COMBAT OUTPOST RAWAH, Iraq -- Usually when Marines pin on their new rank, they look to a mentor within their unit to do the honors but it isn’t uncommon for a loved one to step in to do the promotion either.
Newly appointed 1st Lt. Damon A. Doykos wanted his promotion to be important not just to himself, but to the entire Rawah community. Doykos, a platoon commander with Company D, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 2, was promoted by the mayor of Rawah, Iraq, Hamed Khalid Abrahim.
“The mayor lives in my area of responsibility, so we interact quite often,” said Doykos. “When he has a problem he comes to me, and vise versa. This is a symbol of our friendship, to show all of Iraq that the Marine Corps and the local civil leadership are working together.”
The promotion took place in the center of the city, which overlooks the Euphrates River, in a building Company D and the Iraqi Police share. The city council was also present at the ceremony to show their support.
“Hopefully this reaffirms in everyone’s minds the trust the city council and the Marines have,” said Staff Sgt. Steven A. Lefevre, a platoon sergeant with the company. “We have built a good bond together, and stuff likes this continues to broaden communication lines.”
Lefevre, a native of North Brookfield, Mass., also said the event reiterates that good things are happening in the country.
“No matter how bad it might seem to folks back home, this proves that progress is being made, and that we are moving forward in this country,” he said.
Doykos, a native of Sacramento, Calif., said one of the reasons he chose the mayor to pin on his new rank was to show the local citizens the battalion wasn’t abandoning them.
“More and more we have Iraqi police and Iraqi soldiers stepping in and doing things we used to do, taking over the city’s protection. I wanted to include the citizens to show them even though we are working towards that provincial Iraqi control, we haven’t forgotten them,” Doykos said.
The platoon commander said since the battalion has taken control of the city, attacks on coalition forces have dropped to near zero and over 60 individuals suspected of terrorist acts have been captured and detained. He said the trust between the council and the Marines has grown exponentially in the three months the unit has been in the area.
“It shows them we respect them as leaders to let them into what would be considered a ‘secret ceremony’,” said Doykos. “The city, and all of Iraq now, can see the Marine Corps isn’t here as a big secret club that takes over and controls everything, we are here on the individual citizen’s behalf, working with local city councils and government leaders toward a better Rawah, and overall a better Iraq.”