Bittersweet moments as Pendleton Marines deploy

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CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Marines and sailors of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit are once again headed out to serve our country.

Around 1300 Marines make up the Ground Combat Element of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit and headed to the Western Pacific and Middle East Thursday. The GCE will serve as the boots on the ground.

“It’s the fighting force for the 13th MEU,” said Captain Ryan Tice. “We don’t just fight, we help we do a lot of humanitarian assistance, there’s a range of operations we can do.”

The unit is also able to provide air support.

“Fill in the blanks any hot spot we can be there ready to serve our country,” said Tice.

Christine Ashley sent off her husband Captain Shannon Ashley of the Battalion Landing Team.  Deployments are never easy, but the mother of two said they are especially hard on the younger children.

“It’s long anticipated so it hurts but, we’re ready to do it,” said Ashley.  “We’ve been preparing them, but they don’t understand the length of it. They understand Daddy’s going to be missing."

Sarah Bride was in tears as her husband Captain Matthew Bride was leaving.  The Marines will be gone for an estimated 6 to 7 months.

“It’s really hard, it’s very emotional, it’s a very emotional time,” she said.

“[My daughter] lights up when she sees me when I come into the room. Now I’m going to be gone for a little while,” said Captain Bride as he held his daughter Emory.

Bride will not only miss out on much of Emory’s growth, but also her little brother or sister growing inside Sarah’s womb.

“They’re going to put the sonogram in the envelope and so hopefully we’ll be in a place where I can Skype her and then we’ll look at the envelope together and find out what we’re having,” said Captain Bride.

The sacrifice is great for both Marines and their families, but their mission is our freedom.

“It’s sad, but we’re proud,” said Captain Tice. “We ask ourselves, if not us then who else?”

The 13th MEU, Marine Air Ground Task Force has approximately 2,400 Marines and sailors. The unit will deploy with the Boxer Amphibious Ready group, based out of Naval Base San Diego.