AL ASAD, Iraq -- More than 100 Marines and sailors with Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, and its subordinate units, departed Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Jan. 10 for their scheduled deployment to Iraq.
The deploying personnel dropped their packs and gear in piles outside the MCAS Miramar armory, picked up their weapons, and amidst tearful embraces bid farewell to friends and family. In what seemed like only minutes, they boarded buses for the first leg on their long journey to Iraq.
MAG-16 is preparing to transition with Marines from MAG-26, 2nd MAW, currently stationed at Al Asad, Iraq.
Perhaps there is no sight that brings MAG-26 Marines greater joy than the sight of their relief. It is this brother or sister in arms who arrives to assume that far away post and ultimately allows them to return home to their families.
They flew halfway across the world to prepare for the relief in place of their counterparts with MAG-26, who have been conducting operations in Iraq for nearly one year.
"The last deployment was only for seven months. So it was a lot harder on my family and me this time because of the longer length, but I did want to come," said Cpl. David J. Delacruz, adjutant chief, MAG-16.
Many in-flight meals, movies and international airports later, the MAG-16 advance party touched down in Iraq and finally laid down for some needed rest.
The Marines and sailors with the advance party will work alongside their counterparts with MAG-26, in preparation for follow-on forces.
"It was refreshing to see new faces, we have been here for almost a year together," said Cpl. Esther R. Parent, network specialist, MAG-26. "They (MAG-16 personnel) bring new personalities out here."
According to Lt. Col. Jack P. Monroe, with MAG-16's operations section, each MAG-16 section representative in the advance party made contact with their MAG-26 counterpart prior to deployment.
"We (the advance party) are here to set the groundwork, to facilitate and ease the transition period for the transfer of authority from MAG-26 to MAG-16," said Monroe.