AR RAMADI, Iraq -- During a recent civil affairs patrol, some of the Marines from the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment guard force were asked to come along as a security element. For the guard Marines, who usually spend their days and nights keeping watch from guard towers, getting the opportunity to participate in a foot patrol was an exciting opportunity that they have looked forward to since arriving in country more than two months ago.
For one of those Marines, Lance Cpl. Roberto Ruiz, it was the first of what he hopes will be many operations in the city.
“It was awesome going out,” said the 21-year-old. “It was exciting to actually go into the city. When I first got here, I was a little disappointed to be on the guard. I volunteered to come here as a truck driver. But, after doing guard for a while, I am enjoying it now. It’s a new experience.”
The patrol was a civil affairs operation to speak with homeowners and business owners. For the guard Marines, it was their first chance to interact with the locals and see the city from somewhere other than their guard towers.
“The people were more friendly then I expected,” said Ruiz. “They seemed excited to talk to us, shaking our hands and smiling. It was really neat to be able to go out and do that. I hope that we are asked to go out again so I can do this again.”
Going on operations and the experience of deploying are just some of the reasons this San Jose, Calif., native volunteered to be activated for duty in Iraq.
“I wanted to come to Iraq and do my part,” he said. “I decided to step up, a lot of Marines have been on numerous deployments and I wanted to give at least one of them a break. Now that I am here, it feels really good to be doing something for my country and not just sitting around. I am trying to be a good example while I am here.”
Despite wanting to be a truck driver, Ruiz is happy being a part of the guard force that is responsible for the safety of the battalion. In fact, being a part of the guard force has allowed him to meet many different people from all over the country that he otherwise would never have met.
“I’m very glad I volunteered to come here,” he said. “I’ve met a lot of new people and made a lot of new friends. I’ll never get the chance to experience anything like this again, so I am trying to make the best of my time here. I couldn’t imagine not coming here, I had to do it.”