MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Marines and sailors with Regimental Combat Team 7 were reunited with their loved ones at the Combat Center’s Lance Cpl. Torrey L. Gray Field Aug. 24 after an 11-month deployment to Afghanistan.
The unit first landed at March Air Reserve Base, Calif., and were greeted by Maj. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson, commanding general, 1st Marine Division.
Nicholson warmly welcomed the unit as they disembarked their aerial transport.
“It's a great feeling to be back,” said Col. Austin Renforth, commanding officer, Regimental Combat Team 7. “We’re all very proud to be home and (appreciative) of the support that everyone gave us.”
The RCT deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Their missions contributed to preparing the Afghan National Security Forces to take the lead as the nation’s primary security force, working to enhance their abilities and strategies in Helmand Province.
“Our regiment facilitated the development of the (Afghan forces), and we were very proud to see how far they came along,” Renforth said. “They essentially worked us out of the job, and they took over a large area of responsibility.”
“It feels good to get these Marines home,” said Sgt. Maj. Scott Samuels, sergeant major, RCT-7. “It was a great deployment and they did a great job.”
To effectively assist the Afghan forces in taking the lead, two infantry battalions, a tank company, an artillery battery, and a light infantry battalion were supported by RCT-7 to complete the mission at hand, according to Samuels.
Now, the regiment plans to continue training for anything that may lie ahead.
“The mission is over, but we’re Marines,” said Renforth. “We’ll take a few days off to reintegrate with the families, and then get right back on the horse ready to go.”
With their return to the training environment of the Combat Center, RCT-7 will continue to uphold mission readiness.
“We feel a sense of mission accomplishment,” Renforth said. “In the 11 months we were gone, (all operations) were planned and accomplished.”
Families and friends embraced the reunion with the Marines and sailors, having waited nearly a year to see them again.
“I want to thank everyone for their support,” Renforth said. “Especially the friends and families that were there for us.”