AL MADINAH, Iraq -- Marines with 4th Civil Affairs Group, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), and soldiers with Able Company, 2nd Combined Arms Battalion of the 136th Infantry Regiment, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), accompanied Maj. Gen Tariq Abdul Wahab Jasin, Commanding General of the 1st Iraqi Army Division to visit a recently opened school in Al Madinah As Siyahiyah (Tourist Town) and distribute supplies to the children October 9.
2-136 is an Army National Guard unit based out of Detroit Lakes, Minn.
“Opening the school and giving out supplies opens up a lot of doors to the city to help out,” said Army 1st Lt. Sean M. Kiesz, 26, platoon commander of 2nd Platoon, Able Company and a native of Bismarck, N.D. “It was great to see the looks on the kids.”
During the visit, the Iraqi Army soldiers handed out school materials and the school principal accepted a $500 donation from the families of soldiers with 2-136 to assist with the moving costs to their new building and any other expenses. The check was presented to the principal by Army Lt. Col. Gregg L. Parks, Battalion Commander of 2/136, accompanied by Tariq.
Tariq and Iraqi Army members also gave out bean bag toys, soccer balls and other items for children’s entertainment.
“The goal of civil affairs is to interact with the local populous,” said Gunnery Sgt. Fletcher P. Veitch, 34, 4th Civil Affairs Group representative for 1st MLG and a native of Leonardtown, Md. “It lets us get a chance to reach out and touch the people’s world.”
The event symbolized the growing trust between “Tourist Town” and coalition forces. The soldiers of Able Company see these social functions as a great way to increase a positive relationship with the area.
“After seeing what we’ve done, it lets them know that we are here to help, and the Iraqi Army is here to help,” said Army Staff Sgt. Douglas A. Newman, 24, fire team leader with 2nd Platoon, Able Company.
After organizing an event that increased spirits in Al Madinah, the soldiers felt that they made a difference in the Iraqi people’s lives.
“The best part of all of the missions is the interaction with the culture,” said Army Sgt. Jesse J. Wiemer, 22, ground operations leader with Able Company and a native of Fargo, N.D. “The children are the future of Iraq, and with (Civil Affairs) operations like this, they learn to trust us.”
“The Civil Affairs missions are critical because it gives the people a sense of hope,” said Army Capt. Adam A. Gilbertson, 29, company commander of Able Company and a Moorhead, Minn., native. “Today was a great day for it.”