Friday, July 22, 2011

The Fighting Fifth

I've mentioned the Gilbert family quite a bit in my blog (they're my adopted "California" family).
In case this is your first time visiting us...
Here's the rundown on how I have become to know such an amazing family:
1. Kevin (the youngest son of 5 children) joined the Marine Corps out of the recruiting office I worked at.
2. Throughout Kevin's journey as a Recruit, Student, Infantryman, and deployment, my family became close to the rest of his family...this includes extended family and friends!
3. And 2 years later, they still treat Nick and I like their own children and have showered us with lots of LOVE!

You can read a little about them here and here.

Kevin is currently serving as an infantryman with 1st Battalion 5th Marines (1/5) in Afghanistan.
They replaced 3rd Battalion 5th Marines (3/5) back in March to continue doing the awesome work that 3/5 had started.

Melissa (the oldest of the Gilbert "kids") has been keeping everyone updated by email about Kevin throughout the deployment.

Here is her latest updated that I received today :-)

Tonight my parents and I went to a town hall meeting for the families of our Fighting Fifths. We were introduced to the new commanding general, General Bailey. He has 34 years of service in the USMC and also has a son currently serving in Iraq. We immediately felt at ease.  And...he looked vaguely familiar. As it turns out, we had indeed crossed paths with him once before.

The day before Kevin graduated from boot camp we went down to MCRD early in the morning. As Kev and the other recruits started their morning run we noticed they were led by a few officers, one of which was an older man, but looked like he could who could keep up with the best of them. After the run, this same man then addressed the recruits in a very moving speech about the Marine Corps motto: semper fidelis, always faithful, as we listened on, hearts swelling with pride. We had not yet interacted with Kevin so as you can imagine listening to this inspirational speech made us that much more excited. Below is a picture of General Bailey (2nd from your left) leading the recruits on their run.

Tonight General Bailey pledged his faithfulness to the families of 1/5...a man who lives by his words.

Tonight, we also learned that 1/5 has made significant progress in expanding their territory in Sangin. The previous battalion, 3/5, had a tough time there because their job was to clear out the district and the more densely packed areas of the city (where Kevin is located). But, they did a fantastic job and 1/5 has continued what 3/5 started by keeping the city relatively free of Taliban  fighters and flushing them out further and further. Unfortunately, this also explains why Bravo company, who is located on the outskirts of the city, has taken the most casualties.

The officers also gave us a bit of a history lesson tonight. They reiterated the fact that
afghanistan has been at war for 30 years starting with the Soviet occupation.  It is only now that the people of Afghanistan are starting to feel confident in their own soldiers and security.  Having pushed the Taliban out of the city we have allowed the Afghan villagers the opportunity to do things that would have otherwise been outlawed under Taliban law (ie. Go to school, learn to plant crops other than poppy).

We also discussed their return to the
USA (yay!!!)! They are expected in mid October.  Tonight, many of the wives were complaining about friend requests on Facebook from Afghani and Pakistani strangers.  It is obvious these evil people will do anything to hurt us so I ask that if any of you are on Facebook please do not post anything regarding dates or info. No one wants an interrupted and spoiled homecoming nor do we want to put our loved ones in any jeopardy.

Finally, we were told to stop sending packages around Sept 1.  By the time the guys get their their mail they will be packing up to leave and don't want to carry more stuff home. However, this doesn't mean you have to stop. It just means you might get a package sent back to you or items will be left behind. I think you are pretty safe with food if you want to keep sending that until mid sept.

Hope everyone is well.

Love, Melissa

I hope anyone reading this can truly understand what the Marines (and our fierce Sailors, Soldiers, and Airmen) have been doing over there in Afghanistan.
Sometimes with the price tag of human life.
And even with grief and loss of those who gave all, our Marines continue to press on and do what they have been trained to do.

So with that said...
We can't wait to see you Kevin when you get back!

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