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Monday, September 04, 2006

Things you'll never see.

Pierce Bush, FIJI brother turn into

Pierce Bush, Marine Rifleman

Marine battalion heads to Iraq for fourth time

Tears flow as loved ones bid goodbye to unit members in Twentynine Palms
John Koopman, Chronicle Staff Writer

Sunday, September 3, 2006

(09-03) 04:00 PDT Twentynine Palms -- Sometimes, there are just no words.

In a parking lot baked by the desert sun, a young Marine stands in line waiting to get on a bus. A young woman walks with him. They hold hands. They stare intently into each other's eyes, trying to communicate something that cannot be said. Her hand grips his arm, her knuckles white. Finally, they reach the door. He gives her one last kiss.

It's a long kiss, but the men behind him say nothing. They are not in a hurry. The bus, painted white with no markings, will take the young lover and his buddies to an Air Force base. They will board a passenger jet and make their way to Kuwait. And then, Iraq.

It's a scene played out regularly at the world's largest Marine base, on the southern edge of the Mojave Desert. The war in Iraq has been going on for less than four years, but this is the fourth time these Marines -- members of the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment -- will be deployed there.

"This is the second time we've gone through this," said Jaime Pater, 28, the wife of a Marine warrant officer. "It doesn't get any easier."

Pater is pregnant with the couple's second child, due in October. Her husband, Frank, will miss the birth.

"I just can't imagine him not being here when the baby is born," she said, holding her tummy with both hands. "When our first son, Matthew, was born, Frank left a week later. But at least he was there for the birth."

Kelli Coehlo is also pregnant. She's 19. She's saying goodbye to her husband, Joseph Coehlo, a 22-year-old lance corporal on his way to Iraq for the first time. The baby is their first, a girl to be named Kaylee.

"This is hard, really hard," she said, her face stained with tears. "It's harder than I thought."

As the war in Iraq winds through its fourth year, more and more soldiers and Marines are cycling in and out of that country. It's difficult to find a Marine at Twentynine Palms who has not been there at least once. Many have been there twice or more.

posted by Steve @ 5:14:00 PM

5:14:00 PM

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