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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, April 6, 2009

Isle Marines head out again for Iraq

Photo gallery: Deployment

By John Windrow
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Michelle Newberry, left, hugs husband Lance Cpl. Clay Newberry, while Michael Smith says goodbye to son Bryson, 16 months, and wife Krystal at Marine Corps Base Hawai'i.

Photos by REBECCA BREYER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Michelle Newberry, left, hugs husband Lance Cpl. Clay Newberry, while Michael Smith says goodbye to son Bryson, 16 months, and wife Krystal at Marine Corps Base Hawai'i.

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KANE'OHE The Marines stood restless in the bright sunshine, bristling with energy, waiting to board the buses that would take them to the planes that would take them to war.

They were as ready as they would ever be: ready to go to the air base at Al Asad, Iraq, for seven months; ready to go they said, so they could get back.

About 150 of them were leaving yesterday.

The sergeants of the 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, stood a ways off in a group to themselves, talking in lower voices. Confident, not so noisy, in charge, more composed, saltier.

The sergeants had told the younger Marines to listen to the guys who had been there before, to pick their brains, that the new guys should follow the more experienced guys' lead. Then they would be all right.

Lance Cpl. Kenneth Craft and his wife, Charrie, both 20 and both from North Carolina, were hanging onto each other, leaning against a car.

He was leaving yesterday for his second tour in Iraq. He said he felt "pretty calm this time. I really don't know what to expect."

Charrie said: "I feel very depressed. I don't want him to go. What's going to happen? I'm worried."

Kenneth kissed his wife one more time, slipped beneath the rope separating the staging area from the families' parked cars and joined his buddies. Charrie wiped her eyes, slipped on dark glasses and stood quietly watching him walk away, holding her hand to her mouth.

Marisa McLaughlin, 20, also was watching her lance corporal, Mike, 22, join the line to the buses headed for Hickam Air Force Base. "I don't want him to go but I know he'll be fine," she said, keeping her chin up, looking proud and worried.

It is Mike McLaughlin's first deployment. "I just want to get it started," he said. They are from San Diego.

Lance Cpl. Hunter Ala- cron, 20, a head taller than most of the others, said, "I'm pretty excited," even though he didn't expect to see a lot of action given "the way the war is now. But I'm excited."

Alacron is from New Jersey and he said the Sept. 11 attacks were "really close to home." His dad, Carlos, had once worked in the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. That was one of the reasons Alacron joined the Marine Corps, he said.

Mandolyn Hanson, 6, wore a T-shirt that said she was a Marine daughter, one of the proud, the brave, the few. She and her brother, David, who is almost 2, and their mom, Amie, were saying goodbye to Capt. Jaisun Hanson, the unit's commander.

The Hansons are from Michigan. The captain, who is on his second tour to Iraq, said he expected his troops to do mostly local security patrols once they are in country. "I have good feelings about it," Hanson said quietly.

As the war in Iraq winds down and the effort in Afghanistan intensifies, Hanson said he heard that this could be one of the final deployments by Hawai'i-based troops to Iraq. But, of course, he didn't know for sure.

Nothing seemed for sure yesterday as the sergeants called roll and the troops boarded their buses.

Rakel Alcoser, 26, waived to her husband, Sgt. Ramon Alcoser. She is from Jamaica, he's from Mexico. They met in Maryland in the ninth grade. "We're a strange mix," she said.

Ramon is on his third deployment one to South Korea, two to Iraq.

"He's my best friend," she said. "I'm losing my husband and my best friend on this one. It's very tough."

Rakel, who is working on a master's degree at Hawai'i Pacific University, said she would cope by staying busy. "You give yourself a breather and you start thinking all kinds of crazy things," she said. "But I have faith in his training to bring him through."

Lance Cpl. Aaron Guerra, 22, from Texas, waived from a bus window to his 21-year-old wife, Katherine, and 1-month old baby girl, Hailey. Hailey, who was sleeping, wore pink socks that said "pretty girl."

"I love you too," Katherine, from Wai'anae, kept calling out to him. "I love you too."

She waved and waved.

"I feel oh gosh scared, sad," she said.

They were dating when he made his first deployment. This is his second.

"I love you too," she called out again.

Aaron smiled and flashed a "V" for victory as the buses rolled out.

Reach John Windrow at jwindrow@honoluluadvertiser.com.