CAMP PENDLETON — A group of Marines and sailors with I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group returned to Camp Pendleton after a year-long deployment to Afghanistan March 10. In addition another 113 Marines and sailors with Headquarters Battalion returned to Camp Pendleton following a 12-month deployment to Afghanistan with a homecoming ceremony on base March 18.
The Marines of Headquarters Battalion served as the ground combat command element of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force from March 2010 through March 2011. They supported ISAF efforts by interdicting and disrupting enemy command and control, and the logistical network feeding the insurgency in Marjah. The Marines were also tasked with gathering any and all information on the tribal networks, grievances, atmospherics, infrastructure, routes, and obstacles for follow-on infantry forces.
“I am extremely proud,” said Roberta Aenly, mother of Col. Lori Reynolds, commanding officer of I MHG. “I prayed a lot. It’s kind of hard to believe what they did over there.”
While deployed, I MHG provided administrative, training, and logistical support to the I Marine Expeditionary Force (FWD) command element.
Under Reynolds’ command, I MHG Marines took a base that initially fed, housed and equipped more than 10,000 Marines, and built it up to handle the troop surge of an additional 10,000 Marines and sailors into Afghanistan. Reynolds is also credited for being the first female Marine to command battlespace.
“As the commanding officer for I MHG, she had five battalions and a Bahraini company that worked for her,” said Lt. Col. Julie Nethercot, the commanding officer of 9th Communications Battalion.
For the homecoming, the Southern California Patriot Guard motorcycle riders accompanied the arriving buses, which added to the festive atmosphere.
Joseph Lynch, a Vietnam Veteran boasting military service dating back to 1948, was impressed at how the Marines were welcomed home.
“This is amazing,” said Lynch, father of Master Sgt. Mark Lynch, the I MHG armory chief. “Nobody welcomed us back, but this is a real party!”
The I MHG family readiness office organized the welcome party for the nearly 250 Marines and sailors.
“It’s nice to know that as a family member, we are part of this brotherhood that the Marine Corps has,” Aenly said.