NEW ORLEANS --
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
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.
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
“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.”
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.
day ended with Marines and students shaking hands and having a better
understanding of each other.