Cpl. Stein shared his March to Baghdad photos with his students at Interboro High School:
By Alex Rose
"Retired Marine Cpl. Chris Stein, an alum and 11th-grade American history teacher at Interboro High School, where some 340 of his students got a more personal look at the war Tuesday during an all-day presentation of his own deployment.
"I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to share my experiences with the students of today so they can see it from a different perspective," said Stein, 31, a former reservist and Delco native now living in Oxford.
"And I guess it makes it even more special that it's within the community I grew up in. That adds to the experience of the situation."
Stein was activated for an eight-month tour of duty in February 2003. He was awaiting orders in Kuwait by the beginning of March, and when the war began March 17, Stein set out with the 157 other Marines of the 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion's Bravo Company to become a part of history.
"I think it hits a little more home when it's someone (students) know or someone they deal with," said Stein, having now traded dusty boots and tan fatigues for sensible shoes and striped ties.
Many of the pictures Stein showed his classes illustrated the lighter side of military life during "down time." With 10 days out of every 30 devoted to time off, sheer boredom gave birth to a syrup chugging contest and mock trial (someone was "sued" for child abuse after he let another Marine's pet scorpion escape).
But other photos showed all too clearly the constant danger the 4th was in during those other 20 days.
Marines slept in "graves" they'd dug next to their vehicles to avoid shrapnel from falling artillery - it explodes up and out, not down. There were images of burned-out or still flaming tanks, and one picture, taken on the second day of fighting, showed a giant fireball rising from the Al-Ramallah oil fields on the horizon. The Marines were heading toward it.
Stein was set for a medical evacuation in June 2003, but elected to stay until the rest of his company shipped out in October of that year.
"It was, you left with a certain group of men, you want to come home with them," he said. "I wouldn't have felt comfortable coming home knowing they were still over there. My grandfather spent two years in a prisoner camp (in Austria during World War II). Spending a couple more months (in Iraq) wasn't too much to ask.""