Reservists return home after activation
By Sgt. John Neal
| | December 12, 2002
GARDEN CITY, N.Y. --
Marine Reservists with 2nd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment returned home to Garden City, N.Y. this week following almost a year of activation and deployment to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.
The Marines in Garden City are with Headquarters and Service Company and Weapons Company. Company E in Harrisburg, Pa; Company F in Albany, N.Y.; and Company G in Dover, N.J. also returned home and deactivated earlier this month. The battalion was activated Jan. 14, 2002.
While at Camp Lejeune, the battalion provided operational relief for the 2nd Marine Division. Marines were able to train extensively as a battalion in numerous exercises, and some companies deployed to the Balkans to participate in operations there. They also rotated with active duty units as the air contingency battalion, a standby force ready to react to crises anywhere in the United States.
"The 25th Marines and the 2nd Battalion, 25th Marines have been a significant asset to the 2nd Marine Division," said Brig. Gen. Mastin M. Robeson, assistant commander for the 2nd Marine Division. "Two months into their activation, there was zero difference between them and one of the other infantry battalions here."
Training for the reservists during the activation period covered a wide spectrum of real-world scenarios in urban and mountain warfare and non-lethal tactics. The activation period also allowed Marines to catch up on critical skills such as marksmanship, NBC defense and combat water survival. More elaborate training evolutions took the Marines from Camp Lejeune to as far away as California for mountain warfare training in Bridgeport and an opportunity to practice combat against the Army at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin.
"The urban training was probably the best part," said LCpl. Kit Cheung, 19. Cheung is an infantryman with 2/25, and Queens, N.Y. native. As part of their urban environment warfare training, Marines used paint-ball rounds to simulate live fire. "It was the closest thing we could get to actual combat. Plus, any urban training is cool."
Like Cheung, many of the Marines who were activated and participated in the training agreed the mountain warfare school was the most challenging part of their schedule.
"It was rough," said Sgt. Reginaldo Reyes, 24. Reyes spent five years active duty before joining the reserves two years ago. During his seven-year military career he has deployed with two Marine Expeditionary Units.
"Workups were tough because they were fast-paced, but that was nothing like this," he said comparing deployment preparation to training in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. "The air was thin, there was a lot of footwork, and we had to carry a lot of weight ... even our strongest guy was breathing hard."
The return to Garden City for H&S and Weapons Companies was spread over a week. With equipment return and administrative processing underway, the return home culminated with a visit by Lt. Gen. Dennis McCarthy, Commander, Marine Forces Reserve.
"I am extremely proud and pleased with your performance," McCarthy told the Marines. "You have prepared yourselves individually and as a unit in ways that couldn't be done without a year of active duty service. Hardly any combat force can be considered more capable than 2nd Battalion, 25th Marines."
Reyes agreed and added that the activation was noteworthy to the legacy of the Marine Reserve.
"Although we didn't go to Afghanistan or Iraq or anyplace like that, at least we stood up and did something," he said. "At least we stood up and answered the call."
Many of the Marines will return to their civilian jobs shortly. Others like Reyes and Cheung will return to school in January to pick up their lives where they had left off. But they are all constantly aware that the normalcy may be only temporary. As part of President George W. Bush's partial mobilization plan, 2nd Battalion, 25th Marines may be reactivated, if needed. The general consensus among the Marines at 2/25 is they are ready.