Battlefield Fallujah Warriors: Captain Theodore Bethea, USMC
Company Commander, Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines
Episode 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12
Interviewer: Chief Warrant Officer William Hutson
Fallujah, Iraq - November 17, 2004
Courtesy of the Department of Defense and the U.S. Marine Corps History Division
I joined the Marine Corps through the Officer Commissioning Program in 1996, went to infantry training at Quantico and then I joined my first unit which was 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, where I was a rifle platoon commander with India Company, the boat company. With the boat company, I did scout swimmer training, close assault training, and went on the 15th MEU [Marine expeditionary unit] under Colonel Donnagan. While on the 31st MEU we did training with the Saudis, as well as provided a force and readiness in the Persian Gulf. Upon coming back from my first deployment with the 15th MEU, came back and briefly served as an executive officer [XO] before I went to work at 2nd Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team [FAST] company in Yorktown, Virginia. While in 2nd FAST, I deployed as an assistant platoon commander to Bahrain for six months.
Immediately returning from Bahrain, attended close quarters battle school, and then created 6th Platoon 2nd FAST Company, which was a brand new platoon and Major Morris assigned me to build this platoon. Our primary mission was to do the first FAST deployment to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It was year 2000. We had trained 6th Platoon, 2nd FAST Company, and conducted our first deployment to Naval Base Guantanamo, Cuba, where we conducted the first FAST mission, guarding 1,744 miles of fence line between our base and Cuba. Immediately returning from that deployment, we deployed again in April in response to the bombing of the USS Cole. And we provided a force protection for ships that were vulnerable to follow on attacks of that nature for a period of about a month and a half. Upon returning from that deployment, we deployed to Japan as part of the Fleet anti-terrorism security teams, FAST deployment program there. While based out of Japan, we conducted numerous training evolutions, and during that tour, the September 11th occurred, in which case we became very busy, and deployed in several contingency missions, as a result of the increased terrorist threat worldwide.
Upon returning from my deployment with 2nd FAST Company in Japan, I became the operations officer and deployed to Vieques and, in Vieques, we conducted security along the fence line between Camp Garcia, and the outlying population, so the battle group can conduct its pre-deployment training. That was my final deployment with FAST Company, and in turn went to school for nine months at the new Expeditionary Warfare School [EWS].
Upon graduating from that, I volunteered to go on the GTEP Program [Georgia Train and Equip Program], Phase Three Delta, where we trained the 111 Flight Infantry Battalion in basic infantry tactics and techniques, and in a 14-week period, we equipped this battalion, consisting of 644 soldiers. We gave them initial training, and at the end of the program, they conducted a live fire combined arms attack at the company level supporter with 82-millimeter mortars, RPGs [rocket propelled grenades], and machine guns. The GTEP program was initiated right after September 11th, because Georgia said that they were with the United States in the fight against terrorism. And, as a result of that, we in turn sent U.S. Army Special Forces to train the Georgians and to enhance their special forces and their military and special forces then turned it over to the Marine Corps, and the Marine Corps began training their flight infantry battalions. It was an outstanding experience and definitely makes you appreciate the training and equipping that the United States Marine Corps provides for its Marines.
After the Georgia program, I checked into 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, and was very fortunate to now be commanding Charlie Company 1/8.