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    3/6 arrives in Helmand province, prepare to integrate with Afghan national army

    By Lance Cpl. Tommy Bellegarde

    CAMP DWYER, Afghanistan — Marines and Sailors from 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment labored to get through the massive pile of gear in the center of the CH-53E Super Stallion and out into the burning sun of southern Afghanistan, Jan. 17, 2009. Almost instinctually, they hastily grabbed their bags and formed a neat pile of equipment several feet away from the flight line.

    Despite the fact that the Marines had been moving equipment all day before finally flying into Camp Dwyer, Afghanistan, they remained eager to move their gear into their living quarters.

    Loading and unloading bags, trying to find a comfortable enough position to get some sleep aboard an aircraft, and all the other difficulties that come with traveling long distances became a common occurrence for 3/6 Marines who voyaged halfway around the globe in just a few days.

    Lance Cpl. Tim Gwin, a mortarman with Headquarters and Service Company from Wilburton, Okla. could feel the strain of travel but remained upbeat and ready to push on with the mission.

    "The ride out here was long, but we have an important job to do," he said.

    Third Bn., Sixth Marines originally departed from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C. earlier in the month. Prior to arriving in Afghanistan, the battalion made stops in Maine, Germany and Kyrgyzstan. Once in country, the battalion made stops in Kandahar and Camp Leatherneck before arriving at Camp Dwyer.

    The battalion is in Helmand province to support Operation Enduring Freedom and will work closely with the Afghan national security forces to help create a secure environment for the people of Afghanistan said Lt. Col. Brian S. Christmas, the battalion commander. "We look very forward to integrating with the Afghan National Army and other members of the Afghan national security forces. They have a great reputation with the people of Afghanistan and have been very successful in past operations," he added.

    For the Marines of 3/6, coming to Afghanistan has already proved to be a very unique experience. Cpl. Ken McKinley, a field radio operator with H&S Co. from Jacksonville, Ala., has already witnessed many differences between Afghanistan and the United States during his short time at Camp Dwyer.

    "I've seen things in a totally different light since I've been over here," he said. "You see the people here and see how much freedom America has and you value life so much more," he added.

    Christmas insists that the people of southern Helmand province just want the insurgency to end.

    "Success will be defined by the positive hand off of our area of operation to the Afghan national security forces, which are welcomed by the Afghan people," he said.

    That will be a challenge, as there is an extensive lack of infrastructure in the current area of operation in southern Helmand province. Nevertheless, the service members of 3/6 are confident that the battalion will accomplish its mission.

    "Adapt and overcome," said Cpl. Steven McNeely, a field radio operator with H&S Co. from Fredericksburg, Va. with a serious tone. "It's what we do (as Marines)."

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 01.21.2010
    Date Posted: 01.21.2010 14:55
    Story ID: 44240
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