MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- It’s a brotherhood not many can understand. They fight side by side putting their lives in each others hands. They spend months together in the roughest places many will never endure. They count down the days together, eat together and live together. They suffer the loss of fellow Marines, and they carry on when others are injured.
The countdown finally hit zero, as 557 Marines and sailors of 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion arrived home Sept. 27 and 29 after a seven month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Mothers and fathers, brother and sisters, friends and fellow Marines lined up at Victory Field awaiting the white buses that would bring home their loved ones. Music played and anticipation grew as the radio station announced the buses were on their way to the field.
“We’re going out to eat first thing,” said Dottie Presmyk, mother of Sgt. Levi Presmyk. “Levi said he wants to get out of Twentynine Palms and get some good food.”
This deployment was the third for 3rd LAR, and the unit supported and conducted humanitarian efforts for the Iraqi people.
“We went to Arupa,” said Sgt. David L. Walter, Company A. “It’s on the Iraq-Syrian border and is a smuggling town. While we were there we provided highway security, making sure that the main supply routes were clear of IEDs [improvised explosive devices.] We also did stability and support operations.”
Along with operations in Arupa, Company D conducted operations in several places, and is said to have seen the most combat of the battalion’s two infantry companies.
“We started off in Al Qa’im and Fallujah-Garma area,” said Cpl. Christopher Patrick, D Co. “From there we went to Habbaniya, then to Korean Village with the rest of the Battalion. After that we went to Rawah.”
While Delta Company moved through the Fullajah-Garma area, they did a lot of IED clearing, working closely with combat engineers and explosive ordnance disposal technicians. They also conducted many foot patrols. In Rawah, they set up vehicle checkpoints and worked closely with the Iraqi army. While in Habbaniya, they conducted security operations and dealt closely with the Iraqi people.
On Sept. 27 the battalion received a nice surprise when they walked down the steps of the bus and into a swarm of people. Hidden in the middle of the mass of people were two Marines who were far from ordinary, and held a bond within the battalion not even a rocket-propelled grenade or sniper fire could destroy.
Lance Cpl. Isaac Cardenas still wore the title U.S. Marines across his left breast pocket, whereas Cpl. Kenny Lyon took on a whole new appearance, but still carried the presence and morale of a Marine.
Cardenas and Lyon were two Marines among others from 3rd LAR that were severely injured, but survived. Both Marines injured in Iraq were sent home early because of injuries they sustained.
“I got hit by an RPG and got shot in the head by sniper fire,” said Cardenas. “I can’t wait to see everyone, I’m sure they are going to love to see Lyon and the rest of the injured guys, and know that we are doing fine.”
Lyon, who traveled all the way from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., made his way across the field to greet his fellow Marines.
Lyon, who received injuries ranging from an amputated left leg, a broken jaw bone, nerve damage in his arms, a dislocated thumb and shrapnel, which entered two inches into his brain, could have fooled anyone with his charm and excitement that couldn’t be matched.
“It’s good to be here,” said Lyon. “We lost a lot of guys, and I knew I had to be here when the rest of the Marines came home.”
As Marines exited off the bus and walked by Lyon many stopped in their tracks and did a complete double take.
“It’s good to see him,” said Cpl. Andrew Henry. “I’ve known him for four years.”
As time passed, Marines began to leave the field with their loved ones and fellow Marines. Some headed for a home cooked meal, others for a living room filled with family. All had the same thought on their mind. “It’s good to be home.”