HADITHA, Iraq -- Third Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment briefly added a new Marine to their rolls here March 27.
Lance Cpl. Flat Stanley, hailing from Valley View Elementary in Wadsworth, Ohio, checked in with Lt. Col. Lionel Urquhart, the battalion commander, and was promptly assigned to L Company.
The new Marine’s demeanor was magnetic according to Urquhart.
“Flat Stanley was well liked by our Marines and sailors. During his time in Iraq, he never complained. His endurance was remarkable. No matter what hour of the day, Flat Stanley never appeared to be tired,” said Urquhart.
"Furthermore, no one could accuse Flat Stanley of being unfair. He treated everyone the same, regardless if the person was a private or a lieutenant colonel,” he added.
After checking in, the new Marine was issued paper digital utilities, boots, and an M-16A4 service rifle.
“Most Marines come to my supply warehouse asking for bigger gear than what they really need because they want the highest level of protection in combat. Lance Corporal Stanley demanded the smallest flak vest we had,” said Sgt. Jeff Starr, the unit's supply chief with.
According to Starr, this wasn’t the first time he had met Stanley.
The 1997 graduate of Austintown Fitch High School said, “My company received a Flat Stanley from some kids when I was stationed in Stüttgart, Germany in 2000. We took him everywhere with us. He saw Octoberfest, skiing in the Swiss Alps, and even a few dance clubs. He was a big hit with the German girls”, added the Ohio native.
A boy in Mr. Snyder’s first grade class drew Stanley. Jackson Rush drew his rendition of Flat Stanley after the class read the 1964 children’s classic of the same title.
“Flat Stanley” is a children’s book by Jeff Brown about a make-believe boy who gets flattened to the size of a piece of paper when a bulletin board falls on him one night while he is sleeping. He wakes up and travels the globe in his altered physical state in search of adventure and peril.
Mr. Snyder’s students each made a drawing and mailed them to schools around the world. This particular Wadsworth, Ohio, native answered the call to duty to become one of the few and proud.
A journal page was added to Stanley’s record book so when he returns to his class, he will have proof of his adventures.
Stanley integrated into 2nd Platoon, L Company, as a rifleman during a recent operation targeting insurgents residing in villages along the banks of the Euphrates River.
He was on deck for less than a day when it became quite apparent that he was a celebrity. The Marines of L Company, who are based out of Columbus, Ohio, all wanted to have their photos taken with him.
“I vividly remember reading the book when I was little,” said Cpl. Justin G. Leach, a rifleman with L Company. “I really wanted a picture with him, but unfortunately I was out on a combat mission while Flat Stanley was relaxing back at the dam,” continued the 23-year-old 1999 Thomas-Worthington High School graduate.
With his tour here at an end, Stanley was seen packing his bags for Wadsworth and should arrive home within three or four weeks. Though he was here only a short time, the Marines of L Company were sad to see him go.
“Of course nobody is asking kids to support a war one way or another, but we feel a lot better knowing that they stand behind the troops by doing stuff like this,” said Pfc. Michael J. Strahle, a rifleman with the 1st platoon, L Company.
“He’s just a paper doll, but we had fun taking him out and to be honest, I’m a little jealous that he gets to go home so early”, added the 20-year-old Bryan, Ohio, native.
Stanley fared well during his short tour of duty, earning a combat action ribbon, the usual campaign medals, and a meritorious mast for motivating the Marines with 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment.
While he returned from combat unharmed, Flat Stanley received of a Purple Heart for a paper cut he sustained after he was stuffed into an envelope for his journey back home to Valley View Elementary.