MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- The clock had just passed midnight on the morning of Feb. 10 as more than 45 Marines and Sailors of Combat Logistics Battalion 7 restlessly prepared for another deployment to Iraq.
Many Combat Center spouses, children and other family members of Maintenance- and Headquarters and Service Company Marines joined their loved ones at CLB-7’s maintenance yard until the moment the white bus left.
Their 56-hour journey halfway across the world will eventually land them in the Al Anbar provvince in Iraq, where they will join the rest of their more than 1,300 comrades in theater to support Regimental Combat Team 7.
“It’s a night of mixed feelings for our Marines, Sailors and their families,” said Lt. Col. Drew T. Doolin, commanding officer of CLB-7. “Deployments are tough.”
Over the past week and a half, CLB-7 deployed its sections in a series of staggered departures from the Combat Center for their seven-month tour in Iraq.
Jessica Barrientos, who watched her husband, Sgt. Vicente Barrientos, depart Feb. 9, said the experience is different for everyone. Barrientos said she came to provide moral support to other spouses and lend support to the battalion.
“I think that it’s all about attitude,” said the 26-year-old Anaheim, Calif., native, who kept a positive outlook on her second separation from her husband. “If you keep a good attitude, it can make it go easier for you. If you think of it as long and hard and horrible, then that’s how it’s going to be.
“It’s always sad to say goodbye,” Barrientos said. “There is always melancholy and it’s bittersweet, but he’s happy doing what he wants, so you’ve got to stand behind him.”
As the time grew nearer to leave, the Marines checked, accounted for and loaded up their combined thousands of pounds of gear.
Once loaded, Doolin took time to address his Marines and Sailors from atop a Humvee. He left them with a message of accountability, safety, efficiency and to beware the threat of complacency.
“They are ready,” said Doolin of his Marines. “They are motivated, they are trained, and they want to get it on out there. It’s a great feeling.” Doolin departed for Iraq Wednesday with another group of Marines from CLB-7.
Most Marines and Sailors spent their last minutes before boarding the buses with their loved ones, shedding tears, giving long hugs and saying their goodbyes.
Staff Sgt. Andrew Vaughn, one of the supervisors for the evening’s departure, wiped tears from the eyes of his wife, Tonja, as well as his own, as he held her.
“We’re ready to go,” said Vaughn as the call to board the bus came. “It’s time to get it started with, get it done with and get back home and bring everyone back with us.”