HADITHA DAM, Iraq -- Soldiers from the Azerbaijani Army held a transfer of authority ceremony here Jan. 10 to usher in the new soldiers and say goodbye to the old ones who return home after their six-month deployment here.
Colonel Stephen W. Davis, Regimental Combat Team-2’s commanding officer, and Lt. Col. Jeffrey R. Chessani, commanding officer of 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, attended the ceremony to thank the outgoing soldiers and welcome the new.
First, a letter of appreciation was given to the Azerbaijani company. After Sgt. Maj. Edward Sax, sergeant major of 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, read the letter aloud, Chessani spoke to the troops about their support to the battalion during the past months.
“Thanks to you all, every night the Marines and I can go to sleep and feel safe about the security of this dam,” Chessani said to the formation of Azerbaijani soldiers. “You continue to be professionals and I see that everyday when I travel in and out of the base.”
The Azerbaijani company commander, Maj. Ramiz Eyubov, thanked Chessani and gave him a painting and an Azerbaijani flag as a token of appreciation.
“We will put this in our battalion headquarters so that we will always remember our time together here,” commented Chessani.
Davis, who traveled from Camp Al Asad to be at the ceremony, came up after Chessani and spoke to the Azerbaijani troops about their mission at the dam here.
“When I got here in February, I was glad to hear that our coalition brothers were here providing security for the dam,” said Davis. “Your support has helped make the dam a safe place for the Marines to operate from.”
To show appreciation for their hard work, Davis not only handed Eyubov a letter of appreciation, but also a personalized poster made up of pictures taken in the area. The poster is a way to remember the things they learned while in Iraq and the Marines they worked with.
According to Eyubov, their deployment has been a great way for his troops to gain experience in the Global War on Terrorism.
“Our country has terrorist attacks sometimes,” said Eyubov. “The experience we have all gained here will be used when we go home to keep our country safe.”
Now that the transfer of authority is complete for the Azerbaijani soldiers who spent the last six months here, they will leave to return to their home country, located along the Caspian Sea. The new Azerbaijani company will take over the posts around the base, protecting the dam from insurgent attacks.
Their main mission is to maintain entry control points and other observation posts looking over the Euphrates River and Lake Qadisiyah, a man-made reservoir for the dam. They spend everyday making sure the dam stays safe so the Marines can continue to work without fear of being attacked in the places they sleep.
“The company before us had a great relationship with the Marines here,” said Azerbaijani Army Capt. Anar Mustafayev, the incoming company commanding officer. “We hope to continue this great friendship and the level of proficiency the soldiers before us had.”