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Photo by Lance Cpl. Paul Robbins Jr.

3/4, Iraqi Army help turn former base back to school

17 May 2005 | Lance Cpl. Paul Robbins Jr. 2nd Marine Division

A full company of the Iraqi Army’s 2nd Battalion, 4th Regiment, 1st Division, gathered in the yard of a schoolhouse here in the early morning with a mission they deemed crucial…helping the children get their education. The A’lia Primary School for Boys, once used as a base by 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines, Regimental Combat Team-8, received new blackboards, erasers and boxes of chalk from Iraqi soldiers May 17, in an attempt to better the learning environment of the children. “The education of our children is very important,” said Col. Monam Hashim Fehed, 2nd Battalion’s commander, “We just hope we can continue to help in the future.” The visit, and donation of supplies, to the schoolhouse was brought forward, organized and executed by Fehed and the soldiers of the battalion, according to Army Sgt. 1st Class H. H. George Luedtke III, a 38-year-old team sergeant for 5th Civil Affairs Team Alpha One, in direct support of 3rd Battalion, 4th Marines. “We just gave them the boards, chalk and erasers,” said Luedtke, a native of San Francisco, Calif. “They did the rest.” Iraqi soldiers hung the new blackboards (the primary tools of instruction in Iraqi schools) in each classroom, carried in all supplies and spoke to each class of young students. While at the schools, Fehed spoke to each class of children, expressing that the Iraqi Army was not only here to fight terrorists but also to help the people in the city as well. “We believe the Army should serve the people and hope we can help the renovation process move along quickly,” Fehed said. “It was very important that [coalition forces] turned the school over to the community.” The school opened April 30 when Marines and Iraqi forces pulled out of the building to give it back to the community. The following day, the classrooms filled with eager students and proud teachers. “It had always been the plan to give the school back to the community as soon as possible,” said 34-year-old Capt. Stephen J. Nagel, the battalion’s information operations officer. All schools in the battalion’s area of operations have been returned to the community, according to Luedtke. With all of the schools returned and coalition forces donating much needed supplies, Iraqi and U.S. forces here continue the process of giving the city back to the people. “We want to help the people of Fallujah to lead normal lives once again,” Fehed said.