February 12th, 2017 --
On the windy morning of February 12, 2017, the Marines and Sailors of Kilo Company, 3d Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment landed at Kadena Air Base on the island of Okinawa, Japan. After 36 long, “boring” hours of traveling more than 8,000 miles from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina across the international dateline, the Marines said they felt nothing but excitement as they stepped off the plane.
The Marines are now forward deployed to 4th Marine Regiment, 3d Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force through the unit deployment program and will spend approximately six months in various locations throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. During deployment, the battalion will conduct training with more than one of 22 partner nations, to include South Korea, Australia, Thailand and Japan.
Though Cpl. Austin P. Carpenter, a squad leader with 2nd Platoon, had been expecting this deployment for over a year now, he admitted saying goodbye to his wife and his two-week-old son didn’t come easy. He understands his duties as an infantry Marine and hopes to arrive home more enlightened on the cultures in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.
“It’s always tough leaving your family, but I love new experiences” said Carpenter, a native of Cincinnati, Ohio. “I want to learn about new cultures and more about my job and working in the jungle; I’m excited to do more.”
Many of the Marines have never traveled outside of the United States. Apart from the numerous hours of training they will conduct, they will also have the opportunity to explore this part of the world, said 1st Lt. Daniel J. Rogers, 3rd platoon commander.
“One of the perks of coming out here is getting to go outside your comfort zone, see some new places, meet some new people that you’d never find on Camp Lejeune,” said Rogers, a native of Whitman, Massachusetts. “I’d say we’ll gain a better understanding of some of the nations that we work with.”
From executing their skills in an unfamiliar terrain such as the Jungle Warfare Training Center in Okinawa to exchanging knowledge with the Republic of Korea Marines, Lt. Col. Kemper A. Jones, the commanding officer of 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, believes this deployment will provide great exposure and opportunities to enhance their warfighting capabilities.
“The unit going home from a [UDP] deployment is the best battalion in the Marine Corps,” said Jones, a native of Richmond, Virginia. “If you look at it, the workup they did beforehand and the training they get to do during this deployment makes them the most well-trained unit in the Marine Corps.”
With the positive attitudes toward the future, the battalion expects to return home better warfighters and more cultured individuals.