CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- After living in what most are calling a devastated and ruined city, the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade's Anti-Terrorism Battalion returned home to open arms and smiles early Sept. 20.
Task Force India, comprised mostly of Marines from I Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, spent the past three months in Kabul, Afghanistan, providing security at the U.S. Embassy.
As India arrived at its command location here, the MEB's commanding general, Brig. Gen. Douglas V. O'Dell, and command sergeant major, Sgt. Maj. Kevin P. Koob, greeted them.
Handshakes and hugs all around was the scene as many said they were glad to be back in the "land of the free and home of the brave."
"When we first got over there (Kabul), we just couldn't believe the devastation. Parts of the city were absolutely ruined," said Capt. Fred Fredrickson, "India" Company commander. "The way the Marines went in there, took charge and set up the security was very impressive."
"We provided security for the embassy and obtained a hard target for any type of terrorist activity that goes on out in town," said Maj. Daniel P. McGovern, task force commander.
"We took a fairly young rifle company out there, and all our noncommissioned officers stepped up and they did an outstanding job," said Gunnery Sgt. James Bullard, India Company's company gunnery sergeant. "I'm proud of every one of them."
After almost 40 hours of travel and months of being halfway across the globe, the Marines turned in their weapons, picked up their gear, and left for a much needed four-day weekend after being reunited with friends and family.
"They did a fantastic job. They made my job easier by being as professional as they are and by doing a great job," said McGovern. "We did what training we could while we were out there, but the primary focus was to provide security for the embassy.
"(It is) always great to get assigned a mission, accomplish that mission and bring everybody home," he said.
For I Company, it's back to business and training, said Bullard. Many of the Marines said it is an honor to serve their country at such a patriotic time, but said they feel relieved to get back into a "normal" training routine.
"They're there guarding a little piece of America," said O'Dell. "As long as that diplomatic mission continues successfully, the people of Afghanistan will have a reason to be hopeful. That feeling of hope is every bit as important as the physical defense of the embassy. These are brave, young men. They have been under dangerous circumstances half a world away. I'm sure they're glad to be home, and we're glad to have them home."
For 4th MEB, the mission isn't over. L Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marines, is the current anti-terrorism battalion in Kabul. The unit left earlier this month for a scheduled three-month mission.
Most recently, "Lima" Company Marines and Sailors placed a piece of the World Trade Center at the base of the embassy's flagpole in commemoration of Sept. 11.