CAMP KOREAN VILLAGE, Iraq -- The Marine, who plans to pursue an education degree, seems far from the classroom being deployed to Iraq, but he still gets the chance to work with children.
Corporal Jeffrey H. Meighen, civil affairs non-commissioned officer, 5th Civil Affairs Group, 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, goes out into the local communities and makes a difference in Iraqi children’s lives during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“I love being around kids, these kids are good kids,” said Meighen. “They smile and seem comfortable with us.”
Meighen sometimes participates in sporting events with the local children. He also hands out toys and hygiene products while working to help rebuild their towns.
The Southern Senior High School graduate conducts civil affairs missions to help people in the surrounding cities. As a part of CAG he helps restore critical infrastructure such as water, health services, schools and other projects that help improve the Iraqi living conditions.
“If those vital things are not up and running we push them to get them up and running through government funding,” Meighen said.
The Harwood, Md. native and his CAG team go out two to three times a week to interact with the Iraqi-nationals. They recently set up a soccer game for the kids of a local village where Marines put nets on empty goals and handed out jerseys, shorts, socks and even shoes.
“Basically I think the foundation for any society is the kids. If we show them now that we are not all bad, that we are not here to take away their freedom, but to liberate them, the kids will grow up knowing that and 20 years from now they will be the ones running the country,” he said.
Meighen found his way into the Marine Corps and later to here after talking to a Marine recruiter on the way to the Air Force office.
“I figured that I would take advantage of everything I could while I was still young so I joined the Marine Corps,” he said.
The 22-year-old is on his second deployment. During his first deployment he spent time in South America teaching several South American countries’ soldiers non-lethal combat techniques and anti-terrorism awareness.
“I have seen a ton of progress. We came out here with a full plate of stuff to do and our civil affairs team leader has pushed hard to get a lot of those things done,” Meighen said. “I just hope we make a difference here.”