Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, Calif. --
Marines and sailors with Support Company, 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion, staged their sea bags while family and loved ones took in every minute they had left with their servicemember before the buses arrived in the late hours of March 28.
The company deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and will be is replacing 2nd CEB, based out of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.
“Our primary mission is providing direct combat engineer support to the ground combat element, which in this case is going to be Regimental Combat Team 7,” said Lt. Col. Brian Dwyer, battalion commander, 3rd CEB. “The direct combat engineer support is going to be in support of the transition of authority from the U.S. forces and the (International Security Assistance Force) over to the Afghan National Security Forces and the facilitation of them going and assuming control and transitioning their authority into the control of the Afghan folks.”
Dwyer spoke to the company and gave his support to the families and loved ones who are staying back and supporting from home.
“If the Marines know that we are taking care of their families back here and that our remain behind element and family readiness program take care of them, the Marines can focus on what they are supposed to do,” Dwyer said. “The first thing is my confidence in (the Marines’) abilities to go forth and do their mission as combat engineers. The other one is that they and their families understand that the Marines are as best prepared that they can be, and their families are also a significant part of my focus. The care and welfare for their families, while they are deployed, is absolutely important to me.”
It’s vital that families come support their Marines and sailors, said Erika Capistran, family readiness officer, 3rd CEB.
“It’s important. You can see it in their eyes, they light up when they see their parents. It’s absolutely important. This is a family; we’re a family from the top all the way down. This is the hardest part of my job. It’s a difficult time.”
The busses came and Support Co. loaded their belongings to begin their journey to Afghanistan. The last moments the Marines and sailors had their families were solemn ones.
“We got my husband a Kindle so he can Skype if possible,” said Jessika Coons, Family Readiness Assistant and wife of 2nd Lt. Andrew Coons, motor transportation officer, Support Co., 3rd CEB. “He’s a big reader so he can do his thing and (video chat) with the family.”
“(Video chat) is amazing,” said Amber Flores, wife of Warrant Officer Maseo Flores, Support Co., 3rd CEB. “Back in the day, it was really shotty and if you were lucky it was a phone call a month. Now you can (video chat) and (mail) gets there really soon so you don’t have to wait 60 days to get a box.”
The Flores and Coons families both have children who haven’t been through a deployment. They hope that the support given to them by the family readiness program and technology will help during 3rd CEB’s 7-month deployment.
“They’re a great group of Marines,” Dwyer added. “They’ve done a phenomenal job. They’re ready to go. I’m completely proud of being their commanding officer.”