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The families and friends of Company D, 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, anxiously await the arrival of their loved ones at the Amphibious Assault Vehicle ramp, May 25.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Nicholas M. Dunn

Leaving Iraq in their tracks

25 May 2009 | Lance Cpl. Nicholas M. Dunn

The Marines and sailors of Company D, 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, arrived home to the sounds of cheering loved ones and motorcycle horns May 25 at the Amphibious Assault Vehicle ramp when they returned to the Combat Center from their third deployment to Iraq.

The returning 149 Marines and sailors departed the Combat Center in October to support operations in Iraq’s Al Anbar Province.

While in Iraq, Co. D was responsible for several different tasks structured around security in the region.

“One of our main missions over there was to be part of the Multi National Force – West Quick Reaction Force,” said Master Sgt. Donald Vick, the company’s operations chief and a Frankenmoth, Mich., native. “We worked in Operating Environment Rutbah, a town in western Iraq near the Jordanian – Syrian border.

“We basically controlled that operating environment, coordinating with other units working in that area to enable them to conduct operations,” he said. “We also provided watch, security and oversight of Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police operations.”

The company also conducted leadership engagements, working with the mayor, city council and local sheikhs of Rutbah to create peace and stability in the region, Vick said.

When the Marines and sailors returned to the Combat Center after a long seven months, they received an outpouring of support from the surrounding community.

Approximately 35 Patriot Guard motorcycle riders escorted the company back to the Combat Center from Riverside, Calif., to show their support for the troops.

“Our primary mission is to pay our respects to the country’s fallen heroes by escorting the funeral details, but this is one of those happier times when we don’t have to do that,” said Billy “Hawkeye” Mathews, who led the motorcycle procession Monday night. “We just want to be able to show our support for you guys and let you know there are people out there who appreciate your service.”

One of the riders, Ted Anderson of Wendell, Idaho, felt a special connection to the returning Marines and sailors, His son, Sgt. Tyler Anderson, an AAV mechanic with Co. D, 3rd AAB, was returning home with them.

“They let me ride as the second bike in the formation,” he said. “I got to escort my son halfway the last time he came home, but this time I rode the whole distance.”

Anderson, who also participates in Patriot Guard rides in his home state of Idaho, said he was glad to see his son again, especially having two other children recently return from deployments.

“Tyler is my oldest child,” he said. “He has a younger sister in the Navy who just got back last month, and has a younger brother who’s also in the Navy. I’m just glad he’s home now.”

The Marines and sailors of Co. D, 3rd AAB, will soon take some time off to spend with their loved ones before they continue their training in preparation for their next deployment.

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