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thedrifter
01-02-07, 02:38 PM
January 02, 2007
RCT 2 families share goodbyes before new Iraq tour

The Associated Press

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. — Col. H. Stacy Clardy III returned to Iraq carrying mementos and Christmas memories.

Cutting the holiday season short, the Regimental Combat Team 2, II Marine Expeditionary Force, left Camp Lejeune for Iraq this weekend, on its third tour since the war started in 2003.

Clardy will lead the group in establishing stability among the Iraqi people and Iraqi security forces.

The group is the advance party of RCT-2 headquarters. Several battalions will follow in the coming months.

“Things are changing a lot in Iraq, I guess, and for the better,” Clardy said. “The unit before us has done a phenomenal job with the Iraqi forces and Iraqi people. We’ll try to build on what they did.”

Some of the 300 Marines and sailors were heading out on a third or fourth deployment. Others, like Pfc. Adam Jessen, were leaving for their first tour.

Jessen’s parents, grandmother, aunt and girlfriend choked back tears while laughing about some of their holiday memories.

“We tried not to think of him leaving,” said grandmother Betty Shewbridge of West Virginia. “We’ll think of the good times and try to keep the faith.”

Ellie