News: ‘America’s Battalion’ celebrates 236th Marine Corps birthday in Afghanistan
Story by Cpl. Reece Lodder
GARMSIR DISTRICT, Helmand province, Afghanistan — For the second year in a row, “America’s Battalion” celebrated the Marine Corps birthday in Helmand province, Afghanistan.
A year ago, the Marines and sailors of 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment were wrapping up a deployment in Nawa district. They’re back in Afghanistan, but not in Nawa.
Upon arriving in Garmsir district this past week, 3/3 began relieving their fellow Hawaii-based unit, 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment. The “Lava Dogs” are nearing the end of their deployment, which began in April.
Within the confines of combat outposts and patrol bases, they celebrated their 236th birthday in camouflage utilities here, Nov. 10. Though their attire was less formal than the iconic dress blue and white uniforms they wore to an early birthday ball in Waikiki, Hawaii, Oct. 7, honoring their heritage in combat afforded the battalion perspective for the months ahead.
Lieutenant Col. Matthew J. Palma, 3/3’s commanding officer, said the birthday celebration allowed “America’s Battalion” to remember the sacrifices of previous generations of Marines, and realize the commitment now required of them in Afghanistan.
After a long period of preparation for deployment, Palma said it’s exciting to finally begin the battalion’s ultimate task.
“We’re ready to take Garmsir to the final step of transition back to Afghan National Security Forces, and to bring Afghanistan one step closer to accepting responsibility for its own security and future,” he said.
At the battalion headquarters, Sgt. Thomas Settle, Jump Platoon sergeant, Headquarters and Service Company, 3/3, and other Marines were wished a happy birthday with a steak and lobster dinner. They topped off the festivities with a cake cutting ceremony hosted by 1/3 and attended by both battalions.
“Celebrating our birthday at the beginning of this deployment is a boost of morale and motivation before starting our job in Garmsir,” said Settle, 29, from Culpeper, Va. “It’s our turn to make a difference here now.”
Settle, the recipient of two Purple Hearts, is on his third combat deployment. This deployment is the third for his five-year-old daughter and the first for his two-year-old son.
He said milestones like the birthday help keep him focused, which is essential for enduring the long separation from his family. Despite the hardship, he stands resolute in the knowledge that his efforts far from home are making a difference.
“When this country is running on its own, we’ll look back and know we contributed to its success,” Settle said. “My kids will come back from school and say, ‘Daddy, I learned about what you did in Afghanistan at school today.’”
Editor’s note: 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, is currently assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5, 2nd Marine Division (Forward), which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghanistan National Security Forces and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling the ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.