CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Staff Sgt. Robert Lytle kissed wife Tarah goodbye yesterday morning at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe before loading onto buses to Hickam Air Force Base. He was among 400 members of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment who left for Afghanistan yesterday.
Isle Marines headed back into danger zone
Kaneohe Marines are going to Afghanistan for seven months
Kaneohe Marine Staff Sgt. Ralph Scott, who earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star during the fierce fight for Fallujah in Iraq 14 months ago, is returning to a war zone. This time it will be Afghanistan for seven months.
Since 2004 there has been a contingent of about 1,000 Kaneohe Marines in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Scott, 34, was among the 400 members of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment who left the Windward Oahu base yesterday morning for Afghanistan. They will be joined by another 600 Marines from the same unit next week. This same unit also spent five months in Iraq last year.
Scott was wounded on Nov. 8, 2004, in Fallujah during the bitter house-to-house battle. "This is going to be nothing compared to Fallujah," said Scott, who has been a Marine for 16 years.
While in Iraq, Scott was a member of Charlie Company, which lost 26 Marines and one Navy corpsman from Pearl Harbor. They were killed when their CH-53E Super Stallion helicopter crashed near Rutbah, close to the Jordanian border.
Staff Sgt. Mike Peavy deployed to Afghanistan yesterday morning as a leader of a platoon where three-quarters of its 27 members are veterans of the Iraq campaign. Peavy said his unit spent the time after returning here last year "trying to make sure that we make use of what we learned in Iraq and taking advantage of what is known about the current operations in Afghanistan."
His wife, April, noted, "We made it through the last deployment. God help us so we can make it through this one." Over the coming seven months, the couple will miss celebrating their 30th birthdays together -- hers on April 4 and her husband's on April 12.
Lance Cpl. Danny Finner, who has been a Marine for just less than a year, said the veterans in his unit have told him "to stick to the basics. Listen to your team and squad leaders, and watch each other's back."
Gunnery Sgt. Philip Myers, a 14-year veteran who also served in Iraq, added Marines in his unit "are ready to go."
Myers, a 1991 Campbell High School graduate, said, "They want to go and handle business."
His wife, Sandra, said she does not see any difference in her husband's current deployment. "To me it's all the same," she said. "They are both in the danger zone, regardless if it is in Iraq or Afghanistan."
She said they have spent a "lot of family time together" with their 6-year-old daughter, Kiana, before he leaves this morning.
"We want him to know that we love him very much," she said. "I am proud of what he does. ... I support him 100 percent. All I pray for is that he stays alert and stays safe."