MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — There wasn’t a cloud in the midday sky over the barbeque site where laughter and music could be heard from the San Mateo parade deck. The grill was hot, leaving the smell of fresh hamburgers and hotdogs lingering in the air.
This was the site of Regimental Combat Team 5’s homecoming barbeque held here, Aug. 17.
The barbeque was held before the unit started much needed post-deployment leave.
“I’m happy they do this because we get to see the guys we deployed with one last time before we go on leave,” said Cpl. Joshua Drews, a radio operator with RCT-5. “I was deployed for a year with these guys, and when you’re with people for that long you build a close relationship with them.”
The Marines of RCT-5 deployed to Helmand province, Afghanistan in August 2011 to relieve Regimental Combat Team 1 at Camp Dwyer and took command over their area, which included Marjah, Garmsir, Khan Neshin and Nawa districts.
Their mission was to serve as the command element of the infantry battalions in their area of operations and work in partnership with Afghan National Security Forces and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations.
“During the beginning of the deployment, my Marines were leading the operations while setting up security and training the Afghan forces,” said Col. Roger B. Turner Jr., the commanding officer of RCT-5. Several months into the deployment, we began to transition into a more supportive role as the Afghan National Security Forces started to take the lead.”
Turner said the peace and security is genuine in Helmand province. The Afghan people enjoy the peace and are happy that they aren’t being preyed upon by the insurgents.
Drews said he’s happy they accomplished their mission while they were deployed even though it was a big commitment.
“I have two daughters, and I missed a year of their lives,” said Drews. “I missed both of their birthdays and Savanah’s first day of school.”
Drews also said he believes that RCT-5 was making a difference in Helmand province.
“The locals were getting more friendly as the time passed,” said Drews. “They liked to see us there helping them out.”
The mission was accomplished, Turner said. The Marines trained the Afghan National Army and helped them transition into a leading role in counterinsurgency operations while setting up security so they can protect their people.