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thedrifter
05-27-08, 07:13 AM
Marines say they're 'ready to go' to Iraq

By TRENT SPINER
Union Leader Correspondent

LONDONDERRY – Fifty-five Marine reservists yesterday left their New England homes for war, each leaving behind something and someone they loved: newborn babies, parents, girlfriends, careers.

Dressed in desert camouflage fatigues, some juggled babies while posing for pictures with family members. Others sat quietly with friends, taking the time to say goodbye for an expected one-year deployment. This unit of Marines was mobilized last week to provide security in the Al Anbar region of Iraq. The country's largest province, it includes the city of Fallujah, according to Maj. Jason Climer.

Most are new recruits in their early 20s.

"Misery loves company," said Lance Cpl. Roger Landry, 21 of the expected triple-digit temperatures in Iraq. "A lot of other guys around us will be suffering too."

Landry, an Alstead native, had been helping his sister rebuild her log cabin; she lost everything in the October 2005 flood.

Even so, he has been anxiously awaiting the chance to deploy overseas for more than year.

"I'm ready to go," he said.

Lance Cpl. Gravin Guillen of Somerville, Mass., played with his 7-month-old son, Parker, as he said goodbye to family.

"I'm excited and a little scared," he said.

This is the third deployment since the Iraq war started for the Londonderry-based Bravo Company of the 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment. The unit, mainly comprised of residents from New Hampshire and Massachusetts, will be assisting its sister company, 2nd Battalion, 25th Marines, according to Maj. Derek Grader.

"Leaving family is hard, but it's something that needs to get done," said Lance Cpl. Stephen Detsch of West Lebanon. "Freeing these people, winning their hearts and minds is such a great thing, so much bigger than any one one of us."

"Your jobs and your life and stuff are put on hold so when you get back, it's just like you never left," the 20-year-old said. "Am I scared? No."

His mother, sitting next to him in the reserve center cafeteria, was more concerned.

"It's hard for a mother to let go of her son and send him off to war," Mary Detsch said. "But, I know men and women like him will make the world safer."

The Marines boarded a bus for Westover Air Reserve Base in Massachusetts before they were expected to fly to a training center in Twentynine Palms, Calif. They will spend two or three months in California learning about Iraqi culture, combat operations and base security before heading to Iraq for about seven months.

Lance Cpl. Chris Rustici, 20, of Nashua put his criminal justice and political science classes on hold for a year.

"I've got mixed feelings about it," he said. "You gotta do what you gotta do."

His girlfriend was less philosophical about the deployment.

"I'm obviously not happy about it," said Kimberly Rogers. "I hope he comes home safe."

Ellie