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unhappycamper Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jan-12-09 07:50 AM
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13th MEU departs San Diego for deployment
13th MEU departs San Diego for deployment
By Gidget Fuentes - Staff writer
Posted : Sunday Jan 11, 2009 17:26:02 EST

SAN DIEGO As sailors and Marines clung tightly to their loved ones in the Friday morning chill, in the final moments before boarding their ship, Army veteran Robert Ponce Sr. struggled to hold back the tears.

His son, Gunnery Sgt. Robert Ponce, Jr. one of three sons in the Ponce family, all Marines spent final personal moments with his large clan gathered on Pier 13, where the amphibious assault ship Boxer waited to push away from its berth.

Its hard to see them go, Ponce Sr. said.

The morning departure marked the start of yet another overseas deployment for the Ponce family, as well as for more than 4,000 sailors and Marines with the Boxer Expeditionary Strike Group and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit. A few months ago, Ponce Sr. had traveled from his Illinois home to San Diego to welcome home another son, a staff sergeant, who returned with his Camp Pendleton unit. A third son, also a staff sergeant, works in Virginia.

For Ponce Sr., who spent eight years in the Army, including a Vietnam combat tour with the 101st Airborne Division, the goodbyes are never easy.

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