The "Darkside" is at it again, 3/4 deploys for fourth Iraq tour

3 Sep 2006 | Lance Cpl. Katelyn A. Knauer

They are modern day heroes. They have fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, and spouses and kids. They are part of the elite, adored by many and criticized by others. They lay their lives on the line day in and day out serving amongst the best. They miss holidays and birthdays and that first step their child took. They are by no means ordinary.They’re at it again, with their bags packed and their goodbyes said around 800 "Darkside" Marines of 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, also known as the "Darkside" are headed off to Iraq’s Al Anbar province for a seven-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Marines and sailors departed Aug. 31- Sept. 3. Some are on their first deployment, while others are on their second, third or even fourth tour. Third Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment is no rookie to deployments with this being their fourth time over.They are infamous for several things and are no force to be reckoned with. They were the first Marine unit to enter Baghdad. They are known for assisting in tearing down of the statue of Saddam Hussein and were the first Marine Corps ground unit to reach three seven- month tours in Iraq.With a near sixty percent of the battalion deploying for the first time, the senior leaders exude a great deal of confidence in the Marines they are in command of and vice versa with the Marines on their first deployment being confident in their leaders."We’re a hundred percent ready," said 1st Sgt. Robert J. Mims, Headquarters and Service Battalion first sergeant, who is on his first deployment to Iraq, but fought in Desert Storm, Desert Shield. "Our training with Mojave Viper got them ready, because it was good training. I have no doubt in the abilities of any Marine. They all know their job and I believe the Marines themselves are confident in what they need to do."Eighteen-year-old Lance Cpl. Jared Placensia of Los Angeles, is deploying with 3/4 for his first deployment and seems intrigued by the fact that he will get to serve next to Marines with past deployments."I am extremely confident in the Marines above me," said Placensia. "I have already learned so much from them. They know what they are doing, when it comes to their jobs, I wish to attain their level of skills."Marines who have confidence in their abilities accredited it to their pre-deployment training. "I feel that the training in the past months has properly prepared us for this deployment," said Greenwood, S.C., native, Lance Cpl. Adam Bice, of H&S Co. who is deploying on his second tour. Marines with 3/4 trained with Mojave Viper, division schools and also completed their annual training. They have been trained in ways to deal with different scenarios they may encounter while overseas."Mojave Viper training was immaculate," said Salem, Ore., native, Sgt. Benjamin Sundell, H&S Co., who is serving on his fourth deployment. "During Mojave Viper we did well on a squad level, a platoon level all the way up to company level. We pushed through it and we did well with it."Sgt. Ryan Goode, Communications platoon, serving his third deployment spoke highly of the training received in comparison to what Marines would do in Iraq."It was a good training facility," said Goode. "A lot of guys who are new had the chance to get a feel for what their job would be like over there. I would say the training was worse than Iraq, at least we have air conditioner there."Many Marines who have had previous deployments have seen changes in several things pertaining to training and equipment."Were changing the way we fight," said Goode. "Our gear has improved along with the technology we have available to us now."As for others, the opinion seems to be the same saying they see an upgrade in the amenities every time they return to Iraq. "Our living quarters are not bad at all," said Sundell.As for the family and friends of the Marines deploying busy work seems to be the best way for them to pass the time."You just got to keep yourself busy," said Jenna Sundell, Sgt. Sundell’s wife of two years. "First deployment is always the worst."Newlywed Janelle Bice, wife of Lance Cpl. Bice plans on furthering her education while her husband is gone."I’m going to concentrate on school work and that kind of stuff to stay busy," said Janelle Bice. "I’m going to try to stay as busy as possible, and write tons of letters."As family members waved bye, the Marines loaded the bus, some nervous, others excited, but with an illuminating confidence on what they were about to embark upon.
Headquarters Marine Corps