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Lima Company Marines Deploy Again
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Columbus based Lima Company is shipping out again. Five years after suffering heavy casualties in Iraq, the Marine unit departs from Columbus Wednesday. Some 150 Marines will receive additional training prior to their deployment somewhere overseas.
There was a time when the unit was known as Lucky Lima. Now there’s a memorial in granite at Marine Reserve Headquarters at Rickenbacker. It lists the names of 22 Marines and a Navy Corpsman who were killed during Lima Company’s 2005 tour of duty in Iraq. Cpl. Dustin Derga was the first to lose his life that year. Retried Lima Company master sergeant Stephen Walter remembers.
“On May 8th, 2005, Cpl. Dustin Derga entered a home and was fired upon by a jihadist who was underneath the floorboards,” Walter says. “He was the first person in Lima Company who was killed in action. And I delivered the company casualty notification on Sunday, May 8th which happened to be Mother’s Day.”
In the span of just a few months the number of deaths quickly mounted.
“We did have tragedy on August 3rd, 2005 where one of our armored vehicles hit a pair of double stacked anti-tank mines,” Walter says. “We had 14 marines killed, 9 of whom were assigned to Lima Company.”
Five years later, the Marines’ mission is one that’s evolving. Lima Company’s new commanding officer, Major William Brubaker says they could be deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan or somewhere in the Horn of Africa
“Our battalion as a whole, 3rd Battalion 25th Marines, is an Infantry battalion which means we do direct infantry combat operations; That’s our job,” Brubaker says. “So our mission, the Marine Corps mission, is to engage the enemy in that fashion.
But Brubaker says Marines training is being broadened in scope. Now each Marine, he says, serves as an ambassador of the United States.
“The war as a whole has changed quite a bit since 2005. It’s much more small unit tactics and counter insurgency operations. Small unit, engaging with the populace, winning hearts and minds, that kind of stuff. The days of giant direct battles are pretty much in the past,” Brubaker says.
Major Brubaker says he does not know how long Lima Company will be deployed.