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AR RAMADI, Iraq (April 9, 2005) - Iraqi children run out from their homes in a neighborhood here to greet Marines with 2nd Squad, 2nd Platoon, Company C, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, conducting a patrol. The infantry battalion has labeled the neighborhood the city's "Ghetto." Patrols here often include interaction with Iraqi children. Photo by Cpl. Tom Sloan

Photo by Cpl. Tom Sloan

1/5’s Charlie checks life in favorite neighborhood

10 Apr 2005 | Cpl. Tom Sloan

Marines with 2nd Squad, 2nd Platoon, Company C, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, patrolled a portion of their area of operations here that encompasses a rundown neighborhood.The Marines were providing security for Gunnery Sgt. Wayne B. McClam, the team chief for 5th Civil Affairs Group that is here in direct support of 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, as he “observed the (area) and determined the needs of the people living there.”The 37-year-old from Lake City, S.C., explained that he was checking to see if the neighborhood’s residents had electricity, running water and other basic living necessities. “We need to start a trash collection out here,” he said. “There’s a lot of trash in the streets and around the buildings.”“Building a school and medical facilities is also a possibility,” he said.McClam explained he would present his suggestions to contractors who would then employ local Iraqis to do the work. “We’re creating jobs for the Iraqis, which will help them get on their feet,” he continued, “CAG initiates and the local Iraqis fulfill it.”The patrol was also a chance for the Marines with the squad to do something they enjoy. “We always look forward to patrolling (the neighborhood) because we get to interact with the kids,” 25-year-old Sgt. James P. Conway, the squad leader and Orlando, Fla., native said as he and his Marines walked out the gate of their firm base, Camp Snake Pit, and began their foot patrol. “The people in this area are usually friendly.”The Camp Pendleton, Calif., based infantry battalion arrived here in late February and has been conducting security and stabilization operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom for more than month.Something, however, didn’t seem right to Cpl. Jeremy B. Herndon, a 25-year-old rifleman with the squad, as he and his fellow Marines arrived at their destination a couple hours past midday. The neighborhood’s courtyard, which is usually filled with Iraqi children playing soccer during this time of day, was empty. “There’s no kids out,” said the Christmas Valley, Ore. native. “There’s something wrong because there’s always kids out.”However, Herndon was soon relieved, as he saw a young Iraqi girl running out from a building to greet him. Others followed, and soon the area was filled with children bustling around the Marines.“I knew everything would be alright when I saw all the kids,” Herndon said. “This is how it is supposed to be. It’s usually packed with kids who mob us asking for candy and soccer balls.”Herndon and his fellow Marines gave out candy to the children who gladly took the sweet gifts in return for ear-to-ear smiles and thumbs ups.Staff Sgt. Ramon E. Gonzales, 2nd Platoon’s platoon sergeant, handed out leaflets to adult Iraqi men who followed their children out into the courtyard. The 30-year-old Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., native led a team of his Marines to set up an over-watch of the area - a position were Marines can observe the area from an elevated position such as a rooftop .They discovered barbed wire in an area they moved to, which Gonzales said could’ve been placed there by insurgents.“I think they know our (standard operating procedure) and put this wire here to try and slow us down when we set up an over-watch of the area,” he said. “It’s not illegal to have wire, but they can’t have it here where we often work.”Gonzales added the building’s residents could be using the wire for other reasons.To find out, he had his interpreter ask a resident in the building who put the wire in the roof and for what reason. “The man said a guy living on the fourth deck put it there to keep kids from messing with the satellite,” he explained. “It could be true.”After McClam finished making his observations, he and the Marines with 2nd Squad made their way back to Camp Snake Pit.“The patrol went well,” said Conway. “It’s usually a safe bet that we won’t encounter any threats in the (neighborhood), but it’s always important to stay on your toes and be prepared. After all, complacency kills.”