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thedrifter
03-30-06, 06:03 PM
Marines welcomed home by family and friends
by MATTHEW McGRATH
Posted: 2006-03-30

Family and friends gathered on the drill deck at the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Sixth Motor Transport Battalion's headquarters in Lincroft as they waited for 14 Marines to return from a tour of duty in Iraq on Wednesday, March 22.

The Marines were deployed nine months ago, but they spent seven of those months supporting combat operations in Falluja, Iraq, Staff Sergeant Jack Santelli said.

For the most part, the drill deck was filled with quiet discussion as those who were left behind waited for their loved ones to return.

The wait was longer than expected as the bus the Marines were traveling in was delayed in Virginia due to inclement weather.

Stephanie Acevado from Paterson was waiting for her 20-year-old husband Lance Corporal Marcelo Acevado, with her in-laws.

When the announcement came that the Marines would be walking through the doors at any moment she was anxiously jumping for joy.

Eric Ortiz of Elizabeth was excited that his older brother Lance Corporal Diego Angel would be returning so they could play baseball in the park once again.

“I remember when he sent a Valentine's Day card home…he said he couldn't wait to see us again,” Ortiz said.

And the father of Lance Corporal John Matthew Walters of Riverside, Michael Walter said, “I'm ecstatic.”

“My son was hurt when and [Improvised Explosive Device] hit his truck,” he added. Walters broke his nose and had shrapnel lodged in his face, and he received the Purple Heart.

Also the Leathernecks motorcycle group joined the crowd of anxious family members on the drill deck.

One biker and former Marine, who goes by the road name “Roadblock,” said he was there to see the Marines off and to welcome them home.

“It's important for me to welcome these guys home because it was very different for me,” he said.

He said he returned from his four-year enlistment in the Marines in 1966. “We were not welcome by the public…They called us baby and women killers,” he said.

“As long as I breathe I will never let that happen again,” he added.

Roadblock said the troubles serviceman faced through the 1960s and 1970s are getting better. “But, it's not there yet,” he said.

For him, supporting the troops is not about yellow car magnets and constant flag waving. “Everyone has a day-to-day life, but patriotism should be expressed when its needed,” Roadblock said.

“Patriotism is saying 'thank you,'” he added. “If you say 'thank you' it means a lot.”

Santelli said that the Marines receive a lot of community support from the local residents and businesses whether it for the Marines' Toys for Tots program or for the troops stationed in Lincroft.

The 14 Marines that returned have the option to stay on active duty until June 30. Aside from playing baseball will his little brother Angel will be taking the option to stay on until his active duty terminates at which point he will return to his civilian job at Smith Barney as a security officer.

Ellie