News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

May 8, 2009

Members of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 24th Marines depart Terre Haute

TERRE HAUTE — About 30 motorcycles, many driven by military veterans, escorted four buses Thursday containing more than 150 members of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 24th Marines to Terre Haute International Airport-Hulman Field.

“We want to show respect for the individuals going overseas. We want to show respect for what they do. I know what they are going through,” said Keith Jacks, 51, of Clinton.

Company K is to undergo about six months of pre-deployment training before departing for Iraq in the fall. The Marines will be deployed in Iraq for a minimum of seven months and will be on active duty for about 13 months.

It is the first full deployment of Company K since 2004. In March 2006, more than 70 Marines in the company were deployed to Iraq for a year-long duty to augment other Marine infantry units in the western province of Al Anbar, about 50 miles west of Baghdad.

Jacks is a “Marine Rider” and a member of “Patriot Guard Riders.” He served Thursday as ride captain, in charge of coordinating the motorcycle escort, which also included Post 328 American Legion Riders. Jacks was a sergeant in the Marine Corps, serving from 1976 to 1986.

Those same groups, numbering about 530 riders, escorted more than 50 members of Company K back into Terre Haute in August 2007.

During this sendoff, Terre Haute Fire Department trucks followed behind the buses, while Terre Haute police blocked traffic along the route from near Deming Park to U.S. 40, then to Indiana 46 and onto Indiana 42 to the airport.

At noon, the Marines formed a line, much like a fire bucket brigade, to quickly load green duffel bags onto an AirTran Boeing 737-700, which took off just after 1 p.m. en route to California.

Staff Sgt. Bart Cole, 30, from Clinton County, has served in the Marine Corps since 1998. This is his third deployment to Iraq. “I do mentor the young Marines and lead them through their training,” Cole said prior to takeoff.

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