MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Family and friends of Marines and sailors of Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 3 said their last minute goodbyes as the unit headed out for a deployment to Afghanistan at the squadron headquarters April 19, 2011.
“I think a lot of the guys are excited to deploy,” said Capt. Luke Roberts, the contract officer representative for VMU-3. “For some of them, this is the first time. For a lot of them, [they have had] multiple deployments, so they know what is coming.
“They have had a lot of time to prepare and I think everyone is ready to go,” said the Shamburg, Ill., native.
As the Marines and sailors head to Helmand province, Afghanistan, they said they know they underwent the best training possible to prepare for their upcoming duty.
“That’s been the most realistic training coming out to Mojave Viper,” said 1st Lt. David Thomas, a communications officer with the unit. “Everything that we have done has prepared us a lot, even from our experience from last year is a huge improvement.”
As they loaded the buses, everyone received a care bag from volunteers of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter. The post has “adopted” the unit and is planning to send more care packages at the halfway point of the deployment, which is sometime this summer.
For the loved ones left behind, the unit’s family readiness officer has activities to help them through this difficult time.
“We have several different events going on while they are gone,” said Gisela Lemon, the VMU-3 FRO. “One of them is morale calendars. The spouses are creating a calendar for every month they are deployed and each day has pictures in it and different sayings [to help them along.]
“We are also going to do weekly video teleconferences here for the Marines who wire in initially,” said Lemon. “Then we are going to try to expand to some of the outer bases. So it is going to give spouses and Marines some face time.”