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09-16-08, 09:14 PM #1
Beaufort Marines back from deployment to Iraq
Beaufort Marines back from deployment to Iraq
Posted: Sep 16, 2008 05:13 PM
Updated: Sep 16, 2008 06:12 PM
By Jaime Dailey - bio | email
BEAUFORT, SC (WTOC) - More than 200 Marines and sailors from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort are back home with family and friends after a seven month deployment to Al Asad, Iraq.
Friends and family gathered around Marines and sailors with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 and MALS 31, welcoming them back home with lots of hugs and kisses.
"It's awesome," said Beaufort Marines Arlene Neckles. "I'm so happy to see my son and husband, green trees and grass."
"It's great to be home, see trees, green grass, of course my family, my children, it's pretty amazing," said another Beaufort Marine Sgt. Lukas Atwell.
"I can't describe it," said Staff Sgt. Waldemar Valasquez. "It feels good, feelings that I've held back for seven months, it's great."
It's a moment the Valasquez family and many others have been waiting for.
While they are all certainly glad to be back home, they're proud of their accomplishments in Iraq providing close-air support for troops on the ground.
"I think it's awesome," said Arlene Neckles. "I think having a chance to actually serve and be a part of it is what I joined for and I'm happy to get that chance."
"This squadron did an absolute excellent job," said Maj. Michael Juenger. "They're a bunch of professional warriors and I couldn't ask for a better performance from anyone."
While this is not the first deployment to Iraq for many of these Marines and sailors, many are ready to do what needs to be done.
"If I ended up there in a couple of years, no big deal," said Sgt. Karen Rudolph. "I know what we're doing is right."
For their service and dedication to our country, we at WTOC salute these brave Marines and sailors from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.
09-17-08, 02:47 AM #2
Welcome home, Marines! Two squadrons return from 7-month tour in Iraq
Published Tue, Sep 16, 2008 12:00 AM
By PATRICK DONOHUE
Friends, family members -- and even a few dogs -- braved a sweltering Lowcountry afternoon to welcome home a group of Beaufort Marines.
The Silver Eagles of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 and a group of Stingers from Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31 returned safe and sound to Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort on Tuesday after a seven-month deployment to Al Asad, a U.S. airbase in the western Iraqi province of Al Anbar.Family members held up homemade signs, video cameras and cameras as the McDonnell-Douglas DC-10 that transported the Marines from Baltimore to Beaufort taxied near the squadron's hangar.
As the squadron stepped off the jet, Marines from other squadrons and early- arrived members of VMFA-115 and MALS 31 lined the asphalt in two rows to greet their fellow Marines as they, once again, set foot in the Lowcountry.
"Once you see your Marine get past those Marines, have at 'em!" yelled a Marine in charge of the homecoming to a group of about 100 friends and family members.
After seven months of being apart, eager family members and friends needed -- and heeded -- little instruction as their loved ones came into view.
"It's absolutely surreal," said Maj. Michael Juenger, executive officer of VMFA-115. "You go from being in the deserts of Iraq to being back in the lush, green landscapes of the United States. It's wonderful to be back in the Lowcountry."
Outside the hangar, children leapt into the arms of their parents, family members and Marines wiped tears from their eyes as they kissed their loved ones for the first time in seven months, and one Beaufort Marine got a literal taste of home.
In addition to seeing daughters Morgan and Madison and wife Jess,who is set to give birth to the couple's third child in the next month, Sgt. Lukas Atwell had a hot pizza waiting for him courtesy of his fellow Marines in the air station's public affairs office.
Atwell was embedded with VMFA-115 as a combat correspondent.
The Silver Eagles' return to the Lowcountry on Tuesday brought an end to a historic deployment for the unit.
The squadron was the Marine Corps's first forward-air-controller capable, single-seat F-18 Hornet squadron to deploy to Al Asad.
"We had to undergo a little additional training, but all of our guys did an excellent job and really came together over there," Juenger said. "We really couldn't asked for a better performance out of anyone."
The squadron's return to Beaufort will be completed next week when VMFA's commanding officer, Lt. Col. Charles E. Ehlert, returns home with the Stingers' 12 F-18s.
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