Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif. --
Marines with Headquarters and Service Company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, were staged with sea bags and weapons while family members and loved ones squeezed in every minute they could with their Marines before the buses arrived.
The company deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Tuesday.
For some Marines, this is a first deployment, but for Cpl. Anthony Hernandez, maintenance management specialist, H&S, 3/4, this is the first deployment he will be leaving a wife and daughter behind.
Anthony and Jessica Hernandez were married in 2011 and since then have had a baby girl, Gianna. Gianna turned 2 months old the day her father deployed.
“It’s hard to leave her,” Hernandez said. “I know I have to, but I also know that she won’t be that old when I get back and she’ll know me more when she gets older.”
Jessica’s first experience with the military and the sacrifices service members and their families make was with her husband. It’s a challenge she was willing to accept, she said.
“I know I have to stay strong for (Gianna) and for him,” Jessica added.
“Marines are clearly sad to leave their families. That’s a very hard thing to do, regardless of what service you’re in,” said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Kenney, battalion commander, 3/4. “But the Marines are ready to go. You find that the morale of the unit picks up the closer you get to deployment.”
Hernandez and his wife plan to correspond mainly through e-mails and video calls, when internet is available, but Hernandez says he will always keep a wallet-sized picture of his wife and daughter with him.
What makes this deployment more fulfilling is that 3/4 will be taking the place of another Twentynine Palms unit, allowing them to return home, said Kenney.
The battalion will replace 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, in the mission to support the Coalition Forces overseas.
This is a mission they plan to accomplish through hard work and disciplined action, according to 1st Lt. Michael Dooley, executive officer, Company L., 3/4.
Marines with 2/7, currently in Afghanistan in support of OEF, are scheduled to return to their families and loved ones at the Combat Center in April.
Leading the voyage for 3/4, H&S Company will soon be followed by the rest of the battalion.