|CAMP RAMADI, Iraq, Sept. 20, 2006 — It’s been nearly four decades since Dennis Henley filled a sand bag in a war zone. In 1967, he was a Marine Corps corporal in Quang Tri, Vietnam.
This September while visiting Camp Ramadi, he found himself once again holding a sand bag, but this time the chore proved to be a very special, emotional moment as the individual standing beside him with the shovel was his youngest son, Marine Corps Cpl. Stephen Henley. (Sand bags are required for admission to Camp Ramadi’s dining facility.)
Dennis Henley is the security officer at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Gulf Region Division Central District that’s overseeing $2 billion in reconstruction work in Baghdad and Al Albar Provinces including new schools, health care centers, water and wastewater treatment plants, electrical projects, police and fire stations. His 20-year-old son is in his final days of a deployment to Iraq with the Marine Corps Reserve Battalion out of Jacksonville, Fla. Stephen is the senior communications technician on a four-boat riverine small craft unit.
The Henley family knows something about service, honor, and duty. Dennis did six years with the Marine Corps, then 20 years in the U.S. Army, retiring five years ago as a chief warrant officer 4. He and his wife Mary have been married 35 years. Three of their sons joined the Marine Corps, one the Army, another son is a firefighter, and their daughter is a deputy sheriff.
Stephen is the fourth son to serve in Iraq.
“We didn’t direct our children what career choices to make. We left that up to them,” Dennis explained.
Stephen was completing a high school pre-seminary program in New Hampshire when he attended his brother Bryan’s graduation from U.S. Marine Corps basic training. “That’s when I decided I wanted to enlist, I wanted to be a Marine,” he said.
He joined the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in March 2003, attended boot camp and six months of communications A-school. After completing his active duty, he applied for and was selected as the first-ever recipient of a full scholarshipoffered only to Marines at Ave Maria University in Naples, Fla. (The scholarship was funded by Dominos founder Thomas Monaghan, a former Marine.) Stephen was in his sophomore year as a political science major when his Reserve unit was activated. His long-term goal is to work for the FBI, CIA, or Secret Service. He plans to get married next June to his fiancée Krista and father Dennis said he won’t miss that special event.
This is Dennis’ third tour in Iraq. He served in Baghdad in 2003 and returned in 2004. For his civilian job, he’s chief of