17 October 2008

U.S. Troops Return Fallujah facilities to Iraqis

It was great to see that the USMC is pulling Marines and equipment out of Camp Fallujah this week. I watched Fox News video today of the dismantling of this huge military industrial installation. Since John Wroblewski and I spent some time there during our February - March 2008 embed with the USMC, it was very surreal (but also inspirational!) to see once familiar landmarks/buildings/barriers being torn down in conjunction with the withdrawal of all of our troops from this (formerly) huge complex. Now the Iraqis will have full control over their destiny within the city formerly known as the headquarters of AQ's insurgency.

I had heard about the possibility of this turnover of Iraqi territory to Iraqi Army/Police control while I was in Iraq in early 2008. It is inspiring to see the installation being turned over to the Iraqis, announced by Major General John Kelly (MNFI-W CMDR) during a press conference today. Some of you may remember that Maj Gen Kelly personally escorted John and I (along with PSD CO) to the ambush site in Ramadi on 6 Mar 2008 where John's son, 2nd Lt. J.T. Wroblewski, along with ten other Marines and a Navy Corpsman were killed in action on 6 April 2004. The memorial service conducted by John Wroblewski and Major General Kelly was aired on Fox News by Jennifer Griffin of Fox News on Memorial Day, 26 May 2008.

USMC Maj Gen Kelly heard about the "mission" that I had planned through my (outstanding!) Public Affairs Officers Major Peters, USMC Msgt Ellerbrock, and enabled us to complete this historic first visit to the actual site in Iraq by a Gold Star parent to honor the sacrifice made by their child in their service to the U.S.A.

I applaud the USMC 2-8, USMC 3-1, USMC RCT1 units; USMC Maj General John Kelly, USMC Ltc Bargeron, USMC Maj Peters, USMC Cpt Martin, USMC Lt T. Vickers, USMC Msgt Ellerbrock, USMC Ssgt Forsythe, USMC Ssgt Cazee, and USMC Cpl Angel (USMC Combat videographer who videotaped the 6 Mar 2008 memorial service in Ramadi to honor these fallen heroes), along with the U.S. Army's 3rd ID PAO staff (Cpt Signori, Cpt Richardson, Ssgt DeMaio, Ssgt Kimber, Ssgt Moriarity, Ssgt B. Taylor IV (thanks for the sunglasses as they were a lifesaver!), Ssgt R. Spencer, Sgt E. Burmeister, Ssgt D. Veitch. The list goes on...and I know I have omitted some key personnel, but I WILL thank everyone publicly via this forum or a publication soon. I have NOT forgotten your hospitality, professionalism, and assistance!

Without EACH of these men and women (and MANY others during the mission phases) that performed their jobs flawlessly along with a smile on their face, John and I would have failed in our 2nd attempt to get to Ramadi. Thank you again, men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces! Your sacrifices and patriotism are my inspiration and motivation!

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