MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
There was joy etched on the faces of wives, children and family members of 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, as the busses pulled up carrying men returning from the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.
People cheered and waved ‘Welcome Home’ signs, as the Marines exited the busses and ran to their loved ones waiting for them on the Del Valle softball field.
The battalion returned after six months, during which they served as the battalion landing team for the 31st MEU, training with forces in Japan, Philippines and Thailand.
“Marines and sailors conducted mission rehearsals to ready themselves to fight from the sea to objectives ashore,” stated Lt. Col. John M. Reed in a newsletter sent to the families of the battalion. “Not only did each of the companies conduct successful raids by helicopters, small boats, and amphibious assault vehicles, but the battalion also conducted an amphibious landing for the Cobra Gold Combined Exercise [in Thailand].”
While the Marines were busy with training overseas, family members back home found ways to stay involved with their Marines from afar.
“We gave him a build-a-bear named Snicker-Doodle and he took it with him everywhere,” said Lora Turek, wife of Gunner Brett Turek. “We have pictures of it by Mount Fuji, in Humvees, everywhere. It was really cool.”
Some Marines left for deployment as newlyweds.
“We got married a week and a half before he left for deployment,” said Eryn Vargas, wife of Lance Cpl. Michael Vargas. “You just have to push through it together, it’s part of our life.”
More deployment-experienced families are used to the flow of military life and have learned how to cope with deployments. “This is my seventh deployment in nine years. It was one of the easy ones because you didn’t have to worry about him in a combat zone,” said Bobbie Dospital, wife of Staff Sgt. Nicholas Dospital.
“You find friends you can count on when you meet during deployments,” she added. “I am so excited for him to come home, my stomach is in knots!”
The Marines and sailors are relieved to be stateside after the MEU and can’t wait to take their leave to spend some time at home, said Lance Cpl. Del Gilbert, a Marine with Company F.
“It was a good training experience. We are glad it’s finally over and happy to be back,” said Lance Cpl. Bryce Ritter, a Marine with Co. F.