CAMP AL ASAD, Iraq -- The Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Robert Magnus, toured various Marine camps in the western Al Anbar province and visited with Marines deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Accompanying him during his visit was Lt. Gen. Jan C. Huly, director of Plans, Policies & Operations, Headquarters Marine Corps; and Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, Mr. Harvey Barnum, who is also a Medal of Honor recipient.
“You are allowing the Iraqi people the ability to build their own country,” said Magnus while speaking to a group of Marines outside the Regimental Combat Team – 2 headquarters here.
“There is slow but steady progress happening out here,” he added. “The battle here is to convince the people that the strong is also the good.”
The trio visited the Marines of 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, at Camp Al Qa’im; the Marines of the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion at Camp Korean Village; and the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) at Hit.
Barnum, who served in the Marine Corps in Vietnam, had this to say about modern Marines:
“The Marines haven’t changed. The equipment has, but the basic Marine is still the basic Marine. If they went to Parris Island or San Diego, they’re the same as ever,” said Barnum.
Barnum received the Medal of Honor in Vietnam for, according to the award citation, serving as an artillery forward observer while attached to Company H, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment. During heavy action Dec. 18, 1965 in the Quang Tin province in South Vietnam, Barnum – then a first lieutenant – immediately began searching for and identifying targets for artillery bombardment.
When the company commander was mortally wounded, Barnum gave aid to the Marine then took command of the rifle company. He rallied and organized the Marines and led a series of counterattacks against an entrenched enemy, often exposing himself to horrendous enemy fire to inspire and motivate his Marines.
Immediately following, Barnum directed two attack helicopters to strike key positions all the while directing a rifle platoon in its attack on an enemy position. He then requested the dead and wounded to be evacuated and assisted in the mopping up and final seizure of the battalion’s operational objectives.
“That was a different war, a different time,” he said.
The Assistant Commandant wrapped up his tour back at Al Asad. Some of his stops in the country included visits to Camp Taqaddum and the Marines of Marine Logistic Group – 2, having just changed their name from the 2nd Force Service Support Group, as well as Marines from the 2nd Marine Air Wing, Regimental Combat Team – 8, and the 2nd Marine Division.
He finished his message to his troops by saying:
“America needs you here as much as Iraq needs you here,” he said. “The (Commandant of the Marine Corps) and I are extremely proud to be wearing the same uniform as you.”