CAMP PATRIOT, Kuwait -- After more than eight months deployed, the Marines and Sailors of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) are finally making preparations to head home. After finishing up their role in Operation Iraqi Freedom, the MEU conducted its end-of-deployment washdown at Camps Patriot and Doha in Kuwait. Leaving Camp Lejeune in August of last year, the MEU has conducted operations and exercises in Kosovo, Djibouti, Kenya, Spain, Italy, and other regions in the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility. Initially scheduled to return on March 15, the MEU was extended indefinitely and went ashore in support of the Coalition Forces in Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. With the MEU's mission in Iraq complete, it has now begun the final phase of the deployment -- the washdown. Prior to returning to USS Nassau Amphibious Ready Group, the MEU must clean all equipment, vehicles and gear. The MEU will go through an agricultural test to ensure that no dirt, slime or grime is brought back onto the USS Nassau Amphibious Ready Group vessels, and ultimately back to the States. With the completion of the wash down, the MEU and the ARG will begin its well-earned journey home.