TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. - When Cpl. Don Robinson left to join the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit with the rest of Lima Battery, 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, in November, his daughter Samira was a tiny 2-month-old.
On June 4, 2012, six months later, Robinson and the other 113 Marines who left with the Okinawa-based MEU, stepped off the long-awaited buses onto Del Valle Field to happy, tearful reunions with the families and friends they left behind.
For some, it was like they never left. For others, like Robinson, coming home meant adjusting to what’s changed.
“It’s amazing,” Robinson said about how much his now 8-month-old daughter has grown. “We Skyped, but that's not the same thing.”
While deployed with the MEU, the battery provided artillery support for the infantrymen of Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, and was renamed the Non-Lethal Weapons Company while there. The BLT, along with the battery Marines, participated in exercise Cobra Gold 2012, which is hosted by the Kingdom of Thailand annually and incorporates the militaries of several allied nations for a spectrum of military operations, including field training exercises and humanitarian and civil assistance projects.
The BLT joined forces with Thai Marine and Army artillery units and supported American and Thai maneuver units.
“It was an excellent experience building our relationships with foreign militaries, specifically our allies,” said Capt. Dwight Bundy, commander, Lima Battery, 3/11. “We learned from them just like they learned from us.”
The battery Marines later integrated with Republic of Korea Marines to support American and South Korean maneuver units during their training exercises together as well.
Meeting and working with Marines from another country’s military service was an experience Bundy said he and his Marines enjoyed the most, and one that they learned a surprising fact from.
“These Korean Marines are a tougher breed of any other foreign military I’ve seen,” he said.
With their missions completed, and all the Marines home, it is time to catch up on all they missed with families while they were away.