Marines who were on hand last week and the unit began its overseas deployment from Camp Pendleton. She filed this report:
Story and Photos – By Laura Dietz
I saw babies, toddlers, children of all ages. Some were still in their pajamas from the 0600 (6:00 AM) start.
I saw men in uniform with their huge duffle bags hurl them into a cargo trucks before they boarded a bus to take them to their respective ships in San Diego.
One young woman stood by her Marine, hugging him, anticipating the seven-month deployment (assuming it is not extended). Mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, and friends, even a few dogs cherished these moments.
Cameras were abundant, everyone wanting those moments to treasure during the deployment. Some children jumped in the inflatable cage as adults meandered about talking to their loved ones and friends.
The volunteer group from Newport Beach’s “Birds of Paradise” provided sweet rolls and coffee. Dr. Rich Ruffalo and his wife, Susan, and son Justin helped out, while Tim Sloat wandered about touching base with familiar faces, both military and civilian, including supporters from the Newport yacht community. I sought the email addresses of 1/1 wives for events during the deployment that are in the works with the assistance of the Newport Beach Sunrise Rotary Club, Newport Harbor Republican Women and friends yet to be named.
The 1/1 leadership including the Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Craig Wonson, Sgt. Major Jonathan Henry, and Sgt. Major Troy Dabney (recently transferred to lst Tank Battalion at Twenty-nine Palms) mixed with the families and some civilians, lending their stature .
Everything stopped when the National Anthem was played over a speaker, followed by “Anchors Aweigh” and the Marine Hymm. The bagpipers played when cued.
A group of veterans lined up with flags and banners to show support as the buses pulled away, headed for the San Diego Harbor. People waved, shouted positive messages. A few Marines waved back.
There were still more to be bused to the ships in the afternoon, sitting patiently with family, girlfriends, amidst more duffle bags and cargo.
Their faces, their expressions told of the excitement at finally getting to deployment after 18 months of training for many.
I was told, “They are fully ready for anything.”
The Commander excuses himself after thanking the volunteers for their support, stating: “I’ve got work to do.”
That may be the understatement of the year.
Fundraiser to Benefit 1/1 Families
A “Day with the 1/1 Marines” at Camp Pendleton will be among the items offered for auction at the Newport Beach Sunrise Rotary Foundation fundraiser on April 2 at the Central Library.
The event will feature food from the fabulous Orange County White House, a wine bar, scrumptious desserts, with entertainment by Jim Roberts and the Rat Pack, followed by freshly rolled cigars.
Proceeds will go to the 1/1 Marine families in addition to other local nonprofits, including scholarships for students at Back Bay Monte Vista High School, the OC Drug Court, Salvation Army Rehabilitation Program with Working Wardrobes, and the Newport-Mesa Pro Literacy Foundation.
To obtain tickets for this event, contact Caroline at 949-723-1878 or go to: www.mypassporttoitaly.com. Deadline is March 30 for reservations.
Editor’s Note: Laura Dietz was among many Newport Beach volunteers and supporters of the 1st Battalion 1st