NEAR KARMAH, Iraq -- The strength of faith exceeds discomfort. Without this facet of humanity, there would be no victory on Iwo Jima or the battle for Fallujah. Whether a Marine put faith in a holy deity or his weapon, the faith of the individual will carry him forward when his body cries, “No.”
Recognizing the need to properly maintain the faith of Marines and Sailors, the battalion staff paused all operational hustle this morning to make time for religious services.
Marines from Battalion Landing Team 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, of varying faiths and beliefs, gathered in a make-shift “chapel” to profess and study their beliefs, and reflect on the situation at hand.
While the services were held in a sweaty hut and kept brief due to operational commitments, the message and intent lost no importance.
Navy Lt. Miles Clarke, BLT 3/1 command chaplain, stressed the importance of heartfelt meditation and being thankful for each new day. With faith, said the Chaplain, Marines can focus on the important mission at hand.
Corporal Eddie Pegues said he felt services were like “a little down time, when you get to rebuild your inner self.”
Everyday, he said, he relies on his faith to carry him through missions, and motivation was the product of faith’s output.
“Just this morning, when we were leaving the (entry control point), it started me to thinking and got me in my ‘faith-mode.’” The Raeford, N.C. native, added: “Everyone feels that they have someone to talk to inside themselves, and that motivates you out on the streets, when there’s gunfire, or on a convoy looking for roadside bombs.”
The services also provided a rare opportunity for Marines and Sailors from all sections take in each others company without the burden of deadlines and requirements.
Lance Cpl. Bill Kelley, a native of Parkton, Md., said he felt the services offered a blind perspective on togetherness and camaraderie in combat which exceeded the boundaries of denomination.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re ‘religious’ or not,” Kelley said. “It’s nice knowing that people are praying for you here.”