News: 'The Professionals' return from Afghanistan
Story by Lance Cpl. Alfred V. Lopez
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Cheers of celebration warmly greeted Marines and sailors of 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment at the Camp Horno parade deck, May 11.
The homecoming brought back the third batch of more than 250 warriors of 2/1 from their seven-month deployment in Afghanistan. The battalion, also known as “The Professionals,” performed crucial multi-faceted missions in Garmsir District, Helmand province.
“Our battalion focused on counterinsurgency operations in Garmsir, the first significantly populated area between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” said Maj. Theodore C. Bathea II, the executive officer of 2/1. “We focused on security, improving governance, reconstruction and development, and training the Afghan national security forces.”
“The Professionals” hold the best improvised explosive device find rate of any Marine unit. They detected/defused 96 percent of more than 400 IEDs they encountered during their tour.
“I think we did a tremendous job,” said Lance Cpl. Andrew Haskenhoff, a machine gunner with Fox Company, 2/1. “The mission didn’t rely on one person; it was on all of us. I had a strong group of guys that I worked with every day, so it all worked out.”
As Haskenhoff waded through the crowd of eager friends and family, he was nearly tackled to the ground by his very excited girlfriend, Dani Arnold.
“It’s a relief being home,” said Haskenhoff, a 21-years-old from West Union, Iowa. “After seeing and living with the same people for seven months, it’s awesome to finally see my loved ones.”
As a collective cheer from friends and family welcomed the group of warriors onto the parade deck, Cpl. Marlon H. Bateman III, a team leader with Golf Company, 2/1, could not help but smile as he spotted a welcoming committee of his family and friends.
“They’re all from northern California, so it’s an easy trip for them,” said Bateman, from Lincoln, Calif. “It’s awesome they’re here. I’m glad they were able to come.”
Bateman hugged each of his family members and expressed to everyone of them how much he missed them over the last seven months. The last person to greet him was his father, Marlon Bateman II. The elder Bateman welcomed his son with a proud and loving embrace.
“We’re glad to get him back,” said the proud patriarch. “He’s come back healthy and safe and I’m pleased about that. I’m really grateful for the efforts they made over there. I know they did some good for the people of Afghanistan.”