Farewell again, Kane'ohe Marines
By Karen Blakeman
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Karen Blakeman
Couples necked in a military base parking lot last night, parents worked to hold back the tears and young men leaned against their duffel bags, weapons propped against their knees. Kane'ohe Marines were leaving for yet another deployment to the Middle East.
This time, 900 members of the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment are headed for Al Anbar province, Iraq, scheduled to spend seven months helping to stabilize the area.
The 3/3 returned from Afghanistan in June. Two of its members died there.
Some of the younger battalion members didn't know what to feel about the trip.
"We don't feel anything," said 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Dobie August, when asked about his emotions as the Marines waited in a parking lot at Marine Corps Base Hawai'i in Kane'ohe to board buses that would take them to their plane. "We were just talking about that."
"We're not nervous," said August's friend, 19-year-old Lance Cpl. John Jones. "We're just going, and there is no way around it. It's not like you can say: 'Hey, you know what? I quit.' "
"Might as well have a positive attitude," August said.
The trip to Iraq is the first deployment for both of them.
Corpsman Michael Loeffler, a Navy E-5, returned nine months ago from half a year in Afghanistan. His wife, Sara, knows what to expect and how to deal with it.
"Seven months is a long time," she said. "But you can piss and moan about it, or you can just keep going on, day by day, missing him every day until he returns."
Loeffler's friend, fellow corpsman Dartagnon Vera, saw his buddy off last night.
Vera, who has been in Iraq and Afghanistan, is getting out of the Navy to go to medical school. He summed up his tour of Iraq in 2003: "I saw sand and injured people and a lot of death."
Vera said he is glad to be getting out, but he thinks the medical experience he got in the Navy will come in handy.
"It'll make me a very marketable physician," he said.
Pfc. Darren Nunes, 20, was seen off by his bride, Jennifer, and his parents, Marc and Teresa Kalinin. This is his second trip to the Middle East.
"I think it is hard, seeing him off," Marc Kalinin said.
"We'll pray for him," Theresa Kalinin said. "We'll pray for all of them."
She looked at her son, eyes sad and large.
"He's my baby," she said.
Jennifer Nunes said she had known while her husband was still in Afghanistan that he would be going to Iraq. Two deployments so close together are difficult.
"But this is the last time," she said. "No more after this."
"Uh," Nunes said, "we'll see."
"What?" said his high school sweetheart. "What?"
Corporal Armando Perlaza's wife of less than one month, Marianela Perlaza, may not know exactly what to expect as a Marine wife waiting for her husband to return from a war zone, but she knows what it is like to be in the war.
Marianela, an Army specialist, was stationed in Iraq in 2004.
"I just told him not to volunteer for anything," she said. "I want him to just stay behind."
Armando knew how to advise his wife on handling the long absence of a loved one. "Just be patient," he said.
About half the 3/3 Marines left last night. A second group departs this morning.
Reach Karen Blakeman at firstname.lastname@example.org.