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Former student returns home a hero

By Staff
Marine tells students of his time in Iraq
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
Living under a bridge for five months, taking baths with bottled water and eating pre-cooked meals sealed in airtight packages were among the Iraq war experiences Marine Cpl. Daniel Redfearn shared with Hartselle Junior High School students recently.
Students decorated the school's hallways and lunchroom with posters, banners and red, white and blue bunting to welcome Redfearn as an American hero who has served two tours of duty in Iraq. Each class assembled separately to view a collection of Redfearn's personal slides and to hear him respond to questions asked on their behalf by Frank Parker, principal.
Redfearn was no stranger to the students. Those enrolled in the sixth grade reading class sent him care packages while he was in Iraq and many others made donations to that cause. He also is no stranger to Hartselle. He is a 2001 graduate of Hartselle High School and the son of the Rev. Jack and Lisa Redfearn of Hartselle.
Redfearn is a fire team leader for the 3rd Platoon, 2nd Marine Division, which is based at Camp Lejeune, N.C.
He was with this unit when it was mobilized in 2003 to assist allied forces in the overturn of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship. After Iraq's military forces were defeated, his company was assigned to secure and protect a bridge on the main supply route from Kuwait to northern Iraq.
"Nothing but military vehicles and personnel was allowed on the highway," Redfearn said. "Our job was to make sure the section of the road we defended was open and safe for travel at all times. We actually lived under the bridge for five or six months…sleeping with or without sleeping bags, depending on the weather, eating MRE's at mealtimes and bathing with bottled water."
One of the slides he showed was of a 2003 memorial service for the 18 marines in his division who were killed in action.
Redfearn returned to Iraq with his division in 2004 to help tighten security, train the Iraq national guard and ensure a safe election, the first in that county in over 30 years. He returned to the states Feb. 7.
Redfearn said what he missed the most while being away were his family and friends, Southern home-cooked food, driving down the road in his car listening to music and not being able to take a shower.
In describing Iraqis, he said some of them, children and adults alike, are nice and appreciate what the allied forces are doing, while others hate Americans. He added, "We were nice to everyone. As a whole, they are ordinary people like us except they have different customs and lifestyles."
Redfearn said he joined the Marines because he wasn't ready for college but liked the idea of traveling and seeing different parts of the world. He pointed out that he has been in four different countries and had the opportunity to observe a diversity of cultures.
Parker closed the assembly by saying to Redfearn, "We're very proud of you and glad you're home safe and sound. We need to be thankful that we have people like you who are ready and willing to put themselves in harm's way to protect the freedom of our country."
Afterwards, Redfearn said he thinks the American military presence in Iraq has done some good.
"I was there for the election in the vicinity of one of the polling places. It was a good day for Iraqis, a first for women. Most of those who voted appeared to be pretty happy."
Redfearn said he plans to leave the Marines when his four-year enlistment is completed later this year and continue his formal education.