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03-17-09, 08:30 AM
Marines back from Iraq
Eight Marines from the Mobile Maintenance Assist Team arrive home from a two-month tour of Iraq.
Ricki Barker ricki.barker@albanyherald.com

ALBANY — Alicia Labadie waited 13 hours for her husband, USMC Staff Seargent Christopher Labadie, to return home from his two-month tour of duty in Iraq with the Mobile Maintenance Assist Team (MMAT). Two of those hours were spent in the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport with their two sons, Coleton and Bradley, while they waited out multiple flight delays.

When the flight landed and the boys saw their father, Coleton immediately leapt into his father’s arms and held on tight.

“I didn’t tell them (Coleton and Bradley) that their daddy was going to be here,” said Alicia Labadie. “I told them we were here for their aunt so it would be a surprise.”

Bradley wasn’t too happy about being fooled. When asked if he enjoyed being surprised by the return of his father he responded with a very sincere “no.”

“A lie is still a lie, I guess,” the young mom said as she laughed and shrugged.

This trip was the third to Iraq for Staff Sgt. Labadie, and his wife said it was a relief to have him back. She also noted that it doesn’t get any easier watching him leave.

“Our youngest had a rough time with it,” said Alicia Labadie motioning to Coleton, who was still hugging tightly to his father’s neck. “It was a lot easier this time because he was able to keep in touch with us more.”

Staff Sgt. Labadie said he was relieved to finally be home with his family.

“It always feels good to be back home,” he said. “There was a lot of hard days over there and a lot of busy work. Just a normal Marine life.”

According to Maj. Ricardo Matus, Company Commander of Headquarters and Service Company East of Marine Corps Logistics Command, the work that the Marines in MMAT are doing is extremely important.

The unit consists of 52 Marines with the skills to work on 17 different ground weapons systems and military vehicles, specifically mine resistant ambush protected vehicles.

“They go down there and help assist with the maintenance part of the mission,” said Matus. “It’s very important what they do because it gives us a good idea what the equipment looks like and helps us know what exactly needs to be done to keep the equipment maintained for our war fighters.”

Matus says that having a physical presence on the battlefield that can assess the equipment saves time and money.

“I look forward to sleeping in now,” joked Alicia Labadie with her husband. “He has promised the kids that if they were good for me while he was gone that he would take them to Chuck E. Cheese’s.”