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Mid-tour leaves a welcome break for deployed Marines;

13 Aug 2004 | Cpl. Macario P. Mora Jr

Lance Cpl. Aaron M Switala just got back from two weeks' leave in the United States.  He's glad it's all over.  He needs the rest.

"I sleep much more here than I did when I was home," said the 23-year-old from Lower Burrell, Pa., who is assigned to Regimental Combat Team 7's Headquarters Company.  "When you get there, you realize you only have two weeks, so does everyone else.  You never have a free moment and you're always trying to do a million things at once."

Many of the Marines in the regiment's headquarters are planning on deployments equaling about a year.  Some are getting the chance to take a couple weeks' leave to break up their deployment.

The chance to take some time off isn't lost on even the youngest Marines.

"When we're state side ... it's nice having leave," said Pfc. Brandon D. Carroll, a 22-year-old from Decatur, Ala.  "But we have weekends and all the other things that go with being in California.  Out here, we have nothing.  Getting two weeks is well worth it.  I won't complain about two."

Taking leave was never so different for Switala.  He went from a combat zone to his home in a matter of a couple days. 

"It took me a few days to get over it," he explained.  "But after that, I was able to make up for it.  I had a great time visiting family."

Switala was even able to make it home in time for his best friend's wedding.

Many here are appreciative of getting the chance to go home.

"I extended to do another seven months," said Lance Cpl. Nicholas E. Spiewak, a 20-year-old from Hanover Park, Ill.  "Getting two weeks of leave is great.  It'll really help in dealing with what we do out here."

Married Marines with children were given first considerations when choosing who and when a servicemember goes on leave.  The rest of the leave blocks are randomly distributed throughout the sections.

"I think it will help a lot of us here," Carroll added.  "It'll help me stay sane.  The two weeks may be a tease, but it's one we're all happy to take."