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GySgt. Eliesel Rivera, platoon sergeant, 1st platoon, Company A, 1st Tank Battalion, is welcomed home by his wife, Marian Rivera, July 29, 2012 during a homecoming celebration at the Combat Center., LCpl. Lauren Kurkimilis, 7/30/2012 8:41 AM

Photo by Lance Cpl. D. J. Wu

Finally home - 1st Tanks returns

3 Aug 2012 | LCpl. Lauren Kurkimilis

Marines and sailors from Company A, 1st Tank Battalion, arrived at the Combat Center July 29, 2012, after a seven-month-long deployment to Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Family, friends and fellow service members of 1st Tanks anxiously waited in the rising desert heat to welcome their loved ones home.

 “That's all you really can do,” said Larry Romine, father of Cpl. Orin Romine, mechanic, Co. A, 1st Tanks. “We're just looking forward to getting him home and enjoying him being around. We are so proud of him.”

The deployment, while typical in duration, was extraordinary in terms of accomplishments.

“We went out on more than 400 combat missions and conducted 14 major named operations,” said Capt. Gary S. Slater, company commander, Co. A, 1st Tanks. “The most important thing, however, is that we came home safely.”

Co. A supported more than seven units to include 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment; 2nd Bn., 5th Marine Regiment; 1st Bn., 7th Marine Regiment; 1st Bn., 8th Marine Regiment; 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Bn.; two Georgian infantry battalions and several special operation forces.

“Our success can be attributed to the hard work and determination the men displayed while deployed and the skills developed here aboard the Combat Center during pre-deployment training,” Slater said. “Expert coordination with the units we supported allowed us to be superior on the battlefield.  The Corps’ greatest asset against the enemy is the Marine-tank infantry team.”

“Alpha Co. has done absolutely phenomenal work in Afghanistan,” said Lt. Col. Gregory T. Poland, commanding officer, 1st Tank Battalion. “Capt. Slater and his Marines definitely set the standard over there and met the expectations that our leadership needs from tankers in a combat zone. They absolutely have reinforced the importance of the tank- infantry team.” 

Co. A swept through several towns and cities in Musa Qaleh, Kajaki, Washir, Now Zad, Sangin, Reg-e Khan Neshin, Dishu and Nagr-e Saraj districts.

“We really put a hurt on the Taliban,” Slater said. “I could not be prouder or more humbled by the performance of the Marines in this company. They made the most of the opportunities they had out there. Throughout Helmand province, the few Taliban insurgents that have survived contact with a Marine tank company have a painful awareness that there is nothing more lethal than an M1A1 Main Battle Tank crewed by Marines from 1st Tank Battalion.”

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