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300 Marines leave for Iraq

More than 300 Marines and sailors left for Iraq from the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms today.

The Second Battalion, seventh Marines spent their last few hours with family and friends in a somber tailgate this afternoon in the parking lot.

http://www.desertsunonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070127/UPDATE/70127005

Michelle Mitchell
The Desert Sun
January 27, 2007

“You’re always thinking about it, but you just don’t always show it,” Lance Cpl. Travis Wilkerson,19, said, looking around at the families laughing together and playing with children.

“Marines have a funny way of dealing with things.”

Travis and his twin brother Tyler were both leaving for their first deployment.

“I don’t think it’s going to set in until I’m in an airplane going across the Atlantic Ocean,” Tyler said.

It was the battalion's fourth deployment.

“You know what to expect, that’s why it’s harder,” said Kathy Crawford, whose husband Major Patrick Crawford, was leaving for his third tour of duty in Iraq. “You know what you’re going to go through.”

The mood changed noticeably as several buses pulled up and everyone said their final goodbyes.

A few children played happily with the shortsightedness of childhood while others were carried away crying for their daddies.

Even after the charter buses had disappeared from sight, families stayed, holding each other.

It’s not easy leaving families behind, missing a first word or a birth, but for the Marines, it’s their job.

“I don’t think I would trade it for anything,” Tyler Wilkerson said.