Operation Blue Spoon underway aboard Al Asad

23 Nov 2009 | Cpl. Meg Murray

As the clouds and drizzle of the rainy winter season roll into Iraq, many Marines with Multi National Force - West are rolling out. The gradual drawdown of Marines aboard Al Asad Air Base has sparked the idea for Operation Blue Spoon.

Operation Blue Spoon was set into motion by II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group (Forward), and it focuses on cleaning up areas of the base that have been neglected over the past six years.

Though the official mission of the operation is to reclaim, document and dispose of excess materials on Al Asad Air Base, to accomplish the end state of a sanitized base for future use, Maj. Matthew Mestemaker, the commanding officer of II MHG (Fwd) Headquarters and Service Company, explained the significance of the mission for Marines.

It's just the right thing to do, said Mestemaker. The Marines have been here on Al Asad for the past six years, and we're getting ready to leave. When we do, we want to leave it better than when we came aboard.

Marines from 3rd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, and II MHG (Fwd)'s Personnel Security Detachment, Truck Detachment, and Heavy Equipment platoon have volunteered personnel and equipment, like 7-ton trucks and forklifts, to assist in the operation.

We pick a starting point and pick up big materials, like scrap metal, and take it to [Defense Reutilization and Marketing Office], explained Lance Cpl. Cory Strong, a mortarman with Weapons Company, 3rd Bn., 24th Marines. After all the big stuff is gone, we police call for things like water bottles and cardboard. We're picking up any of the messes we've made over the past few years.

According to Staff Sgt. Scott Barnes, who is in charge of the working parties as the II MHG (Fwd) H&S Company gunnery sergeant, the operation began during the last week of October, and is scheduled to conclude around the end of November.

Though some remnants of war will always remain a part of the scenery aboard Al Asad, Marines are working hard to ensure future units, either U.S. or Iraqi, inherit a fresh start.