CAMP FENWAY, IRAQ -- The Marines of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), while participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom, established their base camp for operations in a patch of dirt in Central Iraq. The area was an unused oilfield which at one time served as farm land. The Marines named their camp after Fenway Park, a major league baseball park in Boston.
The Marines of the 24th MEU (SOC) came into Iraq on a float that was extended indefinitely. Due to the nature of their mission the Marines did not know when they would get to leave Iraq to return to the United States.
During the time the MEU was at Fenway, many events converged to create lasting impressions about the base camp and about Iraq in general. Some of these are described below.
Upon arriving at Camp Fenway, the main body of the Command Element was greeted by the sound of a chemical attack siren. The Marines quickly donned their gas masks. After doing so, some froze while others continued to dig the survivability positions that they had already begun. All was silence in the camp except for the clinking of entrenching tools until the 'all clear' was given.
Some weeks later, Lieutenant General Earl B. Hailston, Commanding General, Marine Forces Central Command, paid a visit to the Marines of the MEU at the camp. During a brief speech he gave to the troops, he called out "OORAH!" His call was answered by enthusiastic Marines, who showed even greater energy and motivation moments later as the General's speech was interrupted by the call of, "White Star Cluster!" by a Marine at an observation post. The Marines quickly grabbed their gear and weapons and ran to their fighting positions where they waited for either combat or the sounding of 'all clear'. The Marines returned to their duties when an "all clear" was given.
After several weeks of operating in Iraq, the MEU received orders to redeploy to Amphibious Ready Group shipping for movement back to the U.S. At that point, the suspense of not knowing how long they would be in Iraq was lifted. Finally, the Marines began to get some idea of when they would be leaving. They went directly from being at Fenway indefinitely to being told they would be leaving in a couple of days.
Shortly thereafter, tents began to come down and Marines began packing up to return to their ships - and to showers and hot chow.
Though the 24th MEU (SOC) was not the first to arrive in Iraq, by the time they had arrived, they had already been away from home longer than any other unit in country. For this they received the distinction of being the first to leave Iraq.