CAMP RIPPER, Iraq -- Rebuilding Iraq is a long difficult process, but then there are Marines like Cpl. Freddy Medina, who help the country and its people get back on their feet.
Medina, an Annandale, Va., native and a member of the 5th Civil Affairs Group (CAG), Regimental Combat Team-2, goes out with his team to work with local community leaders to help in this effort.
“We go out to Rutbah, Akashat, Turaybil and Waleed and start missions that will help rebuild the infrastructure of these cities,” he said. “We also assess the utilities they have like water, power and anything like that.”
Medina sits in on meetings with the town officials where they discuss what the needs of the town are and how to fix the problems.
The 5th CAG then helps the town leaders identify funding to rebuild schools, improve hospitals, create family health centers and fix roads.
“We give the kids shoes, soccer balls, toys and school supplies. Those things help them in everyday life,” said 23-year-old Medina.
The 5th CAG also started a jobs program that offers new employment opportunities to Iraqi people in the area.
The unit’s civil affairs efforts are going well; meetings with local leaders and city officials are primarily productive; but recently the unit ran into some obstacles.
“We started out pretty well,” Medina said. “We got a lot of things accomplished.”
Despite some hostile activity from insurgents, which has slowed his team’s efforts a bit, Medina felt that they would get things done.
“We will push on through and get more things accomplished,” he said.
Medina is on his first deployment to Iraq and is here for seven months, which he feels is not enough.
“We start projects and we do not get to see the end results due to the amount of time it takes them to get finished,” he said.
Medina and the other members of the CAG also show the Iraqi people that the Marines are here to help rebuild their country while completing these operations.
“We break the stereotype of what they think Marines are,” he said. “When people meet us, it gives the Marine Corps a different face. They see us in a different light.”
Although Medina joined the Corps for the college money, he has found that he gained a lot of life experience during his time in Marines.
“At first I joined for my education. I wasn’t able to afford college by myself. But over the course of the years, I learned a lot about myself and was able to overcome challenges in my life,” Medina stated.
This newfound self awareness and confidence also transfers into his faith in their mission here.
“I believe in the cause. I think that we are doing great things here. We are making a lot of progress helping the Iraqi people,” Medina said. “Our mission is to help the people of Iraq in any way possible.”