Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms Calif. --
Ten years after the invasion into Iraq, Company L, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, reunited at the Combat Center March 21 to celebrate their history and meet the Marines and sailors who filled their shoes after they left active duty.
The Marines reunited with their brothers who served in Co. L in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In January 2003, Co. L played a vital role in the invasion of Iraq. They were responsible for capturing and detaining many of the highest ranking officials of the Ba’ath Party during covert operations south of Baghdad. The unit returned to the United States in September of 2003 and continued to serve seven combat deployments consecutively in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
“When you shoot the same dirt, experience the same experiences and feel the same losses, you grow together,” said Maj. Dominique Neal, who served with 3/7, Co. L, from November 2000 until November 2004. “That is a brotherhood.”
The former Marines of 3/7 and their families met at the Combat Center’s Phelps Mess Hall to eat breakfast and reunite. The Marines and their families had an hour and a half to tour the updated 3/7, Co. L office and the Marine Corps Exchange after they were finished with breakfast.
The Marines later visited a static display of modern vehicles and weapon systems the unit utilizes at Camp Wilson.
“Knowing what I know, if someone asked if I would do it all again, I absolutely would,” Neal said. “I served with a great group of men. I would do it in a heartbeat.”
Once the day’s events concluded, the group went into town to have dinner. The reunion gave the Marines an opportunity to share stories and experiences they went through together in an environment where there was a common bond and understanding, said Capt. Javier Gonzalez, officer instructor at Advisor Training Group.
“Most Marines don’t realize the lasting impact the Marine Corps leaves within them for the rest of their lives,” Gonzalez said. “Whether you loved the Marine Corps, while you were in, or if it wasn’t for you, you start to miss the people you served with. These guys are just flat-out proud to have served their country with each other.”