ABROAD USS PELELIU -- Family members of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit flocked in numbers Aug. 22 to bid farewell to loved ones as Marines and Sailors set sail from Naval Station San Diego aboard ships of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group for real-world missions.
Many family members, experiencing the sight of their first MEU departure, were impressed as they viewed the entire undertaking.
"I didn't know that there were this many people involved in this operation," said Eugene Greer, father-in-law of Lance Cpl. Jeremiah Dancy, Weapons Platoon, Company C, Battalion Landing Team 1/1. "It's pretty impressive."
Many of the Marines involved with the MEU were eager to finally begin the deployment. For more than eight months prior to the Fighting 13th's date of departure, the unit was involved in numerous exercises to prepare for deployment and earn the coveted Special-Operations-Capable title. Training included a combined arms exercise conducted at Twenty-Nine Palms, Calif., and three underway-training periods aboard the ships of Expeditionary Strike Group One.
Prior to departing for San Diego, Col. Mike Regner, MEU Commanding Officer, told his Marines they had earned the right to deploy and defend their country.
"For what you have all done these last nine months, I am incredibly proud of you," said Regner to his desert camouflage-clad troops. "Your fellow Marines have been to Iraq, they have done their duty. Now it's our turn."
The CO was not the only Marine to echo the sentiment.
"I'm ready to go out to get this (deployment) over with," said Dancy.
"I'm looking for him to make his deployment and come home," added Greer.
Many family members had a hard time parting with their loved ones.
"It's harder the second time around," said Anne Doyle, grandmother of Sgt. Michael Goodenough, 81mm Platoon, Weapons Company, Battalion Landing Team 1/1, who isn't new to her grandson's deployment. "But this was what he wanted to do."
Doyle said the family fully supports her grandson?s mission.
"We've got to go out there and take care of the problems happening in the world," said Doyle. "I'm very proud of him; he's a good grandson."
According to family members of Doyle's, she constantly tells friends about her grandson.
"I belong to a senior citizen's club and they all know him," added Doyle. "I think it's great to be an American and serve your country. I just want this to be all over so they can come home safe and sound."
The 13th MEU, the strike force of ESG-1, is expected to be deployed for approximately eight months aboard the USS Peleliu, USS Germantown and USS Ogden, and accompanied by the USS Port Royal, USS Decatur, USS Jarrett and USS Greenville.