“America's Battalion” Returns Successful From Afghanistan Deployment
(December 14, 2010)
|MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII (MCN - 12/10/2010) — Every day away
was a test — but “America's Battalion” is finally home.|
Families and friends gathered at Hangar 105 here to welcome
home about 760 Marines and sailors from 3rd Battalion, 3rd
Marine Regiment, returning from the seven-month deployment,
Dec. 7, 2010.
They joined 150 Marines and sailors from the battalion's
advance party who returned to MCB Hawaii, Nov. 7, 2010.
Since May, Marines and sailors with 3/3 have been conduits
for progress in the Nawa district of Afghanistan's Helmand
province. Braving the country's bitter cold and unbearable
heat, 3/3's warriors secured elections, helped open schools
and built relationships with Afghan nationals during their
deployment. They performed
Friends and family
members greet Marines and sailors with 3rd Battalion, 3rd
Marine Regiment, at their return to Marine Corps Base Hawaii
from a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan, Dec. 7, 2010.
The return of “America's Battalion” brought 925 Marines back
disruption operations, destroyed weapons caches, and
patrolled endless miles through fields, towns and along
dusty, rocky roads.
But that was behind them as they walked into the arms of
loved ones. |
Both excited and anxious for the return of her husband, a
corpsman with Company L, 3/3, Melissa Trevino clutched a
small Marine Corps flag and bounced their daughter on her
hip as she waited.
“I'm nervous,” she said. “It feels great that he is coming
home, but it doesn't feel real yet.”
The reunion, falling on their daughter Jordin's first
birthday, was bittersweet. Melissa said raising Jordin alone
during her husband's deployment made her feel like a single
mother, but she worked through the challenges by looking
forward to his return.
“You know he's coming home, so you just keep on doing what
you're doing,” she said.
In May, 3/3 replaced 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, in
Nawa district, supporting Regimental Combat Team 7, 1st
Marine Division, as part of ongoing counterinsurgency
operations in Operation Enduring Freedom. RCT-7 transferred
authority over the area to RCT-1, 1st MarDiv, Sept. 28.
“We didn't know what to expect, but 1/3 set us up for
success,” said Sgt. Maj. Andrew Cece, battalion sergeant
major, 3/3. “They prepped the battlefield and enabled us to
make an easy transition into Nawa district.”
Nestled in southern Afghanistan, 3/3's area of operations
spread over approximately 100 square kilometers and 26
positions, said Maj. Jay Garcia, executive officer, 3/3.
While the battalion's operations were less kinetic than had
been anticipated, the deployment still wasn't easy, said Lt.
Col. Jeffrey Holt, commanding officer, 3/3.
Using Corps leaders' “clear, hold, build” strategy, 3/3
worked to clear the area of enemy threat, said Garcia, of
Honolulu. Thorough training, preparation, and
well-coordinated, distributed operations, formed a strong
basis for success, Garcia said, “but it took the young
Marines being on the ground every day to make it work.”
He said the battalion's success was reliant on the Marines'
presence in the community — whether by constant patrols,
standing post at patrol bases or the extra hours spent
assisting Afghan families.
Lance Cpl. Domingo Luna, a team leader with Company K, 3/3,
reaffirmed the importance of his battalion's presence.
“Building these relationships with the locals enabled us to
do a better job assisting them,” said Luna, from Corpus
Between “hard days and good days,” Holt, from Dallas, said
the union of effort along 3/3's lines of operation,
strengthened tribal unity and strong relationships with
district officials helped make Nawa safer and more secure.
Since the region was identified as one of the few ready for
transfer of responsibilities back to Afghan National Army
security forces, the battalion played an important role in
During recent visits to Nawa by the deputy U.S. Secretary of
Defense, William J. Lynn III, and several senators, Holt
said he told each of them, “Nawa is open for business.” He
asked them to exploit 3/3's success in the future, and
maintain the battalion's momentum for progress.
With 3/3's return, the ongoing task of holding and building
Nawa district now falls on 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine
Regiment, who arrived in Nawa last month.
“Our Marines could have just done the seven months and come
home, but they didn't,” said Cece, of Sacramento. “They
bonded with the local nationals — it became their lifestyle.
As long as 2/3 carries this on, they'll be successful.”
Returning Dec. 7, Holt noted on that solemn day 3/3 did not
Sgt. Joe L. Wrightsman, a team leader with Company K, 3/3,
died while supporting combat operations in Helmand province,
July 18. Wrightsman was from Jonesboro, La.
1st Lt. Scott J. Fleming, a platoon commander with Company
K, 3/3, died while supporting combat operations in Helmand
province, Sept. 17. Fleming was from Marietta, Ga.
“We can't forget that Lt. Fleming and Sgt. Wrightsman didn't
come home on the flight with us,” Holt said. “Even as we
rejoice at our return, the Marines we lost are remembered.”
Article and photo by USMC LCpl. Reece E. Lodder|
Marine Corps Base Hawaii
Marine Corps News
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