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Old 07-05-2003, 07:41 AM
thedrifter thedrifter is offline
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Cool Marines return home to Camp Pendleton from combat duty in Iraq

Marines return home to Camp Pendleton from combat duty in Iraq


By Gidget Fuentes
ASSOCIATED PRESS
7:41 p.m., July 2, 2003

CAMP PENDLETON ? Hundreds of Marines hit the beaches of Southern California on Wednesday, arriving in air-cushioned landing craft similar to Hovercraft as anxious family members waited to welcome them home from the Persian Gulf.

The Marines, who arrived on two separate beaches on this sprawling military installation north of San Diego, were then ferried five miles by bus to a staging area where they were reunited with their families.

Handmade signs proclaiming "I Love Daddy" and "Welcome Home" dotted the route.

"I couldn't wait to get here," said Cpl. Francisco Fernandez, 21, of Yuba City after the Marines' arrival was slowed by heavy fog hanging off the coast.

"It took forever for him to get here," Cody Sack, his girlfriend, said as she sat on the bed of a pickup truck.

The Marines and their trucks and artillery cannons were brought home from the Persian Gulf by the USS Anchorage and USS Comstock. About 600 sailors were to ferry overnight to the ship's home base at San Diego Naval Station, about 40 miles south.

The returning crew included members of the 1st Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, an artillery unit that operated at times within a mile of the front lines in Iraq.

"Sometimes we ended up actually being in the front of everybody else," said Fernandez, who manned an M-240G machine gun. "It was a rush."

"They did very well in the fight," Lt. Col. Jim Seaton, holding his youngest daughter, Erin, 3, said of the battalion.

Cpl. Jason Taylor, 22, of Ephrata, Wash., found himself on the front lines with the 1st Combat Engineer Battalion engineer unit, which lost two men to enemy fire.

Taylor, a heavy equipment operator with the unit, cut safe lines through berms and obstacles for the tanks and other combat vehicles after they crossed into Iraq on March 21. The troops braved sniper fire and met heavily armed Iraqi soldiers using night-vision scopes near their positions.

"You were sitting at the edge of your seat everyday," Taylor said.

Susan Maicovski of Yonkers, N.Y., said she and her family thought her son, Cpl. Vladimir Maicovski, was a safe distance from combat until he called April 13. It turned out her son's 1st Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment had been firing 155-millimeter artillery rounds near the front lines to protect the 1st Marine Regiment.

"It was tough, and especially during the first couple of days of the war," she said.

The final day of waiting was also difficult.

"We won't stop worrying until he gets off the bus," said Maicovski, who planned a family reunion this weekend in Las Vegas.

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/m...nesreturn.html


Sempers,

Roger
__________________
IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY HUSBAND
SSgt. Roger A.
One Proud Marine
1961-1977
68/69
Once A Marine............Always A Marine.............

http://www.geocities.com/thedrifter001/
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  #2  
Old 07-05-2003, 07:41 AM
thedrifter thedrifter is offline
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Marine units arrive at Camp Pendleton after duty in Iraq

By Jeanette Steele
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER

July 3, 2003

CAMP PENDLETON ? They cruised out of San Diego Bay in January, a seven-ship flotilla headed to topple Saddam Hussein.

Many of the Marines on board were green, without combat experience, and a little nervous.

The first ships returned home yesterday, now carrying battle-hardened Marines. Bursting with pride, many said they look forward to the July Fourth holiday tomorrow with a deeper sense of celebration.

"Before it was just fireworks and barbecues, and now it's something totally different," said Lance Cpl. Robert Billington, 21, of Las Vegas.

The Anchorage and Comstock, both amphibious warships, dropped off about 450 Marines at Camp Pendleton via air-cushioned landing craft and will sail to San Diego Naval Station at 32nd Street today. The remaining five ships are expected in coming weeks.

The two returning ships carried the 1st Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, an artillery unit that provided heavy firepower for Camp Pendleton infantrymen as they charged north through Iraq.

Also returning was the 1st Combat Engineering Battalion, which broke through the Iraqi border from Kuwait on the first night of the ground war and moved at the front of the Marines' push toward Baghdad.

Their battles are still fresh in their minds.

Cpl. Jonathan Montalvo, 24, was made squad leader on the battlefield after Sgt. Duane Rios was killed in combat April 4. A third battalion member, Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Menusa, was killed in March by gunfire.

"It was mind-boggling stress, with everything going on," said Montalvo, of San Antonio.

He remembers driving into Baghdad with the first Marines to enter as rounds hit next to his vehicle, rocking the enormous tracked machine. Through his night-vision goggles, the darkness looked ablaze with gunfire, he said.

In comparison, the upcoming Independence Day fireworks displays will seem somewhat ironic.

"I saw too many fireworks," Montalvo said. "I saw enough explosions and bombs and bullets flying around."

He is reunited with his wife and is getting to know his newborn twins, who arrived while he was deployed. But for this weary veteran, little rest lies ahead. He has to retrieve his car from a relative's house near Fresno and then find an apartment for his family.

"I already feel old," Montalvo said.

Maj. Lawrence Coleman, the artillery battalion's operations officer, praised his Marines for enduring long, frightening days fighting Iraq's Republican Guard divisions and, later, guerrilla forces who picked up the battle after the Iraqi regime fell.

From March 25 through April 5, the battalion was in constant contact with the enemy, Coleman said.

"They did a great job," he said. "An outstanding job."

At a base reception picnic for the artillery battalion, Roxanne Gallardo hugged her two children, dressed in camouflage like their father. She said she doesn't care about the upcoming holiday, weekend plans, the dinner menu, anything ? except the fact that her husband, Staff Sgt. Ismael Gallardo, is home.

"I get him back," she said. "I don't care what day it is."



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Jeanette Steele: (760) 476-8244; jen.steele@uniontrib.com

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/m...mi3battal.html


Sempers,

Roger
__________________
IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY HUSBAND
SSgt. Roger A.
One Proud Marine
1961-1977
68/69
Once A Marine............Always A Marine.............

http://www.geocities.com/thedrifter001/
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