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 Thomas M. Siverts
Commanding Officer

Colonel Tom Siverts is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the Marine Corps in August 1989. He achieved a commission as a Second Lieutenant through the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program following his graduation from the University of Virginia in May 1999. Colonel Siverts has deployed in support of Operations DESERT SHIELD, DESERT STORM, IRAQI FREEDOM, and ENDURING FREEDOM. His other operational deployments include serving with Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2/8, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU); BLT 3/8, 22d MEU; BLT 2/8, 26th MEU, and Task Force 61/2.

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Lieutenant Col. Steven M. Sprigg
Executive Officer

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 Travis L. DeBarr
Sergeant Major

Sergeant Major DeBarr enlisted in the Marine Corps and reported to MCRD San Diego, CA, for recruit training in October 1994.Staff Sergeant DeBarr completed two combat tours in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from September 2005 to April 2006 and again form March 2007 to September 2007. While serving with 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, First Sergeant DeBarr completed one combat deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, from October 2012 to May 2013. Sergeant Major DeBarr currently serves as the Sergeant Major for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

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