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The India battery of the 3rd battalion, 11th Marine Regiment

James Hagengruber Correspondent

Here is a glimpse at some of the Marines serving with Cpl. Matthew Shipp in India Battery of the 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment. The battery is based at Twentynine Palms, Calif., and began a tour of duty in Iraq in October.

Lance Cpl. Stephan Bush, of Pennsylvania, has two brothers in the military, including an identical twin who recently finished a 15-month tour in Iraq. His older brother served on the USS Germantown with Matthew’s twin, Lance Cpl. Robert Shipp. “We miss each other a lot,” Bush said of his twin. His mother keeps three stars in her window to signify the service of her sons.

Lance Cpl. Scott Clark, of Arizona, is 26 and one of the oldest Marines in the platoon. When he was a boy in Kansas, he mowed the lawn of one of his famous neighbors, Bob Dole. He was annoyed that he would be returning to his home in Phoenix too late to engage in one of his favorite rites of spring: “Going to a Giants preseason game so I can heckle Barry Bonds while I’m sitting in the outfield drunk.” But Clark had a plan for his first night of post-Iraq freedom. “I’m going to go to a hotel and stay my full allotted time. Every minute of it. And I’m going to take the shampoo.”

Cpl. Jesse Cunnally, of Reno, Nev., is one of the few who served previously in Iraq. He had been home from Iraq only five months after his first tour when his best buddy called late one night and said he was returning. “He was going,” Cunnally explained. “I had no choice but to go with him.” But Cunnally said his time overseas has been tough. “I haven’t been home for Christmas in four years,” he said. He plans to attend college in the fall.

Lance Cpl. Cordero Edwards doesn’t want to return to his rough neighborhood in St. Louis. When his name was published in the local newspaper in a story about the Marines, gang members in the neighborhood vandalized his mother’s house and stole the tires from his car. Edwards wants to someday study fine art. “I’m ready to get the hell out of here,” he said. “Too many stupid, angry people – you can’t change them all.”

Capt. Steven Ford, the commanding officer, was a corporal during the first Gulf War. He recalls the excitement of the fast invasion during the first campaign in Iraq. Now his work is “all about nation building and getting the Iraqis to come up with Iraqi solutions,” he said. “When the people feel safe and secure, they’re going to reject the insurgency.”

Lance Cpl. Chad Goodnight, of Hamilton, Mont., has memorized many Marine rules and regulations, and entertains his squad by reciting arcane passages, such as the entire drill instructor’s creed. Goodnight also has a reputation for the smelliest feet in the squad. His fellow Marines sometimes bet each other who can keep their nose in his boot the longest.

Lance Cpl. Chris Priest, of California, also has a twin brother in the Marines. After his contract with the Marines is finished, he plans to return to civilian life. Or, in his words, “1st Civ Div all the way!”

First Lt. Jim Rowe, from Indiana, was part of the invasion of Iraq five years ago. “If you would have asked me five years ago if we would be here today, I’d have said ‘no way,’” he said. The 28-year-old does not expect to sign up for another stint with the Marines. He wants to travel the world with his wife and to volunteer. “I want to give something back,” he said.

Pvt. Phillip Saldana-Bautista, of Idaho Falls, is engaged to a female Marine serving in Iraq. The two met at a church service held at an advanced combat training school. He has a daughter, who will be 2 in September. Because of his military service, he wasn’t able to see his daughter until she was 4 months old.

First Lt. Hamilton Ashworth, from Reno, enlisted in the Marines eight years ago. He then went on to earn a degree and his officer’s commission at the U.S. Naval Academy. His father and grandfather were also in the Marines.

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