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Crystal anniversary of the Iraq War

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15 years ago: Day two of guarding the power station, and we continued to deal with civilians in depth at the gates of the power station, barraging us with questions as we continue to stand guard. Yet the people seemed friendly even getting cigarettes for  us smokers that did not have any on us. The staff of the power plant as well was friendly as they were happy we were there providing security for them. As the day passed we continued to be on our guard, but the threat of any violence seemed to fade.
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15 years ago: April 18th, 2003 About halfway into our third day of guarding the power plant, half of the detachment assigned to the power plant were ordered back to the battery main position. The remainder of us would remain in place for the next 24 hours while we awaited a relief from army units that were approaching the area. So despite the double duty, the lack of threats help the time. Over the course of our time at the power plant, we had build relationships with the staff and some of the family members and people around the area. It would be a shame to leave, but our mission was coming to a end. I often wonder to this day what happen to the old man who had shared his tea and bread and tomatoes with some of us.
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15 years ago: April 19, 2018 As the day dawned the remainder of us assigned to the power plant were told to pack our gear and standby. We were being relieved by an army unit from the 4th ID that had arrived in the city the night before. Once the army unit arrived we conducted a relief in place, and the Marines formed a perimiter for the vehicles to exit the power plant. Once the vehicles were formed into a convoy, we loaded up onto the trucks and Humvees and head back to the main position of the battery. Once we arrived, we moved to help our platoons load up our gear. The regiment was heading south. We assumed to Kuwait, but instead we would be consolidating with the rest of the division at a city before we would head home.
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Attention: The post from here on out will be more widespread since our mission changed once we left Baghdad. 15 years ago: April 20, 2003 We left Baghdad behind as we moved as a battery south on the main highways passing convoys of army trucks heading north. We were traveling to Al Diwaniyah to consolidate with the rest of the regiment and Division with the mission being ready for any tasking that may be assigned as we waited to head back to Kuwait, and possibly home. Once we arrived at a abandoned Iraqi Army base, the battery was staged in convoy form. Security was still a high priority but the morale was good as the Marines took care of equipment and personnel gear as we settled into our new home for the considerable future.
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15 years ago: Al Diwaniyah was a place where the regiment and Division had established itself for further tasking and awaiting the orders to head back to Kuwait and possibly home. But until then we were just waiting. Obviously we kept busy with classes, training, and maintenance, but we did find ways to entertain ourselves, with duct-tape baseball, someone had a football, as well some physical training. The Battalion's nuclear biological and chemical warfare team had set up the decontamination tent and turned it into a shower for the battalion. The water was cold but it was better than baby wipes and a canteen. But when mail came through, it was heaven. Care packages and letters from home helped morale immensely. What also helped morale is the short five minute phone call home on the Battalions sat phone. My phone call got cut short because of the stupid satellite but it was nice hearing mom's voice after so long. But the one downside of Al Diwaniyah was the bug that was making the rounds,aka the Al Diwaniyah crud, Saddam's revenge, Al Diarrhea. I got sicker than dog there. At first I thought I was dehydrated, turned out well I got the crud. Oh such as life in warzone.
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15 Years ago: On May 7th, we left Al Diwaniya and proceeded south heading towards Kuwait. After spending most of the day on the road we pulled off to the side and stopped establishing a perimeter around the site in which the battery, battalion and regiment had stopped. After watches were set, we Marines relaxed and joked about with each other doing what our brother Marines have done before. After spending the night on the side of the road, the Marines of the battery, battalion and regiment loaded back up and continued to head south towards Kuwait.It felt good to cross the border and head towards our LSA or Living Support Area, our mini base in the desert. We pulled in to LSA Matilda and pulled up next to the tents where we would be assigned. Once the Marines had offloaded everything we needed too, ground guides and the vehicles went to the mortar pool. Thus our time in Iraq had come to end, but the preparations to return home were just beginning.
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15 years ago today: Today about a group of 20 Marines with me being one of them were loaded onto the back of MTVR or seven ton trucks as they were called and sent to the main camp that housed the headquarters element for the MEF (Marine Expeditionary Force). I promised my buddy Moss, that I would bring him back a sub from subway. Once at the camp we were given a few hours liberty to make phone calls, eat at the fast food places (Burger King, Subway, Pizza Hut) to name a few and shop at the PX. So taking advantage of the time, I wondered about the camp taking in the PX, stopping by burger king to get a whopper, and standing in line for the phone. It being mother's day, I called my mom to wish her a happy mothers day, waking her and my dad at 4am with the call but needless to say they were happy to hear from me. Once our time was up, we loaded back onto the trucks and head back to Matilda and the battery. Another bright spot of the day was the Kuwaiti bus full of school girls who waved, smiled and danced on the bus as they saw us. It made us feel pretty good about that, and our mission. Today was a good day 15 years ago.
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15 years ago? The battery along with the battalion loaded up with drivers and A-drivers and convoyed down towards Kuwaiti Naval base south of Kuwait City to begin the process of cleaning the vehicles and gear for redeployment home. It would take several hours to get there, but we did arrive and began to start the process of washing down the vehicles and clean the gear. You know you are beloved by a country that your brothers liberated previously when that country's national police also escort you down to the Naval Base. lol. Thus began a busy few days for us, as we began the final preparations to leave for home. (The question mark is for the date of the movement. Records do not show a firm date when we left for the wash down.)
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15 years ago?: For the better part of two days, the battery, battalion and regiment washed down the vehicles as we continued our preparations to go home. Everything had to be inspected; from all the boxes and desk down to the bags. everything had to be clean from one spec of dirt. It was tireless job. We slept near the vehicles we were cleaning. The bright side was there was a chow hall and phone center at the base, so we were able to call home and get hot chow, as well as shower with the available shower facilites. Once the vehicles were deemed clear and passed inspected we staged them in a line and headed to a holding area to await boarding to the ARG to begin the long journey home. (Question mark notes no firm dates on record.)
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15 years ago?: Finally the vehicles were loaded on to the LCAC (Landing Craft Air Cushion) and transported to the USS Anchorage. The battery was loaded aboard in the passenger compartments of the craft and transported as well. once aboard the drivers and vehicles were offloaded into their spaces and the Battery was directed to their berthing spaces. Comm was directed to its own space. Of course the navy being the navy they were kind of smart asses about us being aboard, stating that they were glad we were aboard so they could go home. Of course the Marines not being outdone countered with You were at least eating three hot meals, showering, and emailing everyday. Laughter abound, but once everyone was loaded, the ARG set course towards the Strait of Hormuz and the journey home. (Question mark notes no firm dates on record.) 
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