“The Advance party for deployment departed Kaneohe Bay, HI on 11 October 2011, and the Main body of the Battalion followed, beginning on 27 October 2011. The Battalion arrived in Garmser District, Helmand Province, Afghanistan from 31 October – 9 November.” — Source: 3/3 Command Chronology for the Period 01 July to 18 November 2011
America’s Battalion Deploys to Afghanistan
The sun rose as Marines from Headquarters and Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, gathered together in the parking lot across from the Marine Corps Exchange Annex for one final goodbye before deploying to Helmand province, Afghanistan, Oct. 27.
Nearly 1,000 Marines and sailors from 3/3 deployed from Marine Corps Base Hawaii Oct. 27, 29, 31 and Nov. 1.
Brig. Gen. Frank Padilla, Commanding general, 3rd Marine Division, spoke with the Marines before the warfighters said goodbye to their families prior to boarding the buses.
“You’re ready and we wish you the best,” Padilla said. “Take care of each other and keep the faith with each other. Treat everyone with respect and I wish you godspeed and a safe return.”
The battalion prepared for this seven-month deployment by completing unit training exercises Mojave Viper in Twentynine Palms, Calif., and Lava Viper on the Island of Hawaii to sharpen their skills for combat.
“This is what we do for a living,” said Cpl. Gerald Hopper, communications supervisor, Communications Platoon, Headquarters Company, 3/3. “We train for this and we get paid for it. It’s always hard leaving behind families and friends, but this is our job.”
The battalion will replace 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, after arriving in Helmand’s Garmsir district.
“They’re ready,” Hopper said. “We do a lot of training before leaving that helps us get our minds ready and our skills prepared for combat operations.”
Though this will be the first deployment for some, it is a recurring event for others.
“There are a lot of Marines with tons of experience in this battalion and some have been through all the exercises and pre-deployment training many times,” Hopper said. “It’s a good thing to know that you have guys like this behind you and fighting right beside you. I think a lot of the newer guys know this and it makes them feel a little more comfortable.”
After arriving in Afghanistan, Marines said they look forward to executing their mission of partnering with Afghan National Security Forces, conducting counterinsurgency operations, focusing on protecting the population, defeating insurgents, and developing the ANSF and Afghan government.
“It’s always hard to see them go,” said Cindy Howlzer, a 3/3 spouse, after waving goodbye to her husband for the second time in two years. “It definitely takes a certain breed to be a Marine Corps spouse.
For a lot of these guys it’s just a neverending cycle until they get out, but I think they all understand it’s their job and they deserve a lot of respect for what they do.”
Source: Hawaii Marine
‘America’s Battalion’ arrives in Afghanistan
By Cpl. Reece Lodder | | November 7, 2011
CAMP DWYER, Helmand province, Afghanistan — Over seven months of training, the Marines and sailors of 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, have become hardened for war.
They’ve prepared for the enemy from their home base in Hawaii and endured endless hours baking in the sun of the California desert.
The approximately 1,000 men of “America’s Battalion” bid bittersweet goodbyes to family and friends from Oct. 27 through Nov. 1, carrying these memories on their deployment to southern Helmand.
In the coming weeks 3/3 will take control of operations in Garmsir District, relieving fellow Hawaii-based 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. The “Lava Dogs” of 1/3 are nearing the end of their seven-month deployment, which began in April.
Staff Sgt. Joe Salinas, an operations watch chief with 3/3, said the Marines and sailors will have a challenging task in Garmsir. Here, they’ll partner with the Afghan National Security Forces to maintain the progress made by 1/3 to secure the district and legitimize its government in the eyes of the people.
“Our deployment to Garmsir is as important as the first because we could be the last Marines here,” said Salinas, a 40-year-old native of San Antonio. “We have a lot to accomplish to make sure the Afghans are ready to take over when we leave.
Partnering with the Afghan National Army and Police, “America’s Battalion” will assist the local Afghan leadership in providing security for reconstruction projects aimed at developing critical infrastructure in the district. Lieutenant Col. Matthew J. Palma, 3/3 commanding officer, sees these development projects as essential to the Afghan government taking root in southern Helmand.
“We’ve invested 10 years in this war,” Palma, a native of Bristol, R.I., said. “We’re on the verge of success, and turning back now would only throw away the work we’ve done and the sacrifices of the Marines that have gone before us. The Afghans are emerging from 30 years of sustained conflict. They see the light at the end of the tunnel, and they want change, too.”
The deployment is new territory for many of the Marines and sailors of 3/3, including Seaman Dave Mundy, a corpsman with Kilo Company. While a professional milestone, it will also be Mundy’s first deployment apart from his wife of seven months.
He said the separation will be difficult, especially following his wife’s recent move to Hawaii.
“I brought my wife away from her family for the first time,” said Mundy, a native of Chicago. “Now we’re going to miss spending all the good holidays together.”
In Afghanistan, the corpsman will shoulder a lot of responsibility. At 27 he has more life experience than nearly all his peers, and his maturity will be an asset in the performance of his duties. He’s charged with caring for 18 Marines, infantrymen faced with the threats of enemy fighters and improvised explosive devices.
Though confident in his abilities as a corpsman, Mundy said he hopes he never has to use his training in combat.
“Even if I don’t have to use my training, I’m doing a job that matters … and my wife knows I am, too,” Mundy said. “Being away from her is going to be really hard, but it makes me feel better knowing I’ll be there when my guys need me.”
The Marines and sailors of 3/3 will labor in Afghanistan for seven months, but the impact of their efforts will forever be a part of Afghan and Marine Corps history, Palma said.
“This generation of Marines is re-writing America’s history books,” Palma said. “Twenty years from now, our kids will read about our endeavors, much like we did of our fathers in Vietnam, and our grandfathers in World War II.”
Editor’s note: 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, is currently assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5, 2nd Marine Division (Forward), which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghanistan National Security Forces and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling the ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.
Copyright © KITV 2011