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2/9 leaves no man behind, returns from deployment

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. — Around 300 Marines and sailors from 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, returned home, April 22, after a seven month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

http://www.usmc.mil/units/marforcom/iimef/2ndmlg/Pages/29leavesnomanbehind,returnsfromdeployment.aspx

4/24/2009
By Lance Cpl. Meghan J. Canlas,
II MEF

During the deployment, the Marines worked closely with Iraqi Security Forces towards the goal of a more self-sufficient Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police.

“It was extremely successful. We were there during the elections and got to see a new government in Ramadi,” explained Lt. Col. Thad Trapp, battalion commander 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines. “We were able to have a (U.S.-Iraq) Status of Forces Agreement and transfer security to the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police.”

This was Trapp’s third deployment to Iraq. He said the deployment held many changes since his previous visit in 2006.

“It was extremely different,” he explained. “It’s proof of the Iraqi Security Forces (success). The police have a (lead) in Ramadi. I’ve seen an increase in commerce and an increase in security.”

Trapp said, with the ISF having the cognitive ability to take the lead over security, his Marines were able to pull back from certain posts as Iraqis took over.

Although the deployment was triumphant, it was hard for families back home to be away from their Marines and sailors.

“It was long, but looking back, it’s amazing how fast it went by,” said Jessica Hardiesty, the wife of Sgt. Matthew Hardiesty, a squad leader with Company F. “This was my second deployment since we’ve been married, but this time, I struggled with a toddler while being pregnant.”

Hardiesty said it was hard for her husband to miss the birthdays and holidays, but can’t wait for them to be a family again.

“I’m totally ecstatic!” she explained. “I’m days away from giving birth and I’m glad he made it home in time.”

Hardiesty said he was happy to be home and was “speechless.”

Every family had a Marine or sailor to wait for, because on top of the battalion’s success, Trapp said the most important thing is, “We brought everyone back that we took with us.”