Cut To 5 Months;
From Greene Co.
BY BILL JONES
About 140 U.S. Marine reservists from Gray-based Lima Company, 24th Marine Regiment, who arrived in Iraq last October will be returning next month to the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Gray.
Lt. Col. James Watson said this morning that the Lima Company Marines, including several Greene County residents, were originally scheduled to spend seven months in Iraq.
But their deployment has since been reduced to five months.
"They should be back here (Gray) by late February," Watson said.
An advance element of the company has already returned to Camp Pendleton, Calif.
When the entire unit returns to Gray in late February, a welcome home ceremony will be held at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Gray, according to Lt. Col. Watson.
The unit was mobilized for active duty last May 1 for a period of one year.
1st Sgt. William Clare said last year the Marine reservists completed about three weeks of "intensive training" in California last April before being called to active duty in May.
Beginning last May the Lima Company Marines underwent about five months of additional training in California before deploying to Iraq for a seven-month tour of duty.
Lima Company is a Marine Reserve rifle company composed of citizens from Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina.
The company generally musters one weekend a month and for two weeks in summer.
Lima Company is one of five companies scattered across the country's eastern midsection that are assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment. That unit has its headquarters in Bridgetown, Mo.
Lima Company last went to Iraq as a whole in 2004, but some members of the unit have augmented other Marine Reserve units since then, a Marine Corps news release said last year.
NATIONAL GUARDSMEN TO DEPART
In an ironic twist, the Lima Company Marine Reservists are returning to Northeast Tennessee during the same month in which the Tennessee Army National Guard's 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment is deploying to Iraq.
Also, ironically, Greeneville's 278th ACR unit is also designated Lima (L) Company.
A departure ceremony for the 278th ACR will be held at Camp Shelby, Miss., on Friday, Feb. 5, and the unit will depart for Iraq shortly thereafter.