MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- On opposite ends of the base, two different groups of families and friends wait for the same joy of having their Marines home.
Anticipation is evident as the crowds become more and more anxious. They have all endured seven months of being separated from their loved ones.
As the chartered buses pull up to the sidewalks and the Marines file off one-by-one, the sounds of kisses and squeezing hugs surround the area.
For these two Marine units, different missions have been accomplished, but the same mission to return home has now been completed.
More than 100 Marines with Dam Support Unit III, 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, and more than 200 Marines with 2nd Intelligence Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force, returned home from seven-month deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, March 30.
DSU-III was comprised of reservists from Company B, 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, out of Frederick, Md. Their mission was to provide security at the Haditha Dam in Haditha, Iraq, conducting small craft and riverine operations.
The unit was trained by Marines with 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion prior to deploying. This was their first deployment and many of the families were excited to see them come home.
“We are ecstatic that he and all his brothers-in-arms came home safe,” said the father of Lance Cpl. Frank Moran III, 25, from Westminster, Md. “The best part about having him home is just seeing his face and knowing he’s out of harms way.”
On the other side of the base, Marines with 2nd Intelligence Battalion were also returning home. The battalion deploys for seven months out of every year; this was their third consecutive tour.
Their mission was to provide intelligence support throughout the Al Anbar province of Iraq, and according to the battalion’s commanding officer, Lt. Col. Andrew Gillan, they did a fine job at that.
“They far surpassed my expectations,” Gillan explained. “They were a critical enabler to the success that Multi-national Force-West had over there. In the environment in western Iraq, intelligence drives everything that happens. What this battalion did allowed commanders to have the success they had against insurgents and terrorists.”
The battalion was scattered throughout the Al Anbar province, from the Syrian border to Fallujah, and being home, for many of them, is a great gift for all they accomplished.
“It feels great, I’m glad to be here with my family after seven months out there doing what we had to do,” said Sgt. Kevin Atterberry, a Marine with 2nd Intel Bn.
Both units shared the same excitement and relief to finally be home with their families.
“You know what’s really nice about it, is we get to come home and thank the families that have really enabled us to be Marines,” Gillan said. “We couldn’t go and do what we love as Marines without their love and support.”
With smiles on their faces and loved ones around their arms, the Marines from DSU-III and 2nd Intel Bn., gathered their gear and headed out with their families to catch up on lost time.
Staff Sgt. Roger Pyffer, 27, the battalion ordinance chief, who celebrated his birthday the day before, summed up the mood of the night.
“What’s the best part about being home? You’re looking at it,” he said looking down at his two laughing children, safe in his arms.