News: Marines name new outpost near Marjah for fallen brother
Story by Sgt. Brian Tuthill
COMBAT OUTPOST REILLY, Helmand Province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan — For Marines who have battled Taliban fighters almost daily since their arrival to a remote stretch of land east of Marjah, they can now rest a little easier with a new combat outpost to call home.
Initial construction was completed in only three days and on Feb. 14, Marines and sailors of Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, christened their new base Combat Outpost Reilly, in honor of Lance Cpl. Thomas J. Reilly, Jr., the only Marine from 1/3 killed in action during the battalion's deployment to Karmah, Iraq, last year. Reilly served as an infantry rifleman with 2nd Platoon, Charlie Company.
"It really means a lot to me, and I'm sure it means a lot of all of the Marines who were in 2nd Platoon," said Lance Cpl. David A. West, 21, a friend and member of Reilly's team who was in the vehicle when the fatal attack occurred. "I think his family will be happy that we're naming the COP after him, too. It's a way for his memory to live on."
The COP was built near a key intersection Marines call "Five Points," a junction of major roads connecting northern Marjah with eastern Helmand province. Marines of Charlie Company conducted a helicopter-borne assault to seize Five Points and the surrounding area Feb. 9, days before Operation Moshtarak began in Marjah.
Charlie Company Marines were joined the evening after their landing by another platoon of Marines, led by 1/3's Combat Engineer Platoon, who spent the next three days working nearly around the clock to erect the walls and raised guard posts COP Reilly.
"We pushed west along Route Olympia and cleared the way for Bravo Company on the ground, clearing [improvised explosive devices] and bridging gaps to get them out to Five Points," said 1st Lt. Justin P. Murphy, Combat Engineers Platoon commander, 1/3.
Murphy used a method of prefabrication and staging of materials, which he calls "Base-in-a-Box." This allowed him to bring the pieces of COP Reilly with him and commence construction immediately, saving valuable time and giving Marines a safer area more quickly.
"'Base-in-a-Box' is just taking the idea of what a generic COP needs to look like, as far as machine gun posts, side wall barriers, sand bags and any extra lumber we may need, and having it pre-built or ready to build," said Murphy, 26, from Syracuse, N.Y. "Three days of nonstop work is hard on us, but sometimes you have to do that. A COP in two or three days on a fairly big position like this is a big job, compounded by the fact that we had to get here on IED-infested roads."
Murphy and his Marines said they take great pride in how fast they built COP Reilly and that is has a proper namesake.
Although Charlie Company did not hold a formal ceremony to name their base, as soon as the name Reilly was decided, it spread like wildfire through the ranks of Marines, many of whom simply nodded solemnly in agreement or said, "that's a good name."
In the COP's combat operations center, a simple wood plaque bears the words, "COP Reilly, Est. 14 Feb 2010, Cobra 1/3." Cobra is the radio call sign for Charlie Company. Reilly's friends and platoon mates said they plan to construct a proper memorial for their fallen brother before they leave to return to Nawa in coming weeks.
"We're planning to make something personal for Reilly, we just haven't decided what to do yet," said West, 21, from Lancaster, S.C. "Maybe a stone with his name and information on it, where everyone can see.
"Even though he didn't ever go to Afghanistan, Reilly's still here with us in our hearts," said West. "Here his legacy will live on. He'll always be with 1/3."