Saturday, August 26, 2006


By Ralph Kinney Bennett
23 Mar 2006

Hardened by the bitter experience of ambushes,
roadside bombs and snipers, Marines on patrol
in Iraq notice things.

They have to.

When they move through a village they size up
groups congregated at corners or storefront doors.
They scan faces. Are they welcomed? Feared? Ignored?
They make mental notes and tuck away images that
might be helpful on the next patrol.

They notice particular houses or buildings, walls
or clumps of trees, irrigation ditches, junked cars.

They notice things.

Their lives depend on it

The men of Company I, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine
Regiment, are no different. Their personal radars
were scanning, scanning as they patrolled the
dusty little town of Al Hasa back in January.
That's when they noticed something at a particular
house. That's why they showed up at that house
last week.

They roared up in a couple of amphibious assault

But they didn't kick down the door.

They knocked.

The family inside was surprised, but they weren't
frightened. Greetings were exchanged. The small
group of Marines seemed to be holding back smiles
and anxious to get to the point.

While on that patrol back in January they had
noticed this large Iraqi family and particularly
the cute little girl propped awkwardly in a big
old rusty adult wheelchair. So, well... a bunch
of the guys got together back at Camp Smitty and...

The Marines unloaded a shiny new pediatric
wheelchair from one of their vehicles and rolled
it into the house.

The little girl had suffered a severe spinal
injury in a car accident two years ago. The old
wheelchair was the best the family could do for her.

Until the Marines came.

The family's faces lit up with the smiles. The
incredulous father picked up his daughter and
immediately placed her in the new wheelchair. He
shook the Marines' hands, saying "Thank you,"
"Thank you," again and again.

The Marines didn't stay long. There were smiles
and a few tears and then they jumped back into
their assault vehicles and headed back to Camp Smitty.

But this is not a rare event in Iraq. There have
been thousands of such selfless little acts of
humanity on the part of our military in Iraq and

I felt great pride when I heard about this little
visit to an Iraqi house. There's something about
these Marines, these infidels, these Americans.

Something special. And good. And right.

A lot of us forget or ignore such acts.

But one Iraqi family won't.

Ralph Kinney Bennett is a TCS contributing editor.


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