11th MEU demonstrates goodwill

25 Oct 2004 | - 11th MEU Public Affairs 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Marines from the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) distributed more than $570,000 in condolence and collateral damage repair payments here, Oct. 25, to demonstrate goodwill to Iraqis caught in the crossfire during fighting here this past August. 

Payments began on Sept. 30 and have resulted in a total of $1.9 million paid to more than 2,660 Najafis since then.  Payments will continue as long as needed to meet each valid case.

"(The payments) let the rest of the world see how we are, how we take care of business. We're helping (Iraqis) re-stabilize their country," said Lance Cpl. Robert A. Lees, a Meza, Ariz., native and 60mm mortar gunner, Weapons Platoon, Company B, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, 11th MEU (SOC). "It shows them that we're here for other reasons than just to fight."

Condolence payments, known as solatia, are being paid to express sympathy to those injured or who lost a family member during the fighting.  Collateral damage repair payments are intended for Iraqis who experienced damage to their home, business or other property.

"It's a good thing. The quicker we get them back on their feet, the quicker the centralized government can take over," said Lance Cpl. Brandon L. Thummel, a Phillipsburg, Kansas, native and 81mm mortar forward observer attached to Weapons Platoon, B Co., BLT 1/4, 11th MEU (SOC). "Our role is to provide security for the payment team and assist the ING and IPs. We are making sure they do the searches correctly and help with crowd control."

Subsequently, MEU Marines continue to spend millions of dollars to contract local Iraqi businessmen and workers to repair public infrastructure damaged during the fighting.

"Now that Najaf is secure, we're working around the clock to get this city up and running again," said Col. Anthony M. Haslam, commanding officer, 11th MEU (SOC).  "These payments are one way we are showing goodwill and building trust with the locals."

Marine Corps News

Colonel Caleb Hyatt
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Colonel Caleb Hyatt is a native of Tamarac, Florida. He was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant following graduation with merit from the United States Naval Academy in May 2001. Colonel Hyatt’s command positions include Guns Platoon Commander, Battery S, 5th Battalion, 10th Marines; Headquarters Battery Commander, 5th Battalion, 11th Marines; Battery R Commander, 5th Battalion, 11th Marines; and Commanding Officer, 2d Battalion, 11th Marines. Colonel Hyatt has deployed in support of Operations IRAQI FREEDOM and ENDURING FREEDOM with artillery, light armored reconnaissance, and logistics units. Colonel Hyatt holds a BS in Computer Science, MA in Management, MMAS in Theater Operations, and an MS in National Security Strategy. Colonel Hyatt is also a 2023 distinguished graduate from the National War College.

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LtCol Sprigg was born in Parkersburg, WV. LtCol Sprigg enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in September 2004 and recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC. LtCol Sprigg was selected for the Enlisted Commissioning Program and commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in March 2008. He was designated a Naval Aviator in February 2011 and reported to HMLAT-303 for training as an AH-1W pilot. LtCol Sprigg is currently serving as the Executive Officer for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit in Camp Pendleton, California.

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Sergeant Major Geronimo Guzman
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