Suffolk family corresponds with son’s unit’s commander; hangs on every word
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 25, 2003
Around 4 p.m. Saturday – 8 a.m. back in Suffolk – &uot;Task Force Tarawa&uot; artillery slammed into a nearby enemy mortar position detected by the Americans’ radar system, and Camp Lejeune-based Marines cheered their unit’s first taste of battle. Elsewhere, another part of the task force stumbled onto abandoned Iraqi positions, capturing rocket-propelled grenade launchers and other equipment.
The 1st Battalion 10th Marines, 2nd Marine Regiment Task Force Tarawa is where a 19-year old Lakeland High School graduate, Charles R. Terrell III, is currently serving. He’s up front and experiencing some personal exchanges with Saddam Hussein’s troops.
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While C.R. Terrell Jr. and his wife, Donna, haven’t heard personally from their son, PFC Terrell, they certainly watch what’s going on in his life as they watch the scenes from the front lines on television.
PFC Terrell is &uot;somewhere in northern Kuwait,&uot; and his dad is anxiously keeping an eye glued to the television screen for any word of casualties in his unit, the 1st Battalion, 10th Marine Division.
Pvt. Terrell’s dad, former Marine Charles R. &uot;Chuck&uot; Terrell Jr., is now a Suffolk police officer. He and other military parents are kept as up to date as possible on the &uot;working conditions&uot; their Marines are experiencing.
&uot;I just got a letter from Lieutenant Colonel Glenn T. Starnes, the Tarawa Task Force Battalion Commander,&uot; said Terrell. &uot;He also said the men were already swapping war stories and talking about the best ships and the best meals aboard ship.&uot;
According to what Starnes told Terrell, the mission of the Marines under his command was to prepare for combat, not knowing at what point they would be sent to the front lines.
&uot;We prepared and trained for war while we prayed for peace,&uot; said Starnes.
Lt. Col. Starnes also noted that life in &uot;Camp SHOUP&uot; is not great, but that it could be worse. He said the entire Regimental Combat Team, of which PFC Terrell is part, is housed in the camp.
&uot;Everyone is housed in 18-man tents erected by the first Marines to arrive in the camp,&uot; Starnes added. &uot;We are surrounded by a 10-foot high berm of sand, and the camp itself is flat desert. The tents don’t have floors but they do provide protection from the elements including a constant wind, blowing dust and sand, a bright sun in daytime and cold temperatures at night.&uot;
Not only are the Marines living in less than luxurious conditions, but they are also eating less than four-star meals. Starnes said the Marines receive bottled water and &uot;MRE’s,&uot; or Meals Ready to Eat, each day, and they hope to get at least two hot meals a day before long.
The military personnel in Kuwait are also privileged to use portable toilets that are strategically placed throughout the camp. Starnes said they should be getting portable showers within the next few days.
It’s almost impossible to keep up with the Marines since they do not have any phone or e-mail connectivity, but the does keep a cell phone for emergency use only. If a battalion receives a Red Cross message, it would be delivered to the individual as soon as possible, Starnes told Terrell. The Red Cross would also make arrangements to have the recipient of the message call back to the states.
Off. Terrell said the Marines are able to send mail home whenever they can write and that Uncle Sam is paying postage. No stamps are required for them to send mail home.
&uot;Of course, we have to put stamps on our mail and packages to him,&uot; said Terrell. &uot;We can also send small packages to our son. I know a lot of families are sending shoebox size packages with baby wipes and suntan lotion, two of the most needed items over there. We also send lip balm, shave cream, razors, tooth brushes and paste, and of course, writing materials so they can keep in touch as much as possible.&uot;
Lt. Col. Starnes also thanked the Terrell family for all the support they’ve shown &uot;their Marine.&uot; He noted that two agencies, Key Volunteer Network and the Battalion Family Readiness Program, allow Marines to concentrate on their mission of liberating the Iraqi people from the grip of Saddam Hussein while knowing they can maintain a strong connection to families at home.
&uot;Everyone here is doing a great job, and our prayers and thoughts are with all of you,&uot; said Starnes. &uot;Be assured we are well and will return home as soon as possible in a peaceful and safe world.&uot;
Off. Terrell is a second generation Marine. His dad, C.R. Terrell Sr. served in Lebanon in 1959 and the Bay of Pigs in ’61, and served two tours in the Vietnam. Now retired, he and his son ask for the people of Suffolk to pray for the nation, God’s guidance for our leaders, and for all the military personnel now serving in Operation Liberate Iraq.
&uot;Pray especially for the five U.S. captives now being held by the Iraqi forces,&uot; said Off. Terrell. &uot;And, pray for their families.&uot;
Anyone who would like to write to PFC C.R. Terrell III may send letters and shoebox-sized packages to him at 1st Battalion, 10th Marines, 2nd Marine Division Camp Lejeune N.C.