June 23, 2018
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Topsham-based Marines stopping at BIA on way to Afghanistan

Courtesy of Ann Marie Rololo Smyth
Courtesy of Ann Marie Rololo Smyth
Lance Cpl. Thomas Smyth, who serves with Alpha Company of the 1st Battalion, 25th Marines, based in Topsham, and his mother Ann Marie Rololo Smyth of Orono in an undated photograph.
By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — A reserve infantry battalion of Marines based in southern Maine was due to stop over at Bangor International Airport late Wednesday night while en route to the war zone in Afghanistan.

Orono resident Anne Marie Rotolo Smyth said Wednesday afternoon that she would be heading to the airport to see her 23-year-old son, Lance Cpl. Thomas Smyth, who serves with Alpha Company of the 1st Battalion, 25th Marines, based in Topsham.

“They were supposed to come in yesterday, but he texted me to say they were postponed” and would be arriving around 11 p.m. Wednesday, she said. “I will just go out tonight at 10 o’clock just to wait to see him.”

She may have a homemade chocolate chip bundt cake in her hands — his favorite — or something else chocolate for him and his buddies to share before leaving Maine.

“He loves chocolate,” Rotolo Smyth said.

The Alpha Company Marines, who fall under the 25th Marine Regiment in the 4th Marine Division, have been training at Camp Pendleton in California since May.

“They’re reservists who were activated” to serve overseas, said Staff Sgt. Isaias Gonzales, who is stationed at the Marine Corps Reserve Training Center in Topsham. “It’s over 100 Marines. Mostly they’re from Maine, but we have Marines from Massachusetts and New Hampshire, New York and Tennessee.”

A story in the Sun Journal in May about the group leaving for California said that 150 Marines would be heading to Afghanistan to mentor the Afghan military in security and counterinsurgency operations, led by Company commander Maj. Matt Dilullo.

Rotolo Smyth said her son told her that his group would be working with the Afghans.

Two of her sons, Thomas and Cpl. Joseph Smyth, 25, followed in the footsteps of their father, she said. Both graduated from Orono High School, both played hockey and soccer, and Joseph Smyth “went to Iraq and just came back from Afghanistan.”

This will be Thomas Smyth’s first trip overseas, his mother said.

“He’s a gunner. He plays with the big guns; him and his brother both do that,” she said, adding that her younger son also is an interpreter.

Her son’s unit is scheduled to return to Maine in April 2012.

“What I am going to do is say a lot of prayers” while he is overseas, Rotolo Smyth said. “It’s not going to be easy. It will be tough on him, too. He won’t be here for Christmas and he won’t [be] here for his birthday.”

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