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2/6 heads back to North Carolina

Marine Corps News

Release Date: 4/15/2004

Story by Cpl. Ryan Walker

CAMP SCHWAB, Okinawa, Japan (April 9, 2004) -- Marines from 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment currently assigned to the 4th Marine Regiment on the Unit Deployment Program, began departing Okinawa the first two weeks of April to return home to Camp Lejune, N.C.

During their seven-month deployment, 2/6 successfully accomplished all their assigned missions, exercises and training throughout 19 different locations in five countries.

"We've had the opportunity to train in a wide variety of environments. We did cold weather training in five feet of snow in Japan and jungle training in the southern part of the Philippines," said battalion commander Lt. Col. Andrew L. Solgere. "So the adage about every clime and place rang true particularly with this deployment."

Seeking to improve his battalion's infantry skills, Solgere focused his Marines to seek-out and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver, or to repel their assault by fire and close combat, during training exercises.

"While we were here as part of the 4th Marine Regiment, we spent a lot of time working on shooting, moving, communicating, coordinating and adjusting supporting arms," Solgere said. "What we do all the time is work on those collective and individual tasks that make us better at those particular missions."

With the other infantry battalions on Okinawa deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2/6 had a rare opportunity to fire nearly 500,000 rounds from all the weapons in its arsenal.

"The exercise and training schedule that we've had here has been very supportive and has allowed us to become much more proficient as an infantry battalion," Solgere said.

Traveling and training with foreign militaries are two experiences that were highlights for many of the Marines of 2/6.

"The highlights for me were going to Fuji and doing cold weather training, and experiencing things unique to Japan like sumo wrestling," said Hanford, Caif., native Cpl. Jake R. Parra, mortarman.

Prior to deploying to Okinawa in September, Marines from 2/6 returned home from their previous deployment in Operation Iraqi Freedom in June 2003.

"The challenge was that there wasn't enough time to do training, but just enough time to get reacquainted with families and then launch over here," Solgere said. "The Marines and Sailors did a spectacular job because they understand that we're the nations 911 force."

"It was a little frustrating because we just got back and we didn't really have a chance to unpack our sea bags," Parra said.

Though the Marines haven't had much of a deployment break for more than a year, they have made their commander proud.

"I have four bullets to my command philosophy, be ready to go in 96 hours, be ready to go anywhere, get there and fight, and have fun," Solgere said. "I think we've been able to train to that standard since we've been here, and we've accomplished the work of the United States Marine Corps."

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