MARSHALL ISLANDS TROOPS IN THICK OF IRAQ WAR

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A long way from home

By Aenet Rowa

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Yokwe, Jan. 24, 2009) - Currently stationed in Iraq, U.S. Army Specialist Wintha Joran is a long-way from his adopted home of Washington State. His new desert abode is even more exotic than his homeland, the tropical Pacific atolls of the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). In July 2008, Joran left with the Washington National Guard 81st Brigade -- a combat brigade with six battalions -- to train at the Yakima Army Training Center in preparation for being sent to Iraq.

They flew to Wisconsin for further training from August to September, and arrived the first week of October at Q-West Iraq.

"Our mission is pulling security and protecting Iraqi civilians, neighborhood patrols, escorting supply convoys through Iraq, and route clearing," said Joran, in an email this week.

He said he had met up with two Micronesian soldiers from Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM).

Under the Compact of Free Association agreement with the U.S., citizens of the Freely Associated States of the RMI, FSM and Palau, are eligible to volunteer to serve in all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Joran moved to the States over twenty years ago. He and his wife, Emma, make their home in the greater Seattle area and are long-time leaders with the Marshallese community there.

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