Story/photo LCpl. Michael Nerl
Third Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion displayed pride in their Operation Iraqi Freedom deployments, March 15, when they unveiled a rocked-propelled grenade launcher display at their battalion headquarters.
The RPG-7 was a war trophy recovered in 2003 during the battalion's first deployment in support of OIF, said Lt. Col. Ken Kassner, the battalion commander, and a native of Coupland, Texas.
"We recovered the RPG during the battalion's first OIF deployment in 2003," said Kassner. "It was displayed to honor all the Marines and sailors who so valiantly served this battalion during all the OIF deployments."
Kassner said the unveiling was special for multiple reasons.
Luckily, the former battalion and company commanders who recovered the RPG were both aboard the Combat Center at the same time. Brig. Gen. H. Stacy Clardy III, then a lieutenant colonel, was the 'Wolfpack' commander, while Maj. Jon Custis, then a captain, was the company commander. Custis is now the executive officer of 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, from Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Kassner said it was an honor for him to be involved in the unveiling.
"I have made three of the battalion's five deployments," he said. "I know first hand the many heroic contributions made by all the Wolfpack Marines and sailors to the war effort."
Clardy, now the Combat Center's commanding general, told those in attendance why the war trophy was chosen.
"All the companies at the time suggested different weapons," said the former battalion commander, and native of Pawleys Island, S. C. "We chose it over the RPK, mortar and other weapons to take home because it was the most dangerous one.
"We faced its capabilities throughout the entire deployment," he said.
Clardy also thanked the Marines and sailors both past and present who have made 3rd LAR the outstanding unit it is today.
"The battalion is as good, or better, than it was when I was here," he said.
Cpl. Robert Ray, an optics mechanic with the battalion's Headquarters and Service Company, said the RPG will serve as a good historical link for current and future unit members.
"It's really important to remember where you came from," said the Kenton, Ohio native. "Marines have been earning names like 'Devil Dog' because of what we've done.
"Marines have built a reputation and trust for doing what we do and doing it well," he said. "It's only fitting that we pay tribute to those who went before us."