Waiting up to three hours for their loved ones, families greeted the arrival of some 200 Marines and sailors with Regimental Combat Team 5, who returned after sunset Thursday to Camp Pendleton following a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan.
Hundreds cheered as a convoy of buses pulled up to a parade area, many holding signs and waving small flags.
A military support group provided nachos, sandwiches, donuts, cookies, fruit and other snacks and drinks in a line of tents for the waiting men. Children passed the time jumping in an inflatable bounce house.
Women line-danced to music, and the buses approached to the sound of the 1976 tune The Boys are Back in Town by the Irish rock band Thin Lizzy. But cheers erupted as the buses were spotted.
Members of the Patriot Guard motorcyle unit led the procession to the reunion.
The Marines of RCT-5 relieved Regimental Combat Team 1 on Camp Dwyer, Afghanistan, in Southern Helmand province, and served from August 2011 through August 2012, according from a unit news release.
Regimental Combat Team 5 deployed as a command and control element over the Marine battalions deployed to the Afghan districts of Garmser, Marjah, Nawa and Khan-Neshin in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The Marines of RCT-5 partnered with Afghan National Security Forces and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to direct counterinsurgency operations. They also advised and mentored Afghan soldiers in the 1st Brigade, 215th Corps, in security operations.