Jackson 04/28/08
Celebrations Welcome Marines Returning from Iraq

Updated: April 28, 2008 10:53 PM

By Roslyn Anderson

A homecoming Monday for marines returning from service in Iraq.

The U.S. Marine Corp Charlie Company Anti-Terrorism Battalion is back on Mississippi soil.

It's a day the marines and their families have been looking forward to for months.

The Anti Terrorism Battalion touched down at Jackson Evers International Airport around 4:30 p.m.

Jackson Police Department motorcycle engines roar escorting 48 marines to the Armed Forces Reserve Training Center on Officer Thomas Cathings Sr. Drive.

There anxious loved ones await their arrival, greeting the busload of troops with cheers, personalized signs and american flags.

For 10 months these marines have been separated from family and friends, seven months were spent in Iraq.

Lance Corporal David Ellis held his fiance Ashley Stringer in a long embrace after exiting the bus.

Ellis was asked, "What do you look forward to most?"

Ellis answered, "Just going back to my normal life, my job and getting married."

Lance Corporal Ronnie Thornton had not seen his son Jaden since he was two weeks old.

After holding up his son to get a good look Thornton said, "The thing I missed most was my family. I'm just happy to be back to my family."

Hugs abound, parents and children, husbands and wives re-uniting.

Former Governor Ronnie Musgrove and wife Melody are among them,holding up a sign welcoming their oldest son, Sgt Michael Smith .

Charlie Company mobilized last June, training for three months before leaving Camp lLjune South Carolina in September for the middle east.

Gunnery Sgt. Stephen Peterman said, "It's nice to see we're appreciated for a job well done. While we were there we did convoy security team. We also did route security missions and went out and worked with Iraqi Highway Patrol helping them set up so they can control their country."

"We went over and we did our job for seven months and that's what they asked for, and that's what we take pride in doing," said Marine Ambakisye Smith.

The unit consists of marines from Greenville, to the metro Jackson area and down to the coast.

No lives were lost during their service.

Gunnery Sgt. Peterman added, "It's good to see that my guys' families were here to greet them. I know they really missed their families. It's good for them to get to see them."

Charlie Company made it to U.S. soil April 22nd when they arrived from Iraq to Camp Lejune.