Eugene area Marines called to duty.
Robert and Ashlee McCan will celebrate their one-month anniversary on Wednesday - but it's sure to be bittersweet.
Robert McCan is among 146 reservists ordered to report to the U.S. Marine Reserve Center in Eugene this morning for up to 12 months of active duty - destination unknown but most likely somewhere in the Middle East.
The local reservists, members of Company A of the 6th Engineering Support Battalion, learned of their orders over the weekend. McCan, 23, said he has no idea where he'll be on his anniversary - much less in a few weeks or months.
"Not even my squad leader knows," he said Monday.
The call-up involves an estimated 2,000 reservists in the 6th Battalion, including 280 based in Portland. The battalion also has units in California, Arizona, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Delaware.
It's part of Operation Enduring Freedom, established by President Bush to fight terrorists and terrorist networks and disrupt their activities.
The local company includes former active Marines and others who have served only in the Reserve, said Capt. Devin Karamanos in Eugene. They range from 18 to 35 years in age and include four women, he said.
It's the first active duty call for local reservists since the Persian Gulf War, when more than 31,000 Marine reservists across the country were mobilized.
The company has specialists in equipment operation and repair, vehicle transport and communication operations. Duties can range from road construction to building helicopter pads. About 80 of the reservists are classified as "combat engineers" who could reasonably expect to see duty in combat areas.
The reservists will be deployed in conjunction with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force based in Camp Pendleton, Calif.
The Navy is deploying a seven-ship armada with up to 7,000 Marines from Camp Pendleton, matching a force already under way from the East Coast. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that Oregon reservists will be a part of that armada, said Capt. Jeff Pool of Marine Forces Reserve headquarters in New Orleans.
Area reservists could be deployed at a later date or to a different location, Pool said.
In Eugene, Karamanos said higher-ups have told the company that it's being deployed "as part of a large Marine force currently repositioning to Southwest Asia for possible future contingency operations in support of the global war against terrorism."
Unlike National Guardsmen, who can be activated by a state's governor, Marine Reserves can only be mobilized by presidential order. Active duty typically lasts up to 12 months, though the secretary of the Navy can order up to another 12 months.
It's most probable that the current call-up will last a year, Pool said.
Local commanders didn't know Monday when the unit will leave Eugene, or whether it will be sent for training exercises somewhere before final deployment, Karamanos said. After completing boot camp and occupational skill training, most Marine reservists train one weekend a month and two weeks a year.
While the exact timing was a surprise, the call-up wasn't unexpected, Karamanos said. "We've been preaching to them for the last several months that they need to be ready for mobilization and have their personal affairs in order," he said.
For the most part, the company's mood "has been general excitement to deal with whatever the country asks of them, both as Marines and as citizens," he said.
McCan, the newlywed, comes from a family with a long history of military service. He said he's ready to serve his country as best he can, but he also said he's nervous.
"In the back of my mind, I knew this could happen, but in the front of my mind I was hoping it wouldn't," he said. "Anyone who tells you they want to go to war is a liar."
McCan stopped by the Marine Reserve Center on Monday to sign papers directing most of his active-duty pay to a new bank account set up in his wife's name. "There's just more at stake now," he said of falling in love and getting married.
He said a corporal told him to bring plenty of reading material, "because there's probably going to be a lot of down time." He said he's packed his Tom Clancy novels and several books by his favorite fantasy author, Mercedes Lackey.
He expects to be shipped out overseas, but told his wife there's always a chance he'll be assigned garrison duty somewhere else in the United States.
Ashlee McCan, 18, said she's proud of her husband "because he's standing up for his country." But she said she's terrified of losing him, and confused by the whole situation in Iraq and the Middle East.
"If we don't do something now, maybe they (terrorists) hit us again in a couple of months," she said. "I just wish we wouldn't have to do it."
ACTIVE DUTY CALL-UP
Answers for reservists of Company A and their families are on the Internet.
ACTIVE DUTY CALL-UP Answers for reservists of Company A and their families are on the Internet. Web site: mcrsc.mfr.usmc.mil/Mob/MobFAQs.asp Rob and Ashlee McCan visited the Marine Reserve office in Eugene on Monday. He reports for duty today. PAUL CARTER / The Register-Guard INSIDE A Marine Corps amphibious assault force is getting ready to leave the West Coast, matching a similar task force that left the East Coast / 6A
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|Title Annotation:||Active: Reservists got orders over the weekend.; General News|
|Publication:||The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)|
|Date:||Jan 14, 2003|
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