Skip to comments.KONA NATIVE FINISHES THIRD TOUR OF IRAQ IN AIR DELIVERY PLATOON (picture)
Posted on 03/30/2005 11:43:07 PM PST by Justice
KONA NATIVE FINISHES THIRD TOUR OF IRAQ IN AIR DELIVERY PLATOON
(Freeper Note: Kona is a town on the West coast of the Big island of Hawaii.)
BY KIM EATON
WEST HAWAII TODAY
Lorrin Bush and two of his four daughters Kayla, left, and Malia. KIM EATON | WEST HAWAII TODAY
Lorrin K. Bush is no stranger to Iraq. Over the last two years, he's seen more of the barren country than he has of his wife and four daughters.
A gunnery sergeant with the Marine Corps, the 35-year-old Kailua-Kona native leads a group of 12 men and women that make up the Marine Corps' 1st Air Delivery Platoon, which parachutes supplies to troops in remote locations.
Bush enlisted in the Marine Corps in November 1989 and has been stationed at Camp Pendleton, Calif. the past three-and-a-half years. After high school, Bush attended college and decided it wasn't right for him.
"At that time in my life, I was searching for something new, something challenging," he said. "That's why I went into the Marine Corps."
Bush wanted to be a pilot, but because of vision problems, the military wouldn't let him fly. "I decided if I couldn't fly a plane, then I'd jump out of one," he said.
Bush's first Iraq tour of duty was in 1991 during Desert Storm with Operation Provide Comfort. When Saddam Hussein gassed northern villages, the Kurdish people fled to the mountains, Bush said. His unit airdropped humanitarian care, such as medical supplies, food and water, to the villagers.
Bush returned to Iraq in 2003 and remained for eight months, he said. On the ground with Marines on the front line, Bush helped ensure supplies were airdropped so as not to stall the troops' advance, he said.
Depending on the size of the parachute, Bush's team could rig up drops containing everything from eggs to tanks.
"When they (ground units) needed something, I would call it in and the supplies would be flown in," Bush said.
The Marine Corps' general mission was to hit strategic places that were thought to cause the most problems, secure the enemy and gain ground, Bush said.
"It was pretty intense. We would watch Scud missiles fly over our heads at night," he said. "But it was also exciting. The Marines were pumped up. We were being held back, waiting on the word, ready to get the job done."
Bush's third Iraq tour of duty came last year for about eight months. He provided supplies to every Marine unit in-country, not just the unit he was stationed with. Based at Camp Al Asad, Iraq, Bush surveyed different drop zones and visited the command bases. He also orchestrated the first combat airdrop using the Global Positioning System-guided Sherpa 900, an electronic device that guides a descending package to a drop zone.
Bush programs where he wants the supplies to land. If the GPS system fails, the load can be manually guided with a joystick, or Bush could hit the beacon and the load would find him, he said.
A "dumb" drop, or standard air delivery, is the method Bush had previously used. With a dumb drop, Bush provided the calculations based on wind speed and other factors, and via a radio guides the pilots to the drop zone. However, 800 feet is the ideal drop height for this method, whereas the GPS system can be as high as 30,000 feet, Bush said.
The GPS system provides safety for the aircraft and pilots, as well as safety of the base and ground units, Bush said. Using the dumb drop method, the enemy could see the plane flying in, and then could detect where the base is located by following the parachute. Dropping in supplies via air also cuts back on driving supplies in, where convoys can be attacked or ambushed, he added.
Over the last two years, Bush has headed 11 combat drops and is the only Marine to do that since Vietnam, he said.
"I was like a guinea pig. The military wanted to see if the drops were successful. Now, there are more troops involved and the Air Force and Army are having their men trained so they don't have to depend on the Marine Corps for supplies."
While in Iraq, Bush often spoke with the Iraqi people. Although the older generation opposes the United States in Iraq, the younger Iraqis want the U.S. presence, he said.
"I've had many Iraqis run up to me, thanking me for being there and telling me it was their birthday. I didn't understand what they meant at first, but I found out later that they meant it was a new beginning, a rebirth of their lives," Bush said. "It felt good to hear that."
He misses his family each time he deploys, but he said his wife understands the nature of the Marine Corps. "I can only do what I do based on the support of my family. My success is because of them."
Regardless of the number of deployments, each one is different and becomes a little more difficult, he said.
"Deploying is like jumping (out of a plane). The first couple of times you do it, it's like a joy ride -- you don't know any better. But after you become proficient, that's when all the questions come up. 'Could I have done that better?' or 'Am I coming home?' I think that's a question every Marine asks themselves."
Yet, Bush said he loves his job and doesn't regret his decision to enlist with the Marine Corps 15 years ago.
"I'm still not bored with what I do. It's always something new, something exciting. It's almost like extreme sports except it's free and you don't have to stand in line," Bush said. "I love being a Marine, but it goes beyond that. I was a Hawaiian before I was a Marine. People ask my why I do what I do and why I keep going back to Iraq. I provide security for our nation, but I also do it for my people. We (Hawaiians) were all warriors at one time."
And you should be! What a man and great patriot!
right on braddah !mahalo.... hana ho!
Brave men all. I will not tolerate any disrect of any of our men and women in uniform. I have great pride and respect for them. At my business I shake the hand of every former or retired or active duty serviceman that comes through. They are fighting for me and mine and I will honor them all.
My daughter is half deaf and half blind from a greande attack in Bagdad. A woman with a little girl once asked her why she had served and if it had been worth it.
My daughter pointed to the little girl and said, "I did it for her. You tell me, is she worth it?" It is that spirit that resides in the hearts of our service men and women and I love them for it!