Warriors head home to well-deserved rest

14 Jun 2004 | Cpl. Mike J. Escobar

Troops from the ground combat element of Marine Air-Ground Task Force-8 began returning to the United States on June 14 after completing more than three months of stability and security operations in Haiti.
Leaders with Combined Joint Task Force-Haiti were present at Port-au-Prince International Airport to wish homebound personnel of 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment a safe trip back to Camp Lejeune.
“You came here on short notice and did a hell of a job,” said Marine Brig. Gen. Ronald S. Coleman, Combined Joint Task Force-Haiti’s commander, addressing the troops before they departed.  “It’s not about you, or me, or your company commander.  It’s about what you did for the Corps and for the people of Haiti.”
According to Marine Capt. Andrew M. DelGaudio, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment’s assistant operations officer, the battalion’s actions helped bring about security and stability to Haiti.
The unit conducted 90 cordon and knock operations, confiscated 106 illegal firearms, and assisted the Haitian National Police in apprehending 166 suspects, he explained.  The battalion also conducted more than 3,000 patrols, often with the Canadian infantrymen, who were attached to MAGTF-8.
The unit’s actions contributed significantly to improving the lives of Haiti’s citizens by providing security and helping rebuild parts of their communities, said Marine Capt. Shaun Fitzpatrick, MAGTF-8’s information operations officer.
According to Fitzpatrick, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment’s infantry companies provided presence patrols in various districts of Port-au-Prince, while combat engineers with the battalion conducted civil-military operations, such as repairs to local schools, to improve the quality of life in the area.
“From working in Port-au-Prince, we also learned how to operate in heavily populated areas,” said Marine Staff Sgt. Eric A. McIntosh, acting H&S Co. Gunnery Sergeant.  “We learned methods on dealing with large crowds and demonstrations.  It’s something that will definitely help the Marines out in future deployments.”
Once the capital city was stabilized, the battalion pushed south, out to places like Jacmel and Les Cayes to provide security and humanitarian aid. 
CJTF-Haiti leaders said they felt the Marines and sailors of 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment performed superbly no matter where the mission took them. 
“You guys did a great job out here,” Marine Sgt. Maj. Ralph Drake, CJTF-Haiti’s Sergeant Major told the Marines before they flew home.  “Be proud of what you did and hold your head high.”
“I’ve never been more proud of 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines,” said Marine Col. David H. Berger, battalion commander.  “They did a phenomenal job in Haiti from the moment they got on the ground to the moment they got on the plane back home.”