Marines

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Marines with 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve speak to Columbia College Chicago students about the global war on terrorism during an informal discussion at their training center in Chicago, Jan. 20, 2016. During the event, the students who are enrolled in a global war on terror class were encouraged to ask the Marines any questions regarding Operation Enduring Freedom and Operations Iraqi Freedom. Many Americans, like the majority of these students, do not have regular interactions with Marines. As the most geographically dispersed command in the Marine Corps, however, Marine Forces Reserve is uniquely positioned to have these kinds of community interactions.

Photo by Cpl. Ian Ferro

Combat Veteran Marines Participate in Community Relations Event with Columbia College Chicago Students

22 Jan 2016 | Cpl. Ian Ferro Marine Corps Forces Reserves

Marines with 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve spoke to Columbia College Chicago students about the global war on terrorism during an informal discussion at their training center in Chicago, Jan. 20, 2016.

              The students are part of a “War Stories” class. Their current topic is the global war on terror, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

            “The students want to talk to a few Marines who were involved in those operations, to have a better understanding of what happened back then,” said Lt. Col Greg Thiele, commanding officer with 2nd Bn., 24th Marines Regiment,4th MarDiv. “Most students were in preschool when the two towers fell in on September 11th, so they don’t understand exactly what caused the war or what was going on back then, at least not like some of us who were in the military at the time.”

            According to Thiele, it is important that the American people understand what the military does, why they go to war and what services the military provides.

            “There is a very small number of Americans who wear the uniform at any given time, and because of that, even fewer civilians truly understand what our military does,” he said. “If we don’t take opportunities like this; in which we bring them in, talk to them about what we do and let them ask questions then they will continue to be ignorant about what we do. They will continue to have misunderstandings about us.”

            The event began around a long squared-shaped table. The Marines were sitting at one end of the table, facing the students at the other end.

The students asked questions the differences between Iraq and Afghanistan, how Marines trained for each deployment, how they were able to identify the enemy among the natives and how they were able to build trust with the native population. Each Marine answered the questions with different opinions based on their individual experiences.

“This battalion was so welcoming to us, we have been here for at least two hours and the Marines are taking their time to explain to the students what the military life is like and what is their role in the war of terror,” said Jackie Spinner, class professor. “The Marines are engaging with the students. It is very humbling for us to see how much time they are taking to talk to us. It is very important for this generation to understand the sacrifices that have been made on their behalf.”

 Eighty percent of the students enrolled in the War Stories class had no prior connection to the military. Some students said they didn’t know what to expect before the event, but they admitted afterwards, that having a non-filtered and first-hand source of information was an eye opening experience.

 “I think there was a really good connection between the Marines and the students. The students were just as curious and receptive to receive information as the marines were willing to give it to them and to talk to them about their experiences,” said Sgt. Maj. Oscar D. Jordan, inspector and instructor sergeant major. “They had a lot of questions about what happened, what we did and what went on when we were in Afghanistan and Iraq. They really craved for information.”

Many Americans, like the majority of these students, do not have regular interactions with Marines. As the most geographically dispersed command in the Marine Corps, however, Marine Forces Reserve is uniquely positioned to have these kinds of community interactions.

The day ended with Marines and students shaking hands and having a better understanding of each other.


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