Camp Pendleton Marines deploy to Afghanistan; scheduled to return late this year

Final deployment of Operation Enduring Freedom

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - About 140 Camp Pendleton Marines left for Afghanistan Monday morning.

Around half of the I Marine Expeditionary Force's forward command element's main body said goodbye to their family and friends before departing for Camp Bastion and Camp Leatherneck on Monday.

For 10-year-old Lyndsi Belyeu, the Marine who mattered most to her was her dad, Col. Grady Belyeu.

While she's actually 10 years old, she said she is eleven because she already celebrated her birthday so her dad could be there.

"I just don't want him to go," she said. "I love my dad very much. I really love him so much. I just don't want him to go."

Col. Belyeu has been in the Marine Corps for 28 years, and he said it hasn't always been easy.

"The president says it's time to wrap it up, it's time to wrap it up. We've been at war for a long time, this nation has, and I think we are tired," he said.

Upon arriving in Afghanistan, they are scheduled to relieve Marines and sailors from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina in both Helmand and Nimroz provinces.

Camp Pendleton public affairs officials said I Marine Expeditionary Force, which includes 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.

They are scheduled to return late this year, which would be in time for Col. Belyeu to celebrate his daughter's next birthday.

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