FALLUJAH, Iraq -- His friends here call him ‘Capone,’ and he has an interesting background. It’s not one involving gangs and street violence, however, as his nickname might suggest.
Quite the opposite, violent acts are the things this young Marine spends his days battling.
“I was about 11 or 12 years old when I came to the States, and I really didn’t know what was going on,” stated 18-year-old Lance Cpl. Guido Filippone, a U.S. Marine who was born in Rome, Italy. “My parents came here trying to find a better future. It took me awhile to adapt to the new culture, but I’ve never lost my heritage.”
Approximately six years ago, his father, Vittorio, and mother, Pasqua, immigrated to West Palm Beach, Fla., where they currently reside.
“That first year in the States sucked. I felt like I was living in a brand new world,” said Filippone, a 2004 Palm Beach Gardens High School graduate.
Despite the initial cultural shock, he began attending school and familiarizing himself with his new surroundings. All the while, Filippone kept in mind a goal he’d long held: to enlist in the armed forces.
“I’d always wanted to be in the military, and for me, it was a choice between the Army and the Marines,” he continued.
Allured by the Corps’ elite reputation, Filippone enlisted in the Marines in June 2004, approximately one week after graduating high school.
After several months of basic infantry training, he earned the title ‘U.S. Marine,’ and the military occupational specialty of 0311, infantry rifleman.
“I joined the infantry for the adventure, and to see the world, but I also wanted to be ‘right there,’” Filippone stated, explaining his desire to be at the center of the action. “I’m really proud to be a Marine because we always find a way to overcome tough situations. When people say ‘it can’t be done,’ we do it anyways.”
Currently, Filippone and his teammates from the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. based unit, Company C, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, are putting this ‘can do’ attitude to work as they patrol the streets of Fallujah to hunt down the remaining insurgents.
Every day brings a new adventure for the Marines. From manning sentry posts inside their downtown Fallujah base of operations, to walking the city streets and raiding insurgents’ homes alongside Iraqi soldiers, these Marines are determined to bring an end to terrorism in Iraq.
“The purpose of our patrols is to show the people that we’re here to help them,” Filippone explained. “We patrol the streets to gather information and provide a strong security presence. We’re here to help the people out, together with the Iraqi Security Forces.”
“When we go out and patrol, we’re like the eyes and ears for our unit, gathering intel, finding weapons caches and improvised explosive devices,” he continued.
Although the city remains safe due to the Iraqi soldiers’ and Marines’ efforts, Filippone’s unit remains ready to fight.
“When you go out on patrol, you plan your route, but you never really know what’s going to happen,” he stated. “You have to be ready to adapt and overcome to any changes.”
Filippone added that this deployment to Iraq has been a fulfilling experience for him
“These people had lived under an oppressive regime for so long and now they don’t have to live in fear anymore. I’ve seen kids go to school with actual backpacks and books. That’s something their parents probably didn’t have.”
As satisfying as this deployment has been for him, the young adventurer is ready to focus on other goals once his term of service expires.
“Since the beginning, I wasn’t planning to make a career of it,” Filippone stated. “I’m a family guy, and this takes a lot out of that. I believe the roughest part of being deployed is being away from loved ones. Right now, I have a fiancée, and I know she’s going through so much with me being there. I’m not the kind of person who would want to leave his wife and kids behind.”
Filippone will pursue other passions as he spends time with his family.
“I’m interested in doing something in the medical field, and I’d like to work in an emergency room. In this job, you’re saving lives everyday. If that doesn’t work out, I may go out for S.W.A.T.”
However, a part of Filippone will always stay Marine. The Corps has taught him lessons that will remain with him forever.
“I’ve never appreciated the small things like I do now, even things like a new pair of socks. I never thought a shower could feel like heaven. We’re so lucky to get warm food here, or just the fact that we sleep on beds here and not on dirt. I’ve learned how to handle tough situations, and these are things that will stay with me for the rest of my life.”