MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C --
They served their country honorably, and now they are back.
After seven months of constant changes in Iraq, being apart from loved ones and restless nights, the Marines and sailors of 2nd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, returned here Sept. 7 to greet their families and celebrate a mission accomplished.
“We’re just thrilled he’s coming home safe and sound,” said Dennis D. Fitzsimmons, father of Cpl. David G. Fitzsimmons. “He feels very strongly in what he’s doing, and we’re just proud to support him.”
The families of the returning Marines lined the streets with signs and sported patriotic colors while waiting for the buses to arrive, but they were not the only excited ones.
“It’s always rewarding to see my family,” said 1st Lt. Michael P. Gumb, a platoon commander with Battery L, 2nd Battalion, 10th Marines. “I always try to put Marines before myself, but sometimes you have to be a little selfish, too.”
The Marines, upon arrival at Camp Fallujah, began to quickly initiate changes in the area by getting the Iraqi people to trust, cooperate with and have confidence in them.
“We worked on getting with the local people by focusing less on the bad guys and focusing more on the good people,” said Lt. Col. Timothy M. Parker, the battalion commanding officer.
The Marines noticed changes after five months of persistent efforts such as conducting patrols throughout the day and never staying “behind the wire.”
“The people in the area weren’t very receptive to us at first,” Gumb said. “After a few months of attacks and continuous IEDs (improvised explosive devices), the people began to leave their houses to patrol the streets with us and stand checkpoints with us.”
The Marines were able to complete the mission successfully because of hard work and dedication, spearheaded by a certain group of Marines.
“We had a good buildup as far as training and a lot of great NCOs (noncommissioned officers) with many years of experience and several deployments,” Gumb said.
Gumb offered advice to Marines currently deployed or preparing to deploy soon about the challenges in Iraq.
“You must have faith in the lowest level possible, because they’re the ones you will be with all of the time,” Gumb said. “As much as you watch their back, they will watch your back.”