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thedrifter
09-30-05, 06:30 AM
Homecoming bittersweet for Ohio Marines coming to Camp Lejeune
By CONNIE MABIN
Associated Press Writer

CLEVELAND Awaiting Navy Reservist Frederick Christian Anselm at his family's Ohio home is a belated birthday party. Lance Cpl. Nicholas Kehl will get nine month's worth of hugs and kisses from his relatives.

"Oh, my gosh. We just can't keep the smiles off our faces," said mom Linda Kehl. "The anticipation is wonderful. We're just counting down the hours."

For 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines families, Friday's homecoming to Camp Lejeune, N.C., will be a bittersweet ending to a tragic tour of duty in Iraq. The hard hit unit deployed in January suffered about 150 injuries and 48 deaths, including 14 Marines killed in back-to-back attacks within a week.

"I had hoped to be greeting my son," said Paul Schroeder, whose son Lance Cpl. Edward Schroeder II was killed in August. "I see all this happening and I'm glad all these guys are coming home, but I wanted him to be there too, so it's difficult to take."

Edward Schroeder, 23, of Cleveland, died in a roadside bombing in western Iraq with eight other members of his Columbus-based Lima Company, which reports to the "3/25," the battalion based in Brook Park near Cleveland that captured the nation's heart after the deadly summer.

About 900 Marines and sailors serving with the battalion are due for a low-key arrival Friday. They will be debriefed for several days before returning to their various companies in Ohio, West Virginia and New York for more public festivities.

The Marines suggested that families not travel to North Carolina because of the debriefing.

Frederick Anselm's sailor son assigned to the battalion as a medic has been at Camp Lejeune since the end of August when Army replacements arrived in Iraq. When he returns home with the battalion in the next week or so, he'll find his family ready to celebrate his 35th birthday, which occurred May 27.

"Now that he's back, out of harm's way, I can sleep at night, not get antsy every time the phone rings," said his father, of Olmsted Township.

In Brook Park, a large memorial of homemade signs, heartfelt letters, flags, photos and other items tied to a chain-link fence in August has been disassembled, the contents stored inside battalion headquarters. On Thursday, the Marines put a large welcome home message on the fence.

The impending homecoming has, at least temporarily, lifted a cloud of grief.

"Thank God," breathed Lucky Harris. Her support group Mothers of Military is still deciding what it will do to celebrate the unit's return, which she said gives hope to all military families and at the same time is a symbol of sadness.

"When you have a tragedy that brings the hard-knocks you realize some don't come home," Harris said. "I cannot imagine the emotion these families who lost children are going through right now."

The emotions are bittersweet, said Paul Schroeder.

Until Aug. 2, the day his son known as "Augie" died, he too had been planning a homecoming.

It was going to be a big bonfire, complete with a lamb roast in the family's large backyard near the vegetable garden.

"Hopefully on one of those glorious October days and we were going to invite the immediate world," the father said with a heavy voice before pausing to collect himself. "I got the garden. I got the firewood. That's about all I got."

Ellie

thedrifter
09-30-05, 06:34 AM
Marine battalion heads to North Carolina
September 30, 2005, 6:46 AM EDT

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- For a few months, some of them were part of Lucky Lima, the nickname given to an Ohio-based Marine unit that had left for Iraq in January and, for a time, had not suffered any casualties or injuries.

But by the end of their deployment, the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines had lost 48 servicemen, including nine from the battalion's Lima Company in the deadliest roadside bombing of U.S. troops in Iraq.

The battallion, made up of about 1,000 reservists _ including about 180 based out of Buffalo, N.Y. _ is returning to the United States now. A large group of the Marines was set to arrive at Camp Lejeune Friday.

The battalion left for Iraq in January. In March and April, two of the battalion's companies lost three members in as many attacks.

In May, the battalion lost five more reservists in small arms fires and a roadside explosion. Lima Company lost its first Marine, Cpl. Dustin A. Derga, 24, in a May 8 attack.

More losses came throughout June and July, with a deadly roadside bomb that took three reservists June 9, indirect enemy fire that killed two July 10 and grenade fire that killed two on July 28.

August proved to the be the deadliest month for the battalion, particulary the once-lucky Lima Company.

Enemy fire killed five members of the battalion on Aug. 1. Two days later, nine of the Lima reservists were among 14 Marines killed in a roadside bombing.

Overall, 16 Lima Company reservists died in Iraq, and about two dozen were injured, Master Sgt. Stephen Walter said.

Thirteen other permanent members of the battalion were killed. A Navy corpsman and 18 other Marines who were temporarily attached to the group also died.

Of the 48 that were killed, half were from Ohio.

The Marines will spend about five days at Camp Lejeune before they return to their home bases in Ohio, West Virginia and New York for more public festivities. The Marines Corps urged families not to travel to North Carolina because of the debriefing.

Ellie

thedrifter
10-01-05, 06:59 AM
Lima Company Marines Return Home
Reservists To Go Through Transition
UPDATED: 11:47 pm EDT September 30, 2005

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Some 350 Marines from the Lima Company reserve unit arrived at Camp LeJeune in North Carolina Friday evening.

The Marines will spend about five days at Camp LeJeune before they return to their home bases in Ohio, West Virginia and New York for more public festivities. The Marines Corps urged families not to travel to North Carolina because of the planned debriefing.

Many Marines will want to touch the grass the moment they touch down from the 36-hour flight, Edwards told Bowersock.

"When the remainder return today, they'll be going through a transitional phase called the Warrior Transition Program," said Marine Lt. Barry Edwards. "That program gets them adapted back to the environment back here in the States, being home and transitioning back home."

For a few months, some of them were part of Lucky Lima, the nickname given to an Ohio-based Marine unit that had left for Iraq in January and, for a time, had not suffered any casualties.

But by the end of their deployment, the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines had lost 48 servicemen, including nine from the battalion's Lima Company in the deadliest roadside bombing of U.S. troops in Iraq.

SLIDESHOWS: Images From Camp LeJeune | Lima Company Marines Killed In Iraq
Send Well-Wishes To Lima Company Marines

The battalion, made up of about 1,000 reservists, now is returning to the United States. A large group of the Marines was set to arrive at Camp Lejeune on Friday.

The battalion left for Iraq in January. In March and April, two of the battalion's companies lost three members in as many attacks.

In May, the battalion lost five more reservists to small arms fire and a roadside explosion. Columbus-based Lima Company lost its first Marine, Cpl. Dustin A. Derga, 24, in a May 8 attack.

More losses came throughout June and July, with a deadly roadside bombing that took three reservists June 9, indirect enemy fire that killed two July 10 and grenade fire that killed two on July 28.

August proved to be the deadliest month for the battalion, particularly the once-lucky Lima Company.

Enemy fire killed five members of the battalion on Aug. 1. Two days later, nine of the Lima reservists were among 14 Marines killed in a roadside bombing.

Overall, 16 Lima Company reservists died in Iraq, and about two dozen were injured, Master Sgt. Stephen Walter said.

Thirteen other permanent members of the battalion were killed. A Navy corpsman and 18 other Marines who were temporarily attached to the group also died.

Of the 48 that were killed, half were from Ohio.

Ellie

thedrifter
10-01-05, 07:24 AM
Third Battalion returns from Gulf
October 01,2005
BY Chris Mazzolini View stories by reporter
Freedom
Freedom ENC

CAMP LEJEUNE - Stepping off a bus and onto American soil Friday at Camp Lejeune, the Marines of 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines will now return to their old lives.

But that doesn't mean they're still the same.

Because now the reserve battalion, headquartered in Brook Park, Ohio, is a cadre of battle-hardened warriors, roughly 900 Marines who fought through seven months of combat in Iraq's unstable Al Anbar province. Their return Friday night to Camp Lejeune ended a brutal seven-month deployment.

The battalion, made up of Marines from Ohio, West Virginia and New York, lost 48 troops in action, including 14 who died in a highly publicized roadside bomb explosion in Haditha in early August.

Despite the national attention, the Marines arrived to little fanfare. The battalion will face about a week of debriefing and administrative tasks before they can head home, so the Marine Corps asked families not to come to Camp Lejeune.

Some quiet was exactly what the Marines had in mind.

"We understand because of events over there, people are interested and we appreciate that support," said Col. Lionel Urquhart, the battalion's commanding officer. "The low-key is not disappointing. In fact, it's what we wanted."

While Urquhart, from Akron, Ohio, will have to wait to see his two sons, 22-year-old Lance Cpl. Marc Fencio is getting a surprise visit from his girlfriend, who flew in to welcome him back Friday night.

Fencio, a college student who lives in Athens, Ohio, said living and fighting in Iraq was an excellent reminder of how good we have it here.

"It felt like a different planet," he said. "I wish everyone could see how other parts of the world live. Over there, running water is a privilege. I'll live a much better life after seeing that. It's definitely going to make me appreciate America."

It was Fencio's first tour to Iraq, and he said combat was different than he expected.

"Our generation grew up on World War II movies, Playstation 2 games, where you get hit 10 times and keep on going," he said. "But combat: it's surreal, it's prolonged. It's real."

"You take incoming, get shot, get blown up, and sit around," said Cpl. Eric Bildstein, with Weapons Company and hailing from North Olmstead, Ohio. "War is boring, mostly. There's lulls when there's nothing happening. That's a challenge, fighting through the boredom."

While Fencio didn't know any of the battalion's fallen members personally, he said it still felt like he lost brothers.

"It's tragic," he said. "But when you saw as much combat as we have, it's inevitable."

Bildstein, however, did know some of the fallen personally. Some of the dead were from his original platoon, and he lost one of his best friends, Cpl. Brad Squires from Middleburg Heights, Ohio, to an explosion in Haqlaniyah on June 9.

"That was tough," he said quietly. "He was a great guy."

And the way the Marines dealt with the grief was to do their job to the best of their ability, Urquhart said.

"That's very tough," he said. "As a commanding officer, it's one of the toughest things you have to deal with. Fighting for your country, you go through the grieving process much faster. Dealing with the grief is something we all have to do."

Now that they are home, the main thing is to get some well-deserved rest and live lives that honor their fallen comrades, Urquhart said.

Ellie