Marine Maj. (and Medford police Sgt.) Mark Boone, 37, describes his military tour in western Iraq in a presentation Thursday to the Medford City Council. - Jamie Lusch


MEDFORD — Scanning roadsides for buried wires, looking for ambushes waiting to spring, and avoiding suicide bombers were all in a day's work for Marine Corps Maj. Mark Boone.

"A common desire of our enemy is to hurt a person on the ground," Boone explained to his attentive audience at a Medford City Council meeting Thursday.

Medford police Sgt. Mark Boone, 37, described his recent military tour in the Al Anbar Province in western Iraq, which included sweeping streets for improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

When they weren't disabling explosives or detonating bombs alongside the Euphrates River, members of the 9th Combat Engineer Support Battalion were building police stations in places like Habbaniyah west of Baghdad.

"We built a lot of facilities for the Marines, for the Iraqi army and for the Iraqi police," he said.

Boone's first stint in Iraq was in 2003 on an eight-month tour of duty in areas including Baghdad and Babil provinces. His recent tour, his second, was 10 months, including seven months in combat in western Iraq, he said.

Boone returned home in April and resumed his civilian job as a patrol sergeant with the Medford Police Department in July. He's in charge of the city's K-9 unit.

One of the difficulties he faced in Iraq was working in populated areas, he said. The mission included blowing up a munitions factory, which Boone showed on video. Seven seconds before the explosion was to take place a civilian car came out of nowhere and drove down a road he didn't even know existed beside the building. He said he aged 10 years in the moments before the car was past the site, and the building blew into a giant white cloud.

Boone said unlike the matter-of-fact approach to doing business he's used to, in the Iraqi culture military arrangements include swapping personal information first, such as information about spouses and children.

"Everything's done over several cups of chai and then you get to the business at hand," he said.

Answering questions after the presentation, Boone declined to go into detail about his work against the IEDs.

"I don't ever want to share anything that can help our adversaries in their game," he said.

Kelly Kleinberg of the Medford Fire Department asked Boone if he thought progress was being made in Iraq.

"Are we doing a good thing over there?" she asked.

"Absolutely," he said, adding that terrorism is a worldwide issue and will take time to resolve. "They fully intend on fighting my son's son.

"Progress is being made. It's a long fight."

Janet Marlega of the police department asked if the troops have everything they need.

Boone said supplies are not only sufficient but he was often impressed by the equipment and technology available to him.

Medford Fire Marshal Dan Patterson asked what it was like to be over there knowing there are people in the U.S. who don't want you there.

"The political wrangling (that's going on the U.S.) only shows weakness in the eyes of the enemy," said Boone. He added that the troops know Americans want a successful outcome.

Following the meeting, Boone said the experience has strengthened his focus and broadened the scope of what he can take on. Things that used to ruffle his feathers, such as personnel problems in the police department, no longer do. But the daily routine still has some bumps for him.

"My sleep pattern's not returned to normal," he said.

Still, he's ready to go again if needed.

"I would say I'm going back at least one more time in my career," he said. "Maybe not Iraq, but on the war on terrorism."

Reach reporter Meg Landers at 776-4481 or e-mail

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