News: 'Island Warriors' reunite with loved ones in time for holidays
Story by Lance Cpl. Jacob Barber
KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii - More than 150 Marines from Golf, Echo, and Headquarters Companies, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, walked off the plane at Hangar 105 and to their families after returning from the Unit Deployment Program to Okinawa, Wednesday.
Approximately 700 Marines and sailors deployed as part of the UDP, strengthening relationships with other nations throughout the Pacific through peacekeeping operations and bilateral and multilateral training.
The UDP started in 1977 but was reduced in scale in 2003 due to the personnel and equipment demands in Central Command. In June, 2nd Bn, 3rd Marines was the first Marine Corps infantry battalion to resume the UDP since 2003.
During their deployment, Marines conducted jungle warfare training and live-fire exercises in various countries, taking advantage of unfamiliar environments and terrain.
The battalion successfully deployed units to conduct bilateral and multilateral exercises in Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, New Caledonia, Philippines, Mongolia, the Republic of Korea, and mainland Japan.
“When we work with other forces we are able to learn their strengths,” said Maj. Nuzzo, executive officer, 2nd Bn, 3rd Marines. “During this deployment we were able to learn jungle warfare in the Philippines, send a unit out to Mongolia for partnering missions, learn Martial Arts in the Republic of Korea, as well as to just make our presence known in the Pacific and be ready for any missions III Marine Expeditionary Force, or 3rd Marines might throw our way.”
Interoperability has been a Marine Corps focus for several years. Being able to operate anywhere in the world, at any time, in any conditions, has been a foundation for Marine forces throughout years. Marines with 2nd Bn, 3rd Marines participated in the first of many more UDP’s to come.
When asked the importance of the deployment and what he learned from it, Lance Cpl. Brandon E. Bustler, Headquarters Company, said, “We were able to do so much in this period of time that it almost seems unreal.
“We did a lot of training in different places and islands and I personally was able learn a lot from each of these countries and it was an unforgettable experience but it feels great to be home.”
Angelique Corpuz, girlfriend of Lance Cpl. Jordan Finestone, rifleman, Echo Company, said she was extremely proud of what her boyfriend was able to accomplish throughout the deployment but was just eager to see him again.
“I know they did a lot of training, and it’s awesome what he and his fellow Marines were able to accomplish. I’m sure I’m not the only one proud of them and I know I’m not the only one excited to see them come home.”
Marines from 1st Bn, 3rd Marines will replace their brothers in Okinawa in late December. They will be the second of a UDP rotation made to enhance relationships with allies.