HEMET, Calif. --
Last year, the city of Hemet, Calif., officially adopted the Combat Center
’s 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion
before they deployed to Iraq. In a gesture of friendship and goodwill, Hemet presented 3rd LAR’s command with the key to the city April 6 at the Hemet mayor’s office.
Eric McBride, Hemet’s mayor, received a coin from the unit as a token of the city’s bond with the Marines, said Lt. Col. Ken Kassner, the battalion commanding officer, from Coupland, Texas.
“We were adopted by a city of great, patriotic Americans who supported us throughout our last deployment,” Kassner said. “It all started because I was trying to build a strong relationship with the local community, and the mayor was looking to adopt, so it all went well.”
Kassner said the battalion’s link to the city aligns with their unit’s credo.
“Our motto in 3rd LAR battalion is ‘the strength of the pack is the wolf; the strength of the wolf is the pack,’” he said. “We are a stronger organization for being members of the Hemet community.”
The community kept their pledge of adoption and supported the battalion while they were overseas.
“They sent us a lot of care packages, and especially an abundance of coffee,” Kassner said. “We, along with all the Marines, are very thankful for what the people of Hemet have done for us.”
McBride said his experiences during Operation Desert Storm in 1991 helped him understand what deployed troops need and cemented his desire to help the unit.
“When I was there, it was a little different. People sent us a lot of perishable stuff, but hopefully we took care of the Marines better,” McBride said, jokingly. “We’ll certainly be supporting the battalion in their future deployments. We just hope we can keep the Marines’ morale up by sending the care packages.”
Brian Nakamura, the city manager, spoke for the people of Hemet by complimenting all service members and wishing them his best.
“Doing this for the Marines is a tremendous opportunity to show thanks for those in the service, especially the Wolfpack,” Nakamura said. “All of us here certainly wish we could do more.
“The key we gave them is a symbol of the full access the service members have to the city,” he added. “We’re all truly appreciative to those who serve their country.”
The battalion is scheduled to deploy again later this year, and the city of Hemet has pledged their conviction and continued support to 3rd LAR.