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Gunnery Sgt. Damon McElrath, maintenance chief with Marine Wing Support Squadron 374, is greeted by his wife, Kristina, and 3-year-old daughter, Alyssa, during the MWSS-374 and 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, homecoming at Victory Field aboard the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Sept. 16, 2008.

Photo by Cpl. Nicole A. LaVine

Wingers, grunts, engineers given warm home greetings

19 Sep 2008 | Cpl. Nicole A. LaVine

Marines and sailors of Marine Wing Support Squadron 374, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, and 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion, have been returning to the Combat Center from Iraq all this week.

            Each unit had deployed to Al Anbar Province, Iraq, for approximately seven months in support of the Global War on the Radical Islamic Movement. MWSS-374 and 3/4 deployed in February while CEB followed suit in April.

            More than 1,200 service members will have returned home after the final wave from 3/4 arrives this weekend. 

            3rd CEB was reactivated as a fully-operational unit in November after about a 12-year stall, said 1st Sgt. Manuel Colon, Company A first sergeant, 3rd CEB, in an article written in the Observation Post Nov. 5.

            The unit, which is currently only made up of a single company until it fully stands up, focuses mainly on mobility and counter-mobility, and has added humanitarian assistance, civic action operations and disaster relief to its list since its reactivation, according to the article.

            3/4 was replaced by 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, in Al Anbar province earlier this month.

            One of their last acts in Iraq was to familiarize their replacements with the local operating procedures and introduce them around.

            3/4 conducted a patrol this month with Marines and sailors from 3/7 to introduce them to key leaders in the area and promote camaraderie, said Capt. Scott J. Anderson, Company L commander, 3/4.

            While serving in Iraq, the mission of 3/4 was to train Iraqi military forces and law enforcement personnel in tactics, techniques and procedures that will allow them to regain control and authority in their country.

            MWSS-374, which is one of three 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing units headquartered here, provided aviation ground support to infantry battalions and responded to aircraft and fire emergencies while in country,  said Lt. Col. Timothy B. Seamon, squadron commanding officer in a September Key Volunteers letter.

            Both the MWSS-374 and 3/4 commanding officers expressed gratitude in each newsletter and KV letter to families and loved ones of service members for their unwavering support.

            Many spouses, parents, children, siblings and friends gathered under the shelter at Victory Field as they awaited the arrival of their service members.

            Family members like Venita Doe, mother of Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Doe Jr., a corpsman with Weapons Company, 3/4, and Aleasa Mathews, wife of Lance Cpl. Toby Mathews, Weapons Company, 3/4, said they were joyful just to have their men return home safely with their unit.

            Patrick Bell, father of Lance Cpl. Brian Bell, Weapons Company, 3/4, said he was ecstatic to have his son return home from his first deployment.

            “It’s comforting knowing he was in good hands the whole time,” said Bell. “But having him back in our hands personally is going to be better.”

            Deborah, Bell’s wife, agreed, saying she received much comfort from the news made available in the KV Network and commander’s newsletters, voicemail services and Web sites.

            “This whole experience has really given me a new appreciation for our troops and what they do for this country,” said Deborah, a Sheridan, Wyo., native. “We are proud of our Marines.”

            The last group of MWSS-374 and 3/4 Marines are slated to arrive at Victory Field Saturday. Listen to KCDZ 107.7 FM for updates about their arrival. This homecoming is open to any who wish to show support for these returning Marines and sailors.


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