Sunday, October 14, 2007

Tongan Royal Marines.

[Photo by Marine Cpl. Darhonda Rodela]
Recently, my teammates and I were delighted note the conspicuous arrival of a group of highly disciplined, extremely polite, completely squared away, and uncommonly big and strong new coalition forces. The newcomers are the Royal Tongan Marines, and they are AWESOME.

When I read their patches to figure out where they are from, I have to admit I didn’t exactly know where the Tonga was located on a map. So I looked it up on Wikipedia. It seems the Kingdom of Tonga (Tongan for "south") is an independent archipelago in the southern Pacific Ocean. It lies about a third of the way between New Zealand and Hawaii, south of Samoa and east of Fiji. And their armed forces consist of 450 members. So I guess, like, their entire Marine Corps is here. :)

These guys are guarding the palace, and they actually look at and scrutinize the ID cards of everyone who comes through the gate. They also “Sir” and “Ma’am” everybody who comes through the gate. In fact, I have been “ma’am-ed” by them every time I have seen them, whether at the palace or elsewhere. They always offer a friendly greeting, and I even get "good morning, ma'am" when we are out running. They live near my trailer park, and they are so polite every time I see them. Everybody I talk to receives the same level of politeness from them. I’m half expecting a ma’am sandwich (“Ma’am, yes ma’am.”) if I venture to ask them a question. I guess that's only fitting for troops who come from "The Friendly Islands."

These guys are great, and I honestly feel safer by their mere presence here on the VBC. (In my experience, every country’s Marines are “elite.”) If I ever get in a fight, I want these guys to bail me out.

Welcome to Camp Victory, Marines!

Tongan Marines take over palace security
Monday, 08 October 2007
By Marine Cpl. Darhonda Rodela

BAGHDAD — The Kingdom of Tonga’s contingent of Marines accepted duties to provide palace security during a recent assumption of responsibility ceremony here.
Before assuming their duties, the Tongan Marines were at Camp Pendleton, Calif. with U.S. Marines, where they received pre-deployment training and refresher courses on tactical procedures.

After their training in California, the Tongans went to Kuwait to receive additional military training.

The Tongans will man the security points of the palace formally manned by Soldiers.
“We are happy to be here and work with the United States,” said Tongan Marine Sergeant Maj. Teau Filimoehala, Tongan Marine platoon sergeant. “(The Tongan Marines) are ready to work.”
Prior to their assumption, the Tongans also received right-side and left-side training to help them better understand their jobs.

In one week, the Tongans observed as Soldiers showed them what their role as guards would consist of before taking the reigns and manning their posts.

“They received force protection briefs and other security training,” said Army Sgt. 1st Class Barry Toler, Multi-National Corps–Iraq headquarters commandant.

Toler assisted in training the Tongan Marines for their current duties.

“On behalf of the Tongan Marines, we appreciate the opportunity to work with the United States,” said Tongan Marine Pvt. Oliver Kata, MNC-I security guard. “This is a new experience for some of us. If they give us more work, we will be happy to do it.”

The Kingdom of Tonga, also known as the Friendly Islands — the name given by Capt. James Cook because of the friendly reception he received there, is a conglomerate of more than 170 islands located south of Samoa.


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