Bessemer Marine meets son for first time as group returns from year-long deployment

Local News

BESSEMER, Ala. (WIAT) — After being away for over a year, U.S. Marines from Bessemer with Company E, 4th Combat Engineer Battalion in support of 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, returned home from deployment Friday.

The unit had been authorized to return back to the U.S. after conducting multiple training and mission rehearsals ranging from prerequisite stateside service-level training exercises to battalion size exercises and operations in five countries across three continents with the 3rd Marine Division in Okinawa, Japan, from June 2019 to May.

While back home, Sgt. Ray McCollum met his son, Barrett, for the first time. Barrett was born while McCollum was overseas and due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he wasn’t able to see Barrett be born.

“Just getting back and getting to here and getting to see him is hard to explain,” McCollum said. “I can not put it into words.”

Stationed across New England and New York, 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, is a reserve infantry unit with 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve. Since World War II, they have regularly operated alongside the active component, seamlessly integrating during exercises and operations.

The battalion’s history includes actions in Kwajalein, the Battle of Iwo Jima, the Battle of Saipan, the Battle of Tinian, the Korean War, the Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan. After completing numerous exercises in preparation to deploy, 1st Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, traveled to Japan to execute a six-month deployment under the Unit Deployment Program from October 2019 to May. The UDP rotates Marine units from the U.S. to 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, and is designed to increase the readiness of the units by exposing them to realistic, relevant training environments throughout the Indo-Pacific.


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