MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Charlie Company, 1st Tank Battalion, left the Combat Center March 27 afternoon to begin their seven-month deployment to Iraq.
Family members and friends gathered behind the battalion’s command post Monday morning to say goodbye and leave them with hugs and kisses.
Faces were filled with tears for most families because it wasn’t easy for them to say goodbye as their Marine or Sailor departed to help fight the Global War on Terrorism.
“This is the hardest deployment for me,” said Lt. Col. Aaron T. Slaughter, 1st Tank Battalion commanding officer, as he addressed the members of the company and their families.
“It’s a very sad time to see these men go for me because I will not be here when they get back,” said Slaughter. “I remember we had a moment like this before, and that was in Iraq. This time around the feeling isn’t the same. But the hard part is over. You all have made sacrifices and trained hard, and all of that is done now. Everything is just going to roll now. Even though the training is done, the intensity, vigilance and stress is not. This company is the best trained tank unit for the mission out there. You know each other and how things work out there so I know we will accomplish our mission.”
The company will be providing tank support for Regimental Combat Team 7, utilizing maneuver, armor protected firepower and shock action in Al Anbar province, said 1st Sgt. Scott E. Cooper, Charlie Company first sergeant.
“We will be acting as a Quick React Force for RCT-7,” said Staff Sgt. Ryan J. Cappadony, platoon sergeant with 1st Platoon. “It’s my first deployment with this company to Iraq, and I feel really confident with the Marines I’m going with. We’ve been training for a long time, spending many days out in the field. The Marines and Sailors are ready for this, and they worked real hard for this day. We all are very confident and certain we will accomplish what needs to be done out there.”
Cappadony was joined by his wife and children for their final moments together as he embarked on the seven-month deployment. It’s tough for his family but they are very understanding, said Cappadony, a Live Oak, Fla., native.
Accompanied by more than 20 members of his family was Lance Cpl. Estevan Ferrer, a motor transportation operator from Fresno, Calif.
“We all came out here to say goodbye to Stevie; his mother, father, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, grandpa and grandma,” said Janie Tafolla, Ferrer’s aunt. “It’s his first deployment, and we are very sad to see him go. But, we are very proud and we will write to him every day and we will pray for him that he is safe out there.”
“He talks to us about some of the things he does, and I know he will be safe,” said Jose Luis Ferrer, Ferrer’s father. “He’s going with a good group of men, and we all wish them the best of luck. I am very proud of my son and of all the men who are going with him. We will miss him, but I know he will be back.”
All who joined the company members showed a great amount of patriotism by voicing the pride of their loved one and expressing their tough understanding. Traveling from Toledo, Ohio, were the parents of Cpl. Tyler J. Beck, a combat engineer. Monday was the beginning of Beck’s first deployment, and he sensed his parent’s admiration.
“I’ve been writing Marine friends who are deployed to Iraq weekly letters for the past two years,” said Beck’s mother, Laura. “Now it is time to keep in contact with my own son when he’s out there. We did get to spend a lot of time with him before today, but now we’re sad to see him go.”
“We wouldn’t miss this deployment or any deployment our son would go on,” said Beck’s father, Tim. “We are very proud of all the service members who are stepping up to deploy these days. We are extremely proud of Tyler. I know the Marines are the best trained, but it’s hard to see a loved one leave for a combat deployment. I admire all the families here today who came to show love and say goodbye. As parents we will always support the Marines and Sailors here and we hope these men and women stay the course.”
The two bus convoy departed from the parking lot behind the battalion’s command post, as families waved goodbye in tears.