Geraldo views OIF from 3rd MAW
Submitted by: 3rd Marine
Story Identification #:
Story by Staff Sgt. Houston F. White Jr.
AL ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq(July 4, 2004) -- The
intensity of the lights, cameras and action normally associated with
international media was scaled back to a more personable level here
June 24-25, when Geraldo Rivera, senior war correspondent for Fox News
Channel, spent time with the servicemembers of the 3rd Marine Aircraft
According to the 61-year-old celebrity newscaster, the intent of his
visit with the MAW was to find out how the Marines were faring following
a turbulent period here.
"We had been here before when the Army was here and wanted very much
to see the Marines in action," explained the New York City native. "We
knew how tough a time the Marines had over the past few months with
events north of the Sunni Triangle in (Fallujah and Ar Ramadi, Iraq)
and since we had covered the wild, wild west of Iraq before, we just
wanted to see how the Marines were doing."
In addition to conducting interviews and reporting live during his whirlwind
tour of the area, Rivera participated in a humanitarian mission at the
nearby village of Sahl Hawran, Iraq, where his attitude and endurance
made him popular with one particular Marine commander.
"Geraldo was very positive and I thought he did a very good job of understanding
the Marine Corps and what our mission was," said Col. Juan G. Ayala,
commanding officer, Marine Wing Support Group 37, 3rd MAW. "He went
with us and even though it was a hot and miserable day, he hung in there
with us and he was very gracious.
"He's intelligent, knows a lot about the military and asked good questions,"
added the 47-year-old native of El Paso, Texas. "I think he experienced
what we actually go through on a daily basis on our trip to the village
and once the Marines saw that he was willing to get in the weeds and
the dirt with them, they got a very positive impression of him."
Rivera, a former boxer, capped off an eventful first day with 3rd MAW
by performing duties as master of ceremonies during an exciting boxing
event held aboard the air base at Al Asad, Iraq.
"Fight night was wild and a lot of fun," he smiled. "There was a lot
of energy and as a former boxer myself, it was great to consistently
see the same kind of courage and knock-down determination you would
expect from the United States Marines."
According to Warrant Officer Cynthia Douglas, officer-in-charge, joint
reception cell, Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 3, 3rd MAW, the time
Geraldo spent with personnel aboard the air base was genuine and enjoyable.
"He was very down-to-earth with the Marines and Sailors," remarked the
33-year-old who hails from the same borough of New York City as Rivera.
"He asked them a lot of questions about their families and where they
were from and (his questions) didn't seem staged like on television."
"Seeing a famous New Yorker come out here made me proud because we also
share the same Puerto Rican heritage," she offered.
"I thought Geraldo's visit from home to check on us and see how we're
doing was inspirational," added Gunnery Sgt. Eric Dickerson, guard chief,
security platoon, MWHS-3. "He was a very friendly guy and it's motivating
to know that somebody from back at home cares about providing us with
(media) coverage from way out here."
Apparently, the servicemembers the renowned reporter spent time with
left an indelible impression upon Rivera as well.
"These are the finest men and women serving the United States," he stated.
"They do a very professional job, they have courage and they perform
their jobs with an enormous amount of confidence and competence in the
United States Marines.
"I was deeply touched by the sincerity, hard work and sacrifice of these
young men and women," he added. "It really does my heart good and gives
you confidence that we can ultimately prevail in the war on terror."
Photos included with story:
||Geraldo Rivera (far right), senior
war correspondent, Fox News Channel, enjoys breakfast on June
25, at a dining facility aboard the air base in Al Asad, Iraq,
with several Marines from 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. During his
two-day visit, the 61-year-old New York City native spent time
with servicemembers and civilians, which included posing for hundreds
of pictures and signing autographs. Photo by: Staff Sgt. Houston
F. White Jr.
||Acting as the evening’s referee,
1st Sgt. David P. Perry (in left corner), first sergeant, Company
L, 3rd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, Marine Wing Support Group
37, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, and 43-year-old Maryville, Tenn.,
native, looks on as Geraldo Rivera (right), senior war correspondent,
Fox News Channel, pumps up the capacity crowd during ‘Fight
Night,’ June 24 in Al Asad, Iraq, with a motivated ‘OORAH’
chant. The former boxer and 61-year-old native of New York City,
was the special guest master of ceremonies for the event during
his two-day visit to the Marines and Sailors of 3rd MAW. Photo
by: Staff Sgt. Houston F. White Jr.
||Fox News Channel’s senior
war correspondent, Geraldo Rivera (center right), conducts an
interview with Maj. Gen. Keith J. Stalder, commanding general,
3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, aboard the air base at Al Asad, Iraq,
June 25. During his two-day visit to the Marines of 3rd MAW, the
61-year-old New York City native received a firsthand view of
various 3rd MAW assets and warfighting capabilities. Photo by:
Staff Sgt. Houston F. White Jr.