MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Families gathered at the 5th Marine Regiment Memorial Park at Camp Pendleton, Calif., to spend their last few moments with loved ones before they left for Iraq.
Regimental Combat Team 5 left Camp Pendleton on January 3 for their one year deployment to the Al Anbar province of Iraq.
While RCT-5 is in country, they will be assisting the Iraqi people and preparing them to transition to a stable government, said Capt. Nathan L. Fenell, the commanding officer for Headquarters Company, RCT-5, who is on his second deployment to Iraq.
This deployment will differ from the last time Fenell was here during Operation Iraqi Freedom 2, because there will be more focus on transition and setting the conditions for the Iraqis to take over, said Fennel, who is from Colorado Springs, Colo.
The Marines of RCT-5 know they have some large shoes to fill as 5th Marine Regiment is the most decorated Regiment in the Marine Corps. “The Fighting Fifth” is also no stranger to desert combat as they were the first unit to cross the line of departure into Iraq to collapse Saddam Hussein’s rule during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
“I absolutely think the Marines are prepared,” said Fenell.
The Marines have gone through months of training with weapons, culture awareness and even how to write a convoy order, said Fenell.
The challenge for this deployment will be to maintain a combat ready mindset even though things have calmed down since the Marine Corps first entered Iraq, said Master Sgt. Andrew S. Helmstetter, data communications maintenance chief, RCT-5, from La Vale, MD.
For the first few days RCT-5 is in country, they will receive orientation training that will cover everything from zeroing their weapons to additional culture training.
The Marines of RCT-5 may have a few long days ahead of them as they prepare to take over operations, but there is a lot of confidence in the capabilities of the Marines to sacrifice comfort and maintain their discipline.
“I have the utmost confidence in my leadership and there is no higher honor than serving with 5th Marines,” said Lance Cpl. William L. Huffman, a motor transport operator, RCT-5, 20, from Jena Lou, La.