Editor's note: Because our readers can't get enough of homecomings, we've updated this with a gallery, a story and links to more stories from around the web.
By Cpl. Ned Johnson
Newborn babies, women, families, and a few dogs huddle around signs and American flags watching their own breathe in the cold and waiting.
Then it happens.
“Your Marines are on their way over the hill,” came a voice across a crowded parade deck in San Mateo, and the crowd erupts with thunderous cheers.
The ‘Freedom Riders’ rode their motorcycles in first, but the crowd was more interested in the parade to follow as Marines and sailors with Fox and Golf Companies, 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, returned early Tuesday morning from a seven-month deployment to Helmand province, Afghanistan.
Hot coffee, hot dogs and a DJ spinning tunes may have set the mood, but the families of the Marines couldn’t contain themselves.
“I’m super excited,” said Taylor Bishton, girlfriend of Lance Cpl. Justin Homer, an infantryman with Fox Company “…Like I would randomly burst into tears because I am so excited.”
Homecomings are not only special for families and Marines, but also for those who support the Marines.
One woman and her family sponsored Fox Company and mailed more than 120 packages of blankets, socks, and phone cards to Marines they have never met before. She may not meet them tonight either, said Debbie Baumel, a Long Beach, Calif., native, but she is still excited for their return.
“Everybody is here for their families, and we totally get that,” Baumel said with a smile. “We’re so excited for the families and the Marines getting to see their families; we are just here for support.”
Another family, mother and son, had small but enthusiastic plans for Cpl. Nathan Davidson, an infantryman with Golf Company.
“I’m going to squeeze the stuffings out of him,” said Jamie Davidson, a native of Clayton, Ind.
The Marines deployed to northern Helmand province where they supported local governance and security in support Operation Enduring Freedom.
“We saw the security situation improve immeasurably while we were out there, and we think it will continue to do so,” said Capt. Thaddeus Drake, commanding officer of Golf Company.
Second Battalion, Fourth Marine Regiment is no stranger to combat, but Drake sees something unique in the early morning hours.
“I’ve done homecomings and I’ve done combat homecomings,” Drake said. “But I was just telling my wife that I have never seen anything like this.”
The men hugged their families, kissed their wives and after finding their bags, were gone in a flash. But the men of 2nd Bn., 4th Marines may never forget their time together, said Drake, and now their families will get their time together.
The “Magnificent Bastards” 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, were assigned to Regimental Combat Team 6 under Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Force and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations.
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