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thedrifter
05-26-09, 09:10 AM
Okinawa Marines’ Afghan tour ends
By Cindy Fisher, Stars and Stripes
Pacific edition, Wednesday, May 27, 2009

CAMP COURTNEY, Okinawa — About 100 Marines returned to Okinawa after seven months as individual augmentees to Special Purposes Marine Air Ground Task Force Afghanistan.

"It’s definitely a Memorial Day I’ll remember," said Master Sgt. Charles Albrecht as he hugged his wife and daughters at their reunion on Camp Courtney.

For some, the fact they were home hadn’t really sunk in.

"It’s hard to process; out there, every day was the same," said 1st Lt. James Mohr, who served as a maintenance management officer with the task force.

In Afghanistan, the Okinawa Marines were part of a potpourri of about 2,200 Marines and sailors who came together to form the task force that covered an area of Afghanistan about the size of Vermont, Albrecht said.

They worked mostly on counterinsurgency operations and trained with Afghan security forces, he said.

Wherever possible, they tried to put Afghans in the lead to "empower the Afghan government so the Afghan people can have a government they can rely on," Albrecht said.

"They’re getting better every day."

Soon, about 8,000 Marines with the recently stood up 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, based out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., will join the task force still in Afghanistan, Albrecht said. Once that happens, the task force will morph into a regional combat team and the 2nd MEB will be in control of all Marines in Afghanistan, he said.

Now that he’s back, Mohr plans "to get cleaned up and have a drink with friends."

Ellie