October 10, 2013 --
A group of Marines leapt out a van that brought them home to the “Good Life City” after about six months in Afghanistan and rushed to hug, shake hands or high-five fellow family members, Marines and civilian-Marines during their homecoming in front of Building 3700, Sept. 24.
Capt. Nathanael Leon, Staff Sgt. Jamie Rice, Staff Sgt. Tony Robinson, Sgt. Christian Bentiez and Cpl. James Williams served with Marine Corps Logistics Command (Forward) at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan conducting various equipment retrograde functions. Capt. Daryl Moore served in Kuwait as the officer-in-charge of the Intermediate Support Base Detachment.
Col. Jeffrey Hooks, commander, Marine Depot Maintenance Command, who returned this past March after serving in Afghanistan with I Marine Expeditionary Force G-4 (Forward), said the members of MCLC (Forward) provided direct support of the retrograde and redeployment of his Marines then and praised the returning Marines for their important roles.
“I was the guy on the receiving end of the work they did,” Hooks said. “It is a thankless job that goes unnoticed. It is very important we let them know we appreciate it. Bottom line, it is always good to be home.”
Rice, communications chief with MCLC (Forward), described her third deployment of her 13 years as a Marine, but her first to Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan. She’s served in Iraq twice.
“(I ensured) all the communications equipment made it back to the United States for the retrograde process like radios and computers,” Rice, who hails from Cleveland, Ohio, said. “Being right there in Marine Corps Logistics Command (Forward), we are the last step out of the country for all of the equipment. It’s important because they (Marines) need to get it reset and sent back out.
“(Working at Marine Corps Logistics Command (Forward) definitely validates my job here at Marine Corps Logistics Command; just being able to be in that process as opposed to just being back here really as far as Marine Corps Logistics Command goes the big, big aspect of it is logistics,” Rice added. “Having my hands in that, back here I’m not so much into the hands-on. It was cool to just get out there and being my first deployment to Afghanistan to see what was going on there. It’s a good experience as far as my career goes to see that side.”
Fellow Marine, Bentiez, noted he assisted with the retrograding of all kinds of equipment and gear for the MCLC (Forward) deployment as the supply administration chief and Redeployment, Retrograde, Reset, Reconstitution 4, Operations Group supply liaison and quality assurance. It was his third deployment of his 12-year Marine Corps career and his first to Afghanistan. He also served two deployments in Iraq.
“I helped receive the gear (being sent) home, everything from vehicles, radios and toolboxes,” the Laredo, Texas, native said. “My first two deployments were initially combat deployments because I was there for invasion of Baghdad, (Iraq), and then I was there a few months after that. This one was more of an administrative (one). It showed a bigger picture of the whole retrograde process and what we’re actually doing.
“It’s a different side of things for me to see - going from one side with a division unit to going to a logistical unit and actually seeing the logistics side of the house,” Bentiez continued. “It was a good deployment overall and it was a good group of guys we were working with, civilian and Marine. I’m glad to be back home.”
A Marine for five years, Williams of Bainbridge, Ga., served his third deployment in Afghanistan as an agricultural and customs inspector. The first two times in 2010 and 2011 he served as a motor transport mechanic there.
“I inspected vehicles and gear that’s (in) the process of making its way out (of Afghanistan),” the 23-year-old said, noting he inspected the gear for cleanliness, any ammunition before it leaves that country.
“Overall I liked it because I got to work with a lot of different MOSs (military occupational specialties) seeing what they do as part of their jobs, learning a little bit more,” Williams said. “I took up a new billet while I was out there because my original MOS is motor transport mechanic. I got to be certified as an agricultural and customs inspector, so six months of doing that was nice and something I could keep with me and take it as a learning experience.
“I got to meet new people, learn the way they think, the way they work and their experiences out there and back (in their units),” he added. “I take pride in doing my job over there and making sure (the gear) is getting back in the best condition it can. If I had to do it again I would.”