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Marines and sailors from units throughout III Marine Expeditionary Force stage their gear on the Kadena Air Base runway tarmac Wednesday after returning from a seven-month deployment to Iraq.

Marines and sailors from units throughout III Marine Expeditionary Force stage their gear on the Kadena Air Base runway tarmac Wednesday after returning from a seven-month deployment to Iraq. (Cindy Fisher / S&S)

Marines and sailors from units throughout III Marine Expeditionary Force stage their gear on the Kadena Air Base runway tarmac Wednesday after returning from a seven-month deployment to Iraq.

Marines and sailors from units throughout III Marine Expeditionary Force stage their gear on the Kadena Air Base runway tarmac Wednesday after returning from a seven-month deployment to Iraq. (Cindy Fisher / S&S)

Returning Marines and sailors load their gear onto trucks or buses for transportation from Kadena Air Base to their respective units Wednesday evening.

Returning Marines and sailors load their gear onto trucks or buses for transportation from Kadena Air Base to their respective units Wednesday evening. (Cindy Fisher / S&S)

Maj. Gen. Robert B. Neller, right, welcomes back a group of about 100 Marines and sailors from units throughout III Marine Expeditionary Force at Kadena Air Base on Wednesday evening.

Maj. Gen. Robert B. Neller, right, welcomes back a group of about 100 Marines and sailors from units throughout III Marine Expeditionary Force at Kadena Air Base on Wednesday evening. (Cindy Fisher / S&S)

KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — About 100 III Marine Expeditionary Force Marines and sailors returned Wednesday evening from a seven-month deployment to Iraq where they they augmented Task Force MP. The task force, comprised of the Hawaii-based 1st Battalion, 12th Marines, was stretched across Anbar province to support the II Marine Expeditionary Force, which conducted missions from the Jordan and Syria borders to Baghdad.

The Okinawa troops worked at detention centers, conducted convoy escorts and provided administrative support for the battalion.

“You just did what was probably the most significant and important thing in your life. You went to war and came back,” Maj. Gen. Robert B. Neller, 3rd Marine Division’s commander, told the returning troops.

He told the assembly that they should be proud of their efforts in Iraq and should now focus on transitioning back to their lives on Okinawa.

“We have to make sure everyone is taking the time to reorganize,” the general said.

One Marine is definitely glad to be back.

The best part of the deployment “was getting out of there,” said Lance Cpl. Jessie Robison, 20, from Cedarville, Ark., with Combat Assault Battalion based at Camp Schwab.

But Iraq “was different from what I expected,” Robison said. “A lot of units came back and said Fallujah was really bad.”

But, while he was there Fallujah went from taking some indirect fire “to being really calm,” Robison said.

For Capt. J.J. Janabajal, 30, from San Diego, what he’ll remember most about the deployment is the three Marines and sailor with the task force who were killed.

“I want to honor their sacrifice on a daily basis,” he said.

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