Students learn about Global War on Terrorism

25 Jan 2008 | Cpl. Leslie Palmer

The Marines serving in support of the Global War on Terrorism are fighting daily so another part of the world may enjoy democracy and, in the process, are making history. Working with local leaders, three Marines with Chemical Biological Incident Response Force, II Marine Expeditionary Force, shared their part of history with students at Fairfield High School, here.

Joseph Decusati, 17, a senior at Fairfield High School, chose to invite Marines from Headquarters and Service Company, CBIRF, for his senior project. The Marines spoke to the students about their experiences fighting on the frontlines.

Sgt. Matthew Ditomaso, a bachelors enlisted quarters manager, has experience behind the sights of a weapon during his three deployments in support of the Global War on Terrorism. Ditomaso deployed once to Afghanistan and twice to Iraq and held several billets from vehicle gunner to vehicle commander.

“When we first got (to Fallujah, Iraq), we were engaged in more firefights compared to when we left,” Ditomaso said about the progress he saw during his deployment.

Telling his side of the story was a way to show students the importance of the Global War on Terrorism, he said.

“History repeats itself,” Ditomaso said. “If they don’t know what’s going on now, they won’t know later on in life.”

Ditomaso said he still remembers one of the worst spots in Ramadi, Iraq, which was the Sook District where insurgents operated from when he first arrived.

“Our battalion enabled the Iraqi Army to take over patrolling and accurately set up security checkpoints,” he said. “We eliminated a lot of the (improvised explosive device) threats. We would go through with (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) and try and clear the roads.”

Ditomaso also fought during the Battle of Fallujah, Operation Al Fajr.

“You could see the devastation in Fallujah pushing through it,” said Ditomaso.

He also spoke of the positive changes in Iraq. From people rebuilding their homes to the change in attitude toward the Marines.

Sgt. Ronald Bustamante, a training noncommissioned officer, shared his story about being a scout sniper in Afghanistan.

Generally, snipers, by nature, don’t do a lot of talking; however, Bustamante vividly recounted an experience when he served as “guardian eyes” for 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, based out of Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

“One night while on watch, an insurgent passed no more than 15 feet from my team’s position,” Bustamante said. “For a brief moment, (the insurgent) looked our way. It took all the discipline I had not to engage him. Fortunately for the insurgent, he didn’t see us and continued on his patrol.”

Bustamante was not given permission to engage the insurgent, but he can still remember the insurgent he saw in his night vision goggles years ago, who could have taken his life.

“He was carrying a machinegun with an extra drum of ammunition. He had on a face mask and camouflage cloths. Two days prior, 3rd Platoon, 2nd Bn., 3rd Marines, was attacked with a machinegun,” Bustamante said.

“Afghanistan and Iraq are pretty big success stories for the military, because we are accomplishing the mission with so few Marines,” Bustamante said. “Both countries were oppressed by dictators and as Americans, we believe in democracy, so we gave them the right to decide if they want democracy.”

First Sgt. William Frye, Headquarters and Service Company, told students troops fighting in support of the Global War on Terrorism still have a mission to complete.

“We’re there to teach (Iraqis and Afghans) how to do our job, so we can get out of there,” Frye said.

History books have yet to offer a full description of the war to students, but Decusati’s senior project gave these teenagers a realistic view of what is happening on the frontlines in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Chemical Biological Incident Response Force