By JESSE HAMILTON  

FALLUJAH, Iraq -- When you are shot at a few
times a week, it's easy to be superstitious.

Most of Charlie Company's Marines practice their
personal traditions and carry their tokens and
charms. Any object can become magical when it
reaches a war zone.

Some of the magic is on loan, and a few of the
charms have seen more combat than their Marines.

Lance Cpl. Shawn Kennedy isn't Catholic, but he
carries rosary beads on every patrol. They belong
to a retired Marine whom Kennedy met at a
Memorial Day service.

Just before Charlie Company left Plainville for
training in California, the Marine showed up with
the rosary beads for Kennedy. The older Marine
stood before the younger and handed them over,
demanding that Kennedy stand in front of him
again after returning home from Iraq.

"He stressed the part about standing," Kennedy
said.

The 20-year-old from Thomaston jokes now that
the beads work too well: "It's kept me out of
everything."

Sgt. Jason Hermenau, 28, carries a couple of
religious items that have seen more recent action.
Dave Rosati, a fellow Winsted cop, loaned
Hermenau a Celtic cross and a St. Michael medal
that Rosati had worn during a tough year in
Baghdad with the Connecticut National Guard's
143rd Military Police Company.

Hermenau said the thing about getting such a loan
from someone like Rosati is "they know what
you're going to be walking into." And because they
can't physically be there to help, this is the best
they can do, to give you a symbol that meant
something to them.

Returning it is part of the deal. "Hopefully, I'll be
able to fulfill that end of the bargain," Hermenau
said.

Cpl. Marshall Collins carries a medal of St. Jude,
the patron of lost causes.

It came from a family friend who served in
Vietnam. "He said, `From one Marine to another, I
want you to have this,'" Collins recalled.

But that friend needs the medal's luck, too; he's in a
grim battle with pancreatic cancer. Collins hopes
that when Charlie Company makes its long trip
home in several months, he'll be able to give it back
to his friend.

From one Marine to another.
.