Marine wife handles a wave of emotions

April 13,2006

As Rebecca Schille, 20, drove her black pickup truck onto Camp Lejeune, she cried.

A wave of emotions swept over her as she awaited the return of her husband, Lance Cpl. Ronald Schille, from Iraq along with more than 900 Marines and sailors with 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines, 2nd Marine Division Wednesday.

While Rebecca Schille was elated about her husband's return, she felt anxious that the battalion was three hours late. The butterflies flew in the pit of her stomach at the thought of seeing a husband she had been married to for only a year.

But mostly, she felt relieved that she would have someone to hold her hand while she battles cancer.

"I am just waiting on him to get home before I go have surgery," she said. "It's hard. We're taking it in strides."

After being diagnosed with thyroid cancer in December, Schille had to tell her husband the bad news over the phone.

"We've tried not to focus on it since then, tried to focus on the positive things, like our new lives together as a married couple," Rebecca Schille said.

Her mother battled the same type of cancer 20 years ago and won, so they knew she had the same chance to beat it, she said.

"My wife, she's a fighter," Ronald Schille said after his return. "I knew I had a job to do and that we would make it through this. And we will."

Ericka Young didn't wait alone for her husband, Lance Cpl. Ben Young, to arrive.

"I'm a little nervous, since he is meeting his son for the first time," she said. "I don't know how he's going to react, jumping into being a daddy."

A few hours later, 4-month old Andrew was sitting happily in his daddy's arms.

"I don't know how to describe it," Ben Young. "I'm wordless."

The two said it was their belief in God that helped get them through.

"Whenever one of us felt down, we'd lift the other one up," Ben Young said.

Something that also helped the two couples, who are good friends, get through the deployment was support from one another.

"Whenever they leave, all of our friends leave," Rebecca Schille said. "You're not just crying for your husband when you leave, you're crying for everyone - for family."

The battalion spent seven months in Iraq supporting the growth of the Iraqi Security Forces, Maj. Dan Sullivan, battalion executive officer, said.

"We were keeping the wolves at bay until the government strengthens itself and gets back on its feet," Sullivan said. "The job of every infantry battalion is to hold the line."

The battalion made a big difference, he said.

"It is hugely frustrating not being able to see a full surrender," Sullivan said. "There are a lot of bad guys definitely energized to derail democracy. The good news is the Iraqis are remaining tough.

"When you look at the sacrifices we've made and what has come of it, it's all worth it."

The battalion lost 11 Marines who were killed in action, and two who were died from non-hostile causes. About 100 received a purple heart, Sullivan said.