NMCB 24 Deploys To Iraq - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

03/22/05

NMCB 24 Deploys To Iraq

About 200 Seabee reservists left for a deployment to Iraq Monday night. Members of NMCB 24 got off a bus and boarded a plane late Monday night, the first leg of a six month deployment just west of Baghdad.

"They're going over to support the second Marine Expeditionary Force, and their area of operation which is the Al Ambar Province. While they're there, they'll be working on camp improvements at the locations where they'll be working with the Marines," said the unit's executive officer Bill Klepac.

Members of this unit will also carry out various construction projects, like working on runways and roadways.

These Seabees have plenty of experience in construction, but this deployment is a first for most members of the unit, including Mary Phillips.

"I feel good. I think everyone's ready to go, well-prepared, ready to hit the ground and get going."

 This is the first time this mother of four has been away from her family for more than a few weeks. 

"Of course it's tough leaving the children behind, but I don't think it's sinked in yet. They're used to me going on a two week Naval duty, but not for a long period of time though. I don't quite think it's hit them yet," Phillips said.

Even though this deployment is a first for many of these Seabees, members of NMCB 24 say they're prepared.

"We've been through considerable weapons training, just getting to know the people we're going to be serving with, enjoying camradarie and learning experiences, really," said Derek Dearman, also a member of NMCB 24.

Mary Phillips snapped the last photos she'd take on American soil just before the plane took off --photos her children will likely share with their kids one day as they recount the role Mary and others like her played in preserving America's freedom.

A few members of NMCB 24 have served three deployments so far in Operation Iraqi Freedom. NMCB 24 is based out of Huntsville, Alabama.

by Toni Miles

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