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Cpl. Christophe Shelton, a heavy equipment operator for Support Company, 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion, says goodbye to a friend through a bus window before the unit departs for Afghanistan April 12 outside the battalion headquarters.

Photo by Cpl. Monica C. Erickson

3rd CEB deploys to Afghanistan

16 Apr 2010 | Cpl. Monica C. Erickson Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

Early April 12, more than 100 Marines and sailors with 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion bid farewell to their friends and family outside the battalion headquarters before departing to Afghanistan.

During the seven-month deployment, the engineers will be performing route clearances and reconstructing forward operating bases.

First Sgt. Ryan Meltesen, the first sergeant for Support Company, said he feels his Marines are 100 percent prepared for the deployment, and he expects his Marines to rise above and beyond what is needed of them.

“Our battalion is newly formed, but we trained hard for this deployment, and every Marine knows his job well,” said Meltesen, a Madison, Wis., native. “We are ready.”

Although 3rd CEB Marines augmented to other units have deployed, this is the first time the battalion has deployed to combat since Vietnam.

Despite the cold morning air, the morale among the Marines was high, and many were excited to go to Afghanistan.

“This is such an exciting time for us to be deploying,” said Sgt. Joseph Peterson, the training noncommissioned officer for Support Company, from Yuba City, Calif. “From what has been said, our job to perform route clearances throughout Helmand Province is needed to help keep the infantry guys safe.”

While the battalion is gone, the family readiness officer, Jenna Wojciechowski, said she has several activities planned for the spouses and children.

“We have a lot of wives who will be having babies while their husbands are deployed, and one of the goals right now is to do our best in helping them during this trying time. Additionally, we will do our best to help those with other needs as well,” said Wojciechowski, a Kaimuki, Hawaii, native.

Wojciechowski said she is confident all the families will receive the best possible support during the deployment.  Although the recent turnover within the Family Readiness Program posed challenges, it also afforded the battalion an opportunity to become more involved. Several spouses have volunteered to facilitate the Family Readiness Program which Wojciechowski confirms to be a necessity.

Wojciechowski said the program will also be hosting get-togethers for the wives and children and wants to ensure the spouses know they still have a family here.

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