AR RAMADI, Iraq -- For some Marines, joining the Marine Corps is the fulfillment of a life-long dream to serve in the finest fighting force in the history of the world. For others, it’s a chance to prove themselves against the toughest challenge the U.S. military has to offer. For Lance Cpl. Evan Magallanes, however, it was all of this and more - it was a family tradition.
Magallanes, a rifleman with Company K, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, wanted to come to Iraq to do his part in the war on terrorism and is working hard with his fellow Marines to help secure the city through two historic elections.
“I mean, coming here was what I wanted to do,” said the 21-year-old, Hutchinson, Kan., native. “But it was more than that; it was a calling and a family tradition. It felt natural to deploy to Iraq, almost like I had to do it. My father, mother and grandfather were all Marines and I guess it was just my turn.”
Now that he is here, Magallanes says that the progress made during his time in country is becoming more and more tangible. The city, while still a dangerous place, is getting better.
“It varies from day to day,” he said. “Some days things go smoothly and we complete our missions with no contact from the enemy. But when things go bad, we are ready for it. In our time here, we are getting the sense that Iraq is starting to stand on its own two feet.”
Good examples of the progress being made here are the growing capabilities of the Iraqi Army. The Marines have worked closely with the IA since coming here in early September and are preparing them for the day when they will take responsibility for the city’s protection.
“From what I saw last year and the progress they’ve made this year, it’s been impressive,” he said. “They handled the December election all by themselves and it’s just another example of what they are capable of. They are doing a great job and working hard to get better. I think they can do it; I have confidence in them. But, if they can’t, we are here to make sure everything goes smoothly.”
Although it’s hard being deployed, the work and the chance to experience a different culture and language is well worth the time and effort, according to Magallanes.
“It’s difficult, but I don’t look at it that way,” he said. “Doing this just falls under the sacrifices we make to live in the country we do. When I first got here, I just felt like this is what I am supposed to do.”