Iraq-deployed Marines donate DVDs for recovering troops

27 Oct 2004 | Sgt. Luis R. Agostini and Sgt. Enrique S. Diaz 1st Marine Logistics Group

There's only so many times you can watch the same movie over and over again, especially when you're laid up at Camp Fallujah's Bravo Surgical Company, recovering from wounds sustained in battle.

Like old buddies dropping off movies for a sick friend, Marines stationed at Camp Fallujah, Iraq, are donating DVDs to the Bravo Surgical Co.'s recovery ward.

"Our wounded Marines are often in limited mobility, and could use a little entertainment," said Sgt. Maj. Carlos Rios, sergeant major for I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group.

Before the donation drive officially began Oct. 18, 2004, the patients had only three DVDs to pass around amongst each other. After a base-wide e-mail from the base sergeant major soliciting donations for their injured brethren, the recovering servicemembers now have more than 20 selections to choose from.

A platoon comedian, Lance Cpl. Matthew J. Oliver, a communications wireman with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, uses the recovery time to hone his craft.

"I watch the movies and try to pick up new material," said Oliver, a 20-year-old native of Tampa, Fla., who was injured during a mortar attack.

Stacked on the top shelf of a bookcase in a dimly lit room, with five green cots on each side, action and comedy seems to be favored genres of the wounded Marines.

Their ever-growing collection includes "Hulk," "Austin Powers: Goldmember," "Braveheart," and "The Simpsons," which the Marines agree is their favorite. Some of the DVDs have been purchased at the base Marine Corps Exchange, a convenience store here. Others have been sacrificed from Marines' personal collections.

Unfortunately, there's one piece of the puzzle missing for the Marines - a DVD remote control.

"Since I'm the closest (to the TV), I usually had to get up and take out and put in the DVDs," said Lance Cpl. Jeffrey B. Owens, 21, a supply clerk with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. "Sometimes we just call for the nurse."

Owens, a native of Harlan, Ky., is recovering from a wound sustained during a rocket attack here.

With limited mobility, and still physically and mentally recovering from the attacks, the movies help the wounded warriors take their minds off of the pain.

"We watch these movies all day long, just so we don't think about what happened," said Owens. "We usually stop watching around midnight."

Although the recovering Marines would much rather pop in a DVD in their own rooms, tents, or better yet - homes in the states, morale boosters like these are very appreciated.

"At first, I thought that there would be lot of boredom in recovery, but there's been a lot of support from the Marines here," said Cpl. Luciano Macias, a vehicle commander with 2nd Amphibious Assault Vehicle Battalion, who was hit in the chest with shrapnel during a Fallujah firefight. "It makes me feel good that they (Marines) are taking time out to check up on us, see how we're doing."

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1st Marine Logistics Group