MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
The business of everyday life had slowed down, and the familiar noisiness of the military compound was nearly nonexistent. As the Combat Center seemed to be asleep, a loud roar of cheers and whistles pierced through the calm, announcing to the installation that 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment was finally home.
After their long deployment to Helmand province, Afghanistan, the majority of the unit finally returned home at 2 a.m. Sunday at Del Valle softball fields.
Company I, Combat Replacements and the command element came home Sunday morning. Company L and Company K returned Oct. 20, artillery came home Oct. 22 and the final company in the battalion, Weapons Company, returned Monday.
Rather than step warily off a bus into the waiting open arms of their families, the homeward-bound Marines “formed up” and marched from the armory to the field, projecting a vision of pride and never ceasing vigilance. The cheering families jumped up and down with signs as the Marines marched.
The Marines were released almost immediately and wasted no time running to their loved ones.
“We are so glad to have [Cpl. Josh Russell, a rifleman] by our side again,” said Emily Mobray, Russell’s girlfriend. “It’s a relaxing feeling that he is home safe.”
For some, the Marines they waited for have already experienced multiple combat deployments, and the strain and worry the families encountered during this deployment was no easier than the last.
“This is his third combat deployment,” said Abby Day, wife of Sgt. Joseph Day, with the Combat Replacement Company. “He volunteered for it. I am so antsy and so excited he is finally home.”
The mission was a difficult one, but it was accomplished nonetheless.
“We had to take control of the Sangin area, and provide security for the Afghan people,” said Lance Cpl. Robert Iaulualo, an administrative clerk with Headquarters and Services Co., 3rd Bn., 7th Marines.
The Marines’ excitement to be home at last was written all over their faces. But the experiennces of a difficult deployment also stuck with them as they remembered the brothers they lost in Afghanistan.
The battalion had a rough deployment, they went through many trials and obstacles to accomplish their mission, as is expected of war, said Lance Cpl. Robert Haynie, an assaultman with the battalion. The Marines are ecstatic to be home though, he added.
“We lost a few guys out there, it’s really sad to see them go,” Iaulualo said. “It’s good to be home, but we wish they could be here with us.”