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Service members stop in the "Heart of the Mediterranean"

By Cpl. Paula M. Fitzgerald | | December 4, 2002

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Combined Joint Task Force - Horn of Africa recently visited the tiny Mediterranean island-country, Malta, during the task force's voyage to northeast Africa, where its mission is to disrupt and defeat transitional terrorist groups in that region , which pose a threat to the United States or its allies. During the stop, the service members' liberty was jam-packed with free time to wander the island, tour various historical locations and even dine with Maj. Gen. John F. Sattler, commander of CJTF-HOA.Cpl. Russell M. Peloquin, a system administrator with CJTF-HOA Intelligence Section, said of his first trip to Malta, "The history, sights and the friendly people were so intriguing."Prior to the trip, the Petaluma, Calif., native admitted that his knowledge of Malta came from a movie he had once seen."When they first said we were stopping on the island of Malta, I imagined it being very tropical," explained Peloquin. "I did some research on the Internet and learned that it was not tropical at all."In fact, the climate of Malta is mild and rainy in the winter and hot and dry in the summer. Much of the island's vegetation has been replaced by buildings.Even though Peloquin didn't find any coconut trees or sandy beaches, he said he was still impressed by what he did encounter during one of the tours to the neolithic temples.The history of Malta spans nearly 7,000 years, beginning with the neolithic period. Until recently, it was believed the Egyptian pyramids were the oldest architectural monuments in existence. However, archaeological research has shown that some of Malta's neolithic temples are about 1,000 years older than the famous pyramids of Giza. Peloquin and a group of task force members visited Hagar Qim, Mnajdra and Tarxien temples.Some of that same group also had the opportunity to do a little building of their own: building camaraderie amongst the different services aboard USS Mount Whitney, that is.Junior enlisted service members had the chance to get together and partake in some fine eats at the U.S. Embassy here, where Maj. Gen. Sattler spoke to them about their mission during the deployment.He said, "This is a very special time because we are one unique fighting force. As things started to unfold you may have read about other units deploying, and now those stories are about you. You have the opportunity to make a difference and be a part of history."After the general's speech, another first timer to Malta, Lance Cpl. Jesse D. Powell, a Ballinger, Texas, native and network administrator with the task force's Data Network Section, said, "I'm really glad we got to know each other because we're all here to fight the same battle. All the different services have to put away their differences and petty squabbles. No one can have the 'I'm better than you' attitude."After three fun-filled days in Malta, the task force set sail and is currently headed to Africa.
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