6 April 2009: Departure

3/3 deployed to Iraq in April 2009.  — Source: First Marine Division Press Release



Isle Marines head out again for Iraq

Monday, April 6, 2009 | John Windrow | Advertiser Staff Writer

KANE’OHE — The Marines stood restless in the bright sunshine, bristling with energy, waiting to board the buses that would take them to the planes that would take them to war.

They were as ready as they would ever be: ready to go to the air base at Al Asad, Iraq, for seven months; ready to go they said, so they could get back.

About 150 of them were leaving yesterday.

The sergeants of the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, stood a ways off in a group to themselves, talking in lower voices. Confident, not so noisy, in charge, more composed, saltier.

The sergeants had told the younger Marines to listen to the guys who had been there before, to pick their brains, that the new guys should follow the more experienced guys’ lead. Then they would be all right.

Lance Cpl. Kenneth Craft and his wife, Charrie, both 20 and both from North Carolina, were hanging onto each other, leaning against a car.

He was leaving yesterday for his second tour in Iraq. He said he felt “pretty calm this time. I really don’t know what to expect.”

Charrie said: “I feel very depressed. I don’t want him to go. What’s going to happen? I’m worried.”

Kenneth kissed his wife one more time, slipped beneath the rope separating the staging area from the families’ parked cars and joined his buddies. Charrie wiped her eyes, slipped on dark glasses and stood quietly watching him walk away, holding her hand to her mouth.

Marisa McLaughlin, 20, also was watching her lance corporal, Mike, 22, join the line to the buses headed for Hickam Air Force Base. “I don’t want him to go but I know he’ll be fine,” she said, keeping her chin up, looking proud and worried.

It is Mike McLaughlin‘s first deployment. “I just want to get it started,” he said. They are from San Diego.

Lance Cpl. Hunter Alacron, 20, a head taller than most of the others, said, “I’m pretty excited,” even though he didn’t expect to see a lot of action given “the way the war is now. But I’m excited.”

Alacron is from New Jersey and he said the Sept. 11 attacks were “really close to home.” His dad, Carlos, had once worked in the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. That was one of the reasons Alacron joined the Marine Corps, he said.

Mandolyn Hanson, 6, wore a T-shirt that said she was a Marine daughter, one of the proud, the brave, the few. She and her brother, David, who is almost 2, and their mom, Amie, were saying goodbye to Capt. Jaisun Hanson, the unit’s commander.

The Hansons are from Michigan. The captain, who is on his second tour to Iraq, said he expected his troops to do mostly local security patrols once they are in country. “I have good feelings about it,” Hanson said quietly.

As the war in Iraq winds down and the effort in Afghanistan intensifies, Hanson said he heard that this could be one of the final deployments by Hawai’i-based troops to Iraq. But, of course, he didn’t know for sure.

Nothing seemed for sure yesterday as the sergeants called roll and the troops boarded their buses.

Rakel Alcoser, 26, waived to her husband, Sgt. Ramon Alcoser. She is from Jamaica, he’s from Mexico. They met in Maryland in the ninth grade. “We’re a strange mix,” she said.

Ramon is on his third deployment — one to South Korea, two to Iraq.

“He’s my best friend,” she said. “I’m losing my husband and my best friend on this one. It’s very tough.”

Rakel, who is working on a master’s degree at Hawai’i Pacific University, said she would cope by staying busy. “You give yourself a breather and you start thinking all kinds of crazy things,” she said. “But I have faith in his training to bring him through.”

Lance Cpl. Aaron Guerra, 22, from Texas, waived from a bus window to his 21-year-old wife, Katherine, and 1-month old baby girl, Hailey. Hailey, who was sleeping, wore pink socks that said “pretty girl.”

“I love you too,” Katherine, from Wai’anae, kept calling out to him. “I love you too.”

She waved and waved.

“I feel — oh gosh — scared, sad,” she said.

They were dating when he made his first deployment. This is his second.

“I love you too,” she called out again.

Aaron smiled and flashed a “V” for victory as the buses rolled out.

Source: Honolulu Advertiser

150 Kaneohe Marines leave for Iraq

Star-Bulletin staff  | Apr 06, 2009

Lance Cpl. Richard Johnson was supposed to get out of the Marine Corps last December.

But he extended his active-duty enlistment for a year when he learned his unit was returning to Iraq this month.

“I wanted to go back with these guys. They’re a very good unit. I wanted to go back to Iraq and do good things,” he said.

Johnson is among the last 150 Marines and sailors with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, to depart from Kaneohe yesterday for a seven-month deployment to al Asad, Iraq. About 850 other Marines and sailors of the 3rd Battalion left earlier this month.

This is Johnson’s third deployment to Iraq since 2006. He said there were a lot of close combat encounters, improvised explosive device (IED) strikes, sniper shots and small-arms fire in his first deployment.

His second deployment in 2007 was more peaceful, with far fewer insurgent attacks.

Johnson is hoping for more of the same for his third deployment.

“I’m hoping to do a lot of good things over there as far as helping the community, rebuilding schools, shopping centers, things like that,” he said.

And he’s happy President Barack Obama plans to draw down the number of troops in Iraq by the summer of 2010.

Obama said he would like to withdraw two-thirds of the 145,000 U.S. troops now in Iraq.

“I think we did everything that we could (in Iraq). And we have a lot of priorities in Afghanistan right now,” Johnson said.

The 3rd Battalion, 3rd Regiment, is replacing Kaneohe’s 1st Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, now in Iraq. The 1st Battalion is scheduled to go back to Iraq in November.

Staff Sgt. Felix Nole-Ortiz is another one of the 150 to depart Kaneohe yesterday. This will be his fourth deployment to Iraq since 1992. His first time was as part of Operation Desert Storm, the campaign to liberate Kuwait, during which some U.S. units crossed the border into Iraq, then withdrew.

He says he has seen living conditions improve for some Iraqis during his three previous deployments.

“Some of the areas are built up, some of the areas not. Some of the people are living a lot better than others,” he said.

Nole-Ortiz says if the Iraqis can handle their own security, he supports the drawdown. If he is ordered to go to Iraq after next summer, he says he will do his job.

He says the only difficulty with his deployments is being away from his family. He and his wife have two sons, ages 8 and 13, and are expecting another child in June.

Nole-Ortiz says the military services have greatly improved communication opportunities between service members deployed overseas with their families back home.

“But I still write letters the old-fashioned way,” he said.

And this time, Nole-Ortiz says he is bringing a laptop computer.

Source: Honolulu Star-Bulletin

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