Families say goodbye to troops heading to Afghanistan

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CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — About 140 Camp Pendleton Marines said goodbye to family and friends early Monday and departed for Afghanistan, where they will remain until late this year.

The deploying Marines are part of the forward command of I Marine Expeditionary Force. In coming weeks, 4,000-plus Marines and sailors of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force will depart for Afghanistan from Camp Pendleton. Some will spend a year in Afghanistan; others, depending on their job descriptions, seven months.

Upon their arrival at Camp Bastion and Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan, they are scheduled to relieve Marines and sailors from Camp Lejeune, N.C., in both Helmand and Nimroz provinces.

Camp Pendleton public affairs officials said I Marine Expeditionary Force, which include more than 4,000 Marines and sailors from 1st Marine Division, 1st Marine Logistics Group and 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, would be the last major Marine Corps command to deploy to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

By the end of the year, U.S. combat forces are set to be out of Afghanistan — after a 13-year war that began after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.

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