Service men and women put their lives and relationships on the line every day. Time away from home, family and friends can get difficult. In February 2009, now retired Marine Lt. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson and retired Marine Sgt. Maj. Ernest K. Hoopii reported for duty with the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB) and deployed to Helmand Province, Afghanistan as Task Force Leatherneck.

Throughout the year in Afghanistan, Marines and Sailors created unbreakable bonds in combat in the worst, most challenging moments, Nicholson said. 2nd MEB-Afghanistan will recognize its 10-year anniversary by gathering for a reunion in May of 2020 in Quantico, Virginia.

In December of 2008, Nicholson and Hoopii were given the directive by the II Marine Expeditionary Force command to form a team that would deploy to Afghanistan. The advance party would leave as early as February and the rest of the unit would leave in April.

“We had very little time,” Nicholson said. “It was quite a challenge to build and put a team together. We trained Marines and deployed as the first large scale organization (to Afghanistan).”

According to Nicholson and Hoopii, they pulled Marines from across the country and from the Marine Corps Reserve to form the team of 11,000 Marines and Sailors. They were also the first unit in Afghanistan that used a female engagement team.

By spring of 2009, 2nd MEB-Afghanistan departed the states and made their way to Helmand Province. The Marines managed to push the enemy out of the area and were able to expand their influence to allow the people of Afghanistan to return home, Hoopii said.

During that year in Afghanistan, 2nd MEB lost 96 Marines and Sailors. Hoopii noted that friendships and bonds were formed during this long, hard, tough time.

“Every day was a battle, even if there wasn’t a fight,” Hoopii said. “We will be bringing back as many of the Marines and Sailors as we can to this reunion but also the families of those 96. Coming together for this reunion will be healing for lot of us.”

Nicholson stated that as the leaders of 2nd MEB-Afghanistan, they will do everything they can to reunite the Marines and Sailors from this deployment. He also asks the warriors to return to honor the memory of their fallen and also honor the achievements of their battalions.

“Whether you were a private or a commanding officer, we want you back,” said Nicholson “You are important and part of the team.”

The former commanding general and sergeant major of 2nd MEB-Afghanistan extend a personal invitation to the Marines and Sailors they deployed with to join them in Quantico, Virginia from May 1 to 3, 2020, for a variety of events. More information on the 10-year reunion is available at, on the “Together We Served” website or the Leatherneck and Marine Corps Gazette magazine home page under reunions.

To register, email