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31st MEU says farewell 1/3, greets 2/4

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 2005511202142
Story by Lance Cpl. Will Lathrop

KADENA AIR BASE, OKINAWA, Japan (April 26, 2005) -- Marines with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, ended their deployment with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit April 26, boarding planes bound for Hawaii after spending almost eight months afloat and ashore in Iraq serving in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Colonel Walter L. Miller, 31st MEU commander, met with the departing Marines. Miller wished them well and thanked them for their service.

“You men are heroes … don’t ever forget what you did out there (in Iraq),” Miller told them.
While serving with the 31st MEU, the Marines and sailors of 1st Bn., 3rd Marines participated in the securing of Fallujah during Operation Phantom Fury. They were also an integral part in making the inaugural Iraqi elections as safe as possibly for the people of Hit, a city located in Iraq’s western Al Anbar province.

The Hawaii-based battalion boarded planes that had just off-loaded the MEU’s new battalion landing team, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, based out of Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Miller, accompanied by the 31st MEU sergeant major, Sgt. Maj. David Evans, took the opportunity to welcome the Marines and sailors who comprise the new battalion landing team as they came off of the planes.

“Welcome to Okinawa, Marines,” Evans said as he greeted the newcomers. “Glad to have you aboard.”

The Marines and sailors accepted the welcome and shared their own excitement and gratitude.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael S. Ramos, a religious program specialist with Headquarters and Service Company, 2/4, explained that he is excited to see Okinawa for the first time.

“I have served with Marines my entire career, and I am looking forward to some really good training here,” Ramos said.

Gunnery Sgt. Kurt M. Martinez, the company gunnery sergeant for F Company, 2nd Bn., 4th Marines, knows his Marines are ready for the challenge of serving with the MEU.

“Forty percent of my company alone are hardened vets that have fought in Al Ramadi,” Martinez explained. “With our experience, we will be able to handle ourselves in any situation.”

The new BLT filed onto buses that lined the edge of the tarmac and made their trip north to Camp Hansen, their new home for the next seven months.

The 31st MEU is preparing to begin its 24th training cycle with an intense fall schedule that will include its Special Operations Capable certification deployment throughout the Asia-Pacific region.


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