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Marines return from Afghanistan

US Marine Corps News

By Lance Cpl. Abigail M. Wharton, Marine Corps Bases Japan

More than 100 Marines from the Regional Corps Advisory Command returned Tuesday to a welcoming party of friends and family after a nine-month deployment to eastern Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The Marines were greeted at the BeachHead, the club here, and had a pizza dinner.

The returning party was composed of a headquarters element and six teams, including one composed of I Marine Expeditionary Force Marines, from Camp Pendleton, Calif.

“Their mission was to mentor the 201st Corps, Afghan National Army, from the corps level down to the company,” said Maj. Barian Woodward, advisor, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “They advised on all aspects of the military from planning to execution,” he said.

“The embedded training teams held classes, hands-on training sessions and conducted patrols,” said Sgt. Matthew Anderson, communications chief, 4th Marines, 3rd MarDiv., III MEF.

The training ranged from patrols to deliberate combat operations, Woodward commented.

“The RCAC also acted as an embedded liaison between the 201st Corps, ANA, and coalition forces,” he added.

In order to prepare for the deployment, the Marines participated in the pre-deployment training program.

“The Marines from III MEF trained in Okinawa before meeting the I MEF Marines for training at the Mountain Warfare Training Center in Bridgeport, Calif., and working under the Advisor Training Group at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, 29 Palms, Calif.,” Woodward said.

The training in Okinawa was mostly ranges and military operations on urban terrain, Anderson commented.

“Our PTP was a total of four months and included classes on the culture and language of Afghanistan,” he added.

“Overcoming those culture barriers was probably the most challenging part of our deployment, but we learned what worked and trained at their pace,” Anderson said.

Woodard said he was pleased with the tasks the Marines had accomplished while deployed.

“The RCAC was able to significantly increase the capabilities of the 201st Corps, ANA,” Woodward said. “They did an outstanding job in a dynamic environment.”

As the RCAC Marines arrived at the BeachHead, family members and fellow service members broke out in cheers and applause to welcome them home.

“When your husband is deployed you’re so proud that he’s a representative of your country,” said Lisa Hinkle, wife of Gunnery Sgt. Scott Hinkle, maintenance chief, 3rd Maintenance Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 35, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III MEF. “You’re still worried for his safety, but my family puts our faith in God and trusts things will work out.”

“It feels great to be home after the suspense of the trip,” said Gunnery Sgt. John Flores, team 6-5 chief, RCAC.

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