Bahrain - April 2002
Subject: Fw: Embassy duty in Bahrain
Just to let you know the Embassy in Bahrain was attacked
yesterday at 4:00 p.m. The five Marine Security Guards and the two
Regional Security Officers were the only ones protecting the Embassy. The
Embassy was closed so luckily we only had to protect ourselves and the
Embassy compound from destruction. The protest was a pro-Palestinian rally
that started a few miles from the embassy and became fueled for violence
as radical Muslim groups took charge and led the march on the embassy at
3:30 p.m. The march was between 2600 and 3000 protestors, but we do not
have an exact count because it just happened several hours ago. The
protestors were throwing rocks, sticks and fire bombs at the embassy.
Between 20 and 30 protestors climbed the wall and started setting the
cars, trucks and embassy on fire. When the protestors climbed the walls,
the 5 Marines were authorized to use necessary force. We shot tear gas
into the crowd of over 2600 people to try and turn them away from the
compound and then continued destruction of our pov's and satellite
communication equipment, which was outside the embassy but inside the
compound wall. At 4:10 p.m. no firefighters had arrived, so three Marines
had to leave the embassy under covering fire of the Marines with gas on
the third floor to go to the back of the compound to put out the fires
themselves. We sustained minor injuries from the protestors attacking us
with rocks and sticks as we chased them out of the compound and back over
the walls using force, while the remaining Marine put out the fires to the
best of his ability. After the fires were secured the Marines pulled back
into the embassy and continued to force the protestors back onto the
highway behind the embassy. The protests were mainly secured by 7:00 p.m.
and the investigation was in full swing by this time as well. The Marines
stayed at the embassy for security throughout the night and will continue
to do so today. The host government was embarrassed that they could not
control its own people and that their riot control police were no match
for the number of protestors.
Bahrain - May 2001
Captain Edward Caricato USMC
[Editor's Note: Capt. Caricato wrote the following letter during a six month deployment aboard the USS Boxer (similar to a miniature aircraft carrier). He was the Executive Officer for a Marine field artillery battery. Prior to Bahrain, they had been in Thailand.]
Since Thailand we have continued west and are now in the Persian Gulf. We passed through the Straits of Hormuz a couple days ago and pulled into Bahrain for a 3 day working port visit. We had a lot of work to do while there but I managed to get a couple hours here and there to get off the ship and into town. Bahrain is a pretty interesting place. I highly recommend it as a vacation spot, if you are a devout Muslim. If Muslims feel a little constrained at home they tend to go to Bahrain to let their hair down a little. It is relatively western compared to Saudi Arabia or Kuwait.
Because of my limited time there, I did not really get to see too much. Both nights out we went into the Souk (sook) which is a type of open air market. It kind of reminded me of a China town you may find in a big city in the U.S.. It certainly was a change of pace from our nights in Thailand but we still had a good time. Unfortunately, I did not do to much souvenir shopping due to a pretty bad exchange rate ($3.77 = 1 Bahraini Dinar). I did pick up some local spices that I was told were significantly more expensive in the U.S.. Anyone eating in the Caricato house for the next year or so can expect a lot of saffron and curry.
As always I had to test my guts with some of the local cuisine. I figured you can't go much more native than getting in line with a bunch of Bahrainis at a street vendor selling shwarmas. A shwarma is like a gyro. Plus they were pretty cheap. After night #2 I realized a couple rules of thumb when eating shwarmas: #1 They taste really good following a couple beers. #2 They don't taste as good prior to those beers. #Do not ever, under any circumstances watch the vendor prepare your shwarma or look too hard at it while you are eating it. Needless to say, my guts decided it was time to send me a message and I was down hard for about a day after that. The moral of the story; you are safer sampling this cuisine at a gyro stand in the food court of your local mall and even that isn't a 100% guarantee.
I wish I had more to write but we have been pretty busy preparing for our next evolution. By the time you receive this letter I will be ashore in Kuwait for some training.
[Continued: Click on Countries - Kuwait]
THINK GLOBALLY - ACT LOCALLY - PRAY FOR WORLD PEACE