View Full Version : More than 350 Marines arrive in the first homecoming of Pendleton troops.

05-08-03, 09:46 PM
Thursday, May 8, 2003
Many happy returns
More than 350 Marines arrive in the first homecoming of Pendleton troops.

The Orange County Register

CAMP PENDLETON - More than 350 Marines sprinted toward their spouses, children, parents - and in two cases, their dogs - early Wednesday during the first homecoming of Camp Pendleton Marines from the war in Iraq.

A little after 1:30 a.m., children out way past their bedtime and their parents and grandparents cheered wildly when six busloads of Marines pulled onto the airstrip.

As soon as the first door opened, Lance Cpl. Jesse Madden, 21, of Staten Island, N.Y., darted toward a crowd of smiling family members with his arms raised.

"Hoo-ah," Madden screamed.

The celebration was the first of several likely Camp Pendleton homecomings.

Tens of thousands of Marines are still in Iraq, Kuwait and other parts of the region. Officials won't say which unit will come home next.

On Wednesday, the "Stingers" helicopter squadron arrived to the song "Born in the USA." Marines hugged wives, kissed children and ate chocolate-chip cookies and pepperoni pizza.

They also remembered that they came home two Marines short.

Capts. Benjamin W. Sammis, 29, of Rehoboth, Mass., and Travis Ford, 30, of Ogallala, Neb., were killed when their AH-1W Super Cobra helicopter crashed into a tower after hitting a target near Baghdad.

During a moment of silence, Lt. Col. Stephen Heywood, commanding officer of the Stingers, wiped away tears.

"They paid the ultimate price and we should always remember that," he said.

CONTACT US: (714) 796-7722 or brams@ocregister.com


WITH ARMS WIDE OPEN: Capt. Joshua Busby, 29, of San Clemente greets his wife, Wendy, outside a hangar at Camp Pendleton after returning from Iraq early Wednesday. Busby was among a few hundred Marines coming home from military action.