AR RAMADI, Iraq -- Sacrifice. It’s a word that is often thrown around when deploying to war. For some, it means foregoing college for a year; for others, it means being away from family for months at a time. For Lance Cpl. Geoffrey Heath, it meant missing the birth of his first child.
“I left a month before my wife had our first child,” said the Miami, Fla., native. “When I get home, I’ll meet him for the first time. We are here, making a little bit of history and for that, we all have to make sacrifices. This is mine.”
This is the 22-year-old rifleman’s first deployment. Being able to contribute toward the successful elections and having a hand in the progress made by the Iraqi Army is something that he had looked forward to since his days with the Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team.
“I was in a different unit before this that didn’t deploy and when they asked me where I wanted to go, I said to a unit that was deploying,” he said. “I had friends in 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, and I wanted to be part of an infantry platoon doing my part in this war, but really, I didn’t care as I long as I was able to come here.”
Since coming to Iraq at the beginning of September, Heath and his fellow Marines in Company K have been part of the main effort to secure the city and prepare the Iraqi Army for the responsibility of maintaining the security and peace here.
“We’re supposed to be here helping these people get back on their feet and sometimes, it’s tough,” he said. “We do information campaigns and the peace will last about a week and then we will find more bombs. The insurgency here is being backed up against a wall, which means we are doing our job and staying vigilant.”
A major reason for optimism in the battle against the insurgents here is the rapid improvement by the local Iraqi Army brigades. The Marines here concentrated much of their efforts on working with and training the IA and it is starting to show dividends.
“Even though we never work with the same group, they generally stay vigilant and work very hard,” said Heath. “They want to get better and that is important. Since we’ve come here and began working with them, there has been a significant change in how they operate. They take their posts more seriously and that has helped keep the number of (improvised explosive devices) down.”
While the dangers are still very real, Heath and his fellow Marines are noticing that their work is paying off and that the city does seem to be improving.
“Even with all the bad things that happen here, I am glad to be here,” he said. “It’s an important job and no two days are the same.”