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02-11-08, 03:05 PM #1
Hundreds Of Homebound Marines Stuck In N.H.
Hundreds Of Homebound Marines Stuck In N.H.
John McCain's Youngest Son Among Stranded Marines
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. (WBZ) ― A plane carrying hundreds of Marines from Iraq to Maine was forced to make an unscheduled landing in New Hampshire early Monday morning.
One of them was Jimmy McCain, presidential candidate John McCain's youngest son.
A spokesperson at Pease International Airport in Portsmouth told WBZ a World Airways MD-11 with 300 Marines was flying from Iraq to Bangor, when high winds caused problems with the plane's air flaps around 2:30 a.m.
The plane landed at 3 a.m. No one was hurt. The crew was planning to re-fuel in Bangor before heading on to Camp Pendelton in San Diego, California.
Jimmy McCain has not spoken to reporters. There has been no comment yet from Sen. McCain or his campaign.
Wal-Mart and the Greenland House of Pizza have brought in food for the Marines. Whaleback, a local technology company, is providing free phone service for them so they can call their families. Children have also brought in gift baskets.
Families from Haverhill and West Roxbury have travelled to Portsmouth for the day for unexpected reunions with their loved ones.
It's not clear how long it will take to repair the plane.
02-11-08, 03:09 PM #2
Plane Carrying Marines Makes Emergency Landing In N.H.
Some Marines Unexpectedly Reunited With Families
POSTED: 7:07 am EST February 11, 2008
UPDATED: 12:46 pm EST February 11, 2008
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. -- A plan transporting about 300 Marines had to make an emergency landing in Portsmouth on Monday morning, giving some of them unexpected family reunions.
The plane carrying the 1st Battalion, 1st Marines Alpha & Bravo Company was en route to Camp Pendleton, Calif., when strong winds forced it to land at Pease International Tradeport at about 3 a.m.
For most of the Marines, it was just another delay on a long road home, but for a fortunate few, they're already home.
"It's awesome," said Nancy Assenza, whose son, Lance Cpl. Joe Assenza, was on the flight. "I'm so glad he's home. Even if we didn't get to see him, just knowing that he's home, but it's even more special now that we got to see him."
The Assenza family brought along a surprise in their van -- Joe Assenza's dog, which he took in to greet his fellow Marines.
"It's awesome," Joe Assenza said. "I miss my dog a lot."
"It's been rough," said his sister, Jennifer Assenza. "Both my brothers are in the service. I've been the only kid at home. It's good to see him, be around him, hug him."
The plane attempted to land in Bangor, Maine, for fuel, but high winds damaged it. The winds weren't as bad at Pease, so it diverted there.
Gretchen Knowles, 8, of Rye, N.H., was roused out of bed early for a surprise visit with her uncle, Lt. Sam Bowlby.
"It's 5 in the morning, and I said, 'Call her and wake her up. Get the kid out of bed,'" Bowlby said. "What a great opportunity."
The Marines just completed a seven-month tour of duty in Iraq, and most said they were on their second or third tour. All said that conditions are improving in Iraq.
02-12-08, 09:24 AM #3
Local: A surprise visit Diverted flight gives Marines unexpected family reunions
By Terry Date and Penny Williams
A flight carrying 300 Marines made an emergency landing in Portsmouth yesterday morning, giving two local servicemen surprise reunions with their families on their way back from Iraq.
Lance Cpl. Mack Bushell, 24, of Windham awakened his mom with a surprise call at 4:30 a.m. on a borrowed cell phone, about 90 minutes after landing. The plane was supposed to land in Maine, but was diverted due to heavy wind.
"Mom, I'm in your neck of the woods, in Portsmouth," he said.
"Oh my God," Cindy Bushell said.
She wanted to drive to Portsmouth immediately, but Mack told her to wait since he didn't know if he would be waylaid at Pease International Tradeport for five minutes or five hours.
"He sounded wonderful," Cindy said.
The last time she saw him was in June, and she didn't expect to see him again until March 8. The battalion members were on their way to Camp Pendleton in California.
Lance Cpl. Joseph Assenza of Sandown also was on yesterday's flight.
He had called his parents late Saturday night, telling them he would be stopping briefly in Bangor, Maine, on his way to Camp Pendleton.
"We'd been hearing they were coming home any day for several days, and so we were so excited we were actually going to get to see him," said his mother, Nancy Assenza. "We saw him last a little over seven months ago when his plane stopped in Bangor on his flight from Camp Pendleton to Iraq for his deployment."
Assenza and daughter Jennifer grabbed a few hours of sleep on Sunday night and left Sandown early yesterday morning to make the long drive to Bangor to meet Joseph.
"We were almost to Portland when my cell phone rang, and it was my brother saying he was at Pease in Portsmouth, not at Bangor," Jennifer said. "We turned around and headed back down the road, hoping to get there before his plane took off."
Nancy said they rushed back, and all the while she kept praying "please let us get there in time to see him." They arrived around 5 a.m. and discovered their prayers had been answered, as his plane would be grounded for some time for repairs, she said.
The family got to spend the day together, an unexpected bonus. The family dog, Sunny, had made the trip with them, and Nancy said she was a big hit with her son's buddies.
"My son kept hugging Sunny, and I don't think she has ever been patted so much nor had that much attention before," she said. "I guess the guys didn't get to see pets while they were deployed in Iraq."
The family visited until the Marines were told they were being taken to local motels because the plane's repairs required an overnight stay. Nancy said she would have loved to stay longer, but she had to work last night and had to get some rest.
"We will get to see him in March," she said. "He will be coming home on the 8th for his leave."
The Bushells were planning to spend some time with Mack last night in Portsmouth.
Through persistent calls to the New Hampshire Air National Guard office yesterday, Cindy Bushell found out that her son and the rest of the Marines were staying overnight at the Best Western in Portsmouth while the plane underwent repairs. They were to leave at 4 a.m. today.
Among the Marines was Jim McCain, the son of Arizona senator and Republican presidential candidate John McCain, Cindy said.
Cindy and her daughters, Jessica, 22, and Julia, 12, hopped in the car about 5 p.m. yesterday to go visit Mack.
"I'll probably cry," Cindy said when asked what she'd do upon seeing her son. "Give him a hug and look in his eyes."
Jessica, a recruitment specialist for Osram Sylvania headquarters in Danvers, Mass., and Julia, a middle school student, said they would follow suit.
"Oh, I'm definitely going to run up and hug him, and probably embarrass him," Jessica said.
After the visit last night, Cindy said the visit was everything she expected.
"It was very joyful and upbeat," she said. "They (the Marines) were really jazzed.
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