Submitted by: MCB Camp Pendleton
Story Identification Number: 20031114171323
Story by Sgt. L.A. Salinas

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif.(Nov. 13, 2003) -- I Marine Expeditionary Force Marines across Camp Pendleton are gearing up for redeployment to Iraq and are still wondering if their units will be among those tasked. That's got some nervous, some excited and others mixed about the possibility of returning.

No stranger to deployments is Capt. Rosanna B. Reyes of I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group.

After returning from Kuwait in 2002, she remembered showing up in her unit's parking lot, only to find them packing up for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

She was home for six months before she returned to Kuwait, this time to join her unit at Camp Commando.

"I've spent more time in desert cammies than green cammies," Reyes said.

Part of that time was spent here while her unit was overseas. But saturation media coverage made the distance from her comrades seem closer.

"I saw my CO more on TV than in real life before I got out there," Reyes said.

This time, faced with redeployment, she figures to accompany her cohorts, whether she likes it or not.

"I'm dreading it," Reyes said. "I don't think anybody wants to go, but nobody wants to be left behind. If my unit's going back, I want to go with my unit."

Reyes said unit cohesion and a "self-imposed" heavy workload tempo readied them for a possible redeployment.

"It's already affected us," she said. "It's not like we're securing early, taking days off. There's not much down time for the Marines."

When the Marine Corps deployed last year, a stop-loss was put into effect, halting transfers and discharges. This kept Marines in the Corps and units from I MEF completely staffed.

Staff Sgt. Gustavo Gomez was slated for recruiting duty, but OIF canceled those orders and kept him at 11th Marines.

Now he faces a possible redeployment, and he's wondering if his anticipated orders to recruiting duty will be held again.

"I knew this was going to happen, I knew that we were going to have to go out there," Gomez said. "It's no surprise to me."

If he has to go back, he's hoping to spend more time with his family before deployment orders are issued. He also plans to invest more money in the Thrift Savings Plan, since his pay overseas would be tax-free.

Sgt. George R. Jones of 1st Force Service Support Group said he wouldn't want to be left behind. He already served a tour in OIF and is ready if he's among those called to go.

"I rather it be me than someone else's son," said Jones. "I'm not saying that I will jump in a heartbeat, but I will if I had to.

Jones thanks his wife for taking care of the household while he was deployed and, more importantly, for handling the responsibility of their 2-year old son.

Lance Cpl. Nicholas E. Boest with 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing faces returning to the heat and scorching sun to help keep air assets flying. Redeployment might not seem so stressful to Boest, a single Marine with few bills. Still, he's torn about the possible mission.

"I have a lot more fun here," Boest said. "Even if you did have time off, there's nothing to do. There's hot sand blowing in your face when it's 120 degrees."

Still, Boest fondly remembers the camaraderie that developed in his unit.

"You definitely got a lot closer with the group after spending eight months with them," he said.

Boest feared biological attacks the most in OIF, but said since it didn't happen the first time, he wouldn't be as nervous if he redeployed. He's not getting too worked up about the announcement Marines are returning to Iraq. He's got a simple philosophy.

"Just take it day by day and try to get through it," Boest said.