Jehovah's Witnesses boycott Marines return!

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    Go to Local Jackson Marine returns home Friday, October 7, 2005

    By Malcolm Hall Repository STAFF WRITER


    Marine reservist Lance Cpl. Seth Dunlap receives a hero’s welcome Thursday at T.G.I. Friday’s in Jackson Township as he marked his return from the Iraqi war zone. Dunlap, a Jackson High School graduate, is a member of the Marine Corps’ Reserve 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, based in Brook Park.

    JACKSON TWP. -- For Marine reservist Seth Dunlap, drinks in a Jackson Township restaurant sure beat “sand and 30-second showers” in the Iraqi war zone.

    There was no holding back on the joy as Dunlap embraced relatives, friends and neighbors during a welcome-home party at T.G.I. Friday’s on Thursday evening. Dunlap, a member of the Headquarters and Service Co. 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, based in Brook Park, recently returned from a seven-month deployment to Iraq.

    “It is overwhelming,” said Dunlap, a 2002 Jackson High School graduate. “I learned a lot about myself, I learned a lot about Iraqi culture. It was a learning experience, but then it was something I would not want to do again.”

    Joining Dunlap for the celebration were two Massillon brothers, Jason and Johel Woodliff, also reservists with the Marine battalion, who recently returned from Iraq. All three are lance corporals.

    “We were there from March to the middle of September,” Dunlap said. “They are talking about sending us back somewhere. But who knows if that will happen.”

    Dunlap arrived home Thursday after spending a few days at Camp LeJeune in North Carolina.

    The homecoming was a bit different for the Woodliff brothers because their parents boycotted the young men’s return. The Woodliffs’ parents are Jehovah’s Witnesses — they oppose military conflicts.

    “They do not support the military at all,” said Johel Woodliff, 20. “Which means they do not support us. Our mother and father did not show up today.”

    But nonetheless, the drinks flowed and the hugs and embraces were plenty for the three returning Marine reservists.

    “No more sand and 30-second showers!” Dunlap screamed as he savored being united with the Woodliff brothers, and reunited with family and friends.

    Their return is especially heartfelt considering that some from the unit were killed in early August during insurgent attacks.

    “I don’t have any comment on that,” Dunlap said.

    Dunlap and Johel Woodliff served in the Hit (pronounced heat) area of Iraq, northwest of Baghdad. Jason Woodliff served at the Haditha Dam area in the vicinity of the Euphrates River. Both areas came under fierce attack in early August.

    “We were an infantry unit,” said 23-year-old Jason Woodliff. “We have companies that were out there doing what had to be done everyday. We saw our share of insurgency.”

    Other members of the 3rd Battalian, 25th Marines are scheduled to return today.

    The Marine reservists’ duties in Iraq were “pretty much to provide security to the area; to disrupt any insurgent activity and provide a more secure environment for the Iraqi citizens,” said Maj. Jenny Potter, a public relations officer for the reserve unit. “The way they did it was search for and clear out insurgency in the area; working with the Iraqi security forces.”

    For Dunlap, coming home means enrolling in Wheeling Jesuit University. Jason Woodliff plans to return to his job at an automobile-service center.

    “I am staying active duty until January,” Johel Woodliff said. “And then I am going back to college.”

    You can reach Repository writer Malcolm Hall at (330) 580-8305 or e-mail:

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