CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Among the dust and noise of construction, a crowd gathered around the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion parade deck to acknowledge a fresh start to a new company.
The Marines of 1st LAR Bn. welcomed Echo Company into their battalion during an activation ceremony June 29.
“This area has been a construction site for some time now,” said Lt. Cmdr. James L. Johnson, the command chaplain for 1st LAR Bn. “It is fitting that we gather to honor the purpose of this area, which is to build military proficiency, to increase and sharpen combat skills, and to further define our warrior ethos.”
“We are here to strengthen ourselves as Marines and sailors and to enhance the esprit de corps of our squads, platoons, companies, our battalion and our corps,” said Johnson, 51. “Therefore, the structure we see today is seen in the standing up of 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion’s Echo Company.”
In accordance with the official publication of Bulletin 5400 from Headquarters Marine Corps, 1st LAR Bn. was directed to activate Company E effective June 29.
“In 2004 the board structure review group said we need more LAR companies,” said Lt Col. Scott D. Leonard, the commanding officer of 1st LAR Bn. “It has taken years to build, get the manpower and find the equipment, but now we have it.”
Although expanding areas of the Marine Corps is a timely and painstaking process, it is beneficial when supporting the Marine Corps mission of being combat ready.
“The goal is to beef up the LAR community,” said Sgt. Maj. Eric J. Loya, sergeant major of 1st LAR Bn. “We are a quick-strike type of unit that can get in and get out.
“The more LAR companies you have out there, the more you saturate the battlefield with firepower,” said Loya, 49, from Newark, Calif. “Although we don’t have the ideal amount of manpower now, we are getting it.”
Each active LAR battalion – 1st, 2nd, and 3rd – will now be instilled with an Echo Company.
“We were supposed to activate this company June of last year,” said Leonard, 42, from Virginia Beach, Va. “Because of some problems with Operation Iraqi Freedom and equipment sets, the manpower and equipment piece was pushed a little bit to the right so we could go off and fight OIF.
“Now, the American people, the taxpayers and everyone else, have provided us with the equipment and enough manpower to effectively activate this company,” Leonard said.
Although the current manpower isn’t optimal for a new company, Echo Company is formed and ready to go.
“I am looking forward to watching this company grow as it takes off and gets ready to deploy next spring,” said Leonard.