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3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment gets a send-off from Division commander

9 Jul 2004 | Cpl. Macario P. Mora Jr.

Marines from 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment got a star-studded send off before they completed their deployment to Iraq.

The 1st Marine Division's Commander, Maj. Gen. James N. Mattis, bade farewell to the battalion's Marines July 9.  The Marines closed a chapter of their history, which included patrolling operations throughout western Al Anbar Province and actions in Fallujah in April.

The battalion gathered in a large hangar to listen to their commanding general as he spoke of their accomplishments - this year and last - while paying his last respects to four of the battalion's Marines killed in action.

"Cocky young men like you are the reason we're able to keep this experiment we call America going," Mattis said.  "Those freedoms we have will be taken away if we do not fight for them.  You are the most radical people on earth, coming half way around the world to fight for what you believe in.  We will fight forever if we have to, as long as men like you keep coming."

Mattis explained to the Marines the full measure of support the United States has for deployed Marines.

"The spirit of 3/4 is what defines you," he said.  "You have the one hundred percent support of your congressmen.  At a very young age, you have committed to something far bigger than yourselves.

"You stood and fought when many in our world didn't believe America had it in her," Mattis continued.  "The more we fight here, the better.  We haven't had a single attack on American soil since 9-11.  It's been an honor to fight with you 3/4.  I salute you."  

Marines were pleased with the send-off their senior ranking officer gave them. 

"It's great having him visit," said 1st Lt. Lewis M. Langella, platoon commander with Company I from Cathedral, Calif.  "Sometimes it's better for them to hear it from the top.  They always listen to us, but it gets old saying, 'because the CG said so.'"

Still, Marines had a hard time concealing the smiles.  This is the second tour for the battalion in Iraq in as many years.  Many of the Marines were combat veterans before deploying earlier this year and hear a similar speech the last time they returned to the United States.

"This is the second time," Langella said.  "It doesn't get old though.  The Marines are very excited about going home."