Marine Appreciates the Small Stuff

Felicia Whatley

Deployed to a base near Ramadi as a rifleman in September 2007, Marine Corps Reserves Corporal James Kneeland felt it was “an eye-opening experience.” He felt things are definitely getting better over there.

“We drove all the way through Baghdad without getting shot at. We are making a difference over there. Things are getting better, ” said 25- year old Cpl James Kneeland.

The Iraqi Policemen thanked him for his help, and locals have fed him food and tea. He said, many locals showed that they wanted them to be there. But war, does not come without a price.

Kneeland suffered an injury from an Improved Explosive Device (IED) blast. He was airvacced to Landstuhl military hospital in Germany for treatment. After only a week, he requested to go back to Iraq, so they sent him back to his unit downrange.

“I learned to appreciate the small stuff, like a private shower and a real bathroom. It is nice not having to put all my gear on to use the head outside,” said Kneeland.

Veteran’s Day is special to Kneeland because much of his family and friends are veterans. Both grandfathers fought in World War II and his father was a Green Beret. Most of his childhood friends also joined the military.

“It is nice we have a day to celebrate people like that. Veteran’s Day is a day to honor them,” said Kneeland.

There are things about the deployment his misses, most of all, his buddies and his fire team he led. “Espre de Corp,” he said. He also misses having a simpler schedule. On active his days were planned for him. Now he juggles a job, school, and Reserves duty.

“Getting deployed is challenging because you are gone for so long. I remember how scary it was to drive over blown out bridges,” said Kneeland.

Kneeland is an undeclared major in the College of Management wanting to pursue Operations Management, using his leadership skills he learned in the military for the civilian sector.

He wants students at UMass Boston to know “We are doing good things over there. Normal everyday guys are in military, and we are making progress in Iraq.”