Reactivated unit deploys to Iraq
March 22, 2008 - 12:29AM

It's been 15 years. More than 400 Marines from the 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment deployed for the first time as an entire battalion since 1993 on Friday. The battalion, which was deactivated in 1994, was reactivated in April. "Being reactivated in April and not deploying till this March has given us more time to train together and build a bond of brothers," said Maj. Mike Wilonsky. "We've come such a long way in such a short period of time.

I don't think of us as the new guys anymore." The seven-month deployment in Iraq will be a first for the reactivated unit - and for several of its Marines. "I'm excited - anxious to get over there. It's been a year since we've been training, and we're all ready to go," said Lance Cpl. Jeremy Acquilano. Acquilano's father, however, is of two minds about watching his son leave.

"I'm a little excited for him and a little said," Jim Acquilano said. Sgt. Jeremy Boutwell deployed to Iraq in 2004 with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment.

He was hit by an improvised explosive device, leading to the loss of his right eye. He had to fight to stay in the Marine Corps, he said. "I've been ready for a long time; I've been trying to get back for four years now," Boutwell said. "It's gonna be a lot different this time. I'm excited to go.

It's going to be a whole different experience." Although his wife, Mindy Boutwell, said she is sad to see her husband leave, she supports his decision to remain on active duty. "He's one hell of a man, and he's one hell of a Marine," she said. "This is all he's ever wanted to do since he got hurt.

So if that's what he wants to do, I support him." The 1/9 is heading to Iraq to take over an area that has been covered by two battalions. More than 1,000 Marines will eventually deploy as part of the 1/9. "We're going over to replace our sister battalions who have done an incredible job in the last seven months," Wilonsky said.

The reactivation and deployment of the 1/9 brought several veterans out to see the Marines off. "I'm glad to see them reactivated," said retired Master Sgt. Robert Grubb who served with 1/9 during Vietnam, "and to see the history of the 1/9 being carried on."

Contact Molly DeWitt at, or 910-219-8457.