FORT KNOX, Ky. -- The Marines of Company E, 4th Tank Battalion, 4th Marine Division, returned home to their friends and families Nov. 15 after a six-month deployment to Afghanistan, marking the end of an era for the 4th Marine Division and the Marine Corps Reserve.
After more than ten years of deploying ground combat forces to support operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq, the Co. E homecoming represents the final 4th Marine Division unit to deploy, fight, and redeploy from overseas combat operations. Company E’s return to Fort Knox closes out the long and illustrious chapter of 4th Marine Division's support to Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
At the Marine Corps Reserve Training Center here, hugs, tears and smiles filled the parking lot as the Marines reunited with their loved ones.
For Lance Cpl. Jefferey Rose, a tank crewman from Nebo, Ky., it was the first time seeing his four-month year old son.
“I can’t describe the feeling,” Rose said as he cradled his son. “Seeing pictures and hearing about it can’t beat the real feeling of actually seeing him.”
“It’s the happiest I’ve ever been,” he added.
For Alexis Houge, mother of Lance Cpl. Nicholas Perry, she was simply relieved to see her son.
“It’s a lot of relief and pride,” she said. “I’m so glad to see him. It feels like half of the world has been lifted off my shoulders.”
Company E was mobilized as a route clearance company and attached to 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division. They used specialized vehicles to search for indicators of roadside bombs along routes in their area of operations.
One platoon of Co. E also partnered with the Route Clearance Company, 1st Brigade, 215th Corps of the Afghan National Army, to conduct patrols, weapons training, mission planning and land navigation.
Company E helped develop the partnered ANA route clearance company to a point that the Afghans could perform training and operations independent of coalition forces, said Maj. Mike O’Quin, commanding officer of Co. E.
The Reserve unit also brought peace of mind to their parent unit, Regimental Combat Team 5’s area of operations, and the Afghan people by removing roadside bombs or IEDs (improvised explosive device).
“Units were able to operate with a little more confidence each day, that they wouldn’t come across an IED, and local Afghans could live their daily lives without worrying that they or their children would be injured or killed by an IED indiscriminately placed by the enemy,” said O’Quin.
Company E’s training helped them prepare for Afghanistan. Before their deployment, they had been involved in exercises such as Enhanced Mojave Viper and African Lion.
After serving as a route clearance company in Afghanistan, the unit returned to Fort Knox and plans to focus on tank-specific training in their upcoming drill weekends and annual training.