Friday, September 10, 2004

A Respite from Politics: A Marine Colonel's Report from Fallujah

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The Greenside is a web page maintained by a Marine family:

Lt. Col. David G. Bellon was commissioned as an officer in the Marine Corps
in 1990 after graduating from law school. He remained on active duty until 1998,
then continued as a reserve officer while building a law practice in Oceanside.
In January 2003, he went to Iraq to serve in the infantry during the invasion.
He returned home in September of last year and was sent back to Iraq in February
2004. Bellon, who is serving in the volatile Sunni Triangle, has a wife and two
children, ages 4 and 6. He hopes to be home by Christmas. His family maintains a
website, http://www.thegreenside.com , on which they post Lt. Col. Bellon's letters to his father.

Here is Lt. Col. Bellon's latest post, which I recommend to everyone. You can subscribe to The Greenside and be notified whenever Dave sends a new e-mail to his family. I highly recommend them:


Email from Dave - Sep 8, 04

9/9/2004 9:41:49 PM

Dad,

As you have heard, we lost 7 Marines to a suicide car bomber the other
day. We also lost 3 Iraqi Special Forces Soldiers. All were
exceptionally brave men. The Marines are from a battalion that has fought
as hard or harder than any other here in Iraq. These were the guys that
were knee deep in the hardest fighting in Fallujah back in April and who have
been going hard ever since. Even more tragic is that they were close to
getting out of here.

As heart broke as the Marines of the battalion were, last night they
really took it to the insurgents inside of Fallujah. Contrary to what
might be in the media, the mission was not "retribution" for the suicide
bombing. It was part of a regular operation that was slightly accelerated
in light of what happened. We had been watching the city for quite a while
and killed many, many terrorists last night. The battle lasted for hours
and hours later, we were still getting secondary explosions off of objectives
that we destroyed. You must have faith that the Marines are giving much
better that we get.

Such action does not lessen the pain for the Marines who lost their
buddies but it gives them a chance to fight and that is what they want. I
saw the SgtMaj for the battalion that lost the seven Marines the morning after
the explosion. He told me "there is still plenty of fight left in them"
(the Marines). Sure enough, that night (last night), they delivered.
Regardless of what the enemy throws at them, the Marines will always be laying
in the tall grass looking to take the fight to them. There is a major
effort to "keep the noise level down" and stay out of the news but it does not
mean that the Marines are not out there every day performing. I cannot say
it enough, they are amazing.

The Iraqi Special Forces soldiers were outraged by the attack and were
also full of fight afterwards. They wanted to go into Fallujah that day
and attack the muj. Their commander stood in front of them and told them
to bide their time. It came soon enough. They participated in last
night’s action and did well. In fact, we just took on 200 more recruits
and continue to have high expectations for them. These guys are under
constant threats. When they go home on leave, it is not uncommon for them
to have to move their families around in order to avoid kidnappings or murders
of not only themselves but their entire families, children and all. We
just spoke to them today about having faith that we will win and to believe that
things will get better. In fact, I am much less tolerant of Americans who
are losing their stomach to see this through. These Iraqis have never
known freedom and have no idea what life could be life if they see it through,
yet they put their lives on the lines based on nothing but faith.

Having seen the tragedy in Russia this week we cannot help but shake
our heads here and wonder when the rest of the civilized world will wake up and
realize that we are in the middle of a struggle for civilization. History
will show that the outcome of this struggle will be no less critical to our
collective future than WWII. Islamic Fundamentalism inspired terrorism is
mutually exclusive to peaceful coexistence with anyone who does not buy into
their twisted view of the world. For the masses of appeasers who are still
blabbering on about "dialogue" and concessions, I would simply offer that what
transpired in Russia is not an aberration. The enemy we face here is the
same one that murdered the children in that school, is the same one that flew
the airplanes in the towers, and is the same one that bombed the train in
Spain.
Perhaps even more sobering is that as horrific as these events are,
they pale in comparison to what they aspire to. Believe me, if they could
get into a school in Wichita or Sacramento, they would gladly do it and convince
themselves along the way that they are doing God's work as they ape for the
cameras before killing as many innocent people as they can. The
"recruiting videos" that we capture contain graphic scenes of beheadings,
tortured confessions and insanely violent rhetoric. Even after what we
have seen, it is hard to watch them. The enemy celebrates them.

History will be unkind to those leaders who do not have enough faith in
their people to be honest enough with them to clearly state that the free world
is now engaged in a war with extremist criminals who have literally been praying
for this confrontation for decades. It is not "life as normal." It
is beyond imagination how "experts" can get on the news shows and blame Russia
for what happened in that school. Russia is no more to blame than the US
is to blame for 9/11 or Spain is to blame for what happened this spring.
As ugly as it is, it is a fight to the finish and we must fight it that way or
we will pay the price.

My roommate and very good friend left last night. He was the
operations officer for the Regimental Combat Team. That equates to the
quarterback with the CO being the head coach or owner. We both arrived at
the Regiment in January and became fast friends. Truth be told, he was as
much a mentor/teacher as friend. Prior to returning to the Fleet, he
coached football at the Naval Academy. It amazed me as an entire
generation of young Naval Academy grads seemed to worship the guy. We
could not go into a chow hall anywhere without having a Lt walk up to him and
say "remember me." Several days ago, one of his former players was killed
in an ambush. It was not the first of his former students to be killed out
here but this one hit Sparky hard. He was very close to the Marine.
The officer's father contacted Sparky and asked him to bring his son home.
Even though his absence here leaves a huge hole, I know that his presence and
strength will be some consolation to the family.

Love,

Dave

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