MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
As the stars rose, portable heaters kept Combat Center
friends and family of 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment
, warm as they waited at the unit’s parking lot for their Marines and sailors to return home from a seven month deployment Nov 7.
The Marines and sailors were part of an advanced party for 3rd Bn., 11th Marines. The unit is returning after serving as the artillery support for Regimental Combat Team 3 in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
Sgt. Maj. Robert Caldwell, the battalion sergeant major, said 3rd Bn., 11th Marines was in charge of their own battle space, and worked as both an artillery and infantry unit to complete their mission.
Maj. Brad Troxel, the battalion’s executive officer, said they were the first artillery unit to be deployed with both artillery rounds and rockets as ammunition for the M777-A2 Lightweight 155mm Howitzer. The battalion was also the first to conduct a combat helicopter lift to transport a howitzer and fire the Excalibur XM982 155mm Precision Guided Range Artillery Projectile.
While deployed, the battalion kept in contact with those back home through e-mails and the occasional phone call.
“The main way I kept in touch with my husband was by e-mails I would get at least once a week,” said Amy Kamm, wife of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Chris Kamm, a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear defense officer with Headquarters Battery, 3rd Bn., 11th Marines. “There was only a three-week period when we received no information from them.”
Loved ones who waited for their heroes at the 3rd Bn., 11th Marines, parking lot expressed feelings of excitement and relief about the return of the battle-tested Marines and sailors.
“I feel relived and anxious to have my husband back with me and the kids,” said Amy Gerber, wife of 1st Lt. James Gerber, a logistics officer with Headquarters Battery, 3rd Bn., 11th Marines.
Family members looked forward to spending time with their Marines and sailors in different ways.
“I am going to give him a big hug after his mother and wife do,” said Les Sully, father of Cpl. David Sully, a data network system technician with Headquarters Battery, 3rd Bn., 11th Marines. “This weekend we are going out and having a steak dinner that my son wanted.”