Hawaii troops cite progress in Anbar
» Marine leader a ‘role model’
» Al-Qaida claims responsibility for the bombing
Kaneohe Marines who recently returned from Iraq say they believed Anbar province was improving and were surprised by the suicide bombing that killed three of their brethren, including the commander of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment.
Lance Cpl. J. Rineer of India Company in the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment said security improved while his regiment was there and his unit returned without casualties.
"I felt like we had done really good," he said.
Anbar is scheduled to be turned over to Iraqi control. A ceremony yesterday was postponed because of the weather.
Lt. Col. Max A. Galeai, 42, the commander of the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment; Capt. Philip J. Dykeman, 38, the commander of Fox Company; and Cpl. Marcus W. Preudhomme, 23, an administrative clerk, were among more than 20 people killed in the suicide bombing.
All were based in Kaneohe.
One Marine, a lance corporal in the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment who declined to give his name, called news of Galeai's death "devastating."
"That never happens," he said, adding that if his battalion commander were killed, he would have "a lot of anger."
"I'm pissed right now," he said. "He's a fellow Marine. It's a band of brothers. Everybody's just ... surprised."
He also knew one of the Iraqi interpreters who died in the bombing, saying: "He was a cool guy. He helped us out."
Another Marine, who said he hopes to return to Iraq because he feels he can fight terrorism there, was not dissuaded by the suicide bombing.
A lance corporal in the 3rd Marine Regiment Headquarters Company, he said he returned from Anbar in 2007.
When they arrived in Anbar, people were still afraid to come out of their homes because of the violence, he said.
"I was looking at every square inch of space you can see. After a while, I got more adjusted," he said. Eventually, security improved and local residents would assist the military by pointing out the enemy.
"They love us over there," he said.
"I was shocked (by the death of a battalion commander) because that guy was really protected," he said, then added, "Anything can happen. ... It's happened before."