AL ASAD, Iraq -- The Marines of the Tactical Air Command Center Security Force, Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 3, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, participated in a historic 'Combat Mess Night' here Aug. 31.
The event, which featured special guests, including sergeants major of various 3rd MAW units, symbolized the end of their service here. It was the "last hurrah" for the more than 60 members of the security force, who have relinquished their duties and will be returning home very shortly.
"Over the past six months you Marines have done an outstanding job," said Sgt. Maj. Dennis W. Reed, sergeant major, 3rd MAW. "You will never know how many attacks you deterred because of what you did. You performed your duties fantastically under the toughest conditions."
Traditionally, the Marine Corps mess night is a formal occasion held to celebrate battle victories, service and comradeship. It is also a time to remember fallen heroes.
"We're happy to be going home, but we know there are Marines who (will not) be," said Lance Cpl. Jeremy Douglas, guard, TACC Security Force, MWHS-3.
Douglas and a handful of security force Marines, wore improvised aprons made of sandbags during the banquet and energetically served beverages and 'Roast Beef of Old England' to the Marines in attendance.
Like the warrior's banquets of old, the occasion was made even more poignant by war stories from guest of honor Sgt. Maj. Joseph J. Kundrat, sergeant major, MWHS-3, in addition to a toast to fallen comrades.
"I am just as proud to be serving with you in Iraq as I am to have served with the Marines in Vietnam," expressed Kundrat, a native of Baltimore. "You arrived, you performed your duty and again your commanding officer was able to report: 'The Marines have landed and the situation is well in hand."
The culminating event conducted by the redeploying security force had added worth to one staff noncommissioned officer invited to the festivities.
"This particular mess night is a really special thing and I hope that the Marines here tonight appreciate the significance of this event and what they accomplished," said New York City native Staff Sgt. Jose Graziano, anti-terrorism chief, 3rd MAW. "I'm really proud of them and we'll always remember tonight."