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Old 04-25-2003, 12:10 PM
thedrifter thedrifter is offline
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Cool 24th MEU cleans up, packs for voyage home

April 25, 2003

24th MEU cleans up, packs for voyage home

By Diana Elias
Associated Press

Marine Cpl. Kurt Pazzi, from Detroit, works on an automatic weapon while packing at Camp Patriot, south of Kuwait City.
Gustavo Ferrari / AP

CAMP PATRIOT, Kuwait ? Marines returning from Iraq washed their vehicles and cleaned their weapons Friday as they prepared to return home, the first U.S. ground unit ordered to ship out from the Persian Gulf.

Servicemen and women of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit are to set sail for Camp Lejeune in North Carolina in about a week, said spokesman Capt. Dan McSweeney. The trip on board the amphibious assault ship Nassau, amphibious transport dock Austin and dock landing ship Tortuga will take about a month.

?They kind of took care of us because we have been out for so long,? said Sgt. Herb Lane, 30, of Lima, Ohio. The unit has been deployed for eight months, including about a month in central Iraq. He said he can?t wait to take a vacation and spend ?a lot of time? with his three children.

?The goal is to have us home for Memorial Day weekend,? he said.

Lance Corp. Blaine Toulouse was sweeping powder-like desert sand from a bulldozer. He said it was tense going through Iraqi towns in the first days of the war knowing ?you could get shot at any second.? However, he said he felt relieved when people started ?cheering and clapping? for coalition forces.

The 24-year-old from Sudbury, Ontario, said he was looking forward to seeing his boy who was born in his absence and to driving his Mustang. ?Just being there will be great,? he said, broom in hand.

Marines, assisted by Navy personnel, were hosing down and disinfecting every carton, shell and piece of heavy machinery before it was loaded on hovercrafts that will taken the materials to the ships anchored in the Persian Gulf. When they set sail from this port south of Kuwait City, they will carry some 2,500 Marines who took part in the war.

Kuwait became a major ally of Washington after the 1991 Gulf War that liberated it from a seven-month Iraqi occupation, and it was the launch pad last month for U.S. and British troops invading Iraq.

Corp. Johnny Moore said he ?did security? duty in different places in central Iraq. Although ?it was a small part in a big picture,? it ?feels good to be part of the whole situation,? said the native of Oak Ridge, Tenn.

The worst part of the deployment was the ?sand storms and the unknown,? he said. Now it was over, he and his fiance will start planning their July wedding, ? twice postponed because of the deployment.

?I?ll be home and I love you,? was the 23-year-old Marine?s message for his fiancee.

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press



SSgt. Roger A.
One Proud Marine
Once A Marine............Always A Marine.............
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