TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif - Marines and sailors from Company B, 1st Tank Battalion, were welcomed home June 2, 2012,by hundreds of excited family members and friends from their recent seven-month deployment to Afghanistan.
The company marched into the 1st Tanks compound into the eager waiting arms of loved ones. For some of the Marines, the homecoming event was also the first time meeting their infant children, who were born during their time away.
The battalion’s mission overseas, the NATO Training Mission, Afghanistan, was a mission of mentorship.
The tankers dismounted their metal monsters and proceeded on foot to advise and mentor Afghan National Army soldiers and Afghan National Police officers on their role in their community and how to take proper actions in dangerous situations.
The battalion traveled throughout Afghanistan, reaching many different types of people.
“It was a different experience,” said Cpl. Carlos Iruegas, MRAP all-terrain vehicle driver, 1st Tanks. “We saw all of Afghanistan. The North was different than the South, they had hope in their eyes, hope in change.”
While transitioning from a tank mission to an adviser role, the trip was dubbed an extremely successful deployment, according to Maj. Jared Duff, executive officer, 1st Tanks.
“Working with the Army was different, their way of doing things was way different than the Marines,” Iruegas said.
“We had 10 teams doing different missions,” said Lt. Col. Timothy Barrick, commanding officer, 1st Tanks. “I’m proud of the Marines and the work they’ve been doing.”
Fellow tankers were among the families and friends waiting at the compound.
“I’m happy to have them back home,” said Cpl. Adam Semien, Headquarters and Services Company, 1st Tank Battalion. “They did good things out there. The least I can do is welcome them home.”
The crowd quickly dispersed minutes after the reunion. With the deployment behind them, family and friends were eager to spend quality time together.
“I’m so thankful he’s home,” said Natalie Meeks, wife of Staff Sgt. Michael Meeks, Company B, 1st Tanks. “It’s nice having the man of the house back.”