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07-18-09, 06:30 AM
Task Force East

Story by Cpl. Sean P. Cummins
Combat Correspondent

Marines and sailors assigned to Task Force East bid farewell to friends and family Saturday before boarding buses to begin their seven-month deployment to Iraq.

The company-sized unit is deploying to the Multi National Force – West area of operation to provide security throughout the area.

The task force is comprised of Marines in various job fields, from 33 different commands across the National Capital Region, who volunteered for the deployment.

“Our [main] challenge was getting Marines from all different units and backgrounds to come together,” said 1st Sgt. Timothy D. Lucas, TFE. “It was a challenge, but they rose to it. We’re definitely a unit that’s ready for any mission the Marine Corps wants to give us,” added the Desert Shield/Desert Storm veteran.

Instructors from The Basic School at Marine Corps Base Quantico trained the Marines in everything from basic infantry tactics to cultural awareness. TFE Marines performed mounted and dismounted patrols, rifle and pistol combat marksmanship ranges, improvised explosive device awareness and vehicle checkpoint training during their pre-deployment program.

“They gave us the tools to complete the mission,” said Cpl. Jacob A. Pena, an administrative clerk from Henderson Hall now serving as a fire team leader with 4th platoon, TFE.

Despite the varied background of the task force members, the leadership is confident their Marines are well prepared for the job.

“The bottom line is they’re all Marines and basic riflemen. Anytime you get Marines who volunteer you know their hearts are into it,” said Major Rugsithi D. Meelarp, 34, commanding officer, TFE. “They all stepped up to the plate and we’re excited. We’re all looking forward to going out and doing our part.”