COMBAT OUTPOST RAWAH, IRAQ -- Marines and Iraqi children alike within the western Euphrates River valley realized presents don’t always have to be specially wrapped with bows; they can be enjoyed just as much in a cardboard packing box.
First Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion dropped off food and grilling supplies at Combat Outpost Anah, and Combat Outpost Reyanah showing their appreciation for the hardships the Marines in Company L, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2 have endured on the small outposts they patrol and keep watch over.
Sgt. Nicholas M. Pacione, a mortar section leader with Company L, and Lance Cpl. Johnny E. Tambunga, a rifleman with the company, were among the Marines who received the surprise chow drop from 1st LAR.
Pacione, a Round Lake, Ill., native who works on COP Anah, said the chow would be a welcome relief from the meager Meal Ready to Eat he is used to.
“We are going to love this, we’ve been here for six to seven months with MREs and eating this good chow is going to be great,” agreed Tambunga, an Ozona, Texas, native, who works on COP Reyanah.
As the Marines with 1st LAR unloaded their gifts, one of the workers could be heard singing his version of holiday carols.
Each COP received a grill, charcoal, 120 portions of steak, 24 portions of chicken, various sodas, cookies, canned fruit, pudding, condiments, and hand sanitizer.
“Some of these guys probably haven’t seen anything as simple as canned fruit in months,” said Staff Sgt. Robert J. Downing, a York Beach, Maine, native, and 1st LAR’s battalion mess chief.
The chow drop was just the first part in the operation, the second half was dedicated to delivering toys, clothes, and school supplies to the Iraqi children within the small village of Reyanah.
The 1st LAR Jump Team parked their vehicles in a small clearing in the heart of the village and handed out paper, pencils, soccer balls, shoes, and other things to the small children who had gathered to watch them arrive.
Many of the same children, along with their parents, waved and gave ‘thumbs up’ when it was time for the team to depart the area.
One small boy, a yellow soccer ball in his hands, skipped away from the group of Marines shouting happily in Arabic and yelling two words over and over, “Thank you! Thank you!”