MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Families and friends lingered throughout the 2nd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company headquarters building, here, waiting for the dreaded buses to arrive.
They clung to the sides of their Marines and sailors as they prepared to bid their loved ones farewell on the evening of March 28.
After nearly six-month workup, the 2nd EOD Co., 8th Engineer Support Battalion detachment departed for Afghanistan.
Their pre-deployment training included live-tissue training, mixing and testing homemade explosives, and a trip to work with the soldiers from the Republic of Georgia.
“We sent some guys to Georgia to do cross training,” said Maj. Eric T. Cline, the 2nd EOD Co. commander. “They worked together, and even got the chance to learn the language.”
The EOD technicians will work closely with the Georgian army in Afghanistan to support the southern provinces by locating, identifying and disposing of unexploded ordnance and improvised explosive devices.
“I’m ready, and our guys are ready,” said Master Sgt. Steven Horton, a Battleground, Wash., native and the platoon sergeant for the 2nd EOD Co. “We’ve put a lot of hard work into the workup, and we’ve got a lot of good people. I’m looking forward to getting my guys who haven’t done a tour as an EOD [technician] over there and getting the experience under their belts. More than all of that, I’m mostly looking forward to a successful mission and to bring them all home alive.”
In addition to supporting the Marines and coalition forces in southern Afghanistan, the EOD technicians will also work hand-in-hand with the Afghan National Army.
“The ANA are taking over so much of the mission that we’re basically supporting them,” said Cline. “We’ll spend a huge chunk of our time over there training them to relieve us.”
As the Camp Lejeune skies darkened, the buses’ headlights lit up the area around the 2nd EOD Co. headquarters building. The Marines and sailors grabbed their rifles and bags, gave their loved ones hugs, and then boarded the buses to begin their latest journey – to Afghanistan.