serving as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's top military advisor, will oversee U.S. operations in the Caribbean, Central America and South America, and he comes into the role aware of the ongoing challenges in the region, including drug trafficking, natural disasters, humanitarian crises, cyber threats, police corruption and organized crime. "I look forward to working with the men and women of U.S. Southern Command as well as the dozens of civilian interagency partners to continue the important mission and [ensure] the forward defense of the United States by building strong, capable partners who share in the cost [and] responsibility of safeguarding the hemisphere," he said. Along with this new billet, Kelly will pin on a fourth star, making him one of five four-star generals in the Corps.
As Afghan forces prepare to take the lead in combat roles, Marines and Afghan forces at Combat Outpost Castle in Helmand province held a command post exercise July 18. The exercise tested how the district level operational coordination center (OCCD) handles scenarios that occur on the battlefield. The OCCD acts as a hub for managing local Afghan National Security Force operations. Captain William Van Eaton with the Police Advisor Team, 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion said the scenarios included how to handle finding an improvised explosive device, how to properly call for an emergency medical evacuation and calling for Marine support in case the enemy overwhelms the Afghan forces. "We are learning a lot from our Marine advisors," said Soldier Abdul Bari, radio operator, Afghan Unformed Police, Khanishing District. "They are doing good things for us. If we face any problems we send it up to our Marine advisors and they help us as soon as possible. We like and appreciate their help."
U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker became the 75th Honorary Marine July 22 in recognition of his service alongside Marines throughout his highly distinguished 41-year diplomatic career as a U.S. Foreign Service Officer. "Those of you who know me, know how deeply attached I am to the Marine Corps. There has always been -- my whole career -- a special bond between me and the United States Marine Corps," he said. Gen. John R. Allen, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) coalition commander, presided over the ceremony. "We are honored to have you with us, in our Corps," said Allen. "For we Marines, we take very, very seriously the legacy of our Corps and what it means to wear the Eagle, Globe and Anchor." Crocker was nominated for the prestigious title by the U.S. Embassy in Kabul's Marine Security Detachment.
Biking more than 3,355 miles in two months, Marine Corps veteran Tim Tuomey arrived at Onslow Beach, Camp Lejeune, N.C. June 22, completing his cross-country bike trip to raise money and awareness for The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund. Tuomey, who dubbed his mission Operation Awakening, began his journey April 20, at Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, Bridgeport Calif., and biked through Tonopah, Nev.; Cedar City, Utah; Dolores, Colo.; Alexandra, Kan.; Buckhorn, Ky.; Damascus, Va.; and Jacksonville, N.C. Along the way, he raised more than $45,000 for combat-wounded veterans. "I'm just happy I accomplished my goal and raised as much money as we did," he said. It is fitting that Tuomey's journey concluded at Camp Lejeune, N.C., the same place he trained during his time in the Corps as a member of the 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division.
Just a quick note of thanks to Patty Everett. I arrived home from a week vacation to find a package from the Marine Corps Association. I was expecting to find one of the magazines I requested, however, I was pleasantly surprised to discover both magazines were inside. In a time when it seems no one cares about customer satisfaction I am gratified to discover that customer service is not a lost art at the MCA. Once again I thank you for your efforts on my request. It may have been thing but the effort made a huge impression.
Randall E Page
I'm so pleased to see all the great merchandise you are stocking and the awesome promotions. Your store was dissappointing a few years ago and I shopped only at Sgt Grit.
Now, I can find what I am looking for with you guys.
Member saying thanks to our Customer Service Representative, Skylar Hand.
Thank you so much for your help!!! I think you should be commended for your excellent customer service! You were extremely helpful and I was about to get upset about my order but you handled it before I could say anything. You are the best. Thanks again!!!
I received them this morning. Thank you so much for your help! you guys are awesome and you will have my business for any uniform or military need in the future as well as a hearty recommendation via word of mouth to anyone who wonders where they should purchase uniforms from!
Just wanted to let you know that I got the sword yesterday with time to spare. It showed up unscathed due to the excellent packing job despite the rough postal process. And most importantly it looks great and the Bahraini’s couldn’t be happier! Thanks again for all of your assistance.
Major Wayne Phelps
3d LAAD Bn XO
Security Force, Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan
Major Wayne Phelps
Colonel Ford, I have to pass this on because I'm in shock that I was able to Connect (on the first Ring), Chat and concluded my business with "Sharon" in less than 30 seconds, at the MCA-Office. I was taken by surprise. Why, I'm Not used to anyone answering the phone especially on the first ring. AND...a human being...a lovely lady with a disarming voice, which at first I thought was a recording. WOW! I commend THE MCA for doing such an outstanding service for its members...make me proud. Just think...I was not asked "if I knew my parties Extension."?
Wish I had a Blog...I would spread around how delighted I am. What transpired to me today is Rare, just doesn't happen anymore. See, I'm so impressed I'm blitzing you here.
I wanted to take a moment and thank everyone at the association for sponsoring the Ground Awards Dinner on 3 June at the Crystal City Marriott. My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and were tremendously pleased with the hospitality shown to us and the great accommodations. As well, I wanted to thank the association for the DVD of the event that was mailed to me. It is something that I will keep and treasure for the rest of my days. Again, thanks for everything.
Capt Chris Conner
I received the shipment of plaques, books and certificates today for
mail call. It was more exciting to me than candy or magazines! Thank
you very much.
1stSgt Thomas M. Burkhard
I received my blouse last Friday and want to thank you for your efforts
in getting things done. Also, please thank the tailors involved in
making everything right and please give my sincere thanks to those who
made the decision to make the necessary corrections at no charge to me.
That in itself says a lot about your organization. The blouse fits
like a glove and actually looks and feels like new.
Thank you and all the staff who had a hand in correcting a problem and making an old man happy. Semper Fi
Charles W. (Chuck) Harpe
You have been the easiest person I have ever dealt with since I have started MWR out here. You were very quick to respond to my every question and very knowledgeable about your work for an order over a phone that was my greatest experience. If you were in the Marine Corps Skylar I would write you up for a meritorious promotion. I will surely write it in my books to pass the word to the next MWR rep to continue the membership with you guys.
Sgt Richard Colmenarez
- Weekend Extra - July 28, 2012 (Magazine Page)
- Into the Fire: A Firsthand Account of the Most Extraordinary Battle in the Afghan War (Book Review)
- Ban the Bike (Article)
- Marines Mentor Afghan Police Force In Garmsir (Photo Gallery)
- A Battalion Reading Policy (Article)