AAV Marine recalls units deployment to Iraq;
By Lance Cpl. Lucian Friel
| 2nd Marine Division | May 03, 2005
CAMP AL QAIM, Iraq --
As units supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004 and 5 end their 7-month deployments to Iraq and are replaced with fresh units, some Marines look back on their deployment in hopes of helping their successors be successful.
Sgt. Jose Jimenez, a crew chief with 2d Amphibious Assault Battalion, who's deployed to Iraq twice, believes it is essential to pass on experience gained on this deployment to those taking his and his platoon's place.
The Jacksonville, N.C., native and his platoon arrived in Iraq Sept. 13, 2004 set to support 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment in the Al Anbar province of western Iraq.
However, Jimenez ended up spend the next five months supporting 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment in Al Fallujah.
"We did a lot of mechanical patrols, raids and cordon and knocks. We were clearing house-by-house, sector-by-sector, and we were the primary medical evacuation vehicles," explained the 1999 graduate of Ridgefield Park High School, Ridgefield Park, N.J.
According to Jimenez it was the amphibious assault vehicles ability to take a hit and continue to function that made them successful.
"We had two vehicles take some armory piercing rocket propelled grenade fire that actually penetrated the vehicle," he explained. "We can take small arms fire with no problem. The big thing was improvised explosive devices and mines blowing the tracks off, but we didn't take any casualties, so we did pretty good out here."
This combat testing of his unit built Jimenez' confidence in his vehicles and the production of his team.
"I've gained more confidence in these vehicles, which is good because they're about 27-tons of aluminum and I wasn't too sure about them taking fire. But, it's done its job out here. During OIF 1 we left with twelve vehicles and only came back with five and this time we came back with all of them. So, I think this was a successful deployment," he explained.
According to Jimenez, they weren't able to get a lot of sleep and the days seemed to run into each other while they were in Fallujah. Still, he founds something he enjoyed about being deployed.
"The Marines we got here are good Marines, and I enjoyed the down time we had just doing fun stuff after everything was over. I enjoyed being a section leader and taking my Marines out here and bringing them all back," he explained.
Jimenez believes that conditions in Iraq have become better since his first deployment here in 2003.
"Communication to call home is better now. Before there were no phones, no showers, no chow hall and now, we have all of that. So, it's a lot better than what it was," he explained.
After five months in Fallujah, Jimenez returned to Al Qaim to finish out his deployment.
"We've encountered some ambushes out here, but mainly we've had a lot of IEDs and mines. There's really no urban combat out here, but it's still dangerous," he said.
The Marines with 2d AAB will soon be replaced by Marines with 4th AAB out of Norfolk, Va.
Jimenez has a lot of advice to pass on to them based off his experiences out here.
"Fourth AAB knows their job, and I think they'll do good things here. We're trying to leave these vehicles completely ready for them. They just need to know that it's real out here. Don't get complacent and use common sense," he continued. "I've been here for two deployments and it's been different each time and it's always going to be different. But, I know some of the guys replacing us and I'm confident in their abilities."
After all he faced in Iraq, Jimenez is preparing to return to the United States and to his wife, Laura, in Jacksonville.
"It feels good to be going home, but I'm not home until I'm off the bus in North Carolina, so until then, I'm still in the game, all of us are. But after two deployments to Iraq, I can't wait to get home to my wife," he explained.