Local Marines depart to Iraq

By Lesley Jenkins
star staff

The Marines of Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, based in Gray, departed Camp Pendleton, California on Wednesday night for duty in Iraq.
   According to Major Pete Gill, "Lima Company will immediately commence security and stabilization operation in support of (the) First Marine Division as a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom II." The unit should arrive at their undisclosed location on Thursday.
   Although the time allotted for service is at the discretion of their supervisor, Gill said time spent in Iraq will probably be about six months to one year.
   Members of the company were put on alert Nov. 8, 2003 and were mobilized on Dec. 24. They left for training at Camp Pendleton on Jan. 14.
   At Camp Pendleton, Marines underwent training to ensure they were physically and mentally prepared for combat before they left.
   The last time Lima Company was called to active duty was during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. "The Marine Reserves have the exact same mission as the Marines Active Duty. It is the same make up, same table organizations, same equipment, same mission. There is no difference," Gill said.
   "They are a Marine Infantry Company. They are trained to locate and close with and destroy the enemy by fire maneuver or repel the enemy's attack by fire in close contact. They are a line grunt infantry."
   Nearly 180 Marines make up Lima Company. "The Marines are there and are ready to roll," Gill said.