CAMP LEMONIER, Djibouti -- Marines from Command Logistics Element, Marine Central Command, here in support of Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, are supplying much-needed wood to local communities.
Currently, the Marines supply seven villages with a truckload of wood 15 to 17 times a week.
According to Staff Sgt. Jeffery S. Foster, operations chief, CLE, and a native of Tuscaloosa, Ala., they will continue this service and hope to add other communities to the delivery list.
"We've just been running with it right from the beginning," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Fitz C. Fitzpatrick, officer-in-charge, CJTF-HOA civil affairs section. "The Marines came in and said, 'We can handle it.' Because of their efforts, we're able to execute more projects for the community."
The majority of the wood consists of pallets that were used for packing and transporting various items to the camp. The donated material will help local Djiboutians construct sturdier structures - sturdier than the ones currently outlining most of the community.
"Marines are warriors foremost, but we also provide aid to people and communities - an awesome combination," said Staff Sgt. Kent W. Murray, company gunnery sergeant, CLE, who hails from Sterling, Va.
Recently, as the Marines arrived at a local community, the chief walked toward them with his hand already out to greet them. He shook all of their hands. Many of the civilians circled around the Marines, and watched as they delivered the supplies.
"When we first started the wood runs, they were a little apprehensive," said Foster. "But since we made it a routine, they've warmed up tremendously - always smiling and waving to us."
This project is one of many implemented here. Other projects include medical assitance and donations of furniture, clothing and toys to orphaned Djiboutian children.
"It's a good experience for the Djiboutians as well as for us, because we get to interact and learn a little bit about each other's culture," said Sgt. Jason B. Wells, nuclear, biological and chemical specialist, CLE.