CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan -- Nineteen Counter Battery Radar Marines with 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, returned to Camp Hansen April 24 from a 7-month Iraq deployment.
The Marines, whose mission was to use radar systems to detect the origin of enemy mortars so that aircraft and artillery could return fire, were part of an 86-man target acquisition platoon consisting of Marines from 1st, 2nd and 3rd Marine Divisions in support of I Marine Expeditionary Force.
The platoon was scattered among six forward operating base locations in Iraq’s Anbar Province. In volatile areas such as Fallujah and Ramadi, the Marines received enemy fire on a daily basis, according to Master Gunnery Sgt. Willie Currie, the staff non-commissioned officer-in-charge during the deployment.
Only one of the returning Marines suffered injury in Iraq. He returned with minor injuries that were not combat related. Currie attributed the safe return of all his Marines to the improvised explosive device training they participated in before leaving for Iraq last September.
“It was very helpful in the way we learned how to detect and avoid IEDs,” Currie said.
The Marines also learned some important lessons during their time in Iraq. Currie said he witnessed the enemy using mortar firing tactics that were meant to confuse the Marines.
“We’re up against a very deceptive and aggressive enemy that is serious about harming the American service member,” Currie said.
Lance Cpl. Nick Reuther, a field artillery radar operator for 12th Marines, said resisting complacency was the key to success in Iraq.
“People are out there for six months and start feeling like they’re in a routine. That’s when bad stuff happens,” Reuther said.
After seven months of being on high alert in Iraq, Reuther said that one of the things he will enjoy most now that he’s back is being able to relax and catch his breath after such a long period at constant alert.