FORT PICKETT, Va. --
The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), supporting Operation Allies Welcome as part of Task Force Pickett, says farewell to the Marines and Sailors of 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment (3/6) and welcome to 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment on Nov. 15, 2021.
Approximately 500 Marines with 3/6, including augments from 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion and 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, assigned to the 26th MEU, deployed with less than 96 hours’ notice from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, to Fort Pickett, Virginia on the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Two decades ago, the 26th MEU and Battalion Landing Team 3/6 were among the first U.S. Forces into Afghanistan as part of Operations Enduring Freedom.
The battalion was responsible for providing safety and security for up to 10,000 Afghan evacuees beginning a new life in the United States. The Marines and Sailors helped ensure Afghan evacuees received items necessary for day-to-day living, support their initial resettlement, and worked tirelessly to increase the quality of life during their stay.
Aside from their assigned duties, the Marines and Sailors volunteered in their downtime to teach Afghan individuals English lessons, play sports together, and spend time welcoming them to the United States.
“We came to help with the resettlement process, but we wanted our guests to feel at home,” said Capt. Daniel P. Ecker, operations officer for 3/6 during Operation Allies Welcome. “The Marines hosted movie nights, read books with the children, and developed friendships with the guests.”
1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment assumed all responsibility and authority from 3/6 on Nov. 15, 2021. The battalion is based out of Houston, Texas, and is often referred to as the Lonestar Battalion.
“The Lonestar Battalion is incredibly proud to join Task Force Pickett,” said Lt. Col. Samson C. Newsome II, commanding officer, 1/23. “We have a lot of work ahead of us, but our Marines are ready and capable of accomplishing the mission.”
For 3/6, the experience was more than just a mission. The individuals impacted by their efforts will always remember their time with the Marines.
“This is an important mission and we were able to impact the lives of thousands,” said Lt. Col. Ryan Gordinier, the commanding officer of 3/6. “We have members in the battalion that are first-generation Americans or immigrants themselves. This experience has reminded them and the rest of us how special America is. I am proud of the work we have done and look forward to the great things our future Americans are going to do with this new opportunity.”