Photo Information

Lima Battery, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, strut on to the Combat Center's Victory Field Feb. 6, in a four-column, battery formation, after returning from Okinawa, Japan, as part of a unit deployment program.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Michael S. Cifuentes

Lima Battery, 3/12, returns from Okinawa

6 Feb 2006 | Lance Cpl. Michael S. Cifuentes

The Combat Center’s Victory Field held a small crowd with enormous cheer Monday night with balloons, banners, and families and friends screaming with excitement as their favorite artillery battery, Lima Battery, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, returned home from Japan. Lima Battery, who deployed to Okinawa in August as part of a unit deployment program, showed the crowd their pride and honor when they arrived to Victory Field, strutting, as they marched in a battery formation with Lt. Col. Douglas H. Fairfield, the battalion’s commanding officer in front. Capt. David L. Padilla, the battery commander, stood in front of Fairfield to report the battery’s presence. Families and friends, who anxiously waited, watched the formation march in and report, as a three-year-old family member, Nyaire Moore, son of Cpl. Donte L. Moore, screamed loudly, “Hi, daddy!” over and over on a microphone. Fairfield gave the command to Padilla to dismiss the battery, and at that moment, the Marines and Sailors of Lima Battery reunited with their loved ones, and picked their lives back up from where they had left it.The waiting crowd clashed into the formation in a frenzy to find their Marine or Sailor. Wives and girlfriends jumped on their loved ones, as parents and other family members made similar efforts. The six-month deployment felt too long for some, like Andrea Moore, wife of Cpl. Moore, and mother of Nyaire.“This was my first deployment experience with Donte,” said Andrea. “This was such a great day for me though. The day was finally here that I get to see him in person. My heart couldn’t stop beating. I’m glad I can talk to him in person, even though I did talk to him a lot during the deployment, which made me feel better.”“Yes, we talked a whole lot,” interrupted Moore. “We just about went through a five-hour phone card everyday. I know it was tough on her so I did everything I could to keep her happy. No one could get through a deployment without the support from family, and I love and thank my wife for it all.”As soon as the battery commander dismissed the formation, Nyaire rushed to his father.“Hey, daddy, you did it!” yelled Nyaire as he jumped into Moore’s arms. The Moores, who are Milwaukee natives, are expecting their second baby in April. Cpl. Moore was excited to return home so he can continue his plans of expanding his home and family with his wife, he said. They hope for a girl in April, but are keeping it a surprise.Also waiting anxiously, yet patiently, for her Marine’s safe return was Sally Dragomir. Dragomir has big plans with Sgt. Merrick M. McKenzie, she said.“Two months before Merrick left, he proposed to me,” said Dragomir. “We’re going to get married tomorrow, and I have been waiting for this day since the day he left.”Prior to the battery returning to the Combat Center, Dragomir expressed how she felt during her wait.“It’s hard to deal with a deployment when you are with the one you love all the time, and then not having him in front of you for six whole months,” she said. “It’s the worst when I woke up and forgot that he was in Japan. But, he made his best effort to call every day. I passed the time by hanging out with my friends and renting a whole lot of movies. I’m glad this day came. I will be more glad when tomorrow comes.”The Dragomir-McKenzie wedding was held Tuesday in San Bernardino. The couple plans to visit McKenzie’s hometown in Detroit, and then Cancun, Mexico, the following week for their honeymoon. “We are trying to have a baby real soon,” said Dragomir. “I didn’t want to go through a pregnancy while he was gone, so now is our time. Even though I know being a Marine is a real demanding job and anything can happen at any time, I will always support him, and I know he will do the same for me. We both are excited to start a family together.”A lot of battery members weren’t just met by wives, fiancés or girlfriends but by parents and other Marines. Larry Cunnally traveled from Virginia City, Nev., to meet with his son, Pvt. Jesse A. Cunnally, coming back from his first deployment. “Unfortunately, Jesse can’t travel back home with me,” said Larry. “But, he plans on coming home real soon. I hope to spend a lot of time together with him like how we used to. He’ll also introduce me to his girlfriend today. I’m very proud of him and that’s why I had to be here today. I just can’t wait to be with him again and spend more time with him when he comes home.”After accomplishing the mission of setting a presence in Japan’s Pacific Ocean and being able to provide support to any deployed unit, the battery returned to the Combat Center to continue with missions they left at home. Aside from continuing the primary mission, the Marines and Sailors of Lima Battery have plans for their future, whether it is starting a family, expanding their family, or reuniting and catching up on old times with their family and friends.
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