CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan -- In preparation for the transfer of authority on Dec. 4, 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company and 5th ANGLICO have been convoying to bases throughout the Helmand province of Afghanistan recently.
A convoy to visit the Marines at Patrol Base Hazrat and Mobile Operating Base Price took place on Nov. 28, so that leaders from both units could see how Marines of 1st ANGLICO are preparing Marines from 5th ANGLICO to take over the area of operations.
“We went to visit the Marines at the patrol bases in order to make sure they are getting the support that they need,” said Maj. Garry L. Francis, platoon commander, 1st Brigade, 5th ANGLICO.
“They have really supported us through this whole transition and situation,” said Francis, a native of Moore, Okla. “We’re grateful for everything that 1st ANGLICO has done for us. We couldn’t have asked for a better transition.”
Francis and other Marines received briefs about the area of operations and were notified of major concerns and problems that the 1st ANGLICO Marines experienced during their time in Afghanistan.
“The greatest successes here was our work with the [Afghan National Army],” said Sgt. Kenneth L. Johnson, team chief, Fire Control Team 1, 1st ANGLICO, who lives and works on Patrol Base Hazrat and is a native of Piedmont, Okla. “We’ve been training and mentoring the ANA. The only problems we’ve been having have been improvised explosive devices.”
The 5th ANGLICO also got a chance to try their hands at running a convoy for the first time since they arrived, giving them the opportunity to take the reins just a little bit more.
“I think the convoy went well,” said Maj. Mark A. Paolicelli, platoon commander,1st Brigade, 1st ANGLICO. “But the real test will be when we leave.”
Even in the face of the upcoming transition, with little left to do, Marines from the outgoing ANGLICO still don’t consider themselves mission complete. There is one more mission left to accomplish and for many of the Marines the bonds formed over the deployment will be hard to give up.
“I don’t consider us mission complete until every single one of my guys is in their house, sitting on their couch, in their loved one’s arms,” said Paolicelli, who hails from Pittsburgh, Pa.
Paolicelli continued, “I think that if you talk to most of the 1st ANGLICO Marines they would tell you that over the course of a deployment we form relationships that make it bittersweet to leave.”
Now that Dec. 4, has passed, the outgoing 1st ANGLICO has officially given the torch over to 5th ANGLICO and will be heading home soon.
“We wish 5th ANGLICO the best of luck and success,” said Paolicelli. “Hopefully we’ll be doing this again in about 17 months.”