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Smiling faces, loving embraces greet returning heroes

15 Sep 2004 | Cpl. Mike Escobar

Smiling wives, girlfriends and children waving American flags were among the first sights 1st Lt. Wayne A. Wood and the rest of the Marines of Battery G, 2nd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment saw at their homecoming celebration here Sept. 15. Battery G’s executive officer left with his unit from Camp Lejeune Feb. 18 as part of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit’s ground combat element to conduct security and stabilization operations in Afghani cities such as Kandahar, Tarin Kowt, and Deh Rawood. “It feels good to be back, to have my Marines come home,” stated the Nashville, TN native. “They did a lot while they were deployed and played their part in the war on terror.”The artillery battery used two guns overseas to fire illumination rounds, but mostly performed as a provisional infantry company. Wood referred to this as “grunting it out.”“My guys stood guard posts, manned the perimeters, and conducted more than 100 day and nighttime patrols,” he explained. “We ran and guarded supply convoys from Kandahar to Tarin Kowt and jumped in alongside Army Special Forces in Shinkay. These Marines got very good exposure to the infantry lifestyle.”The infantry operations and the military civil action programs Battery G conducted helped restore a measure of stability and democracy in Afghanistan.Regarding the latter, Wood said his Marines helped register over 56,000 Afghanis to vote. However, much work remains to completely bring about democracy to the country.During an Afghan Independence Day speech Aug. 18, Afghani President, Hamid Karzai, promised greater security for Afghans voting in the country's first democratic election. Marines and sailors with Battery G; however, claimed that terrorists continue to undermine the democratization process in Afghanistan.“Until the locals can vote without fear of being tortured or killed, I’d say there’s still much work to be done,” stated Staff Sgt. Alan S. Flick, Battery G’s headquarters platoon sergeant and native of Crystal River, Fla.Although Wood said Afghanistan has a long way to go on the road to free elections, his Marines’ efforts “definitely helped bring about stability to the place.”“I’d say (U.S. Medical Civic Action Programs) were among those things that helped the people the most,” the officer continued. The provisional infantrymen provided security to numerous MEDCAP sites in the towns of Dey Chopan, Deh Rawood and Raz Mohammed Khan. During these operations, the troops work alongside Afghanis to treat the locals in areas of general medicine, pediatrics and obstetric gynecology. “These operations are not only good for community relations, but beneficial for those who truly enjoy helping people,” Wood said. “In my battery, there’s a lot of Marines and corpsmen that do.”“For me, helping the local people out by conducting the MEDCAPs was the most rewarding part of the deployment,” agreed Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Christopher J. Batterman, field corpsmen with Battery G.“I think we’re doing a good job in the country,” the Cedarburg, WI native added. “Seeing how the people over there live and being away from my family makes me love the U.S. ten times more.”Battery G’s mission in Afghanistan is complete, but they will continue training to prepare them to support Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005. For the time being, the Marines are relieved to be back home and enjoy the company of their loved ones.“We certainly made our mark in the war against terrorism,” Wood remarked. “I’m glad that my guys are back home. The Marines did an outstanding job overseas in helping make Afghanistan a safer, more democratic place.”