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    CMC visits Marines, sailors in Afghanistan



    Story by Cpl. Monty Burton 

    Marine Forces Central Command

    HELMAND PROVINCE, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan — With a loud and thunderous "ooh-rah," Marines and Sailors of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force — Afghanistan greeted Gen. James T. Conway, the 34th commandant of the Marine Corps, during his visit to deployed Marines in Afghanistan April 2-7.

    Conway and Sgt. Maj. Carlton W. Kent, the 16th sergeant major of the Marine Corps, visited Marines of SPMAGTF-A at Kandahar Air Field, camps Barber and Leatherneck, and Forward Operating Base Delaram. Conway was briefed on the progress of the Marines of 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment (Reinforced), and Combat Logistics Battalion 3, the ground and logistics combat elements of SPMAGTF-A.

    The commandant came to the region not only to see the Marines and sailors, but also to discuss plans for the upcoming increase of Marine Corps forces in Afghanistan.

    Conway also visited Lashkar Gar to meet with Helmand Provincial Governor Gulab Mangal. The two officials discussed topics concerning SPMAGTF-A's mission in the province. At the conclusion of the meeting, Conway presented Mangal with an authentic Marine Corps walking stick.

    During his visit, Conway was able to tour Camp Barber and Camp Leatherneck, which is under construction and being built to support the increased number of troops deploying to southern Afghanistan.

    During his time at Camp Leatherneck, Conway had the opportunity to promote three Marines.

    Cpls. Travis Zurick and Jessie Martinez, a launcher chief and communication chief with Battery D, 2nd Battalion, 14 Marine Regiment, were promoted to their current rank by Conway alongside Lance Cpl. Justin Lamb, an armor with Marine Wing Support Squadron 371.

    As they made their rounds, Conway and Kent took the time to talk to the Marines while opening the forum to questions.

    "You are living up to the legacy of the Marines that came before you," Kent told the Marines. "The seventh sergeant major of the Marine Corps, Hank Black, who is nearly 90 years old, still keeps up with the Marines today. I tell Marines about him all the time because every time I see him, he tells me to tell you how proud he is of you.

    "No matter how long you serve, you will always be able to carry the eagle, the globe and the anchor with you," Kent said, referring to the emblem and the spirit of the Marine Corps.

    Conway gave the Marines some patriotic and encouraging words during the visit.
    "All of us joined the Marine Corps knowing that one day we would probably see some combat because that is what we do. Some of you have been to a combat zone multiple times, but that is our heritage," Conway said.

    "As I speak to Marines around the Corps, I can tell you, they are all jealous of you. The Marines back at home all want to fight for their country in Afghanistan," he said.

    While at Forward Operating Base Delaram, Conway ate lunch with the Marines and sailors there.

    Before departing from Afghanistan, Conway had a few last words for all the Marines.

    "Stay strong, keep fighting and continue to uphold the legacy of the United States Marine Corps."



    Date Taken: 04.10.2009
    Date Posted: 04.10.2009 09:29
    Story ID: 32248

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