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Monday, 06 October 2014 11:28

Palau Native Marine Returns to Island Home

PalauNativeMarineIRAI, Palau– Bedtime stories can have an impact on children’s imaginations. For many young people, hearing tales of fictitious characters like “Peter Pan” or “Jack and the Beanstalk” can create the desire to experience Peter’s or Jack’s extraordinary adventures.

PHOTO: Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Milton Donatus, second from right, instructs Palau national law enforcement officers on the operations of the M9A1 9 mm service pistol in Irai, Palau, Sept. 16, 2014. Donatus is a native of Ngaraard, Palau. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Drew Tech  
For one boy from Ngaraard, Palau, bedtime stories were not about fighting pirates or giants. This boy was told stories of combat and the U.S. Marines at the Battle of Peleliu during World War II.

That boy was Milton Donatus, and the stories his grandmother told him as a child spawned a lifelong dream to become a U.S. Marine.

“Every time my grandmother would talk about war, the Marines came up,” said Donatus, the training chief with Combat Logistics Detachment 379, Combat Logistics Regiment 37, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force.

Idolized Marines

“The Marines were always talked about as the saviors and the best [warriors] ever, so growing up, I didn’t know about any other military,” he added. “I only knew about the Marines, and that I wanted to be one.”

Shortly after graduating from high school in 1995, Donatus moved to Guam to pursue his dream, and in May 2000, he enlisted in the Marine Corps.

His career has seen him rise to the rank of staff sergeant and has brought him aboard the USNS Sacagawea as part of exercise T-AKE 14-2, a maritime pre-positioned force, multinational theater security cooperation event that deploys from the Japanese island of Okinawa to conduct training exercises.

Teaching pistol marksmanship

Palau national law enforcement officers and Combat Logistics Detachment 379 Marines completed live-fire training with the M9A1 9 mm service pistol here Sept. 16. The training, led by Donatus, taught the Palauan law enforcement officers the fundamentals of combat marksmanship with the weapon, such as loading, clearing and firing procedures.

“The training went according to plan,” Donatus said. “The national police showed up eager to learn. They left with a good image of what the Marines stood for and a knowledge that they will carry on with them throughout their careers as police officers.”

For the law enforcement officers of Palau, the opportunity to train with the U.S. Marines and receive instruction from a native of their island nation was special, said Fave Ngiramengior of Koror, Palau.

Great opportunity

“It was a great opportunity to get to train with the U.S. Marines,” said Ngiramengior, a police officer with Palau’s patrol division. “The last time we were able to shoot was two years ago, so getting to learn from the Marines, and especially a local in the Marines, was very nice.”

Donatus’s positive effect on the Palauan police officers was evident, said Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Barr from Woonsocket, Rhode Island.

“One thing I noticed during the training was how the police officers gravitated to him,” said Barr, the company gunnery sergeant for the detachment. “Whenever he was instructing them, they paid close attention and really took in what he said.”

Meaningful experience

The chance to come home and participate in this training was a very meaningful experience, Donatus said.

“It feels good, and it means a lot to me to come back in this situation,” he added. “I was not a wealthy kid growing up, so people kind of always looked at me thinking that I wouldn’t amount to anything. Being able to come back with a different life is just awesome, because it gives me a chance to show everyone who grew up where I did that there is hope.”

Written Oct. 6, 2014 By:

Marine Corps Cpl. Drew Tech
3rd Marine Expeditionary Force

Republished and redistributed by permission of DoD.



Published in Face of Defense


Photo: Women in Nosir Bobo, Tajikistan fill containers with clean water which is now available for the first time. Civil Affairs Soldiers from the SOCCENT Civil Military Support Element facilitated the completion of the new water system for the people of Sari-Chashma. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Kenneth)

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.- Soldiers from the Special Operations Command Central Civil Military Support Element, in coordination with the U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe, officially transferred responsibility for  a new water distribution system to the people of Sari-Chashma, Tajikistan this week.

Published in Recent News
Friday, 07 December 2012 14:43

Panjwai Farmers Learn Valuable Skills


Photo: Kandahar University instructor answers questions the farmers have during the Post Harvest Processing and Marketing class held at the Panjwai District Headquarters, July 7, 2012.(Photo by Sgt. Matt Young)

PANJWAI, Afghanistan- The Panjwai District Headquarters in Kandahar province hosted 19 local farmers during a four-day Post Harvest Processing and Marketing Training Class with the graduation held here, July 7, 2012.

Published in Daily News
Photo: The Afghan Uniformed Police, partnered with the C Battery, 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, conduct tactical over watch during clearance operations in the Shah Wali Kot district, Afghanistan, July 8. (Photo by Sgt. Ryan Hohman)

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan- The Afghan Uniformed Police and Afghan National Army partnered with C Battery, 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, to conduct clearance operations in the Shah Wali Kot district, Afghanistan July 7-10.

Published in Recent News


Lance Cpl. Behzad Razzada, Embedded Partnering Team, Combat Logistics Battalion 4, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), returned to Afghanistan as a Marine 14 years after leaving the country following the Taliban's rise to power. Razzada used his background and knowledge of local customs and languages to help build a better future for the country. (Photo by Cpl. Mark Stroud)

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan -I remember the day I heard that America was going into Afghanistan, said Lance Cpl. Behzad Razzada, a member of the Embedded Partnering Team, Combat Logistics Battalion 4, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward). My parents were happy because it was a chance for Afghanistan to unite and fight for freedom. They said it was the only way that injustice in Afghanistan would be finished.

The idea of providing a better future for the Afghan people resonated with Razzada, a 24-year-old native of Afghanistan.

I was born in Kabul and lived there until I was 10, said Razzada. I went to school there. It was just a normal school like anywhere else before the Taliban came. I studied until the fifth grade and then chaos started. Everyone started leaving the country, all heading in one direction and hoping they didn't get killed by the Taliban.

Razzada's family left the country after the Taliban implemented their harsh policies.

I was pretty young, but I remember [the Taliban] beheading people, making people wear certain type of clothes and maintain certain hygiene standards, said Razzada. People who worked for the previous government were all in danger. Anyone who killed [employers of] the previous government would be rewarded, and my father had held a high position.

Travelling to Pakistan with his family, Razzada spent the next three years attending school north of Peshawar City, where he studied math, science and English, while his family applied for permission to immigrate to the United States.

We didn't know if we were going to come to the United States. People used to say that the chances of successfully making the case to come to the United States were about 10 percent, said Razzada. When we left Afghanistan, we couldn't stay in Pakistan because they were still killing members of the former [Afghan] government there and that's why we were accepted. We came to America with refugee status, so we were part of that 10 percent who got accepted.

Razzada's time in Afghanistan and Pakistan would serve him well both later in life when he returned to the region as a Marine, and more immediately when he began primary school in St. Louis.

My English was decent, not very strong, but decent so I started school right away, said Razzada. The culture was extremely different though.

After graduating high school and attending Yuba College in Yuba City, Calif., Razzada joined the Marines.

I joined the Marine Corps after two years in college where I majored in psychology, said Razzada. I am going to finish my school, so the Marine Corps is a good way to pay for college and be part of the military at the same time.

CLB-4 was already training for their deployment to Afghanistan and when Razzada joined the battalion.

I had to talk to my parents and tell them that I was going to get deployed, said Razzada. They told me it was a good chance for me to go there and be a helping hand because I was from the country. They told me to go there and do my best.

Razzada is in an ideal place to make a difference while assigned to the EPT.

I speak Dari, a little bit of Pashtun, Hindi and Urdu along with English, said Razzada. I had the perfect chance to help, especially having the [chain of command] I did, who let me interact with the [Afghan National Army] as much possible.

The EPT worked with 2nd Battalion, 5th Kandak, 215 Corps as advisors and subject matter experts to assist in training, as well as planning for and executing operations.

We were part of a Combat Service Support Kandak. Our mission was to train them... to support forward infantry battalions, said Maj. Charles E. Parker Jr., officer in charge, EPT, CLB-4.

Taking such a hands-on approach to helping build a better future for the Afghan people suited Razzada.

Like every other Marine on my team, he is mature beyond his years, and he was always looking forward to helping, said Parker. He had a strong bond with our interpreters and I would bring him along sometimes to [meetings], and he could help fill me in on the perception and mood amongst the ANA.

Razzada brought his journey full circle when he returned to Afghanistan as a Marine and helped rebuild the country in the aftermath of Taliban rule.

I'm extremely happy that I had this experience, said Razzada. What the EPT has done is make the ANA more confident in themselves and make them more capable when they are out there on their own. We accomplished our mission.

July 26, 2012: By Cpl. Mark Stroud, 1st Marine Logistics Group


Published in Recent Features

IRAQ - Every solider in Iraq needs water, food and equipment in order to perform their mission. For some, these things just seem to appear out of the blue, but the soldiers of the 123rd Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Armored Division, know different.

Published in Daily News

CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE TAJI, Iraq – According to Department of Defense statistics, there were more than 35,000 single parents serving in the U.S. Army in 2008.
Published in Feature Stories
Monday, 07 November 2011 10:49

Coming Home Under New Conditions

BAGHDAD - As U.S. forces prepare to leave Iraq, there is a lot of talk among service members about deployments past. Many soldiers have spent years of their life in Iraq and have seen the changes here firsthand.
Published in Press Releases - Iraq

CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraq – As Operation New Dawn continues the drawdown of U.S. Forces in Iraq; Contingency Operating Base Adder has become the main fuel hub in the process of exporting military assets out of the country.
Published in Daily News

CAMP RAMADI, Iraq - Laws are ever-changing. It is important for those involved in the legal system to communicate with each other, have up-to-date knowledge of the law, and be able to represent their clients to the fullest extent. Attorneys with the 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, met with their Iraqi counterparts to set up those lines of communication.
Published in Feature Stories
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