KANEOHE, HI, UNITED STATES
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, Kaneohe Bay - More than 20 Marines of Detachment 14, stepped off a single, white bus into open arms, leis, handshakes, hugs and kisses, June 12.
The Marines spent seven months in the Philippines as part of the Joint Special Operations Task Force. According to Capt. Paul Kempf, the company commander of Bravo Company, Det. 14, 3rd Radio Bn., the Marines conducted “real-world support” activities, including combat operations.
“We just had the honor of receiving the [National Security Agency’s] Director’s Trophy for the best [signals intelligence] unit in the Marine Corps and what Det. 14 does in the Philippines is a huge part of that,” said Lt. Col. Halverson, commanding officer, 3rd Radio Battalion. “We’re very proud of them, we’re very proud of their families. We’re very proud of all the Marines who were here supporting them. [Being part of the joint special operations task force is] a great opportunity for our young Marines to work in a joint interagency environment while doing their mission. It’s a great opportunity for the battalion, and these Marines hit it out of the park, as they have for almost seven years now.”
With a wide smile, Halverson joined many families, fellow Marines and friends in celebrating the homecoming at the barracks.
As their children played in front of the barracks, several spouses readied cameras, leis and colorful outfits. Ally Tristan was among those spouses welcoming loved ones home. Tristan kept busy throughout the deployment raising their son, who was only a week old when her husband left, and their older daughter.
“He’s grown drastically,” Tristan said of her son.
While her husband was away, their son learned to sit up on his own. But because this was her husband’s second deployment, and she had more experience, Tristan said it was easier.
Michelle Anderson and Kia Lanza attended the homecoming to welcome back their teammate, Lance Cpl. Carmen Hatton. Anderson, Lanza and Hatton played on the Women’s Marine Corps flag football team, the Bulldogs, together. Hatton was able to make the championship game just one day before leaving for deployment.
“She was one of our sisters,” Anderson said. “It’s hard to say ‘goodbye,’ but it’s fun to say ‘welcome back.’”
Though many of the other Bulldogs were unable to make the homecoming, Anderson and Lanza were ready to welcome home Hatton on their behalf.
“A lot of the girls wanted to come,” Lanza said.
Anderson remarked that it was nice to see families and friends at the homecoming to greet the Marines who didn’t have families present.
“I enjoyed working in the joint operations environment,” said Cpl. Nathan Souza, an analyst with Det. 14, 3rd Radio Bn.
This was a second deployment overall for the native of Livermore, Calif., but a first to the Philippines. Souza said he was pleased knowing he made an impact.
“I felt like I was contributing every day, knowing I’m doing something that’s helping the government of the Philippines,” Souza said.
During the deployment, Souza said the unit brought supplies to an orphanage, and interacted with the children there. They even played ball with the children.
“You don’t [always] get to do stuff like that on deployment,” Souza said.
Gabrielle Guzik, her daughter and son awaited their Marine’s return that afternoon. This was the first deployment for Guzik and her husband. While he was away, Guzik said their daughter learned to speak clearer and is now potty trained.
Guzik was better able to better cope with her husband away though the help of her neighbor. In the months he was gone, she said she became more self-reliant when it came to running the house.
“He’s going to have a nice vacation [now that he’s] home,” Guzik said.
Guzik’s husband said the first thing he will do now is spend time with his children. He felt the deployment went well, and he was able to learn a new culture.
Also reuniting with his family was Sgt. Joe Coble, an assistant team leader and linguist with Det. 14, 3rd Radio Bn.
“It felt good to use my job as a Marine and as a [Tagalog] linguist,” Coble said.
During this deployment, Coble was not only able to work with the Navy, but also foreign service members. Coble was a liaison between the Navy and the Armed Forces of the Philippines. Through the deployment, Coble said he was also able to get to know his team well.
“[I’m] glad to be back, [and] glad we got to go,” Coble said, who is looking forward to eating American food again, including steak and pizza.
Kempf said another highlight of the deployment was that the unit assisted in the December 2011 rescue of a young American boy, Kevin Lunsmann, who was kidnapped by the Abusayyaf group.
“I’m impressed every day by what these Marines do,” Kempf said. “They train to deploy, they deploy, and then they come back to start the cycle over again. It’s a long fight and these guys do it well.”
||KANEOHE, HI, US
This work, 3rd Radio Battalion Detachment 14 returns to Kaneohe Bay, by Kristen Wong, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.