Depot Marines help on homefront, aid deployed comrades
By Lance Cpl. Jess Levens
| | January 23, 2004
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. --
Three Depot Marines took part in delivering donated toys, school supplies, medical supplies and sports equipment Jan. 16 for deployed Marines to give to Iraqis as part of the No Better Friend Program.
The Marines were Capt. Dave Walker, assistant Depot inspector, Cpl. James Jones and Lance Cpl. Nathaniel Green, both from the installation and logistics staff section. They departed the Depot in two moving trucks to Camp Elliot, Calif., where they filled the trucks with toys for 1st Marine Division at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., to take before its next deployment to Iraq.
The toys were taken from a Toys for Tots surplus at Camp Elliot. The Depot Marines, along with Marines from Naval Marine Corps Reserve Center, Calif., separated and categorized toys before filling the trucks.
The No Better Friend Program is a Marine Corps effort to improve the relationship between Iraqis and the Marines in Iraq, according to Walker. The Marine Corps wants to take a more humanitarian approach when it returns. The name of the program is self-explanatory. Officials hope the Iraqis feel there is no better friend than a Marine. Officials from Spirit of America, which is a nonprofit organization geared toward the military, and 1st Marine Division officers decided the contents.
"This is a great program," said Walker. "We want the Iraqis to trust us and look at the Marines as friends and protectors, not enemies."
Once the toys and supplies were loaded into the trucks, the Depot and Reserve Center Marines proceeded to Las Pulgas, Camp Pendleton, to make their delivery to 1st Marine Division, which redeploys in February and March.
They will be in an area called the Sunni Triangle, which is one of the most volatile areas in Iraq, so improving relations with the people is very important, according to Walker.
"Only toys with positive images are being delivered," said Walker. "Sporting goods, books, action figures and things like that are good, but we don't want to send toy guns or anything like that."
After a full day of loading and unloading, the Marines arrived back to the Depot at around 3 p.m.
"It feels good to help out," said Jones, an inactive reservist serving on active status. "I may not be over (in Iraq) with my fellow Marines, but if I can do my part in contributing to the effort, I'm happy."
For more information on the No Better Friend Program and similar programs, visit the Spirit of America Web site at www.spiritofamerica.net.