Historical Item


Seeing the world/Serving the world with the Marines

For Latest Updates
on this site!
What's New

MEGA Main Page

Posts: Valletta, Malta
Source: Jewish Review  http://www.jewishreview.org/Archives/Article.php?Article=2005-12-01-1850

Lots of high school grads want similar things: To attend college and then travel the world. Not Benjamin Feibleman; he wanted to do things in reverse.

And his idea of seeing the world also differed from most. Feibelman wasn't content to visit or maybe live for a while in countries like France, Italy or Costa Rica.

Feibleman wanted to live in Liberia, Algeria, Pakistan or Haiti.

A highly and specially trained Marine Security Guard, Feibleman, then 18, recalls telling his higher-ups, "Send me to the biggest dump on the planet."

The Sprague High School graduate got his first choice: violent Liberia, a small West African country of more than 3 million people then in the midst of a bloody, 14-year civil war.

"Liberia itself was a post-Apocalyptic, Mad-Max world where there were no rules," Feibleman said of the country he lived in from October 2003 to September 2004.

Feibleman recently spent three weeks at home in Salem, his first time stateside in two-and-half years.

During his Thanksgiving holiday respite, Feibleman, now 22, shared some of his experiences as a foreign-based security guard and his desire to return to civilian life next spring.

Feibleman said he knew at age 17 the traditional post-high school path wasn't for him.

"I'd been convinced I wanted to be a Marine," the sergeant said in a recent telephone interview from his childhood home, in which his bedroom now is "a nice, healthy pink."

"I looked toward the military as an outlet because I didn't think I'd have the discipline to succeed in the college environment." He said he found homework "tedious, pointless."

Given his young age, he needed parental permission to join the military. His mom, Ellen, 56, recalls willingly "signing off" for her only child, but with a touch of trepidation.

"We had mixed feelings," she said of herself and husband, Gil, a lawyer. "We're really not a military family."

Rather, the family had always been very active in Salem's Jewish community and long-time members of its Reconstructionist synagogue, Temple Beth Sholom, where Ben became a bar mitzvah at 13.

Feibleman, now part of the U.S. Embassy's five-person U.S. Marine Corps Security Guard Detachment in Valletta, Malta, first trained and served in 29 Palms, Calif., and, in early spring 2003 at the start of the war with Iraq, in Okinawa, Japan.

"We watched the war on TV; we had nothing to do with it," he said of himself and his Marine colleagues who'd hoped instead to be fighting on the front lines. "We were champing at the bit."

So he became a rifleman in the Marine Corps Infantry and then enrolled at and graduated later that year from the Marine Security Guard School in Quantico, Va.

Colin Powell, then secretary of state during President George W. Bush's first term, presented a very surprised Feibleman with his diploma. (It was the first time a secretary of state had visited the school in 20 years, according to Feibleman.)

A Marine Security Guard's mission is to protect classified information and equipment and U.S. personnel. These specialized security guards serve at 130 embassies and consulates around the globe, according to a Web site about the U.S. military.

During his first Marine Security Guard assignment, in Liberia, Feibleman learned to his dismay he still wouldn't be fighting.

But he soon realized his decision to switch jobs was a good one: His job affords a lot of travel; he enjoys camaraderie with the other, relatively few Marine Security Guards at each U.S. Embassy post; and he believes it's a good transition to civilian life.

He spent six months this year at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, ensuring the internal security of the U.S. Department of State, among other duties, most of which are confidential, he said.

And this month Feibleman returns to his post in Malta's capital, where in September Portlander Molly Bordonaro became U.S. Ambassador to the small, yet militarily strategic island nation in the Mediterranean Sea.

"Sgt. Feibleman and all of our Marines in Malta do an outstanding job," Bordonaro said in an e-mail from her embassy office.

As a security guard, Feibleman says he "looks very professional on post" in a short-sleeve dress uniform. As such, he's been photographed with President Bush himself, current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Senators Joe Lieberman and John Kerry.

"From time to time, they just walk right on by," Feibleman said of top U.S. officials.

He now looks forward to returning to Oregon this spring, enrolling in college next fall and finding a place of his own.

Feibleman also plans to get his small film company, Testing Fate Entertainment, off the ground with a fellow U.S. Marine, and the pair want to complete a documentary about the USMC.

Feibleman said Salem today looks like "the entire town had a face lift," but re-acclimating to his family took no effort. While abroad, he gets frequent access to phones and e-mail, and his folks visit him once a year.

"People think we must have been scared to death, but we weren't," Ellen said of Ben's military work. "I didn't worry about him, particularly when he got into embassy work."

Feibleman doesn't practice Judaism while abroad; it's tough to do in Malta, where 98 percent of the island's nearly 400,000 people are Roman Catholic, he said, adding perhaps his religion will take on more import once back in the U.S.

"It's the community aspect that I appreciate so much," he said.


Jewish Review Article on Malta/Monrovia MSG
Item Type
Historical Item
Item Number
Location of Master

  MSG Detachments

Historical Committee
HI_Template.html V2.0