Maj. Erik Aubel said he is not sure how long Americans will be in Afghanistan, but one thing is for sure: His Marine Wing Support Squadron 271 will be ready to deploy again and again no matter where the hot spot is
Maj. Erik Aubel said he is not sure how long Americans will be in Afghanistan, but one thing is for sure, his Marine Wing Support Squadron 271 will be ready to deploy again and again no matter where the hot spot is.
"Marines train to deploy. Thatís what our job is," said Aubel, detachment commander. "So whether or not itís the end to Afghanistan, thatís way above our pay grade to say, so all weíre worried about is this deployment, these seven months and doing the best job that we can."
Aubel left as leader of a group of more than 100 Marines from MWSS-271 bound for Afghanistan on Saturday morning.
"I think every deployment we go to we never expect it to be the last one because once Afghanistan was done there was Iraq before that," Aubel said. "There was northern Africa before that. Africa is heating up. Syriaís going crazy. North Koreaís out there. Thereís a whole bunch of countries where thereís weird stuff going on. Hugo Chavez passed away last week. Who knows whatís happening down there. We may be down in the Caribbean doing stuff. The war on drugs is never won.
"Who knows what else is going on, so Marines are always ready for the next deployment. We donít worry about this one being the last one because we know that thereís always going to be more."
Aubel said goodbye to his wife and three children before leaving the base.
"The big thing today is saying goodbye to the families and getting on the road and heading over the Afghanistan to accomplish the mission," Aubel said. "Itís always the hardest part, saying goodbye to your kids and saying goodbye to your wife and of course making sure weíve done everything for them we can before we leave because once we get over there, weíre not going to be able to help out that much."
The commander said that about 70 percent of the Marines leaving Saturday were making their first deployment.
"Itís going to be a new adventure and a brand new experience," said Cpl. Clay Smith, who was leaving his wife on his first deployment.
Cpl. Salvadore Fonseca, also beginning a first-time deployment, said goodbye to his wife and daughter.
"Itís something that Iíve been wanting to do for a while," he said of the deployment. "Itís the reason I joined. I volunteered for this though. It will be alright. Seven months will fly by. Weíre used to being separated now and then. As long as I get to go, thatís the reason I joined. Iíll be happy."
Sgt. Troy Barndt predicted a good deployment.
"Itís a pretty tight unit," he said. "Weíre real close and care a lot about each other. I love doing what I do. I love helping people. I love leading Marines."
Sgt. William Stonebraker was deploying for the third time, leaving his wife and 7-year-old son.
"Itís the same as the other two, but this time itís hard on me because Iím leaving my family and stuff like that," the aircraft mechanic said. "Thatís the hardest thing is leaving the family. I have the one son. Itís going to be hard for him. Weíve had a better bond now. My first two, he was 1 or 2 years old, and now heís a little bit older and he knows whatís going on so itís a little bit harder, because heís more functional, you know. Itís a little bit harder.
"Itís hard. I was getting dressed this morning and I was sitting on the bed crying my eyes out, but you really canít let him see me doing that crying thing. Youíve got to be tough. Youíve got to stay strong. Itís hard. Deep down inside itís hard. Youíve just got to deal with it in your own way."
The job of the unit is to support the operations of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, also based at Cherry Point, whatever that job may be.
"Weíre the unusual guys," Aubel said. "Weíre the ones you usually never hear about. Weíre the ones that make sure the food is served, that corpsmen are there to render first aid, that gas is flowing, that waterís available, all the things that nobody thinks about day to day. When you go to the grocery store, we make all those things happen so that you can get to the grocery store and can get back.
"Nobody really knows that we exist until something goes wrong and then theyíre worried about who handles their A/C, their heat, their water, their food, all that kind of stuff, so our job is to be unseen but at the same time make sure that everything is happening so that 2nd MAW gets everything they need."
Aubel has been with MWSS 271 for three years.
"These are some of the greatest guys Iíve ever worked with, some of the consummate professionals right down to the lowest ranks," he said. "Things that these 19- and 20-year olds do, most people would not expect 30- to 40-year olds to know in how professional and knowledgeable they are."