News: Marine battalion comes home to warm welcome
Story by Lance Cpl. Joseph Scanlan
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – As the sun descended behind the mountain ridgeline at Camp Horno, excitement began to build as family members and friends anxiously awaited for their loved ones to return from deployment, Dec. 8.
The clear skies provided a starlit parade deck to receive the Marines and sailors. For the first time in six months, they were together again with their friends and families.
More than 800 service members serving with 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, returned from deployment with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, an amphibious force-in-readiness in the Asia-Pacific region.
“I have never been separated from my husband for so long,” said Anisha Johnson, wife of Lance Cpl. Evan Johnson and a Phoenix native. “This homecoming means so much to me because I always wanted to be the first person he saw once he got off the bus.”
Throughout the deployment, the battalion was established as a battalion landing team for the MEU in Okinawa, Japan.
A landing team consists of an infantry battalion reinforced with an amphibious assault vehicle platoon, combat engineer platoon, artillery battery, light armored reconnaissance company, tank platoon and other mission-essential U.S. Marine and Navy units.
For some of the Marines, like Johnson, who recently joined the battalion, it was their first deployment and experience overseas.
“That was the farthest I have been away from home in my entire life,” said Lance Cpl. Eduardo Gonzales, a rifleman and San Diego native. “Being that far away from home made me realize all of the little things I took for granted. Living in such close quarters and not having everything I need right across the street isn’t what I was used to.”
Typically, a deployed MEU patrols on a fleet of ships around their area of the world of responsibility where they’re capable of responding to any contingency.
For this deployment, the battalion was in and out of Camp Hansen, Okinawa, a Marine Corps base named after Pvt. Dale Hansen, who served with 2nd Bn., 1st Marines, in the Battle of Okinawa during World War II and was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously.
“During the deployment, the battalion was scattered across three different ships and was rarely together,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Priddy, the commanding officer of 2nd Bn., 1st Marines. “It’s a great feeling to finally have the battalion all together and to be back with 1st Marine Division.”
The battalion plans to continue training in MEU operations as they prepare to become a landing team for another MEU next year.