AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq --
Marines packed into the theater aboard Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, for a town hall meeting with the II Marine Expeditionary Force leadership Jan. 6, 2010.
Lt. Gen. Dennis Hejlik, the commanding general of II MEF, came to Al Asad with Sgt. Maj. C. R. Green, the sergeant major of II MEF, to visit Marines and discuss concerns about redeployment to the U.S. and future deployments to Afghanistan.
“A lot of people wonder why we’re out here again,” said Hejlik. “This is an opportunity to thank you for what you have done. We want to make sure you know that you all in this room have written another chapter in the history of the Marine Corps.”
Green expressed his gratitude to the Marines and told them to be proud of their mission accomplishment.
“When you all go home, put on your uniform and go tell your story,” said Green. “People want to hear it, and if they don’t hear it from you, they may not get the whole story, the true story of what you all did out here.”
“You have all given the Iraqi people the opportunity for the country they have wanted for over 100 years,” added Hejlik. “If it wasn’t for all the [noncommissioned officers] in here, we wouldn’t be handing the reins over to the Army; we would be turning it over to I MEF.”
After Hejlik left the meeting, Green touched on some issues and changes at Camp Lejeune, N.C., that the returning Marines would face. Among the topics were military customs and courtesies, uniform regulations and driving under the influence of alcohol.
“Our customs and courtesies have made the Marine Corps what it is today,” said Green. “Let’s not lose sight of that in your return to Lejeune.”
Green also explained Hejlik’s stance on suicide prevention.
“The general holds a death brief every time a Lejeune Marine commits suicide,” he said. “He calls in that Marine’s entire chain of command and asks them what they knew … It all goes back to knowing your Marines.”
The town hall meeting gave the Marines an opportunity to see how much gratitude Green and Hejlik had for them, and it gave many Marines something to look forward to in the closing days of their deployment to the Al Anbar province.
After the town hall meeting, Green and Hejlik continued their visit aboard Al Asad and Camp Ramadi before boarding a plane to visit the II MEF Marines deployed to Afghanistan.