Rochester Marines' Friendship Extends To The Front Lines
(April 26, 2011)
Lance Cpl. Matthew C. Rehbein (right), a
section leader in 1st Platoon, A Company, 3rd Light Armored
Reconnaissance Battalion, and Lance Cpl. Justin D. Batterson, a
designated marksman for 1st Platoon, sit in the turret of their
Light Armored Vehicle 25 at Firebase 0/0 in Helmand province,
Afghanistan, April 21, 2011. Rehbein and Batterson joined the Marine
Corps together in 2008 after growing up with each other in
FIREBASE 0/0, Afghanistan (April 23, 2011) – From fishing on the
frigid lakes of Minnesota to fighting insurgents in the dry deserts
of Afghanistan, two Marines have been there side by side, as they
witnessed each other grow from kids to men and then to warfighters.
Lance Cpl. Matthew C. Rehbein, section leader, and Lance Cpl.
Justin D. Batterson, designated marksman, both belong to 1st
platoon, A Company, 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. They
are deployed to southern Helmand province, Afghanistan, where they
face an insurgent force armed with improvised explosive devices and
small arms fire.
Their relationship started in first grade at
Washington Elementary School in Rochester, Minn., where they grew up
As kids, they were already showing signs of the
“We used to always battle each other or
together through nerf wars or paintball wars,” said Rehbein.
As teenagers, both attended Rochester Century High School, where they
played on the same teams in hockey, football and baseball. It was in the
early stages of high school, at age 16, when they both began to have
aspirations of joining the Marine Corps.|
It was also in high
school where Batterson met his fianc�e, Anna, and Rehbein met his wife,
Dominica. The two women moved in with each other for two years while
they attended college at the University of Minnesota.
school, Batterson was able to convince Rehbein to wait one year before
they decided to enlist in the Marines. In the meantime, Rehbein found a
job making good money as a trucker.
After a year had passed,
Rehbein recalls Batterson telling him, “Let's get it started.” From
there, the two friends enlisted in the Marine Corps and shipped off to
basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego in September
At basic training they went through challenges they hadn't
yet faced during their many years together. During the crucible their
strength was tested as they climbed a mountain -- with a full combat
load on their backs -- so steep that one could practically stand
straight up and still touch the ground in front of them.
graduation, the two buddies returned to Rochester and took their two
girls out to a restaurant in their dress blue uniforms, where an older
man paid for their meals and thanked them for serving their country.
After spending Christmas in Minnesota, the two Marines reported to
Camp Pendleton, Calif., where they attended the school of Infantry
together. After completing infantry school, the Marines reported to
their current assignment with 3rd LAR in Twentynine Palms, Calif.
“When we arrived at 3rd LAR there were about 11 of us and we were
asked to be divided into two lines,” said Batterson. “Rehbein joined me
in Company A line and so we remained with each other in the same
It didn't take long for the two Marines to get settled
in. Though the two were at a duty station in the middle of the desert in
California, they were still only three hours from Las Vegas, where they
celebrated Batterson's 21st birthday.
Their first deployment with
each other was with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. During the five
months spent out at sea they spent time in Okinawa, Japan, and also
travelled to the Philippines to help out with typhoon recovery efforts.
In November of last year, Batterson and Rehbein were both deployed
to Helmand province, Afghanistan. As a part of A Company, 3rd LAR, the
two have been consistently on the front lines, encountering IEDs and
insurgent ambushes. They always take care of each other.
Rehbein picked up a homemade blasting cap. Noticing it was put together
poorly, Batterson told Rehbein to put it down because it could go off at
Another time, Batterson walked into a compound and saw
a mortar round and quickly told Rehbein to tell all the Marines to
cordon off the area and watch for insurgent observer that might be
looking to make an attack.
“I always tell Batterson to set up as
my ‘point man,' because I know I can trust him,” said Rehbein.
Their friendship withstands tremendous testing at times like these, when
lives are at stake. Their loyalty to each other has been proven on
“I knew he always had my back, but out here
he has proven it,” said Batterson. “I never have any doubt Rehbein will
be right there.”
The relationship the two have together has
benefitted their platoon as well.
“Growing up together, they
already know each other's movements and instincts and you can see that
through their chemistry,” said Gunnery Sgt. Jerry R. Brown, platoon
sergeant for 1st Platoon, A Company , 3rd LAR, and native of Pace, Fla.
Good chemistry helps morale, and high morale contributes to
mission accomplishment, he said.
Changes over the past several
months have shown that the unit's presence in southern Helmand province
has disrupted insurgent activities in the area.
residents] will talk to us about the difference that has been made since
we've arrived,” said Batterson.
The sacrifices Batterson and
Rehbein have made during their deployment on the front lines are a
little easier knowing they're in it together.
“It's a good
feeling to have your best friend here because you can talk about home
with somebody,” said Batterson. “Everything I've gone through in life,
Rehbein has pretty much been right there.”
In May, the two
friends will return home. They are looking forward to making a trip back
to Rochester in June to visit family and friends.
Article and photo by USMC Cpl. Adam Leyendecker
Regional Command Southwest
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