Oklahoma Marine unit prepares for deployment

Sunday, January 9th 2005, 4:02 pm
By: News On 6

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. (AP) _ About 25 Marine Reserves from a Broken Arrow-based unit will leave Monday for training before being deployed to Iraq.

The members of the Anti-Tank Company, TOW Section, are departing for two months of training at Twentynine Palms Marine Air Ground Center in California.

Marine Cpl. David Dirkschneider held his 8-month-old daughter Saturday and thought of all her milestones he will miss when his unit is deployed.

``She's what gives me butterflies,'' said Dirkschneider, kissing Alli on her forehead during a Marine Family Day luncheon.

``I won't be here for her first words or her first steps, but I have to put that at the back of my mind,'' the Oklahoma City resident said. ``We have an important job to do over there.''

Once sent to Iraq, the group will augment Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, II Marine Expeditionary Force, which is based out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

The section is one of nine based in Broken Arrow and the only one that hadn't been deployed, Capt. Jennifer Morse-Anthis said. They have orders for one year.

Cpl. Bobby Conn said they're eager to put their training to use.

``We've been on the sidelines up until now, so it's our turn to contribute,'' he said. ``I believe strongly in what our country is doing over there.''

Conn of Oklahoma City is leaving behind his fiance, Dena Crooks, who will focus on college while he's gone.

``I'm scared for him, but seeing him in his uniform makes me very proud,'' Crooks said. ``I just pray he'll come home safe.''

Cpl. Philip West is one of two Marines in the section who has already served in Iraq.

The Tulsan was stationed there from May to September 2003 with a different section and was transferred to this one when he volunteered to go back.

``I don't have a wife or kids to keep me here,'' he said. ``I know I can be put to good use.''

West said he isn't experiencing the same nervousness that he felt before his first deployment.

``I know what I'm getting into,'' he said. ``I don't regret my decision, but I can't say the same for my parents. They're still nervous for me.''

``Nervous, but proud'' feelings echoed from many parents and family members at the luncheon.

Tulsans Susie and George Cripps said they have been preparing themselves to say goodbye to their son, Lance Cpl. Brian Cripps.

``It's very hard,'' Susie Cripps said. ``But I know it's something he wants to do.''