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End of the Marines in Iraq - 23 Jan 2010

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  • End of the Marines in Iraq - 23 Jan 2010

    SgtsMaj, MGySgts, CMDCMs, Marines and Sailors,

    Saturday, 23 January at 1100 will mark the end of the Marines in Iraq as an
    II MEF (fwd) will conduct a Transfer of Authority Ceremony
    with the First Armored Division without a Relief in Place from any incoming unit.
    USF-W (formally MNF-W) will merge with USD-C (formally MND-Baghdad)
    and will cease to exist.

    After 6 years, over 850 Marines and Sailors killed in combat and another
    8800 wounded we have completed our mission. At our peak, we had almost
    26,000 Marines and Sailors on deck, close to 200 aircraft, over 380,000
    pieces of ground equipment, and were averaging close to 2000 significant
    events a month. We have added a whole new generation of Heroes;
    and names like Al Nasiriyah, Fallujah and Ramadi will be added to our History books.

    Words can't begin to explain the magnitude of effort and sacrifice our
    Marines and Sailors have gone through to help the Iraqi people. Each year
    since the initial invasion, Marines and Sailors from all over the Corps have
    been a part of the revolving I MEF (fwd) and II MEF (Fwd) Commands. Each
    year has been different with its own sets of unique challenges and each
    successive year, the incoming organization has built upon the successes of
    the outgoing organization.

    This year was no different, we didn't have anywhere near the level of
    fighting that previous MEFs have done. However, we did conduct many
    operations, maintained security, continue to professionalize the Iraqi
    Security Forces, develop good governance and economics, assisted with the
    continued establishment of the Rule of Law and oversaw the peaceful
    transition of the provincial government. We also had one unique mission
    that we can call our own. That was to finally bring the Marine Corps home.
    Over the past year, we have simultaneously conducted the responsible
    drawdown of 24,000 Personnel, over 34 COPs and FOBs, including Baharia,
    Rawah, and TQ and sent six years worth of equipment out of theater.

    For those of you who served with me this year, thank you. It was long and
    difficult at times, with our own set of challenges, but we did it.
    It has been an honor to serve with you.

    For those of you who have left your boot prints over here at least once
    during the last six years; thanks to you too. You set the stage for us to
    finish the job. It has been costly, it has been challenging, it has taken a
    while with quite a few dark days. But, in the end, it was worth it.

    All Marines and Sailors, including those who remained stateside have
    contributed to the overall success of the Marines and Sailors in Iraq and;
    all of us have known someone who didn't make it back alive or has permanent
    injuries. It is up to us to ensure that those who follow never forgot their
    sacrifice or what we did here.

    Collectively, we have added another illustrious chapter to the successful
    story of our Marine Corps. One that all of us can be proud of.

    Semper Fidelis,

    K. Carpenter
    Sergeant Major
    United States Force - West, Iraq
    (Previously Multi National Force - West) II Marine Expeditionary Force (Fwd)
    21 January 2010
    Alan H. Barbour, Historian
    USMC Combat Helicopter Assoc
    "Often Tested, Always Faithful, Brothers Forever"