Support our mission

PATROL BASE GETTYSBURG, Iraq — Yes, there’s the well-known interservice rivalry of, say, the Army-Navy game, or that of movies, as when Jack Nicholson playing a Marine colonel mocks the white uniform of Tom Cruise playing a young naval officer in “A Few Good Men.”

But there was none of that the other day in western Iraq from a Marine lieutenant who had only unstinting praise for the U.S. Navy Seabees who a few months ago fixed up his run-down, Spartan patrol base.

Fixed it up and then some.

Because the Seabees didn’t just make the obvious fixes, said Marine 1st Lt. Damon Doykos, 24, of Sacramento, Calif. “These dudes went above and beyond the all,” said Doykos, commander of 3rd Platoon, Company D, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, part of Task Force Highlander, which operates in western Anbar province.

They did plenty of other good things to help the Marines and without anyone having asked them, he said.

Doykos’ Marines man Patrol Base Gettysburg just up from the north bank of the Euphrates River. They help protect a vital bridge over the river, which runs through the city of Rawah.

Before the Seabees showed up, the two-story building that houses the patrol base had no air conditioning.

The heat was so severe that at night the Marines had trouble sleeping, and that in turn threatened combat effectiveness.

“The Marines were dyin’.” Doykos said. “We didn’t have fans. It was pretty terrible.”

Enter the Seabees sometime in May, the Marines said last week, though just which Seabee element they had been could not be readily determined. Doykos remembers them as “Reservist Seabees.”

“Once the Seabees showed up and installed AC, quality of life went through the roof,” Doykos said.

“It increased our combat effectiveness because dudes could cool off when they came back in” off patrol, he said.

But the help didn’t stop there, Doykos said.

“The Seabees, the reservist Seabees, they just went above and beyond the call,” he said.

They put in power outlets on the roof so the Marines standing watch could have fans. They took care of exposed electric wires and made similar improvements.

“They made it a lot safer,” he said.

“They put, like, lights in, in the bathroom, just little things like that,” Doykos said.

“Like they had, like, an actual work ethic,” he said, “which was pretty awesome.”


stars and stripes videos

around the web

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up