News: Marines with 9th ESB return from Afghanistan
Story by Pfc. Codey Underwood
CAMP HANSEN, Japan - 9th Engineer Support Battalion returned home and were greeted by their friends and family at Camp Hansen June 5 after a seven-month deployment in Afghanistan.
The Marines with 9th ESB, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, deployed with 1st MLG (Forward) in support of missions in its area of operations by providing units with fuel, water, and heating equipment. They also improved road conditions for transportation and moving supplies.
Every element of 9th ESB did its job well and worked hard to support the fight, according to 1st Lt. Ethan R. Akerberg, the future- operations officer with 9th ESB during the deployment.
9th ESB provided general engineering support to 1st MLG (Fwd) to include survivability, countermobility and mobility enhancements, explosive-ordnance disposal, bulk-water production and storage, as well as bulk-fuel storage and distribution.
“While we were in Afghanistan there were many roles 9th ESB had to play,” said Cpl. Matthew T. Mott, a heavy-equipment operator with 9th ESB. “Although most of what we did was building roads, we also built or made repairs to make sure the Marines had water and (heat).”
While the main reason Marines built roads was to benefit the units they were supporting, their hard work also benefited the local population.
“Our roads gave our convoys a place to travel where there were fewer places to put (improvised explosive devices),” said Mott. “It made it a safe way to travel for both our military and civilians.”
The Marines were able to achieve their mission successfully with limited manpower, according to Mott.
“From the moment we arrived until the moment we left, we were working and providing support,” said Lance Cpl. Julius J. Paredez, a bulk-fuel specialist 9th ESB. “We had limited Marines, so we had to work (around the clock).”
Even though the Marines were working almost all of the time, it did not completely distract from the difficulty of being away from home, according to Paredez.
“My husband being away proved to be a challenge for me,” said Amanda G. Cox, wife of 1st Lt. Steven A. Cox, a military policeman with 9th ESB. “While my husband was away, he missed our daughter’s first Thanksgiving, Christmas and birthday, as well as my pregnancy with our son.
“I know it was hard for both of us while he was on this deployment,” said Cox. “He has a job to do though, and we both knew this coming into (this deployment).”
Deployments are hard because you are away from your family and comfort zone. You are in a new, potentially dangerous place that you are unfamiliar with, according to Akerberg.
“The mission that the 9th ESB did was critical to the III MEF,” said Akerberg. “If we were not there the overall goal would not have been accomplished.”