Watchdogs return just in time for Christmas
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    Exclamation Watchdogs return just in time for Christmas

    Watchdogs return just in time for Christmas

    Published: Friday, January 9, 2009 3:25 PM CST
    Lance Cpl. Zachary J. Nola

    Combat Correspondent

    Friends, families, and loved ones of the Marines and sailors of Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 1 got an early Christmas present when an estimated 100 unit members returned home from Iraq to the unit’s headquarters in building 1980 Dec. 19.

    The Watchdogs, who departed from the Combat Center in mid-October, were tasked with supporting infantry units with surveillance, using their unmanned aerial systems, during convoys and patrols.

    A detachment of 50 Marines are currently still supporting operations in Iraq, and will see out the full deployment, but the majority of the deploying force returned home to prepare for changing mission requirements.

    The event was made extra special because Christmas 2008 will mark the first time the unit has been home for the holiday season in four years.

    “It’s just in time for Christmas,” said Maria Toves, wife of VMU-1 sergeant major, Sgt. Maj. William P. Toves. “It’s perfect.”

    Toves, a native of Long Beach, Calif., said she was thankful that her husband’s fourth deployment was quick and was looking forward to surprising her mother-in-law, who was unaware of her son’s return, this holiday season.

    Toni Meister, wife of Lance Cpl. John Meister, a motor vehicle operator with Company V, said she too was happy that the deployment was so short since the couple are newlyweds.

    The Globe, Ariz., native, who moved to the Combat Center on Dec. 15, said the last two months were somewhat frustrating and nerve-wracking due to the absence of day-to-day communication, but has accepted that as being part of the military community and is still supportive of her husband and his unit.

    Hector Baisa, who was waiting for the return of his son, Lance Cpl. Derrick Baisa, an aviation supply specialist with Company V, said he was very proud of his son and happy to have him back safe and sound.

    Baisa, an El Paso, Texas, native, who served in the Marine Corps in the late 60’s and early 70’s, said he understood his son’s anxiousness to do his part as a warfighter, but was grateful for the gift of his son this Christmas season.

    “We’re going to have him back with us, do a lot of things together, and enjoy the time we have with him,” said Baisa.

    Elizabeth O’Quinn, wife of Staff Sgt. Leroy O’Quinn, a communications chief with Company V, who attended the homecoming with the couple’s three children, said she cried when she found out her husband was coming home.

    “This will be our first Christmas together in three years, so we are excited to have him back,” said O’Quinn, a native of Long Beach, Calif.

    The homecoming was even more special for the couple’s 5-year-old son, Jordyn, who celebrated a birthday earlier in the week and therefore received both a birthday and Christmas present in the form of his father’s return.

    Photo by Lance Cpl. Zachary J. Nola

    2nd Lt. Regan R. King, the communications officer for Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 1, receives a hug from his daughter, Mackenzie, after returning to the Combat Center Dec. 19 at the Combat Center’s Building 1980.

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