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Mackayda Gilbert, 7, daughter of Sgt. Joshua Gilbert, imagery analyst, Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron-1, hugs her father before he departs for Afghanistan April 27.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Lauren A. Kurkimilis

Watchdogs deploy

3 May 2013 | Lance Cpl. Alejandro Bedoya

Marines and sailors with Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron-1 said goodbye while loading bags and waiting for the busses with their loved ones, April 27.

The unit deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and will be replacing Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron-3. The primary mission of the unit will be providing  support for ground troops during their seven-month deployment.

They will also be using unmanned aerial vehicles to conduct surveillance missions and gather intelligence.

"It is good to see everyone saying goodbye,” said Sgt. Maj. Jason Perry, squadron sergeant major. “It makes the troops feel good to see everyone out here even though it is a Saturday.”

Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron-1 has been involved in multiple engagements in the past, some of which are Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Desert Storm.

According to Lisa Gilbert, wife of Sgt. Joshua Gilbert, imagery analyst, deployments can be challenging.

While he is gone, she alone must take care of their three children, Jayden, 8, Makayda, 7, and Mackenzie, 6.

“I support him in anything he does, even if it means he is going to be away from us for a long time,” Gilbert said. “I’m so proud of him but we are going to miss him very much.”

Although the families of VMU-1 will miss them, the Marines and sailors are excited to contribute to Operation Enduring Freedom, said Gilbert.

The unit is scheduled to return to the Combat Center later this year.


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