View Full Version : rip back home had 12 false starts

10-07-05, 02:58 PM
Marines finally return from Iraq
Trip back home had 12 false starts
By Scott McCabe
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 07, 2005

They endured firefights with Iraqi insurgents, crippling daylong sandstorms and roadside bomb explosions, but for the 14 Marines from the 4th Air/Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, the past two weeks may have been the worst.

That's how long they had to wait until they were able to return home. The Marines had been packed and ready to go since Sept. 24; 12 times they were told to get ready, only to be told there had been a change in plans.

"The worst part was waiting the last two weeks and not knowing when we were going to go home," said Sgt. Valdemar Sequira, 22, of Miami. "It's great to be back."

It was rough on the families, too.

Neil Conway, the father of Lance Cpl. Matthew Conway, called the past two weeks "nerve-racking."

"It was almost like they were playing head games," Neil Conway said. "It was really frustrating. They were quick enough to send them, but slow to return them home."

The 14 Marines were greeted late Thursday at the ANGLICO headquarters with whoops, cheers, hugs and tears.

This was the fifth ANGLICO detachment deployed out of suburban West Palm Beach. There have been no casualties from the unit so far. Fifteen more Marines remain in Iraq and are expected to return in mid-December.

The unit supported the multinational division headed by the Polish Army and consisting of troops from 14 countries.

The unit was involved in various missions in the three provinces south of Baghdad. Duties ranged from radioing in fire support for the other countries to providing protection for convoys to giving food and goodies from home to the Iraqi elderly and orphans.

The Marines were credited with rounding up 390 insurgents and criminals and recovering 50,000 pounds of ordnance.

"We were kind of the jack-of-all-trades," said commanding officer Lt. Col. Greg Studds, who lives in Melbourne but is originally from Jupiter. "I know they came back as better warriors, and I think they came back as better citizens. They have a better appreciation for what we have here and what we were doing over there."

Two Marines were awarded the Purple Heart Thursday night for being wounded in combat. Studds pinned the medals to the khaki camouflage uniforms of Lance Cpl. Matthew Conway of Miami and Staff Sgt. Joseph MacEntee of Syracuse, N.Y.

The two were injured during their first month in Iraq when a bomb exploded under their armored Humvee. Shrapnel sliced into Conway's right arm and through MacEntee's fingers.

Conway was happy to keep the shrapnel pulled from his biceps. His girlfriend, Marilyn Mederos, didn't learn of the injuries until Thursday night.

"They didn't want their family to worry or the other Marines' families to worry, and I think that says a lot about them," Studds said.

The Marines said the experience was unbelievable.

"It's difficult to describe. I'd be a liar if I said I wasn't scared, but this is what I was trained to do," said Gerson Cabrera, 27, of Boca Raton.

Said Lance Cpl. Jarrod Lowe of Orlando: "The best thing was the love I felt for my brothers and the love for my country that not many people can feel or understand."