Marines come home from the war
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – The Marines combat mission in Afghanistan came to an end Thursday.
The commanding general in Southern Afghanistan brought the last elements of his brigade, and the colors back home to Camp Pendleton.
For the marines, the 13-years of fighting against the Taliban is now over.
The mission ended when returning marines, 97 of them, left Hemland Province, which was one of the most dangerous places during the war.
The combat mission is over, and the marines have finally returned home.
Tasia Robertson’s husband, Capt. Doug Robertson, commanded air operations during the war, and he is back to a new son.
“It’s nice to have my husband back, he hasn’t yet met the baby,” said Tasia.
“It is the first time I’ve gotten to meet this one. My older one who remembers me won’t let me, and this one is 3 months old and Colby is his name. And the other one, Quinten,” said Capt. Robertson.
Capt. Robertson looked forward to a sub sandwich from the Firehouse Pub.
“I’m gonna go home. I’m gonna relax and try to give this woman a break. She’s been working relentlessly,” he said.
Colonel Grady Belyeu said it was a long day coming.
“We’re overjoyed. I think that’s one word to describe it more than anything else, overjoyed,” said Col. Belyeu.
Colonel Belyeu had been gone since January, and was most recently the Commander of the Marine Expeditionary Force Brigade.
He recalled one incident where terrorists blew a restaurant inside a hotel and was impressed with how the Afghan army handled the situation.
“As far as their fighting ability, oh, they definitely have it, definitely,” he said.
His thoughts about the 13-year war coming to an end?
“It had to end sometime. The president thought it was a good time to end right now, to go out and try to sustain themselves. It is what it is,” he said.
General Daniel Yoo is confident the Afghan army can take up the fight by themselves. Its security forces now number upwards of 30,000, allowing for this transition.
“From the marine perspective we came in with our coalition partners, we secured the area, and we transitioned it, and that was our goal. What the Afghans do with it, is really up to them. They gotta want it more than us,” said General Yoo.
More than 75,000 marines have deployed to Afghanistan since 2001.
“We’ll still have marines participating as individual augments, and maybe some special operations forces from Warsock as well. That’s still to be determined. But from the conventional side, from one and three MEF as of right now we won’t be going back,” said General Yoo.
He also said that with coalition forces still there, and the unity in the Afghan government, there is hope for optimism.
The combat mission is over, but not everybody came back.
Ending this combat mission comes as the Corps celebrates its 239 birthday.